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´╗┐Title: The Crest-Wave of Evolution - A Course of Lectures in History, Given to the Graduates' Class in the Raja-Yoga College, Point Loma, in the College-Year 1918-19
Author: Morris, Kenneth, 1879-1937
Language: English
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THE CREST-WAVE OF EVOLUTION

A Course of Lectures in History, Given to the Graduates' Class in the
Raja-Yoga College, Point Loma, in the College-Year 1918-1919.*

by

KENNETH MORRIS



CONTENTS

    I.  INTRODUCTION
   II.  HOMER
  III.  GREEKS AND PERSIANS
   IV.  AESCHYLUS AND ATHENS
    V.  SOME PERICLEAN FIGURES
   VI.  SOCRATES AND PLATO
  VII.  THE MAURYAS OF INDIA
 VIII.  THE BLACK-HAIRED PEOPLE
   IX.  THE DRAGON AND THE BLUE PEARL
    X.  "SUCH A ONE"
   XI.  CONFUCIUS THE HERO
  XII.  TALES FROM A TAOIST TEACHER
 XIII.  MANG THE PHILOSOPHER, AND BUTTERFLY CHWANG
  XIV.  THE MANVANTARA OPENS
   XV.  SOME POSSIBLE EPOCHS IN SANSKRIT LITERATURE
  XVI.  THE BEGINNINGS OF ROME
 XVII.  ROME PARVENUE
XVIII.  AUGUSTUS
  XIX.  AN IMPERIAL SACRIFICE
   XX.  CHINA AND ROME:  THE SEE-SAW
  XXI.  CHINA AND ROME:  THE SEE-SAW (Continued)
 XXII.  EASTWARD HO!
XXIII.  "THE DRAGON, THE APOSTATE, THE GREAT MIND"
 XXIV.  FROM JULIAN TO BODHIDHARMA
  XXV.  TOWARDS THE ISLANDS OF THE SUNSET
 XXVI.  "SACRED IERNE OF THE HIBERNIANS"
XXVII.  THE IRISH ILLUMINATION

------------
*  Serialized in _Theosophical Path_ in 27 Chapters from
March, 1919 through July, 1921.
-----------



I.  INTRODUCTORY

These lectures will not be concerned with history as a record
of wars and political changes; they will have little to tell
of battles, murders, and sudden deaths.  Instead, we shall
try to discover and throw light on the cyclic movements of
the Human Spirit.  Back of all phenomena, or the outward show
of things, there is always a noumenon in the unseen.  Behind
the phenomena of human history, the noumenon is the Human
Spirit, moving in accordance with its own necessities and
cyclic laws.  We may, if we go to it intelligently, gain some
inkling of knowledge as to what those laws are; and I think
that would be, in its way, a real wisdom, and worth getting.
But for the most part historical study seeks knowledge only;
and how it attains its aim, is shown by the falseness of what
passes for history.  In most textbooks you shall find, probably,
a round dozen of lies on as many pages.  And these in themselves
are fruitful seeds of evil; they by no means end with the
telling, but go on producing harvests of wrong life; which
indeed is only the Lie incarnate on the plane of action.  The
Eternal _Right Thing_ is what is called in Sanskrit SAT, the
True; it opposite is the Lie, in one fashion or another, always;
and what we have to do, our mission and _raison d'etre_ as
students of Theosophy, is to put down the Lie at every turn,
and chase it, as far as we may, out of the field of life.

For example, there is the Superior-Race Lie:  I do not know
where it shall not be found.  Races A, B, C, and D go on
preaching it for centuries; each with an eye to its sublime
self.  In all countries, perhaps, history is taught with that
lie for mental background.  Then we wonder that there are wars.
But Theosophy is called onto provide a true mental background
for historical study; and it alone can do so.  It is the
mission of Point Loma, among many other things, to float a
true philosophy of history on to the currents of world-thought:
and for this end it is our business to be thinkers, using the
divine Manasic light within us to some purpose.  H.P. Blavatsky
supplied something much greater than a dogma:  she--like Plato
--gave the world a method and a spur to thought:  pointed for
it a direction, which following, it might solve all problems
and heal the wounds of the ages.

A false and foolish notion in the western world has been,
tacitly to accept the Greeks and Hebrews of old for the two
fountains of all culture since; the one in secular matter,
the other in religion and morality.  Of the Hebrews nothing
need be said here; but that true religion and morality have
their source in the ever-living Human Spirit, not in any sect,
creed, race, age, or bible.  I doubt there has been any new
discovery in ethics since man was man; or rather, all discoveries
have been made by individuals for themselves; and each, having
discovered anything, has found that that same principle was
discovered a thousand times before, and written a thousand times.
 There is no platitude so platitudinous, but it remains to burst
upon the perceptions of all who have not yet perceived it, as a
new and burning truth; and on the other hand, there is no
startling command to purity or compassion, that has not been
given out by Teachers since the world began.--As for Greece,
there was a brilliant flaming up of the Spirit there in the
Fourth and Fifth Centuries B.C.; and its intensity, like the
lights of an approaching automobile, rather obscures what lies
beyond.  It is the first of which we have much knowledge; so we
think it was the first of all.  But in fact civilization has been
traveling its cyclic path all the time, all these millions of
years; and there have been hundreds of ancient great empires and
cultural epochs even in Europe of which we know nothing.

I had intended to begin with Greece; but these unexplored eras
of old Europe are too attractive, and this first lecture must go
to them, or some of them.  Not to the antecedents of Greece, in
Crete and elsewhere; but to the undiscovered North; and in
particular to the Celtic peoples; who may serve us as an example
by means of which light may be thrown on the question of racial
growth, and on the racial cycles generally.

The Celtic Empire of old Europe affects us like some mysterious
undiscovered planet.  We know it was there by its effects on
other peoples.  Also, like many other forgotten histories, it has
left indications of its achievement in a certain spirit, an
uplift, the breath of an old traditional grandeur that has come
down.  But to give any historical account of it--to get a
telescope that will reach and reveal it--we have not to come to
that point yet.

Still, it may be allowed us to experiment with all sorts of
glasses.  To penetrate that gloom of ancient Europe may be quite
beyond us; but guessing is permitted.  Now the true art of
guessing lies in an intuition for guiding indications.  There is
something in us that knows things directly; and it may deign at
times to give hints, to direct the researches, to flash some
little light on that part of us which works and is conscious in
this world, and which we call our brain-minds.  So although
most or all of what I am going to say would be called by the
scientific strictly empirical, fantastic and foolish, yet I shall
venture; aware that their Aristotelio-Baconian method quite
breaks down when it comes to such a search into the unknown; and
that this guessing, guided by what seems to be a law, would not,
perhaps, have been sneered at by Plato.

Guided by what seems to be a law;--guided, at any rate, by the
knowledge that there are laws; that "God geometrizes," as Plato
says:  that which is within flows outward upon a design; that
life precipitates itself through human affairs as it does through
the forms of the crystals; that there is nothing more haphazard
about the sequence of empires and civilizations, than there is
about the unfolding of petals of a flower.  In both cases it is
the eternal rhythm, the Poetry of the Infinite, that manifests;
our business is to listen so carefully as to hear, and apprehend
the fact that what we hear is a poetry, a vast music, not a
chaotic cacophony:  catch the rhythms--perceive that there is a
design--even if it takes us long to discover what the design
may be.

You know Plato's idea that the world is a dodecahedron or
twelve-sided figure.  Now in Plato's day, much that every
schoolboy knows now, was esoteric--known only to the initiated.
So I think Plato would have known well enough that this physical
earth is round; and that what he meant when he spoke of the
dodecahedron, was something else.  This, for example: that on
the plane of causes--this outer plane being that of effects
--there are twelve (geographical) centers, aspects, foci,
facets, or what you like to call them:  twelve _laya centers,_
as I think the Secret Doctrine would say:  through which
the forces from within play on the world without.  You have
read, too, in _The Secret Doctrine,_ Professor Crooke's theory,
endorsed by H.P. Blavatsky, as to how the chemical elements
were deposited by a spiral evolutive force, a creative impulse
working outward in the form of a caduceus or lemniscate, or
figure '8.'  Now suppose we should discover that just as
that force deposited in space, in its spiral down-working,
what Crookes calls the seeds of potassium, beryllium, boron,
and the rest--so such another creative force, at work on the
planes of geographical space and time, rouses up or deposits
in these, according to a definite pattern, this nation and that
in its turn, this great age of culture after that one; and that
there is nothing hap-hazard about the configuration of continents
and islands, national boundaries, or racial migrations?

H.P. Blavatsky tells us that the whole past history of the race
is known to the Guardians of the Secret Wisdom; that it is all
recorded, nothing lost; down to the story of every tribe since
the Lords of Mind incarnated.  And that these records are in the
form of a few symbols; but symbols which, to those who can
interpret or disintegrate them, can yield the whole story.  What
if the amount of the burden of history, which seems so vast to us
who know so very little of it, were in reality, if we could know
it all, a thing that would put but slight tax on the memory; a
thing we might carry with us in a few slight formulae, a few
simple symbols?  I believe that it is so; and that we may make a
beginning, and go some little way towards guessing what these
formulae are.

As thus:  A given race flowered and passed; it had so many
centuries of history before its flowering; it died, and left
something behind.  Greece, for example.  We may know very little
--you and I may know very little--of the details of Greek history.
We cannot, perhaps, remember the date of Aegospotami, or what
happened at Plataea:  we may have the vaguest notion of the
import of Aeschylus, or Sophocles, or Plato.  But still there is
a certain color in our conscious perceptions which comes from
Greece:  the 'glory that was Greece' means something, is a
certain light within the consciousness, to everyone of us.  The
Greeks added something to the wealth of the human spirit, which
we all may share in, and do. An atmosphere is left, which
surrounds and adheres to the many tangible memorials; just as an
atmosphere is left by the glories of the Cinquecento in Italy,
with its many tangible memorials.

But indeed, we may go further, and say that an atmosphere is
left, and that we can feel it, by many ages and cultures
which have left no tangible memorials at all; or but few and
uninterpretable ones, like the Celtic.  And that each has
developed some mood, some indefinable inward color--which we
perceive and inherit.  Each different: you cannot mistake the
Chinese or the Celtic color for the Greek; thought it might be
hard to define your perception of either, or of their difference.
It would be hard to say, for instance, that this one was crimson,
the other blue; not quite so hard to say that this one affects
us as crimson does, that other as blue does.   And  yet we can
see, I think, that by chasing our impressions to their source,
there might be some way of presenting them in symbolic form.
There might be some way of reducing what we feel from the Greeks,
or Chinese, or Celts, into a word, a sentence; of writing it down
even in  a single hieroglyph, of which the elements would be such
as should convey to something in us behind the intellect just the
indefinable feeling either of these people give us.

In the Chinese writing, with all its difficulty, there is
something superior to our alphabets:  an element that appeals to
the soul directly, or to the imagination directly, I think.
Suppose you found a Chinese ideogram--of course there is no such
a one--to express the forgotten Celtic culture; and it proved in
analysis, to be composed of the signs for twilight, wind, and
pine trees; or wind, night, and wild waters; with certain other
elements which not the brain-mind, but the creative soul, would
have to supply.  In such a symbol there would be an appeal to the
imagination--that great Wizard within us--to rise up and supply
us with quantities of knowledge left unsaid.  Indeed, I am but
trying to illustrate an idea, possibilities.... I think there is
a power within the human soul to trace back all growths, the most
profuse and complex, to the simple seed from which they sprung;
or, just as a single rose or pansy bloom is the resultant, the
expression, of the interaction and interplay of innumerable
forces--so the innumerable forces whose interaction makes the
history of one race, one culture, could find their ultimate
expression in a symbol as simple as a pansy or rose bloom--color,
form and fragrance.  So each national great age would be a flower
evolved in the garden of the eternal; and once evolved, once
bloomed, it should never pass away; the actual blossom withers
and falls; but the color, the form, the fragrance,--these remain
in the world of causes.  And just as you might press a flower in
an album, or make a painting of it, and preserve its scent by
chemical distillation or what not--and thereby preserve the
whole story of all the forces that went to the production of
that bloom--and they are, I suppose, in number beyond human
computation--so you might express the history of a race in a
symbol as simple as a bloom... And that there is a power, an
unfolding faculty, in the soul, which, seeing such a symbol,
could unravel from it, by meditation, the whole achievement of
the race; its whole history, down to details; yes, even down to
the lives of every soul that incarnated in it:  their personal
lives, with all successes, failures, attempts, everything.
Because, for example, the light which comes down to us as that of
ancient Greece is the resultant, the remainder of all the forces
in all the lives of all individual Greeks, as these were played
on by the conditions of place and time.  Time:--at such and such
a period, the Mood of the Oversoul is such and such. Place:--the
temporal mood of the Oversoul, playing through that particular
facet of the dodecahedron, which is Greece.  The combinations and
interplay of these two, plus the energies for good or evil of the
souls there incarnate, give as their resultant the whole life of
the race.  There is perhaps a high Algebra of the Soul by which,
if we understood its laws, we could revive the history of
any past epoch, discover its thought and modes of living, as
we discover the value of the unknown factor in an equation.
Pythagoras must have his pupils understand music and geometry;
and by music he intended, all the arts, every department of life
that came under the sway of the Nine Muses.  Why?--Because, as he
taught, God is Poet and Geometer.  Chaos is only on the outer rim
of existence; as you get nearer the heart of thing, order and
rhythm, geometry and poetry, are more and more found.  Chaos is
only in our own chaotic minds and perceptions:  train these
aright, and you shall hear the music of the spheres, perceive the
reign of everlasting Law.  These impulses from the Oversoul, that
create the great epochs, raising one race after another, have
perfect rhythm and rhyme.  God sits harping in the Cycle of
Infinity, and human history is the far faint echo of the tune he
plays.  Why can we not listen, till we hear and apprehend the
tune?  Or History is the sound heard from far, of the marching
hosts of angels and archangels; the cyclic tread of their
battalions; the thrill and rumble and splendor of their drums and
fifes:--why should we not listen till the whole order of their
cohorts and squadrons is revealed?--I mean to suggest that there
are laws, undiscovered, but discoverable--discoverable from the
fragments of history we possess--by knowing which we might gain
knowledge, even without further material discoveries, of the lost
history of man.  Without moving from Point Loma, or digging up
anything more important that hard-pan, we may yet make the most
important finds, and throw floods of light on the whole dark
problem of the past.  H.P. Blavatsky gave us the clews; we owe it
to her to use them.

Now I want to suggest a few ideas along these lines that may
throw light on ancient Europe; of which orthodox history tells us
of nothing but the few centuries of Greece and Rome.  As if the
people of three thousand years hence should know, of the history
of Christendom, only that of Italy from Garibaldi onward, and
that of Greece beginning, say, at the Second Balkan War.  That is
the position we are in with regard to old Europe.  Very like
Spain, France, Britain, Germany and Scandinavia played as great
parts in the millennia B.C., as they have done in the times we
know about. All analogy from the other seats of civilization is
for it; all racial memories and traditions--tradition is racial
memory--are for it; and I venture to say, all reason and common
sense are for it too.

Now I have to remind you of certain conclusions worked out in an
article 'Cyclic Law in History,' which appeared some time back in
_The Theosophical Path:_--that there are, for example, three
great centers of historical activity in the Old World:  China and
her surroundings; West Asia and Egypt; Europe.  Perhaps these are
major facets of the dodecahedron.  Perhaps again, were the facts
in our knowledge not so desperately incomplete, we should find,
as in the notes and colors, a set of octaves: that each of these
centers was a complete octave, and each phase or nation a note.
Do you see where these leads?  Supposing the note _China_ is
struck in the Far Eastern Octave; would there not be a vibration
of some corresponding note in the octave Europe?  Supposing the
Octave _West Asia_ were under the fingers of the Great Player,
would not the corresponding note in Europe vibrate?

Now let us look at history.  Right on the eastern rim of the Old
World is the Chino-Japanese field of civilization.  It has been,
until lately, under pralaya, in a night or inactive period of its
existence, for something over six centuries:  a beautiful pralaya
in the case of Japan; a rather ugly one, recently, in the case
of China.  Right on the western rim of the Old World are the
remnants of the once great Celtic people.  Europe at large has
been very much in manvantara, a day or waking period, for a
little over six hundred years.  Yet of the four racial roots or
stocks of Europe, the Greco-Latin, Teutonic, Slavic, and Celtic,
the last-named alone has been under pralaya, sound asleep, during
the whole of this time.  Let me interject here the warning that
it is no complete scheme that is to be offered; only a few facts
that suggest that such a scheme may exist, could we find it.
Before Europe awoke to her present cycle of civilization and
progress, before the last quarter of the thirteenth century, the
Chinese had been in manvantara, very much awake, for about
fifteen hundred years.  When they went to sleep, the Celts
did also.

I pass by with a mere note of recognition the two dragons, the
one on the Chinese, the other on the Welsh flag; just saying
that national symbols are not chose haphazard, but are an
expression of inner things; and proceed to give you the dates of
all the important events in Chinese and Celtic, chiefly Welsh,
history during the last two thousand years.  In 1911 the Chinese
threw off the Manchu yoke and established a native republic.  In
1910 the British Government first recognized Wales as a separate
nationality, when the heir to the throne was invested as Prince
of Wales at Carnarvon.  Within a few years a bill was passed
giving Home Rule to Ireland; and national parliaments at Dublin
and at Cardiff are said to be among the likelihoods of the near
future.  The eighteenth century, for manvantara, was a singularly
dead time in Europe; but in China, for pralaya, it was a
singularly living time, being filled with the glorious reigns of
the Manchu emperors Kanghu and Kien Lung.  In Wales it saw the
religious revival which put a stop to the utter Anglicization of
the country, saved the language from rapid extinction, and
awakened for the first time for centuries a sort of national
consciousness.   Going back, the first great emperor we come to
in China before the Manchu conquest, was Ming Yunglo, conqueror
of half Asia.  His contemporary in Wales was Owen Glyndwr, who
succeeded in holding the country against the English for a number
of years; there had been no Welsh history between Glyndwr and
the religious revival.  In 1260 or thereabouts the Mongols
completed the conquest of China, and dealt her then flourishing
civilization a blow from which it never really recovered.  About
twenty years later the English completed the conquest of Wales,
and dealt her highly promising literary culture a blow from which
it is only now perhaps beginning to recover.  In the eleventh,
twelfth, and thirteenth centuries the great Sung artists of China
were painting infinity or their square feet of silk:  painting
Natural Magic as it has never been painted or revealed since.  In
those same centuries the Welsh bards were writing the Natural
Magic of the Mabinogion, one of the chief European repositories
of Natural Magic; and filling a remarkable poetical literature
with the same quality:--and that before the rest of Europe
had, for the most part, awakened to the spiritual impulses
that lead to civilization.  In the seventh and eighth centuries,
when continental Europe was in the dead vast and middle of
pralaya, Chinese poetry, under Tang Hsuan-tsong and his great
predecessors, was in its Golden Age--a Golden Age comparable to
that of Pericles in Athens.  In the seventh and eighth centuries,
Ireland was sending out scholars and thinkers as missionaries to
all parts of benighted Europe:  Ireland in her golden age, the
one highly cultured country in Christendom, was producing a
glorious prose and poetry in the many universities that starred
that then by no means distressful island.  In 420, China, after a
couple of centuries of anarchy, began to re-establish her
civilization on the banks of the Yangtse.  In 410, the Britons
finally threw off the Roman yoke, and the first age of Welsh
poetry, the epoch of Arthur and Taliesin, which has been the
light of romantic Europe ever since, began.

Does it not seem as if that great Far Eastern note could not
be struck without this little far western note vibrating in
sympathy?  Very faintly; not in a manner to be heard clearly by
the world; because in historical times the Celtic note has been
as it were far up on the keyboard, and never directly under the
Master-Musician's fingers.  And when you add to it all that this
Celtic note has come in the minds of literary critics rather to
stand as the synonym for Natural Magic--you all know what is
meant by that term;--and that now, as we are discovering the old
Chinese poetry and painting, we are finding that Natural Magic is
really far more Chinese than Celtic--that where we Celts have
vibrated to it minorly, the great Chinese gave it out fully and
grandly--does it not add to the piquancy of the 'coincidence?'

Now there is no particular reason for doubting the figures of
Chinese chronology as far back as 2350 B.C.  Our Western
authorities do doubt all before about 750; but it is hard to see
why, except that 'it is their nature to.'  The Chinese give the
year 2356 as the date of the accession of the Emperor Yao, first
of the three canonized rulers who have been the patriarchs,
saints, sages, and examples for all ages since.  In that decade a
manvantara of the race would seem to have begun, which lasted
through the dynasties of Hia and Shang, and halfway through the
Chow, ending about 850.  During this period, then, I think
presently we shall come to place the chief activities and
civilization of the Celts.  From 850 to 240--all these figures
are of course approximations:  there was pralaya in China;
on the other side of the world, it was the period of Celtic
eruptions--and probably, disruption.  While Tsin Shi Hwangti,
from 246 to 213, was establishing the modern Chinese Empire, the
Gauls made their last incursion into Italy.  The culmination of
the age Shi Hwangti inaugurated came in the reign of Han Wuti,
traditionally the most glorious in the Chines annals.  It
lasted from 140 to 86 B.C.; nor was there any decline under his
successor, who reigned until 63.  In the middle of that time--the
last decade of the second century--the Cimbri, allied with the
Teutones, made their incursion down into Spain.  Opinion is
divided as to whether this people was Celtic or Teutonic; but
probably the old view is the true one, that the word is akin to
Cimerii, Crimea, and Cymry, and that they were Welshmen in their
day.  When Caesar was in Gaul, the people he conquered had much
to say about their last great king.  Diviciacos, whose dominions
included Gaul and Britain; they looked back to his reign as a
period of great splendor and national strength.  He lived, they
said, about a hundred years before Caesar's coming--or was
contemporary with Han Wuti.

But the empire of the Celtic Kings was already far fallen, before
it was confined to Gaul, Britain, and perhaps Ireland.  When
first we see this people they were winning a name for fickleness
of purpose:  making conquests and throwing them away; which
things are the marks of a race declining from a high eminence it
had won of old through hard work and sound policy.  We shall come
to see that personal or outward characteristics can never be
posited as inherent in any race.  Such things belong to ages and
stages in the race's growth.  Whatever you can say of Englishmen,
Frenchmen, Germans, now, has been totally untrue of them at some
other period.  We think of the Italians as passionate, subtle of
intellect, above all things artistic and beauty-loving.  Now
look at them as they were three centuries B.C.:  plodding, self-
contained and self-mastered, square-dealing and unsubtle, above
all things contemning beauty, wholly inartistic.  But a race may
retain the same traits for a very long time, if it remains in a
back-water, and is unaffected by the currents of evolution.

So we may safely say of the Celts that the fickleness for which
they were famed in Roman times was not a racial, but a temporal
or epochal defect.  They were not fickle when they held out (in
Wales) for eight centuries against the barbarian onslaughts which
brought the rest of the Roman empire down in two or three; or
when they resisted for two hundred years those Normans who had
conquered the Anglo-Saxons in a decade.  This very quality, in
old Welsh literature, is more than once given as a characteristic
of extreme age; "I am old, bent double; I am fickly rash." says
Llywarch Hen.  I think that gives the clew to the whole position.
The race was at the end of its manvantaric period; the Race Soul
had lost control of the forces that bound its organism together;
centrifugalism had taken the place of the centripetal impulse
that marks the cycles of youth and growth.  It had eaten into
individual character; whence the tendency to fly off at
tangents.  We see the same thing in any decadent people; by
which I mean, any people at the end of one of its manvantaras,
and on the verge of a pralaya.  And remember that a pralaya, like
a night's rest or the Devachanic sleep between two lives, is
simply a means for restoring strength and youth.

How great the Celtic nations had been in their day, and what
settled and civilized centuries lay behind them, one may gather
from two not much noticed facts.  First: Caesar, conqueror of the
Roman world and of Pompey, the greatest Roman general of the day,
landed twice in Britain, and spent a few weeks there without
accomplishing anything in particular.  But it was the central
seat and last stronghold of the Celts; and his greatest triumph
was accorded him for this feat; and he was prouder of it than
anything else he ever did.  He set it above his victories over
Pompey. Second:  the Gauls, in the first century B.C., were able
to put in the field against him three million men:  not so far
short of the number France has been able to put in the field
in the recent war.  Napoleon could hardly, I suppose, have
raised such an army--in France.  Caesar is said to have killed
some five million Gauls before he conquered them.  By ordinary
computations, that would argue a population of some thirty
millions in the Gaulish half of the kingdom of Diviciacos a
century after the latter's death; and even if that computation
is too high, it leaves the fact irrefutable that there was a very
large population; and a large population means always a long and
settled civilization.

Diviciacos ruled only Gaul and Britain; possible Ireland as
well; he may have been a Gaul, a Briton, or an Irishman; very
likely there was not much difference in those days.  It will be
said I am leaving out of account much that recent scholarship has
divulged; I certainly am leaving out of account a great many of
the theories of recent scholarship, which for the most part make
confusion worse confounded.  But we know that the lands held by
the Celts--let us boldly say, with many of the most learned, the
Celtic empire--was vastly larger in its prime than the British
Isles and France.  Its eastern outpost was Galatia in Asia Minor.
You may have read in _The Outlook_ some months ago an article by
a learned Serbian, in which he claims that the Jugo-Slavs of the
Balkans, his countrymen, are about half Celtic; the product of
the fusion of Slavic in-comers, perhaps conquerors, with an
original Celtic population.  Bohemia was once the land of the
Celtic Boii; and we may take it as an axiom, that no conquest,
no racial incursion, ever succeeds in wiping out the conquered
people; unless there is such wide disparity, racial and
cultural, as existed, for example, between the white settlers in
America and the Indians.  There are forces in human nature itself
which make this absolute.  The conquerors may quite silence the
conquered; may treat them with infinite cruelty; may blot out
all their records and destroy the memory of their race; but the
blood of the conquered will go on flowing through all the
generation of the children of the conquerors, and even, it seems
probable, tend ever more and more to be the prevalent element.

The Celts, then, at one time or another, have held the following
lands:  Britain and Ireland, of course; Gaul and Spain;
Switzerland and Italy north of the Po; Germany, except perhaps
some parts of Prussia; Denmark probably, which as you know was
called the Cimbric Chersonese; the Austrian empire, with the
Balkan Peninsula north of Macedonia, Epirus and Thrace, and much
of southern Russia and the lands bordering the Black Sea.
Further back, it seems probable that they and the Italic people
were one race; whose name survives in that of the province of
Liguria, and in the Welsh name for England, which is Lloegr.  So
that in the reign of Diviciacos their empire had already shrunk
to the meerest fragment of its former self.   It had broken and
shrunk before we get the first historical glimpses of them;
before they sacked Delphi in 279 B.C.:  before their ambassadors
made a treaty with Alexander; and replied to his question as to
what they feared: "Nothing except that the skies should fall."
Before they sacked Rome in 390.  All these historic eruptions
were the mere sporadic outburst of a race long past its prime and
querulous with old age, I think  Two thousand years of severe
pralaya, almost complete extinction, utter insignificance and
terrible karma awaited them; and we only see them, pardon the
expression, kicking up their heels in a final plunge as a
preparation for that long silence.

Some time back I discussed these historical questions, particularly
the correspondence between Celtic and Chinese dates, with
Dr. Siren and Professor Fernholm; and they pointed out to
me a similar correspondence between the dates of Scandinavian
and West Asian history.  I can remember but one example now:
Gustavus Vasa, father of modern Sweden, founder of the present
monarchy, came to the throne in 1523 and died in 1560.  The last
great epoch of the West Asian Cycle coincides, in the west, and
reign of Suleyman the Magnificent in Turkey, from 1520 to 1566.
At its eastern extremity, Babar founded the Mogul Empire in India
in 1526; he reigned until 1556.  On the death of Aurangzeb in
1707, the Moguls ceased to be a great power; the Battle of
Pultowa, in 1709, put an end to Sweden's military greatness.

It is interesting to compare the earliest Celtic literature we
have, with the earliest literature of the race which was to be
the main instrument of Celtic bad karma in historical times--the
Teutons.  Here, as usual, common impressions are false.  It is
the latter, the Teutonic, that is in the minor key, and full
of wistful sadness.  There is an earnestness about it:  a
recognition of, and rather mournful acquiescence in, the
mightiness of Fate, which is imagined almost always adverse.  I
quote these lines from William Morris, who, a Celt himself by
mere blood and race, lived in and interpreted the old Teutonic
spirit as no other English writer has attempted to do, mush less
succeeded in doing:  he is the one Teuton of English literature.
He speaks of the "haunting melancholy" of the northern races--the
"Thought of the Otherwhere" that

     "Waileth weirdly along through all music and song
     From a Teuton's voice or string: ..."

Withal it was a brave melancholy that possessed them; they were
equal to great deeds, and not easily to be discouraged; they
could make merry, too; but in the midst of their merriment, they
could not forget grim and hostile Fate:--

     "There dwelt men merry-hearted and in hope exceeding great,
     Met the good days and the evil as they went the ways of fate."

It is literature that reveals the heart of a people who had
suffered long, and learnt from their suffering the lessons of
patience, humility, continuity of effort:  those qualities which
enable them, in their coming manvantaric period, to dominate
large portions of the world.

But when we turn to the Celtic remains, the picture we find is
altogether different.  Their literature tells of a people, in the
Biblical phrase, "with a proud look and a high stomach."  It is
full of flashing colors, gaiety, titanic pride.  There was no
grayness, no mournful twilight hue on the horizon of their mind;
their 'Other-World' was only more dawn-lit, more noon-illumined,
than this one; Ireland of the living was sun-bright and
sparkling and glorious; but the 'Great Plain' of the dead was
far more sun-bright and sparkling than Ireland.  It is the
literature of a people accustomed to victory and predominance.
When they began to meet defeat they by no means acquiesced in
it.  They regarded adverse fate, not with reverence, but with
contempt.  They saw in sorrow no friend and instructress of the
human soul; were at pains to learn no lesson from her; instead,
they pitted what was their pride, but what they would have called
the glory of their own souls, against her; they made no terms,
asked no truce; but went on believing the human--or perhaps I
should say the Celtic--soul more glorious than fate, stronger to
endure and defy than she to humiliate and torment.  In many sense
it was a fatal attitude, and they reaped the misery of it; but
they gained some wealth for the human spirit from it too.  The
aged Oisin has returned from Fairyland to find the old glorious
order in Ireland fallen and passed during the three centuries of
his absence.  High Paganism has gone, and a religion meek,
inglorious, and Unceltic has taken its mission thereto:  tells
him the gods are conquered and dead, and that the omnipotent God
of the Christians reigns alone now.--"I would thy God were set on
yonder hill to fight with my son Oscar!" replies Oisin.  Patrick
paints for him the hell to which he is destined unless he accepts
Christianity; and Oisin answers:

     "Put the staff in my hands! for I go to the Fenians, thou
         cleric, to chant
     The warsongs that roused them of old; they will rise,
         making clouds with their breath.
     Innumerable, singing, exultant; and hell underneath them
         shall pant,
     And demons be broken in pieces, and trampled beneath them
         in death."

"No," says Patrick; "none war on the masters of hell, who could
break up the world in their rage"; and bids him weep and kneel in
prayer for his lost soul.  But that will not do for the old
Celtic warrior bard; no tame heaven for him.  He will go to
hell; he will not surrender the pride and glory of his soul to
the mere meanness of fate.  He will

     "Go to Caolte and Conan, and Bran, Sgeolan, Lomair
     And dwell in the house of the Fenians, be they in flames or
at feast."

So with Llywarch Hen, Prince of Cumberland, in his old age and
desolation.  His kingdom has been conquered; he is in exile in
Wales; his four and twenty sons, "wearers of golden torques,
proud rulers of princes,"  have been slain; he is considerably
over a hundred years old, and homeless, and sick; but no whit of
his pride is gone.  He has learnt no lesson from life excepts
this One:  that fate and Karma and sorrow are not so proud, not
so skillful to persecute, as the human soul is capable of bitter
resentful endurance. He is titanically angry with destiny; but
never meek or acquiescent.

Then if you look at their laws of war, you come to know very well
how this people came to be almost blotted out. If they had a true
spiritual purpose, instead of mere personal pride, I should say
the world would be Celtic-speaking and Celtic-governed now. Yet
still their reliance was all on what we must call spiritual
qualities. The first notice we get in classical literature of
Celts and Teutons--I think from Strabo--is this: "The Celts
fight for glory, the Teutons for plunder." Instead of plunder,
let us say material advantage; they knew why they were fighting,
and went to get it. But the Celtic military laws--Don Quixote in
a fit of extravagance framed them! There must be no defensive
armor; the warrior must go bare-breasted into battle. There are a
thousand things he must fear more than defeat or death--all that
would make the glory of his soul seem less to him. He must make
fighting his business, because in his folly it seemed to him that
in it he could best nourish that glory; not for what material
ends he could gain. Pitted against a people--with a definite
policy, he was bound to lose in the long run. But still he
endowed the human spirit with a certain wealth; still his folly
had been a true spiritual wisdom at one time. The French at
Fontenoy, who cried to their English enemies, when both were
about to open fire: _"Apres vous, messieurs! "_ were simply
practicing the principles of their Gaulish forefathers; the
thrill of honor, of _'Pundonor'_ as the Spaniard says, was much
more in their eyes than the chance of victory.

Now, in what condition does a race gain such qualities? Not in
sorrow; not in defeat, political dependence or humiliation. The
virtues which these teach are of an opposite kind; they are what
we may call the plebeian virtues which lead to success. But the
others, the old Celtic qualities, are essentially patrician. You
find them in the Turks; accustomed to sway subject races, and
utterly ruthless in their dealings with them; but famed as clean
and chivalrous fighters in a war with foreign peoples. See
how the Samurai, the patricians of never yet defeated Japan,
developed them. They are the qualities the Law teaches us through
centuries of domination and aristocratic life. They are developed
in a race accustomed to rule other races; a race that does
not engage in commerce; in an aristocratic race, or in an
aristocratic caste within a race. Here is the point: the Law
designs periods of ascendency for each people in its turn, that
it may acquire these qualities; and it appoints for each people
in its turn Periods of subordination, poverty and sorrow, that it
may develop the opposite qualities of patience, humility, and
orderly effort.

Would it not appear then, that in those first centuries B. C.
when Celts and Teutons were emerging into historical notice, the
Teutons were coming out of a long period of subordination, in
which they had learnt strength--the Celts out of a long period of
ascendency, in which they had learnt other things? The Teuton,
fresh from his pralayic sleep, was unconquerable by Rome.
The Celt, old, and intoxicated with the triumphs of a long
manvantara, could not repel Roman persistence and order. Rome.
too, was rising, or in her prime; had patience, and followed her
material plans every inch of the way to success. Where she
conquered, she imposed her rule. But whatever material plan were
set before the Celt, some spiritual red-herring, some notion in
his mind, was sure to sidetrack him before he had come half way
to its accomplishment. He had enough of empire-building; and
thirsted only after dreams. Brennus turned from a burnt Rome, his
pride satisfied. Vercingetorix, decked in all his gold, rode
seven times--was it seven times?--round the camp of Caesar:
defeat had come to him; death was coming; but he would bathe his
soul in a little pomp and glory first. Whether you threw your
sword in the scales, or surrendered to infamous Caesar, the main
thing was that you should kindle the pride in your eye, and puff
up the highness of your stomach. . . . So the practical Roman
despised him, and presently conquered him.

Here is another curious fact: the greater number, if not all, of
the words in the Teutonic languages denoting social order and the
machinery of government, are of Celtic derivation. Words such as
_Reich_ and _Amt,_ to give two examples I happen to remember out
of a list quoted by Mr. T. W. Rollestone in one of his books.

And now I think we have material before us wherewith to reconstruct
a sketch or plan of ancient European history. Let me remind you
again that our object is simply the discovery of Laws.  That, in
the eyes of the Law, there are no most favored nations.  That
there are no such things as permanent racial characteristics;
but that each race adopts the characteristics appropriate to
its stage of growth.

It is a case of the pendulum swing, of ebb and flow. For two
thousand years the Teutons have been pressing on and, dominating
the Celts. They started at the beginning of that time with the
plebeian qualities--and have evolved, generally speaking, a large
measure of the patrician qualities. The Celts, meanwhile, have
been pushed to the extremities of the world; their history has
been a long record of disasters. But in the preceding period the
case was just the reverse. Then the Celts held the empire. They
ruled over large Teutonic populations. Holding all the machinery
of government in their hands, they imposed on the languages of
their Teuton subjects the words concerned with that machinery;
just as in Welsh now our words of that kind are mostly straight
from the English.  It does not follow that there was any sudden
rising of Teutons against dominant Celts; more probably the
former grew gradually stronger as the latter grew gradually
weaker, until the forces were equalized.  We find the Cimbri and
Teutones allied on equal terms against Rome.  According to an old
Welsh history, the _Brut Tyssilio,_  there were Anglo-Saxons in
Britain before Caesar's invasion; invited there by the Celts, and
living in peace under the Celtic kings.  To quote the _Brut
Tyssilio_ a short time ago would have been to ensure being
scoffed at on all sides; but recently professor Flinders Petrie
has vindicated it as against both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and
Caesar himself.  English Teutonic was first spoken in Britain
probably, some two or three centuries B.C.; and it survived
there, probably, in remote places, through the whole of the Roman
occupation; then, under the influence of the rising star of the
Teutons, and reinforced by new incursions from the Continent,
finally extinguished the Latin of the roman province, and drove
Celtic into the west.

But go back from those first centuries B.C. and you come at last
to a time when the Celtic star was right at the zenith, the
Teutonic very low.  Free Teutons you should hardly have found
except in Scandinavia; probably only in southern Sweden:  for
further north, and in most of Norway, you soon came to ice and
the Lapps and _terra incognita._  And even Sweden may have been
under Celtic influence--for the Celtic words survive there
--but hardly so as to affect racial individuality; just as
Wales and Ireland are under English rule now, yet retain their
Celtic individuality.

And then go back a few more thousand years again, and you would
probably find the case again reversed; and Teutons lording it
over Celts, and our present conditions restored.  It is by
suffering these poles of experience, now pride and domination,
now humiliation and adversity, that the races of mankind learn.
Europe is not a new sort of continent.  Man, says one of the
Teachers, has been much what he is any time these million years.
History has been much what it is now, ebbing and flowing.
Knowledge, geographical and other, has receded, and again
expanded.  Europe has been the seat of empires and civilizations,
all Europe, probably, for not so far short of a million years;
there has been plenty of time for it to multiply terrible karma--
which takes the occasion to expend itself sometimes--as now.  I
mistrust the theory of recent Aryan in-pourings from Asia.  The
Huns came in when the Chinese drove them; and the Turks and
Mongols have come in since; but there is nothing to show that
the Slavs, for example, when they first appear in history, had
come in from beyond the Urals and the Caspian.  Slavs and Greco-
Latins, Teutons and Celts, I think they were probably in Europe
any time these many hundreds of thousands of years.

Or rather, I think there were Europeans--Indo-Europeans, Aryans,
call them what you will--where they are now at any time during
such a period.  Because race is a thing that will not bear
close investigation.  It is a phase; an illusion; a temporary
appearance taken on by sections of humanity.  There is nothing in
it to fight about or get the least hot over.  It is a camouflage;
there you have the very word for it.  What we call Celts
and Teutons are simply portions of the one race, humanity,
camouflaged up upon their different patterns.  So far as flood
and ultimate physical heredity are concerned, I doubt there is
sixpenny-worth of difference between any two of the lot.  "Oi
mesilf," said Mr. Dooley, speaking as a good American citizen,
"am the thruest and purest Anglo-Saxon that iver came out of
Anglo-Saxony."  We call ourselves Anglo-Saxons because we speak
English (a language more than half Latin); when in reality we
are probably Jews, Turks, infidels or heretics, if all were
known.  What is a Spaniard?  A Latin, you answer pat.  Yes; he
speaks a Latin-derived language; and has certain qualities of
temperament which seem to mark him as more akin to the French and
Italians, than to those whom we, just as wisely, dub 'Teutonic'
or 'Slavic.'  But in fact he may have in his veins not a drop of
blood that is not Celtic, or not a drop that is not Teutonic, or
Moorish, or Roman, or Phoenician, or Iberian, or God knows what.

Suppose you have four laya centers in Europe:  four Foci through
which psychic impulses from the Oversoul pour through into this
world.  A Mediterranean point, perhaps in Italy; a Teutonic
point in Sweden; a Celtic point in Wales-Ireland (formerly a
single island, before England rose out of the sea); and a Slavic
point, probably in Russia.  The moment comes for such and
such a 'race' to expand; the Mediterranean, for example.  The
Italian laya center, Rome, quickens into life.  Rome conquers
Italy, Gaul, Spain, Britain, the East; becomes _Caput Mundi._
Countries that shortly before were Celtic in blood, become,
through no material change in that blood, Latin; by language,
and, as we say, by race.  The moment comes for a Teutonic
expansion.  The laya center in Sweden quickens; there is a
Swedish or Gothic invasion of Celtic lands south of the Baltic;
the continental Teutons presently are freed.  It is the expansion
of a spirit, of a psychic something.  People that were before
Celts (just as Mr. Dooley is an Anglo-Saxon)  become somehow
Teutons.  The language expands, and carries a tradition with it.
Head measurements show that neither Southern Germany nor England
differs very much towards Teutonicism from the Mediterranean
type; yet the one is thoroughly Teutonic, the other Anglo-Saxon.
Sometimes the blood may be changed materially; often, I suppose,
it is changed to some extent; but the main change takes place in
the language and tradition; sometimes in tradition alone.  There
was a minor Celtic quickening in the twelfth century A. D.;
then Wales was in a fervor of national life.  She had not the
resources, or perhaps the will, for outside conquest.  But her
Authurian legend went forth, and drove Beowulf and Child Horn out
of the memory of the English, Charlemagne out of the memory of
the French; invaded Germany, Italy, even Spain:  absolutely
installed Welsh King Arthur as the national hero of the people
his people were fighting; and infused chivalry with a certain
uplift and mysticism through-out western Europe.  Or again, in
the Cinquecento and earlier, the Italian center quickened; and
learning and culture flowed up from Italy through France and
England; and these countries, with Spain, become the leaders in
power and civilization.

England since that Teutonic expansion which made her English was
spent, has grown less and less Teutonic, more and more Latin;
the Italian impulse of the Renaissance drove her far along that
path.  In the middle of the eleventh century, her language was
purely Teutonic; you could count on the fingers of your hand the
words derived from Latin or Celtic.  And now?  Sixty percent of
all English words are Latin.  At the beginning of the fifth
century, after nearly three hundred years of Roman occupation,
one can hardly doubt that Latin was the language of what is now
England.  Celtic, even then I imagine, was mainly to be heard
among the mountains.  See how that situation is slowly coming
back.  And the tendency is all in the same direction.  You have
taken, indeed, a good few words from Dutch; and some two dozen
from German, in all these centuries; but a Latin word has
only to knock, to be admitted and made welcome.  Teachers of
composition must sweat blood and tears for it, alas, to get their
pupils to write English and shun Latin.  In a thousand years'
time, will English be as much a Latin language as French is?
Quite likely.  The Saxon words grow obsolete; French ones come
pouring in.  And Americans are even more prone to Latinisms than
Englishmen are:  they 'locate' at such and such a place, where an
English man would just go and live there.

Before Latin, Celtic was the language of Britain.  Finally, says
W.Q. Judge, Sanskrit will become the universal language.  That
would mean simply that the Fifth Root Race will swing back slowly
through all the linguistic changes that it has known in the past,
till it reaches its primitive language condition.  Then the
descendants of Latins, Slavs, Celts, and Teutons will proudly
boast their unadulterated Aryan-Sanscrit heredity, and exult
over their racial superiority to those barbarous Teutons,
Celts, Slavs, and Latins of old, of whom their histories will
lie profusely.



II.  Homer


When the Law designs to get tremendous things out of a race of
men, it goes to work this way and that, making straight the road
for an inrush of important and awakened souls. Having in mind to
get from Greece a startling harvest presently, it called one
Homer, surnamed Maeonides, into incarnation, and endowed him with
high poetic genius. Or he had in many past lives so endowed
himself; and therefore the Law called him in. This evening I
shall work up to him, and try to tell you a few things about him,
some of which you may know already, but some of which may be new
to you.

What we may call a European manvantara or major cycle of
activity--the one that preceded this present one--should have
begun about 870 B. C. Its first age of splendor, _of which we
know anything,_ began in Greece about 390 years afterwards; we
may conveniently take 478, the year Athens attained the hegemony,
as the date of its inception. Our present European manvantara
began while Frederick II was forcing a road for civilization up
from the Moslem countries through Italy; we may take 1240 as a
central and convenient date. The first 390 years of it--from 1240
to 1632--saw Dante and all the glories of the Cinquecento in
Italy; Camoens and the era of the great navigators in Portugal;
Cervantes and his age in Spain; Elizabeth and Shakespeare in
England. That will suggest to us that the Periclean was not the
first age of splendor in Europe in that former manvantara; it
will suggest how much we may have lost through the loss of all
records of cultural effort in northern and western Europe during
the four centuries that preceded Pericles. Of course we cannot
certainly say that there were such ages of splendor. But we shall
see presently that during every century since Pericles--during
the whole historical period--there has been an age of splendor
somewhere; and that these have followed each other with such
regularity, upon such a definite geographical and chronological
plan, that unless we accept the outworn conclusion that at a
certain time--about 500 B. C.--the nature of man and the laws of
nature and history underwent radical change, we shall have to
believe that the same thing had been going on--the recurrence of
ages of splendor--back into the unknown night of time.  And that
geographical and chronological plan will show us that such ages
were going on in unknown Europe during the period we are speaking
of.  In the manvantara 2980 to 1480 B.C., did the Western Laya
Center play the part in Europe, that the Southern one did in the
manvantara 870 B.C. to 630 A.D.?  Was the Celtic Empire then,
what the roman Empire became in the later time?  If so, their
history after the pralaya 1480 to 870 may have been akin to that
of the Latin, in this present cycle; no longer a united empire,
they may have achieved something comparable to the achievements
of France, Spain, and Italy in the later Middle Ages. At least we
hear the rumblings of their marches and the far shoutings of
their aimless victories until within a century or two of the
Christian era. Then, what was Italy like in the heyday of the
Etruscans, or under the Roman kings? The fall of Tarquin--an
Etruscan--was much more epochal, much more disastrous, than Livy
guessed. There were more than seven kings of Rome; and their era
was longer than from 753 to 716; and Rome--or perhaps the
Etruscan state of which it formed a part--was a much greater
power then, than for several centuries after their fall. The
great works they left are an indication.  But only the vaguest
traditions of that time came down to Livy.  The Celts sacked
Rome in 390 B.C., and all the records of the past were lost;
years of confusion followed; and a century and a half and
more before Roman history began to be written by Ennius in his
epic _Annales._  It was a break in history and blotting out of
the past; such as happened in China in 214 B.C., when the ancient
literature was burnt.  Such things take place under the Law.
Race-memory may not go back beyond a certain time; there is a
law in Nature that keeps ancient history esoteric.  As we
go forward, the horizon behind follows us.  In the ages of
materialism and the low places of racial consciousness, that
horizon probably lies near to us; as you see least far on a
level plain.  But as we draw nearer to esotericism, and attain
elevations nearer the spirit, it may recede; as the higher you
stand, the farther you see.  Not so long ago, the world was but
six thousand years old in European estimation.  But ever since
Theosophy has been making its fight to spiritualize human
consciousness, _pari passu_ the horizon of the past has been
pushed back by new and new discoveries.

What comes down to us from old Europe between its waking and the
age of Pericles?  Some poetry, legends, and unimportant history
from Greece; some legends from Rome; the spirit or substance of
the Norse sagas; the spirit or substance of the Welsh Mabinogi
and the Arthurian atmosphere; and of the Irish tales of the Red
Branch and Fenian cycles.  The actual tales as we get them were
no doubt retold in much later times; and it is these late
recensions that we have. What will remain of England in the
memory of three or four thousand years hence? Unless this
Theosophical Movement shall have lifted human standards to the
point where that which has hitherto been esoteric may safely be
kept public, this much:--an echo only of what  England has
produced of eternal truth;--something from Shakespeare; something
from Milton; and as much else in prose and poetry from the rest.
But all the literature of this and all past ages is and will then
still be in being; in the hidden libraries of the Guardians of
Esoteric Science, from which they loose fragments and hints on
the outer world as the occasion cyclically recurs, and as their
wisdom directs.

How do they loose such fragments of old inspiration? It may be by
putting some manuscript in the way of discovery; it may be by
raising up some man of genius who can read the old records on
inner planes, and reproduce in epic or drama something of a long
past splendor to kindle the minds of men anew. In that way Greece
was kindled. Troy fell, says H. P. Blavatsky, nearly five
thousand years ago. Now you will note that a European manvantara
began in 2980 B. C.; which is very nearly five thousand years
ago. And that this present European manvantara or major cycle was
lit up from a West Asian Cycle; from the Moors in Spain; from
Egypt through Sicily and Italy; and, in its greatest splendor;
when Constantinople fell, and refugees therefrom came to light
the Cinquecento in Italy. Now Constantinople is no great way from
Troy; and, by tradition, refugees came to Italy from Troy, once.
Was it they in part, who lit up that ancient European cycle of
from 2980 to 1480 B. C.?

In the Homeric poems a somewhat vague tradition seems to come
down of the achievements of one of the European peoples in that
ancient cycle. Sometime then Greece had her last Pre-periclean
age of greatness. What form it took, the details of it, were
probably as much lost to the historic Greeks as the details of
the Celtic Age are to us. But Homer caught an echo and preserved
the atmosphere of it. As the Celtic Age bequeaths to us, in the
Irish and Welsh stories, a sense of style--which thing is the
impress of the human spirit triumphant over all hindrances to its
expression;--so that long past period bequeathed through Homer a
sense of style to the later Greeks. It rings majestically through
his lines. His history is perhaps not actual history in any
recognizable shape.

Legends of a long lost glory drifted down to a poet of mightiest
genius; and he embodied them, amplified them, told his message
through them; perhaps reinvented half of them. Even so Geoffrey
of Monmouth (without genius, however) did with the rumors that
came down to him anent the ancient story of his own people; and
Spenser followed him in the _Faery Queen,_ Malory in his book,
and Tennyson in the _Idylls of the King._  Even in that last,
from the one poem _Morte D'Arthur_ we should get a sense of the
old stylish magnificence of the Celtic epoch; for the sake of a
score of lines in it, we can forgive Tennyson the rest of the
Idylls.  But Tennyson was no Celt himself; only, like Spenser
and Malory, an anglicizer of things Celtic.  How much more
of the true spirit would have come down to Homer, a Greek
of genius, writing of traditional Greek glory, and thrilled
with racial uplift.

Where did he live?  Oh, Goodness knows!  When?  Goodness knows
again.  (Though we others may guess a little, I hope.)  We have
Herodotus for it, that Homer lived about four hundred years
before his own time; that is to say, to give a date, in 850;
and I like the figure well; for if Dante came in as soon as
possible after the opening of this present manvantara, why not
Homer as soon as possible after the opening of the last one?  At
such times great souls do come in; or a little before or a
little after; because they have a work of preparation to do;
and between Dante and Homer there is much parallelism in aims and
aspirations: what the one sought to do for Italy, the other
sought to do for Greece.  But this is to treat Homer as if he had
been one real man; whereas everybody knows 'it has been proved'
(a) that there was no such person; (b) that there were dozens of
him; (c) that black is white, man an ape, and the soul a
fiction.  Admitted.  A school of critics has cleaned poor old
blind Maeonides up very tidily, and left not a vestige of him on
God's earth--just as they have, or their like have, cleaned up
the Human Soul.  But there is another school, who have preserved
for him some shreds at least of identity.  Briefly put, you can
'prove up what may be classed as brain-mind evidence--grammar,
microscopic examination of text and forms and so on--that Homer
is a mere airy myth; but to do so you must be totally oblivious
of the spiritual facts of style and poetry.  Take these into
account, and he rises with wonderful individuality from the grave
and nothingness into which you have relegated him.  The Illiad
does not read like a single poem; there are incompatibilities
between its parts.  On the other hand, there is, generally
speaking, the impress of a single creative genius.  One master
made the Homeric style.  The Iliad, as we know it, may contain
passages not his; but--_he wrote the Iliad._

What does not follow is, that he ever sat down and said:  "Now
let us write an epic."  Conditions would be against it.  A
wandering minstrel makes ballads, not epics; for him Poe's law
applies:  that is a poem which can be read or recited at a single
sitting.  The unity of the Iliad is one not of structure, but of
spirit; and the chances are that the complete works of any great
poet will be a unity of spirit.

Why should we not suppose that in the course of a long life a
great poet--whose name may not have been Homer--that may have
been only _what he was called_--his real name may have been (if
the critics will have it so) the Greek for Smith, or Jones, or
Brown, or Robinson--but he was _called_ Homer anyhow--why should
we not suppose that he, filled and fascinated always with one
great traditionary subject, wrote now one incident as a complete
poem; ten years later another incident; and again, after an
interval, another?  Each time with the intention to make a
complete and separate poem; each time going to it influenced by
the natural changes of his mood; now preoccupied with one hero or
god, now with another.  The Tennyson in his twenties, who wrote
the fairylike _Lady of Shalott,_ was a very different man in mood
and outlook from the Mid-Victorian Tennyson who wrote the
execrable _Merlin and Vivien;_  but both were possessed with the
Arthurian legend.  At thirty and at fifty you may easily take
different views of the same men and incidents.  The Iliad, I
suggest, may be explained as the imperfect fusion of many poems
and many moods and periods of life of a single poet.  It was not
until the time of Pisistratus, remember, that it was edited into
a single epic.

Now these many poems, before Pisistratus took them in hand, had
been in the keeping for perhaps three centuries of wandering
minstrels--Rhapsodoi, Aoidoi, Citharaedi and Homeridae, as they
were called--who drifted about the Isles of Greece and Asiatic
mainland during the long period of Greek insignificance and
unculture.  The first three orders were doubtless in existence
long before Homer was born; they were the bards, trouveurs and
minnesingers of their time; their like are the instruments of
culture in any race during its pralayas.  So you find the
professional story-tellers in the East today.  But the Homeridae
may well have been--as De Quincey suggests--an order specially
trained in the chanting of Homeric poems; perhaps a single
school founded in some single island by or for the sake of Homer.
We hear that Lycurgus was the first who brought Homer--the works,
not the man--into continental Greece; importing them from Crete.
That means, probably, that he induced Homeridae to settle
in Sparta.  European continental Greece would in any case
have been much behind the rest of the Greek world in culture;
because furthest from and the least in touch with West Asian
civilization.  Crete was nearer to Egypt; the Greeks of Asia
Minor to Lydia; as for the islanders of the Cyclades and
Sporades, the necessity of gadding about would have brought them
into contact with their betters to the south and east, and so
awakened them, much sooner than their fellow Greeks of Attica,
Boeotia, and the Peloponnese.

Where did Homer live?  Naturally, as a wandering bard, all over
the place.  We know of the seven cities that claimed to be
his birthplace:

     _Smyrna, Chias, Colophon, Salamis, Rhodos, Argos, Athenae
          Orbis de patria certat, Homere, Tua._

Of these Smyrna probably has the best chance of it; for he was
Maeonides, the son of Maeon, and Maeon was the son of Meles; and
the Maeon and the Meles are rivers by Smyrna.  But De Quincey
makes out an excellent case for supposing he knew Crete better
than any other part of the world.  Many of the legends he
records; many of the superstitions--to call them that;--many of
the customs he describes: have been, and are still, peculiar to
Crete.  Neither the smaller islands, nor continental Greece, were
very suitable countries for horse-breeding; and the horse does
not figure greatly in their legends.  But in Crete the friendship
of horse and man was traditional; in Cretan folk-lore, horses
still foresee the doom of their masters, and weep. So they
do in Homer.

There is a certain wild goat found only in Crete, of which he
give a detailed description; down the measurement of its horns;
exact, as sportsmen have found in modern times.  He mentions the
_Kubizeteres,_ Cretan tumblers, who indulge in a 'stunt' unknown
elsewhere.  They perform in couples; and when he mentions them,
it is in the dual number.  Preternatural voices are an Homeric
tradition:  Stentor "spoke loud as fifty other men"; when
Achilles roared at the Trojans, their whole army was frightened.
In Crete such voices are said to be still common:  shepherds
carry on conversations at incredible distances--speak to, and are
answered by, men not yet in sight.--Dequincey gives several other
such coincidences; none of them, by itself, might be very
convincing; but taken all together, they rather incline one to
the belief that Smith, or Brown, or Jones, _alias_ Homer, must
have spent a good deal of his time in Crete;--say, was brought
up there.

Now Crete is much nearer Egypt than the rest of Greece is; and
may very likely have shared in a measure of Egyptian culture at
the very beginning of the European manvantara, and even before.
Of course, in past cycles it had been a great center of culture
itself; but that was long ago, and I am not speaking of it.  In
the tenth century A.D., three hundred years before civilization,
in our own cycle, had made its way from the West Asian Moslem
world into Christendom, Sicily belonged to Egypt and shared in
its refinement--was Moslem and highly civilized, while Europe
was Christian and barbarous; later it became a main channel
through which Europe received enlightenment.  May not Crete
have played a like part in ancient times?  I mean, is it
not highly probable?  May it not have been--as Sicily was
to be--a mainly European country under Egyptian influence,
and a seat of Egyptianized culture?

Let us, then, suppose Homer a Greek, born early in the ninth
century B.C., taken in childhood to Crete, and brought up there
in contact with cultural conditions higher than any that obtained
elsewhere among his own people.

But genius stirs in him, and he is Greek altogether in the deep
enthusiasms proper to genius: so presently he leaves Crete and
culture, to wander forth among the islands singing.--

     _En delo tote Proton ego Kai Homeros aoidoi
     Melpomen,_

says Hesiod: "Then first in Delos did I and Homer, two Aoidoi,
perform as musical reciters." Delos, of course, is a small island
in the Cyclades.

He would have had some training, it is likely, as an Aoidos: a
good founding in the old stories which were their stock in trade,
and which all pointed to the past glory of his race. In Crete he
had seen the culture of the Egyptians; in Asia Minor, the
strength and culture of the Lydians; now in his wanderings
through the isles he saw the disunion and rudeness of the Greeks.
But the old traditions told him of a time when Greeks acted
together and were glorious:  when they went against, and
overthrew, a great West Asian Power strong and cultured like the
Lydians and Egyptians.  Why should not he create again the glory
that once was Greece?

     _Menin aeide, Thea, Peleiadeo Achileos!_

--Goddess, aid me to sing the wrath (and grandeur) of a Greek
hero!--Let the Muses help him, and he will remind his people of
an ancient greatness of their own:  of a time when they were
united, and triumphed over these now so much stronger peoples!
So Dante, remembering ancient Rome, evoked out of the past and
future a vision of United Italy; so in the twelfth century a
hundred Welsh bards sand of Arthur.

I think he would have created out of his own imagination
the life he pictures for his brazen-coated Achaeans.  It
does not follow, with any great poet, that he is bothering
much with historical or other accuracies, or sticking very
closely even to tradition.  Enough that the latter should give
him a direction; as Poet-creator, he can make the details
for himself.  Homer's imagination would have been guided,
I take it, by two conditions:  what he saw of the life of
his semi-barbarous Greek country men; and what he knew of
civilization in Egyptianized Crete.  He was consciously picturing
the life of Greeks; but Greeks in an age traditionally more
cultured than his own.  Floating legends would tell him much
of their heroic deed, but little of their ways of living.
Such details he would naturally have to supply for himself.
How would he go to work?  In this way, I think.  The Greeks,
says he, were in those old ages, civilized and strong, not,
as now, weak, disunited and half barbarous.  Now what is strength
like, and civilization?  Why, I have them before me here to
observe, here in Crete.  But Crete is Egyptianized; I want a
Greek civilization; culture as it would appear if home-grown
among Greeks.--I do not mean that he consciously set this plan
before himself; but that naturally it would be the course that
he, or anyone, would follow.  Civilization would have meant for
him Cretan civilization:  the civilization he knew:  that part of
the proposition would inhere in his subconsciousness.  But in his
conscious mind, in his intent and purpose, would inhere a desire
to differentiate the Greek culture he wanted to paint, from the
Egyptianized culture he knew.  So I think that the conditions of
life he depicts were largely the creation of his own imagination,
working in the material of Greek character, as he knew it, and
Cretan-Egyptian culture as he knew that.  He made his people
essentially Greeks, but ascribed to them also non-Greek features
drawn from civilized life.

One sees the same thing in the old Welsh Romances:  tales from of
old retold by men fired with immense racial hopes, with a view to
fostering such hopes in the minds of their hearers.  The bards
saw about them the rude life and disunion of the Welsh, and the
far greater outward culture of the Normans; and their stock in
trade was a tradition of ancient and half-magical Welsh grandeur.
When they wrote of Cai--Sir Kay the Seneschal--that so subtle was
his nature that when it pleased him he could make himself as tall
as the tallest tree in the forest, they were dealing in a purely
celtic element:  the tradition of the greatness of, and the
magical powers inherent in, the human spirit; but when they set
him on horseback, to ride tilts in the tourney ring, they were
simply borrowing from, to out do, the Normans.  Material culture,
as they saw it, included those things; therefore they ascribed
them to the old culture they were trying to paint.

Lying was traditionally a Greek vice.  The Greek lied as
naturally as the Persian told the truth.  Homer wishes to set
forth Ulysses, one of his heroes, adorned with all heroic
perfections.  He was so far Greek as not to think of lying as a
quality to detract; he proudly makes Ulysses a "lord of lies."
Perhaps nothing in Crete itself would have taught him better; if
we may believe Epimenides and Saint Paul.  On the other hand, he
was a great-hearted and compassionate man; compassionate as
Shakespeare was.  Now the position of women in historical Greece
was very low indeed; the position of women in Egypt, as we know,
was very high indeed.  This was a question to touch such a man to
the quick; the position he gives women is very high:  very much
higher than it was in Periclean Athens, with all the advance that
had been made by that time in general culture.  Andromache, in
Homer, is the worthy companion and helpmeet of Hector; not a
Greek, but Egyptian idea.

Homer's contemporary, Hesiod, tells in his _Works and Days_ of
the plebeian and peasant life of his time.  Hesiod had not the
grace of mind or imagination to idealize anything; he sets down
the life of the lower orders with a realism comparable to that of
the English Crabbe.  It is an ugly and piteous picture he gives.
Homer, confining himself in the main to the patrician side of
things, does indeed give hints that the lot of the peasant and
slave was miserable; he does not quite escape some touches from
the background of his own day.  Nor did Shakespeare, trying to
paint the life of ancient Athens, escape an English Elizabethan
Background; Bully Bottom and his colleagues are straight from
the wilds of Warwickshire; the Roman mob is made up of London
prentices, cobblers and the like.  Learned Ben, on the other
hand, contrives in his _Sejanus_ and his _Catiline,_ by dint and
sheer intellect and erudition, to give us correct waxwork and
clockwork Romans; there are no anachronisms in Ben Johnson;
never a pterodactyl walks down _his_ Piccadilly.  But Shakespeare
rather liked to have them in his; with his small Latin and less
Greek, he had to create his human beings--draw them from the
life, and from the life he saw about him.  The deeper you see
into life, the less the costumes and academic exactitudes matter;
you keep your imagination for the great things, and let the
externals worry about themselves.  Now Homer was a deal more
like Shakespeare than Ben; but there was this difference:
he was trying to create Greeks of a nobler order than his
contemporaries.  Men in those days, he says, were of huger
stature than they are now.  And yet, when his imagination is not
actually at work to heighten and ennoble the portrait of a hero,
real Greek life of his own times does not fail sometimes--to
obtrude on him.  So he lets in bits now and again that belong to
the state of things Hesiod describes, and confirm the truth of
Hesiod's dismal picture.

Well, he wandered the islands, singing; "laying the nexus of his
songs," as Hesiod says in the passage from which I quoted just
now, "in the ancient sacred hymns."  As Shakespeare was first an
actor, then a tinkerer of other men's plays, then a playwright on
his own account; so perhaps Homer, from a singer of the old
hymns, became an improver and restorer of them, then a maker
of new ones.  He saw the wretched condition of his people,
contrasted it with the traditions he found in the old days, and
was spurred up to create a glory for them in his imagination.
His feelings were hugely wrought upon by compassion working as
yoke-fellow with race-pride.  You shall see presently how the
intensity of his pity made him bitter; how there must have been
something Dantesque of grim sadness in his expression:  he had
seen suffering, not I think all his own, till he could allow to
fate no quality but cruelty.  Impassioned by what we may call
patriotism, he attacked again and again the natural theme for
Greek epic:  the story of a Greek contest with and victory over
West Asians; but he was too great not to handle even his West
Asians with pity, and moves us to sympathy with Hector and
Andromache often, because against them too was stretched forth
the hand of the great enemy, fate.  In different moods and at
different times, never thinking to make an epic, he produced a
large number of different poems about the siege of Troy.

And the Odyssey?  Well, the tradition was that he wrote it in his
old age.  Its mood is very different from that of the Iliad; and
many words used in it are used with a different meaning; and
there are words that are not used in the Iliad at all.  Someone
says, it comes from the old age of the Greek epic, rather than
from that of Homer.  I do not know.  It is a better story than
the Iliad; as if more nearly cast at one throe of a mind.  Yet
it, too, must be said not to hang together; here also are
discrepant and incompatible parts.

There is all tradition for it that the Homeric poems were handed
down unwritten for several centuries.  Well; I can imagine the
Aoidoi and Citharaoidoi and the rest learning poems from the
verbal instruction of other Aoidoi and Citharaoidoi, and so
preserving them from generation to generation to generation. But
I cannot imagine, and I do think it is past the wit of man to
imagine, long poems being composed by memory; it seems to me
Homer must have written or dictated them at first.  Writing in
Greece may have been an esoteric science in those times.  It is
now, anywhere, to illiterates.  In Caesar's day, as he tells us,
it was an esoteric science among the Druids; they used it, but
the people did not.  It seems probable that writing was not in
general use among the Greeks until long after Homer; but, to me,
certain that Homer used it himself, or could command the services
to those who did.  But there was writing in Crete long before the
Greco-Phoenician alphabet was invented; from the time of the
first Egyptian Dynasties, for example.  And here is a point to
remember:  alphabets are invented; systems of writing are lost
and reintroduced; but it is idle to talk of the invention of
writing.  Humanity has been writing, in one way or another, since
Lemurian days.  When the Manasaputra incarnated, Man became a
poetizing animal; and before the Fourth Race began, his divine
Teachers had taught him to set his poems down on whatever he
chanced at the time to be using as we use paper.

Now, what more can we learn about the inner and real Homer?  What
can I tell you in the way of literary criticism, to fill out the
picture I have attempted to make?  Very little; yet perhaps
something.  I think his historical importance is greater, for us
now, than his literary importance.  I doubt you shall find in him
as great and true thinking, as much Theosophy or Light upon the
hidden things, as there is in Virgil for example.  I doubt he was
an initiate, to understand in that life and with his conscious
mind the truths that make men free.  Plato did not altogether
approve of him; and where Plato dared lead, we others need not
fear to follow.  I think the great Master-Poets of the world have
been such because, with supreme insight into the hidden, they
presented a great Master-Symbol of the Human Soul.  I believe
that in the Iliad Homer gives us nothing of that sort; and that
therefore, in a certain sense, he is constantly over-rated.  He
pays the penalty of his over-whelming reputation:  his fame is
chiefly in the mouths of those who know him not at all, and
use their hats for speaking-trumpets.  We have in English no
approximately decent translation of him.  Someone said that Pope
served him as Puck served Bully Bottom, what time Peter Quince
was moved to cry:  "Bless thee Bottom, how thou art translated!"
It is not so; to call Pope an ass would be to wrong a faithful
and patient quadruped; than which Pope was as much greater in
intellect as he was less in all qualities that call for true
respect.  Yet often we applaud Homer, only upon a knowledge of
Pope; and it is safe to say that if you love Pope you would
loathe Homer.  Pope held that water should manifest, so to say,
through Kew or Versailles fountains; but it was essentially to
be from the Kitchen-tap--or even from the sewer.  Homer was more
familiar with it thundering on the precipices, or lisping on the
yellow sands of time-forgotten Mediterranean islands.  Which
pronunciation do you prefer for his often-recurring and famous
sea-epithet:  the thunder-on-the-precipices of

     _poluphloisboio thalasses,_

or the lisping-on-the-sands of

    _ poluphleesbeeo thalassace?_

(pardon the attempted phonetics).--For truly there are advocates
of either; but neither I suppose would have appealed much to
Mr. Pope.

As to his style, his manner or movement:  to summarize what
Mathew Arnold says of it (the best I can do):  it is as direct
and rapid as Scott's; as lucid as Wordsworth's could be; but
noble like Shakespeare's or Milton's.  There is no Dantesque
periphrasis, nor Miltonian agnostic struggle and inversion; but
he calls spades, spades, and moves on to the next thing swiftly,
clearly, and yet with exultation.  (Yet there is retardation
often by long similes.)  And he either made a language for
himself, or found one ready to his hand, as resonant and sonorous
as the loll and slap of billows in the hollow caverns of the sea.
As his lines swing in and roll and crash, they swell the soul in
you, and you hear and grow great on the rhythm of the eternal.
This though we really, I suppose, are quite uncertain as to the
pronunciation.  But give the vowels merely a plain English value,
certain to be wrong, and you still have grand music.  Perhaps
some of you have read Mathew Arnold's great essay _On Translating
Homer,_ and know the arguments wherewith wise Matthew exalts him.
A Mr. Newman had translated him so as considerably to out-Bottom
Bottom; and Arnold took up the cudgels--to some effect.  Newman
had treated him as a barbarian, a primitive; Arnold argued that
it was Homer, on the contrary, who might have so looked on us.
There is, however, perhaps something to be said on Mr. Newman's
side.  Homer's huge and age-long fame, and his extraordinary
virtues, were quite capable of blinding even a great critic to
certain things about him which I shall, with great timidity,
designate imperfections:  therein following De Quincey, who read
Greek from early childhood as easily as English, and who, as a
critic, saw things sometimes.  _Bonus dormitat Homerus,_ says
Horace; like the elder Gobbo, he "something smacked."  He was
the product of a great creative force; which did not however
work in a great literary age:  and all I am going to say is
merely a bearing out of this.

First there is his poverty of epithets.  He repeats the same ones
over and over again.  He can hardly mention Hector without
calling him _megas koruthaiolos Hector,_--"great glittering-
helmeted Hector"; or (in the genitive) _Hectoros hippodamoio_--
"of Hector the tamer of war-steeds."  Over and over again we have
_anax andron Agamemnon;_ or "swift-footed Achilles."  Over and
over again is the sea _poluphloisbois-terous,_ as if he could say
nothing new about it.  Having discovered one resounding phrase
that fits nicely into the hexameter, he seems to have been just
content with the splendor of sound, and unwilling so to stir his
imagination as to flash some new revelation on it.  As if Hamlet
should never be mentioned in the play, without some such epithet
as "the hesitating Dane."......  But think how the Myriad-minded
One positively tumbles over himself in hurling and fountaining up
new revelatory figures and epithets about everything:  how he
could not afford to repeat himself, because there were not enough
hours in the day, days in the year, nor years in one human
lifetime, in which to ease his imagination of its tremendous
burden. He had Golconda at the root of his tongue: let him but
pass you the time of day, and it shall go hard but he will pour
you out the wealth of Ormus or of Ind. A plethora, some have
said: never mind; wealth was nothing to him, because he had it
all. Or note how severe Milton, almost every time he alludes to
Satan, throws some new light of majestic gloom, inner or outer,
with a new epithet or synonym, upon his figure or his mind.

Even of mere ancillaries and colorless lines, Homer will make you
a resounding glory. What means this most familiar one, think you:

     _Ten d'apameibomenos prosephe koruthaiolos Hector?_

--Surely here some weighty splendid thing is being revealed? But
no; it means: "Answering spake unto her great glittering-helmeted
Hector;" or _tout simplement,_ 'Hector answered.' And hardly can
anyone open his lips, but it must be brought in with some
variation of that sea-riding billow, or roll of drums:

     _Ton d'emeibet epeita anax andron Agamemnon.
     Hos phato.  Ten d'outi prosephe nephelegereta Zeus_

--whereafter at seven lines down we get again:

     _Ten de meg' ochthesas prosephe nephelegereta Zeus;_

--in all of which I think we do get something of primitivism and
unskill. It is a preoccupation with sound where there is no
adequate excuse for the sound; after the fashion of some orators,
whom, to speak plainly, it is a weariness to hear. But you will
remember how Shakespeare rises to his grandest music when he has
fatefullest words to utter; and how Milton rolls in his supreme
thunders each in its recurring cycle; leads you to wave-crest
over wave-trough, and then recedes; and how the crest is always
some tremendous thing in vision, or thought as well as sound. So
he has everlasting variation; manages his storms and billows; and
so I think his music is greater in effect than Homer's--would
still be greater, could we be sure of Homer's tones and vowel-
values; as I think his vision goes deeper into the realm of the
Soul and the Eternal.

Yet is Homer majestic and beautiful abundantly. If it is true
that his reputation gains on the principle of _Omne ignotum pro
magnifico_--because he is unknown to most that praise him--let
none imagine him less than a wonderful reservoir of poetry. His
faults--to call them that--are such as you would expect from his
age, race, and peculiar historic  position; his virtues are
drawn out of the grandeur of his own soul, and the current from
the Unfathomable that flowed through him.  He had the high
serious attitude towards the great things, and treated them
highly, deeply and seriously.  We may compare him to Dante:  who
also wrote, in an age and land not yet literary or cultured, with
a huge racial inspiration. But Dante had something more:  a
purpose to reveal in symbol the tremendous world of the Soul.
Matthew Arnold speaks of the Homeric poems as "the most important
poetical monument existing."  Well; cultured Tom, Dick and Harry
would say much the same thing; it is the orthodox thing to say.
But with great deference to Matthew, I believe they are really a
less important monument than the poems of Aeschylus, Dante,
Shakespeare, or Milton, or I suppose Goethe--to name only poets
of the Western World; because each of these created a Soul-
symbol; which I think the Iliad at any rate does not.

Here, to me, is another sign of primitivism.  If there is paucity
of imagination in his epithets, there is none whatever in his
surgery.  I do not know to what figure the casualty list in the
Iliad amounts; but believe no wound or death of them all was
dealt in the same bodily part or in the same way.  Now Poetry
essentially turns from these physical details; her preoccupations
are with the Soul.

"From Homer and Polygnotus,"  says Goethe, "I daily learn more
and more that in our life here above the ground we have, properly
speaking, to enact Hell."  A truth, so far as it goes:  this
Earth is hell; there is no hell, says H.P. Blavatsky, but a man-
bearing planet.  But we demand of the greatest, that they shall
see beyond hell into Heaven.  Homer achieves his grandeur
oftenest through swift glimpses of the pangs and tragedy of human
fate; and I do not think he saw through the gloom to the
bright Reality.  Watching the Greek host from the walls of Troy,
Helen says:

     "Clearly the rest I behold of the dark-eyed sons of Achaia;
     Known to me well are the faces of all; their names I remember;
     Two, two only remain whom I see not among the commanders,
     Castor, fleet in the car, Polydeukes, brave with the cestus--
     Own dear brethren of mine,--one parent loved us as infants.
     Are they not here in the host, from the shores of loved
         Lacedaimon?
     Or, though they came with the rest in the ships that bound
         through the waters,
     Dare they not enter the fight, or stand in the council of heroes,
     All for fear of the shame and the taunts my crime has awakened?"

And then:

     _Hos phato.  Tous d'ede kalechen phusizoos aia,
     En Lakedaimoni authi, phile en patridi gaie._

     "--So spake she; but they long since under Earth were
         reposing
     There in their own dear land, their fatherland, Lacedaimon."

                [From Dr. Hawtrey's translation, quoted by
Matthew Arnold in _On Translating Homer._]

There it is the sudden antithesis from her gentle womanly inquiry
about her brothers to the sad reality she knows nothing, that
strikes the magical blow, and makes the grand manner.  Then there
is that passage about Peleus and Cadmos:

  "Not even Peleus Aiacides, nor godlike Cadmos, might know
the happiness of a secure life; albeit the highest happiness
known to mortals was granted them:  the one on the mountain,
the other in seven-gated Thebes, they heard the gold-snooded
Muses sing."

You hear the high pride and pathos in that.  To be a poet, he
says:  to have heard the gold-snooded Muses sing:  is the highest
happiness a mortal can know; he is mindful of the soul, the
Poet-creator in every man, and pays it magnificent tribute; he
acknowledges what glory, what bliss, have been his own; but not
the poet, he says, not even he, may enjoy the commonplace
happiness of feeling secure against dark fate.  It is the same
feeling that I spoke of last week as so characteristic of the
early Teutonic literature; but there it appears without the
swift sense of tragedy, without the sudden pang, the grand
manner.  The pride is lacking quite:  the intuition for a
divinity within man.  But Homer sets the glory of soul-hood and
pet-hood against the sorrow of fate:  even though he finds the
sorrow weighs it down.  Caedmon or Cynewulf might have said:  "It
is given to none of us to be secure against fate; but we have
many recompenses."  How different the note of Milton:

     "Those other two, equal with me in fate,
     So were I equal with them in renown--"

or:

     "Unchanged, though fallen on evil days;
     On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues,
     In darkness, and by dangers compassed round."

And Llywarch, or Oisin, would never have anticipated the blows
of fate; when the blows fell, they would simply have been
astonished at fate's presumption.

We might quote many instances of this proud pessimism in Homer:

     _Kai se, geron, to prin men, akouomen, olbion einai_--

     "Thou to, we hear, old man, e'en thou was at once time happy;"

      _Hos gar epeklosanto theoi deiloisi brotoisin
     Zoein achnumenous.  Autoi de l'akedees eisin_--

     "The Gods have allotted to us to live thus mortal and mournful,
     Mournful; but they themselves live ever untouched by mourning."

Proud--no; it is not quite proud; not in an active sense;
there is a resignation in it; and yet it is a kind of haughty
resignation.  As if he said:  We are miserable; there is nothing
else to be but miserable; let us be silent, and make no fuss
about.--It is the restraint--a very Greek quality--the depth
hinted at, but never wailed over or paraded at all--that make in
these cases his grand manner.  His attitude is, I think, nearer
the Teutonic than the Celtic:--his countrymen, like the Teutons,
were accustomed to the pralaya, the long racial night.  But he
and the Celts achieved the grand manner, which the Teutons did
not.  His eyes, like Llywarch's or Oisin's, were fixed on a past
glory beyond the nightfall.

But where does this Homeric mood lead us?  To no height of truth,
I think.  Katherine Tingley gave us a keynote for the literature
of the future and the grandest things it should utter,--for the
life, the art, the poetry of a coming time that shall be
Theosophical, that is, lit with the splendor and beauty of the
Soul--when she spoke that high seeming paradox that "Life is
Joy."  Let us uncover the real Life; all this sorrow is only the
veil that hides it.  God knows we see enough of the veil; but
the poet's business is to tear it down, rend it asunder, and show
the brightness which it hides.  If the personality were all, and
a man's whole history were bounded by his cradle and his grave;
then you had done all, when you had presented personalities in
all their complexity, and made your page teem with the likenesses
of living men, and only shown the Beyond, the Governance, as
something unknowable, adverse and aloof.  But the Greater Part of
a man is eternal, and each of his lives and deaths but little
incidents in a vast and glorious pilgrimage; and when it is
understood that this is the revelation to be made, this grandeur
the thing to be shadowed forth, criticism will have entered upon
its true path and mission.

I find no such Soul-symbol in the Iliad:  the passion and
spiritual concentration of whose author, I think, was only enough
to let him see this outward world:  personalities, with their
motive-springs of action within themselves:  his greatness, his
sympathy, his compassion, revealed all that to him; but he
lacked vision for the Meanings.  I found him then less than
Shakespeare:  whose clear knowledge of human personalities--
ability to draw living men--was but incidental and an instrument;
who but took the tragedy of life by the way, as he went to set
forth the whole story of the soul; never losing sight of Karma,
and that man is his own adverse destiny; finishing all with the
triumph of the soul, the Magician, in _The Tempest._  And I count
him less than that Blind Titan in Bardism, who, setting out to
justify the ways of God to men, did verily justify the ways of
fate to the Soul; and showed the old, old truth, so dear to the
Celtic bards, that in the very depths of hell the Soul has not
yet lost all her original brightness; but is mightily superior
to hell, death, fate, sorrow and the whole pack of them;--I count
him less than the "Evening Dragon" of _Samson Agonistes,_ whose
last word to us is

     "Nothing is here for tears; nothing to wail
     Or knock the breast; no weakness or contempt."

And I found him less that One with the grand tragic visage, whose
words so often quiver with unshed tears, who went forth upon his
journey

       .... _pei dolci pomi
     Promessi a me per lo verace Duca;
     Ma fino al centro pria convien ch'io tomi:_--

"to obtain those sweet apples (of Paradise) promised me by my
true Leader; but first is"--convien--how shall you translate the
pride and resignation of that word?--"it behoves,"  we must say,
"it convenes"--"first it is convenient that I should fall as far
as to the center (of hell);"--who must end the gloom and terror
of that journey, that fall, with

     _E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle,_

"And then we came forth to behold again the Stars;"  and who came
from his ascent through purifying Purgatory with

     _Rifatto si, come piante novelle
     Rinnovellate di novella fronda,
     Puro e disposto a salire alle stelle_--

"So made anew, like young plants in spring with fresh foliage, I
was pure and disposed to come forth among the Stars;"--and who
must end his _Paradiso_ and his life-work announcing

     _L'amor che muove il sole e le altre stelle,_

"The Love that moves the sun and the other Stars."  Ah, glory
to this Dante!  Glory to the man who would end nothing but
with the stars!



III.  GREEKS AND PERSIANS


Now to consider what this Blind Maeonides did for Greece.
Sometime last Century a Black Potentate from Africa visited
England, and was duly amazed at all he saw.  Being a very
important person indeed, he was invited to pay his respects to
Queen Victoria.  he told her of the many wonders he had seen;
and took occasion to ask her, as the supreme authority, how such
things came to be.  What was the secret of England's greatness?
--She rose to it magnificently, and did precisely what a large
section of her subjects would have expected of her.  She solemnly
handed him a copy of the Bible, and told him he should find his
answer in that.

She was thinking, no doubt, of the influence of Christian
teaching; if called on for the exact passage that had worked the
wonder, very likely she would have turned to the Sermon on the
Mount.  Well; very few empires have founded their material
greatness on such texts, as _The meek shall inherit the earth._
They take a shorter road to it.  If a man ask of thee thy coat,
and thou give him thy cloak also, thou dost not (generally) build
thyself a world-wide commerce.  When he smiteth thee on they left
cheek, and thou turnest to him thy right for the complementary
buffet, thou dost not (as a rule) become shortly possessed of his
territories.  Queen Victoria lived in an age when people did not
notice these little discrepancies; so did Mr. Podsnap.  And yet
there was much more truth in her answer than you might think.

King James's Bible is a monument of mighty literary style; and
one that generations of Englishmen have regarded as divine, a
message from the Ruler of the Stars.  They have been reading it,
and hearing it read in the churches, for three hundred years.
Its language has been far more familiar to them than that of any
other book whatsoever; more common quotations come from it,
probably, than from all other sources combined.  The Puritans
of old, like the Nonconformists now, completely identified
themselves with the folk it tells about:  Cromwell's armies saw
in the hands of their great captain "the sword of the Lord and of
Gideon."  When the Roundhead went into battle, or when the
Revivalist goes to prayer meeting, he heard and hears the command
of Jehovah to "go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper"; to "smite
Amalek hip and thigh."  Phrases from the Old Testament are in the
mouths of millions daily; and they are phrases couched in the
grand literary style.

Now the grand style is the breathing of a sense of greatness.
When it occurs you sense a mysterious importance lurking behind
the words.  It is the accent of the eternal thing in man, the
Soul; and one of the many proofs of the Soul's existence.  So
you cannot help being reminded by it of the greatness of the
soul.  There are periods when the soul draws near its racial
vehicle, and the veils grow thin between it and us:  through all
the utterances of such times one is apt to hear the thunder from
beyond.  Although the soul have no word to say, or although it
message suffer change in passing through the brain-mind, so that
not high truth, but even a lie may emerge--it still comes, often,
ringing with the grand accents.  Such a period was that which
gave us Shakespeare and Milton, and the Bible, and Brown, and
Taylor, and all the mighty masters of English prose.  Even when
their thought is trivial or worse, you are reminded, by the march
and mere order of their words, of the majesty of the Soul.

When Deborah sings of that treacherous murderess, Jael the wife
of Heber the Kenite, that before she slew her guest and ally
Sisera, "He asked water and she gave him milk; she brought
forth butter in a lordly dish,"--you are aware that, to the
singer, no question of ethics was implied.  Nothing common,
nothing of this human daily world, inheres in it; but sacrosanct
destinies were involved, and the martialed might of the Invisible.
It was part of a tremendous drama, in which Omnipotence itself
was protagonist.  Little Israel rose against the mighty of
this world; but the Unseen is mightier than the mighty; and
the Unseen was with little Israel.  The application is false,
unethical, abominable--as coming through brain-minds of that
kind.  But you must go back behind the application, behind
the brain-mind, to find the secret of the air of greatness that
pervades it.  It is a far-off reflection of this eternal truth:
that the Soul, thought it speak through but one human being, can
turn the destinies and overturn the arrogance of the world.  When
David sang, "Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered;
yea, let all his enemies be scattered!"  he, poor brain-mind, was
thinking of his triumphs over Philistines and the like; with
whom he had better have been finding a way to peace;--but the
Soul behind him was thinking of its victories over him and his
passions and his treacheries.  So such psalms and stories,
though their substance be vile enough, do by their language
yet remind us somehow of the grandeur of the Spirit.  That
is what style achieves.

Undoubtedly this grand language of the Bible, as that of Milton
and Shakespeare in a lesser degree--lesser in proportion as they
have been less read--has fed in the English race an aptitude, an
instinct, for action on a large imperial scale.  It is not easy
to explain the effect of great literature; but without doubt it
molds the race.  Now the ethic of the Old Testament, its moral
import, is very mixed.  There is much that is true and beautiful;
much that is treacherous and savage.  So that its moral and
ethical effects have been very mixed too.  But its style, a
subtler thing than ethics, has nourished conceptions of a large
and seeping sort, to play through what ethical ideas they might
find.  The more spiritual is any influence--that is, the less
visible and easy to trace--the more potent it is; so style in
literature may be counted one of the most potent forces of all.
Through it, great creative minds mold the destinies of nations.
Let Theosophy have expression as noble as that of the Bible--as
it will--and of that very impulse it will bite deep into the
subconsciousness of the race, and be the nourishment of grand
public action, immense conceptions, greater than any that have
come of Bible reading, because pure and true.  Our work is to
purify the channels through which the Soul shall speak; the
Teachers have devoted themselves to establishing the beginnings
of this Movement in right thought and right life.  But the great
literary impulse will come, when we have learned and earned the
right to use it.

Now, what the Bible became to the English, Homer became to the
Greeks--and more also.  They heard his grand manner, and were
billed by it with echoes from the Supermundane.  _Anax andron
Agamemnon_--what Greek could hear a man so spoken of, and dream
he compounded of common clay?  Never mind what this king of men
did or failed to do; do but breathe his name and titles, and you
have affirmed immortality and the splendor of the Human Soul!
The _human_ Soul?

"Tush!" said they, "the Greek Soul! he was a Greek as we
are!".... And so Tomides, Dickaion and Harryotatos, Athenian
tinkers and cobblers, go swaggering back to their shops, and
dream grand racial dreams.  For this is a much more impressionable
people than the English; any wind from the Spirit blows
in upon their minds quickly and easily.  Homer in Greece
--once Solon, or Pisistratus, or Hopparchus, had edited and
canonized him, and arranged for his orderly periodical public
reading (as the Bible in the churches)--had an advantage even
over the Bible in England.  When Cromwell and his men grew mighty
upon the deeds of the mighty men of Israel, they had to thrill to
the grand rhythms until a sort of miracle had been accomplished,
and they had come to see in themselves the successors and living
representatives of Israel.  But the Greek, rising on the swell of
Homer's roll and boom, had need of no such transformation.  The
uplift was all for him; his by hereditary right; and no
pilfering necessary, from alien creed or race.  We have seen in
Homer an inspired Race-patriot, a mighty poet saddened and
embittered by the conditions he saw and his own impotence to
change them.--Yes, he had heard the golden-snooded sing; but
Greeks were pygmies, compared with the giants who fought at
Ilion!  There was that eternal contrast between the glory he had
within and the squalor he saw without.  Yes, he could sing; he
could launch great songs for love of the ancients and their
magnificence.  But what could a song do?  Had it feet to travel
Hellas; hands to flash a sword for her; a voice and kingly
authority to command her sons into redemption?--Ah, poor blind
old begging minstrel, it had vastly greater powers and organs
than these!

Lycurgus, it is said, brought singers or manuscripts of your
poems into Sparta; because, blind minstrel, he had a mind to
make Sparta great-souled; and he knew that you were the man to
do it, if done it could be.  Then for about two hundred and sixty
years, without much fuss to come into history, you were having
your way with your Greeks.  Your music was ringing in the ears of
mothers; their unborn children were being molded to the long
roll of your hexameters.  There came to be manuscripts of you in
every city:  corrupt enough, many of them, forgeries, many of
them; lays fudged up and fathered on you by venal Rhapsodoi,
to chant in princely houses whose ancestors it was a good
speculation to praise.  You were everywhere in Greece:  a great
and vague tradition, a formless mass of literature:  by the time
Solon was making laws for Athens, and Pisistratus was laying the
foundations of her stable government and greatness.

And then you were officially canonized.  Solon, Pisistratus, or
one of the Pisistratidae, determined that you should be, not a
vague tradition and wandering songs any longer, but the Bible of
the Hellenes.  From an obscure writer of the Alexandrian period
we get a tale of Pisistratus sending to all the cities of Greece
for copies of Homeric poems, paying for them well; collating
them, editing them out of a vast confusion; and producing at
last out of the matter thus obtained, a single more or less
articulate Iliad.  From Plato and others we get hints leading to
the supposition that an authorized state copy was prepared; that
it was ordained that the whole poem should be recited at the
Panathenaic Festivals by relays of Rhapsodoi; this state copy
being in the hands of a prompter whose business it was to see
there should be no transgression by the chanters.* The wandering
songs of the old blind minstrel have become the familiar Sacred
Book of the brightest-minded people in Greece.

------
* For a detailed account of all this see De Quincey's essay Homer
and the Homeridae.
------

Some sixty years pass, and now look what happens.  A mighty Power
in Asia arranges a punitive expedition against turbulent
islanders and coast-dwellers on its western border.  But an old
blind minstrel has been having his way with these:  and the
punitive expedition is to be of the kind not where you punish,
but where you are punished;--has been suggesting to them, from
the Olympus of his sacrosanct inspiration, the idea of great
racial achievement, till it has become a familiar thing, ideally,
in their hearts.--The huge armies and the fleets come on; Egypt
has gone down; Lydia has gone down; the whole world must go
down before them.  But there is an old blind minstrel, long since
grown Olympian in significance, and throned aloft beside
Nephelegereta Zeus, chanting in every Greek ear and heart.
Greeks rise in some sort to repel the Persian:  Athens and
Sparta, poles apart in every feeling and taste, find that under
the urge of archaic hexameters and in the face of this common
danger, they can co-operate after a fashion.  The world is in a
tumult and threatens to fall; but behind all the noise and
ominous thunder, by heaven, you can hear the roll of hexameters,
and an old blind sorrow-stricken bard chanting.  The soul of a
nation is rising, the beat of her wings keeping time to the music
of olden proud resounding lines.  Who led the Grecian fleet at
Salamis?--Not Spartan Eurygiades, but an old blind man dead these
centuries.  Who led the victors at Marathon?  Not sly Athenian
Miltiades, but an old dead man who had only words for his wealth:
blind Maeonides chanting; and with his chanting marshaling on
the roll of his hexameters mightier heroes than ever a Persian
eye could see:  the host that fought at Ilion; the creatures of
his brain; Polymechanos Odysseus, and Diomedes and Aias;
Podargos Achilles; Anas andron Agamemnon.

The story of the Persian Wars comes to us only from the Greek
side; so all succeeding ages have been enthusiastically
Prohellene.  We are to think that Europe since has been great and
free and glorious, because free and cultured Greeks then held
back a huge and barbarous Asian despotism.  All of which is great
nonsense.  Europe since has not been great and free and glorious;
very often she has been quite the reverse.  She has, at odd
times, been pottering around her ideal schemes of government;
which Asia in large part satisfied herself that she had found
long ago.  As for culture and glory, the trumps have now been
with the one, now with the other.  And the Persians were not
barbarians by any means.  And when you talk of Asia, remember
that it is as far a cry from Persia to China, as from Persian to
England.  Let us have not more of this preoccupation with
externals, and blind eyes to the Spirit of Man.  I suppose
ballot-boxes and referenda and recalls and the like were
specified, when it was said  _Of such is the kingdom of Heaven?_...

But Persia would not have flowed out over Europe, if  Marathon,
Salamis, and Plataea had gone the other way. Empires wax and wane
like the moon; they ebb and flow like the tides; and are governed
by natural law as these are; and as little depend, ultimately,
upon battle, murder, and sudden death; which are but effects that
wisdom would evitate; we are wrong in taking them for causes. Two
things you can posit about any empire: it will expand to its
maximum; then ebb and fall away. Though the daily sun sets not on
its  boundaries, the sun of time will set on its decay; because
all things born in time will die; and no elixer of life has been
found, nor ever will be. There is an  impulse from  the inner
planes; it strikes into the heart of a people; rises there, and
carries them forward upon an outward sweep; then recedes, and
leaves them to their fall. Its cycle may perhaps be longer or
shorter; but in the main its story is always the same, and bound
to be so; you cannot vote down the cycles of time. What hindered
Rome from  mastery of Europe; absolute mastery; and keeping it
forever?  Nothing--but the eternal Cyclic Law. So Persia.

She was the last phase of that West Asian manvantara which began
in 1890 and was due to end in 590 B. C. As such a phase, a
splendor-day of thirteen decades should have been hers; that, we
find, being  always the length of a national illumination. She
began under Cyrus in 558; flowed out under Cambyses and Darius to
her maximum growth--for half the thirteen decades expanding
steadily. Then she touched Greece, where a younger cycle was
rising, and recoiled. She should have been at high tide precisely
three years before-Marathon--a  half-cycle after the accession of
Cyrus, or in 493;--and was. Then the Law-pronounced its  _Thus
far and no further;_ and enforced it  with Homer's songs, and
Greek valor, and Darius' death, and Xerxes' fickle childishness
(he smacked the Hellespont because it was naughty). These things
together brought to naught the might and ambition and bravery of
Iran; but had they been lacking, the Law would have found other
means. Though Xerxes and Themistocles had both sat at home doing
nothing, Alexander would still have  marched east in  his time,
and  Rome conquered the world. So discount all talk of Greece's
having saved  Europe, which was never in danger. But you may say
Persia saved Greece: that her impact kindled the fires--was used
by the Law for that purpose--which so brilliantly have illumined
Europe since.

Persia rose in the evening of that  West Asian manvantara; the
empires of its morning and noon, as Assyria  chiefly, had been
slower of growth, longer of life, smaller of expanse; and for her
one, had several periods of glory.  A long habit of empire
-building had been formed there, which carried Persia rapidly and
easily to her far limits.  Assyria, the _piece de resistance_ of
the whole manvantara, with huge and long effort had created, so
to say, an astral mold; of which Persia availed herself, and
overflowed its boundaries, conquering regions east and west
Assyria never knew.  But if she found the mold and the habit
there to aid her, she came too late for the initial energies of
the morning, or the full forces of the manvantaric noon.  Those
had been wielded by the great Tiglath Pilesers and Assurbanipals
of earlier centuries; fierce conquerors, splendid builders,
ruthless patrons of the arts.  What was left for the evening and
Persia could not carry her outward her full thirteen decades, but
only half of them:  sixty-five years her tides were rising, and
then she touched Greece.  Thence-forward she remained stationary
within her borders, not much troubled internally, until the four
-twenties.  To a modern eye, she seems on the decline since
Marathon; to a Persian of the time, probably, that failure on
the Greek frontier looked a small matter enough.  A Pancho Villa
to chase; if you failed to catch him, pooh, it was nothing!
Xerxes is no Darius, true:  Artaxerxes I, no Cyrus, nor nothing
like.  But through both their reigns there is in the main good
government in most of the provinces; excellent law and order;
and a belief still in the high civilizing mission of the
Persians.  Peace, instead of the old wars of conquest; but you
would have seen no great falling off.  Hystaspes himself had
been less conqueror than consolidator; the Augustus of the
Achaemenids, greater at peace than at war;--though great at
that too, but not from land-frontiers; and indeed, had ample
provocation, as those things go, for his punitive expedition that
failed.  For the rest, he had strewn the coast with fine harbors,
and reclaimed vast deserts with reservoirs and dikes; had
explored the Indus and the ocean, and linked Egypt and Persia by
a canal from the Red Sea to the Nile.  Well; and Xerxes carried
it on; he too played the great Achaemenid game; did he not send
ships to sail round Africa?  If there was no more conquering, it
was because there was really nothing left to conquer; who would
bother about that Greece?--Darius Hystaspes was the last strong
kind, yes; but Datius Nothus was the first gloomy tyrant, or at
least his queen, bloodthirsty Parysatis, was; which was not til
434.  So that Persia too had her good thirteen decades of
comfortable, even glorious, years.

   Whereafter we see her wobbling under conflicting cyclic
impulses down to her final fall.  For lack of another to take her
place, she was still in many ways the foremost power; albeit
here and there obstreperous satraps were always making trouble.
When Lysander laid Athens low in 404, it was Persian financial
backing enabled him to do it; but Cyrus might march in to her
heart, and Xenophon out again, but two years later, and none to
say them effectually nay.  Had there been some other West Asian
power, risen in 520 or thereabouts, to outlast Persia and finish
its day with the end of the great cycle in 390, one supposes the
Achaemenids would have fallen in the four-twenties, and left that
other supreme during the remaining years.  But there was none.
The remains of Nineveh and Babylon slept securely in the Persian
central provinces; there was nothing there to rise; they had
their many days long since.  Egypt would have done something, if
she could; would have like to;--but her own cycles were against
her.  She had the last of her cyclic days under the XXVIth
Dynasty.  In 655 Psamtik I reunited and resurrected her while his
overlord Assurbanipal was wrecking his--Assurbanipal's--empire
elsewhere; thirteen decades afterwards, in 525, she fell before
Cambyses.  Thirteen decades, nearly, of Persian rule followed,
with interruptions of revolt, before she regained her independence
in 404;--stealing, you may say, the nine years short from
the weakness of Persia.  Then she was free for another half
-cycle, less one year; a weak precarious freedom at best, lost to
Artaxerxes Ochus in 340.  All but the first fourteen years of it
fell beyond the limits of the manvantara; the West Asian forces
were spent.  Egypt was merely waiting til the Greek cycle should
have sunk low enough and on to the military plane; and had not
long to wait.  She paid back most of her nine years to Persia;
then hailed Alexander as her savior; and was brought by him, to
some extent, under the influence of European cycles; to share
then in what uninteresting twilight remained to Greece, and
presently in the pomps and crimsons of Rome.

Persia, too, was waiting for that Greek military cycle; until it
should rise, however, something had to be going on in West Asia.
The Athenian first half-cycle--sixty-five years from the
inception of the hegemony--ended in 413, when the Peloponnesian
War entered its last, and for Athens, disastrous, phase.  Another
half-cycle brings us to the rise of Philip; who about that time
became dominant in Greece.  But not yet had a power consolidated,
which could contest with Persia the hegemony of the world.
Having enabled Sparta to put down Athens, the western satraps
turned their attention to finding those who should put down
Sparta.  Corinth, Thebes, Argos and Athens were willing; and
Pharnabazus financed them for war in 395.  A year after, he and
Conon destroyed the Spartan fleet.  In 387 came the Peace of
Antalicidas, by which Persia won what Xerxes had fought for of
old; the suzerainty of Greece.  But she was not strong; her
cycle was long past; she stood upon the wealth and prestige of
her better days, and the weakness of her contemporaries.
Internally she was falling to pieces until Artaxerxes Ochus,
between 362 and 338, wading through blood and cruelty, restored
her unity, wore out her resources, and left her apparently as
great as under Xerxes, but really ready to fall at a touch.  He
prepared the way for Alexander.

So ended an impulse that began, who knows when? on a high
spiritual plane in the pure religion of the Teacher we call
Zoroaster; a high system of ethics expressed in long generations
of clean and noble lives.  From that spirituality the impulse
descending reached the planes of intellect and culture; with
results we cannot measure now; nothing remains but the splendor
of a few ruins in the wilderness--the course the lion and the
lizard keep.  It reached the plane of military power, and flowed
over all the lands between the Indus and the Nile; covering them
with a well-ordered, highly civilized and wisely governed empire.
Then it began to ebb; meeting a counter-impulse arising in
Eastern Europe.

Which, too, had it source on spiritual planes; in the heart and
on the lyre of blind Maeonides; and worked downward and outward,
till it had wrought on this plane a stable firmness in Sparta, an
alertness in Athens.  It contacted then the crest of the Persian
wave, and received from the impact huge accession of vigor.  It
blossomed in the Age of Pericles on the plane  of mind and
creative imagination.  It came down presently on to the plane of
militarism, and swelled out under Alexander as far as to the
eastern limits of the Persian Empire he overthrew.  Where it met
a tide beginning to rise in India; and receded or remained
stationary before that.  And at last it was spent, and itself
overthrown by a new impulse arisen in Italy; which took on
impetus from contact with Greece, as Greece had done from contact
with Persia.

The Greeks of Homer's and Hesiod's time, before the European
manvantara, elsewhere begun, had reached or quickened them, were
uncouth and barbarous enough; they may have stood, to their
great West Asian neighbors, as the Moors of today to the nations
of Europe; they may have stood, in things cultural, to the
unknown nations of the north or west already at that time
awakened, as the Chinese now and recently to the Japanese.  Like
Moors, like Chinese, they had behind them traditions of an
ancient greatness; but pralaya, fall, adversity, squalor, had
done their work on them, developing the plebeian qualities.  Now
that they have emerged into modern history, as then when
they were emerging into ancient, we find them with many like
characteristics; a turn for democracy, for example; the which
they assuredly had not when they were passing into pralaya under
the Byzantine Empire.  A turn for democracy; plebeian qualities;
these are the things one would expect after pralaya, if that
pralaya had been at all disastrous.  With the ancient Greeks,
the plebeian qualities were not all virtues by any means;
they retained through their great age many of the vices of
plebeianism.  They won their successes for the most part on
sporadic impulses of heroism; shone by an extraordinary
intellectual and artistic acumen. But taking them by and large,
they were too apt to ineffectualize those successes, in the
fields of national and political life, by extraordinary venality
and instability of character. I shall draw here deeply on
Professor Mahaffy, who very wisely sets out to restore the
balance as between Greeks and Persians, and burst bubble-notions
commonly held. Greek culture was extremely varied, and therein
lay its strength; you can find all sorts of types there; and
there are outstanding figures of the noblest. But on the whole,
says Mahaffy--I think rightly--there was something sordid,
grasping, and calculating: _noblesse oblige_ made little appeal
to  them--was rather foreign to their nature. Patricianism did
exist; in Sparta; perhaps in Thebes. Of the two Thebans we know
best, Pindar was decidedly a patrician poet, and Epaminondas was
a very great gentleman; now Thebes, certainly, must have been
mighty in foregone manvantaras, as witness her five cycles of
myths, the richest in Greece. In her isolation she had doubtless
carried something of that old life down; and then, too, she had
Pindar. Nor was Sparta any upstart;--of her we have only heard
Athenians speak. But outside of these two, you hardly find a
Greek  _gentleman_ in public life; hardly that combination of
personal honor, contempt of commerce, class-pride, leisured
and cultured living;--with, very often, ultra-conservatism,
narrowness of outlook, political ineptitude and selfishness. The
Spartans had many of these instincts, good and bad. They reached
their cultural zenith in the seventh century or earlier;
probably Lycurgus had an eye to holding off that degeneration
which follows on super-refinement; and hence the severe life he
brought in. My authority makes much of the adoration the other
Greeks accorded them; who might hate and fight with Sparta, but
took infinite pride in her nonetheless. Thus they told those
tales of the Spartan mothers, and the Spartan boy the fox
nibbled; thus their philosophers, painting an Utopia, took
always most of its features from Lacedaemon.

All of which I quote for the light's sake it throws on the past
of Greece: the past of her past, and the ages before her history.
Or really, on the whole history of the human race; for I think it
is what you shall find always, or almost always. I spoke of the
Celtic qualities as having been of old patrician; they are
plebeian nowadays, after the long pralaya and renewal. As a
pebble is worn smooth by the sea, so the patrician type, with its
refinements and culture, is wrought out by the strong life
currents that play through a race during its manvantaric periods.
Pralaya comes, with conquest, the overturning of civilization,
mixture of blood; all the precious results obtained hurled back
into the vortex;--and then to be cast up anew with the new
manvantara, a new uncouth formless form, to be played on, shaped
and infused by the life-currents again.  In Greece an old
manvantara had evolved patricianism and culture; which the
pralaya following swept all away, except some relics perhaps in
Thebes the isolated and conservative, certainly in Sparta.
Lycurgus was wise in his generation when he sought by a rigid
system to impose the plebeian virtues on Spartan patricianism.

Wise in his generation, yes; but he could work no miracle.
Spartan greatness, too, was ineffectual:  there is that about
pouring new wine into old bottles.  Sparta was old and conservative;
covered her patrician virtues with a rude uncultural exterior;
was inept politically--as old aristocracies so commonly are;
she shunned that love of the beautiful and the things of
the mind which is the grace, as Bushido--to use the best
name there is for it--is the virtue, of the patrician.  You
may say she was selfish and short-sighted; true; and yet she
began the Peloponnesian War not without an eye to freeing the
cities and islands from the soulless tyranny an Athenian
democracy had imposed on them:  when there is a war, some men
will always be found, who go in with unselfish high motives.--
Being the patrician state, and the admired of all, it was she
naturally who assumed the hegemony when the Persian came.  But
she had foregone the graces of her position, and her wits,
through lack of culture, were something dull.  She lost that
leadership presently to a young democratic Athens endowed
with mental acumen and potential genius; who, too, gained
immeasurably from Sparta, because she knew how to turn everything
to the quickening of her wits--this having at her doors so
contrasting a neighbor, for example.--Young?  Well, yes; I
suspect if there had ever been an Athenian glory before, it was
ages before Troy fell.  She plays no great part in the legends of
the former manvantara; Homer has little to say about her.  She
had paid tribute at one time to Minos, king of Crete; her
greatness belonged not to the past, but to the future.

As all Greeks admired the Spartans--what we call a 'sneaking'
admiration--so too they admired the Persians; who were gentleman
in a great sense, and in most moral qualities their betters.  Who
was _Ho Basileus, The King_ par excellence?  Always 'the Great
King, the King of the Persians.'  Others were mere kings of
Sparta, or where it might be.  And this Great King was a far-way,
tremendous, golden figure, moving in a splendor as of fairy
tales; palaced marvelously, so travelers told, in cities
compared with which even Athens seemed mean.  Greek drama sought
its subjects naturally in the remote and grandiose; always in
the myths of prehistory, save once--when Aeschylus found a
kindred atmosphere, and the material he wanted, in the palace of
the Great King.  To whom, as a matter of history, not unrecorded
by Herodotus, his great chivalrous barons accorded a splendid
loyalty,--and loyalty is always a thing that lies very near the
heart of Bushido.  Most Greeks would cheerfully sell their native
city upon an impulse of chagrin, revenge, or the like.  Xerxes'
ships were overladen, and there was a storm; the Persian lords
gaily jumped into the sea to lighten them.  Such Samurai action
might not have been impossible to Greeks,--Spartans especially;
but in the main their eyes did not wander far from the main
chance.  You will think of many exceptions; but this comes as
near truth, probably, as a generalization may.  We should
understand their temperament; quick and sensitive, capable of
inspiration to high deeds; but, en masse, rarely founded on
enduring principles.  That jumping into the seas was nothing to
the Persians; they were not sung to it; it was not done in
defense of home, or upon a motive of sudden passion, as hate or
the like; but permanent elements in their character moved them
to it quietly, as to the natural thing to do.  But if Greeks
had done it, with what kudos, like Thermopylae, it would have
come down!

They were great magnificoes, very lordly gentlemen, those Persian
nobles; _hijosdalgo,_ as they say in Spain; men of large lives,
splendor and leisure, scorning trade; mighty huntsmen before the
Lord.  Of the Greeks, only the Spartans were sportsmen; but
where the Spartans hunted foxes and such-like small fry, The
Persians followed your true dangerous wild-fowl:  lions,
leopards, and tigers.  A great satrap could buy up Greece almost
at any time; could put the Greeks to war amongst themselves, and
finance his favorite side out of his own pocket.  On such a scale
they lived; and travelers and mercenaries brought home news of
it to Greece; and Greeks whose wealth might be fabulous strove
to emulate the splendor they heard of.  The Greeks made better
heavy armor--one cause of the victories; but for the most part
the Persian crafts and manufactures outshone the Greek by far.
All these things I take from Mahaffy, who speaks of their culture
as "an ancestral dignity for superior to, and different from, the
somewhat mercantile refinement of the Greeks."  The secret of the
difference is this:  the West Asian manvantara, to which the
Persians belonged, was more than a thousand years older than the
European manvantara, to which the Greeks belonged; so the
latter, beside the former, had an air of _parvenu._  The Greeks
dwelt on the Persian's borders; and fought him when they must;
intrigued with or against him when they might; called him
barbarian for self-respect's sake--and admired and envied him
always.  Had he been really a barbarian, in contact with their
superior civilization, he would have become degraded by the
contact; in such cases it always happens that the inferior sops
up the vices only of his betters.  But Alexander found the
Persians much the same courtly-mannered, lordly-living, mighty
huntsmen they had been when Herodotus described them; and was
ambitious that his Europeans should mix with them on equal terms
and learn their virtues.

Where and when did this high tradition grow up?  There was not
time enough, I think, in that half cycle between the rise of
Cyrus and Marathon.  In truth we are to see in these regions
vistas of empires receding back into the dimness, difficult to
sort out and fix their chronology.  Cyrus overthrew the Assyrian;
from whose yoke his people had freed themselves some fifteen
years or so before.  The Medes had been rising since the earlier
part of that seventh century; sometime then they brought the
kindred race of Persians under their sway.  Sometime then, too, I
am inclined to think, lived the Teacher Zoroaster: about whose
date there is more confusion than about that of any other World
Reformer; authorities differ within a margin of 6000 years.  But
Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Pythagoreanism all
had their rise about this time; the age of religions began then;
it was not a thing of chance, but marked a definite change in the
spiritual climate of the world.  The _Bundahish,_ the Parsee
account of it, says that he lived 258 years before Alexander;
almost all scholars reject the figure--once more, "it is their
nature to."  But you will note that 258 is about as much as to
say 260, which is twice the cycle of thirteen decades; I think
the probabilities are strong that the _Bundahish_ is right.  The
chief grounds for putting him much earlier are these:  Greek
accounts say, six thousand years before the Greek time; and
there are known to have been kings in those parts, long before
Cyrus, by the name or title of Mazdaka,--which word is from
Mazda, the name of the God-Principle in Zoroastrianism.  The
explanation is this:  you shall find it in H.P. Blavatsky:  there
were many Zoroasters; this one we are speaking of was the last
(as Gautama was the last of the Buddhas); and of course he
invented nothing, taught no new truth; but simply organized as a
religion ideas that had before belonged to the Mysteries.  Where
then did his predecessors teach?--Where Zal and Rustem thundered
as they might; in the old Iran of the _Shah Nameh,_ the land of
Kaikobad the Great and Kaikhusru.  Too remote for all scholars
even to agree that it existed; set by those who do believe in it
at about 1100 B.C.--we hear of a "Powerful empire in Bactria"--
which is up towards Afghanistan; I take it that it was from this
the Persian tradition came--last down to, and through, the period
of the Achaemenidae.  What arts, what literature, these latter
may have had, are lost; nothing is known of their creative
and mental culture; but, to quote Mahaffy once more, it is
exceedingly unlikely they had none.  Dio Chrysostom, in the first
century B.C., says that "neither Homer nor Hesiod sang of the
chariots and horses of Zeus so worthily as Zoroaster"; which may
mean, perhaps, that a tradition still survived in his time of a
great Achaemenian poetry.  Why then is this culture lost, since
if it existed, it was practically contemporary with that
of the Greeks?  Because contemporaneity is a most deceiving
thing; there is nothing in it.  Persia now is not contemporary
with Japan; nor modern China with Europe or America.  The
Achaemenians are separated from us by two pralayas; while
between us and the Greeks there is but one.  When our present
Europe has gone down, and a new barbarism and Middle Ages have
passed over France, Britain and Italy, and given place in turn to
a new growth of civilization--what shall we know of this Paris,
and Florence, and London?  As much and as little as we know now
of Greece and Rome.  We shall dig them up and reconstruct them;
found our culture on theirs, and think them very wonderful for
mere centers of (Christian) paganism; we shall marvel at their
genius, as shown in the fragments that go under the names of
those totally mythological poets, Dante and Milton; and at their
foul cruelty, as shown by their capital punishment and their
wars.  And what shall we know of ancient Athens and Rome?  Our
scholars will sneer at the superstition that they ever existed;
our theologians will say the world was created somewhat later.

Or indeed, no; I think it will not be so.  I think we shall have
established an abiding perception of truth:  Theosophy will have
smashed the backbone of this foolish Kali-Yuga as a little,
before then.

So that Creasy is all out in his estimate of the importance
of Marathon and the other victories.  Wars are only straws
to show which way the current flows; and they do that only
indifferently.  They are not the current themselves, and they do
not direct it; and were men wise enough to avoid them, better
than the best that was ever won out of war would be won by other
means that the Law would provide.  And yet the Human Spirit will
win something out of all eventualities, even war, if Kama and the
Cycles permit.  In a non-political sense the Persian Wars bore
huge harvest for Greece; the Law used them to that end.  The
great effort brought out all the latent resources of the Athenian
mind:  the successes heightened Greek racial feeling to a pitch.
--What! we could stand against huge Persia?--then we are not
unworthy of the men that fought at Ilion, our fathers; the race
and spirit of _anax andron Agamemnon_ is not dead!  Ha, we can do
anything; there are no victories we may not win!  And here is the
dead weight and terror of the war lifted from us; and there is
no anxiety now to hold our minds.  We may go forth conquering and
to conquer; we may launch our triremes on immaterial seas, and
subdue unknown empires of the spirit!--And here is Athens the
quick-witted, hegemon of Greece; her ships everywhere on the
wine-dark seas; her citizens everywhere; her natural genius
swelled by an enormous sense of achievement; her soul, grown
great under a great stress, now freed from the stress and at
leisure to explore:--in contact with opposite-minded Sparta; in
contact with conservative and somewhat luxuriously-living slow
Thebes;--with a hundred other cities;--in contact with proud
Persia; with Egypt, fallen, but retaining a measure of her old
profound sense of the Mysteries and the reality of the Unseen;
--from all these contacts and sources a spirit is born in Athens
that is to astonish and illumine the world.  And Egypt is now in
revolt from the Persian; and intercourse with her is easier than
ever before in historical times; and the triremes, besides what
spiritual cargoes they may be bringing in from her, are bringing
in cargoes of honest material papyrus to tempt men to write down
their thoughts.--So the flowering of Greece became inevitable;
the Law intended it, and brought about all the conditions.



IV--AESCHYLUS AND HIS ATHENS


Greece holds such an eminence in history because the Crest-Wave
rolled in there when it did. She was tenant of an epochal time;
whoever was great then, was to be remembered forever. But the
truth is, Greece served the future badly enough.

The sixth and fifth centuries B. C. were an age of transition, in
which the world took a definite step downward. There had been
present among men a great force to keep the life of the nations
sweet: that which we call the Mysteries of Antiquity. Whether
they had been active continuously since this Fifth Root Race
began, who can say? Very possibly not; for in a million years
cycles would repeat themselves, and I dare say conditions
as desolate as our own have obtained. There may have been
withdrawals, and again expansions outward. But certainly they
were there at the dawn of history, and for a long time before.
What their full effect may have been, we can only guess; for when
the history that we know begins, they were already declining:--we
get no definite news, except of the Iron Age. The Mysteries were
not closed at Eleusis until late in the days of the Roman Empire;
and we know that such a great man as Julian did not disdain to be
initiated. But they were only a remnant then, an ever-indrawing
source of inspiration; already a good century before Pericles
they must have ceased to rule life. Pythagoras--born, probably,
in the five-eighties--had found it necessary, to obtain that with
which spirituality might be reawakened, to travel and learn what
he could in India, Egypt, Chaldaea, and, according to Porphyry
and tradition, among the Druids in Gaul--and very likely Britain,
their acredited headquarters. From these countries he brought
home Theosophy to Greek Italy; and all this suggests that he--and
the race--needed something that Eleusis could no longer give.
About the same time Buddha and the founder of Jainism in India,
Laotse and Confucius in China, and as we have seen, probably also
Zoroaster in Persia, all broke away from the Official Mysteries,
more or less, to found Theosophical Movements of their own;
--which would indicate that, at least from the Tyrrhenian to the
Yellow Sea, the Mysteries had, in that sixth century, ceased to
be the efficient instrument of the White Lodge. The substance of
the Ancient Wisdom might remain in them; the energy was largely
gone.

Pisistratus did marvels for Athens; lifting her out of obscurity
to a position which should invite great souls to seek birth in
her. He died in  527; two years later a son was born to the
Eupatrid Euphorion at Eleusis; and I have no doubt there was some
such stir over the event, on Olympus or on Parnassus, as happened
over a birth at Stratford-on-Avon in 1564, and one in Florence
in the May of 1265. In 510, Hippias, grown cruel since the
assassination of his brother, was driven out from an Athens
already fomenting with the yeast of new things. About that time
this young Eleusinian Eupatrid was set to watch grapes ripening
for the vintage, and fell asleep. In his dream Dionysos, God of
the Mysteries, appeared to him and bade him write tragedies for
the Dionysian Festival. On waking, he found himself endowed with
genius: beset inwardly with tremendous thoughts, and words to
clothe them in; so that the work became as easy to him as if he
had been trained to it for years.

He competed first in 499--against Choerilos and Pratinas, older
poets--and was defeated; and soon afterwards sailed for Sicily,
where he remained for seven years. The dates of Pythagoras are
surmised, not known; Plumptre, with a query, gives 497 for his
death. I wonder whether, in the last years of his life, that
great Teacher met this young Aeschylus from Athens; whether the
years the latter spent in Sicily on this his first visit there,
were the due seven years of his Pythagorean probation and
initiation? "Veniat Aeschylus," says Cicero, "non poeta solum,
sed etiam Pythagoreus: sic enim accepimus ";--and we may accept
it too; for that was the Theosophical Movement of the age;
and he above all others, Pythagoras having died, was the great
Theosophist. They had the Eleusinian Mysteries at Athens, and
Most of the prominent Athenians must have been initiated
into them--since that was the State Religion; but Aeschylus
alone in Athens went through life clothed in the living power
of Theosophy.

Go to the life of such a man, if you want big clues as to the
inner history of his age;--the life of Aeschylus, I think, can
interpret for us that of Athens. There are times when the
movement of the cycles is accelerated, and you can see the
great wheel turning; this was one.  Aeschylus had proudly
distinguished himself at Marathon; and Athens, as the highest
honor she could do him for that, must have his portrait appear in
the battle-picture painted for a  memorial of the victory.  He
fought, too, at Artemisium and Salamis; with equal distinction.
In 484 he won the first of thirteen annual successes in the
dramatic competitions.  These were the years during which Athens
was really playing the hero; the years of Aristides' ascendency.
 In 480 Xerxes burned the city; but the people fought on,
great in faith. In 479 came Plataea, Aeschylus again fighting.
Throughout this time, he, the Esotericist and Messenger of the
Gods, was wholly at one with his Athens--an Athens alive enough
then to the higher things to recognize the voice of the highest
when it spoke to her--to award Aeschylus, year after year, the
chief dramatic prize. Then in 478 or 477 she found herself in a
new position:  her heroism and intelligence had won their reward,
and she was set at the head of Greece. Six years later Aeschylus
produced _The Persians,_ the first of the seven extant out of the
seventy or eighty plays he wrote; in it he is still absolutely
the patriotic Athenian. In 471 came the  _Seven against Thebes;_
from which drama, I think, we get a main current of light on the
whole future history of Athens.

Two men, representing two forces, had guided the city during
those decades. On the one hand there was Aristides, called the
Just--inflexible, incorruptible, impersonal and generous; on the
other, Themistocles--precocious and wild as a boy; profligate as
a youth and young man; ambitious, unscrupulous and cruel; a
genius; a patriot; without moral sense. The policy of Aristides,
despite his so-called democratic reforms, was conservative; he
persuaded Greece, by sound arguments, to the side of Athens:  he
was for Athens doing her duty by Greece, and remaining content.
That of Themistocles was that she should aim at empire by any
means: should make herself a sea-power with a view to dominating
the Greek world. Oh, to begin with, doubtless with a view to
holding back the Persians; and so far his policy was sane enough;
but his was not the kind of mind in which an ambitious idea fails
to develop in ambitious and greedy directions; and that of
mastery of the seas was an idea that could not help developing
fatally. He had been banished for his corruption in 471; but he
had set Athens on blue water, and bequeathed to her his policy.
Henceforward she was to make for supremacy, never counting the
moral cost. She attacked the islands at her pleasure, conquered
them, and often treated the conquered with vile cruelty. The
_Seven against Thebes_ was directed by Aeschylus against the
Themistoclean, and in support of the Aristidean, policy.
Imperialistic ambitions, fast ripening in that third decade of
the fifth century, were opposed by the Messenger of the Gods.

His valor in four battles had set him among the national heroes;
he had been, in _The Persians,_ the laureate of Salamis; by the
sheer grandeur of his poetry he had won the prize thirteen times
in succession.--And by the bye, it is to the eternal credit of
Athenian intelligence that Athens, at one hearing of those
obscure, lofty and tremendous poems, should have appreciated
them, and with enthusiasm. Try to imagine _Samson Agonistes_ put
on the stage today; with no academical enthusiasts or eclat of
classicism to back it; but just put on before thirty thousand
sight-seers, learned and vulgar, statesman and cobbler, tinker
and poet; the mob all there; the groundlings far out-numbering
the elite:--and all not merely sitting out the play, but roused
to a frenzy of enthusiasm; and Milton himself, present and
acting, the hero of the day. That, despite Mr. Whistler and the
_Ten O'Clock_--seems really to have been the kind of thing that
happened in Athens.  Tomides was there, with his companions--
little Tomides, the mender of bad soles--and intoxicated by the
grand poetry; understanding it, and never finding it tedious;--
poetry they had had no opportunity to study in advance, they
understood  and appreciated wildly at first hearing. One cannot
imagine it among moderns.--And Milton is clear as daylight beside
remote and difficult Aeschylus. To catch the latter's thought, we
need the quiet of the study, close attention, reading and
re-reading; and though of course time has made him more difficult;
and we should have understood him better, with no more than our
present limited intelligence, had we been his countrymen and
contemporaries; yet it remains a standing marvel, and witness to
the far higher general intelligence of the men of Athens.  The
human spirit was immensely nearer this plane; they were far more
civilized, in respect to mental culture, than we are. Why?--The
cycles have traveled downward; our triumphs are on a more brutal
plane; we are much farther from the light of the Mysteries than
they were.

And yet they were going wrong:  the great cycle had begun
its down-trend; they were already preparing the way for our
fool-headed materialism.  In the _Seven against Thebes_ Aeschylus
protested against the current of the age. Three years later,
Athens, impatient of criticism, turned on him.

He is acting in one of his own plays--one that been lost. He
gives utterance, down there in the arena, to certain words--
tremendous words, as always, we must suppose: words hurled out of
the heights of an angry eternity--

     _"Aeschylus' bronze-throat eagle-bark for blood,"_

--and Athens, that used to thrill and go mad to such tones when
they proclaimed the godlike in her own soul and encouraged her to
grand aspirations--goes mad now in another sense. She has grown
used to hear warning in them, and something in alliance with her
own stifled conscience protesting against her wrong courses;
and such habituation rarely means acquiescence or soothed
complacency. Now she is smitten and stung to the quick. A yell
from the mob; uproar; from the tiers above tiers they butt,
lurch, lunge, pour forward and down: the tinkers and cobblers,
demagogs and demagoged:  intent--yes--to kill. But he, having yet
something to say, takes refuge at the altar; and there even a
maddened mob dare not molest him. But the prize goes to a rising
star, young Sophocles; and presently the Gods' Messenger is
formally accused and tried for "Profanation of the Mysteries."

Revealing secrets pertaining to them, in fact. And now note this:
his defense is that he did not know that his lines revealed any
secret--was unaware that what he had said pertained to the
Mysteries. Could he have urged such a plea, had it not been known
he was uninitiated? Could he have known the teachings, had he not
been instructed in a school where they were known? He, then, was
an initiate of the Pythagoreans, the new Theosophical Movement
upon the new method; not of Orthodox Eleusis, that had grown old
and comatose rather, and had ceased to count.--Well, the judges
were something saner than the mob; memory turned again to
what he had done at Marathon, what at Arternisium and Plataea;
to his thirteen solid years of victory (national heroism on
poetico-dramatic fields); and to that song of his that "saved
at Salamis":

     _"O Sons of Greeks, go set your country free!"_

--and he was acquitted: Athens had not yet fallen so low as to
prepare a hemlock cup for her teacher. But meanwhile he would do
much better among his old comrades in Sicily than at home; and
thither he went.

He returned in 458, to find the Age of Pericles in full swing;
with all made anew, or in the making; and the time definitely
set on its downward course. 'Reform' was busy at abolishing
institutions once held sacred; was the rage;--that funeral speech
of Pericles, with its tactless vaunting of Athenian superiority
to all other possible men and nations, should tell us something.
When folk get to feel like that, God pity and forgive them!--it
is hard enough for mere men to. Aeschylus smote at imperialism in
the _Agamemnon_--the first play of this last of  his trilogies;
and at the mania for reforming away sacred institutions in the
_Eumenides_--where he asserts the divine origin of the threatened
Areopagus.  Popular feeling rose once more against him, and he
returned to Sicily to die.

Like so many another of his royal line, apparently a failure.
And indeed, a failure he was, so far as his Athens was concerned.
True, Athenian artistic judgment triumphed presently over the
Athenian spite.  Though it was the rule that no successful play
should be performed more than once, they decreed that 'revivals'
of Aeschylus should always be in order.  And Aristophanes
testifies to his lasting popularity--when he shows little Tomides
with a bad grouch over seeing a play by Theognis, when he had
gone to the theater "expecting Aeschylus";--and when he shows
Aeschylus and Euripides winning, because his poetry had died with
him, and so he had it there for a weapon--whereas Aeschylus's was
still alive and on earth.  Yes; Athens took him again, and
permanently, into favor:  took the poet, but not the Messenger
and his message.  For she had gone on the wrong road in spite of
him:  she had let the divine force, the influx of the human
spirit which had come to her as her priceless cyclic opportunity,
flow down from the high planes proper to it, on to the plane of
imperialism and vulgar ambition; and his word had been spoken to
the Greeks in vain--as all Greek history and Karma since has been
proclaiming.  But in sooth he was not merely for an age, but for
all time; and his message, unlike Pindar's whom all Greece
worshiped, and far more than Homer's or that of Sophocles--is
vital today.  Aeschylus, and Plato, and Socrates who speaks
through Plato, and Pythagoras who speaks through all of them, are
the Greeks whose voices are lifted forever for the Soul.

Even the political aspect of his message--the only one I have
touched on--is vital.  It proclaims a truth that underlies all
history:  one, I suspect, that remains for our Theosophical
Movement to impress on the general world-consciousness so that
wars may end:  namely, that the impulse of Nationalism is a holy
thing, foundationed upon the human spirit:  a means designed by
the Law for humanity's salvation.  But like all spiritual forces,
it must be kept pure and spiritual, or instead of saving, it will
damn.  In its inception, it is vision of the Soul:  of the Racial
or National Soul--which is a divine light to lure us away from
the plane of personality, to obliterate our distressing and
private moods; to evoke the divine actor in us, and merge us in
a consciousness vastly greater than out own.  But add to that
saving truth this damning corolary:  _I am better than thou; my
race than thine; we have harvests to reap at your expense, and
our rights may be your wrongs:_--and you have, though it appear
not for awhile, fouled that stream from godhood:--you have
debased your nationalism and made it hellish. Upon your ambitions
and your strength, now in the time of your national flowering,
you may win to your desire, if you _will;_  because now the
spirit is quickening the whole fiber of your national self; and
the national will must become, under that pressure, almost
irresistibly victorious. The Peoples of the earth shall kneel
before your throne; you shall get your vulgar empire;--but you
shall get it presently, as they say, "where the chicken got the
axe": _Vengeance is mine, saith the Law; I will repay._ The
cycle, on the plane to which you have dragged it down, will run
its course; your high throne will go down with it, and yourself
shall kneel to races you now sniff at for 'inferior.' You have
brought it on to the material plane, and are now going upward on
its upward trend there gaily--

     "Ah, let no evil lust attack the host
     Conquered by greed, to plunder what they ought not;
     For yet they need return in safety home,
     Doubling the goal to run their backward race"
                            [_Agamemnon,_ Plumtre's translation]

The downtrend of the cycle awaits you--the other half--just as
the runner in the foot-races to win, must round the pillar at the
far end of the course, and return to the starting-place.--That is
among the warnings Aeschylus spoke in the  _Agamemnon_ to an
Athens that was barefacedly conquering and enslaving the Isles of
Greece to no end but her own wealth and power and glory. The
obvious reference is of course to the conquerors of Troy.

I have spoken of this Oresteian Trilogy as his _Hamlet;_ with the
_Prometheus Bound_--another tremendous Soul-Symbol--it is
what puts him in equal rank with the four supreme Masters of
later Western Literature. I suppose it is pretty certain that
Shakespeare knew nothing of him, and had never heard of the plot
of his _Agamemnon._ But look here:--

There was one Hamlet King of Denmark, absent from control of his
kingdom because sleeping within his orchard (his custom always of
an afternoon). And there was one Agamemnon King of Men, absent
from control of his kingdom because leading those same Men at the
siege of Troy. Hamlet had a wife Gertrude; Agamemnon had a wife
Clytemnestra. Hamlet had a brother Claudius; who became the lover
of Gertrude. Agamemnon had a cousin Aegisthos, who became the
paramour of Clytemnestra. Claudius murdered Hamlet, and thereby
came by his throne and queen. Clytemnestra and Aegisthos murdered
Agamemnon, and Aegisthos thereby became possessed of his throne
and queen. Hamlet and Gertrude had a son Hamlet, who avenged his
father's murder. Agamemnon and Clytemnestra had a son Orestes,
who avenged  his father's murder.

There, however, the parallel ends. Shakespeare had to paint the
human soul at a certain stage of its evolution: the 'moment of
choice,'  the entering on the path: and brought all his genius to
bear on revealing that. He had, here, to teach Karma only
incidentally; in _Macbeth,_ when the voice cried  'Sleep no
more!'  he is more Aeschylean in spirit. That dreadful voice
rings through Aeschylus; who was altogether obsessed with the
majesty and awfulness of Karma.  It is what he cried to Athens
then, and to all ages since, reiterating _Karma_ with terrible
sleep-forbidding insistency from dark heights.--I have quoted the
wonderful line in which Browning, using similes borrowed from
Aeschylus himself, sums up the effect of his style:

     'Aeschylus' bronze-throat eagle-bark for blood,'

which compensates for the more than Greek--unintelligibility of
Browning's version of the _Agamemnon:_  it gives you some color,
some adumbration of the being and import of the man. How shall we
compare him with those others, his great compeers on the Mountain
of Song?  Shakespeare--as I think--throned upon a peak where are
storms often, but where the sun shines mostly; surveying all
this life, and with an eye to the eternal behind:  Dante--a
prophet, stern, proud, glad and sorrowful; ever in a great pride
of pain or agony of bliss; surveying the life without,--only to
correlate it with and interpret it by the vaster life within
that he knew better;--this Universe for him but the crust and
excoriata of the Universe of the Soul.  Milton--a Titan Soul
hurled down from heaven, struggling with all chaos and the deep
to enunciate--just to proclaim and put on everlasting record--
those two profound significant words, _Titan_ and _Soul,_ for a
memorial to Man of the real nature of Man.  Aeschylus--the
barking of an eagle--of Zeus the Thunderer's own eagle out of
ominous skies above the mountains: a thing unseen as Karma,
mysterious and mighty as Fate, as Disaster, as the final Triumph
of the Soul; sublime as death; a throat of bronze, superhumanly
impersonal; a far metallic clangor of sound, hoarse or harsh,
perhaps, if your delicate ears must call him so; but grand;
immeasurably grand; majestically, ominously and terribly grand;--
ancestral voices prophesying war, and doom, and all dark
tremendous destinies;--and yet he too with serenity and the
Prophecy of Peace and bliss for his last word to us:  he will not
leave his avenging Erinyes until by Pallas' wand and will they
are transformed into Eumenides, bringers of good fortune.

Something like that, perhaps, is the impression Aeschylus leaves
on the minds of those who know him.  They bear testimony to the
fact that, however grand his style--like a Milton Carlylized in
poetry--thought still seems to overtop it and to be struggling
for expression through a vehicle less than itself.

Says Lytton, not unwisely perhaps:  "His genius is so near the
verge of bombast, that to approach his sublime is to rush into
the ridiculous"; and he goes on to say that you might find the
nearest echo of his diction in Shelley's _Prometheus;_ but of his
diction alone; for "his power is in concentration--that of
Shelley in diffuseness." "The intellectuality of Shelley," he
says, "destroyed; that of Aeschylus only increased his command
over the passions. The interest he excites is startling,
terrible, intense." Browning tried to bring over the style; but
left the thought, in an English _Double-Dutched,_ far remoter
than he found it from our understanding. The thought demands in
English a vehicle crystal-clear; but Aeschylus in the Greek is
not crystal-clear:  so close-packed and vast are the ideas that
there are lines on lines of which the best scholars can only
conjecture the meaning.--In all this criticism, let me say, one
is but saying what has been said before; echoing Professor
Mahaffy; echoing Professor Gilbert Murray; but there is a need
to give you the best picture possible of this man speaking from
the eternal.--Unless Milton and Carlyle had co-operated to make
it, I think, any translation of the _Agamemnon_--which so many
have tried to translate--would be fatiguing and a great bore to
read. It may not be amiss to quote three lines from George Peel's
_David and Bethsabe,_ which have been often called Aeschylean
in audacity:--

     "At him the thunder shall discharge his bolt,
     And his fair spouse, with bright and fiery wings,
     Sit ever burning on his hateful wings;"

His--the thunder's--fair spouse is the lightning. Imagine
images as swift, vivid and daring as that, hurled and flashed out
in language terse, sudden, lofty--and you may get an idea of what
this eagle's bark was like. And the word that came rasping and
resounding on it out of storm-skies high over Olympus, for Athens
then and the world since to hear, was KARMA.

He took that theme, and drove it home, and drove it home, and
drove it home. Athens disregarded the rights and sufferings of
others; was in fact abominably cruel. Well; she should hear about
Karma; and in such a way that she should--no, but she _should_--
give ear. Karma punished wrong-doing. It was wrong-doing that
Karma punished. You could not do wrong with impunity.--The common
thought was that any extreme of good fortune was apt to rouse the
jealousy of the Gods, and so bring on disaster. This was what
Pindar taught--all-worshiped prosperous Pindar, Aeschylus'
contemporary, the darling poet of the Greeks. The idea is
illustrated by Herodotus' story of the Ring of Polycrates.

You remember how the latter, being tyrant of Samos, applied to
Amasis of Egypt for an alliance.  But wary Amasis, noting his
invariable good luck, advised him to sacrifice something, lest
the Gods should grow jealous:  so Polycrates threw a ring into
the sea, with the thought thus to appease Nemesis cheaply; but
an obliging fish allowed itself to be caught and served up for
his supper with the ring in its internal economy; on hearing of
which, wary Amasis foresaw trouble, and declined the alliance
with thanks.  Such views or feelings had come to be Greek
orthodoxy; you may take it that whatever Pindar said was not far
from the orthodoxies--hence his extreme popularity:  we dearly
love a man who tells us grandly what we think ourselves, and
think it right to think.  But such a position would not do for
Aeschylus.  He noted his doctrine only to condemn it.

     "There live an old saw framed in ancient days
      In memories of men, that high estate,
      Full grown, brings forth its young, nor childless dies,
      But that from good success
      Springs to the race a woe insatiable.
      But I, apart from all,
      Hold this my creed alone:
      Ill deeds along bring forth offspring of ill
      Like to their parent stock."

Needless to say the translation--Dean Plumptre's in the main--
fails to bring out the force of the original.

We must remember that for his audiences the story he had to tell
was not the important thing.  They knew it in advance; it was
one of their familiar legends.  What they went to hear was
Aeschylus' treatment of it; his art, his poetry, his preaching.
That was what was new to them:  the thing for which their eyes
and ears were open.  We go to the theater, as we read novels, for
amusement; the Athenians went for aesthetic and religious ends.
So Aechylus had ready for him an efficient pulpit; and was not
suspect for using it.  We like Movies shows because they are
entertaining and exciting; the Athenian would have damned them
because they are inartistic.

I said, he had a pulpit ready for him; yet, as nearly as such a
statement can come to truth, it was he himself who invented the
drama.  It was, remember, an age of transition:  things were
passing out from the inner planes:  the Mysteries were losing
their virtue.  The Egyptian Mysteries had been dramatic in
character; the Eleusinian, which were very likely borrowed or
copied or introduced from Egypt, were no doubt dramatic too.
Then there had been festivals among the rustics, chiefly in
honor of Dionysos not altogether in his higher aspects, with
rudimentary plays of a coarse buffoonish character.  By 499, in
Athens, these had grown to something more important; in that
year the wooden scaffolding of the theater in which they were
given broke down under the spectators; and this led to the
building of a new theater in stone. It was in 499 Aeschylus first
competed; the show was still very rudimentary in character. Then
he went off to Sicily; and came back with the idea conceived of
Greek Tragedy as an artistic vehicle or expression--and something
more. He taught the men who had at first defeated him, how to do
their later and better work; and opened the way for all who came
after, from Sophocles to Racine. He took to sailing this new ship
of the drama as near as he might to the shore-line of the
Mysteries themselves;--indeed, he did much more than this; for he
infused into his plays that wine of divine life then to be found
in its purity and vigor only or chiefly in the Pythagorean
Brotherhood.--And now as to this new art-form of his.

De Quincey, accepting the common idea that the Dionysian Theater
was built to seat between thirty and forty thousand spectators
(every free Athenian citizen), argues that the formative elements
that made Greek Tragedy what it was were derived from these huge
dimensions. In such a vast building (he asks) how could you
produce such a play as _Hamlet?_--where the art of the actor
shows itself in momentary changes of expression, small byplay
that would be lost, and the like. The figures would be dwarfed by
the distances; stage whispers and the common inflexions of the
speaking voice would be lost. So none of these things belonged to
Greek Tragedy. The mere physical scale necessitated a different
theory of art. The stature of the actors had to be increased, or
they would have looked like pygmies; their figures had to be
draped and muffled, to hide the unnatural proportions thus
given them. A mask had to be worn, if only to make the head
proportionate to the body; and the mask had to contain an
arrangement for multiplying the voice, that it might carry to the
whole audience. That implied that the lines should be chanted,
not spoken;--though in any case, chanted they would be, for they
were verse, not prose; and the Greeks had not forgotten, as we
have, that verse is meant to be chanted.  So here, to begin with,
the whole scheme implied something as unlike actual life as it
well could be. And then, too, there was the solemnity of the
occasion--the religious nature of the whole festival.

Thus, in substance De Quincey; who makes too little, perhaps,
of the matter of that last sentence; and too much of what
goes before. We may say that it was rather the grand impersonal
theory of the art that created the outward condition; not the
conditions that created the theory. Mahaffy went to Athens and
measured the theater; and found it not so big by any means. They
could have worked out our theories and practice in it, had they
wanted to, so far as that goes. Coarse buffoonish country
festivals do not of themselves evolve into grand art or solemn
occasions; you must seek a cause for that evolution, and find it
in an impulse arisen in some human mind. Or minds indeed; for
such impulses are very mysterious. The Gods sow their seed in
season; we do not see the sowing, but presently mark the
greening of the brown earth. The method of the Mysteries--drama
serious and religious--had been drifting outwards:  things had
been growing to a point where a great creative Soul could take
hold of them and mold them to his wish. If Aeschylus was not an
Initiate of Eleusis, he had learnt, with the Pythagoreans, the
method of the Mysteries of all lands. He knew more, not less,
than the common pillars of the Athenian Church and State.  I
imagine it was he, in those thirteen consecutive years of his
victories, who in part created, in part drew from his Pythagorean
knowledge, those conventions and circumstances for Tragedy which
suited him--rather than that conventions already existing imposed
formative limits on him.  His genius was aloof, impersonal,
severe, and of the substance of the Eternal; such as would need
precisely those conventions, and must have created them had they
not been there.  Briefly, I believe that this is what happened.
Sent by Pythagoras to do what he could for Athens and Greece, he
forged this mighty bolt of tragedy to be his weapon.

The theory of modern drama is imitation of life.  It has
nothing else and higher to offer; so, when it fails to imitate,
we call it trash.  But the theory of Aeschylean Tragedy
is the illumination of life.  Illumination of life, through
a medium quite unlike life. Art begins on a spiritual plane,
and works down to realism in its decadence; then it ceases
to be art at all, and becomes merely copying what we imagine
to be nature,--nature, often, as seen through a diseased liver
and well-atrophied pineal gland.

True art imitates nature only in a very selective and limited
way. It chooses carefully what it shall imitate, and all to the
end of illumination. It paints a flower, or a sunset, not to
reproduce the thing seen with the eyes, but to declare and set
forth that mood of the Oversoul which the flower or the sunset
expressed.  Flower-colors or sunset-colors cannot be reproduced
in pigments; but you can do things with pigments and a brush that
can tell the same story. Or it can be done in words, in a poem;
or with the notes of music;--in both of which cases the medium
used is still more, and totally, unlike the medium through which
the Oversoul said its say in the sky or the blossom.

Nature is always expressing these moods of the Oversoul; but we
get no news of them, as a rule, from our own sight and hearing;
we must wait for the poets and artists to interpret them.  Life
is always at work to teach us life; but we miss the grand
lessons, usually, until some human Teacher enforces them. His
methods are the same as those of the artists:  between whose
office and his there was at first no difference;--_Bard_
means only, originally, an Adept Teacher.  Such a one selects
experiences out of life for his pupils, and illumines them
through the circumstances under which they are applied; just as
the true artist selects objects from nature, and by his manner of
treating them, interprets the greatness that lies beyond.

So the drama-theory of Aeschylus.  He took fragments of possible
experience, and let them be seen through a heightened and
interpretative medium; with a light at once intense and somber-
portentous thrown on them; and this not to reproduce the
externalia and appearance of life, but to illumine its inner
recesses; to enforce, in plays lasting an hour or so, the
lessons life may take many incarnations to teach.  This cannot be
done by realism, imitation or reproduction of the actual; than
which life itself is always better.

What keeps us from seeing the meanings of life?  Personality.
Not only our own, but in all those about us.  Personality dodges
and flickers always between our eyes and the solemn motions, the
adumbrations of the augustness beyond.  We demand lots of
personality in our drama; we call it character-drawing.  We want
to see fellows like ourselves lounging or bustling about, and
hear them chattering as we do;--fellows with motives (like our
own) all springing from the personality.  Human life is what
interests us:  we desire to drink deep of it, and drink again and
again.  The music that we wish to hear is the "still, sad music
of humanity";--that is, taking our theory at its best, and before
you come down to sheer 'jazz' and ragtime.  But what interested
Aeschylus was that which lies beyond and within life.  He said:
'You can get life in the Agora, on the Acropolis, any day of the
week; when you come to the theater you shall have something
else, and greater.'

So he set his scenes, either in a vast, remote, and mysterious
antiquity, or--in _The Persians_--at Susa before the palace of
the Great King:  a setting as remote, splendid, vast, and
mysterious, to the Greek mind of the day, as the other.  Things
should not be as like life, but as unlike life, as possible.  The
plays themselves, as acted, were a combination of poetry, dance,
statuesque poses and motions and groupings; there was no action.
All the action was done off the scenes.  They did not portray the
evolution of character; they hardly portrayed character--in the
personal sense--at all.  The _dramatis personae_ are types,
symbols, the expression of natural forces, or principles in man.
In our drama you have a line, an extension forward in time; a
progression from this to that point in time;--in Greek Tragedy
you have a cross-section of time--a cutting through the atom of
time that glimpses may be caught of eternity.  There was no
unfoldment of a story; but the presentation of a single mood.
In the chanted poetry and the solemn dance-movements a situation
was set forth; what led up to it being explained retrospectively.
The audience knew what was coming as well as the author did:
that Agamemnon, for instance, was to be murdered.  So all
was written to play on their expectations, not on their surprise.
There was a succession of perfect pictures; these and the
poetry were to hold the interest, to work it up: to seize
upon the people, and lead them by ever-heightening accessions
of feeling into forgetfulness of their personal lives, and
absorption in the impersonal harmony, the spiritual receptivity,
from which the grand truths are visible.  The actors' masks
allowed only the facial expression of a single mood; and
it was a single mood the dramatist aimed to produce:  a unity;
one great word.  There could be no grave-diggers; no quizzing
of Polonious; no clouds very like a whale.  The whole drama
is the unfoldment of a single moment:  that, say, in which
Hamlet turns on Caudius and kills him--rather, leads him out to
kill him.  To that you are led by a little sparse dialog, ominous
enough, and pregnant with dire significance, between two or three
actors; many long speeches in which the story is told in
retrospect; much chanting by the chorus--Horatio multiplied by a
dozen or so--to make you feel Hamlet's long indecision, and to
allow you no escape from the knowledge that Claudius' crime
would bring about its karmic punishment.  It is a unity:  one
thunderbolt from Zeus;--first the growl and rumbling of the
thunders; then the whirr of the dread missile,--and lo, the man
dead that was to die.  And through the bolt so hurled, so
effective, and with it--the eagle-bark--Aeschylus crying _Karma!_
to the Athenians.

So it has been said that Aeschylean Tragedy is more nearly allied
to sculpture; Shakespearean Tragedy to the Epic.

Think how that unchanging mask, that frozen moment of expression,
would develop the quality of tragic irony. In it Clytemnestra
comes out to greet the returning Agamemnon.  She has her
handmaids carpet the road for him with purple tapestries; she
makes her speeches of welcome; she alludes to the old sacrifice
of Iphigenia; she tells him how she has waited for his return;--
and all the while the audience knows she is about to kill him.
They listen to her doubtful words, in which she reveals to them,
who know both already, her faithlessness and dire purpose; but
to her husband, seems to reveal something different altogether.
With Agamemnon comes Cassandra from fallen Troy:  whose fate was
to foresee all woes and horror, and to forthtell what she saw--
and never to be believed; so now when she raises her dreadful
cry, foreseeing what is about to happen, and uttering warning--
none believe her but the audience, who know it all in advance.
And then there are the chantings of the chorus, a group of Argive
elders.   They know or guess how things stand between the queen
and her lover; they express their misgiving, gathering as the
play goes on; they recount the deeds of violence of which the
House of Atreus has been the scene, and are haunted by the
foreshadowings of Karma.  But they many not understand or
give credence to the warnings of Cassandra:  Karma disallows
fore-fending against the fall of its bolts.  Troy has fallen, they
say:  and that was Karma; because Paris, and Troy in supporting
him, had sinned against Zeus the patron of hospitality,--to whom
the offense rose like vultures with rifled nest, wheeling in
mid-heaven on strong oars of wings, screaming for retribution.
--You may not that Aeschylus' freedom from the bonds of outer
religion is like Shakespeare's own:  here Zeus figures as symbol
of the Lords of Karma; from him flow the severe readjustments
of the Law;--but in the _Prometheus Bound_ he stands for the
lower nature that crucifies the Higher.

Troy, then, had sinned, and has fallen; but (says the Chorus)
let the conquerors look to it that they do not overstep the mark;
let there be no dishonoring the native Gods of Troy; (the
Athenians had been very considerably overstepping the mark
in some of their own conquests recently;)--let there be no
plundering or useless cruelty; (the Athenians had been hideously
greedy and cruel;)--or Karma would overtake it own agents, the
Greeks, who were not yet out of the wood, as we say--who had not
yet returned home.  This was when the beacons had announced the
fall of Troy, and before the entry of Agamemnon.

Clytemnestra is not like Gertrude, but a much grander and more
tragical figure.  Shakespeare leaves you in no doubt as to his
queen's relation to Claudius; he enlarges on their guilty
passion _ad lib._  Aeschylus never mentions love at all in
any of his extant plays; only barely hints at it here.  It
may be supposed to exist; it is an accessory motive; it
lends irony to Clytemnestra's welcome to Agamemnon--in which
only the audience and the Chorus are aware that the lady
does protest too much.  But she stands forth in her own eyes
as an agent of Karma-Nemesis; there is something very terrible
and unhuman about her.  Early in the play she reminds the
Chorus how Agamemnon, is setting out for Troy, sacrificed
his and her daughter Iphigenia to get a fair wind:  a deed
of blood whose consequences must be feared--something to
add to the Chorus's misgivings, as they chant their doubtful
hope that the king may safely return.  In reality Artemis
had saved Igphigenia; and though Clytemnestra did not know
this, in assuming the position of her daughter's avenger
she put herself under the karmic ban.  And Agamemnon did
not know it:  he had intended the sacrifice:  and was therefore,
and for his supposed ruthlessness at Troy, under the same ban
himself. Hence the fate that awaited him on his return; and
hence because of  Clytemnestra's useless crime--when she and
Aegisthos come out from murdering him, and announce what they
have done, the Chorus's dark foretellings--to come true presently
--of the Karma that is to follow upon it.

And here we must guard ourselves against the error--as I think it
is that Aeschylus set himself to create the perfect and final
art-form as such. I think he was just intent on announcing Karma
to the Athenians in the most effective way possible:  bent all
his energies to making that--and that the natural result
of that high issue clear and unescapable; purpose was this
marvelous art-form--which Sophocles took up later, and in
some external ways perhaps perfected. Then came Aristotle after
a hundred years, and defining the results achieved, tried to make
Shakespeare impossible. The truth is that when you put yourself
to do the Soul's work, and have the great forces of the Soul to
back you therein, you create an art-form; and it only remains for
the Aristotelian critic to define it. Then back comes the Soul
after a thousand years, makes a new one, and laughs at the
Aristotles. The grand business is done by following the Soul--not
by conforming to rules or imitating models. But it must be the
Soul; rules and models are much better than personal whims;
they are a discipline good to be followed as long as one can.--
You will note how Aeschylus stood above the possibilities of
actualism with which we so much concern ourselves; in the course
of some sixteen hundred lines, and without interval or change of
act or scene, he introduces the watchman on the house-top who
first sees the beacons that announce the fall of Troy, on the
very night that Troy fell,--and the return of Agamemnon in his
chariot to Argos.

In the  _Choephori_ or _Libation-Pourers,_ the second play of the
trilogy, Orestes returns from his Wittenberg, sent by Apollo to
avenge his father. The scene again is in front of the house of
Atreus. Having killed Aegistlios within, Orestes comes out to
the Chorus; then Clytemnestra enters; he tells her what he has
done, and what he intends to do; and despite her pleadings,
leads her in to die beside her paramour. He comes out again,
bearing (for his justification) the blood-stained robe of
Agamemnon;--but he comes out distraught and with the guilt of
matricide weighing on his soul. The Chorus bids him be of good
cheer, reminding him upon what high suggestion he has acted; but
in the background he, and he alone, sees the Furies swarming to
haunt him, "like Gorgons, dark-robed, and all their tresses hang
entwined with many serpents; and from their eyes is dropping
loathsome blood."  He must wander the world seeking purification.
In the _Eumenides_ we find him in the temple of Loxias (the
Apollo) at Delphi, there seeking refuge with the god who had
prompted him to the deed. But even there the Furies haunt him--
though for weariness--or really because it is the shrine of
Loxias--they have fallen asleep.  From them even Loxias may not
free him; only perhaps Pallas at Athens may do that; Loxias
announces this to him and bids him go to Athens, and assures him
meanwhile of his protection.

To Athens then the scene changes, where Orestes' case is tried:
Apollo defends him; Pallas is the judge; the Furies the
accusers; the Court of the Areopagus the jury. The votes of
these are equally divided; but Athene gives her casting vote in
his favor; and to compensate the Erinyes, turns them into
Eumenides--from Furies to goddesses of good omen and fortune.
Orestes is free, and the end is  happy.

No doubt very pretty and feeble of the bronze-throated Eagle-
barker to make it so.  What! clap on an exit to these piled-up
miseries?--he  should have plunged us deeper in woe, and left us
to stew in our juices; he Should have shunned this detestable
effeminacy, worthy only of the Dantes and Shakespeares. But
unfortunately he was an Esotericist, with the business of
helping, not plaguing, mankind:  he must follow the grand
symbolism of the story of the Soul, recording and emphasizing and
showing the way to its victories, not its defeats. He had the eye
to see deep into realities, and was not to be led from the path
of truth eternal by the cheap effective expedients of realism.
He must tell the whole truth:  building up, not merely destroying;
and truth, at the end, is not bitter, but bright and glorious.
It is the triumph and purification of the soul; and to that
happy consummation all sorrow and darkness and the dread Furies
themselves, whom he paints with all the dark flame-pigments
of sheerest terror, are but incidental and a means.

And the meaning of it all? Well, the meaning is as vast as the
scheme of evolution itself, I suppose.  It is _Hamlet_ over
again, and treated differently; that which wrote _Hamlet_
through Shakespeare, wrote this Trilogy through Aeschylus. I
imagine  you are to find in the _Agamemnon_ the symbol of the
Spirit's fall into matter--of the incarnation (and obscuration)
of the  Lords of Mind--driven thereto by ancient Karma, and the
result--of the life of past universes. Shakespeare deals with
this retrospectively, in the Ghost's words to Hamlet on the
terrace. The 'death' of the Spirit is its fall into matter.

And just as the ghost urges Hamlet to revenge, so Apollo urges
Orestes; it is the influx, stir, or impingement of the Supreme
Self, that rouses a man, at a certain stage in his evolution,
to lift himself above his common manhood. This is the most
interesting and momentous event in the long career of the soul:
it takes the place, in that drama of incarnations, that the
marriage does in the modern novel.  Shakespeare, whose mental
tendencies were the precise opposite of Aeschylus's--they ran to
infinite multiplicity and complexity, where the other's ran to
stern unity and simplicity (of plot)--made two characters of
Polonius and Gertrude:  Polonius,--the objective lower world,
with its shallow wisdom and conventions; Gertrude,--Nature, the
lower world in it subjective or inner relation to the soul
incarnate in it.  Aeschylus made no separate symbol for the former.
Shakespeare makes the killing of Polonius a turning-point;
thenceforth Hamlet must, will he nill he, in some dawdling
sort sweep to his revenge.  Aeschylus makes that same turning-point
in the killing of Clytemnestra, whereafter the Furies are let
loose on Orestes.  If you think well what it means, it is
that "leap" spoken of in _Light on the Path,_ by which a
man raises himself "on to the path of individual accomplishment
instead of mere obedience to the genii which rule our earth."
He can no longer walk secure like a sheep in the flock; he
has come out, and is separate; he has chosen a captain within,
and must follow the Soul, and not outer convention.  That
step taken, and the face set towards the Spirit-Sun--the
life of the world forgone, that a way may be fought into
the Life of the Soul:--all his past lives and their errors
rise against him; his passions are roused to fight for their
lives, and easy living is no longer possible.  He must fly
then for refuge to Loxias the Sun-God, the Supreme Self, who can
protect him from these Erinyes--but it is Pallas, Goddess of the
Inner Wisdom, of the true method of life, that can alone set him
free.  And it is thus that Apollo pleads before her for Orestes
who killed his mother (Nature) to avenge his Father (Spirit):--a
man, says he, is in reality the child of his father, not of his
mother:--this lower world in which we are incarnate is not in
truth our parent or originator at all, but only the seed-plot in
which we, sons of the Eternal, are sown, the nursery in which we
grow to the point of birth;--but we ourselves are in our essence
flame of the Flame of God.  So Pallas--and you must think of all
she implied--Theosophy, right living, right thought and action,
true wisdom--judges Orestes guiltless, sets him free, and
transforms his passions into his powers.



V.  SOME PERICLEAN FIGURES


Yoshio Markino (that ever-delightful Japanese) makes an
illuminating comparison between the modern western and the
ancient eastern civilizations. What he says amounts to this: the
one is of Science, the other of the Human Spirit; the one of
intellect, the other of intuition; the one has learnt rules for
carrying all things through in some shape that will serve--the
other worked its wonders by what may be called a Transcendental
Rule of Thumb. But in fact it was a reliance on the Human Spirit,
which invited the presence thereof;--and hence results were
attained quite unachievable by modern scientific methods. What
Yoshio says of the Chinese and Japanese is also true of all the
great western ages of the past. We can do a number of things,--
that is, have invented machinery to do a number of things for
us,--but with all our resources we could not build a Parthenon:
could not even reproduce it, with the model there before our eyes
to imitate.*

------
* I quote Prof. Mahaffy in his _Problems of Greek History._  He
also points out that it is beyond the powers of modern science in
naval architecture to construct a workable model of a Greek trireme.
------

It stands as a monument of the Human Spirit: as an age-long
witness to the presence and keen activity of that during the Age
of Pericles in Athens. It was built at almost break-neck speed,
yet remains a thing of permanent inimitable beauty, defying time
and the deliberate efforts of men and gunpowder to destroy it.
The work in it which no eye could see was as delicate, as
exquisite, as that which was most in evidence publicly; every
detail bore the deliberate impress of the Spirit, a direct
spiritual creation. There is no straight line in it; no two
measurements are the same; but by a divine and direct intuition,
every  difference is inevitable, and an essential factor in the
perfection of the whole.  As if the same creative force had made
it, as makes of the sea and  mountains an inescapable perfection
of beauty.

It is one of the many mighty works wherewith Pericles and
his right-hand man Pheidias, and his architects Ictinus and
Callicrates, adorned Athens.  It would serve no purpose to make a
list of the great names of the age; which you know well enough
already. The simple fact to note is this:  that at a certain
period in the fifth and fourth centuries B. C. the Crest-Wave of
Evolution was, so far as we can see, flowing through a very
narrow channel.  The Far Eastern seats of civilization were under
pralaya; the life-forces in West Asia were running towards
exhaustion, or already exhausted; India, it is true, is hidden
from us; we cannot judge well what was going on there; and so
was most of Europe. Any scheme of cycles that we can put forward
as yet must necessarily be tentative and hypothetical; what we
do not know is, to what we do know, as a million to one; I may
be quite wrong in giving Europe as long a period for its
manvantaras as China; possibly there were no manvantaric
activities in Europe, in that period, before the rise of Greece.
But whether or no, this particular time belongs, of all European
countries, to Greece:  the genius of the world, the energy of the
human spirit, was  mainly concentrated there; and of Greece, in
the single not too large city of Athens.  It is true I am rather
enamored of the cycle of a hundred and thirty years; prejudiced,
if you like, in its favor; it is also true that genius was
speaking through at least one world-important Athenian voice--
that of Aeschylus--before the age of Pericles began.  Still,
these dates are significant:  477, in which year Athens attained
the hegemony of Greece, and 347, in which Plato died. It was
after 477 that Aeschylus eagle-barked the grandest part of his
message from the Soul, and that the great Periclean figures
appeared; and though Athenians of genius out-lived Plato, he was
the last world-figure and great Soul-Prophet; the last Athenian
equal in standing to Aeschylus. When those thirteen decades had
passed, the Soul had little more to say through Athens.--
Aristotle?--I said, _the Soul_ had little more to say. . . .

About midway through that cycle came Aegospotami, and the
destruction of the Long Walls and of the Empire; but these did
not put an end to Athenian significance.  Mahaffy very wisely
goes to work to dethrone the Peloponnesian War--as he does, too,
the Persian--from the eminence it has been given in the textbooks
ever since.  As usual, we get a lopsided view from the historians:
in this case from Thucydides, who slurred through a sort of
synopsis of the far more important and world-interesting
mid-fifth century, and then dealt microscopically with these
twenty-five years or so of trumpery raidings, petty excursions
and small alarms. That naval battle at Syracuse, which Creasy
puts with Marathon in his famous fifteen, was utterly unimportant:
tardy Nicias might have won all through, and still Athens
would have fallen.  Her political foundations were on the
sand. Under Persia you stood a much better chance of enjoying
good government and freedom:  Persian rule was far less
oppressive and cruel. The states and islands subject to Athens
had no self-government, no representation; they were at the
mercy of the Athenian mob, to be taxed, bullied, and pommeled
about as that fickle irresponsible tyranny might elect or be
swayed to pommel, tax, and bully them.  Thucydides was a great
master of prose style, and so could invest with an air of
importance all the matter of his tale.  Besides, he was the
only contemporary historian, or the only one that survives.
So the world ever since has been tricked into thinking this
Peloponnesian War momentous; whereas really it was a petty
family squabble among that most family-squabblesome of peoples,
the Greeks.--In most of which I am only quoting Mahaffy; who,
whether intentionally or not, deals with Greek history in such a
way as to show the utter unimportance, irrelevance, futility,
of war.

Greek history is merely a phase of human history. We have looked
for its significance exclusively in political and cultural
regions; but this is altogether a mistake. The Greeks did not
invent culture; there had been greater cultures before, only
they are forgotten. All that about the "evolution of Political
freedom," of the city state, republicanism, etc., is just
nonsense.  As far as I can see, the importance of Greece lies in
this:  human history, the main part of it, flowing in that age
through the narrow channel of Greece, came down from sacred to
secular; from the last remnants of a state of affairs in which
the Lodge, through the Mysteries, had controlled life and
events, to the beginnings of one in which things were to muddle
through under the sweet guidance of brain-minds and ordinary men.
The old order had become impossible; the world had drifted too
far from the Gods.  So the Gods tried a new method:  let loose a
new great force in the world; sent Teachers to preach openly
(sow broadcast, and let the seed take its chances) what had
before been concealed and revealed systematically within the
Established  Mysteries.  What Athens did with that new force has
affected the whole history of Europe since; apparently mostly
for weal; really, nearly altogether for woe.

Aristides, with convincing logic, had been able to persuade all
Greece to act against a common danger under an Athens then
morally great, and feeling this new force from the God-world
as a wine in the air, a mental ozone, an inspiration from the
subliminal to heroic endeavor.  But his policy perished when the
visible need for it subsided; it gave way to the Themistoclean,
which passed into the Periclean policy; and that, says Mahaffy,
"was so dangerous and difficult that no cautious and provident
thinker could have called it secure." Which also was Plato's view
of it; who went so far as to say that Pericles had made the
Athenians lazy, sensual, and frivolous. When we find Aeschylus at
the start at odds with it, and Plato at the end condemning it
wholesale,--for my part I think we hardly need bother to argue
about it further. Both were men who saw from a standpoint above
the enlightenment of the common brain-mind.

It is not the present purpose to treat history as a matter of
wars and politics; details of which you can get from any
textbook; our concern is with the motions of the human spirit,
and the laws that work from behind. As to these motions, and the
grand influxes, there is this much we can rely on:  they come by
law, in their regular cycles; and we can invite their coming,
and insure their stability when they do come. The more I study
history, the more the significance of my present surroundings
impresses me. We stand here upon a marvelous isthmus in time;
behind us lies a world of dreary commonplaces called the
civilization of Christendom; before us--who knows what possibilities?
Nothing is certain about the future--even the near future;--except
that it will be immensely unlike the past.  Whatever we have
learned or failed to learn, large opportunities are given us
daily for discovering those inward regions  whence all light
shines down into the world. Genius is one method of the Soul's
action; one aspect of its glory made manifest.  We are given
opportunities to learn what invites and what hinders its outflow.
To all common thinking, it is a thing absolutely beyond control
of the will; that cannot be called down, nor its coming
in anywise foretold.  But we know that the Divine Self would act,
were the obstructions to its action removed; and that the
obstructions are all in the lower nature of man.

Worship the Soul in all thoughts and deeds, and sooner or later
the Soul will pour down through the channel thus made for it;
and its inflow will not be fitful and treacherous, but sure,
stable, equable and redeeming.

This is where all past ages of brilliance have failed. Cyclically
they were bound to come:  the fields ripened in due season;
but the wealth of the harvest depended on the reapers. The
Elizabethan Age, with all its splendid quickening of the English
mind, was coarse and wicked to a degree. All through the
wonderful Cinquecento, when each of a dozen or more little
Italian city-states was  producing genius enough to furnish forth
a good average century in modern Europe or America, Italy was
also a hotbed of unnatural vices, lurid crimes, wickedness to
stock the nine circles of Malebolge.  So too Athens at the top of
her glory became selfish, grasping, conscienceless and cruel; and
those nameless vices grew up and grew common in her which
probably account for the long dark night that has spread itself
over Greece ever since. It is a strange situation, that looks
like an anomaly:  that wherever the Human Spirit presses in most,
and raises up most splendor of genius, there, and then the dark
forces that undermine life are most at work. But we should have
no difficulty in understanding it. At such times, by such
influxes, the whole inner kingdom of man is roused and illumined;
and not only the intellect and all noble qualities are quickened,
but the passions also. The race, and the individual, are stirred
to the deepest depths, and no part of you may have rest. What
then will happen, unless you have the surest moral training for
foundation? The force which rouses up the highest in you, rouses
up also the lowest; and there must be battle-royal and victory at
last, or surrender to hell. Through lack of training, and
ignorance of the laws of the inner life, the Higher will be
handicapped; the lower will have advantage through its own
natural impulse downward, increased by every success it is
allowed to gain. And so all these ages of creative achievement
exhaust themselves; every victory of the passions drawing down
the creative force from the higher planes, to waste  it on the
lower; till at last what had been an attempt of the Spirit to
lift humanity up on to nobler lines of evolution, and to open a
new order of ages, expires in debauchery, weakness, degeneracy,
physical and moral death. The worst fate you could wish a man is
genius without moral strength. It wrecks individuals, and it
wrecks nations. I said we stand now on an isthmus of time;
fifth-century Greece stood on  such another.  For reasons that we
have seen, there was to be a radical difference between the ages
that preceded, and the ages that followed it; its influence was
not to wear out, in the west, for twenty-five hundred years. It
was to give a keynote, in cultural effort, to a very long future.
So all western ages since have suffered because of its descent
from lofty ideals to vulgar greed and ambition; from Aristides
to Themistocles and Pericles.  We shall see this Athenian descent
in literature, in art, in philosophy.  If Athens had gone up, not
down, European history would have been a long record of the
triumphs of the spirit:--not, as it has been in the main, one of
sorrow and disaster.

At the beginning of the Greek age in literature, we find the
stupendous figure of Aeschylus.  For any such a force as he was,
there is--how shall I say?--a twofold lineage or ancestry to be
traced:  there are no sudden creations.  Take Shakespeare, for
example.  There was what he found read to his hand in English
literature; and what he brought into England out of the Unknown.
In his outwardness, the fabric of his art--we can trace this
broad river back to a thinnish stream by the name of Chaucer; or
he was growth, recognizably, of the national tree of which
Chaucer was the root, or lay at the root.  The unity called
English poetry had grown naturally from that root to this
glorious flower:  the sparkle, with, brightness, and above all
large hold upon the other life that one finds in Shakespeare--one
finds at least the rudiments of them in Chaucer also.  But there
is another, an exoteric element in him which one finds nowhere in
English literature before him:  the Grandeur from within, the
high Soul Symbol.  In him suddenly that portentous thing appears,
like a great broad river emerging from the earth.--Of which we do
not say, however, that they have had no antecedent rills and
fountain; we know that they have traveled long beneath the
mountains, unseen; they sank under the earth-surface somewhere,
and are not special new creations.  Looking back behind Shakespeare,
from this our eminence in time, we can see beyond the intervening
heights this broad water shine again over the plain in Dante;
and beyond him some glimmer of it in Virgil; until at last
we see the far-off sheen of it in Aeschylus, very near the
backward horizon of time.  We can catch no glimpse of it
farther, because that horizon is there.

We can trace Aeschylus' outward descent--as Shakespeare's from
Chaucer--from the nascent Greek drama and the rudimentary plays
at the rustic festivals; but the grand river of his esotericism
--there it shines, as large and majestic, at least, as in
Shakespeare; and it was, no more than his, a special creation or
new thing.  Our horizon lies there, to prevent our vision going
further; but from some higher time-eminence in the future,
we shall see it emerge again in the backward vastnesses of
pre-history; again and again. The grandeur of Aeschylus his no
parent in Greek, or in western extant literature; or if we say
that it has a parent in Homer (which I doubt, because not seeing
the Soul Symbols in Homer), it is only putting matters one step
further back.... But behind Greece, there were the lost literatures
of Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, of which we know nothing; aye, and
for a guess, lost and mighty literatures from all parts of Europe
too. If I could imagine it otherwise, I would say so.

Almost suddenly, during Aeschylus' lifetime, another Greek Art
came into being. When he was a boy, sculpture was still a very
crude affair; or perhaps just beginning to emerge from that
condition. The images that come down to us, say from Pisistratus'
time and earlier, are not greatly different from the 'primitive'
carvings of many so-called savage peoples of our own day. That
statement is loose and general; but near enough the mark to
serve our purpose. You may characterize them as rude imitations
of the human form, without any troublesome realism, and with a
strong element of the grotesque. Says the _Encyclopeadia
Britannica_ (from which the illustration is taken):

"The statues of the gods began either with stiff and ungainly
figures roughly cut out of the trunk of a tree, or with the
monstrous and symbolical representations of Oriental art.... In
early decorations of vases and vessels one may find Greek deities
represented with wings, carrying in their hands lions or
griffins, bearing on their heads lofty crowns.  But as Greek art
progressed it grew out of this crude symbolism... What the
artists of Babylonia and Egypt express in the character of the
gods by added attribute or symbol, swiftness by wings, control of
storms by the thunderbolt, traits of character by animal
heads, the artists of Greece work more and more fully into the
scultptural type; modifying the human subject by the constant
addition of something which is above the ordinary levels of
humanity, until we reach the Zeus of Pheidias or the Dimeter of
Cnidus.  When the decay of the high ethical art of Greece sets
in, the Gods become more and more warped to the merely human
level.  They lose their dignity, but they never lose their charm."

In which, I think, much light is once more thrown on the inner
history of the race, and the curious and fatal position Greece
holds in it. For here we see Art emerging from its old Position
as a hand-maid to the Mysteries and recognized instrument of the
Gods or the Soul; from sacred becoming secular; from impersonal,
personal. There is, perhaps, little enough in pre-Pheidian Greek
sculpture that belongs to the history of Art at all (I do not
speak of old cycles and manvantaras, the ages of Troy and
Mycenae, but of historical times; I cast no glance now behind the
year 870 B. C.).  For the real art that came next before the
Pheidian Greek, we have to look to Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Take Egypt first.  There the sculptor thinks of himself far less
as artist than as priest and servant of the Mysteries:  that is,
of the great Divine heart of Existence behind this manifested
world, and the official channel which connected It with the
latter.   The Gods, for him, are frankly unhuman--superhuman--
unlike humanity.  We call them 'forces of Nature'; and think
ourselves mighty wise for having camouflaged our ignorance with
this perfectly meaningless term.  We have dealt so wisely with
our thinking organs, that do but give us a sop of words, and
things in themselves we shall never bother about:--like the
Grave-digger, who solved the whole problem of Ophelia's death and
burial with his three branches of an act.  But the Egyptian, with
mental faculties unrotted by creedal fatuities like our own,
would not so feed 'of the chameleon's dish,'--needed something
more than words, words, and words.  He knew also that there were
elements in their being quite unlike any we are conscious of in
ours.  So he gave them purely symbolic forms:  a human body, for
that which he could posit as common to themselves and humanity;
and an animal mask, to say that the face, the expression of their
consciousness, was hidden, and not to be expressed in terms of
human personality.  While affirming that they were conscious
entities, he stopped short of personalizing them.  What was
beneath the mask or symbol belonged to the Mysteries, and was not
to be publicly declared.

But when he came to portraying men, especially great kings, he
used a different method.  The king's statue was to remain through
long ages, when the king himself was dead and Osirified.  The
artist knew--it was the tradition of his school--what the
Osirified dead looked like.  Not an individual sculptor, but a
traditional wisdom, was to find expression.  What sculptor's name
is known?  Who wrought the Vocal Memnon?--Not any man; but the
Soul and wisdom and genius of Egypt.  The last things bothered
about were realism and personality.  There were a very few
conventional poses; the object was not to make a portrait, but
to declare the Universal Human Soul;--it was hardly artistic, in
any modern acceptation of the word; but rather religious.
Artistic it was, in the highest and truest sense:  to create, in
the medium of stone, the likeness or impression of the Human Soul
in its grandeur and majesty; to make hard granite or syenite
proclaim the eternal peace and aloofness of the Soul.--Plato
speaks of those glimpses of "the other side of the sky" which the
soul catches before it comes into the flesh;--the Egyptian artist
was preoccupied with the other side of the sky.  How wonderfully
he succeeded, you have only to drop into the British Museum to
see.  There is a colossal head there, hung high on the wall
facing the stairs at the end of the Egyptian Gallery; you may
view it from the ground, or from any point on the stairs; but
from whatever place you look at it, if you have any quality of
the Soul in you, you go away having caught large glimpses of the
other side of the sky. You are convinced, perhaps unconsciously,
of the grandeur and reality of the Soul.   Having watched
Eternity on that face many times, I rejoiced to find this
description of it in De Quincey;--if he was not speaking of this,
what he says fits it admirably:

"That other object which for four and twenty years in the British
Museum struck me as simply the sublimest sight which in this
sight-seeing world I had seen.  It was the memnon's head, then
recently brought from Egypt.  I looked at it, as the reader must
suppose in order to understand the depth which I have here
ascribed to the impression, not as a human but as a symbolic
head; and what it symbolized to me were:  (1) the peace which
passeth understanding. (2) The eternity which baffles and
confounds all faculty of computation--the eternity which had
been, the eternity which was to be.  (3) The diffusive love, not
such as rises and falls upon waves of life and mortality,
not such as sinks and swells by undulations of time, but a
procession, an emanation, from some mystery of endless dawn.  You
durst not call it a smile that radiated from those lips; the
radiation was too awful to clothe itself in adumbrations of
memorials of flesh."

Art can never reach higher than that,--if we think of it as a
factor in human evolution. What else you may say of Egyptian
sculpture is of minor importance:  as, that it was stiff,
conventional, or what not; that each figure is portrayed sitting
bolt upright, hands out straight, palms down, upon the knees, and
eyes gazing into eternity. Ultimately we must regard Art in this
Egyptian way: as a thing sacred, a servant of the Mysteries; the
revealer of the Soul and the other side of the sky.   You may
have enormous facility in playing with your medium; may be able
to make your marble quite fluidic, and flow into innumerable
graceful forms; you may be past master of every intricacy,
multiplying your skill to the power of n;--but you will still in
reality have made no progress beyond that unknown carver who
shaped his syenite, or his basalt, into  the "peace which passeth
understanding"--"the eternity which baffles and confounds all
faculty of computation."

If we turn to Assyria, we find much the same thing. This was a
people far less spiritual than the Egyptians:  a cruel, splendid,
luxurious civilization  deifying material power. But you cannot
look at the great Winged Bulls without knowing that there, too,
the motive was religious. There is an eternity and inexhaustible
power in those huge carvings; the sculptors were bent on one
end:--to make the stone speak out of superhuman heights, and
proclaim the majesty of the Everlasting.--In the Babylonian
sculptures we see the kings going into battle weaponless, but
calm and invincible; and behind and standing over, to protect and
fight for them, terrific monsters, armed and tiger-headed or
leopard-headed--the 'divinity that hedges a king' treated
symbolically. As always in those days, though many veils might
hide from the consciousness of Assyria and later Babylon the
beautiful reality of the Soul of Things, the endeavor, the
_raison d'etre,_ of Art was to declare the Might, Power, Majesty,
and dominion which abide beyond our common levels of thought.

Now then:  that great Memnon's head comes from behind the horizon
of time and the sunset of the Mysteries; and in it we sample the
kind of consciousness produced by the Teaching of the Mysteries.
Go back step by step, from Shakespeare's

     "Glamis hath murdered Sleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep
         no more.";

to Dante's

     "The love that moves the Sun and the other Stars";

to Talesin's

     "My original country is the Region of the Summer Stars";

to Aeschylus's bronze-throat eagle-bark at blood;--and the next
step you come to beyond (in the West)--the next expression of the
Human Soul--marked with the same kind of feeling--the same
spiritual and divine hauteur--is, for lack of literary remains,
this Egyptian sculpture. The Grand Manner, the majestic note of
Esotericism, the highest in art and literature, is a stream
flowing down to us from the Sacred Mysteries of Antiquity.

It is curious that a crude primtivism in sculpture--and in
architecture too--should have gone on side by side, in Greece,
during the seventh and sixth centuries B. C., with the very
finished art of the Lyricists from Sappho to Pindar; but
apparently it did.  (They had wooden temples, painted in bright
reds and greens; I understand without pillared facades.)  I
imagine the explanation to be something like this:   You are to
think of an influx of the  Human Spirit, proceeding downward from
its own realms towards these, until it strikes some civilization
--the Greek, in this case. Now poetry, because its medium is less
material, lies much nearer than do the plastic arts to the Spirit
on its descending course; and therefore receives the impulse of
its descent much sooner. Perhaps music lies higher again; which
is why music was the first of the arts to blossom at all in this
nascent civilization of ours at Point Loma. Let me diverge a
little, and take a glance round.--At any such time, the seeds
of music may not be present in strength or in a form to be
quickenable into a separately manifesting art; and this may be
true of poetry too; yet where poetry is, you may say music has
been; for every real poem is born out of a pre-existing music of
its own, and is the _inverbation_ of it. The Greek Melic poets
(the lyricists) were all musicians first, with an intricate
musical science, on the forms of which they arranged their
language; I do not know whether they wrote their music apart
from the words. After the Greek, the Italian illumination was the
greatest in western history; there the influx, beginning in the
thirteenth century, produced first its chief poetic splendor in
Dante before that century had passed; not raising an equal
greatness in painting and sculpture until the fifteenth.  In
England, the Breath that kindled Shakespeare never blew down so
far as to light up a great moment in the plastic arts:  there
were some few figures of the second rank in painting presently;
in sculpture, nothing at all (to speak of).  Painting, you see,
works in a little less material medium than sculpture does.
Dante's Italy had not quite plunged into that orgy of vice,
characteristic of the great creative ages, which we find in the
Italy of the Cinquecento.  But England, even in Shakespeare's
day, was admiring and tending to imitate Italian wickedness.
James I's reign was as corrupt as may be; and though the Puritan
reaction followed, the creative force had already been largely
wasted:  notice had been served to the Spirit to keep off.
Puritanism raised itself as a barrier against the creative force
both in its higher and lower aspects:  against art, and against
vice;--probably the best thing that could happen under the
circumstances; and the reason why England recovered so much
sooner than did Italy.--On the other hand, when the influx came
to Holland, it would seem to have found, then, no opportunities
for action in the non-material arts:  to have skipped any grand
manifestation in music or poetry:  and at once to have hit the
Dutchman 'where he lived' (as they say),--in his paintbox.--But
to return:-

Sculpture, then, came later than poetry to Greece; and in some
ways it was a more sudden and astounding birth. Unluckily nothing
remains--I speak on tenterhooks--of its grandest moment. Progress
in architecture seems to have begun in the reign of Pisistratus;
some time in the next sixty years or so the Soul first impressed
its likeness on carved stone.  I once saw a picture--in a lantern
lecture in London--of a pre-Pheidian statue of Athene; dating,
I suppose, from the end of the sixth century B. C.  She is
advancing with upraised arm to protect--someone or something. The
figure is, perhaps, stiff and conventional; and you have no doubt
it is the likeness of a Goddess. She is not merely a very fine
and dignified woman; she is a Goddess, with something of
Egyptian sublimity.  The artist, if he had not attained perfect
mastery of the human form--if his medium was not quite plastic to
him--knew well what the Soul is like.--The Greek had no feeling,
as the Egyptian had, for the _mystery_ of the Gods; at his very
best (once he had begun to be artistic) he personalized them; he
tried to put into his representations of them, what the Egyptian
had tried to put into his representations  of men; and in that
sense this Athene is, after all, only a woman;--but one in whom
the Soul is quite manifest.  I have never been able to trace this
statue since; and my recollections are rather hazy.  But it
stands, for me, holding up a torch in the inner recesses of
history.  It was the time when Pythagoras was teaching; it was
that momentous time when (as hardly since) the doors of the
Spiritual were flung open, and the impulse of the six Great
Teachers was let loose on the world.  Hithertoo Greek carvers had
been making images of the Gods, symbolic indeed--with wings,
thunderbolts and other appurtenances;--but trivially symbolic;
mere imitation of the symbolism, without the dignity or religious
feeling, of the Egyptians and Babylonians; as if their gods and
worship had been mere conventions, about which they had felt
nothing deep;--now, upon this urge from the God-world, a sense of
the grandeur of the within comes on them; they seek a means of
expressing it:  throw off the old conventions; will carve the
Gods as men; do so, their aspiration leading them on to perfect
mastery:  for a moment achieve Egyptian sublimity; but--have
personalized the Gods; and dear knows what that may lead
to presently.

The came Pheidias, born about 496.  Nothing of his work remains
for us; the Elgin Marbles themselves, from the Parthenon, are
pretty certainly only the work of his pupils.  But there are two
things that tell us something about his standing:  (1) all
antiquity bears witness to the prevailing quality of his
conceptions; their sublimity.  (2) He was thrown into prison on a
charge of impiety, and died there, in 442.

Here you will note the progress downward.  Aeschylus had been so
charged, and tried--but acquitted.  Pheidias, so charged, was
imprisoned.  Forty-three years later Socrates, so charged, was
condemned to drink the hemlock.  Of Aeschylus and Socrates we can
speak with certainty:  they were the Soul's elect men.  Was
Pheidias too?  Athens certainly was turning away from the Soul;
and his fate is a kind of half-way point between the fates of the
others.  He appears in good company.  And that note of sublimity
in his work bears witness somewhat.

We have the work of his pupils, and know that in their hands the
marble--Pheidias himself worked mostly in gold and ivory--had
become docile and obedient, to flow into whatever forms they
designed for it.  We know what strength, what beauty, what
tremendous energy, are in those Elgin marbles.  All the figures
are real, but idealized:  beautiful men and horses, in fullest
most vigorous action, suddenly frozen into stone.  The men are
more beautiful than human; but they are human.  They are
splendid unspoiled human beings, reared for utmost bodily
perfection; athletes whose whole training had been, you may say,
to music:  they are music expressed in terms of the human body.
Yes; but already the beauty of the body outshone the majesty of
the Soul.  It was the beauty of the body the artists aimed at
expressing:  a perfect body--and a sound mind in it:  a perfectly
healthy mind in it, no doubt (be cause you cannot have a really
sound and beautiful body without a sound healthy mind)--was the
ideal they sought and saw. Very well, so far; but, you see,
Art has ceased to be sacred, and the handmaid of the Mysteries;
it bothers itself no longer with the other side of the sky.

In Pheidias' own work we might have seen the influx at that
moment when, shining through the soul plane, its rays fell full
on the physical, to impress and impregnate that with the splendor
of the Soul. We might have seen that it was still the Soul that
held his attention, although the body was known thoroughly and
mastered:  that it was the light he aimed to express, not the
thing it illumined.  In the work of his pupils, the preoccupation
is with the latter; we see the physical grown beautiful under
the illumination of the Soul; not the Soul that illumines it.
The men of the Egyptian sculptors had been Gods. The Gods of
these Greek sculptors were men. Perfect, glorious, beautiful men
--so far as externals were concerned. But men--to excite personal
feeling, not to quell it into nothingness and awe. The perfection,
even at that early stage and in the work of the disciples of
Pheidias, was a quality of the personality.

It was indeed marvelously near the point of equilibrium:  the
moment when Spirit enters conquered matter, and stands there
enthroned. In Pheidias himself I cannot but think we should have
found that moment as we find it in Aeschylus. But you see, it is
when that has occurred:  when Spirit has entered matter, and
made the form, the body, supremely beautiful; it is precisely
then that the moment of peril comes--if there is not the
wisdom present that knows how to avoid the peril. The next and
threatening step downward is preoccupation with, then worship of,
the body.

The Age of Pericles came to worship the body:  that was the
danger into which it fell; that was what brought about the ruin
of Greece. That huge revelation of material beauty; and that
absence of control from above; the lost adequacy of the
Mysteries, and the failure of the Pythagorean Movement;--the
impatience of spiritual criticism, heedlessness of spiritual
warning;--well, we can see what a turning-point the time was in
history.  On the side of politics, selfishness and ambition were
growing; on the side of personal life, vice. . . . It is a thing
to be pondered on, that what has kept Greece sterile these last
two thousand years or so is, I believe, the malaria; which is a
thing that depends for its efficacy on mosquitos.  Great men
simply will not incarnate in malarial territory; because
they would have no chance whatever of doing anything, with
that oppression and enervation sapping them. Greece has been
malarial; Rome, too, to some extent; the Roman Campagna
terribly; as if the disease were (as no doubt it is) a Karma
fallen on the sites of old-time tremendous cultural energies;
where the energies were presently wrecked, drowned and sodden in
vice.  Here then is a pretty little problem in the workings of
Karma:  on what plane, through what superphysical links or
channels, do the vices of an effete civilization transform
themselves into that poor familiar singer in the night-time, the
mosquito?  Greece and Rome, in their heyday, were not malarial;
if they had been, no genius and no power would have shone
in them.

In the Middle Ages, before people knew much about sanitary
science and antiseptics and the like, a great war quickly
translated itself into a great pestilence. Then we made advances
and discovered Listerian remedies and things, and said: Come now;
we shall fight this one; we shall have slaughtered millions
lying about as we please, and get no plague out of it; we are
wise and mighty, and Karma is a fool to us; we are the children
of MODERN CIVILIZATION; what have Nature and its laws to do with
us?  Our inventions and discoveries have certainly put them out
of commission.--And sure enough, the mere foulness of the
battlefield, the stench of decay, bred no pest; our Science had
circumvented the old methods through which Natural Law (which is
only another way of saying Karma) worked; we had cut the
physical links, and blocked the material channels through which
wrong-doing flowed into its own punishment.--Whereupon Nature,
wrathful, withdrew a little; took thought for her astral and
inner planes; found new links and channels there; passed through
these the causes we had provided, and emptied them out again
on the physical plane in the guise of a new thing, Spanish
Influenza;--and spread it over three continents, with greater
scope and reach than had ever her old-fashioned stench-bred
plagues that served her well enough when we were less scientific.
Whereof the moral is:  _He laughs loudest who laughs last;_  and
just now, and for some time to come, the laugh is with Karma.
Say until the end of the Maha-Manvantara; until the end of
manifested Time.  When shall we stop imagining that any possible
inventions or discoveries will enable us to circumvent the
fundamental laws of Nature?  Not the printing-press, nor steam,
nor electricity, nor aerial navigation, nor _vril_ itself when we
come to it, will serve to keep civilizations alive that have worn
themselves out by wrong-doing--or even that have come to old age
and the natural time when they must die.  But their passings need
not be ghastly and disastrous, or anything but honorable and
beneficial, if in the prime and vigor of their lifetimes they
would learn decently to live.

But to return to our muttons, which is Greece; and now to the
literature again:--

After Aeschylus, Sophocles.  The former, a Messenger of the Gods,
come to cry their message of _Karma_ to the world; and in doing
so, incidentally to create a supreme art-form;--the latter, a
"good easy soul who lives and lets live, founds no anti-school,
upsets no faith."--thus Browning sums him up.  A "faultless"
artist enamored of his art; in which, thinks he (and most
academic critics with him) he can improve something on old
Aeschylus; a man bothered with no message; a beautiful youth; a
genial companion, well-loved by his friends--and who is not his
friend?--all through his long life; twenty times first-prize
winner, and never once less than second.--Why, solely on the
strength of his _Antigone,_ the Athenians appointed him a
strategos in the expedition against Samos; with the thought that
one so splendidly victorious in the field of drama, could not
fail of victory in mere war.  But don't lose hope!--upon an
after-thought (perhaps) they appointed Pericles too; who
suggested to his poet-colleague that though master of them all in
his own line, he had better on the whole leave the sordid details
of command to himself, Pericles, who had more experience of that
sort.  What more shall we say of Sophocles?--A charming brilliant
fellow in his cups--of which, as of some other more questionable
pleasures, report is he was too fond; a man worshiped during his
life, and on his death made a hero with semi-divine honors;--does
that sound like the story of a Messenger of the Gods?

He was born at Colonos in Attica, in 496; of his hundred or so
of dramas, seven come down to us.  His age saw in him the very
ideal of a tragic poet; Aristotle thought so too; so did the
Alexandrian critics, and most moderns with them.  "Indeed," says
Mahaffy, "it is no unusual practice to exhibit the defects of
both Aeschylus and Euripides by comparison with their more
successful rival."  Without trying to give you conclusions of my
own, I shall read you a longish passage from Gilbert Murray, who
is not only a great Greek scholar, but a fine critic as well,
and a poet with the best translations we have of Greek tragedy to
his credit; he has made Euripides read like good English poetry.
Comparing the _Choephori_ of Aeschylus, the second play in the
Oreseian Trilogy, with the _Electra_ of Sophocles, which deals
with the same matter, he says:

"Aeschylus... had felt vividly the horror of his plot; he
carries his characters to the deed of blood on a storm of
confused, torturing, half-religious emotion; the climax is of
course, the mother-murder, and Orestes falls into madness after
it.  In the _Electra_ this element is practically ignored.
Electra has no qualms; Orestes shows no signs of madness; the
climax is formed not by the culminating horror, the matricide,
but by the hardest bit of work, the slaying of Aegisthos!
Aeschylus has kept Electra and Clytemnestra apart; here we see
them freely in the hard unloveliness of their daily wrangles.
Above all, in place of the cry of bewilderment that closes the
_Choephori_--'What is the end of all this spilling of blood for
blood?'--the _Electra_ closes with an expression of entire
satisfaction... Aeschylus takes the old bloody saga in an earnest
and troubled spirit, very different from Homer's, but quite as
grand.  His Orestes speaks and feels as Aechylus himself would...
Sophocles... takes the saga exactly as he finds it.  He knows
that those ancient chiefs did not trouble about their consciences;
they killed in the fine old ruthless way.  He does not try to
make them real to himself at the cost of making them false
to the spirit of the epos...

"The various bits of criticism ascribed to him--'I draw men as
they ought to be drawn; Euripides draws them as they are';
'Aeschylus did the right thing, but without knowing it'--all
imply the academic standpoint... Even his exquisite diction,
which is such a marked advance on the stiff magnificence of his
predecessor, betrays the lesser man in the greater artist.
Aeschylus's superhuman speech seems like natural superhuman
speech.  It is just the language that Prometheus would talk, that
an ideal Agamemnon or Atossa might talk in the great moments.
But neither Prometheus nor Oedipus nor Electra, nor anyone but an
Attic poet of the highest culture, would talk as Sophocles makes
them.  It is this which has established Sophocles as the perfect
model, not only for Aristotle, but in general for critics and
grammarians; while the poets have been left to admire Aeschylus,
who 'wrote in a state of intoxication,' and Euripedes, who broke
himself against the bars of life and poetry."

You must, of course, always allow for a personal equation in the
viewpoint of any critic:  you must here weight the "natural
superhuman diction" against the "stiff magnificence" Professor
Murray attributes to Aeschylus; and get a wise and general view
of your own.  What I want you to see clearly is, the descent of
the influx from plane to plane, as shown in these two tragedians.
The aim of the first is to express a spiritual message, grand
thought.  That of the second is to produce a work of flawless
beauty, without regard to its spiritual import.  What was to
Aeschylus a secondary object; the purely artistic--was to
Sophocles the whole thing.  Aeschylus was capable of wonderful
psychological insight.  Clytemnestra's speech to the Chorus, just
before Agamemnon's return, is a perfect marvel in that way.  But
the tremendous movement, the August impersonal atmosphere as

     ".... gorgeous Tragedy
     In sceptered pall comes sweeping by."

--divests it of the personal, and robes it in a universal symbolic
significance:  because he has built like a titan, you do not at
first glance note that he has labored like a goldsmith, as
someone has said.  But in Sophocles the goldsmithry is plain to
see.  His character-painting is exquisite:  pathetic often; just
and beautiful almost always.  I put in the almost in view of that
about the "hard unloveliness" of Electra's "daily wrangles"  with
her mother.  The mantle of the religious Egyptians had fallen on
Aeschylus:  but Sophocles' garb was the true fashionable Athenian
chiton of his day.  He was personal, where the other had been
impersonal; faultless, where the other had been sublime;
conventionally orthodox, where through Aeschylus had surged the
super-credal spirit of universal prophecy.

And then we come to third of the trio:  Euripides, born in 480.
"He was,"  says Professor Murray, "essentially representative of
his age, yet apparently in hostility to it; almost a failure of
the stage--he won only four prizes in fifty years of production--
yet far the most celebrated poet in Greece."  Athens hated,
jeered at, and flouted him just as much as she honored and
adored Sophocles; yet you know what happened to those Athenian
captives at Syracuse who could recite Euripides.  Where, in
later Greek writings, we come on quotations from the other
two once or twice, we come on quotations from Euripides dozens
of times.  The very fact that eighteen of his plays survive,
to seven each of Aeschylus' and Sophocles', is proof of his
larger and longer popularity.

He had no certain message from the Gods, as Aeschylus had; his
intensely human heart and his mighty intellect kept him from
being the 'flawless artist' that Sophocles was.  He questioned
all conventional ideas, and would not let the people rest in
comfortable fat acquiescence.  He came to make men 'sit up and
think.'   He did not solve problems, but raised them, and flung
them at the head of the world.  He must stir and probe things to
the bottom; and his recurrent unease, perhaps, mars the
perfection of his poetry.  Admetus is to die, unless someone will
die for him; recollect that for the Greekish mob, death was the
worst of all possible happenings.  Alcestis his wife will die for
him; and he accepts her sacrifice.  Now, that was the old saga;
and in Greek conventional eyes, it was all right.  Woman was an
inferior being, anyhow; there was nothing more fitting that
Alcestis should die for her lord.--Here let me make a point
plain:  you cannot look back through Greece to a Golden Age in
Greece; it is not like Egypt, where the farther you go into
the past, the greater things you come to;--although in Egypt,
too, there would have been rises and falls of civilization.  In
Homer's days, in Euripides', they had these barbarous ideas about
women; and these foolish exoteric ideas about death; historic
Greece, like modern Europe from the Middle Ages, rises from a
state of comparative barbarism, lightlessness; behind which,
indeed, there were rumors of a much higher Past.  These great
Greeks, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, brought in ideas which were
as old as the hills in Egypt, or in India; but which were new to
the Greece of their time--of historic times; they were, I think,
as far as their own country was concerned, innovators and
revealers; not voicers of a traditional wisdom; it may have
been traditional once, but that time was much too far back for
memory. I think we should have to travel over long, long ages, to
get to a time when Eleusis was a really effective link with the
Lodge--to a period long before Homer, long before Troy fell.--But
to return to the story of Alcestis:--

You might take it on some lofty impersonal plane, and find a
symbol in it; Aeschylus would have done so, somehow; though I
do not quite see how.  Sophocles would have been aware of nothing
wrong in it; he would have taken it quite as a matter of course.
Euripides saw clearly that Admetus was a selfish poltroon, and
rubbed it in for all he was worth. And he could not leave
it at that, either; but for pity's sake must bring in Hercules
at the end to win back Alcestis from death.  So the play is
great-hearted and tender, and a covert lash for conventional
callousness; and somehow does not quite hang together:--leaves
you just a little uncomfortable.  Browning calls him, in
_Balaustion's Adventure,_

     ".... Euripides
     The human, with his droppings of warms tears";

--it is a just verdict, perhaps.  Without Aeschylus' Divine Wisdom,
or Sophocles' worldly wisdom, he groped perpetually after some
means to stay the downward progress of things; he could not
thunder like the one, nor live easily and let live, like the
other.--I do not give you these scraps of criticism (which are
not my own, but borrowed always I think), for the sake of
criticism; but for the sake of history;--understand them, and
you have the story of the age illumined. You can read the inner
Athens here, in the aspirations and in the limitations of
Euripides, and in the contempt in which Athens held him; as you
can read it in the grandeur of Aeschylus, and the Athenian
acceptance of, and then reaction against, him; and in the
character of Sophocles and his easy relations with his age. When
Euripides came, the light of the Gods had gone. He was blindish;
he would not accept the Gods without question. Yet was he on the
side of the Gods whom he could not see or understand; we must
count him on their side, and loved by them. He was not panoplied,
like Aeschylus or Milton, in their grim and shining armor; yet
what armor he wore bore kindred proud dints from the hellions'
batterings.  Or perhaps mostly he wore such marks as wounds upon
his own flesh. . . . Not even a total lack of humor, which I
suppose must be attributed to him, can make him appear less than
a most sympathetic, an heroic figure. He was the child and
fruitage and outcast of his age, belonging as much to an Athens
declining and inwardly hopeless, as did Aeschylus (at first) to
Athens in her early glory. He was not so much bothered (like
Sophocles) with no message, as bothered with the fact that he had
no clear and saving message. His realism--for compared with the
other two, he was a sort of realist--was the child of his
despair; and his despair, of the atmosphere of his age.

He was, or had been, in close touch with Socrates (you might
expect it); lived a recluse somewhat, taking no part in affairs;
married twice, unfortunately both times; and his family troubles
were among the points on which gentlemanly Athens sneered at him.
A lovely lyricist, a restless thinker; tender-hearted; sublime
in pity of all things weak and helpless and defeated:--women
especially, and conquered nations. Prof. Murray says:

"In the last plays dying Athens is not mentioned, but her death-
struggle  and her sins are constantly haunting us; the Joy of
battle is mostly gone; the horror of war is left. Well might old
Aeschylus pray, 'God grant that I may sack no city!'  if the
reality of conquest is what it appears in the last plays of
Euripides. The conquerors there are as miserable as the
conquered; only more cunning, and perhaps more wicked."

He died the year before Aegospotami, at the court of Archelaus of
Macedon. One is glad to think he found peace and honor at last.
Athens heard with a laugh that some courtier there had insulted
him; and with astonishment that the good barbarous Archelaus had
handed said courtier over to Euripides to be scourged for his
freshness. I don't imagine that Euripides scourged him though-to
amount to anything.



VI.  SOCRATES AND PLATO


By this time you should have seen, rather than any picture of
Greece and Athens in their heyday, an indication of certain
universal historical laws. As thus  (to go back a little): an
influx of the Spirit is approaching, and a cycle of high
activities is about to begin. A great war has cleared off what
karmic weight has been hanging over Athens;--Xerxes, you will
remember, burnt the town. Hence there is a clearness in the inner
atmosphere; through which a great spiritual voice may, and does,
speak a great spiritual message. But human activities proceed,
ever increasing their momentum, until the atmosphere is no longer
clear, but heavy with the effluvia of by no means righteous
thought and action. The Spirit is no more visibly present, but
must manifest if at all through a thicker medium; and who speaks
now, speaks as artist only,--not as poet--or artist-prophet. Time
goes on, and the inner air grows still thicker; till men live in
a cloud, through which truths are hardly to be seen.  Then those
who search for the light are apt to cry out in despair; they
become realists struggling to break the terrible molds of
thought:--and if you can hear the Spiritual in them at all, it is
not in a positive message they have for men, but in the greatness
of their heart and compassion. They do not build; they seek only
to destroy. There seems nothing else for them to do.

So in England, Wordsworth opened this last cycle of poetry;
coming when there was a clear atmosphere, and speaking more or
less clearly through it his message from the Gods.  You hear a
like radiant note of hope in Shelley; and something of it in
Keats, who stood on the line that divides the Poet-Prophet from
the Poet-Artist. Then you come to the ascendency of Tennyson,
whose business in life was to be the latter. He tried the role of
prophet; he lived up to the highest he could: strove towards the
light much more gallantly than did Sophocles, his Athenian
paradigm. But the atmosphere of his age made him something of a
failure at it:  no clear light was there for him to find, such as
could manifest through poetry. Then you got men like Matthew
Arnold with his cry of despair, and William Morris with his
longing for escape; then the influence of Realism.  So many
poets recently have an element of Euripides in them; a will to
do well, but a despair of the light; a tendency to question
everything, but little power to find answers to their questions.
Then there were some few who, influenced (consciously or not) by
H.P. Blavatsky, that great dawn-herald, caught glimpses of the
splendor of a dawn--which yet we wait for.

Euripides, with the Soul stirring within and behind him, "broke
himself on the bars of life and poetry," as Professor Murray
says.  He was so hemmed in by the emanations of the time that he
could never clearly enunciate the Soul.  Not, at any rate, in an
unmixed way, and with his whole energies.  Perhaps his favorite
device of a _Deus ex Machina_--like Hercultes in the _Alcestis_
--is a symbolical enunciation of it, and intended so to be.
Perhaps the cause of the unrest he makes us feel is this:  he
knew that the highest artistic method was the old Aeschylean
symbolic one, and tried to use it; but at the same time was
compelled by the gross emanations of the age, which he was not
quite strong enough to rise above, to treat his matter not
symbolically, but realistically.  He could not help saying:
"Here is the epos you Athenians want me to treat,--that my artist
soul forces me to treat; here are the ideas that make up your
conventional religion;--now look at them!"  And forth-with he
showed them, in there exoteric side, sordid, ugly and bloody;--
and then, on the top of that showing, tried to twist them round
to the symbolic impersonal plane again; and so left a discord
not properly solved, an imperfect harmony; a sense of loss
rather than gain; of much torn down, and nothing built up to
take its place.  The truth was that the creative forces had
flowed downward until the organs of spiritual vision were no
longer open; and poetry and art, the proper vehicles of the
higher teaching in any age approximately golden, could no longer
act as efficient channels for the light.

To turn to England again:  Tennyson was, generally speaking, most
successful when most he was content to be merely the artist in
words, and least so when he assumed the office of Teacher;
because almost all he found to teach was brain-mind scientific
stuff; which was what the age called for, and the desired diet
of Mid-Victorian England.  Carlyle, who was a far greater poet
essentially, and a far greater teacher actually, fitted himself
to an age when materialism had made unpoetic; and eschewed
poetry and had no use for it; and would have had others eschew
it also. In our own time we have realists like Mr. Masefield.
They are called realists because they work on the plane which has
come, in the absence of anything spiritual, to seem that of the
realities; the region of outside happenings, of the passions in
all their ugly nakedness, of sorrow, misery, and despair.  Such
men may be essentially noble; we may read in them, under all the
ugliness and misery they write down, just one quality of the
Soul;--its unrest in and distaste for those conditions; but the
mischief of it is that they make the sordidness seem the reality;
and the truth about them is that their outlook and way of writing
are simply the result of the blindness of the Soul;--its
temporary blindness, not its essential glory.  But the true
business of Poetry never changes; it is to open paths into the
inner, the beautiful, the spiritual world.

Just when things were coming to this pass H. P. Blavatsky went to
England; and though she did not touch the field of creative
literature herself, brought back as you know a gleam of light and
beauty into poetry that may yet broaden out and redeem it. She
was born when the century was thirty-one years old; and,
curiously enough, there was a man born in Attica about 469, or
when _his_ century was thirty-one years old, who, though he did
not himself touch the field of literature, was the cause why that
light rose to shine in it which has shone most brilliantly since
all down the ages; that light which we could not afford to
exchange even for the light of Aeschylus. If one of the two were
about to be taken from us, and we had our choice which it should
be, we should have to cry, _Take Aeschylus, but leave us this!_
--Ay, and take all other Greek literature into the bargain!--But
to return to the man born in 469.

He was the son of humble people; his father was a stone-cutter
in a small way of business; his mother a midwife. He himself
began life as a sculptor,--a calling, in its lower reaches, not
so far above that of his father.  A group of the Graces carved by
him was still to be seen on the road to the Acropolis two hundred
years after; and they did not adorn Athens with mean work, one
may guess; the Athens of Pericles and Pheidias.  But, successful
or not, he seems soon to have given it up.  Of his youth we know
very little.  Spintharus, one of the few that knew him then and
also when he had become famous, said that he was a man of
terrible passions:  anger hardly to be governed, and vehement
desires; "though," he added, "he never did anything unfair." *
By 'unfair' you may understand 'not fitting'--a transgression of
right action.  He set out to master himself:  a tremendous and
difficult realm to master.

------
* Gilbert Murray: _Ancient Greek Literature_
------

We hardly begin to know him till he was growing old; and then he
was absolute monarch of that realm.  We do not know when he
abandoned his art; or how long it was before he had won some
fame as a public teacher.  We catch glimpse of him as a soldier:
from 432 to 429 he served at the siege of Potidaea; at Delium in
424; and at Amphipolis in 422.  Thus to do the hoplite, carrying
a great weight of arms, at forty-seven, he needed to have some
constitution; and indeed he had;--furthermore, he played the
part with distinguished bravery--though wont to fall at times
into inconvenient fits of abstraction.  Beyond all this, for the
outside of the man, we may say that he was of fascinating,
extreme and satyr-like ugliness and enormous sense of humor;
that he was a perpetual joke to the comic poets, and to himself;
an old fellow of many and lovable eccentricities; and that you
cannot pick one little hole in his character, or find any respect
in which he does not call for love.

And men did love him; and he them.  He saw in the youth of
Athens, whose lives so often were being wasted, Souls with all
the beautiful possibilities of Souls; and loved them as such,
and drew them towards their soulhood.  Such love and insight is
the first and strongest weapon of the Teacher:  who sees divinity
within the rough-hewn personalities of men as the sculptor sees
the God within the marble; and calls it forth.  He was wont to
joke over his calling; his mother, said he, had been a midwife,
assisting at the birth of men's bodies; he himself was a midwife
of souls.  How he drew men to him--of the power he had--let
Alcibiades bear witness.  "As for myself," says Alcibiades, "were
I not afraid you would think me more drunk than I am, I would
tell you on oath how his words have moved me--ay, and how they
move me still.  When I listen to him my heart beats with a more
than Corybantic excitement; he has only to speak and my tears
flow.  Orators, such as Pericles, never moved me in this way--
never roused my soul to the thought of my servile condition:  but
this man makes me think that life is not worth living so long as
I am what I am.  Even now, if I were to listen, I could not
resist.  So there is nothing for me but to stop my ears against
this siren's song and fly for my life, that I may not grow old
sitting at his feet.  No one would ever think that I had shame in
me; but I am ashamed in the presence of Socrates."

Poor Alciabes! whom Socrates loved so well, and tried so hard to
save; and who could only preserve his lower nature for its own
and for his city's destruction by stopping his ears against his
Teacher!  Alcibiades, whose genius might have saved Athens...
only Athens would not be saved... and he could not have saved
her, because he had stopped his ears against the man who made him
ashamed; and because his treacherous lower nature was always
there to thwart and overturn the efficacy of his genius;--what a
picture of duality it is!

Socrates gave up his art; because art was no longer useful as an
immediate lever for the age. He knew poetry well, but insisted,
as Professor Murray I think says, on always treating it as the
baldest of prose. There was poetry about, galore; and men did
not profit by it:  something else was needed. His mission was to
the Athens of his day; he was going to save Athens if he could.
So he went into the marketplace, the agora, and loafed about (so
to say), and drew groups of young men and old about him, and
talked to them. The Delphic Oracle had made pronouncement:
_Sophocles is wise; Euripides is wiser; but Socrates is the
wisest of mankind._  Sometimes, you see, the Delphic Oracle could
get off a distinctly good thing.  But Socrates, with his usual
sense of humor, had never considered himself in that light at
all; oldish, yes; and funny, and ugly, by all means;--but wise!
He thought at first, he used to say, that the Oracle must be
mistaken, or joking; for Athens was full of reputed wise men,
sophists and teachers of philosophy like Prodicus and Protagoras;
whereas he himself, heaven knew--. Well, he would go out and make
a trial of it. So he went, and talked, and probed the wisdom of
his fellow-citizens; and slowly came round to the belief that
after all the Delphic Oracle might not have been such a fool. For
he knew his ignorance; but the rest were ignorant without
knowing it.  This was his own way of telling the story; and you
can never be sure how much camouflage was in it;--and yet, too,
he was a giant humorist. Anyhow, he did show men their ignorance;
and you all know his solemn way of doing it.  He drew them on
with sly questionings to see what idiots they were; and then drew
them on with more sly questionings to perceive at least a few
sound ethical truths.

He took that humble patient means of saving Athens:  by breaking
down false opinions and instilling true ones.  It was beginning
quite at the bottom of things. Where we advertise a public
lecture, he button-holed a passer-by; and by the great power of
his soul won a following presently.  To rouse up a desire for
right living in the youth of Athens:  if he could do that,
thought he, he might save Athens for the world.  I wonder what
the cycles of national glory would come to, how long they might
last, if only the Teachers that invade to save them could have
their way. Always we see the same picture:  the tremendous effort
of the Gods to redeem these nations in the times of their
creative greatness; to lift them on to a spiritual plane, that
the greatness may not wane and become ineffective. There is the
figure that stands before the world, about whose perfection or
whose qualities you may wrangle if you will; he is great; he is
wonderful; he stirs up love and animosity;--but behind him are
the Depths, the Hierarchies, the Pantheons.  Socrates' warning
Voice, the Daimon that counseled him in every crisis, has always
been a hard nut for critics to crack. He was an impostor, was
he? Away with you for a double fool!  His life meets you so
squarely at every point; there was no atom in his being that
knew how to fear or lie.... Well, no; but he was deluded; he
mistook--.  Man, there is more value in the light word of
Socrates affirming, than in a whole world full of evidence
denying, of such maunderers as you!  See here; he was the most
sensible of men; balanced; keeping his head always;--a mind no
mood or circumstances could deflect from rational self-control,
either towards passion or ecstasy.  One explanation remains--as
in the case of Joan, or of H.P. Blavatsky;--he was neither
deceiving nor deceived, but what he claimed to hear, he did hear;
and it was the voice of One that stood behind him, and might not
appear in history at all, or in the outer world at all:  a
greater than he, and his Teacher; whose bodily presence might
have been in Greece the while, or anywhere else.  How dare we
pretend, because we can do a few things with a piston or a
crucible, that we know the limits of natural and spiritual law?

It is a strange figure to find in Greece; drawn thither, one
would say, by the attraction of opposites.  He must have owed
some of his power to his being such a contrast to all things
familiar.  Personal beauty was extremely common, and he was
comically ugly.  The Athenians were one of the best-educated
populations of ancient or modern times--far ahead of ourselves;
and he was ill-educated, and acted as a public teacher.  He was
hen-pecked at home, in an age when the place of woman was a very
subordinate and submissive one; and he was the butt of all
joke-lovers abroad, and himself enjoyed the joke most of all.
And he quietly stood alone, against the mob and his fellow-judges,
for the hapless victors of Arginusae in 406; and he quietly stood
alone against the Thirty Tyrants during their reign of terror in
404, disobeying them at peril of his life.  But Strip him of the
"thing of sinews and muscles," as he called his outer self;
forget the queer old personality that appears in the _Clouds_ of
Aristophanes, or for that matter in the _Memorabilia_ of
Xenophon--and what kind of picture of Socrates should we see?
The humor would not go, for it is a universal quality; it has
been said no Adept was ever without it; could you draw aside the
veil of Mother Isis herself, and draw it suddenly, I suspect you
should surprise a laugh vanishing from her face.  So the humor
would remain; and with it there would be ... something calm,
aloof, unshakable, yet vitally affectioned towards Athens, the
Athenians, humanity; something unsurprised at, far less hoping or
fearing anything from, life or death; in possession of "the
peace which passeth understanding"; native to "the eternity that
baffles all faculty of computation";--something that drew all
sorts and conditions of Athenians to him, good and bad, Plato and
Alcibiades, by "that diffusive love, not such as rises and falls
upon waves of life and mortality, not such as sinks and swells by
undulations of time, but a procession, an emanation, from some
mystery of endless dawn."--In point of fact, to get a true
portrait of Socrates you have to look at the Memnon's head.  The
Egyptian artists carved it to be the likeness of the Perfect Man,
the Soul, always in itself sublime, absolute master of its flesh
and personality.  That was what Socrates was.

Well; the century ended, with that last quarter of it in which
the Lodge makes always its outward effort. Socrates for the Lodge
had left no stone unturned; he had made his utmost effort dally.
The democracy had been reinstated, and he was understood to be a
moderate in politics. And the democracy was conventional-minded
in religion; and he was understood to be irreligious, a
disturber and innovator.  And the democracy was still smarting
from the wound; imposed on it by Critias and Charmides,
understood to have been his disciples; and could not forget the
treacheries of Alcibiades, another.  And there were vicious
youths besides, whom he had tried and failed to save; they had
ruined themselves, and their reputable parents blamed and hated
him for the ruin, not understanding the position.  And he himself
had seen so many of his efforts come to nothing:  Alcibiades play
the traitor; Critias and Charmides, the bloody tyrant;--he had
seen many he had labored for frustrate his labors; he had seen
Athens fallen.  He had done all he could, quietly, unfailingly
and without any fuss; now it was time for him to go. But going,
he might yet strike one more great blow for the Light.

So with quiet zest and humor he entered upon the plans of his
adversaries, accepting his trial and sentence like--_like
Socrates;_ for there is no simile for him, outside himself. He
turned it all masterfully to the advantage of the Light he loved.
You all know how he cracked his grand solemn joke when the death
sentence was passed on him. By Athenian law, he might suggest an
alternative sentence; as, to pay a fine, or banishment. Well,
said he; death was not certainly an evil; it might be a very
good thing; whereas banishment was certainly an evil, and so was
paying a fine.  And besides, he had no money to pay it. So the
only alternative he could suggest was that Athens should support
him for the rest of his life in the Prytaneum as a public
benefactor. Not a smile from him; not a tremor. He elected
deliberately; he chose death; knowing well that, as things
stood, he could serve humanity in no other way so well. So he put
aside Crito's very feasible plan for his escape, and at the last
gathered his friends around him, and discoursed to them.

On Reincarnation. It was an old tradition, said he; and what
could be more reasonable than that the soul, departing to Hades,
should return again in its season:--the living born from the
dead, as the dead are from the living?  Did not experience show
that opposites proceed from opposites?  Then life must proceed
from, and follow, death. If the dead came from the living, and
not the living from the dead, the universe would at last be
consumed in death. Then, too, there was the doctrine that
knowledge comes from recollection; what is recollected must have
been previously known.  Our souls must have existed then,
before birth. . . .

Why did he talk like that:  thus _reasoning_ about reincarnation,
and not stating it as a positive teaching?  Well; there would be
nothing new and startling about it, to the Greeks.  They knew of
it as a teaching both of Pythagoras and of the Orphic Mysteries:
that is, those did who were initiates or Pythagoreans.  But it
was not public teaching, known to the multitude; and except
among the Pythagoreans, sophistry and speculation had impaired
its vitality as a matter of faith or knowledge.  (So scientific
discovery and the spread of education have impaired the vitality
now of Christian presentations of ethics.)  So that to have
announced it positively, at that time, would have served his
purpose but little:  men would have said, "We have heard all that
before; had he nothing better to give us than stale ideas from
the Mysteries or Pythagoras?"  What he wanted to do was to take
it out of the region of religion, where familiarity with it had
bread an approach to contempt; and restate it robbed of that
familiarity, and clothed anew in a garb of sweet reasonableness.
So once more, and as ususal, he assumed ignorance, and approached
the whole subject in a quiet and rational way, thus:  I do not
say that this is positively so; I do not announce it as a dogma.
Dogmas long since have lost their efficacy, and you must stand or
fall now by the perceptions of your own souls, not by what I or
any authority may tell you.  But as reasoning human beings, does
it not appeal to you?

And the very spirit in which he approached it and approached his
death was precisely the one to engrave his last spoken ideas on
the souls of his hearers as nothing else could.  No excitement;
no uplift or ecstasy of the martyr; quiet reasoning only; full,
serene, and, for him, common-place command of the faculties of
his mind.  The shadow of death made no change in Socrates; how
then should they misunderstand or magnify the power of the shadow
of death?--"How shall we bury you?"  asks Crito.  Socrates turns
to the others present, and says:  "I cannot persuade Crito that I
here am Socrates--I who am now reasoning and ordering discourse.
He imagines Socrates to be that other, whom he will see by and
by, a corpse."--So the scene went on until the last moment, when
"Phaedo veiled his face, and Crito started to his feet, and
Apollodorus, who had never ceased weeping all the time, burst out
into a loud and angry cry which broke down everyone but Socrates."

Someone has said that there is nothing in tragedy or history so
moving as this death of Socrates, as Plato tells it.  And yet its
tragic interest, its beauty, is less important, to my thinking,
than the insight it gives us into the methods and mental workings
of an Adept.  Put ourselves into the mind of Socrates. He is
going to his death; which to him is about the same as, to us,
going to South Ranch or San Diego. You say I am taking the beauty
and nobility out of it; but no; I am only trying to see what
beauty and nobility look like from within. To him, then, his
death is in itself a matter of no personal moment. But the habit
of his lifetime has been to turn every moment into a blow struck
for the Soul, for the Light, for the Cause of Sublime Perfection.
And here now is the chance to strike the most memorable blow of
all. With infinite calmness he arranges every detail, and
proceeds to strike it. He continues to play the high part of
Socrates,--that is all. You might go to death like a poet, in
love with Death's solemn beauty, you might go to her like a
martyr, forgetting the awe of her in forevision of the splendor
that lies beyond.  But this man broadly and publicly goes to her
like Socrates. He will allow her no fascination, no mystery; not
even, nor by any means, equality with the Soul of Man. . . . And
Apollodorus might weep then, and burst into an angry cry; and
Crito and Phaedo and the rest might all break down--_then;_ but
what were they to think afterwards? When they remembered how they
had seen Death and Socrates, those two great ones, meet; and how
the meeting had been as simple, as unaffected, as any meeting
between themselves and Socrates, any morning in the past, in the
Athenian _agora?_ And when Death should come to them, what should
they say but this:  'There is nothing about you that can impress
me; formerly I conversed with one greater than you are, and I
saw you pay your respects to Socrates.'

Could he, could any man have proclaimed the Divinity in Man, its
real and eternal existence, in any drama, in any poem, in any
glorious splendor of rhetoric with what fervor soever of mystical
ecstasy endued--with such deadly effectiveness, such inevitable
success, as in this simple way he elected? There are men whose
actions seem to spring from a source super-ethical:  it is cheap
to speak of them as good, great, beautiful or sublime:  these are
but the appearances they assume as we look upwards at them. What
they are in themselves is: (1) Compassionate;--it is the law
of their being to draw men upwards towards the Spirit; (2)
Impersonal;--there is a non-being or vacuity in them where we
have our passions, likings, preferences, dislikes and desires.
They are, in the Chinese phrase, "the equals of Heaven and Earth";

     "Earth, heaven, and time, death, life and they
     Endure while they shall be to be."

So Socrates, having failed in his life-attempt to save Athens,
entered with some gusto on that great _coup de main_ of his
death: to make it a thing which first a small group of his
friends should see; then that Greece should see; then that
thirty coming centuries and more should see; presented it
royally to posterity, for what, as a manifestation of the Divine
in man, it might be worth.

And look! what is the result? Scarcely is the 'thing of muscles
and sinews' cold:  scarcely has high Socrates forgone his queer
satyr-like embodiment:  when a new luminary has risen into the
firmament,--one to shine through thirty centuries certainly,

     "Brighter than Jupiter--a blazing star
     Brighter than Hesper shining out to sea"

--one that is still to be splendid in the heavens wherever in
Europe, wherever in America, wherever in the whole vast realm of
the future men are to arise and make question and peer up into
the beautiful skies of the Soul. A Phoenix in time has arisen
from the ashes of Socrates:  from the glory and solemnity of his
death a Voice is mystically created that shall go on whispering
_The Soul_ wherever men think and strive towards spirituality.
--Ah indeed, you were no failure, Socrates--you who were
disappointed of your Critias, your Charmides, your Alcibiades,
your whole Athens; you were not anything in the very least like
a failure; for there was yet one among your disciples--

He says, that one, that he was absent through illness during that
last scene of his Teacher's life.  I do not know; it has been
thought that may have been merely a pretense, an artistic
convention, to give a heightened value of impersonality to his
marvelous prose:--for it was he who wrote down the account of the
death of Socrates for us:  that tragedy so transcendent in its
beauty and lofty calm. But this much is certain: that day he was
born again: became, from a gilded youth of Athens, an eternal
luminary in the heavens, and that which he has remained these
three-and-twenty hundred years:  the Poet-Philosopher of the
Soul, the Beacon of the Spirit for the western world....

He had been a brilliant young aristocrat among the crowd
that loved to talk with Socrates: the very best thing that
Athens could produce in the way of birth, charm, talent, and
attainments;--it is a marvel to see one so worshiped of Fortune
in this world, turn so easily to become her best adored in the
heaven of the Soul. On his father's side he was descended from
Codrus, last king of Athens; on his mother's, from Solon:  you
could get nothing higher in the way of family and descent. In
himself, he was an accomplished athlete; a brilliant writer of
light prose; a poet of high promise when the mood struck him--
and he had ideas of doing the great thing in tragedy presently;
trained unusually well in music, and in mathematics; deeply
read; with a taste for the philosophies; a man, in short, of
culture as deep and balanced as his social standing was high. But
it seemed as though the Law had brought all these excellencies
together mainly to give the fashionable Athenian world assurance
of a man; for here he was in his thirty-first year with nothing
much achieved beyond--his favorite pursuit--the writing of
_mimes_ for the delectation of his set: "close studies of little
social scenes and conversations, seen mostly in the humorous
aspect." *  He had consorted much with Socrates; at the trial,
when it was suggested that a fine might be paid, and the hemlock
evitated, it was he who had first subscribed and gone about to
raise a sum. But now the death of his friend and Teacher struck
him like a great gale amidships; and he was transformed, another
man; and the great Star Plato rose, that shines still; the
great Voice Plato was lifted to speak for the Soul and to be
unequaled in that speaking, in the west, until H.P. Blavatsky came.

------
* Murray:  _Ancient Greek Literature:_--whence all this as to
Plato's youth.
------

But note what a change had taken place with the ending of the
fifth century. Hitherto all the great Athenians had been great
Athenians. Aeschylus, witness of eternity, had cried his message
down to Athens and to his fellow-citizens; he had poured the
waters of eternity into the vial of his own age and place. I
speak not of Sophocles, who was well enough rewarded with the
prizes Athens had to give him. Euripides again was profoundly
concerned with his Athens; and though he was contemned by and
held aloof from her, it was the problems of Athens and the time
that ate into his soul. Socrates came to save Athens; he did not
seek political advancement, but would hold office when it came
his way; was enough concerned in politics to be considered a
moderate-one cause of his condemnation; but above all devoted
himself to raising the moral tone of the Athenian youth and
clearing their minds of falsity. Finally, he gave loyalty to his
city and its laws as one reason for rejecting Crito's plan for
his escape. What he hoped and lived for was, to save Athens; and
he was the more content to die, when he saw that this was no
longer possible.

But Plato had no part nor lot in Athens. He loathed her doctrine
of democracy, as knowing it could come to no good. He had
affiliations, like Aeschylus, in Sicily, whither he made
certain journeys; and might have stayed there among his fellow
Pythagoreans, but for the irascible temper of Dionysius. But much
more, and most of all, his affiliations were in the wide Cosmos
and all time:  as if he foresaw that on him mainly would devolve
the task of upholding spiritual ideas in Europe through the
millenniums to come. He dwelt apart, and taught in the Groves of
Academe outside the walls. Let Athens' foolish politics go
forward as they might, or backward--he would meddle with nothing.
It has been brought against him that he did nothing to help his
city 'in her old age and dotage'; well, he had the business of
thousands of coming years and peoples to attend to, and had no
time to be accused, condemned, and executed by a parcel of
obstreperous cobblers and tinkers hot-headed over the petty
politics of their day. The Gods had done with Athens, and were to
think now of the great age of darkness that was to come. He was
mindful of a light that should arise in Egypt, after some
five hundred years; and must prepare wick and oil for the
Neo-Platonists. He was mindful that there should be a thing called
the Renaissance in Italy; and must attend to what claims Pico di
Mirandola and others should make on him for spiritual food. He
must consider Holland of the seventeenth century, and England:
the Platonists of Cambridge and Amsterdam;--must think of Van
Helmont; and of a Vaughan who 'saw eternity the other night';
of a Traherne, who should never enjoy the world aright without
some illumination from his star; of a young Milton, _penseroso,_
out watching the Bear in some high lonely tower with thrice-great
Hermes, who should unsphere his spirit,

     "..... to unfold
     What worlds and what vast regions hold
     The immortal mind that hath forsook
     Her mansion in this fleshy nook";

--no, but he must think of all times coming; and how, whenever
there should be any restlessness against the tyranny of
materialism and dogma, a cry should go up for _Plato._--So let
Isocrates, the 'old man eloquent,'--let a many-worded not
unpeculant patriotic Demosthenes who knew nothing of the
God-world--attend to an Athens wherein the Gods were no longer
greatly interested;--the great Star Plato should rise up into
mid-heaven, and shine not in, but high over Athens and quite
apart from her; drawing from her indeed the external elements of
his culture, but the light and substance from that which was
potent in her no longer.

I said Greece served the future badly enough. Consider what might
have been. The pivot of the Mediterranean world, in the sixth
century, was not Athens, but in Magna Graecia: at Croton, where
Pythagoras had built his school. But the mob wrecked Croton, and
smashed the Pythagorean Movement as an organization; and that, I
take it, and one other which we shall come to in time, were the
most disastrous happenings in European history.  Yes; the causes
why Classical civilization went down; why the Dark Ages were
dark; why the God in Man his been dethroned, and suffered all
this crucifixion and ignominy the last two thousand years.
Aeschylus, truly, received some needed backing from the relics of
the Movement which he found still existent in Sicily; but what
might he not have written, and what of his writings might not
have come down to us, preserved there in the archives, had he had
the peace and elevation of a Croton, organized, to retire to?
Whither, too, Socrates might have gone, and not to death, when
Athens became impossible; where Plato might have dwelt and
taught; revealing, to disciples already well-trained, much more
than ever he did reveal; and engraving, oh so deeply! on the
stuff of time, the truths that make men free. And there he should
have had successors and successors and successors; a line to
last perhaps a thousand or two thousand years; who never should
have let European humanity forget such simple facts as Karma and
Reincarnation.  But only at certain times are such great
possibilities presented to mankind; and a seed-time once passed,
there can be no sowing again until the next season comes. It is
no good arguing with the Law of Cycles. Plato may not have been
less than Pythagoras; yet, under the Law, he might not attempt--
it would have been folly for him to have attempted--that which
Pythagoras had attempted.  So he had to take another line
altogether; to choose another method; not to try to prevent the
deluge, which was certain now to come; not even to build an ark,
in which something should be saved; but, so to say, to strew the
world with tokens which, when the great waters had subsided,
should still remain to remind men of those things it is of most
importance they should know.

This is the way he did it. He advanced no dogma, formulated no
system; but what he gave out, he gave rather as hypotheses.  His
aim was to set in motion a method of thinking which should lead
always back to the Spirit and Divine Truth. He started no world-
religion; founded no church--not even such a quite unchurchly
church as that which came to exist on the teachings of Confucius.
He never had the masses practicing their superstitions, nor a
priesthood venting its lust of power, in his name.  Instead, he
arranged things so, that wherever fine minds have aspired to the
light of the Spirit, Plato has been there to guide them on their
way. So you are to see Star-Plato shining, you are to hear that
voice from the Spheres at song, when Shelley, reaching his
topmost note, sang:

     "The One remains, the many change and pass;
          Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
     Life like a dome of many-coloured glass
          Stains the white radiance of Eternity";--

and when Swinburne sings of Time and change that:

     "Songs they can stop that earth found meet,
          But the Stars keep their ageless rhyme;
      Flowers they can slay that Spring thought sweet,
          But the Stars keep their Spring sublime,
     Actions and agonies control,
     And life and death, but not the Soul."

In a poetic age--in the time of Aeschylus, for example--Plato
would have been a poet; and then perhaps we should have had to
invent another class of poets, one above the present highest;
and reserve it solely for the splendor of Plato.  Because
Platonism is the very Theosophic Soul of Poetry.  But he came,
living when he did, to loathe the very name of poetry:  as who
should say: "God pity you! I give you the Way, the Truth, and the
Life, and you make answer, 'Charming Plato, how exquisitely
poetic is your prose!'"  So his bitterness against poetry is
very natural.  Poetry is the inevitable vehicle of the highest
truth; spiritual truth is poetry.  But the world in general does
not know this.  Like Bacon, it looks on poetry as a kind of
pleasurable lying.  Plato went through the skies Mercury to the
Sun of Truth, its nearest attendant planet; and therefore was,
and could not help being, Very-Poet of very-poets.  But Homer and
others had lied loudly about the Gods; and, thought Plato, the
Gods forbid that the truth he had to declare--a vital matter--
should be classed with their loud lying.

He masked the batteries of his Theosophy; camouflaged his great
Theosophical guns; but fired them off no less effectively,
landing his splendid shells at every ganglionic point in the
history of European thought since. Let a man soak his soul in
Plato; and it shall go hard but the fair flower Theosophy shall
spring up there presently and bloom.  He prepares the soil:
suggesting the way to, rather than precisely formulating, the
high teachings.  The advantage of the grand Platonic camouflage
has been twofold:  on the one hand you could hardly dwarf your
soul with dogmatic acceptation of Platonism, because he gave all
his teachings--even Reincarnation--as hypotheses,--and men do not
as a rule crucify their mental freedom on an hypothesis.  On the
other hand, how was any Church eager to burn out heresy and
heretics to deal with him?  He was not to be stamped out;
because his influence depended on no continuity of discipleship,
no organization; because he survived merely as a tendency of
thought.  No churchly fulminations might silence his batteries;
because he had camouflaged them, and they were not to be seen.
Of course he did not invent his ideas; they are as old as
Theosophy.  The Lodge sent him to proclaim them in the way he
did:  the best way possible, since the Pythagorean effort had
failed of its greatest success. What we owe to him--his genius
and inestimable gift to the world--is precisely that matchless
camouflage.  It has been effective, in spite of efforts--

That, for instance, of a forward youth who came to Athens and
studied under him for twenty years, and whom Plato called the
intellect of the school, saying that he spurned his Teacher as
colts do their mothers. A youth, it is said, who revered Plato
always; and only gradually grew away from thinking of himself as
a Platonist. But he never could have understood the inwardness
of Plato or Platonism, for his mind turned as naturally to
scientific or brain-mind methods, as Plato's did to mysticism and
the illumination of the Soul. He adopted much of the teaching,
but gave it a twist brain-mindwards; yet not such a twist,
either, but that the Neo-Platonists in their day, and certain of
the Arab and Turkish philosophers after them, could re-Platonize
it to a degree and admit him thus re-Platonized into their canon.
I am not going to trouble you much with Aristotle; let this from
the Encyclopedia suffice:  "Philosophic differences" it says "are
best felt by their practical effects: philosophically, Platonism
is a philosophy of universal forms, Aristotelianism is a
philosophy of individual substances:  practically, Plato makes us
think first of the supernatural and the kingdom of heaven,
Aristotle of the natural and the whole world."

Or briefly, Aristotle took what he could of Plato's inspiration,
and turned it from the direction of the Soul to that of the
Brain-mind. The most famous of Plato's disciples, he did what he
could, or what he could not help doing, to spoil Plato's message.
But Plato's method had guarded that, so that for mystics
it should always be there, Aristotle or no.  But for mere
philosophers, seeming to improve on it, he had something tainted
it.  It descended, as said, through the Neo-Platonists--who
turned it back Plato-ward--to the Moslems:  through Avicenna, who
Aristotelianized, to Averroes, who Platonized it again; and from
him to Europe; where Bacon presently gave it another twist to
out-Aristotle Aristotle (as someone said) to stagger the
Stagirite--and passed it on as the scientific method of today.
According to Coleridge, every man is by nature either a Platonist
or an Aristotelian; and there is some truth in it.

And meanwhile, though the huge Greek illumination could die but
slowly, Greece was growing uninteresting.  For Pheidias of the
earlier century, we have in Plato's time Praxiteles, whose carved
gods are lounging and pretty nincom--- well, mortals; "they
sink," says the Encyclopedia, "to the human level, or indeed,
sometimes almost below it. They have grace and charm in a supreme
degree, but the element of awe and reverence is wanting."--We
have an Aphrodite at the bath, a 'sweet young thing' enough, no
doubt; an Apollo Sauroctonos, "a youth leaning against a tree,
and idly striking with an arrow at a lizard."  A certain natural
magic has been claimed for Praxiteles and his school and
contemporaries; but if they had it, they mixed unholy elements
with it.--And then came Alexander, and carried the dying impetus
eastward with him, to touch India with it before it quite
expired; and after that Hellenism became Hellenisticism, and what
remained of the Crest-Wave in Greece was nothing to lose one
little wink of sleep over.



VII.  THE MAURYAS OF INDIA


"Some talk of Alexander" may be appropriate here; but not much.
He was Aristotle's pupil; and apart from or beyond his terrific
military genius, had ideas. Genius is sometimes, perhaps more
often than we suspect, an ability to concentrate the mind into a
kind of impersonality; almost non-existence, so that you have in
it a channel for the great forces of nature to play through. We
shall find that Mr. Judge's phrase 'the Crest-Wave of Evolution'
is no empty one: words were things, with him and in fact, as he
says; and it is so here. For this Crest-Wave is a force that
actually rolls over the world as a wave over the face of the sea,
raising up splendors in one nation after another in order
_geographically,_ and with no haphazard about it. Its first and
largest movement is from East to West; producing (as far as I
can see) the great manvantaric periods (fifteen hundred years
apiece) in East Asia, West Asia, and Europe; each of these being
governed by its own cycles. But it has a secondary movement as
well; a smaller motion within the larger one; and this produces
the brilliant days (thirteen decades long for the most part) that
recur in the manvantaras. Thus: China seems to have been in
manvantara from 2300 to 850 B. C.; West Asia, from 1890 to 390;
Europe, from 870 B. C. to 630 A. D.  So in the time of Alexander
West Asia was newly dead, and China waiting to be reborn. The
Crest-Wave, in so far as it concerned the European manvantara,
had to roll westward from Greece (in its time) to awaken Italy;
but in its universal aspect--in its strongest force--it had to
roll eastward, that its impulse might touch more important China
when her time for awaking should come. It is an impetus, of which
sometimes we can see the physical links and lines along which it
travels, and sometimes we cannot. The line from Greece to China
lies through Persia and India. But Persia was dead, in pralaya;
you could expect no splendor, no mark of the Crest-Wave's
passing, there. So Alexander, rising by his genius and towering
ideas to the plane where these great motions are felt, skips you
lightly across dead Persia, knocks upon the doors of India to say
that it is dawn and she must be up and doing; and subsides. I
doubt he carried her any cultural impulse, in the ordinary sense;
it is _our_ Euro-American conceit to imagine the Greek was the
highest thing in civilization in the world at that time.  We may
take it that Indian civilization was far higher and better in all
esentials; certainly the Greeks who went there presently, and
left a record, were impressed with that fact.  You shall see;
out of their own mouths we will convict them.  It is the very
burden of Megasthenes' song.

Alexander had certain larger than Greek conceptions, which one
must admire in him.  Though he overthrew the Persians, he never
made the mistake of thinking them an inferior race.  On the
contrary, he respected them highly; and proposed to make of them
and his Greeks and Mecedoinians one homogeneous people, in which
the Persian qualities of aristocracy should supply a need  he
felt in Europeans.  The Law made use of his intention, partially,
and to the furtherance of its own designs.--His method of
treating the conquered was (generally) far more Persian or
Asiatic than Greek; that is to say, far more humane and decent
than barbarous.  He took a short cut to his broad ends, and
married all his captains to Persian ladies, himself setting the
example; whereas most Greeks would have dealt with the captive
women very differently.  So that it was a kind of enlightenment
he set out with, and carried across Persia, through Afghanistan,
and into the Punjab,--which, we may note, was but the outskirts
of the real India, into which he never penetrated; and it may
yet be found that he went by no means so far as is supposed; but
let that be.  So now, at any rate, enough of him; he has brought
us where we are to spend this evening.

For a student of history, there is something mysterious and even
--to use a very vile drudge of a word--'unique' about India.  Go
else where you will, and so long as you can posit certainly a
high civilization, and know anything of its events, you can make
some shift to arrange the history.  None need boggle really at
any Chinese date after about 2350 B.C.; Babylon is fairly
settled back to about 4000; and if you cannot depend on assigned
Egyptian dates, at least there is a reasonably know sequence of
dynasties back through four or five millennia.  But come to
India, and alas, where are you?  All out of it, chronologically
speaking; enough; very likely, the flotsam and jetsam of
several hundred thousand years.  I have no doubt the Puranas are
crowded with history; but how much of what is related is to
be taken as plain fact; how much as 'blinds'; how much as
symbolism--only the Adepts know.  The three elements are mingled
beyond the wit of man to unravel them; so that you can hardly
tell whether any given thing happened in this or that millennium,
Root-Race period, or Round of Worlds, or Day of Brahma.  You are
in the wild jungles of fairyland; where there are gorgeous
blooms, and idylls, dreamlit, beautiful and fantastical, all
in the deep midwood lonliness; and time is not, and the
computations of chronology are an insult to the spirit of your
surroundings. History, in India, was kept an esoteric science,
and esoteric all the ancient records remain now; and I dare say
any twice-born  Brahmin not Oxfordized knows far more about it
than the best Max Mullers of the west, and laughs at them
quietly. Until someone will voluntarily lift that veil of
esotericism, the speculations of western scholars will go for
little.  Why it should be kept esoteric, one can only guess; I
think if it were known, the cycles and patterns of human history
would cease to be so abstruse and hidden from us:  we should know
too much for our present moral or spiritual status.  As usual,
our own _savants_ are avid to dwarf all dates, and bring
everything within the scope of a few thousand years; as for the
native authorities, they simply try confusions with us; if you
should trust them too literally, or some of them, events such as
the Moslem conquest will not take place for a few centuries yet.
They do not choose that their ancient history should be known;
so all things are in a hopeless muddle.

One thing to remember is this: it is a continent, like Europe;
not a country, like France. The population is even more
heterogeneous than that of Europe. Only one sovereign, Aurangzeb
--at least for many thousands of years--was ever even nominally
master of the whole of it. There are two main divisions, widely
different: Hindustan or Aryavarta, north of the Vindhya Mountains
and the River Nerbudda; and Dakshinapatha or the Deccan, the
peninsular part to the south. The former is the land of the
Aryans; the people of the latter are mainly non-Aryan--a race
called the Dravidians whom, apparently, the Aryans conquered in
Hindustan, and assimilated; but whom in the Deccan, though they
have influenced them largely, and in part molded their religion,
they never quite conquered or supplanted. Well; never is a long
day; dear knows what may have happened in the long ages
of pre-history.

The Aryans came down into India through its one open door--that
in the northwest. But when?--Oh, from about 1400 to 1200 B.C.,
says western scholarship; which has spent too much ingenuity
altogether over discovering the original seat of the Aryans, and
their primal civilization.  After Sir William Jones and others
had introduce Sanskrit to western notice, and its affinity had
been discovered to that whole chain of languages which is
sometimes called Indo-European, the theory long held that
Sanskrit was the parent of all these tongues, and that all their
speakers had emigrated at different times from somewhere in
Central Asia.  But in the scientific orthodoxies fashion reigns
and changes as  incontinently as in dress.  Scholars rose to
launch a new name for the race: _Indogermanic;_  and to prove
Middle-Europe the Eden in which it was created.  Then others, to
dodge that Eden about through every corner of Europe; which
at least must have the honor;--it could not be conceded to
_inferior_ Asia.  All the languages of the group were examined
and worried for evidence. Men said, 'By the names of trees we
shall run it to earth'; and this was the doxy that was ortho-for
some time.  Light on a tree-name common to all the languages, and
find in what territory that tree is indigenous:  that will
certainly be the place.  As thus; I will work out for you a
suggestion given in the encyclopaedia, that you may see what
strictly scientific methods of reasoning may lead to:--

Perhaps the two plant names most universally met with in all
Aryan languages, European or Asiatic, are _potato_ and _tobacco._
'From Greenland's icy mountains to Ceylon's sunny isle, Whereever
prospect pleases, And only man is vile.'--you shall nearly always
hear the vile ones calling the humble tuber of their mid-day
meal by some term akin to _potato,_ and the subtle weed that
companions their meditations, by some word like _tobacco._
_Argal,_ the Aryan race used these two words before their
separation; and if the two words, the two plants also.  You
follow the reasoning?--Now then, seek out the land where these
plants are indigenous; and if haply it shall be found they both
have one original habitat, why, there beyond doubt you shall find
the native seat of the primitive Aryans.  And, glory be to
Science! they do; both come from Virginia.  Virginia, then, is
the Aryan Garden of Eden.

Ah but, strangely enough, we do find one great branch of the
race--the Teutons--unacquainted with the word _potato._  You may
argue that the French are too:  but luckily, Science has the
seeing eye; Science is not to be cheated by appearances.  The
French say _pomme de terre;_ but this is evidently only a
corruption--_potater, pomdeter_--twisted at some late period by
false analogy into _pomme de terre,_ ('apple of the earth'.)  But
the Teuton has _kartoffel,_ utterly different; argal again, the
Teutons must have separated from the parent stem before the
Aryans had discovered that the thing was edible and worth naming.
They, therefore, were the first to leave Virginia:  paddle their
own canoes off to far-away Deutschland before ever the mild
Hindoo set out for Hindustan, the Greek for Greece, or the
Anglo-Saxon for Anglo-Saxony.  But even the Teutons have the word
_tobacco._  Come now, what a light we have here thrown on the
primitive civilization of our forefathers!  They knew, it seems,
the virtures of the weed or ever they had boiled or fried a single
murphy; they smoked first, and only ate long afterwards:  and
the Germans who led that first expedition out from the fatherland
of the race, must have gone with full tobacco-pouches and empty
lunch-bags.  What a life-like picture rises before our eyes!
These first Aryans were a dreamy contemplative people; tobacco
was the main item in their lives, the very basis of their
civilization.--Then presently, after the Teutons had gone,
someone must have let his pipe go out for a few minutes--long
enought to discover that he was hungry, and that a fair green
plant was growing at his door, with a succulent tuber at the root
of it which one could EAT.  Think of the joy, the wonder, of that
momentous discovery!  Did he hide it away, lest others should be
as happy as himself?  Were ditectives set to watch him, to spy
out the cause of a habit of sleek rotundity that was growing upon
him at last visibly?  We shall never know.  Or did he call in his
neighbors at once and annouce it?  Did someone ask:  'What shall
we name this God-given thing?'--and did another reply:  'It looks
to me like a _potato;_  let's call it that!'?  That at least must
have been how it came by it name.  They received the suggestion
with acclamations:  and all future out-going expeditions took
sacks of it with them; and their descendants have continued to
call it _potato_ to this day.  For you must not that being the
only food with a name common to all the languages--or almost all
--it must be supposed to have been the only food they knew of
before their separation.  Even the words for _father, mother,
fire, water,_ and the like, have a greater number of different
roots in the Aryan languages than have these blessed two.

To say the truth, a dawning perception of the possibilities
of this kind of reasoning chilled the enthusiasm of the
Aryan-hunters a good deal; it was the bare bodkin that did
quietus make for much philological pother and rout.  No; if
you are to prove racial superiority or exclusiveness, you had
much better avail yourself of the simplicity of a stout bludgeon,
than rely upon the subtleties of brain-mind argumentation; for
time past is long, and mostly hidden; and lots of things have
happened to account for your proofs in ways you would never
suspect.  The long and short of it is, that after pursuing
the primitive Aryans up hill and down dale through all parts
of Europe, Science is forced to pronouce her final judgement
thus:  _We really know nothing about it._

The ancestors of this Fifth Root-Race emigrated to Central Asia
to escape the fate of Atlantis; whither too went several
Atlantean peoples, such as the forefathers of the Chinese,--who
were not destined to be destroyed.  It is a vast region, and
there was room for them all.  That emigration may have been as
long a process as that of the Europeans in our own time to
America; probably it was; or longer.  But it happened, at any
rate, a million years ago; and in a million years a deal of
water will flow under the bridges.  You may call English
a universal language now; it might conceivably become so
absolutely, after a few centuries.  But history will go on and
time, and the cyclic changes inherent in natural law.  These are
not to be dodged by railways, turbines, aeroplanes; you cannot
evitate their action by inventing printing-presses;--which, I
suppose, have been invented and forgotten dozens of times 'since
created man.'  In a million years from now the world will have
contracted and expanded often. We have seen, in our little period
called historical, hardly anything but expansion; though there
have been contractions, too.  But contractions there will be,
major ones; it is quite safe to foretell that; because action
and reaction are equal and opposite:  it is a fundamental law.
Geography will re-become, what it was in the times we call
ancient, an esoteric science; the races will be isolated, and
there will be no liners on the seas, and Europe and Asia
will be fabulous realms of faerie for our more or less remote
descendants. Then what will have become of the once universal
English language?--It will have split into a thousand fragment
tongues, as unlike as Dutch and Sanskrit; and philology--the
great expansion having happened again--will have as much
confusion to unravel in the Brito-Yankish, as it has now in the
Indo-European.--In a million years?--Bless my soul, in a poor
little hundred thousand!

The Aryan languages, since they began to be, have been spreading
out and retreating, mixing and changing and interchanging; one
imposed on another, hidden under another, and recrudescing
through another; through ten or a hundred thousand years,--or
however long it may be; just as they have been doing in
historical times.  You find Persian half Arabicized; Armenian
come to be almost a dialect of Persian; Latin growing up through
English; Greek almost totally submerged under Latin, Slavonic,
and Turkish, and now with a tendency to grow back into Greek;
Celtic preserving in itself an older than Aryan syntax, and
conveying that in its turn to the English spoken by Celts.
Language is, to say the truth, a shifting kaleidoscopic thing:  a
momentary aspect of racial expression. In a thousand years it
becomes unintelligible; we are modifying ours every day, upon
laws whose nature can be guessed. Yet ultimately all is a
symphony and ordered progression, with regular rhythms recurring;
it only seems a chaos, and unmusical, because we hear no more
than the fragment of a bar.

You all know the teaching of _The Secret Doctrine_ about the
Root-Races of Humanity, of which this present one, generally
called the Aryan, is the fifth; and how each is divided into
seven sub-races; each sub-race into seven family-races; and
each family-race into innumerable nations and tribes. According
to that work, this Fifth Root-Race has existed a million years.
The period of a sub-race is said to be about 210,000 years; and
that of a family-race, about 30,000. So then, four sub-races
would have occupied the first 840,000 years of the Fifth Race's
history; and our present fifth sub-race would have been in being
during the last 160,000 years; in which time five family-races
would have flourished and passed; and this present sixth
family-race would be about ten millenniums old.  Now, no single
branch of the Aryans:  by which term I mean the sixth family-race;
I shall confine it to that, and not apply it to the Fifth Root-Race
as a whole,--no single race among the Aryans has been universal,
or dominant, or prominent even, during the whole of the last ten
thousand years. The Teutons (including Anglo-Saxons), who loom so
largely now, cut a very small figure in the days when Latin was,
in its world, something more universal than English is in ours;
and a few centuries before that, you should have heard Celtic,
and little else, almost anywhere in Europe.  This shows how
fleeting a thing is the sovereignty of any language; within the
three thousand years we know about, three at least of the Aryan
language-groups have been 'universal'; within the last ten
milleniums there has been time enough, and to spare, for a
'universality' each of Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Slavonic, Latin,
Teutonic, and Celtic. So evidently none of these is the language
of the family-race:  we may speak of the Aryan Family-Race; not
of the Celtic or Slavonic.

But it does not follow that the whole sub-race is not Aryan too.
Mr. Judge says somewhere that Sanskrit will be the universal
language again. Supposing that there were some such scheme of
evolution here, as in the world-chain? You know the diagram in
_The Secret Doctrine,_ with the teaching as to the seven rounds.
_As above, so below;_  when H. P. Blavatsky seems to be giving
you a sketch of cosmic evolution, often she is at the same time,
if you can read it, telling you about the laws that govern your
own and the race's history. I suspect some such arrangement as
this:  when the sub-race began, 160,000 years ago, Sanskrit was
its 'universal' language; spoken by all the Aryans that moved
out over Europe and into India.  An unaccountable Sanskrit
inscription has been found in Asia Minor;* and there is
Lithuania, a little  speech-island in northeastern Central
Europe, where a nearly Sanskrit language, I believe, survives.
Then Sanskrit changed imperceptibly (as American is changing from
English) into the parent language of the Persian group, which
became the general speech of the sub-race except in India, where
Sanskrit survived as a _seed-speech_ for future resurrection.
Then, perhaps _pari passu_  with further westward expansion,
Persian changed into the parent of the Slavonic group, itself
living on as a seed-speech in Iran; and so on through all the
groups; in each case the type-language of a group remaining, to
expand again after the passage of ages and when its cycle should
return, in or about its corresponding psychic center on the
geographical plane. Then this evolution, having  reached its
farthest limit, began to retrace its course; I would not attempt
to say in what order the language groups come:  which is
globe A in the chain, which Globe D, and so on; but merely
suggest that a 'family race' may represent one round from
Sanskrit to Sanskrit; and the whole Fifth Sub-race, seven
such complete rounds.

------
* _Ancient India,_ by E. J. Rapson
------

What came before? What was the Fourth Sub-race?  Well: I imagine
we may have the relic, the _sishta_ or seed of it, in the Hamitic
peoples and languages: the Libyans, Numidians, Egyptians,
Iberians, and Pelasgians of old; the Somalis, Gallas, Copts,
Berbers, and Abyssinians of today. We are almost able to discern
a time--but have not guessed when it was--when this Iberian race,
having perhaps its central seat in Egypt, held all or most lands
as far as Ireland to the west, and Japan and New Zealand
eastward; we find them surviving, mixed with, but by no means
submerged under, Aryan Celts in Spain--which is Iberia; we find
their name (I imagine) in that of Iverne, Ierine, Hibernia, or
Ireland; we know that they gave the syntax of their language to
that of the Celts of the British Isles; and that the Celtic races
of today are mainly Iberian in blood--I daresay all Europe is
about half Iberian in blood, as a matter of fact;--that the
Greeks found them in Greece:  I suspect that the main difference
between Sparta and Athens lay in the fact that Sparta was pure
Aryan, Athens mainly Iberian.--It seems to me then that we can
almost get a glimpse of the sub-race preceding our own. Some have
been puzzled by a seeming discrepancy between Katherine Tingley's
statement that Egypt is older than India, and H. P. Blavatsky's,
that Menes, founder of the Egyptian monarchy, went from India to
Egypt to found it. But now suppose that something like this
happened--would it not solve the problem?--In 158,000 B. C., or
at the time this present Aryan Sub-race began, Egypt, one state
in the huge Iberian series, was already a seat of civilization as
old as the Iberian race.  There may have been an Iberian Empire,
almost world-wide; which again may have split into many
kingdoms; and as the star of the whole race was declining, we
may suppose Egypt in some degree of pralaya; or again, that it
may have been an outlying and little-considered province _at that
time._  In Central Asia the Sanskrit-speaking tribe begins to
increase and multiply furiously. They pour down into Iberian
Hindustan. They are strong, and the Gods are leading them; the
Iberians have grown world-weary with the habit of long empire.
The Iberian power goes down before them; the Iberians become a
subject people. But there is one Menes among the latter, of the
royal house perhaps, who will not endure subjection. He stands
out as long as he may; then sails west with his followers for
Iberian lands that the Aryans have not disturbed, and are not
likely to.  In their contests with the invaders of India, they
have thrown off all world-weariness, and become strong; Prince
Menes is hailed in Egypt (as the last of the Ommevads, driven out
from the East by the Abbasids, was hailed in Spain); he wakens
Egypt, and founds a new monarchy there.--I am telling the tale of
very ancient and unknown conditions in terms of historic
conditions we know about and can understand; it is only the
skeleton of the story I would stand for.

And to put Menes back at 160,000 years ago--what an amusing idea
that will seem!--But the truth is we must wage war against this
mischievous foreshortening of history. I have no doubt there have
been empires going, from time to time, in Egypt, since before
Atlantis fell; people have the empire-building instinct, and it
is an eminently convenient place for empire-building.  I have no
doubt there have been dozens of different Meneses--that is,
founders of Egyptian monarchies,--with  thousands of years
between each two.  But I think probably the one that came from
India to do it, came about the time when the fifth sub-race rose
to supplant the fourth as that section of humanity in which
evolution was chiefly interested.

Which last phrase in itself is rank heresy, and smacks of the
'white man's burden,' and all such nonsense as that. We might
learn a lesson here. Think:  since that time, during how many
thousands of years, off and on, has not that old sub-race been
the darling of evolution, the seat of the Crest-Wave, and place
where all things were doing?  All the Setis, the grand Rameseses
and Thothmeses came since then; all the historic might and glory
of Egypt.  You never know rightly when to say that the life of a
sub-race is ended; the two-hundred-and-ten-century period
cannot, I imagine, include it from birth to death; but can only
mark the time between the rise of one, and the rise of another.--
But now to India.

We have no knowledge of the last time when Sanskrit was spoken:
it has always been, in historic or quasi-historic ages, what it
is now--literary language preserved by the high castes.  In the
days of the Buddha it had long given place to various vernaculars
grown out of it:  Pali, and what are called the Prakrits.--We
have lost memory of what I may call the archetypal languages of
Europe:  the common ancestor of the Celtic group, for instance;
or that Italian from which Latin and the lost Oscan and Savellian
and the rest sprang.  No matter; they remain in the ideal world,
and I doubt not in the course of our cyclic evolution we shall
return to them, take them up, and pass through them again.  But
it seems to me that in the land of Esoteric History, where Manu
provided in advance against the main destructiveness of war, the
archetypal language of the whole sub-race has been preserved.
The Aryans went down into India, and there, at the extreme end of
the Aryan world, enjoyed some of the advantages of isolation:
they were in a backwater, over which the tides of the languages
did not flow. By esotericizing their history, I imagine they have
really kept it intact, continuous, and within human memory; as
we have not done with ours. As if that which is to be preserved
forever, must be preserved in secret; and silence were the only
durable casket for truth.

The Greeks, they say, were very gifted liars; but I do not
see why we should suppose them lying, when they sang the
superiorities of Indian things and people;--_as they did._ The
Indians, says Megasthenes, were taller than other men, and of
greater distinction and prouder bearing. The air and water of
their land were the purest in the world; so you would expect in
the people, the finest culture and skill in the arts.  Almost
always they gathered two harvests in the years; and  _famine had
never visited India._--You see, railways, quick communications,
and all the appliances of modern science and invention cannot do
as much for India in pralaya, as her own native civilization
could do for her in manvantara.--Then he goes on to show how that
civilization guarded against famine and many other things; and
incidentally to prove it not only much higher than the Greek, but
much higher than our own.  I said Manu provided in advance
against the main destructiveness of war:  here was the custom,
which may have been dishonored in the breach sometimes, but still
_was the custom._--The whole continent was divided into any
number of kingdoms; mutually antagonistic often, but with
certain features of homogeneity that made the name Aryavarta more
than a geographical expression.  I am speaking of the India
Megasthenes saw, and as it had been then for dear knows how long.
It had made concessions to human weakness, yes; had fallen, as I
think, from an ancient unity; it had not succeeded in abolishing
war.  It was open to any king to make himself a Chakravartin, or
world-sovereign, if he disposed of the means for doing so:
which means were military.  As this was a well-recognised
principle, wars were by no means rare.  But with them all, what a
Utopia it was, compared to  Christendom!  There was never a draft
or conscription.  Of the four castes, the Kshatriya or warrior
alone did the fighting.  While the conches brayed, and the war-
cars thundered over Kurukshetra; while the pantheons held their
breath, watching Arjun and mightiest Karna at battle--the
peasants in the next field went on hoeing their rice; they knew
no one was making war on them.  They trusted Gandiva, the goodly
bow, to send no arrows their way; their caste was inviolable, and
sacred to the tilling of the soil.  Megasthenes notes it with
wonder.  War implied no ravaging of the land, no destruction
of crops, no battering down of buildings, no harm whatever
to non-combatants.

Kshatriya fought Kshatriya. If you were a Brahmin: which is to
say, a theological student, or a man of letters, a teacher or
what not of the kind--you were not even called up for physical
examination.  If you were a merchant, you went on quietly with
your 'business as usual.' A mere patch of garden, or a peddler's
tray, saved you from all the horrors of a questionnaire.
Kshatriya fought Kshatriya, and no one else; and on the
battlefield, and nowhere else. The victor  became possessed of
the territory of the vanquished; and there was no more fuss or
botheration about it.

And the vanquished king was not dispossessed, Saint Helenaed, or
beheaded. Simply, he acknowledged his conqueror as his overlord,
paid him tribute; perhaps put his own Kshatriya army at his
disposal; and went on reigning as before. So Porus met Alexander
without the least sense of fear, distrust, or humiliation at his
defeat. "How shall I treat you?" said the  Macedonian.  Porus
was surprised.--"I suppose," said he in effect, "as one king
would treat another"; or, "like a gentleman."  And Alexander rose
to it; in the atmosphere of a civilization higher than anything
he knew, he had the grace to conform to usage.  Manu imposed his
will on him. Porus acknowledged him for overlord, and received
accretions of territory.--This explains why all the changes of
dynasty, and the many conquests and invasions have made so little
difference as hardly to be worth recording. They effected no
change in the life of the people. Even the British Raj has been,
to a great degree, molded to the will of Manu.  Each strong
native state is ruled by its own Maharaja, who acknowledges the
Kaiser-i-Hind at London for his overlord, and lends him at need
his Moslem or Kshatriya army.--All of which proves, I think, the
extreme antiquity of the svstem:  which is so firmly engraved in
the prototypal world--the astral molds are so strong--that no
outside force coming in has been able materially to change it.
The Greek invasion goes wholy unnoticed in Indian literature.

Which brings us back to Alexander. If he got as far as to the
Indus;--he got no farther. There were kingdoms up there in
the northwest--perhaps no further east than Afghanistan and
Baluchistan--which had formed part of the empire of Darius
Hystaspes, and sent contingents to fight under Xerxes in Greece;
and these now Alexander claimed as Darius Codomannus's successor.
But even in these outlying regions, he found conditions very
different from those in Persia:  there was no "unquestionable
superiority of the European to the Asiatic," nor nothing like.
Had he gone further, and into the real India of the Ganges
valley, his name, it is likely, would not have come down
synonymous with victory; presentlv we will call Megasthenes to
witness again as to the "unquestionable superiority of the
Asiatic to the European."  But thither the Macedonians refused to
follow their king; and I suppose he wept rather over their
insubordination, than for any overwhelmment with a sense of
terrene limits. For he knew well that there was plenty more world
to conquer, could one conquer it:  rich and mighty kingdoms
beyond that Thar Desert his soldiers are said to have refused to
cross. He knew, because there were many to tell him: exiled
princes and malcontents from this realm and that, each with his
plan for self-advancement, and for using the Macedonia as a
catspaw. Among them one in particular:  as masterful a man as
Alexander, and a potential world-conqueror himself.  He was
(probably) a more or less illegitimate scion of the House of
Nanda, then reigning in Magadha; which country, now called
Behar, had been growing at the expense of its Gangetic neighbors
for some centuries. King Suddhodana, the Buddha's father, had
reigned over the Sakyas in Nepaul as a tributary under the king
of Magadha; which statement I let pass, well aware that the
latest western scholarship has revolutionized the Sakyas into a
republic--perhaps with soviets,--and King Suddhodana himself into
a mere ward politician.

This Sandrakottos, as the Greeks called him, had many tales to
tell of the wealth of his kinsman's kingdom, and of the extreme
unpopularity of its ruler:-and therefore of the ease with which
Alexander might conquer it and hand it over to him. But two of a
trade seldom agree; both he and his host were born to rule
empires; and presently he offended susceptibilities, and had to
flee the camp. Whereupon he shortly sharked up a list of landless
reprobates, Kshatriyas at a loose end, for food and diet; and
the enterprise with a stomach in't was, as soon as Alexander's
back was turned, to drive out the Macedonian garrisons. This
done, he marched eastward as king of the Indus region, conquered
Magadha, slew his old enemy the Nanda king with all male members
of the family, and reigned in his stead as Chandragupta I, of
the house of Maurya.  That was in 321. Master then of a highly
trained army of about 700,000, he spread his empire over all
Hindustan. In 305, Seleucus Nicator, Alexander's successor in
Asia, crossed the Indus with an army, and was defeated; and in
the treaty which followed, gave up to Chandragupta all claim to
the Indian provinces, together with the hand of his daughter in
marriage.--and received by way of compensation 500 elephants
that might come in useful in his wars elsewhere. Also he sent
Megisthenes to be his ambassador at Pataliputra, Chandragupta's
capital; and Megasthenes wrote; and in a few quotations from
his lost book that remain, chiefly in Arrian,--we get a kind of
window wherethrough to look into India:  the first, and perhaps
the only one until Chinese travelers went west discovering.

Here let me flash a green lantern. If at some future time it
should be shown that the Chandragupta Maurya of the Sanskrit
books was not the same person as the Sandacottos of  Megasthenes;
nor his son Bindusara Amitraghata, the Amitrochidas of the
Greeks; nor his son and successor, Asoka, the Devanampiya
Piadasi whose rock-cut inscriptions remain scattered over
India; nor the Amtiyako Yonaraja--the "Ionian King Antiochus"
apparently,--Atiochus Theos, Selecus Nicator's granson:  as is
supposed; nor yet the other four kings mentioned in the same
instricption in a Sanskrit disguise as contemporaries, Ptolemy
Philadelphos of Egypt (285-247); Magas of Cyrene (285-258);
Antigonus Gonatas of Macedon (277-239), and Alexander of Epirus,
who began to reign in 272;--if all these identifications should
fall to the ground, let no one be surprised.  There are passages
in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky that seem to suggest there is
nothing in them; and yet, after studying those passages, I do
not find that she says so positively:  her attitude seems rather
one of withholding information for the time being; she supplies
none of a contrary sort. The time may not have been ripe then for
unveiling so much of Indian history; nor indeed, in those days,
had the pictures of these kings, and particularly of Asoka, so
clearly emerged:  inscriptions have been deciphered since, which
have gone to fill out the outline; and the story, as it his been
pieced together now, has an air of verisimilitude, and hangs
together.  Without the Greek identifications, and the consequent
possibility of assigning dates to Chandragupta and his son, we
should know indeed that there was a great Maurya empire, which
lasted a matter of thirteen decades and a few odd years; but we
should hardly know when to place it.  Accepting the Greek
identifications, and placing the Mauryas where we do in time--you
shall see how beautifully the epoch fits into the universal
cycles, and confirms the teaching as to Cyclic Law.  So,
provisionally, I shall accept them, and tell the tale.

First a few more items from Megasthenes as to India under
Chandragupta.  There was no slavery, he notes; all Indians were
free, and not even were there aliens enslaved.  Crime of any kind
was rare; the people were thoroughly law-abiding.  Thievery was
so little known, that doors went unlocked at all times; there
was no usury, and a general absence of litigation.  They told the
truth:  as a Greek, he could not help noticing that.  The men
were exceptionally brave; the women, chaste and virturous.
But "in contrast to the general simplicity of their style,
they loved finery and ornaments.  Their robes were worked
in gold, adorned with precious stones, and they wore flowered
garments of the finest muslin.  Attendants walking behind
held umbrellas over them...."

The system of government was very highly and minutely evolved.
"Of the great officers of state, some have charge of the markets,
others of the city, others of the soldiers; others superintend
the canals, and measure the land, or collect the taxes; some
construct roads and set up pillars to show the by-roads and
distances from place to place. Those who have charge of the city
are divided into six boards of five members apiece:  The
first looks after industrial art. The second attends to the
entertainment of strangers, taking care of them, sound or sick,
and in the event of their death, burying them and sending their
property to their relatives." The third board registered births
and deaths; the fourth, fifth and sixth had supervision of things
commercial.  Military affairs were as closely organized:  there
were Boards of Infantry, Cavalry, War Chariots, Elephants, Navy,
and Bullock Transport.  And behind all these stood Chandragupta
himself, the superman, ruthless and terrifically efficient; and
Chanakya, his Macchiavellian minister:  a combination to hurry
the world into greatness. And so indeed they did.

Under Asoka, Chandragupta's grandson, the age culminated. H. P.
Blavatsky says positively that he was born into Buddhism; this
is not the general view; but one finds nothing in his edicts,
really, to contradict it. His father Bindusara, of whom we know
nothing, may have been a Buddhist. But it would appear that Asoka
in his youth was the most capable, and also the most violent and
passionate of Bindusara's sons. During his father's lifetime, he
held one of the great vice-royalties into which the empire was
divided; he succeeded to the throne in 271.  His domains at that
time included all Aryavarta, with Baluchistan, and as much of
Afghanistan as lies south of the Hindoo Koosh; and how much of
the Deccan it is difficult to determine. Nine years later he
extended this realm still further, by the conquest of the
Kalingas, whose country lay along the coast northward from
Madras. At the end of that war he was master of all India north
of a line drawn from Pondicherry to Cannanore in the south;
while the tip of the Deccan and Ceylon lay at least within his
sphere of influence.

He was easily the strongest monarch of his day. In China--between
which country and India there was no communication:  they had not
discovered each other, or they had lost sight of each other for
ages--an old order was breaking to pieces, and all was weakness
and decay. In the West, Greek civilization was in decadence, with
the successors of Alexander engaged in profitless squabbles.
Rome, a power only in Italy, was about to begin her long struggle
with Carthage; overseas nobody minded her. The Crest-Wave was in
India, the strongest power and most vigorous civilization, so far
as we can tell, in the world, and at the head of India stood this
Chakravartin, victorious Asoka, flushed with conquest, and a
whole world tempting him out to conquer.--

He never went to war again. For twenty-nine years after that
conquest of the Kalingas, until his death in 233, he reigned in
unbroken peace. He left his heart to posterity in many edicts and
inscriptions cut on rocks and pillars; thirty-five of these
remain, or have so far been discovered and read. In 257, or five
years after the Kalinga War, he published this:

     "Devanamipiya Piadasi"--

It means literally 'the Beloved of the Gods, the Beautiful of
Countenance'; but it is really a title equivalent to "His
Gracious Majesty,' and was borne by all the Maurya kings;--

"Devanampiya Piadasi feels remorse on account of the conquest of
the Kalingas; because, during the subjugation of a preciously
unconquered country slaughter, death, and taking away captives of
the people necessarily occur; whereat His Majesty feels profound
sorrow and regret..."

It would be in keeping with the Southern Buddhist tradition as to
the ungovernable violence of Asoka's youth, that he should have
introduced into war horrors quite contrary to Manu and Indian
custom; but here I must say that H. P. Blavatsky, though she
does not particularize, says that there were really two Asokas,
two 'Devanampiya Piadasis,' the first of whom was Chandragupta
himself, from whose life the tradition of the youthful violence
may have been drawn; and there remains the possibility that this
Kalinga War was waged by Chandragupta, not Asoka; and that it
was he who made this edict, felt the remorse, and became a
Buddhist. However, to continue (tentatively):--

"The loss of even the hundredth or the thousandth part of the
persons who were then slain, carried away captive, or done to
death in Kalinga would now be a matter of deep regret to His
Majesty.  Although a man should do him any injury, Devanampiya
Piadasi holds that it must patiently be borne, so far as it
possibly can be borne... for His Majesty desires for all animate
beings security, control over the passions, peace of mind, and
joyousness.  And this is the chief of conquests, in His Majesty's
opinion:  the Conquest of Duty."

Some time later he took the vows of a Buddhist monk, 'entered the
Path'; and, as he says, 'exerted himself strenuously.'

He has been called the 'Constantine of Buddhism'; there is much
talk among the western learned, about his support of that
movement having contributed to its decay.  They draw analogy from
Constantine; even hint that Asoka embraced Buddhism, as the
latter did Christianity, from political motives. But the analogy
is thoroughlv false.  Constantine was a bad man, a very far-gone
case; and there was little in the faith he adopted, or favored,
as it had come to be at that time, to make him better;--even if
he had really believed in it.  And it was a defined religio-
political body, highly antagonistic to the old state religion of
Rome, that he linked his fortunes with.  But no sovereign so
mighty in compassion is recorded in history as having reigned, as
this Asoka. He was the most unsectarian of men. Buddhism as it
came to him, and as he left it, was not a sect, but a living
spiritual movement. For what is a sect?--Something _cut off_--
from the rest of humanity, and the sources of inner life. But for
Asoka, as for the modern Theosophical Movement, there was no
religion higher than--_Dharma_--which word may be translated,
'the (higher) Law,' or 'truth.' or 'duty.' He never ceased to
protect the holy men of Brahminism. Edict after edict exhorts his
people to honor them. He preached the Good Law; he could not
insist too often that different men would have different
conceptions as to this _Dharma._ Each, then, must follow his own
conception, and utterly respect his neighbors'.  The Good Law,
the Doctrine of the Buddhas, was universal; because the
objective of all religions was the conquest of the passions and
of self.  All religions must manifest on this plane as right
action and life; and that was the evangel he proclaimed to the
world. There was no such sharp antagonism of sects and creeds.

There is speculation as to how he managed, being a world-sovereign
--and a highly efficient one--to carry out the vows of a
Buddhist monk.  As if the begging bowl would have been anything
of consequence to such an one!  It is a matter of the status of
the soul; not of outward paraphernalia. He was a practical man;
intensely so; and he showed that a Chakravartin could tread the
Path of the Buddhas as well as a wandering monk. One can imagine
no Tolstoyan playing at peasant in him. His business in life was
momentous. "I am never satisfied with my exertions and my
dispatch of business," he says.

"Work I must for the public benefit,--and the root of the matter
is in exertion and dispatch of business, than which nothing is
more efficacious for the public welfare. And for what end do I
toil? For no other end than that I may discharge my debt to
animate beings."

And again:

"Devanampiya Piadasi desires that in all places men of all
religions may abide, for they all desire purity of mind and
mastery over the senses."

Well; for nine and twenty years he held that vast empire warless;
even though it included within its boundaries many restless and
savage tribes. Certainly only the greatest, strongest, and wisest
of rulers could do that; it has not been done since (though
Akbar came near it). We know nothing as to how literature may
have been enriched; some think that the great epics may have
come from this time. If so, it would only have been recensions of
them, I imagine. But in art and architecture his reign was
everything. He built splendid cities, and strewed the land with
wonderful buildings and monoliths. Patna, the capital, in
Megasthenes' time nine miles long by one and a half wide, and
built of wood, he rebuilt in stone with walls intricately
sculptured. Education was very widespread or universal.  His
edicts are sermons preached to the masses: simple ethical
teachings touching on all points necessary to right living.
He had them carved on rock, and set them up by the roadsides
and in all much-frequented places, where the masses could
read them; and this proves that the masses could read. They
are all vibrant with his tender care, not alone for his human
subjects, but for all sentient beings. "Work I must.... that
I may discharge my debt to all things animate." And how he
did work without one private moment in the day or night, as his
decrees show, in which he should be undisturbed by the calls of
those who needed help. He specifies; he particularizes; there
was no moment to be considered private, or his personal own.

And even then he was not content. There were foreign lands; and
those, too, were entitled to his care.  I said that the southern
tip of India, with Ceylon, were within his sphere of influence:
his sphere of influence was much wider than that, however. Saying
that a king's sphere of influence is wherever he can get his will
done, Asoka's extended westward over the whole Greek world. Here
was a king whose will was benevolence; who sought no rights but
the right to do good; whose politics were the service of
mankind:--it is a sign of the Brotherhood of Man, that his writ
ran, as you may say--the writ of his great compassion,--to the
Mediterranean shore:--

"Everywhere in the dominions of Devanampiya Piadasi, and likewise
in the neighboring realms, such as those of the Chola, Pandya,
Satiyaputra and Keralaputra, in Ceylon, in the dominions of the
Greek king Antiochus, and in those of the other kings subordinate
to that Antiochus--everywhere, on behalf of His Majesty, have two
kinds of hospitals been founded:  hospitals for men, and
hospitals for beasts.  Healing herbs, medicinal for man and
medicinal for beasts, wherever they were lacking, have been
imported and planted.  On the roads, trees have been planted, and
wells have been dug for the use of men and beasts."

And everywhere, in all those foreign realms, he had his
missionaries preaching the Good Law. And some of these came to
Palestine, and founded there for him an order at Nazareth called
the Essenes; in which, some century or two later, a man rose to
teach the Good Law--by name, Jesus of Nazareth.--Now consider the
prestige, the moral influence, of a king who might keep his
agents, unmolested, carrying out his will, right across Asia, in
Syria, Greece, Macedonia, and Egypt; the king of a great, free,
and mighty people, who, if he had cared to, might have marched
out world-conquering; but who preferred that his conquests
should be the conquests of duty.  Devanampiya Piadasi:  the
Gracious of  Mien, the Beloved of the Gods:  an Adept King like
them of old time, strayed somehow into the scope and vision of
history.



VIII.  THE BLACK-HAIRED PEOPLE


Greece shone between 478 and 348,--to give the thirteen decades
of her greatest spiritual brightness. Then came India in 321; we
lose sight of her after the death of Asoka in the two-thirties,
but know the Maurya Empire lasted its thirteen decades (and six
years) until 185.  Then China flamed up brilliantly under the
Western House of Han from 194 to 64;--at which time, however, we
shall not arrive for a few weeks yet.

Between these three national epochs there is this difference:
the Greek Age came late in its manvantara; which opened (as I
guess), roughly speaking, some three hundred and ninety years
before:--three times thirteen decades, with room for three
national flowerings in Europe--among what peoples, who can say?--
We cannot tell where in its manvantara the Indian Age may have
come: whether near the beginning, or at the middle.  But in China
we are on firm ground, and the firmest of all. A manvantara, a
fifteen-century cycle, began in the two-forties B. C.; this Age
of Han was its first blossom and splendid epoch; and we need feel
no surprise that it was not followed by a night immediately, but
only by a twilight and slight dimming of the glories for about
thirteen decades again, and then the full brilliance of another
day. Such things are proper to peoples new-born after their long
pralaya; and can hardly happen, one would say, after the morning
of the manvantara has passed. Thus in our own European cycle,
Italy the first-born was in full creative energy from about 1240
to 1500: twenty-six decades;--whereas the nations that have held
hegemony since have had to be content each with its thirteen.

And now to take bird's-eye views of China as a whole; and to be
at pains to discover what relation she bears, historically, to
ourselves and the rest of the globe.

Do you remernber how Abraham haggled with the Lord over the
Cities of the Plain?  Yahveh was for destroying them off hand for
their manifold sins and iniquities; but Abraham argued and
bargained and brought him down till if peradventure there should
be found ten righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord promised
he would spare them. But ten righteous there were not, nor
nothing near; so the Cities of the Plain went down.

I suppose the Crest-Wave rarely passes from a race without
leaving a wide trail of insanity in its wake. The life forces are
strong; the human organisms through which they play are but--as
we know them. Commonly these organisms are not directed by the
Divine Soul, which has all too little of the direction of life in
its hands; so the life-currents drift downward, instead of
fountaining up; and exhaust these their vehicles, and leave them
played out and mentally--because long since morally--deficient.
So come the cataclysmic wars and reigns of terror that mark the
end of racial manvantaras:  it is a humanity gone collectively
mad. On the other hand, none can tell what immense safeguarding
work may be done by the smallest sane co-ordinated effort
upwards.  If peradventure the ten righteous shall be found--but
they must be righteous, and know what they are doing--I will
spare, and not destroy, saith the Lord.

(He said nothing about respectabilities. I dare say there was
quite a percentage of respectable chapel-going Sabbath-observing
folk in the Cities of the Plain.)

And yet there must be always that dreadful possibility--which
perhaps has never become actual since the fall of Atlantis--that
a whole large section of mankind should go quite mad, and become
unfit to carry on the work of evolution.  It is a matter of
corrupting the streams of heredity; which is done by vice,
excess, wrong living; and these come of ignorance.  Heaven knows
how near it we may be today; I do not think Christendom stands,
or has stood, so very far, from the brink.  And yet it is from
the white race, we have supposed, that the coming races will be
born; this is the main channel through which human evolution is
intended to flow.--We are in kall-yuga; the Mysteries are dead,
and the religions have taken their place:  there has been no sure
and certain link, organized on this plane, between the world and
its Higher Self.  Each succeeding civilization, under these
circumstances, has run a greater risk.

Of what race are we?  I say, of no race at all, but can view the
matter as Human Souls, reincarnating egos, prepared to go where
the Law bids us.  Races are only temporary institutions set up
for the convenience of the Host of Souls.

We see, I suppose, the results of such a breakdown in Africa.
Atlanteans were segregated there; isolated; and for a million
years degenerated in that isolation to what they are.  But their
ancestors, before that segregation began, had better airships
than we have; were largely giants, in more respects than the
physical, were we are pygmies.  Now they are--whatever may be
their potentialities, whatever they may become--actually an
inferior reace.  And it is a racial stock that shows no signs of
dying out.  What then?--I suppose indeed there must be backward
races, to house backward egos;--though for that matter you would
think that our Londons and Chicagos and the rest, with their
slums, would provide a good deal of accommodation.

Or consider the Redskins, here and in South America:  whether
Atlanteans, or of some former subrace of the Fifth, at least not
Aryans.  Take the finest tribes among them, such as the Navajos.
Here is a very small hereditary stream, kept pure and apart:  of
fine physique; potentially of fine mentality; unsullied with
vices of any sort:  a people as much nearer than the white man to
natural spirituality, as to natural physical health.  It is no
use saying they are so few.  Two millenniums ago, how many were
the Anglo-Saxons?  Three millenniums ago, how many were the
Latins?  Supposing the white race in America failed.  The
statistics of lunacy--of that alone--are a fearful _Mene, Tekel
Upharsin_ written on our walls, for any Daniel with vision
to read.  I think Naure must also take into account these
possibilities.  Does she keep in reserve hereditary streams and
racial stocks other than her great and main ones, _in case of
accidents?_  Are the Redskins among these?

_The Secret Doctrine_ seems to hint sometimes that the founders
of our Fifth Root Race were of Lemurian rather than Atlantean
descent.  Nowhere is it actually said so; but there are a number
of passages that read, to me, as if they were written with that
idea, or theory, or fact, in mind.  Is it, possibly, that a small
pure stream of Lemurian heredity had been kept aloof through all
the years of Atlantis, in reserve;--some stream that may have
been, at one time, as narrow as the tribe of Navajos?--This may
be a very bold conclusion to draw from what is said in _The
Secret Doctrine;_  it may have no truth in it whatever:  other
passages are to be found, perhaps, that would at least appear to
contradict it.  But if it is true, it would account for what
seems like a racial anomaly--or more than one.  Science leans to
the conclusion that the Australian aborigines are Aryan:  they
are liker Aryans than anything else.  But we know from _The
Secret Doctrine_ that they are among the few last remnants of the
Lemurians.  Again, the Ainos of Japan are very like Europeans:
they have many physical features in common with the Caucasians,
and none in common with the peoples of East Asia.  Yet they are
very low down in the scale of evolution:--not so low as the
Australian Blackfellow, but without much occasion for giving
themselves airs.  A thousand years of contact with the much-
washing Japanese have never suggested to them why God made soap
and water.  Like many other people, they have the legend of the
flood:  remember, as you may say, the fall of Atlantis; but
unlike us upstarts of the Fourth and Fifth Races, they have also
a legend of a destruction of the world by fire and earthquake--a
cataclysm that lasted, they say, a hundred days. Is it a memory
of the fate of Lemuria?

Is a new Root-Race developed, not from the one immediately
preceding it, but from the one before?  Is Mercury's caduceus,
here too, a symbol of the way evolution is done?  Did the Law
keep in reserve a Sishta or Seed-Race from Lemuria, holding it
back from Atlantean development during the whole period of the
Atlanteans;--holding it, all that while, in seclusion and purity
--and therefore in a kind of pralaya;--at the right moment, to
push its development, almost suddenly, along a new line, not
parallel to the Atlantean, but _sui generis,_ and to be Aryan
Fifth presently?--Is the Law keeping in reserve a _Sishta_ or
Seed-Race of Atlantean stock, holding that in reserve and apart
all through our Aryan time, to develop from it at last the
beginnings of the Sixth, on the new continent that will appear?
Or to do so, at any rate, should the main Aryan stock fail at one
of the grand crises in its evolution, and become of too corrupt
heredity to produce fitting vehicles for the egos of the Sixth
to inhabit?

When we have evolved back to Sanskrit for the last time:  when
the forces of civilization have played through and exhausted for
the last time the possibilities of each of the groups of Aryan
languages, so that it would be impossible to do anything more
with them--for languages do become exhausted:  we cannot write
English now as they could in the days of Milton and Jeremy
Taylor; not necessarily because we are smaller men, but because
the fabric of our speech is worn much thinner, and will no longer
take the splendid dyes;--and when that final flowering of
Sanskrit is exhausted too--will the new Sixth Race language, as a
type, be a derivation from the Aryan?  Then how?--Or will it,
possibly, be as it were a new growth sprung out of the grave of
Fourth Race Chinese, or of one of that Atlantean group through
which, during all these millions of years, such great and main
brain-energies have not on the whole been playing as they have
been through the Aryans; and which might therefore, having
lain so long fallow, then be fit for new strange developments
and uses?

All of which may be, and very likely is, extremely wide of the
mark. Such ideas may be merest wild speculation, and have no
truth in them at all. And yet I think that if they were true,
they would explain a thing to me otherwise inexplicable: China.

We are in the Fifth Root-Race, and the fifth sub-race thereof:
that is, beyond the middle point. And yet one in every four of
the inhabitants of the globe is a Fourth Race Chinaman; and I
suppose that if you took all the races that are not Caucasian, or
Fifth Race, you would find that about half the population of the
world is Atlantean still.

Take the languages. A Sanskrit word, or a Greek, or Old Gothic,
or Latin, is a living organism, a little articulate being. There
is his spine, the root; his body, the stem; his limbs and head,
the formative elements, prefixes and suffixes, case-endings and
what not. Let him loose in the sentence, and see how he wriggles
gaily from state to state:  with a flick of the tail from
nominative to genitive, from singular to plural:  declaring his
meaning, not by means of what surroundings you put about him, but
by motions, changes, volitions so to say, of his own. 'Now,' says
he, 'I'm _pater,_ and the subject; set me where you will, and I
am still the subject, and you can make nothing else of me.'  Or,
'Now,' says he, 'I'm _patrem,_ and the object; go look for my
lord the verb, and you shall know what's done to me; be he next
door, or ten pages away, I am faithful to him.'  _Patrem filius
amat,_ or _filius amat patrem,_ or in whatever order it may be,
there is no doubt who does, and who (as they say) _suffers_ the
loving.--But now take a word in English. You can still recognise
him for the same creature that was once so gay and jumpy-jumpy:
_father_ is no such far cry from _pater:_--but oh what a change
in sprightliness of habits is here!  Time has worn away his head
and limbs to almost unrecognisable blunt excrescences. Bid him
move off into the oblique cases, and if he can help it, he will
not budge; you must shove him with a verb; you must goad him
with a little sharp preposition behind; and then he just _lumps_
backward or forward, and there is no change for the better in
him, as you may say. No longer will he declare his meaning of
himself; it must depend on where you choose to put him in the
sentence.--Among the mountains of Europe, the grand Alps are the
parvenus; the Pyrenees look down on them; and the Vosges on the
Pyrenees; and--pardon me!--the little old time-rounded tiny
Welsh mountains look down on them all from the heights of a much
greater antiquity. They are the smallest of all, the least jagged
and dramatic of all; time and the weather have done most to
them.  The storm, like the eagle of Gwern Abwy in the story, has
lighted on their proud peaks so often, that that from which once
she could peck at the stars in the evening, rises now but a few
thousand feet from the level of the sea. Time and springs and
summers have silenced and soothed away the startling crags and
chasms, the threatening gestures of the earth at infinity, and
clothed them over with a mantle of quietness and green fern and
heather and dreams. When the Fifth Race was younger, its language
was Alpine: in Gothic, in Sanskrit, in Latin, you can see the
crags and chasms.  French, Spanish and Italian are Pyrenean, much
worn down. English is the Vosges. Chinese is hardly even the
Welsh mountains. Every word is worn perfectly smooth and round.
There is no sign left at all of prefix or suffix, root or stem.
There are no parts of speech:  any word without change can do
duty for any part of speech. There is no sign of case or number:
all has been reduced to an absolute simplicity, beyond which
there is no going. Words can end with no consonant but the most
rounded of all, the nasal liquids _n_ and _ng._ There is about as
much likeness to the Aryan and Semitic languages--you can trace
about as much analogy between them--as you can between a
centipede and a billiard-ball.

There are definite laws governing the changes of language. You
know how the Latin _castrum_ became in English _ciaster_ and then
_chester;_  the change was governed by law. The same law makes
our present-day vulgar say _cyar_ for _car;_  that word, in the
American of the future, will be something like chair. The same
law makes the same kind of people say _donchyer_ for _don't you;_
some day, alas! even that will be classical and refined American.
Well; we know that that law has been at work in historic times
even on the Chinese billiard-ball:  where Confucius said _Ts'in_
like a gentleman, the late Yuan Shi Kai used to say _Ch'in._  So
did the Dowager Empress; it was eminently the refined thing to
do. So we ourselves have turned _Ts'in_ into _China._--And that
is the one little fact--or perhaps one of the two or three little
facts--that remain to convince us that Chinese and its group of
kindred languages grew up on the same planet, and among the same
humankind, that produced Sanskrit and Latin.

But does not that suggest also the possibility that Alpine Aryan
might some day--after millions of years--wear down or evolve back
even into billiard-ball Chinese?  That human language is _one
thing;_  and all the differences, the changes rung on that
according to the stages of evolution?

In the Aryan group of languages, the bond of  affinity is easily
recognisable:  the roots of the words are the same:  _Pitri,
pater, vater,_  are clearly but varying pronunciations of the
same word.  In the Turanic group, however--Finnish, Hungarian,
Turkish, Tatar, Mongol and Manchu--you must expect no such
well-advertised first-cousinship.  They are grouped together,
not because of any likeness of roots:  not because you could
find one single consonant the same in the Lappish or Hungarian,
say, and in the Mongol or Manchu words for _father_--you
probably could not;--but because there may be syntactical
likenesses, or the changes and assimilations of sounds may
be governed by the same laws.  Thus in Turkic--I draw upon
the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_--there is a suffix z, preceded
by a vowel, to mean your:  _pederin_ is 'father'; 'your father'
becomes _pederiniz;_  _dostun_ means 'friend'; 'your friend'
becomes not _dostuniz,_ but _dostunus;_  and this trick of
assimilating the vowel of the suffix is the last one in the
stem is an example of the kind of similarities which establish
the relationship of the group.  As for likeness of roots,
here is a specimen:  _gyordunus_ is the Turkish for the Finnish
_naikke._--So here you see a degree of kinship much more
remote than that you find in the Aryan.  Where, say, Dutch
and Gaelic are brothers--at least near relations and bosom
friends,--Turkish and Mongol are about fifteenth cousins by
marriage twice removed, and hardly even nod to each other in
passing.  And yet Turks and Mongols both claim descent from the
sons of a common father:  according to legends of both peoples,
the ancestor of the Turks was the brother of the ancestor of the
Mongols.  (Always remember that in speaking of Turks thus
scientifically, one does not mean the Ottomans, who inherit
their language, but are almost purely Caucasian or even Aryan,
in blood.)

Now take the Monosyllabic or South-Eastern Asiatic Group:
Chinese, Burmese, Siamese, Annamese, and Tibetan.  Here there
are only negatives, you might say, to prove a relationship.
They do not meet on the street; they pass by on the other side,
noses high in the air; each sublimely unaware of the other's
existence.  They suppose they are akin--through Adam; but whould
tell you that much has happened since then.  Their kinship
consists in this:  the words are each are billiard-balls--and
yet, if you will allow the paradox, of quite different shapes.
Thus I should call a Tibetan name like _nGamri-srong-btsan_ a
good jagged angular sort of billiard-ball; and a Chinese one
like _T'ang Tai-tsong_ a perfectly round smooth one of the kind
we know.--The languages are akin, because each say, where we
should say 'the horse kicked the man,'  _horse agent man kicking
completion,_ or words to that effect,--dapped out nearly in
spherical or angular disconnected monosyllables.  But the words
for _horse_ and _man,_ in Chinese and Tibetan, have respectively
as much phonetic likeness as _geegee_ and _equus,_ and _Smith_
and _Jones._  As to the value and possibilities of such
languages, I will quote you two pronouncements, both from writers
in the _Encyclopaedia Britannica._  One says:  "Chinese has the
greatest capacity of any language ever invented"; the other,
"The Chinese tongue is of unsurpass jejuneness."

In the whole language there are only about four or five hundred
sounds you could differentiate by spelling, as to say, _shih,_
pronounced like the first three letters in the word _shirt_ in
English.  That vocable may mean:  _history,_ or _to employ,_ or
_a corpse, a market, a lion, to wait on, to rely upon, time,
poetry, to bestow, to proclaim, a stone, a generation, to eat, a
house,_ and all such things as that;--I mention a few out of the
list by way of example.*  Now of course, were that all to be said
about it, Chinamen would no doubt sometimes get confused:  would
think you meant a corpse, when you were really talking about
poetry, and so on. But there is a way of throwing a little
breathing in, a kind of hiatus: thus _Ts'in_ meant one country,
and _Tsin_ another one altogether; and you ought not to mix them,
for they were generally at war, and did not mix at all well. That
would potentially extend the number of sounds, or words, or
billiard-balls, from the four hundred and twenty in modern polite
Pekinese, or the twelve hundred or so in the older and less
cultured Cantonese, to twice as many in each case. Still that
would be but a poor vocabulary for the language with the vastest
literature in the world, as I suppose the Chinese is. Then you
come to the four tones, as a further means of extending it. You
pronounce _shih_ one tone--you sing it on the right note, so to
say, and it means _poetry;_ you take that tone away, and give
it another, the dead tone, and very naturally it becomes _a
corpse:_--as, one way, and another I have often tried to impress
on you it really does.--Of course the hieroglyphs, the written
words, run into hundreds of thousands; for the literature, you
have a vocabulary indeed. But you see that the spoken language
depends, to express its meaning, upon a different kind of
elements from those all our languages depend on. We have solid
words that you can spell:  articles built up with the bricks of
sound-stuff we call letters: _c-a-t_ cat, _d-o-g_ dog, and so
on;--but their words, no; nothing so tangible:  all depends on
little silences, small hiatuses in the vocalizition,--and above
all, _musical tones._   Now then, which is the more primitive?
Which is nearer the material or intellectual, and which, the
spiritual, pole?

-------
* _Encyclopaedia Britannica:_ article, China: Language.
-------

More primitive--I do not know. Only I think when the Stars of
Morning sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy;
when primeval humanity first felt stirring within it the Divine
fire and essence of the Lords of Mind; when the Sons of the Fire
mist came down, and found habitation for themselves in the bodies
of our ancestors; when they saw the sky, how beautiful and
kindly it was; and the wonder of the earth, and that blue jewel
the sea; and felt the winds of heaven caress them, and were
aware of the Spirit, the Great Dragon, immanent in the sunlight,
quivering and scintillant in the dim blue diamond day;

     "They prayed, but their worship was only
          The wonder of nights and of days,"

--when they opened their lips to speak, and the first of all the
poems of the earth was made:--it was song, it was tone, it was
music they uttered, and not brute speech such as we use, it was
intoned vowels, as I imagine, that composed their language:
seven little vowels, and seven tones or notes to them perhaps:
and with these they could sing and tell forth the whole of the
Glory of God. And then--was it like this?--they grew material,
and intellectual, and away from the child-state of the Spirit;
and their tones grew into words; and consonants grew on to the
vowels, to make the vast and varied distinctions the evolving
intellect needed for its uses; and presently you had Atlantis
with its complex civilization--its infinitely more complex
civilization even than our own; and grammar came ever more into
being, ever more wonderful and complex, to correspond with the
growing curves and involutions of the ever more complex-growing
human brain; and a thousand languages were formed--many of them
to be found still among wild tribes in mid-Africa or America--as
much more complex than Sanskrit, as Sanskrit is than Chinese:
highly declensional, minutely syntactical, involved and worked up
and filigreed beyond telling;--and that was at the midmost point
and highest material civilization of Atlantis.  And then the
Fourth Race went on, and its languages evolved; back, in the
seventh sub-race, to the tonalism, the chanted simplicity of
the first sub-race;--till you had something in character not
intellectual, but spiritual:--Chinese.  And meanwhile--I am
throwing out the ideas as they come, careless if the second
appears to contradict the first:  presently a unity may come of
them;--meanwhile, for the purposes of the Fifth Root-Race, then
nascent, a language-type had grown up, intellectual as any in
Atlantis, because this Fifth Race was to be intellectual too,--
but also spiritual:  not without tonalistic elements:  a thing to
be chanted, and not dully spoken:--and there, when the time came
for, it to be born, you had the Sanskrit.

But now for the Sixth Root-Race: is that to figure mainly on the
plane of intellect? Or shall we then take intellectual things
somewhat for granted, as having learnt them and passed on to
something higher? Look at those diagrams of the planes and globes
in _The Secret Doctrine,_ and see how the last ones, the sixth
and seventh, come to be on the same level as the first and
second. Shall we be passing, then, to a time when, in the
seventh, our languages will have no need for complexity:  when
our ideas, no longer personal but universal and creative, will
flow easily from mind to mind, from heart to heart on a little
tone, a chanted breath of music; when mere billiard-balls of
syllables will serve us, so they be rightly sung:--until
presently with but seven pure vowel sounds, and seven tones to
sing them to, we shall be able to tell forth once more the whole
of the Glory of God?

Now then, is Chinese primitive, or is it an evolution far away
and ahead of us?  Were there first of all billiard-balls; and
did they acquire a trick of coalescing and running together;
this one and that one, in the combination, becoming subordinate
to another; until soon you had a little wriggling creature of a
word, with his head of prefix, and his tail of suffix, to look or
flicker this way or that according to the direction in which he
wished to steer himself, the meaning to be expressed;--from
monosyllabic becoming agglutinative, synthetic, declensional,
complex--Alpine and super-Sanskrit in complexity;--then Pyrenean
by the wearing down of the storms and seasons; then Vosges, with
crags forest-covered; then green soft round Welsh mountains;
and then, still more and more worn down by time and the phonetic
laws which decree that men shall (in certain stages of their
growth) be always molding their languages to an easier and easier
pronunciation,--stem assimilating prefix and suffix, and growing
intolerant of changes within itself;--fitting itself to the
weather, rounding off its angles, coquetting with euphony;--
dropping harsh consonants; tending to end words with a vowel, or
with only the nasal liquids n and ng, softest and roundest sounds
there are;--till what had evolved from a billiard-ball to an
Alpine crag, had evolved back to a billiard-ball again, and was
Chinese?  Is it primitive, or ultimate?  I am almost certain of
this, at any rate:  that as a language-type, it stands somewhere
midway between ours and spiritual speech.

How should that be; when we are told that this people is of the
Fourth, the most material of the Races; while we are on the
proud upward arc of the Fifth? And how is it that H. P. Blavatsky
speaks of the Chinese civilization as being younger than that of
the Aryans of India, the Sanskrit speakers,--Fifth certainly?  Is
this, possibly, the explanation:  that the ancestors of the
Chinese, a colony from Atlantis some time perhaps long before the
Atlantean degeneration and fall, were held under major pralaya
apart from the world-currents for hundreds of thousands of years,
until some time later than 160,000 years ago--the time of the
beginning our our sub-race?  A pralaya, like sleep, is a period
of refreshment, spiritual and physical; it depends upon your
mood as you enter it, to what degree you shall reap its benefits:
whether it shall regenerate you; whether you shall arise from it
spiritually cleansed and invigorated by contact with the bright
Immortal Self within.  Africa entered such a rest-period from an
orgy of black magic, and her night was filled with evil dreams
and sorceries, and her people became what they are.  But
if China entered it guided by white Atlantean Adepts, it
would have been for her Fairyland; it would have been the
Fortunate Islands; it would have been the Garden of Siwang Mu,
the paradise of the West; and when she came forth it would
have been--it might have been--with a bent not towards intellectual,
but towards spiritual achievements.

Compare her civilization, in historic times, with that of the
West.  Historic times are very little to go by, but they are all
we have at present.--She attained marvelous heights; but they
were not the same kind of heights the West has attained.  Through
her most troublous, stirring, and perilous times, she carried
whole provinces of Devachan with her.  It was while she was
falling to pieces, that Ssu-K'ung T'u wrote his divinely delicate
meditations.  When the iron most entered her soul, she would
weep, but not tear her hair or rage and grow passionate; she
would condescend to be heart-broken, but never vulgar.  In her
gayest moments, wine-flushed and Spring-flushed, she never forgot
herself to give utterance to the unseemly.  There is no line in
her poetry to be excused or regretted on that score.  She
worshipped Beauty, as perhaps only Greece and France in the West
have done; but unlike Greece or France, she sought her divinity
only in the impersonal and dispassionate:  never mistook for its
voice, the voices of the flesh.  She sinned much, no doubt; but
not in her pursuit of the Beautiful; not in her worship of Art
and Poetry.  She was faithful to the high Gods there.  She never
produced a figure comparable to, nor in the least like, our
Homers and Aeschyluses, Dantes and Miltons and Shakespeares.  But
then, the West has never, I imagine, produced a figure comparable
to her Li Pos, Tu Fus, Po Chu-is or Ssu-k'ung T'us:  giants in
lyricism--one might name a hundred of them--beside whom our Hugos
and Sapphos and Keatses were pygmies.  Nor have we had any to
compare with her masters of landscape-painting:  even the
_Encyclopaedia Britannica_ comes down flat-footed with the
statement that Chinese landscape-painting is the highest the
world has seen.--And why?--Because it is based on a knowledge of
the God-world; because her eyes were focused for the things 'on
the other side of the sky'; because this world, for her, was a
mere reflexion and thin concealment of the other, and the mists
between her and the Divine 'defecate' constantly, in Coleridge's
curious phrase, 'to a clear transparency.'  Things seen were an
open window into the Infinite; but with us, heaven knows, that
window is so thick filthy with selfhood, so cobwebbed and
begrimed with passion and egotism and individualism and all the
smoke and soot of the brain-mind, that given an artist with a
natural tendency to see through, he has to waste half his life
first in cleaning it with picks and mattocks and charges of
dynamite.  So it becomes almost inevitable that when once you
know Chinese painting, all western painting grows to look rather
coarse and brutal and materialistic to you.

But, you say, no Aeschylus or Shakespeare?  No Dante or Homer? No
epic--no great drama!   Pooh! you say, where is the great
creative energy?  Where is the sheer brain force?--

It is to us a matter of course that the type of our great ones is
the highest possible type. Well; it may be:  but the deeper you
go into thinking it over, the less certain you are likely to
become as to the absoluteness of standards. The time to award the
prizes is not yet; all we can do is to look into the nature of
the differences. Warily let us go to work here!

Where, you asked, are the great creative energies?  Well; in the
West, certainly, they have flowed most where they can most be
seen  as _energies._  I think, through channels nearer this
material plane:  nearer the plane of intellect, at any rate.--No:
there is no question where the sheer brain force has been:  it
has been in the West.  But then, where was it more manifest, in
Pope or in Keats?  In Pope most emphatically. But off with your
head if you say he gave the greater gift.--Or I will leave Pope,
and go to his betters; and say that Keats, when he caught in his
net of words the fleeting beauty of the world, was far nearer the
Spirit than was Bacon when with tremendous intellectual energy he
devised his philosophy:  there was a much longer evolution behind
the ease and effortless attainment of the one, than behind the
other's titanic brain-effort. Yet, so far as the putting forth of
brain energies is concerned, there is no question:  Bacon was
much the greater man.

So in all creative work, in all thought, we must call the West
incomparably greater in brain energy.  And I am not making such a
foolish comparison as between modern or recent conditions in the
two races. You see it if you set the greatest Eastern ages, the
Han, the T'ang, the Sung, or the Fujiwara, against the Periclean,
Augustan, Medicean, Elizabethan, or Louis Quatorze.  In the West,
the spiritual creative force came down and mingled itself more
forcefully with the human intellect:  had a much more vigorous
basis in that, I think, to work in and upon.  It has reached
lower into the material, and played on matter more powerfully--
and, be it said, on thought and intellection too.

We are so accustomed to thinking of spirituality as something
that, outside the plane of conduct, can only play through thought
and intellection, or perhaps religious emotion, that to speak of
the high spirituality of China will sound, to most, absurd. On
the whole, you must not go to China for thought or intellection.
Least of all you must go there for what we commonly understand by
religious emotion;--they don't readily gush over a personal god.
It will seem entirely far-fetched to say that in China the
creative forces have retained much more of their spirituality:
have manifested perhaps not less greatly than in the West, but on
planes less material, nearer their spiritual source. It will
seem so the more because until very recently China has been
constantly misrepresented to us.  And yet I think it is pretty
much the truth.

In all their creative art the Spirit has been busy suggesting
itself, not through ideas, or the forms of intellection, but
through the more subtle perceptions and emotions that lie behind.
It gives us, if we are at all gifted or educated to see, pure
vistas of Itself. Compare Michelangelo's Moses with the Dai Butsu
at Kamakura:--as I think Dr. Siren does in one of his lectures.
The former is a thing of titanic, even majestic energies; but
they are energies physical and mental:  a grand triumph on what
is called in Sanskrit philosophy the Rajasic plane.  The second
suggests, not energy and struggle, but repose and infinite calm.
In the Moses, we sense warfare, with victory, to attain and to
hold its attainment; in the Dai Butsu, something that has passed
through all that aeons ago.  In which is the greater sum of
energies included? In the Dai Butsu certainly; wherein we see no
sign of what we commonly call energies at all. The one is human
struggling up towards  Godhood; the other, Godhood looking down
with calm limitless compassion upon man.  Such need no engines
and dynamics to remove the mountains:  they bid them rise up, and
be cast into the sea; and are obeyed.

Or take a great Chinese landscape and a great Western one:  a Ma
Yuan, say, and a--whom you please.  To the uninstructed it seems
ridiculous to compare them.  This took a whole year to paint; it
is large; there is an enormous amount of hard work in it; huge
creative effort, force, exertion, went to make it.  That--it was
done perhaps in an hour.  That mountain is but a flick of the
brush; yonder lake but a wash and a ripple.  It is painted on a
little trumpery fan--a mere square foot of silk.  Yes; but on
that square foot, by the grace of the Everlasting Spirit, are 'a
thousand miles of space':  much more--there is Infinity itself.
Watch; and that faint gray or sepia shall become the boundless
blue; and you shall see dim dragons wandering:  you shall see
Eternal Mystery brooding within her own limitless home.  Far, far
more than in the western work, there is an open window into the
Infinite:  that which shall remind us that we are not the poor
clay and dying embers we seem, but a pat of the infinite
Mystery.  The Spirit is here; not involved in human flesh and
intellection, but impersonal and universal.  What do you
want:--to be a great towering personality; or to remember
that you are a flame of the Fire which is God?  Oh, out upon
these personal deities, and most ungodly personalities of
the West!  I thank China for reminding me that they are cheap
and nasty nothingnesses at the best!

We rather demand of our art, at its highest, that it shall be a
stimulant, and call to our minds the warfare in which we are
engaged:  the hopeless-heroic gay and ever mournful warfare of
the soul against the senses.  Well; that battle has to be
fought; there is nothing better than fighting it--until it is
won. Let us by all means hear the snarling of the trumpets; let
us heed the battle-cries of the Soul. But let us not forget that
somewhere also the Spirit is at peace:  let us remember that
there is Peace, beyond the victory. In Chinese art and poetry we
do not hear the war-shouts and the trumpets:  broken, there, are
the arrow and the bow; the shield, the sword, the sword and the
battle.--But--_the Day-Spring from on high hath visited us._

What element from the Divine is in it, does not concern itself
with this earth-life; tells you nothing in criticism of life.
There is naught in it of the Soul as Thinker, nor of the Soul as
Warrior.  But surely it is something for us, immersed here in
these turbid Rajasika regions, to be reminded sometimes that the
Sattvic planes exist; it is something for us to be given
glimpses of the pure quietudes of the Spirit in its own place.  I
am the better, if I have been shown for an instant the delicate
imperishable beauty of the Eternal.

     "We are tired who follow after
          Truth, a phantasy that flies;
      You with only look and laughter
          Stain our hearts with richest dyes."--

They do indeed; with look and laughter--or it may be tears.

Now, what does it all mean?  Simply this, I think:  that the West
brings down what it can of the Spirit into the world of thought
and passion; brings it down right here upon this bank and
shoal of time; but China rises with you into the world of
the Spirit.  We do not as a rule allow the validity of the
Chinese method. We sometimes dub Keats, at his best a thorough
Chinaman, 'merely beautiful.'

I have rather put the case for China; because all our hereditary
instincts will rise with a brief for the West.  But the truth is
that the Spirit elects its own methods and its own agents, and
does this through the one, that through the other. When I read
_Hamlet,_ I have no doubt Shakespeare was the greatest poet that
ever lived.  When I read Li Po, I forget Shakespeare, and think
that among those who sing none was ever so wonderful as this
Banished Angel of the Hills of Tang. I forget the Voice that
cried 'Sleep no more!' and Poetry seems to me to have spoken her
final word in what you would perhaps call trivialities about the
Cold Clear Spring or the White Foam Rapid:  she seems to me
to have accomplished all she can in such bits of childlike
detachment and wonder as this:

"The song-birds, the pleasure-seekers, have flown long since;
but this lonely cloud floats on, drifting round in a circle.  He
and Ching-ting Mountain gaze and gaze at each other, and never
grow weary of gazing";

--the 'lonely cloud' being, of course, Li Po himself. He has shown
me Man the brother of the Mountains, and I ask no more of him.
The mountains can speak for themselves.

He had no moral purpose, this Banished Angel for whose sake the
Hills of T'ang are a realm in the Spirit, inerasible, and a
beautiful dream while the world endures. Po Chu-i, says Mr.
Arthur  Waley, blamed him for being deficient in _feng_ and
_ya,_--by which we may understand, for present purposes, much
what Matthew Arnold meant by 'criticism of life.'  But does it
not serve a spiritual purpose that our consciousness should be
lifted on to those levels where personality is forgotten:  that
we should be made to regain, while reading, the child-state we
have lost?  Li Po died a child at sixty:  a magical child:
always more or less naughty, if we are to believe all accounts,
especially his own; but somehow never paying the penalty we pay
for our naughtiness,--exile from the wonder-world, and submersion
in these intolerable personalities. You read Milton, and are
cleaned of your personality by the fierce exaltation of the
Spirit beating through.  You read Li Po-type of hundreds of
others his compatriots--and you are also cleaned of your
personality; but by gentle dews, by wonderment, by being carried
up out of it into the diamond ether.  It seems to me that both
affirmed the Divine Spirit.  Milton waged grand warfare in his
affirmation.  Li Po merely said what he saw.

So I think that among the Aryans the Spirit has been fighting in
and into the great turbid current of evolution; and that among
the Chinese it has not been so much concerned with that stream,
but rather to sing its own untrammeled expression. A great drama
or epic comes of the presence and energy of the Spirit working
in a human mind.  A great lyric comes of the escape of the
consciousness from the mind, and into the Spirit.  The West has
produced all the great dramas and epics, and will persist in the
view that the Spirit can have no other expression so high as in
these forms.  Very likely the West is right; but I shall not
think so next time I am reading Li Po or Ssu-k'ung T'u--or Keats.

And I have seen small mild Japanese jujitsu men 'put it all
over,' as they say, big burly English wrestlers without seeming
to exert themselves in any way, or forgoing their gentle methods
and manner; and if you think of jujitsu rightly, it is, to our
wrestling and boxing, much what Wu Taotse and Ku Kai-chih are to
Rembrandt and Michelangelo, or the Chinese poets to ours.

If we go into the field of philosophy, we find much the same
thing. Take Confucianism. It is inappropriate, in some ways, to
call Confucius a great thinker (but we shall see that he was
something very much more than that). He taught no religion;
illuminated in nowise the world of mind; though he enabled
millions to illumine it for themselves. He made hardly a ripple
in his own day; and yet, so far as I can see, only the Buddha
and Mohammed, of the men whose names we know, have marshaled
future ages as greatly as he did.  _Flow his way!_ said he to
history; and, in the main, it did.  He created an astral mold
for about a quarter of humanity, which for twenty-four centuries
has endured.  He did it by formulating a series of rules for the
conduct of personal and national life; or rather, by showing
what kind of rules they should be, and leaving others to
formulate them;--and so infused his doctrine with his will and
example, that century after century flowed into the matrix he had
made for them. To create such a stable matrix, the Aryan mind, in
India, worked through long spiritual-intellectual exploration of
the world of metaphysics:  an intensive culture of all the
possibilities of thought. We in the West have boggled towards the
same end through centuries of crass political experiment.
Confucius, following his ancient models, ignored metaphysics
altogether:  jumped the life to come, and made his be-all and his
end-all here:--in what was necessary, in deeds and thought and
speech, to make individual, social, and political life staid,
sincere, orderly, quiet, decent, and happy.  He died a broken-
hearted failure; than whom perhaps no man except the Lord Buddha
ever succeeded more highly.

Laotse is his complement.  Laotse's aim is not the activity, but
the quiescence of mind, self, intellect:  "in the NO THING
seeking the lonely Way." You forgo everything--especially
selfhood;--you give up everything; you enter upon the heritage
of No Thing;--and you find yourself heir to the Universe, to
wonder, to magic.  You do with all your complicated egoity as the
camel did with his cameltiness before he could enter the needle's
eye; then--heigh presto!--it is the Elixir of Life you have
drunk; it is freedom you have attained of the roaming-place
of Dragons!--It amounts, truly, to the same thing as Aryan
Theosophy; but where the latter travels through and illuminates
immense realms of thought and metaphysic, Taoism slides gently
into the Absolute; as who should laugh and say, _You see how
easy it is!_ And you do not hear of the Path of Sorrow, as with
the Aryans; Tao is a path of sly laughter and delight.

Then from Japan we get Shinto; still less a system of metaphysics
or dogma.  The Shinto temple, empty but for air, is symbolic
of the creed whose keynotes are purity and simplicity.  Taoism,
Confucianism, and Shinto are the three great native creations,
in religion, of what I shall call the Altaic mind.  There
have been, indeed, profound thinkers and metaphysicians both
in Japan and China; but their mental activities have been
for the most part fruitage from the Aryan seed of Buddhism.

A word here as to that phrase 'Altaic mind.'  What business has
one to class the Chinese and Japanese together, and to speak of
them (as I shall) as 'Altaic'--the _Altaic Race?_ In the first
place this term, like 'Latin' or 'Anglo-Saxon,' has the virtue of
being quite meaningless.  It is utterly silly and inappropriate
from every standpoint; but as I need a term to include China and
all the peoples that have derived their historic culture from
her, I shall beg leave to use it.  Neither Japanese nor Corean
belong to the billiard-ball group of languages.  There is a
syntactical likeness between these two, but none in vocabulary;
where the Japanese vocabulary came from, Omniscience perhaps may
know.--A syntax outlasts a vocabulary by many ages:  you may hear
Celts now talk English with a syntax that comes from the sub-race
before our own: Iberian, and not Aryan.  So we may guess here a
race akin to the Coreans conquered at some time by a race whose
vocables were Japanese--whence they came, God knows.  Only one
hears that in South America the Japanese pick up the Indian
languages a deal more easily than white folk do, or than they do
Spanish or English.  But this is a divergence; we should be a
little more forward, perhaps, if we knew who were the Coreans,
or whence they came.  But we do not. They are not Turanic--of the
Finno-Turko-Mongol stock (by language); they are not speakers of
billiard-balls, allied to the Chinese, Burmese, and Tibetans.
But the fact is that neither blood-affinity nor speech-affinity
is much to the purpose here; we have to do with affinities of
culture.  During the period 240 B. C.--1260 A. D. a great
civilization rose, flowered, and waned in the Far East; it had
its origin in China, and spread out to include in its scope
Japan, Corea, and Tibet; probably also Annam and Tonquin, though
we hear less of them;--while Burma, Assam, and Siam, and those
southerly regions, though akin to China in language, seem
to have been always more satellite to India.  Mongols and
Manchus, though they look rather like Chinese, and have lived
rather near China, belong by language and traditionally by
race to another group altogether--to that, in fact, which
includes the very Caucasian-looking Turks and Hungarians;
as to what culture they have had, they got it from China
after the Chinese manvantara had passed.

The Chinese themselves are only homogeneous in race in the sense
that Europe might be if the Romans had conquered it all, and
imposed their culture and language on the whole continent. The
staid, grave, dignified, and rather stolid northern Chinaman
differs from the restless and imaginative Cantonese not much less
than the Japanese does from either. This much you can say:
Chinese, Japanese, and Coreans have been molded into a kind of
loose unity by a common culture; the peoples of China into a
closer homogeneity by a common culture-language, written and
spoken,--and by the fact that they have been, off and on during
the last two thousand years, but most of the time, under the same
government.  As to Corea, though in the days of Confucius it was
unknown to the Chinese, the legends of both countries ascribe the
founding of its civilization and monarchy to a Chinese minister
exiled there during the twelfth century B. C. Japanese legendary
history goes back to 600 B. C.;--that is, to the closing of the
Age of the Mysteries, and the opening of that of the Religions:--
I imagine that means that about that time a break with history
occurred, and the past was abolished:  a thing we shall see
happen in ancient China presently.  But I suppose we may call
Shotoku Daishi the Father of historical Japan;--he who, about the
end of the sixth century A. D., brought in the culture impetus
from the continent. About that time, too, Siam rose to power; and
soon afterwards T'ang Taitsong imposed civilization on Tibet.--So
there you have the 'Altaic' Race; Altaic, as Mr. Dooley is
Anglo-Saxon.  To speak of them as 'Mongolian' or 'Mongoloid,' as
is often done, is about as sensible as to speak of Europeans and
Americans as 'Hunnoid,'  because the Huns once conquered part of
Europe.  It conveys derogation--which Altaic does not.

I have compared their achievement with that of the West:  we have
one whole manvantara and a pralaya of theirs to judge by, as
against two fragments of western manvantaras with the pralaya
intervening.  It is not much; and we should remember that there
are cycles and epicycles; and that Japan, or old China herself,
within our own lifetime, may give the lie to everything.
But from the evidence at hand one is inclined to draw this
conclusion:  That in the Far East you have a great section of
humanity in reserve;--in a sense, in a backwater of evolution:
nearer the Spirit, farther from the hot press and conflict of the
material world;--even in its times of highest activity, not in
the van of the down-rush of Spirit into matter, as the western
races have been in theirs;--but held apart to perform a different
function. As if the Crest-Wave of Evolution needed what we might
call Devachanic cycles of incarnation, and found them there
during the Altaic manvantaras of manifestation.  Not that their
history has been empty of tragedies; it has been very full of
them; and wars--some eight or nine Napoleons in their day have
sat on the Dragon Throne.  But still, the worlds of poetry,
delight, wonder, have been nearer and more accessible to the
Chinaman, in his great ages, than to us in ours; as they have
been, and probably are now, nearer to the Japanese.  And I do
not know how that should be, unless the Law had taken those
Atlanteans away, kept them apart from the main stream--not
fighting the main battle, but in reserve--for purposes that the
long millenniums of the future are to declare.



IX.  THE DRAGON AND THE BLUE PEARL


The horizon of Chinese history lies near the middle of the third
millennium B. C. The first date sinologists dare swear to is 776;
in which year an eclipse of the sun is recorded, that actually
did happen:  it is set down, not as a thing interesting in
itself, but as ominous of the fall of wicked kings.  Here, then,
in the one place where there is any testing the annals, it
appears they are sound enough; which might be thought to speak
well for them. But our scholars are so damnebly logical, as Mr.
Mantalini would say, that to them it only proves this:  you are
to accept no date earlier. One general solar indorsement will not
do; you must have an eclipse for everything you believe, and
trust nothing unless the stars in their courses bear witness.

Well; we have fortunately Halley's Comet in the Bayeux Tapestry
for our familiar 1066; but beware! everything before that is to
be taken as pure fudge!

The fact is there is no special reason for doubting either
chronology or sequence of events up to about 2357 B. C., in which
year the Patriarch Yao came to the throne. He was the first of
those three, Yao, Shun, and Yu, who have been ever since
the patterns for all Chinese rulers who have aspired to be
Confucianly good. "Be like Yao, Shun, and Yu; do as they did";--
there you have the word of Confucius to all emperors and
governors of states.

Yao, it is true, is said to have reigned a full century, or but
one year short of it. This is perhaps the first improbability we
come to; and even of this we may say that some people do live a
long time. None of his successors repeated the indiscretion.
Before him came a line of six sovereigns with little historic
verisimilitude:  they must be called faint memories of epochs,
not actual men. The first of them, Fo-hi (2852-2738), was half
man, half dragon; which is being interpreted, of course, an
Adept King;--or say a line of Adept Kings. As for the dates given
him, I suppose there is nothing exact about them; that was all
too far back for memory; it belongs to reminiscence.  Before Fo-
hi came the periods of the Nest-Builders, of the Man-Kings, the
Earth-Kings, and the Heaven-Kings; then P'an K'u, who built the
worlds; then, at about two and a quarter million years before
Confucius, the emanation of Duality from the Primal One.  All
this, of course, is merely the exoteric account; but it shows at
least that--the Chinese never fell into such fatuity as we of the
West, with our creation six trumpery millenniums ago.

This much we may say:  about the time when Yao is said to have
come to the throne a manvantara began, which would have finished
its course of fifteen centuries in 850 or so B. C.  It is a
period we see only as through a glass darkly: what is told about
it is, to recent and defined history, as a ghost to a living man.
There is no reason why it should not have been an age of high
civilization and cultural activities; but all is too shadowy to
say what they were. To its first centuries are accredited works
of engineering that would make our greatest modern achievements
look small: common sense would say, probably the reminiscence of
something actual. Certainly the Chinese emerged from it, and into
daylight history, not primitive but effete:  senile, not
childlike. That may be only a racial peculiarity, a national
prejudice, of course.

And where should you look, back of 850 B. C., to find actual
history--human motives, speech and passions--or what to our eyes
should appear such? As things near the time-horizon, they lose
their keen outlines and grow blurred and dim. The Setis and
Thothmeses are names to us, with no personality attaching;
though we have discovered their mummies, and know the semblance
of their features, our imagination cannot clothe them with life.
We can hear a near Napoleon joking, but not a far-off Rameses. We
can call Justinian from his grave, and traverse the desert with
Mohammed; but can bold no converse with Manu or Hammurabi;--
because these two dwell well this side of the time-horizon, but
the epochs of those are far beyond it. The stars set:  the summer
evenings forget Orion, and the nights of winter the beauty of
Fomalhaut:  though there is a long slope between the zenith _Now_
and the sea-rim, what has once gone down beyond the west of time
we cannot recall or refashion. So that old Chinese manvantara is
gone after the Dragon Fo-hi and the Yellow Emperor, after the
Man-Kings and the Earth-Kings and the Heaven-Kings; and Yao,
Shun, and Yu the Great, and the kings of Hia, and Shang, and even
Chow, are but names and shadows,

     _Quo pater, Aeneas, quo dires Tullus et Ancus,_

--we cannot make them interestingly alive. But it does not follow
that they did not live when they are supposed to have lived, or
do the things attributed to them. Their architecture was
ephemeral, and bears no witness to them; they built no pyramids
to flout time; they raised no monument but a people, a culture,
an idea, that still endures.

Then, too, we shall see that at the beginning of the last Chinese
manvantara a conscious attempt was made to break wholly with the
past,--to wipe it from human memory, and begin all anew.  Such a
thing happened in Babylon once; there had been a Sargon in
remote antiquity with great deeds to his credit; thousands
of years after, another Sargon arose, who envied his fame;
and, being a kind, and absolute, decreed that all the years
intervening should never have existed--merged his own in the
personality of his remote predecessor, and so provided a good
deal of muddlement for archaeologists to come.  Indeed, such a
thing almost happened in France at the Revolution.  It is said
that in some French schools now you find children with a vague
idea that things more or less began with the taking of the
Bastille:  that there was a misty indefinable period between the
12th of October  (or on whatever day it was Eve's apple ripened)
and the glorious 14th of July:--an age of prehistory, wandered
through by unimportant legendary figures such as Jeanne Darc,
Henri Quatre, Louis Quatorze, which we may leave to the
superstitious--and come quickly to the real flesh and blood of M.
de Mirabeau and Citizen Danton.--Even so, in our own time, China
herself, wearied with the astral molds and inner burdens of two
millenniums, has been writhing in a fever of destruction:  has
burnt down the Hanlin College, symbol and center of a thousand
years of culture; destroyed old and famous cities; sent up
priceless encyclopaedias in smoke; replaced the Empire with a
republic, and the Dragon of wisdom with five meaningless
stripes;--breaking with all she was in her brilliant greatness,
and all she has been since in her weakness and squalid decline.--
We ask why history is not continuous; why there are these
strange hiatuses and droppings out?--the answer is simple enough.
It is because Karma, long piled up, must sometime break out upon
the world.  The inner realms become clogged with the detritus of
ages and activity, till all power to think and do is gone:  there
is no room nor scope left for it.  The weight of what has been
thought and done, of old habit, presses down on men, obstructs
and torments them, till they go mad and riot and destroy.  The
manvantara opens:  the Crest-Wave, the great tide of life, rushes
in.  It finds the world of mind cluttered up and encumbered;
there is an acute disparity between the future and the past,
which produces a kind of psychic maelstrom.  Blessed is that
nation then, which has a man at its head who can guide things, so
that the good may not go with the bad, the useful with the
useless!  The very facts that Ts'in Shi Hwangti, when the
manvantara opened at the beginning of the third century B.C., was
driven (you may say) to do what ruthless drastic things he did.--
and that his action was followed by such wonderful results--are
proof enough that a long manvantara crowded with cultureal and
national activities had run it course in the past, and clogged
the astral, and made progress impossible.  But what he did do,
throws the whole of that past manvantara, and to some extent the
pralaya that followed it, into the realm of shadows.--He burnt
the literature.

In a few paragraphs let me summarize the history of that past age
whose remnants Ts'in Shi Hwangti thus sought to sweep away.--Yao
adopted Shun for his successor; in whose reign for nine years
China's Sorrow, that mad bull of waters, the Hoangho, raged
incessantly, carrying the world down towards the sea.  Then Ta
Yu, who succeeded Shun on the throne presently, devised and
carried through those great engineering works referred to above:
--cut through mountains, yoked the mad bull, and saved the world
from drowning.  He was, says H. P. Blavatsky, an Adept; and had
learnt his wisdom from the Teachers in the snowy Range of SiDzang
or Tibet.  His dynasty, called the Hia, kept the throne until
1766; ending with the downfall of a cruel weakling.  Followed
then the House of Shang until 1122; set up by a wise and
merciful Tang the Completer, brought to ruin by a vicious tyrant
Chousin.  It was Ki-tse, a minister of this last, and a great
sage himself, who, fleeing from the persecutions of his royal
master, established monarchy, civilization, and social order
in Corea.

Another great man of the time was Won Wang, Duke of the
Palatinate of Chow, a state on the western frontier whose
business was to protect China from the Huns.  Really, those Huns
were a thing to marvel at:  we first hear of them in the reign of
the Yellow emperor, two or three centuries before Yao; they were
giving trouble then, a good three millenniums before Attila.  Won
Wang, fighting on the frontier, withstood these kindly souls;
and all China looked to him with a love he deserved.  Which of
course roused King Chousin's jealousy; and when a protest came
from the great soldier against the debaucheries and misgovernment
at the capital, the king roused himself and did what he could;
imprisoned the protestant, as he dared not kill him.  During the
three years of his imprisonment Won Wang compiled the mysterious
I-King, of Book of Changes; of which Confucius said, that were
another half century added to his life, he would spend them all
in studying it.  No western scholar, one may safely say, has ever
found a glimmer of meaning in it; but all the ages of China have
held it profounder than the profound.

His two sons avenged Won Wang; they roused the people, recruited
an army in their palatinate--perhaps enlisted Huns too--and swept
away Chousin and his dynasty.  They called their new royal house
after their native land, Chow; Wu Wang, the elder of the two,
becoming its first king, and his brother the Duke of Chow, his
prime minister.  I say _king;_  for the title was now _Wang_
merely; though there had been _Hwangtis_ or Emperors of old.
Won Wang and his two sons are the second Holy Trinity of China;
Yao, Shun, and Ta Yu being the first.  They figure enormously in
the literature:  are stars in the far past, to which all eyes,
following the august example of Confucius, are turned.  There is
a little  to be said about them:  they are either too near the
horizon, or too little of their history has been Englished, for
us to see them in their habit as they lived; yet some luster of
real greatness still seems to shine about them.  It was the Duke
of Chow, apparently, who devised or restored that whole Chinese
religio-political system which Confucius revivified and impressed
so strongly on the stuff of the ideal world--for he could get no
ruler of his day to establish it in the actualities--that it
lasted until the beginning of a new manvantara is shatter it now.
That it was based on deep knowledge of the hidden laws of life
there is this (among a host of other things) to prove:  Music was
an essential part of it.  When, a few years ago, the tiny last of
the Manchu emperors came to the throne, an edict was published
decreeing that, to fit him to govern the empire, the greatest
care should be taken with his education in music.  A wisdom,
truly, that the west has forgotten!

When William of Normandy conquered England, he rewarded his
followers with fiefs:  in England, while English land remained so
to be parceled out; afterwards (he and his successors) with
unconquered lands in Wales, and then in Ireland.  they were to
carve out baronies and earldoms for themselves; and the Celtic
lands thus stolen became known as the Marches:  their rulers,
more or less independent, but doing homage to the king, as Lords
Marchers.  The kings of Chow adopted the same plan.  Their old
duchy palatinate became the model for scores of others.  China
itself--a very small country then--southern Shansi, northern
Homan, western Shantung--was first divided up under the feudal
system; the king retaining a domain, known as Chow, in Homan,
for his own.  Then princes and nobles--some of the blood royal,
some of the old shang family, some risen from the ranks--were
given warrant to conquer lands for themselves from the barbarians
beyond the frontier:  so you go rid of the ambitious, and
provided Chow with comfortable buffers.  They went out, taking a
measure of Chinese civilization with them, and conquered or
cajoled Huns, Turks, Tatars, Laos, shans, Annamese, and all that
kind of people, into accepting them for their rulers.  It was a
work, as you may imagine, of centuries; with as much history
going forward as during any centuries you might name.  The states
thus formed were young, compared to China; and as China grew old
and weak, they grew into their vigorous prime.  The infinity of
human activities that has been!  These Chow ages seem like the
winking of an eye; but they were crowded with great men and
small, great deeds and trivialities, like our own.  The time will
come when our 'Anglo-Saxon' history will be written thus:
England sent out colonies, and presently the colonies grew
stronger and more populous than England;--and it will be enough,
without mention of the Pitts and Lincolns, the Washingtons and
Gladstones, that now make it seem so full and important.

By 850 the balance of power had left or was leaving the Chow king
at Honanfu.  His own subjects had grown unwarlike, and he could
hardly command even their allegiance; for each man's feudal duty
was first to his own duke, marquis, earl, viscount, or baron;--
strangely enough, there were those five degrees of nobility in
ancient China as in modern England.  Of these nobles, each with
his court and feudal dominion, there were in what we may call
China Proper some unascertainable number between thirteen and a
hundred and fifty:  mostly small and insignificant, but mostly,
too, full of schemes and ambitions.

But it was the Lords Marchers that counted.  One after another of
them had wrested from the Chow the title of _Wang_ or King; it
was not enough for them to be dukes and marquises.  Then came a
time when a sort of Bretwalda-ship was established; to be
wielded by whichever of them happened to be strongest--and
generally to be fought for between whiles:  a glorious and
perpetual bone of contention.  International law went by the
board.  The Chow domain, the duchies and marquisates, lay right
in the path of the contestants--midmost of all, and most to be
trampled.  Was Tsin to march all round the world, when a mere
scurry across neutral (and helpless) Chow would bring it at the
desired throat of Ts'u?--A question not to be asked!--there at
Honanfu sat the Chow king, head of the national religion, head of
the state with its feudatories, receiving (when it suited them
to pay it)  the annual homage of all those loud and greedy
potentates, who for the rest kicked him about as they pleased,
and ordered each other to obey him,--for was he not still the son
of Heaven, possessor of the Nine Tripods of sovereignty, the
tripods of Ta Yu?--So the centuries passed, growing worse and
worse ever, from the ninth to the sixth:  an age of anarchy, bad
government, disorder, crime and clash of ambitions:  when there
was a decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice
in the world;--and we know what manner of incarnation, at such
times, is likely to happen.

Conditions had outgrown the astral molds made for them in the
last manvantara:  the molds that had been made for a small
homogeneous China.  The world had expanded, and was no longer
homogeneous:  China herself was not homogeneous; and she found
on all sides of her very heterogeneous Ts'ins, Tsins, Ts'is,
Ts'us, Wus and Yuehs; each of whom, like so many Great Powers of
our own times, had the best of intentions to partake of her
sacramental body when God's will so should be.--Indeed, the
situation was very much as we have seen it.

Then, as now (or recently), China was old, inert, tired, and
unwarlike; must depend on her cunning, and chiefly on their
divisions, for what protection she might get against the
rapacious and strong.  She was dull, sleepy and unimaginative,
and wanted only to be left alone; yet teemed, too, with
ambitious politicians, each with his sly wires to pull.  Her
culture, ancient and decrepit, was removed by aeons from all
glamor of beginnings.--For a good European parallel, in this
respect, you might go to Constantinople in the Middle Ages, when
it hung ripe on the bough, so to say, and waiting to fall into
Latin, Turkish, Bulgar, or even Russian jaws, whichever at the
psychic moment should be gaping and ready beneath. There too was
the sense of old age and sterility; of disillusionment; of all
fountains and inspirations run dry.--In ancient Grecce, it was no
such far cry back from the essential modernity of Pericles' or of
Plato's time to the antiquity of Homer's.  In India, the faery
light of an immemorial dawn mingles so with the facts of history
that there is no disentangling myth from matter-of-fact; if you
should prove almost any king to have reigned quite recently, his
throne would still be somehow set in the mellow past and near the
fountains of time.  Augustan Rome, modern in all its phases,
stands not so far in front of a background peopled with nymphs
and Sibyls:  a past in which the Great Twin Brothers might fight
at Lake Regillus, and stern heroes make fantastic sacrifices for
Rome.  Even modern Europe is much less modern than  Medieval
Constantinople or Chow China.  We can breathe still the
mysterious atmosphere of the Middle Ages; you shall find
still, and that not in remote countries only, fairy-haunted
valleys; a few hours out from London, and you shall be in
the heart of druidry, and among peoples whose life is very
near to Poetry.  But China, in those first pre-Confucian centuries,
was desperately prosaic:  not so much modern, as pertaining to an
ugly not impossible future. Antiquity was far, far away. The dawn
with its glow and graciousness; noon and the prime with their
splendor, were as distant and unimaginable as from our Amercan
selves the day when Charlemain with all his peers went down.  If
you can imagine an American several hundred years from now--one
in which Point Loma had never been; several hundred years more
unromantic than this one; an America fallen and grown haggard
and toothless; with all impulse to progress and invention gone;
with centrifugal tendencies always loosening the bond of union;
advancing, and having steadily advanced, further from all
religious sanctions, from anything she may retain of the
atmosphere of mystery and folklore and the poetry of racial
childhood; you may get a picture of the mental state of that
China. A material civilization, with (except in war areas)
reasonable security of life and goods, remained to her. Her
people lived in good houses, wore good clothes, used chairs and
tables, chopsticks, plates and dishes of pottery; had for
transit boats, carts and chariots,* wheelbarrows I suppose, and
"cany wagons light." They had a system of writing, the origin of
which was lost in remote antiquity; a large literature, of which
fragments remain. They were home-loving, war-hating, quiet,
stagnant, cunning perhaps, quite un-enterprising; they lived in
the valley of the Hoangho, and had not discovered, or had
forgotten, the Yangtse to the south of them, and the sea to the
east. They might have their local loyalties and patriotism of the
pork-barrel, and a certain arrogance of race:  belief in
the essential superiority of the Black-haired People to the
barbarians on their borders; but no high feeling for Chu Hia--
All the Chinas;--no dream of a possible national union and
greatness. Some three hundred of their folk-ballads come down to
us, which are as unlike the folk-ballads of Europe as may be.
They do not touch on the supernatural; display no imagination;
there are no ghosts or fairies; there is no glory or delight in
war; there is no glory in anything;--but only an intense
desirability in _home,_--in staying at home with your family, and
doing your I work in the fields. And nothing of what we should
call romance, even in this home-love:  the chief tie is that
between parents and children, not that between husband and wife,
and still less that between lovers. There is much moralizing and
wistful sadness.--Such was the life of the peasants; at the
other pole was the life of the courts:  intrigue and cunning, and
what always goes with cunning--ineptitude; a good measure of
debauchery; some finicking unimportant refinement; each man for
self and party, and none for Gods and Men.  We have to do, not
with the bright colors of the childhood of a race, but with the
grayness of its extreme old age. Those who will may argue that
you can have old age with never a prime, youth, or childhood
behind it. Some say that Laotse was born at sixty-one, or
seventy, or eighty-two years old--a few decades more or less are
not worth bothering about--whence his name _lao tse,_ the _old
son_ (but _tse_ may also mean Teacher or Philosopher). But I
misdoubt the accuracy of such accounts, myself. I think it likely
he was a baby to begin with, like the majority of us. And I
imagine his country had been young, too, before she grew old;--as
young as America, and as vigorous.

------
* _Chinese Literature:_ Giles;--whence also much else in
these articles.
------

Among such a people, how much should you expect to find of the
Sacred Mysteries?--There were the Nine Tripods of Ta Yu with the
king at Honanfu, to say that his kinghood had behind it symbolic
sanctions; there was the Book of Changes; there was the system
of the Duke of Chow, more dishonored in the breach than honored
in the observance.... For the rest, you might as well look for
the Eleusinia in Chicago. Who could believe in religion, those
days?--Well; it was the pride of some of the little duchies and
marquisates to keep up a reputa-tion for orthodoxy:  there
was Lu in Shantung, for example,-very strict.*  (As strictness
went, we may say.) And if you wished to study ritual, you
went up to Honanfu to do so; where, too, was the National
or Royal Library, where profitable years might be spent. But
who, except enthusiasts, was to treat religion seriously?
--when one saw the doddering Head of Religion yearly flouted,
kicked about and hustled in his own capital by his Barbarian
Highness the 'King'--so he must now style himself and be
styled, where in better days 'Count Palatine' or 'Lord Marcher'
would have served his turn well enough--of Ts'in or Tsin
or Ts'i or Ts'u, who would come thundering down with his
chariots when he pleased, and without with-your-leave or
by-your-leave, march past the very gates of Honanfu;--and
lucky if he did march past, and not come in and stay awhile;
--on his way to attacking his Barbarian Highness the 'King'
of somewhere else. The God that is to be sincerely worshiped
must, as this world goes, be able now and then to do some
little thing for his vicegerent on earth; and Heaven did
precious little in those days for the weakling King-pontiff
puppets at Honanfu. A mad world, my masters!

------
* _Ancient China Simplified:_ E. Harper Parker;--also much
drawn on.
------

Wherein, too, we had our symbols:--the Dragon, the Sky-wanderer,
with something heavenly to say; but alas! the Dragon had been
little visible in our skies of Chu Hia these many years or
centuries;--the Tiger, brute muscularity, lithe terrible limbs,
fearful claws and teeth,--we knew him much better! This, heaven
knew, was the day of the Tiger of earthly strength and passions;
were there not those three great tigers up north, Ts'in, Tsin,
and Ts'i; and as many more southward; and all hungry and
strong?--And also, some little less thought of perhaps, the
Phoenix, Secular Bird, that bums itself at the end of each cycle,
and arises from its ashes young and dazzling again:  the Phoenix
--but little thought of, these days; for was not the world old
and outworn, and toppling down towards a final crash?  The days
of Chu Hia were gone, its future all in the long past; no one
dared dream of a time when there should be something better than
Yen diddling Lu, or Ts'u beating Ts'i at a good set-to with these
new sixty-warrior-holding chariots. Who should think of the
Phoenix--and of a new age to come when there should be no more
Yen and Lu and Chow and Tsin and Ts'in, but one broad and
mighty realm, a Middle, a Celestial Kingdom,--such a Chu
Hia as time had no memory of;--to whose throne the Hun himself
should bow, or whose hosts should drive him out of Asia;--a
Chu Hia to whom tribute should come from the uttermost ends
of the earth? Who should dream of the Secular Bird now,--
as improbable a creature, in these dark days of the Tiger,
as that old long-lost Sky-wanderer the Dragon himself?

Let be; let three little centuries pass; let the funeral pyre
but be kindled, and quite burn itself out; and let the ashes
grow cold--

And behold you now, this Phoenix of the World, bright and
dazzling, rising up from them! Behold you now this same
Black-haired People, young, strong, vigorous, gleaming with
all the rainbow hues of romance and imagination; conquering
and creative, and soon to strew the jewels of faerie over
all the Eastern World. . . .

But this is to anticipate:  to take you on to the second century
B. C.; whereas I want you now in the sixth.--I said that you
should find better chances for study in the Royal Library at
Honanfu, could you get together the means for journeying thither,
than anywhere else in Chu Hia. That was particularly true in the
latter part of that sixth century:  because there was a man by
the name of Li Urh, chief librarian there, from whom, if you
cared to, you might hear better things than were to be found in
the books in his charge. His fame, it appears, has gone abroad
through the world; although his chief aim seems to be to keep in
the shadows and not be talked about. Scholars resort to him from
far and near; one of them, the greatest of all, who came to him
in the year 517 and was (if we are to believe accounts) treated
without too much mercy, came out awestruck, and said: "Today I
have seen the Dragon."--What! that little old man with the bald
head and straggly lank Chirese beard?--Like enough, like enough!
--they are not all, as you look at them with these physical eyes,
to be seen winged and wandering the heavens. . . .

But wandering the heavens, this one, yes!  He has the blue ether
about him, even there in the Library among the books.--He has a
way of putting things in little old quiet paradoxes that seem to
solve all the problems,--to take you out of the dust and clatter
of this world, into the serenity of the Dragon-world where all
problems are solved, or non-existent. Chu Hia is all a fuss and
turmoil, and running the headlong Gadarene road; but the Old
Philosopher--as he has come to be called--has anchorage right
outside of and above it, and speaks from the calmness of the
peaks of heaven. A kind of school forms itself around him; his
wisdom keeps provincials from returning home, and the young men
of the capital from commonplace courses. Though he has been
accredited with much authorship, I think he wrote nothing;
living among books, he had rather a contempt for them,--as things
at the best for patching up and cosseting life, new windings and
wrappings for its cocoon;--whereas he would have had the whole
cocoon stripped away, and the butterfly beautifully airing its
wings.  Be that as it may, there are, shall we say, stenographers
among his disciples, and his sayings come down to us.  They have
to do with the Way, the Truth, and the Life; which things, and
much else, are included in Chinese in the one word _Tao._

"The main purpose of his studies" says Ssema Tsien (the 'Father
of Chinese History'), "was to keep himself concealed and
unknown."  In this he succeeded admirably, so far as all future
ages were to concerned; for Ssema himself, writing in the reign
of Han Wuti some four centuries later, could be by no means sure
of his identity.  He tells us all we know, or think we know,
about Laotse:--that he was born in a village in southern Honan;
kept the Royal Library at Honanfu; met Confucius there in 517;
and at last rode away on his ox into the west, leaving the _Tao
Teh King_ with the Keeper of the Pass on the frontier;--and then
goes on to say that there were two other men "whom many regarded
as having been the real Laotse"; one of the Lao Lai, a
contemporary of Confucius, who wrote fifteen treatises on
the practices of the school of Tao; the other, a "Grand
Historiographer of Chow," Tan by name, who lived some century and
a quarter later.  To me this is chiefly interesting as a
suggestion that the 'School of Tao' was a thing existent and
well-established at that time, and with more than one man writing
about it.

It may we'll have been. Taoists ascribe the foundation of their
religion to the Yellow Emperor, twenty-eight centuries B. C.;
but there never was time Tao was not; nor, I suppose, when there
was quite no knowledge of it, even in China.  In the old
manvantara, past now these three hundred years, the Black-haired
People had wandered far enough from such knowledge;--with the
accumulation of complexities, with the piling up of encumberments
of thought and deed during fifteen hundred busy years of
intensive civilization. As long as that piling up had not
entirely covered away Tao, the Supreme Simplicity, the Clear
Air;--as long as men could find scope to think and act and
accomplish things;--so long the manvantara lasted; when nothing
more that was useful could be accomplished, and action could no
longer bring about its expectable results (because all that old
dead weight was there to interpose itself between new causes set
in motion and their natural outcome)--then the pralaya set in.
You see, that is why pralayas do set in; why they must;--why no
nation can possibly go on at a pitch of greatness and high
activity beyond a certain length of time.--And all that activity
of the manvantara--all that fuss and bustle to achieve greatness
and fortune--it had all been an obscuration of and moving away
from Tao.

The Great Teachers come into this world out of the Unknown,
bringing the essence of their Truth with them. We know well what
they will teach:  in some form or another it will be Theosophy;
it will be the old self-evident truths about Karma and the two
natures of man.  But how they will teach it:  what kind of
sugar-coating or bitter aloes they will prescribe along with it:
--that, I think, depends on reactions from the age they come in
and the people whom they are to teach.  It is almost certain, as
I said, that Li Urh the Old Philosopher left no writings. "Who
knows, does not tell," said he; and Po Chu-i quotes this, and
pertinently adds:  "What then of his own five thousand words and
more.--the _Tao Teh King._" That book was proved centuries ago, in
China, not to have come, as it stands, even from Laotse's age;
because there are characters in it that were invented long
afterwards. The wisest thing to believe is that it is made up
mostly of his sayings, taken down by his disciples in the Pitman
of the time; and surviving, with accretions and losses perhaps,
through the disquiet of the next two centuries, and the burning
of the books, and everything. Because whatever vicissitudes may
have befallen it, one does hear in its maxims the tones of
a real voice:  one man's voice, with a timbre in it that
belongs to the Lords of Wisdom. And to me, despite Lao Lai
and Tan the Grand Historiographer, it is the voice of an
old man in the seclusion of the Royal Library:  a happy little
bald-headed straggly-bearded old man anxious to keep himself
unknown and unapplauded; it is a voice attuned to quietness,
and to mental reactions from the thunder of the armies, the
drums and tramplings and fuss and insolence of his day. I
thoroughly believe in the old man in the Royal Library, and
the riding away on oxback at last into the west,--where was
Si Wang Mu's Faery Garden, and the Gobi Desert, with sundry
oases therein whereof we have heard.  I can hear that voice,
with childlike wonder in it, and Adept-like seriousness, and
childlike and Adept-like laughter not far behind, in such sayings
as these:  "Tao is like the emptiness of a vessel; and the use
of it, we may say, must be free from all self-sufficiency. How
deep and mysterious it is, as if it were the author of all things!
We should make our sharpness blunt, and unravel the complications
of things. . . . How still and clear is Tao, a phantasm with
the semblance of permanence!  I do not know whose son it is.
It might appear to have been before God."

We see in Christendom the effects of belief in a personal God,
and also the inefficacy of mere ethics.  Believers make their God
in their own image, and nourish their personalities imitating an
imitation of themselves.  At the best of times they take their
New Testament ethics, distil from these every virtue and
excellent quality, and posit the result as the characteristics of
their Deity:--the result, plus a selfhood; and therefore the
great delusion and heresy, Separateness, is the link that binds
the whole together.  It is after all but a swollen personality;
and whether you swell your personalitv with virtues or vices, the
result is an offense. There is a bridge, razor-edged, between
earth and heaven; and you can never carry that load across it.
Laotse, supremely ethical in effect, had a cordial detestation--
take this gingerly!--of un-re-enforced ethics. "When the great
Tao is lost," says he, "men follow after charity and duty to
one's neighbor." Again: "When Tao is lost, virtue takes its
place. When virtue is lost, benevolence succeeds to it. When
benevolence is lost, justice ensues. When justice is lost, then
we have expediency."  He does not mean, of course, that these
things are bad; but simply that they are the successive stages
of best, things left when Tao is lost sight of; none of them in
itself a high enough aim. They are all included in Tao, as the
less in the greater. He describes to you the character of the man
of Tao; but your conduct is to be the effect of following Tao;
and you do not attain Tao by mere practice of virtue; though you
naturally practise virtue, without being aware of it, while
following Tao.  It all throws wonderful light on the nature of
the Adept; about whom you have said nothing at all when you have
accredited him with all the virtues.  Joan was blemishless; but
not thereby did she save France;--she could do that because, as
Laotse would have said, being one with Tao, she flowed out into
her surroundings, accomplishing absolutely her part in the
universal plan. No compilation of virtues would make a Teacher
(such as we know):  it is a case of the total absence of
everything that should prevent the natural Divine Part of man
from functioning in this world as freely and naturally as the sun
shines or the winds blow. The sun and the stars and the tides and
the wind and the rain--there is that perfect glowing simplicity
in them all:  the Original, the Root of all things, Tao.  _Be
like them,_ says Laotse, impersonal and simple.  "I hold fast to
and cherish Three Precious Things," he says:  "Gentleness,
Economy, Humility."  Why?  So, you would say, do the ethics of
the New Testament; such is the preaching of the Christian
Churches. But (in the latter case) for reasons quite unlike
Laotse's.  For we make of them too often virtues to be attained,
that shall render us meek and godly, acceptable in the eyes of
the Lord, and I know not what else:  riches laid up in heaven; a
pamperment of satisfaction; easily to become a cloak for self-
righteousness and, if worse can be, worse.  But _tut!_  Laotse
will not be bothered with riches here or elsewhere.  With him
these precious things are simply absences that come to be when
obstructive presences are thrown off.  No sanctimoniousness for
the little Old Man in the Royal Library!

He would draw minds away to the silence of the Great Mystery,
which is the fountain of laughter, of life, the unmarred; and he
would have them abide there in absolute harmony.  Understand him,
and you understand what he did for China.  It is from that Inner
Thing, that Tao, that all nourishment comes and all greatness.
You must go out with your eyes open to search for it:  watch for
Dragons in the sky; for the Laugher, the Golden Person, in the
Sun:  watch for Tao, ineffably sparkling and joyous--and quiet--
in the trees; listen for it in the winds and in the sea-roar;
and have nothing in your own heart but its presence and
omnipresence and wonder-working joy.  How can you flow out to the
moments, and capture the treasure in them; how can you flow out
to Tao, and inherit the stars, and have the sea itself flowing in
your veins;--if you are blocked with a desire, or a passion for
things mortal, or a grudge against someone, or a dislike?  Beauty
is Tao:  it is Tao that shines in the flowers:  the rose, the
bluebell, the daffodil--the wistaria, the chrysanthemum, the
peony--they are little avatars of Tao; they are little gateways
into the Kingdom of God.  How can you know them, how can you go
in through them, how can you participate in the laughter of the
planets and the angelic clans, through their ministration, if you
are preoccupied with the interests or the wants of contemptible
you, the personality?  Laotse went lighting little stars for the
Black-haired People:  went pricking the opacity of heaven, that
the Light of lights might filter through.  If you call him a
philosopher, you credit him with an intellectualism that really
he did not bother to possess.  Rather he stood by the Wells of
Poetry, and was spiritual progenitor of thousands of poets.
There is no way to Poetry but Laotse's Way. You think you must go
abroad and see the world; you must not; that is only a
hindrance:  a giving the eyes too many new externals, to hinder
them from looking for that which you may see, as he says,
'through your own window.'  If you traverse the whole world
seeking, you will never come nearer to the only thing that
counts, which is Here, and Now.  Seek to feed your imagination on
outward things, on doings and events, and you will perhaps
excite, but surely soon starve it.  But at the other pole, the
inner "How deep and mysterious is Tao, as if it were the author
of all things!"  And then I hear someone ask him whence it
originated--someone fishing for a little metaphysics, some dose
of philosophy. What! catch Laotse?  "I know," said Confucius,
"how birds fly, beasts run, fishes swim. But the runner may be
snared, the swimmer hooked, the flyer shot with an arrow. But
there is the Dragon; I cannot tell how he mounts on the wind
through the clouds and rises into heaven."  No; you cannot hook,
snare, or shoot the Dragon.  "I do not know whose son Tao is,"
says Laotse.  "It might appear to have been before God."

So I adhere to the tale of the old man in the Royal Library,
holding  wonderful quiet conversations there; that "it might
appear to have been before God" is enough to convince me.  There
was a man once*--I forget his name, but we may call him Cho Kung
for our purposes; he was of affable demeanor, and an excellent
flautist; and had an enormous disbelief in ghosts, bogies,
goblins, and 'supernatural' beings of every kind.  It seized
him with the force of a narrow creed; and he went forth to
missionarize, seeking disputants.  He found one in the chief
Librarian of some provincial library; who confessed to a
credulousness along that line, and seemed willing to talk.  Here
then were grand opportunities--for a day's real enjoyment, with
perchance a creditable convert to be won at the end of it.
Behold them sitting down to the fray, in the shadows among the
books:  the young Cho Kung, affable  (I like the word well),
voluble and earnest; the old Librarian, mild, with little to say
but _buts_ and _ifs,_ and courteous even beyond the wont in that
"last refuge of good manners," China.  All day long they sat; and
affable Cho, like Sir Macklin in the poem,

     "Argued high and argued low,
     And likewise argued round about him";

--until by fall of dusk the Librarian was fairly beaten.  So
cogent were Cho's arguments, so loud and warm his eloquence,
so entirely convincing his facts adduced--his modern instances,
as you may say--that there really was nothing for the old
man to answer.  Ghosts were not; genii were ridiculously
unthinkable; supernatural beings could not exist, and it
was absurd to think they could.  The Librarian had not a
leg to stand on; that was flat.  Accordingly he rose to
his feet--and bowed.--"Sir," said he, with all prescribed
honorifics, "undoubtedly you are victorious.  The contemptible
present speaker sees the error of his miserable ways.  He
is convinced.  It remains for him only to add"--and here
something occurred to make Cho rub his eyes--"that he is
himself a supernatural being."--And with that his form and
limbs distend, grow misty--and he vanishes in a cloud up through
the ceiling.--You see, those old librarians in China had a way of
doing things which was all their own.

------
* The story is told in Dr. H. H. Giles' _Dictionary of Chinese
Biography._
------

So Li Urh responded to the confusions of his day.  Arguments?--
You could hardly call them so; there is very little arguing,
where Tao is concerned.  The Tiger was abroad, straining all
those lithe tendons,--a tense fearful symmetry of destruction
burning bright through the night-forests of that pralaya:
grossest and wariest energies put forth to their utmost in a race
between the cunning for existence, a struggle of the strong for
power.--"It is the way of Tao to do difficult things when they
are easy; to benefit and not to injure; to do and not to
strive."  Come out, says Laotse, from all this moil and topsey-
turveydom; stop all this striving and botheration; give things
a chance to right themselves.  There is nothing flashy or to make
a show about in Tao; it vies with no one.  Let go; let be;
find rest of the mind and senses; let us have no more of these
fooleries, war, capital punishment, ambition; let us have self-
emptiness.  Just be quiet, and this great Chu Hia will come right
without aid of governing, without politics and voting and
canvassing and such.--_Here and Now_ and _What comes by_ were his
prescriptions. He was an advocate of the Small State.  Aristotle
would have had no government ruling more than ten thousand
people; Laotse would have had his State of such a size that the
inhabitants could all hear the cocks crowing in foreign lands;
and he would have had them quite uneager to travel abroad.  What
he taught was a total _bouleversement_ of the methods of his age.
"It is the way of Tao not to act from personal motives, to
conduct affairs--without feeling the trouble of them, to
taste without being aware of the flavor, to account the
great as the small and the small as the great, to recompense
injury with kindness."

The argument went all against him. Their majesties of Ts'in
and Tsin and Ts'i and Ts'u were there with their drums and
tramplings; the sixty warrior-carrying chariots were thundering
past;--who should hear the voice of an old quiet man in the Royal
Library?  Minister This and Secretary That of Lu and Chao and
Cheng were at it with their wire-pullings and lobbyings and petty
diddlings and political cheateries--(it is all beautifully
modern); what had the world to do with self-emptiness and Tao?
The argument was all against him; he hadn't a leg to stand on.
There was no Tao; no simplicity; no magic; no Garden of Si
Wang Mu in the West; no Azure Birds of Compassion to fly out
from it into the world of men.  Very well then; he, being one
with that non-existent Tao, would ride away to that imaginary
Garden; would go, and leave--

A strand torn out of the rainbow to be woven into the stuff of
Chinese life. You could not tell it at the time; you never would
have guessed it--but this old dull tired squalid China, cowering
in her rice-fields and stopping her ears against the drums and
tramplings, had had something--some seed of divinity, thrown down
into her mind, that should grow there and be brooded on for three
centuries or so, and then--

There is a Blue Pearl, Immortality; and the Dragon, wandering
the heavens, is forever in pursuit or quest of it. You will see
that on the old flag of China, that a foolish republicanism cast
away as savoring too much of the Manchu. (But it was Laotse and
Confucius, Han Wuti and Tang Taitsong, and Wu Taotse and the
Banished Angel that it savored of really.) Well, it was this Blue
Pearl that the Old Philosopher, riding up through the pass to the
Western Gate of the world, there to vanish from the knowledge of
men;--it was this Blue Pearl that, stopping and turning a moment
there so high up and near heaven, he tossed back and out into the
fields of China;--and the Dragon would come to seek it in his
time.--You perhaps know the picture of Laotse riding away on his
ox.  I do not wonder that the beast is smiling.

For it really was the Blue Pearl:  and the Lord knew what it was
to do in China in its day.  It fell down, you may say, from the
clear ether of heaven into the thick atmosphere of this world;
and amidst the mists of human personality took on all sorts of
iridescences; lit up strange rainbow tints and fires to glow and
glisten more and more wonderfully as the centuries should pass;
and kindle the Chinese imagination into all sorts of opal
glowings and divine bewilderments and wonderments;--and by and by
the wonder-dyed mist-ripples floated out to Japan, and brought to
pass there all sorts of nice Japanese cherry-blossomy and plum-
blossomy and peonyish things, and Urashima-stories and Bushido-
ish and Lafcadioish and badger-teakettle things:--reawakened, in
fact, the whole of the faery glow of the Eastern World.

It is not to be thought that here among the mists and personalities
the Pearl could quite retain all its pure blueness of the ether.
It is not to be thought that Taoism, spread broadcast among
the people, could remain, what it was at the beginning, an
undiluted Theosophy. The lower the stratum of thought into
which it fell, the less it could be Thought-Spiritual, the
stuff unalloyed of Manas-Taijasi.  Nevertheless, it was the
Pearl Immortality, with a vigor and virtue of its own, and
a competence for ages, on whatever plane it might be, to work
wonders.  Among thinking and spiritual minds it remained a true
Way of Salvation.  Among the masses it came to be thought of
presently as personal immortality and the elixir of life.
Regrettable, you may say; but this is the point: nothing was
ever intended to last forever.  You must judge Taoism by what it
was in its day, not by what it may be now.  Laotse had somehow
flashed down into human consciousness a vision of Infinity:  had
confronted the Chinese mind with a conviction of the Great
Mystery, the Divine Silence.  It is simply a fact that that is
the fountain whose waters feed the imagination and make it grow
and bloom.  Search for the Secret in chatter and outward sights
and deeds, and you soon run to waste and nothingness; but seek
here, and you shall find what seemed a void, teeming with lovely
forms.  He set the Chinese imagination, staggered and stupefied
by the so long ages of manvantara, and then of ruin, into a glow
of activity, of grace, of wonder; men became aware of the vast
world of the Within; as if a thousand Americas had been
discovered. It supplied the seed of creation for all the poets
and artists to come. It made a new folklore; revivified the
inner atmosphere of mountains and forests; set the fairies
dancing; raised Yellow Crane Pagodas to mark the spot where Wang
Tzu-chiao flew on the Crane to heaven in broad daylight.  It sent
out the ships of Ts'in Shi Hwangti presently to seek the Golden
Islands of Peng-lai, where the Immortals give cups of the elixir
to their votaries; in some degree it sent the armies of Han Wuti
in search of the Garden of Si Wang Mu.  The ships found (perhaps)
only the Golden Islands of Japan; the armies found certainly
Persia, India, and even the borders of Rome;--and withal, new
currents, awakening and inter-national, to flow into China and
make splendid the Golden Age of Han.



X.  "SUCH A ONE"


"I produce myself among creatures, O son of Bharata, whenever
there is a decline of Virtue and an insurrection of vice and
injustice in the world:  and thus I incarnate from age to age for
the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and
the establishment of righteousness."--_Bhagavad-Gita_

"The world had fallen into decay, and right principles had
perished.  Perverse discourses and oppressive deeds had grown
rife; ministers murdered their rulers and sons their fathers.
Confucius was frightened at what he saw, and undertook the work
of reformation."--Mencius


Men were expecting an avatar in old Judaea; and, sure enough,
one came.  But they were looking for a national leader, a
Messiah, to throw off for them the Roman yoke; or else for an
ascetic like their prophets of old time: something, in any case,
out of the way;--a personality wearing marks of avatarship easily
recognisable. The one who came, however, so far from leading them
against the Romans, seemed to have a good deal of sympathy with
the Romans. He consorted with centurions and tax-gatherers, and
advised the Jews to render unto Roman Caesar the things which
were his:  which meant, chiefly, the tribute. And he was not an
ascetic, noticeably; bore no resemblance to their prophets of
old time; but came, as he said, 'eating and drinking'; even
went to marriage-feasts, and that by no means to play killjoy;--
and they said, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a winebibber!'
(which was a lie).--Instead of supporting the national religion,
as anyone with half an eye to his interests would have done, he
did surprising things in the temple with a whip of small cords.--
"Here," said they, "let us crucify this damned fellow!"  And
they did.

Aftertimes, however, recognised him as an avatar; and then so
perverse is man!--as the one and only possible avatar.  If ever
another should appear, said our western world, it could but be
this one come again; and, because the doctrine of avatars is a
fundamental instinct in human nature, they expected that he would
come again.  So when the pressure of the times and the intuition
of men warned them that a great incarnation was due, they began
to look for his coming.

That was in our own day, say in the last half-century; during
which time a mort of books have been written about a mysterious
figure turning up in some modern city, whom you could not fail
to recognise by certain infallible signs. Generally speaking,
the chief of these were:  long hair, and a tendency to make
lugubrious remarks beginning with _Verily, verily I say unto
you._  In actual life, too, lots of men did grow their hair long
and cultivate the _verily-verily_ habit; hoping that, despite
their innate modesty, their fellow-men might not fail to take the
hint and pierce the disguise afforded, often by a personal
morality you might call _oblique._

But if an avatar had come, it is fairly certain that he or she
would have followed modern fashions in hair and speech; first,
because real avatars have a sense of humor; and secondly,
because his or her business would have been to reform, not the
language or style of hair-dressing, but life.--'He or she' is a
very vile phrase; for the sake of novelty, let us make the
feminine include the masculine, and say 'she' simply.--Her
conversation, then, instead of being peppered with archaic
_verilies_ and _peradventures,_ would have been in form much like
that of the rest of us.  It is quite unlikely she would have
shone at Pleasant Sunday Afternoons, or Bazaars of the Young
Women's Christian Association; quite unlikely that she would
have been in any sense whatever a pillar of the orthodoxies.  As
she would have come to preach _Truth,_ you may suppose Truth
needed, and therefore lacking; and so, that her teachings
would have been at once dubbed vilest heterodoxy, and herself
a charlatan.

     "Below with eddy and flow the white tides creep
          On the sands."

Says Ssu-k'ung T'u,--

     "..... in no one form may Tao abide.
          But changes and shifts like the wide wing-shadows asweep
               On the mountainside";

--the sea is one, but the tides drift and eddy; the roc, or maybe
the dragon, is one, but the shadow of his wings on the mountain
sward shifts and changes and veers.  When you think you have set
up a standard for Tao:  when you imagine you have grasped it in
you hands:--how fleet it is to vanish!  "The man of Tao,"  said
the fisherman of the Mi-lo to Ch'u Yuan, "does not quarrel with
his surroundings, but adapts himself to them";--and perhaps there
you have the best possible explanation of the nature of those
Great souls who come from time to time to save the world.

I think we take the Buddha as the type of them; and expect not
only a life and character that _we can recognise_ as flawless,
but also a profundity of revelation in the philosophy and ethics.
But if no two blades of grass are alike, much less are two human
Souls; and in these Great Ones, it is the picture of Souls we
are given.  When we think that if all men were perfect, all would
be alike, we err with a wide mistake.  The nearer you get to the
Soul, and the more perfect is the expression of it, the less is
there monotony or similarity; and almost the one thing you may
posit about any avatar is, that he will be a surprise. Tom and
Dick and Harry are alike:  'pipe and stick young men'; 'pint and
steak young men'; they get born and marry and die, and the grass
grows over them with wondrous alikeness; but when the Masters of
Men come, all the elements are cast afresh.

Everyone has a place to fill in the universal scheme; he has a
function to perform, that none else can perform; a _just what he
can do,_--which commonly he falls far short of doing.  When he
does it, fully and perfectly, then he is on the road of progress;
that road opens up to him; and presently, still exercising the
fulness of his being, he becomes a completeness, like Heaven and
Earth; their 'equal,' in the Chinese phrase; or as we say, a
Perfect Man or Adept.  Does anyone know what place in history he
is to fill?  I cannot tell; I suppose an Adept, incarnated,
would be too busy filling it to have time or will to question.
But here perhaps we have the nearest thing possible to a standard
for measuring them; and here the virtue of Taoism, and one
greatest lesson we may learn from it.  Are we to judge by the
impressiveness of the personality?  No; the Man of Tao is not a
personality at all.  He makes one to use, but is not identified
with it; his personality will not be great or small, or
enchanting or repellent, but simply adapted to the needs.--Is it
the depth and fulness of the philosophv he gives out? No; it may
be wiser and also more difficult to keep silent on main points,
than to proclaim them broadcast; and for this end he may elect
even not to know (with conscious brain-mind) too much;--not to
have the deep things within his normal consciousness.  But he
comes into the world to meet a situation; to give the course of
history a twist in a desired direction; and the sign and measure
of his greatness is, it seems to me, his ability to meet the
situation at all points, and to do just what is necessary for the
giving of the twist,--no more and no less.  And then, of course,
it takes a thousand years or so before you can judge.  One
is not speaking of common statesmen, who effect quick changes
that are no changes at all, but of the Men who shepherd the
Host of Souls.

I like to imagine, before the birth of Such a One, a consultation
of the Gods upon the Mountain of Heaven.  A synod of the kind
(for China) would have taken place in the sixth century B. C.,
no doubt; because in those days certainly there was a "decline
of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the
world."  Transport yourselves then, say in the year 552, to the
peaks of Tien Shan of Kuen Lun, or high Tai-hsing, or the grand
South Mountain; and see the Pantheon assembled.

They look down over Chu Hia; they know that in three centuries
or so a manvantara will be beginning there, and grow anxious lest
anything has been left undone to insure its success. They note
Laotse (whom they sent some fifty years earlier) at his labors;
and consider, what those labors would achieve for the Black-
haired People.  He would bring light to the most excellent minds;
the God of Light said, "I have seen to that."  He would in time
waken the lute-strings of the Spirit, and set Chu Hia all a-song;
the God of Music said, "I have seen to that."  They foresaw Wu
Taotse and Ma Yuan; they foresaw Ssu-k'ung T'u and the Banished
Angel; and asked "Is it not enough?"  And the thought grew
on them that it was not enough, till they sighed with the
apprehensions that troubled them.  Only a few minds among the
millions, they foresaw, would have proper understanding of Tao.

Now, Gods of whatever land they may be, there are those three
Bardic Brothers amongst them:  He of Light, who awakens vision;
He of Song, who rouses up the harmonies and ennobling vibrations;
and He of Strength, whose gloves hold all things fast, and
neither force nor slipperiness will avail against them.  It was
this third of them, Gwron, who propounded the plan that satisfied
the Pantheon.  I will send one among them, with the "Gloves for
his treasure," said he.

They considered how it would be with Such a One:  going among
men as the Gods' Messenger, and with those two Gloves for his
treasure.--"This way will it be," they said.  "Not having the
treasure of the God of Light, he will seem as one without vision
of the God-world or remembrance whence he came. Not having the
treasure of the God of Music, he will awaken little song with the
Bards. But having the Gloves, he will hold the gates of hell
shut, so far as shut they may be, through all the cycle that
is coming."

With that the council ended. But Plenydd God of Light and Vision
thought:  "Though my treasure has gone with the Old Philosopher,
and I cannot endow this man with it, I will make him Such a One
as can be seen by all men; I will throw my light on him, that he
may be an example through the age of ages." And Alawn God of
Music thought:  "Though my lute has gone with Laotse, I will
confer boons on this one also. Such a One he shall be, as draws
no breath but to tunes of my playing; the motions of his mind,
to my music, shall be like the motions of the ordered stars."--
And they both thought:  "It will be easy for me to do as much as
this, with his having the Gloves of Gwron on his hands."

At that time K'ung Shuhliang Heih, Commander of the district
of Tsow, in the Marquisate of Lu in Shantung, determined
to marry again.

Now China is a vast democracy:  the most democratic country in
the world.  Perhaps I shall come to proving that presently; for
the moment I must ask you to let it pass on the mere statement,
satisfied that it is true.  Despite this radical democracy, then,
she has had two noble families.  One is descended from a famous
Patriot-Pirate of recent centuries, known to Westerners as
Koxinga; with it we have no concern.  The other is to be found
in the town of K'iuh-fow in Shantung, in the ancient Marquisate
of Lu.  There are about fifty thousand members of it, all bearing
the surname K'ung; its head has the title of 'Duke by Imperial
Appointment and hereditary right'; and, much prouder still,
'Continuator of the Sage.'

Dukes of England sometimes trace their descent from men who came
over with William the Conqueror:  a poor eight centuries is a
thing to be proud of.  There may be older families in France,
Italy, and elsewhere.  Duke K'ung traces his, through a line of
which every scion appears more of less in history, to the son of
this K'ung Shuhliang Heih in the sixth century B.C.; who in turn
traced his, through a line of which every scion appeared in
history, and all, with one possible exception, very honorably, to
a member of the Imperial House of Shang who, in 1122 B.C., on the
fall of that house, was created Duke of Sung in Honan by the
first of the Chows.  The House of Shang held the throne for some
five centuries, beginning with Tang the Comnpleter in 1766, who
traced his descent from the Yellow Emperor in mythological
times.  Duke K'ung, then, is descended in direct male line from
sovereigns who reigned beyond the horizon of history,--at the
latest, near the beginning of the third millennium B.C.  The
family has been distinguished for nearly five thousand years.

The matter is not unimportant; since we are to talk of a member
of this family.  We shall understand him better for remembering
the kind of heredity that lay behind him:  some seventy
generations of nobility, all historic.  Only one royal house in
the world now is as old as his was then:  that of Japan.

Some generations before, the K'ung family had lost their duchy of
Sung and emigrated to Lu; where, in the early part of the sixth
century, its head, this Shuhliang Heih, had made a great name for
himself as a soldier.  He was now a widower, and seventy years
old; and saw himself compelled to make a second marriage, or the
seventy illustrious generations of his ancestors would be
deprived of a posterity to offer them sacrifices.  So he
approached a gentlman of the Yen family, who had three eligible
daughters.  To these Yen put the case, leaving to them to decide
which should marry K'ung.--"Though old and austere,"  said he,
"he is of the high descent, and you need have no fear of him."
Chingtsai, the youngest, answered that it was for their father to
choose.--"Then you shall marry him," said Yen.  She did; and
when her son was to be born, she was warned in a dream to make
pilgrimage to a cave on Mount Ne.  There the spirits of the
mountain attended; there were signs and portents in the heavens
at the nativity.  The _k'e-lin,_ a beast out of the mythologies,
appeared to her; and she tied a white ribbon about its single
horn.  It is a creature that appears only when things of splendid
import are to happen.

Three years after, the father died, leaving his family on the
borders of poverty. At six, Ch'iu, the child, a boy of serious
earnest demeanor, was teaching his companions to play at
arranging, according to the rites, toy sacrificial vessels on a
toy altar.  Beyond this, and that they were poor, and that he
doted on his mother--who would have deserved it,--we know little
of his boyhood.  "At fifteen,"  he tells us himself, "his mind
was bent on learning."  Nothing in the way of studies, seems to
have come amiss to him; of history, and ritual, and poetry, he
came to know all that was to be known.  He loved music, theory
and practice; held it to be sacred:  "not merely one of the
refinements of life, but a part of life itself."  It is as well
to remember this; and that often, in after life, he turned
dangerous situations by breaking into song; and that his lute
was his constant companion.  He used to say that a proper study
of poetry--he was not himself a poet, though he compiled a great
anthology of folk-poems later--would leave the mind without a
single depraved thought.  Once he said to his son:  "If you do
not learn the Odes, you will not be fit to talk to."  "Poetry
rouses us," said he, "courtesy upholds us; music is our crown."
You are, then, to see in him no puritan abhorring beauty, but a
man with artistic perceptions developed. At what you might call
the other pole of knowledge, he was held to know more about the
science of war than any man living; and I have no doubt he did.
If he had consented to use or speak about or let others use that
knowledge, he might have been a great man in his day; but he
never would.

At nineteen, according to the custom, he married; and soon
afterwards accepted minor official appointments:  Keeper of the
Granaries, then Superintendent of the Public Parks in his native
district.  He made a name for himself by the scrupulous discharge
of his duties, that came even to the ears of the Marquis; who,
when his son was born, sent the young father a complimentary
present of a carp.--It would have been two or three years before
the beginning of the last quarter of the century when he felt the
time calling to him, and voices out of the Eternal; and threw up
his superintendentship to open a school.

Not an ordinary school by any means.  The Pupils were not
children, but  young men of promise and an inquiring mind; and
what he had to teach them was not the ordinary curriculum, but
right living, the right ordering of social life, and the right
government of states.  They were to pay; but to pay according to
their means and wishes; and he demanded intelligence from them;
--no swelling of the fees would serve instead.--"I do not open the
truth," said he, "to one not eager after knowledge; nor do I
teach those unanxious to explain themselves.  When I have
presented one corner of a subject, and the student cannot learn
from it the other three for himself, I do not repeat the lesson."
He lectured to them, we read, mainly on history and poetry,
deducing his lessons in life from these.

His school was a great success.  In five years he had acquired
some two thousand pupils:  seventy or eighty of them, as he said,
"men of extraordinary ability."  It was that the Doors of the
Lodge had opened, and its force was flowing through him in Lu, as
it was through the Old Philosopher in Honanfu.--By this time he
had added archery to his own studies, and (like William Q. Judge)
become proficient.  Also he had taken a special course in music
theory under a very famous teacher.  "At thirty he stood firm."

Two of his disciples were members of the royal family; and
Marquis Chao regarded him with favor, as the foremost educationist
in the state.  He had an ambition to visit the capital (of
China); where, as no where else, ritual might be studied;
where, too, was Laotse, with whom he longed to confer.  Marquis
Chao, hearing of this, provided him with the means; and he
went up with a band of his pupils.  There at Loyang, which is
Honanfu, we see him wandering rapt through palaces and temples,
examining the sacrificial vessels, marveling at the ancient art
of Shang and Chow.  But for a few vases, it is all lost.

He did interview Laotse; we cannot say whether only once or more
often.  Nor, I think, do we know what passed; the accounts we
get are from the pen of honest _Ben Trovato; Vero,_ the modest,
had but little hand in them.  We shall come to them later.

And now that he stands before the world a Teacher, we may drop
his personal name, K'ung Ch'iu, and call him by the title to
which paeans of praise have been swelling through all the ages
since:  K'ung Futse, K'ung the Master; latinized, Confucius.  It
is a name that conveys to you, perhaps, some associations of
priggishness and pedantry:  almost whereever you see him written
of you find suggestions of the sort.  Forgo them at once:  they
are false utterly.  Missionaries have interpreted him to the
West; who have worked hard to show him something less than the
Nazarene.  They have set him in a peculiar light; and others
have followed them.  Perhaps no writer except and until Dr.
Lionel Giles (whose interpretation, both of the man and his
doctrine, I shall try to give you), has shown him to us as he
was, so that we can understand why he has stood the Naional Hero,
the Savior and Ideal Man of all those millions through all
these centuries.

We have been told again and again that his teaching was wholly
unspiritual; that he knew nothing of the inner worlds; never
mentions the Soul, or 'God'; says no word to lighten for you the
"dusk within the Holy of holies."  He was all for outwardness,
they say:  a thorough externalist; a ritualist cold and
unmagnetic.--It is much what his enemies said in his own day;
who, and not himself, provide the false-interpreters with their
weapons.  But think of the times, and you may understand.  How
would the missionaries feel, were Jesus translated to the Chinese
as a fine man in some respects--considering--but, unfortunately!
too fond of the pleasures of the table; "a gluttonous man
and a winebibber "?

They were stirring times, indeed; when all boundaries were in
flux, and you needed a new atlas three times a year.  Robbers
would carve themselves new principalities overnight; kingdoms
would arise, and vanish with the waning of a moon.  What would
this, or any other country, become, were law, order, the police
and every restraining influence made absolutely inefficient?
Were California one state today; a dozen next week; in July six
or seven, and next December but a purlieu to Arizona?--Things,
heaven knows, are bad enough as they are; there is no dearth of
crime and cheatery.  Still, the police and the legal system do
stand between us and red riot and ruin.  In China they did not;
the restraints had been crumbling for two or three centuries.
Human nature, broadly speaking, is much of a muchness in all
lands and ages:  I warrant if you took the center of this world's
respectability, which I should on the whole put in some suburb of
London;--I warrant that if you relieved Clapham,--whose crimes,
says Kipling very wisely, are 'chaste in Martaban,'--of police
and the Pax Britannica for a hundred years or so, lurid Martaban
would have little pre-eminence left to brag about.  The class
that now goes up primly and plugly to business in the City day by
day would be cutting throats a little; they would be making life
quite interesting.  Their descendants, I mean.  It would take
time; Mother Grundy would not be disthroned in a day.  But it
would come; because men follow the times, and not the Soul; and
are good as sheep are, but not as heroes. So in Chow China.

But the young Confucius knew his history.  He looked back from
that confusion to a wise Wu Wang and Duke of Chow; to a Tang the
Completer, whose morning bath-tub was inscribed with this motto
from _The New Way:_  "If at any time in his life a man can make a
new man of himself, why not every morning?" Most of all he
looked back to the golden and sinless age of Yao and Shun and Yu,
as far removed from him, nearly, as pre-Roman Britain is from us:
he saw them ruling their kingdom as a strong benevolent father
rules his house.  In those days men had behaved themselves:
natural virtue had expressed itself in the natural way.  In good
manners; in observation of the proprieties, for example.--In
that wild Martaban of Chow China, would not a great gentleman of
the old school (who happened also to be a Great Teacher) have
seen a virtue in even quiet Claphamism, that we cannot?  It was
not the time for Such a One to slight the proprieties and
'reasonable conventions of life.'  The truth is, the devotion of
his disciples has left us minute pictures of the man, so that we
see him ... particular as to the clothes he wore; and from this
too the West gathers material for its charge of externalism.
Well; and if he accepted the glossy top-hats and black Prince
Albert coats;--only with him they were caps and robes of azure,
carnation, yellow, black, or white; this new fashion of wearing
red he would have none of:--I can see nothing in it but this:
the Great Soul had chosen the personality it should incarnate in,
with an eye to the completeness of the work it should do; and
seventy generations of noble ancestry would protest, even in the
matter of clothing, against red riot and ruin and Martaban.

He is made to cite the 'Superior Man' as the model of excellence;
and that phrase sounds to us detestably priggish.  In the
_Harvard Classics_ it is translated (as well as may be) 'true
gentleman,'  or  'princely man'; in which is no priggish ring
at all.  Again, he is made to address his disciples as "My
Children,"  at which, too, we naturally squirm a little:  what he
really called them was 'My boys,'  which sounds natural and
affectionate enough.  Supposing the Gospels were translated into
Chinese by someone with the gluttonous-man-and-winebibber bias;
--what, I wonder, would he put for _Amen, amen lego humin?_  Not
"Verily, verily I say unto you"!

But I must go on with his life.

Things had gone ill in in Lu during his absence:  threee great
clan chieftains had stopped fighting among themselves to fight
instead against their feudal superior, and Marquis Chao had been
exiled to Ts'i.  It touched Confucius directly; his teaching on
such matters had been peremptory:  he would 'rectify names':
have the prince prince, and the people his subjects:--he would
have law and order in the state, or the natural harmony of things
was broken.  As suggested above, he was very much a man of mark
in Lu; and a protest from him,--which should be forth-coming--
could hardly go unnoticed.  With a band of disciples he followed
his marquis into Ts'i:  it is in Chihli, north of Lu, and was
famous then for its national music.  On the journey he heard Ts'i
airs sung, and 'hurried forward.'   One of the first things he
did on arriving at the capital was to attend a concert (or
something equivalent); and for three months thereafter, as a
sign of thanksgiving, he ate no flesh.  "I never dreamed," said
he, "that music could be so wonderful."

The fame of his Raja-Yoga School (that was what it was) had gone
abroad, and Duke Ching of Ts'i received him well;--offered him a
city with its revenues; but the offer was declined.  The Duke
was impressed; half inclined to turn Confucianist; wished to
retain him with a pension, to have him on hand in case of need;--
but withal he was of doubtful hesitating mind about it, and
allowed his prime minister to dissuade him.  "These scholars,"
said the latter, "are impractical, and cannot be imitated.
They are haughty and self-opinionated, and will never rest
content with an inferior position. Confucius has a thousand
peculiarities";--this is the gluttonous-man-and-winebibber
saying, which the missionary interpreters have been echoing
since;--"it would take ages to exhaust all he knows about the
ceremonies of going up and down. This is not the time to examine
into his rules of propriety; your people would say you were
neglecting them."--When next Duke Ching was urged to follow
Confucius, he answered:  "I am too old to adopt his doctrines."
The Master returned to Lu; lectured to his pupils, compiled the
Books of Odes and of History; and waited for the disorders
to pass.

Which in time they did, more or less.  Marquis Ting came to the
throne, and made him chief magistrate of the town of Chungtu.

Now was the time to prove his theories, and show whether he was
the Man to the core, that he had been so assiduously showing
himself, you may say, on the rind.  Ah ha! now surely, with hard
work before him, this scholar, theorist, conventional formalist,
ritualist, and what else you may like to call him, will be put to
shame,--shown up empty and foolish before the hard-headed men of
action of his age.  Who, indeed,--the hard-headed men of action--
have succeeded in doing precisely nothing but to make confusion
worse confounded; how much less, then, will this Impractical One
do!  Let us watch him, and have our laugh...--On the wrong side
of your faces then; for lo now, miracles are happening!  He
takes control; and here at last is one city in great Chu Hia
where crime has ceased to be.  How does he manage it?  The
miracle looks but the more miraculous as you watch.  He frames
rules for everything; insists on the proprieties; morning,
noon, and night holds up an example, and, says he, relies on the
power of that.--Example?  Tush, he must be beheading right
and left!--Nothing of the sort; he is all against capital
punishment, and will have none of it.  But there is the fact:
you can leave your full purse in the streets of Chung-tu, and
pick it up unrifled when you pass next; you can pay your just
price, and get your just measure for it, fearing no cheateries;
High Cost of Living is gone; corners in this and that are no
more; graft is a thing you must go elsewhere to look for;--there
is none of it in Chung-tu.  And graft, let me say, was a thing as
proper to the towns of China then, as to the graftiest modern
city you might mention.  The thing is inexplicable--but perfectly
attested.  Not quite inexplicable, either:  he came from the
Gods, and had the Gloves of Gwron on his hands:  he had the
wisdom you cannot fathom, which meets all events and problems as
they come, and finds their solution in its superhuman self, where
the human brain-mind finds only dense impenetrability.--Marquis
Ting saw and wondered.--"Could you do this for the whole state?"
he asked.--"Surely; and for the whole empire," said Confucius.
The Marquis made him, first Assistant-Superintendent of Works,
then Minister of Crime.

And now you shall hear Chapter X of the _Analects,_ to show you
the outer man.  All these details were noted down by the love of
his disciples, for whom nothing was too petty to be recorded;
and if we cannot read them without smiling, there is this to
remember:  they have suffered sea-change on their way to us:
sea-change and time-change.  What you are to see really is:  (1)
a great Minister of State, utterly bent on reproving and
correcting the laxity of his day, performing the ritual duties of
his calling--as all other duties--with a high religious sense of
their antiquity and dignity; both for their own sake, and to set
an example.  what would be thought of an English Archbishop of
Canterbury who behaved familiarly or jocularly at a Coronation
Service?--(2) A gentleman of the old school, who insists on
dressing well and quietly, according to his station.  That is
what he would appear now, in any grade of society, and among men
the least capable of recognising his inner greatness:  'race' is
written in every feature of his being; set him in any modern
court, and with half an eye you would see that his family was a
thousand years or so older than that of anyone else present, and
had held the throne at various times.  Here is a touch of the
great gentleman:  he would never fish with a net, or shoot at a
bird on the bough; it was unsportsmanlike.  (3) A very natural
jovial man, not above "changing countenance" when fine meats were
set on his table:--a thing that directly contradicts the idea of
a cold, ever play-acting Confucius.  A parvenu must be very
careful; but a scion of the House of Shang, a descendant of the
Yellow Emperor, could unbend and be jolly without loss of
dignity;--and, were he a Confucius, would.  "A gentleman," said
he, "is calm and spacious"; he was himself, according to the
_Analects,_  friendly, yet dignified; inspired awe, but not
fear; was respectful, but easy. He divided mankind into three
classes:  Adepts or Sages; true Gentlemen; and the common run.
He never claimed to belong to the first, though all China knows
well that he did belong to it.  He even considered that he fell
short of the ideal of the second; but as to that, we need pay no
attention to his opinion.  Here, then, is Chapter X:

"Amongst his own countryfolk Confucius wore a homely look, like
one who has no word to say.  In the ancestral temple and at court
his speech was full, but cautious.  At court he talked frankly to
men of low rank, winningly to men of high rank.  In the Marquis's
presence he looked intent and solemn.

"When the Marquis bade him receive guests, his face seemed to
change, his knees to bend. He bowed left and right to those
behind him, straightened his robes in front and behind, and sped
forward, his elbows spread like wings. When the guest had left,
he always reported it, saying:  'The guest has ceased to
look back.'

"Entering the palace gate he stooped, as though it were too low
for him. He did not stand in the middle of the gate, nor step on
the threshold.  Passing the throne, his face seemed to change,
his knees to bend; and he spoke with bated breath.  Mounting the
royal dais, he lifted his robes, bowed his back and masked his
breathing till it seemed to stop.  Coming down, his face relaxed
below the first step, and bore a pleased look.  From the foot of
the steps he sped forward, his elbows spread like wings; and
when again in his seat, he looked intent as before.  He held his
hands not higher than in bowing, nor lower than in giving a
present.  He wore an awed look and dragged his feet, as though
they were fettered."

Which means that he felt the royal office to be sacred, as the
seat of authority and government, the symbol and representative
of heaven, the fountain of order:  in its origin, divine.  He
treated Marquis Ting as if he had been Yao, Shun, or Yu; or
rather, the Marquis's throne and office as if one of these had
held them.  There is the long history of China to prove he was
wise in the example he set.

"When presenting royal gifts his manner was formal; but he was
cheerful at the private audience.--This gentleman was never
arrayed in maroon or scarlet; even at home he would not wear red
or purple.  In hot weather he wore unlined linen clothes, but
always over other garments.  Over lambskin he wore black; over
fawn he wore white; over fox-skin he wore yellow.  At home he
wore a long fur robe with the right sleeve short.  He always had
his night-gown half as long again as his body.  In the house he
wore fox- or badger-skin for warmth.  When out of mourning there
was nothing wanting from his girdle.  Except for court-dress, he
was sparing of stuff.  He did not wear lamb's wool, or a black
cap, on a visit of condolence.  On the first day of the moon he
always went to court in court dress.  On fast days he always
donned clothes of pale hue, changed his food, and moved from his
wonted seat.  He did not dislike his rice cleaned with care, nor
his hash copped small.  He would not eat sour or mouldy rice,
putrid fish, or tainted meat.  Aught discolored or high, badly
cooked, or out of season, he would not eat.  He would not eat
what was badly cut, or a dish with the wrong sauce.  A choice of
meats could not tempt him to eat more than he had a relish for.
To wine alone he set no limit; but he never drunk more than
enough.  He did not drink brought wine, or eat ready-dried meat.
He did not eat much.  Ginger was never missing at his table.

"After sacrifice at the palace he would not keep the meat
over-night; at home, not more than three days.  If kept longer,
it was not eaten.  He did not talk at meals, nor in bed.  Though
there were but coarse rice and vegetables, he made his offering
with all reverence.  If his mat were not straight, he would not
sit down.  When drinking with the villagers, when those with
slaves left, he left too.  At the village exorcisms he donned
court dress, and stood on the eastern steps.

"When sending inquiries to another land, he bowed twice and saw
his messenger out.  On K'ang's making him a present of medicine,
he accepted it with a low bow, saying:  'I do not know; I dare
not taste it.'  His stables having been burnt, the Master, on his
return from court, said:  'Is anyone hurt?'  He did not ask after
the horses."

Set down in perfect good faith to imply that his concern was for
the sufferings of others, not for his personal loss:  and without
perception of the fact that it might imply callousness as to the
suffering of the horses.  We are to read the recorder's mind, and
not the Master's, in that omission.--

"When the marquis sent him baked meat, he set his mat straight,
and tasted it first.  When the Marquis sent him raw meat, he had
it cooked for sacrifice.  When the Marquis sent him a living
beast, he had it reared.  When dining in attendance on the
Marquis, the latter made the offering; Confucius ate of things
first.  On the Marquis coming to see him in sickness, he turned
his face to the east and had his court dress spread across him,
with the girdle over it.  When summoned by the Marquis, he
walked, without waiting for his carriage.  On entering the Great
Temple, he asked how each thing was done.  When a friend died who
had no home, he said:  'It is for me to bury him.'  When a friend
sent a gift, even of a carriage and horses, he did not bow.  He
only bowed for sacrificial meat.  He would not lie in a bed like
a corpse.  At home he unbent.

"On meeting a mourner, were he a friend, his face changed.  Even
in every-day clothes, when he met anyone in full dress, or a
blind man, his face grew staid.  When he met men in mourning, he
bowed over the cross-bar.  Before choice meats he rose with a
changed look.  At sharp thunder or fierce wind, his countenance
changed.  In mounting his chariot he stood straight and grasped
the cord.  When in his chariot, he did not look round, speak
fast, or point."

There you have one side of the outer man; and the most has
been made of it.  "Always figuring, always posturing," we
hear.  I merely point to the seventy noble generations, the
personality made up of that courtly heredity, whose smallest quite
spontaneous acts and habits seemed to men worth recording, as
showing how the perfect gentleman behaved:  a model.  Another
side is found in the lover of poetry, the devotee of music, the
man of keen and intense affections.  Surely, if a _poseur,_ he
might have posed when bereavement touched him; he might have
assumed a high philosophic calm.  But no; he never bothered to;
even though reproached for inconsistency.  His mother died when
he was twenty-four; and he broke through all rites and customs
by raising a mound over her grave; that, as he said, he might
have a place to turn to and think of as his home whereever he
might be on his wanderings.  He mourned for her the orthodox
twenty-seven months; then for five days longer would not touch
his lute.  On the sixth day he took it and began to play; but
when he tried to sing, broke down and wept.  One is surprised;
but there is no posing about it.  Yen Hui was his saint John, the
Beloved disciple.  "When Yen Hui died," we read, "the Master
cried, 'Woe is me!  I am undone of Heaven!  I am undone of
Heaven!'  When Yen Hui died the Master gave way to grief.  The
disciples said:  'Sir, you are giving way.'--'Am I giving way?'
said he.  'If for this man I do not give way, for whom shall I
give way?... Hui treated me as a son his father; I have failed
to treat him as a father his son.'"  Confucius was old then, and
near his own death...  But what I think you will recognise in his
speech, again and again, is the peculiarly spontaneous... indeed
impetuous ... ring of it.  He had that way of repeating a
sentence twice that marks a naturally impetuous man.--Of his
sense of humor I shall speak later.

He dearly loved his disciples, and was homesick when away from
them.--"My batch of boys, ambitious and hasty--I must go home to
them! I must go home to them!"  said he.  Once when he was very
ill, Tse Lu "moved the disciples to act as ministers":--to behave
to him as if he were a king and they his ministers.--"I know, I
know!" said Confucius; "Tse Lu has been making believe. This show
of ministers, when I have none,--whom will it deceive? Will it
deceive Heaven?  I had rather die in your arms, my boys, than be
a king and die in the arms of my ministers."--"Seeing the
disciple Min standing at his side in winning strength, Tse Lu
with warlike front, Jan Yu and Tse Kung fresh and strong, the
Master's heart was glad," we read.  He considered what he calls
'love' the highest state,--the condition of the Adept or Sage;
but that other thing that goes by the same name,--of that he
would not speak;--nor of crime,--nor of feats of strength,
--nor of doom,--nor of ghosts and spirits. Anything that
implied a forsaking of middle lines, a losing of the balance,
extravagance,--he abhorred.--And now back to that other side of
him again:  the Man of Action.

The task that lay before him was to reform the state of Lu.
Something was rotten in it; it needed some reforming.--The
rotten thing, to begin with, was Marquis Ting himself; who was
of such stuff as Confucius referred to when he said:  "You cannot
carve rotten wood."  But brittle and crumbling as it was, it
would serve his turn for the moment; it would give him the
chance to show twenty-five Chinese centuries the likeness of an
Adept at the head of a state.  So it should be proved to them
that Such a One--they call him _Such a One_ generally, I
believe, to avoid the light repetition of a name grown sacred--is
no impractical idealist merely, but a Master of Splendid
Successes here in this world:  that the Way of Heaven is the way
that succeeds on earth--if only it be honestly tried.

Ting was by no means master in his own marquisate.  As in England
under Stephen, bold bad robber barons had fortified their castles
everywhere, and from these strongholds defied the government.
The mightiest magnate of all was the Chief of Clan Chi, who
ordered things over his royal master's head, and was very much a
power for the new Minister of Crime to reckon with.  A clash came
before long.  Ex-marquis Chao--he that had been driven into
exile--died in Ts'i; and his body was sent home for burial with
his ancestors.  Chi, who had been chief among those responsible
for the dead man's exile, by way of insulting the corpse, gave
orders that it should be buried outside the royal cemetery; and
his orders were carried out.  Confucius heard of it, and was
indignant.  To have had the corpse exhumed and reburied would
have been a new indignity, I suppose; therefore he gave orders
that the cemetery should be enlarged so as to include the grave;
--and went down and saw it done.--"I have done this on your
behalf,"  he informed Chi, "to hide the shame of your disloyalty.
To insult the memory of a dead prince is against all decency."
The great man gnashed his teeth; but the Minister of Crime's
action stood.

He turned his attention to the robber-barons, and reduced them.
I do not know how; he was entirely against war; but it is
certain that in a very short time those castles were leveled with
the ground, and the writ of the Marquis ran through Lu.  He
hated capital punishment; but signed the death warrant for the
worst of the offenders;--and that despite the protest of some of
his disciples, who would have had him consistent above all
things.  But his back was up, and the man was executed.  One
makes no excuse for it; except perhaps, to say that such an
action, isolated, and ordained by Such a One, needs no excuse.
He was in the habit of fulfilling his duty; and duty may at times
present itself in strange shapes.  It was a startling thing to
do; and Lu straight-way, as they say, sat right up and began to
take concentrated notice of a situation the like of which had not
been seen for centuries.

He had the final decision in all legal cases. A father brought a
charge against his son; relying on the bias of the Minister
whose life had been so largely given to preaching filial piety.
"If you had brought up your son properly," said Confucius, "this
would not have happened"; and astounded plaintiff, defendant,
and the world at large by putting both in prison for three
months.  In a year or so he had done for Lu what he had done for
Chung-tu during his magistracy.

By this time Ts'i and Sung and Wei and the whole empire were
taking notice too.  There was actually a state where crime was
unknown; where law ruled and the government was strong, and yet,
the people more than contented; a state--and such a state!--
looming ahead as the probable seat of a Bretwalda.  Lu with the
hegemony!  This old orthodox strict Lu!--this home of lost
causes!--this back number, and quaint _chinoiserie_ to be laughed
at!--As if Morgan Shuster had carried on his work in Persia until
Persia had become of a strength to threaten the world.  Lu was
growing strong; and Ts'i--renowned military Ts'i--thought she
ought to be doing something.  Thus in our own time, whenever
somnolent obsolete Turkey tried to clean her house, Russia,
land-hungry and looking to a Thanksgiving Dinner presently, felt
a call to send down emissaries, and--see that the cleaning should
not be done.

Duke Ching of Ts'i, at the first attempt, bungled his plans
badly.  He would not strike at the root of things, Confucius;
perhaps retained too much respect for him; perhaps simply did
not understand; but at that harmless mutton Marquis Ting who
Confucius had successfully camouflaged up to look like a lion.
To that end he formally sought an alliance with Lu, and the Lu
Minister of Crime concurred.  He intended that there should be
more of these alliances.

An altar was raised on the frontier, where the two princes were
to meet and sign the treaty.  Duke Ching had laid his plans; but
they did not include the presence of Confucius at the altar as
Master or the Ceremonies on the side of Lu.  There he was,
however; and after all, it could hardly make much difference.
The preliminary rites went forward.  Suddenly, a roll of drums;
a rush of 'savages' out of ambush;--there were savage tribes in
those parts;--confusion; the Marquis's guard, as the Duke's, is
at some little distance; and clearly it is for the Marquis that
these 'savages' are making.  But Confucius is there.  He steps
between the kidnappers and his master, "with elbows spread like
wings" hustles the latter off into safety; takes hold of the
situation; issues sharp orders to the savages--who are of course
Ts'i troops in disquise:  _Attention!  About face!--Double
march!_--snaps out the words of command in right military style,
right in the presence of their own duke, who stands by amazed and
helpless;--and off they go.  Then spaciously clears the matter
up.  Finds, no doubt, that it is all a mistake; supplies, very
likely, an easy and acceptable explanation to save Ching's face;
shortly has all things peaceably _in status quo._  Then brings
back his marquis, and goes forward with the treaty; but now as
Master of the Ceremonies and something more.  There had been a
land question between Lu and Ts'i:  Lu territory seized some time
since by her strong neighbor, and the cause of much soreness on
the one hand and exultation on the other.  By the time that
treaty had been signed Duke Ching of Ts'i had ceded back the land
to Marquis Ting of Lu,--a thing assuredly he had never dreamed of
doing; and an alliance had been established between the two
states.  Since the Duke of Chow's time, Lu had never stood
so high.

Was our man a prig at all?  Was he a pedant?  have those who have
sedulously spread that report of him in the West told the truth
about him?  Or--hath a pleasant little lie or twain served
their turn?

Duke Ching went home and thought things over.  He had learned his
lesson:  that ting was but a camouflage lion, and by no means the
one to strike at, if business was to be done.  He devised a plan,
sweet in it simplicity, marvelous in its knowledge of what we are
pleased to call 'human' nature.  He ransacked his realm for
beautiful singing and dancing girls, and sent the best eighty he
could find to his dear friend and ally of Lu.  Not to make the
thing too pointed, he added a hundred and twenty fine horses--
with their trappings. What could be more appropriate than
such a gift?

It worked.  Ting retired to his harem, and day after day passed
over a Lu unlighted by his countenance.  Government was at a
standstill; the great Minister of Crime could get nothing done.
The Annual Sacrifice was at hand; a solemnity Confucius hoped
would remind Ting of realities and bring him to his  right mind.
According to the ritual, a portion of the offering should be sent
to each high official of the state:  none came to Confucius.  Day
after day he waited; but Ting's character was quite gone:  the
lion-skin had fallen off, and the native egregious muttonhood or
worse stood revealed.--"Master," said Tse Lu, "it is time you
went."  But he was very loath to go.  At last he gathered his
disciples, and slowly went out from the city.  He lingered much
on the way, looking back often, still hoping for sight of the
messenger who should recall him.  But none came.  That was
in 497.

The old century had ended about the time he took office; and
with it, of course, the last quarter in which, as always, the
Doors of the Lodge were open, and the spiritual influx pouring
into the world.  So the effort of that age had its consummation
and fine flower in the three years of his official life:  to be
considered a triumph.  Now, Laotse had long since ridden away
into the West; the Doors were shut; the tides were no longer
flowing; and the God's great Confucius remained in a world that
knew him not.  As for holding office and governing states, he had
done all that was necessary.



XI.  CONFUCIUS THE HERO


He had done enough in the way of holding office and governing
states.  Laotse had taught that of old time, before Tao was lost,
the Yellow Emperor sat on his throne and all the world was
governed without knowing it.  Confucius worked out the doctrine
thus:  True government is by example; given the true ruler, and
he will have the means of ruling at his disposal, and they will
be altogether different from physical force.  'Example' does not
covey it either:  his thought was much deeper.  There is a word
_li_--I get all this from Dr. Lionel Giles--which the egregious
have been egregiously translating 'the rules of propriety'; but
which Confucius used primarily for a state of harmony within the
soul, which should enable beneficent forces from the Infinite to
flow through into the outer world;--whereof a result would also
be, on the social plane, perfect courtesy and politeness, these
the most outward expression of it.  On these too Confucius
insisted which is the very worst you can say about him.--Now, the
ruler stands between Gods and men; let his _li_ be perfect--let
the forces of heaven flow through him unimpeded,--and the people
are regenerated day by day:  the government is by regeneration.
Here lies the secret of all his insistence on loyalty and
filial piety:  the regeneration of society is dependent on the
maintenance of the natural relation between the Ruler who rules--
that is, lets the _li_ of heaven flow through him--and his
people.  They are to maintain such an attitude towards him as
will enable them to receive the _li._  In the family, he is the
father; in the state, he is the king.  In very truth, this is
the Doctrine of the Golden Age, and proof of the profound occult
wisdom of Confucius:  even the (comparatively) little of it that
was ever made practical lifted China to the grand height she has
held.  It is hinted at in the _Bhagavad-Gita:_--"whatsoever is
practised by the most excellent men"; again, it is the Aryan
doctrine of the Guruparampara Chain.  The whole idea is so remote
from modern practice and theory that it must seem to the west
utopian, even absurd; but we have Asoka's reign in India, and
Confucius's Ministry in Lu, to prove its basic truth.  During
that Ministry he had flashed the picture of such a ruler
on to the screen of time:  and it was enough.  China could
never forget.

But if, knowing it to have been enough,--knowing that the hour of
the Open Door had passed, and that he should never see success
again,--he had then and there retired into private life, content
to teach his disciples and leave the stubborn world to save or
damn itself:--enough it would not have been.  He had flashed the
picture on to the screen of time, but it would have faded.
Twenty years of wandering, of indomitability, of disappointment
and of ignoring defeat and failure, lay before him:  in which to
make his creation, not a momentary picture, but a carving in jade
and granite and adamant.  It is not the ever-victorious and
successful that we take into the adyta of our hearts.  It is the
poignancy of heroism still heroism in defeat,--

     "unchanged, though fallen on evil years,"

--that wins admittance there.  Someone sneered at Confucius, in his
latter years, as the man who was always trying to do the
impossible.  He was; and the sneerer had no idea what high
tribute he was paying him.  It is because he was that:  the hero,
the flaming idealist:  that his figure shines out so clear and
splendidly.  His outer attempts--to make a Man of Marquis This
or Duke That, and a model state of Lu or Wei--these were
but carvings in rotten wood, foredoomed to quick failure.
All the material of the world was rotten wood:  he might have
learned that lesson;--only there are lessons that Such a One
never learns.  Well; we in turn may learn a lesson from him:
applicable now.  The rotten wood crumbled under his hands time
and again:  under his bodily hands;--but it made no difference to
him.  He went on and on, still hoping to begin his life's work,
and never recognising failure; and by reason and virtue of that,
the hands of his spirit were carving, not in rotten wood, but in
precious jade and adamant spiritual, to endure forever.  On those
inner planes he was building up his Raja-Yoga; which time saw to
it should materialize and redeem his race presently.  Confucius
in the brief moment of his victory illuminated the world indeed;
but Confucius in the long years of his defeat has bowed the
hearts of twenty-five centuries of the Black-haired People.  We
can see this now; I wonder did he see it then?  I mean, had that
certain knowledge and clear vision in his conscious mind, that
was possessed in the divinity of his Soul--as it is in every
Soul.  I imagine not; for in his last days he--the personality--
could give way and weep over the utter failure of his efforts.
One loves him the more for it:  one thinks his grandeur only the
more grand.  It is a very human and at last a very pathetic
figure--this Man that did save his people.

Due west from Lu, and on the road thence to Honanfu the Chow
capital, lay the Duchy of Wei; whither now he turned his steps.
He had no narrow patriotism:  if his own Lu rejected him, he
might still save this foreign state, and through it, perhaps, All
the Chinas.  He was at this time one of the most famous men
alive; and his first experience in Wei might have been thought
to augur well. On the frontier he was met by messengers from a
local Wei official, begging for their master an interview:--
"Every illustrious stranger has granted me one; let me not ask
it of you, Sir, in vain."  Confucius complied; was conducted to
the yamen, and went in, leaving his disciples outside.  To these
the magistrate came out, while the Master was still resting
within.--"Sirs," said he, "never grieve for your Teacher's fall
from office.  His work is but now to begin.  These many years the
empire has been in perilous case; but now Heaven has raised up
Confucius, its tocsin to call the people to awakenment."--A wise
man, that Wei official!

At the capital, Duke Ling received him with all honor, and at
once assigned him a pension equal to the salary he had been paid
as Minister of Crime in Lu.  He even consulted him now and again;
but reserved to himself liberty to neglect the advice asked for.
However, the courtiers intrigued; and before the year was out,
Confucius had taken to his wanderings again:  he would try the
state of Ch'in now, in the far south-east.  "If any prince would
employ me," said he, "within a twelvemonth I should have done
something considerable; in three years the government would
be perfect."

He was to pass through the town of Kwang, in Sung; it had lately
been raided by a robber named Yang Hu, in face and figure
resembling himself. Someone who saw him in the street put it
abroad that Yang Hu was in the town, and followed him to the
house he had taken for the night. Before long a mob had gathered,
intent on vengeance. The situation was dangerous; the mob in no
mood to hear reason;--and as to that, Yang Hu also would have
said that he was not the man they took him for,--very likely
would have claimed to be the renowned Confucius.  The disciples,
as well they might be, were alarmed:  the prospect was, short
shrift for the whole party.--"Boys," said the Master, "do you
think Heaven entrusted the Cause of Truth to me, to let me be
harmed by the towns-men of Kwang? "--The besiegers looked for
protests, and then for a fight.  What they did not look for was
to hear someone inside singing to a lute;--it was that great
musician Confucius.  When he sang and played you stopped to
listen; and so did the Kwang mob now.  They listened, and
wondered, and enjoyed their free concert; then made reasonable
inquiries, and apologies,--and went their ways in peace.

In those South-eastern states there was no prospect for him,
and after a while he returneci to Wei.  He liked Duke Ling
personally, and the liking was mutual; time and again he went
back there, hoping against hope that something might be done,--or
seeing no other horizon so hopeful.  Now Ling had a consort of
some irregular kind:  Nantse, famed for her beauty and brilliance
and wickedness.  Perhaps _ennuyee,_ and hoping for contact with a
mind equal to her own, she was much stirred by the news of
Confucius' return, and sent to him asking an interview.  Such a
request was a characteristic flouting of the conventions on her
part; for him to grant it would be much more so on his.  But he
did grant it; and they conversed, after the custom of the time,
with a screen between, neither seeing the other.  Tse Lu was much
disturbed; considering it all a  very dangerous innovation,
inconsistent in Confucius, and improper.  So in the eyes of the
world it would have seemed.  But Nantse held the Duke, and
Confucius might influence Nantse.  He never let conventions stand
in his way, when there was a chance of doing good work by
breaking them.

One suspects that the lady wished to make her vices respectable
by giving them a seeming backing by incarnate virtue; and that
to this end she brought about the sequel.  Duke Ling was to make
a Progress through the city; and requested Confucius to follow
his carriage in another.  He did so; not knowing that Nantse had
seen to it that she was to be sitting at the Duke's side.
Her position and reputation even in those days needed some
regularizing; and she had chosen this means to do it.  But to
the people, the spectacle was highly symbolic; and Confucius
heard their jeers as he passed:--Flaunting Vice in front,
Slighted Virtue in the rear.--"I have met none," said he, "who
loves virtue more than women."  It was time for him to go; and
now he would try the south again.  In reality, perhaps, it matter
little whither he went or where he stayed:  there was no place
for him anywhere. All that was important was, that he should keep
up the effort.

An official in Sung, one Hwan Tuy, held the roads against him,
accusing him of "a proud air and many desires; an insinuating
habit and a wild will."  From this time on he was subject to
persecution.  The "insinuating habit" reminds one of an old
parrot-cry one has heard:  "She hypnotizes them."  He turned
westward from this opposition, and visited one state, and then
another; in neither was there any disposition to use him.  He
had found no more likely material than Duke Ling of Wei, who at
least was always glad to see and talk with him:--might not be
jade to carve, but was the wood least rotten at hand.  But at
Wei, as usual, there was nothing but disappointment in store.

Pih Hsih, a rebel, was holding a town in Tsin, modern Shansi,
against the king of that state; and now sent messengers inviting
Confucius to visit him.  Tse Lu protested:  had he not always
preached obedience to the Powers that Were, and that the True
Gentleman did not associate with rebels?--"Am I a bitter gourd,"
said Confucius, "to be hung up out of the way of being eaten?"
He was always big enough to be inconsistent.  He had come to see
that the Powers that Were were hopeless, and was for catching at
any straw.  But something delayed his setting out; and when he
reached the Yellow River, news came of the execution of Tsin of
two men whom he admired.  "How beautiful they were!"  said he;
"how beautiful they were!  This river is not more majestic!  And
I was not there to save them!"

The truth seems to be that he would set out for any place where
the smallest opening presented itself; and while that opening
existed, would not be turned aside from his purpose; but if it
vanished, or if something better came in sight, he would turn and
follow that.  Thus he did not go on into Tsin when he heard of
these executions; but one, when he was on the road to Wei and a
band of roughs waylaid him and made him promise never to go there
again, he simply gave the promise and went straight on.

At Wei now Duke Ling was really inclined to use him;--but as his
military adviser.  It was the last straw; he left, and would not
return in Ling's lifetime.  He was in Ch'in for awhile; and then
for three years at Ts'ae, a new state built of the rebellion of
certain subjects or vassals of the great sourthern kingdom of
Ts'u.  On hearing of his arrival, the Duke of Ts'ae had the idea
to send for Tse Lu, who had a broad reputation of his own as a
brave and practical man, and to inquire of him what kind of man
the master really was.  But Tse Lu, as we have seen, was rigid as
to rebels, and vouchsafed no answer.--"You might have told him,"
said Confucius, "that I am simply one who forgets his food in the
pursuit of wisdom, and his sorrows in the joys of attaining it,
and who does not perceive old age coming on."

Missionary writers have cast it at him, that were of old he had
preached against rebellion, now he was willing enough to "have
rebels for his patrons";--"adversity had not stiffened his back,
but had made him pliable."  Which shows how blind such minds are
to real greatness.  "They have nothing to draw with, and this
well is deep."  He sought no "patrons,"  now or at another time;
but tools with which to work for the redemption of China; and he
was prepared to find them anywhere, and take what came to hand.
His keynote was _duty._  The world went on snubbing, ignoring,
insulting, traducing, and persecuting him; and he went on with
the performance of his duty;--rather, with the more difficult
task of searching for the duty he was to perform.  This resorting
to rebels, like that conversing with Nantse, shows him clearly
not the formalist and slave of conventions he has been called,
but a man of highest moral courage.  What he stood for was not
forms, conventions, reules, proprieties, or anything of the sort;
but the liens of least resistance in his high endeavor to lift
the world:  lines of least resistance; middle lines; common
sense.--As ususal, there was nothing to be done with the Duke
of Ts'ae.

Wandering from state to state, he came on recluses in a field by
the river, and sent Tse Lu forward to ask one of them the way to
the ford.  Said the hermit:--"You follow one who withdraws from
court to court; it would be better to withdraw from the world
altogether."--"What!"  said Confucius when it was told him;
"shall I not associate with mankind?  If I do not associate with
mankind, with whom shall I associate?"

In which answer lies a great key to Confucianism; turn it once
or twice, and you get to the import of his real teaching.  He
never would follow the individual soul into its secrecies; he
was concerned with man only as a fragment of humanity.  He was
concerned with man _as_ humanity.  All that the West calls
(personal) religion he disliked intensely.  Any desire or scheme
to save your own soul; any right-doing for the sake of a reward,
either here or hereafter, he would have bluntly called wrong-
doing, anti-social and selfish.  (I am quoting in substance from
Dr. Lionel Giles.)  He tempted no one with hopes of heaven;
frightened none with threats of hell.  It seemed to him that he
could make a higher and nobler appeal,--could strike much more
forcibly at the root of evil (which is selfishness), by saying
nothing about rewards and punishments at all.  The one inducement
to virtue that he offered was this:  By doing right, you lead the
world into right-doing.  He was justified in saying that Man is
divine; because this divine appeal of his was effective; not
like the West's favorite appeal to fear, selfish desire, and the
brutal side of our nature.  "Do right to escape a whipping, or a
hanging, or hell-fire,"  says Christendom; and the nations
reared on that doctrine have risen and fallen, risen and fallen;
a mad riot of people struggling into life, and toppling back into
death in a season; so that future ages and the far reaches of
history will hardly remember their names, too lightly graven upon
time.  But China, nourished on this divine appeal, however far
she may have fallen short of it, has stood, and stood, and stood.
In the last resort, it is the only inducement worth anything;
the only lever that lifts.--There is that _li,_--that inevitable
rightness and harmony that begins in the innermost _when there is
the balance_ and duty is being done, and flows outward healing
and preserving and making wholesome all the phases of being;--let
that harmony of heaven play through you, and you are bringing
mankind to virtue; you are pouting cleansing currents into the
world.  How little of the tortuosity of metaphysics is here;--but
what grand efficacity of super-ethics!  You remember what _Light
on the Path_ says about the man who is a link between the noise
of the market-place and the silence of the snow-capped Himalayas;
and what it says about the danger of seeking to sow good karma
for oneself,--how the man that does so will only be sowing the
giant weed of selfhood.  In those two passages you find the
essence of Confucianism and the wisdom and genius of Confucius.
It is as simple as A B C; and yet behind it lie all the truths
of metaphysics and philosophy.  He seized upon the pearl
of Theosophic thought, the cream of all metaphysics, where
metaphysics passes into action,--and threw his strength into
insisting on that:  Pursue virtue because it is virtue, and that
you may (as you will,--it is the only way you can)  bring the
world to virtue; or negatively, in the words of _Light on the
Path:_  "Abstain (from vice) because it is right to abstain--not
that yourself shall be kept clean."  And now to travel back
into the thought behind, that you may see if Confucius was a
materialist; whether or not he believed in the Soul;--and that
if he was not a great original thinker, at least he commanded the
ends of all great, true and original thinking.  Man, he says, is
naturally good.  That is, collectively.  _Man_ is divine and
immortal; only _men_ are mortal and erring.  Were there a true
brotherhood of mankind established, a proper relation of the
parts to the whole and to each other,--you would have no
difficulty with what is evil in yourself.  The lower nature with
its temptations would not appear; the world-old battle with the
flesh would be won.  But separate yourself in yourself,--consider
yourself as a selfhood, not as a unit in society;--and you find,
there where you have put yourself, evil to contend with a-plenty.
Virtue inheres in the Brotherhood of Man; vice in the separate
personal and individual units.  Virtue is in That which is no
man's possession, but common to all:  namely, the Soul--though he
does not enlarge upon it as that; perhaps never mentions it as
the Soul at all;--vice is in that which each has for himself
alone:  the personality.  Hence his hatred of religiosity, of
personal soul-saving.  You were to guard against evil in the
simplest way:  by living wholly in humanity, finding all you
motives and sources of action there.  If you were, in the highest
sense, simply a factor in human society, you were a good man.  If
you lived in yourself alone,--having all evil to meet there, you
were likely to succumb to it; and you were on the wrong road
anyway.  Come out, then; think not of your soul to be saved, nor
of what may befall you after death.  You, as you, are of no
account; all that matters is humanity as a whole, of which you
are but a tiny part.--Now, if you like, say that Confucius did
not teach Theosophy, because, _so far as we know,_ he said
nothing about Karma or Reincarnation.  I am inclined to think him
one of the two or three supreme historical Teachers of Theosophy;
and to say that his message, so infinitely simple, is one of the
most wonderful presentations of it ever given.

It is this entire purity from all taint of personal religion;
this distaste for prayer and unrelish for soul-salvation; this
sweet clean impersonality of God and man, that makes the
missionary writers find him so cold and lifeless.  But when you
look at him, it is a marvelously warm-hearted magnetic man you
see:  Such a One as wins hearts to endless devotion.  Many of the
disciples were men who commanded very much the respect of
the world.  The king of Ts'u proposed to give Confucius an
independent duchy:  to make a sovereign prince of him, with
territories absolutely his own.  But one of his ministers
dissuaded him thus:  "Has your majesty," said he, "any diplomatist
in your service like Tse Kung?  Or anyone so fitted to be prime
minister as Yen Huy?  Or a general to compare with Tse Lu? . . .
If K'ung Ch'iu were to acquire territory, with such men as these
to serve him, it would not be to the prosperity of Ts'u."--And
yet those three brilliant men were content--no, proud--to follow
him on his hopeless wanderings, sharing all his long sorrow;
they were utterly devoted to him. Indeed, we read of none of his
disciples turning against him;--which also speaks mighty well for
the stuff that was to be found in Chinese humanity in those days.

Tse Kung was told that some prince or minister had said that he,
Tse Kung, was a greater man than Confucius.  He answered:  "The
wall of my house rises only to the height of a man's shoulders;
anyone can look in and see whatever excellence is within.  But
the Master's wall is many fathoms in height; so that who fails to
find the gateway cannot see the beauties of the temple within nor
the rich apparel of the officiating priests.  It may be that only
a few will find the gate.    Need we be surprised, then, at His
Excellency's remark?"  Yen Huy said:--"The Master knows how to
draw us after him by regular steps.  He broadens our outlook
with polite learning, and restrains our impulses by teaching
us self-control."

Only once, I think, is he recorded to have spoken of prayer.  He
was very ill, and Tse Lu proposed to pray for his recovery.  Said
Confucius: "What precedent is there for that?"--There was great
stuff in that Tse Lu:  a bold warriorlike nature; not very
pliable; not too easy to teach, I imagine, but wonderfully
paying for any lesson taught and learned.  He figures often as
the one who clings to the letter, and misses vision of the spirit
of the teaching; so now the Master plays him a little with this
as to precedent,--which weighed always more strongly with Tse Lu
than with Confucius.--"In the _Eulogies,"_ said Tse Lu, (it is a
lost work), "it is written:  'We pray to you, O Spirits of
Heaven and Earth."--"Ah!" said Confucius, "my prayers began long,
long ago."  But he never did pray, in the Western sense.  His
_life_ was one great intercession and petition for his people.

As to his love of ritual:  remember that there are ceremonies and
ceremonies, some with deep power and meaning.  Those that
Confucius upheld came down to him from Adept Teachers of old;
and he had an eye to them only as outward signs of a spiritual
grace, and means to it.  "Ceremonies indeed!" said he once; "do
you think they are a mere matter of silken robes and jade
omaments?  Music forsooth!  Can music be a mere thing of drums
and bells?"--Or of harps, lutes, dulcimers, sackbuts, psalteries,
and all kinds of instruments, he might have added; all of which,
together with all rites, postures, pacings, and offerings, were
nothing to him unless channels through which the divine _li_
might be induced to flow.  Yet on his wanderings, by the
roadside, in lonely places, he would go through ceremonies with
his disciples.  Why?--Why is an army drilled?  If you go to the
root of the matter, it is to make _one_ the consciousness of the
individual soldiers.  So Confucius, as I take it, in his
ceremonies sought to unify the consciousness of his disciples,
that the _li_ might have passage through them.  I say boldly it
was a proof of that deep occult knowledge of his,--which he never
talked about.

They asked him once if any single ideogram conveyed the whole law
of life.--"Yes," he said; and gave them one compounded of two
others, which means 'As heart':--the missionaries prefer to
render it 'reciprocity.'  His teaching--out of his own mouth we
convict him--was the Doctrine of the Heart.  He was for the glow
in the heart always; not as against, but as the one true cause
of, external right action.  But the Heart doctrine cannot be
defined in a set of rules and formulae; so he was always urging
middle lines, common sense.  That is the explanation of his
famous answer when they asked him whether injuries should be
repaid with kindness.  What he said amounts to this:  "For
goodness sake, use common sense!  I have given you 'as heart' for
your rule."--We know Katherine Tingley's teaching:  not one of us
but has been helped and saved by it a thousand times.  I can only
say that, in the light of that, the more you study Confucius, the
greater he seems; the more extraordinary the parallelisms you
see between her method and his.  Perhaps it is because his method
has been so minutely recorded.  We do not find here merely
ethical precepts, or expositions of philosophic thought:  what we
see is a Teacher guiding and adjusting the lives of his disciples.

When he had been three years at Ts'ae, the King of Ts'u invited
him to his court.  Ts'u, you will remember, lay southward towards
the Yangtse, and was, most of the time, one of the six Great
Powers.*  Here at last was something hopeful; and Confucius set
out.  But Ts'ae and Ch'in, though they had neglected him, had not
done so through ignorance of his value; and were not disposed to
see his wisdom added to the strength of Ts'u.  They sent out a
force to waylay him; which surrounded him in the wilderness and
held him besieged but unmolested for seven days.  Food ran out,
and the Confucianists were so enfeebled at last that they could
hardly stand.  We do not hear that terms were offereed, as that
they should turn back or go elsewhere:  the intention seems
to have been to make an end of Confucius and Confucianism
altogether,--without bloodshed.  Even Tse Lu was shaken.--"Is it
for the Princely Man,"  said he, "to suffer the pinch of
privation?"--"Privation may come his way,"  Confucius answered;
"but only the vulgar grow reckless and demoralized under it."  So
saying he took his lute and sang to them, and hearing him they
forgot to fear.  Meanwhile one of the party had won through the
lines, and brought word to Ts'u of the Master's plight; whereat
the king sent a force to his relief, and came out from the
capital to receive him in state.  The king's intentions were
good; but we have seen how his ministers intrigued and diverted
them.  In the autumn of that year he died, having become somewhat
estranged from the Master.  His successor was one from whom no
good could be expected, and Confucius returned to Wei.

-------
* _Ancient China Simplified:_  by Prof. E. Harper Parker; from
which book the account of the political condition and divisions
of the empire given in these lectures is drawn.
------

Duke Ling was dead, and his grandson, Chuh, was on the throne.
There had been a complication of family crimes plottings:  Chuh
had driven out his father, who in turn had attempted the life of
his own mother, Nantse.  Chuh wished to employ Confucius, but not
to forgo his evil courses:  it was a situation that could not be
sanctioned.  For six years the Master lived in retirement in Wei,
watching events, and always sanguine that his chance would come.
He was not sixty-nine years old; but hoped to begin his life's
work presently.

Then suddenly he was in demand,--in two quarters.  There was a
sort of civil war in Wei, and the chief of one of the factions
came to him for advice as to the best means of attacking the
other.  Confucius was disgusted.  Meanwhile Lu had been at war
with Ts'i; and Yen Yu, a Confucianist, put in command of the Lu
troops, had been winning all the victories in sight.  Marquis
Ting now slept with his fathers, and Marquis Gae reigned in his
stead; also there was a new Chief of Clan Chi to run things:--
Gae to reign, Chi to rule.  They asked Yen Yu where he had
learned his so victorious generalship; and he answered, "from
Confucius."--If a mere disciple could do so much, they thought,
surely the Master himself could do much more:  as, perhaps, lead
the Lu armies to universal victory.  So they sent him a cordial
invitation, with no words as to the warlike views that prompted
it. High in hope, Confucius set out; these fourteen years his
native country had been pulling at his heart-strings, and
latterly, more insistently than ever.  But on his arrival he
saw how the land lay.  Chi consulted him about putting down
brigandage:  Chi being, as you might say, the arch-brigand of
Lu.--"If you, Sir, were not avaricious,"  said Confucius, "though
you offered men rewards for stealing, they would cleave to their
honesty."  There was nothing to be done with such men as these;
he went into retirement, having much literary work to finish.
That was in 483.

In 482 his son Li died; and a year later Yen Huy, dearest of his
disciples. We have seen how he gave way to grief.  There is that
strange mystery of the dual nature; even in Such a One.  There
is the human Personality that the Great Soul must work through.
He had performed his function; he had fulfilled his duty; all
that he owed to the coming ages he had paid in full.  But the
evidence goes to show that he was still looking forward for a
chance to begin, and that every disappointmtnt hurt the outward
man of him:  that it was telling on him:  that it was a sad, a
disappointed, even a heart-broken old man that wept over Yen
Huy.--In 481, we read, a servant of the Chief of Clan Chi caught
a strange one-horned aninial, with a white ribbon tied to its
horn.  None had seen the like of it; and Confucius, being the
most learned of men, was called in to make pronouncement.  He
recognised it at once from his mother's description:  it was the
_k'e-lin,_ the unicorn; that was the ribbon Chingtsai had decked
it with in the cave on Mount Ne the night of his birth.  He burst
into tears. "For whom have you come?"  he cried; "for whom have
you come?"  And then:  "The course of my doctrine is run, and
wisdom is still neglected, and success is still worshiped.  My
principles make no progress:  how will it be in the after ages?"
--Ah, could he have know!--I mean, that old weary mind and body;
the Soul which was Confucius knew.

Yen Huy, Tse Lu, and Tse Kung:  those were the three whom he had
loved and trusted most.  Yen Huy was dead; Tse Lu, with Tse Kao,
another disciple, he had left behind in Wei holding office under
the duke.  Now news came that a revolution had broken out there.
"Tse Kao will return,"  said he; "but Tse Lu will die."  So it
fell.  Tse Kao, finding the duke's cause hopeless, made his
escape; but Tse Lu fought the forlorn hope to the end, and died
like a hero.  Only Tse Kung, of the three, was left to him.  Who
one morning, when he went to the Master's house, found him
walking to and fro before the door crooning over this verse:

     "The great mountain must crumble,
     The strong beam must break.
     The wise man must wither like a flower."

Heavy-hearted, Tse Kung followed him in.--"What makes you so
late?"  said Confucius; and then:  "According to the rites of
Hia, the dead lay in state at the top of the eastern steps, as if
he were the host.  Under the Shangs, it was between the two
pillars he lay, as if he were both host and guest.  The rite of
the Chows is for him to lie at the top of the western steps,
as if he were the guest.  I am a man of Shang,"--it will be
remembered that he was descended from that royal house; "and
last night I dreamed that I was sitting between the pillars, with
offerings set out before me.  No intelligent monarch arises; no
prince will make me his teacher.  My time has come to die."--That
day he took to his bed; his passing was a week later.

On the banks of the Sze his disciples buried him; and for three
years mourned at his grave.  But Tse Kung built himself a cabin
at the graveside, and remained there three years longer.  "All my
life,"  said he, "I have had heaven above my head, but I do not
know its height.  I have had earth beneath my feet, but I have
not known its magnitude.  I served Confucius:  I was like a
thirsty man going with his pitcher to the river.  I drank my
fill, but I never knew the depth of the water."

And Tse Kung was right; and what he felt then, one feels now.
You read Boswell, and have your Johnson in the hollow of
your hand:  body, soul, and spirit:  higher triad and lower
quaternary.  Of Confucius we have a picture in some respects even
more detailed than Boswell's of Johnson; but when we have said
everything, we still feel that nothing has been said.  Boswell
lets you in through his master's church-door; shows you nave and
aisle, vault and vestry; climbs with you to the belfry; stands
with you at the altar and in the pulpit; till you have seen
everything there is to see.  But with Confucius as with every
Adept the case is quite different.  "The Master's wall is
fathomless,"  said Tse Kung; but he and the other disciples
took care that China at least should find the gate of entry;
and it is still possible for us to go in, and "see the beauty
of the temple, the richness of the robes of the officiating
priests."  You go through everything; see him under all sorts of
circumstances; and ask at last:  "Is this all?"--No, says your
guide; "see here!"  and flings one last door open.  And that,
like the door in Lord Dunsaney's play, opens on to the vastness
of the stars.  What is it that baffles us and remains undefined
and undefinable?  Just this:  TAO:  the Infinite Nature.  You can
survey the earth, and measure it with chains; but not Space, in
which a billion leagues is nowise different from an inch or two,
--it bears the same proportion to the whole.

There was his infinite trust;--and his unbroken silence as to the
Things he trusted in.  Time and the world went proving to him
year by year that his theories were all impracticable, all wrong;
that he was a failure; that there was not anything for him to
do, and never would be a chance for him to do it;--and all their
arguments, all the sheer dreadful tyranny of fact, had no weight
with him at all:  he went on and on.  What was his sword of
strength?  Where were the Allies in whom he trusted?  How dared
he pit K'ung Ch'iu of Lu against time and the world and me?--The
Unseen was with him, and the Silence; and he (perhaps) lifted no
veil from the Unseen, and kept silent as to the silence;--and yet
maintained his Movement, and held his disciples together, and
saved his people,--as if he himself had been the Unseen made
visible, and the Silence given a voice to speak.

And with it all there was the human man who suffered.  I think
you will love him the more for this, from the _Analects:_

"The Minister said to Tse Lu, Tseng Hsi, Jan Yu, and Kung-hsi Hua
as they sat beside him:  'I may be a day older than you are, but
forget that.  You are wont to say, "We are unknown."  Well; had
ye a name in the world, what would ye do?'"

"Tse Lu answered lightly:  'Give me charge of a land of a
thousand chariots, crushed between great neighbors, overrun by
soldiery and oppressed by famine; in three years' time I should
have put courage and high purpose into the people.'"

"The Master smiled,--'What wouldst thou do, Ch'iu?' he said."

"Jan Yu answered:  'Had I charge of sixty or seventy square
miles, or from fifty to sixty, in three years' time I would give
the people plenty.  As for courtesy, music and the like, they
could wait for these for the rise of a Princely Man.'"

"'And what wouldst thou do, Chih?' said the Master."

"Kung-hsi Hua answered:  'I would speak of the things I fain
would learn, not of what I can do.  At service in the Ancestral
Temple, or at the Grand Audience, clad in black robe and cap, I
fain would fill a small part.'"

"'And thou, Tien?' said the Master."

"Tseng Hsi stopped playing, pushed away his still sounding lute,
rose up, and made answer:  'My choice would be unlike those of
the other three.'"

"'What harm in that?' said the Master.  'Each but speaks his mind.'"

"Tseng Hsi said:  'In the last days of Spring, and clad for the
season, with five or six grown men and six or seven lads, I would
bathe in the waters of Yi, all fanned by the breeze in the Rain
God's Glade, and wander home with song.'"

"The Master sighed.--'I hold with Tien,' said he."

Very, very human, I say; very Chinese.  But here is that which
was not human but divine:  he never turned from his path to
satisfy these so human and Chinese longings; the breeze in the
Rain God's Glade never blew for him.  It is just as well to
remember, when you read of the ceremonies, the body bent under
the load of the scepter, the carefully chosen (as it may seem)
and habitually worn expression of face on passing or approaching
the throne, the "elbows spread like wings":--all the formal round
of proprieties;--that it was the last days of Spring, and the
waters of Yi, and the breeze in the Rain God's Glade, that were
calling to his Chinese heart.

Yes; he was very human; listen to this:--Yuan Jang awaited the
Master squatting on the ground.  "The Master said:--'Unruly when
young, unmentioned as man, undying when old,--this spells
_Good-for-nothing';_  and hit him on the leg with his staff."

Which brings one naturally to his sense of humor.

Once he was passing through a by-street when a man of the
district shouted:--"Great is Confucius the Philosopher! Yet for
all his wide learning he has nothing which can bring him fame!"
The Master turned to his disciples and said:--"What shall I take
up? Shall I take up charioteering?--or archery?--I must certainly
take up charioteering!"

His disciples once were expecting him at the city of Ch'ing; and
Tse Kung asked a man who was coming from the east gate if he had
seen him there.--"Well," said the man, "there is a man there with
a forehead like Yao, a neck like Kao Yao, his shoulders on a
level with those of Tse-ch'an, but wanting below the waist three
inches of the height of Yu;--and altogether having the forsaken
appearance of a stray dog."  Tse Kung recognised the description
and hurried off to meet the Master, to whom he reported it
_verbatim._  Confucius was hugely delighted. "A stray dog!" said
he; "fine! fine!"  Unluckily, no contemporary photographs of Yao
and Yu and the others have come down; so the description is not
as enlightening now as it may have been then.

"Tse Kung," we read, "would compare one man with another." The
Master said:--"What talents Tse has! Now I have no time for
such things!"

I keep on hearing in his words accents that sound familiar.

When he was at Loyang--Honanfu--one of the things that struck him
most was a bronze statue in the Temple of the Imperial Ancestors,
with a triple, clasp on its mouth.  One does not wonder.  A Great
Soul from the God World, he kept his eyes resolutely on the world
of men; as if he remembered, nothing of the splendor, and
nothing foresaw. . . . Indeed, I cannot tell; one would give
much to know what really passed between him and Laotse.  If you
say that no word of his lightens, for you that 'dusk within the
Holy of holies',--at least he gives you the keys, and leaves you
to find and open the 'Holy of holies' for yourself if you can.
There are lost chapters, that went at the Burning of the Books;
and an old-fashioned Chinaman would often tell you of any Western
idea or invention his countrymen may not have known, that you
should have found all in the lost chapters of Confucius.  It may
be;--and that you should have found there better things, too,
than Western ideas and inventions. There is a passage in the
_Analects_ that tells how the disciples thought he was 'keeping
back from them some part of his doctrine:   "No, no," he
answered; "if I should not give it all to you, to whom should I
give it?"  Distinctly, then, this suggests that there was an
esotericism, a side not made public; and there is no reason to
suppose that it has been made public since.  But it is recorded
that he would lift no veils from the Other-worlds.  "If you do
not understand life," said he, "how can you understand death?"

Well; we who are stranded here, each on his desert island of
selfhood, thrust out after knowledge:  peer for signs at all the
horizons;--are eager to inquire, and avid of the Unknown--which
also we imagine to be something outside of our own being.  But
suppose a man, as they say one with Tao, in which all knowledge
rests in solution:  what knowledge would he desire?  After what
would he be inquisitive?  And how much, desiring it, would he
possess? What is the end of being, after all?  To perform your
function, your duty; what men and the world,--ay, and the far
suns and stars,--are requiring of you:--that is all.  Not to gain
infinite knowledge; but to have at, every step what knowledge
you need; that so you may fill your place in the Universe,
meeting all contours and flowing into them; restoring and
maintaining the Harmony of Things.  So we hear much about this
performance of duty.  But in reality, to do one's duty is to sing
with the singing spheres; to have the Top of Infinity for the
roof of one's skull, and the bottom of the Great Deep for
one's footsoles: to be a compendium, and the Equal, of Heaven
and Earth.  The password into the Tao of Laotse is Silence;
Confucius kept the great Silence more wonderfully than Laotse
did--or so it seems to me now.  Laotse said:  _Sing with the
singing spheres, and behold, your duty is doing itself uder your
hands._ The password into the Tao of Confucius is _Duty:_  he
said merely _Do that, and,_--the rest is silence.  He may have
played that _rest_ on his lute; we are not to hear it in his
words.  There was a knowledge that Laotse, enthroned in his
silence, had no means of using; that Confucius riding the
chariot of duty, had no occasion to possess.

Now whether you call Tao _duty,_ or _silence,_--what should the
Man of Tao desire beyond the fulness of it?  All the light is
there for him; all the suns are kindled for him;--why should he
light wax candles?  That is, for himself:  he will light them
fast enough where others may be in need.  To us, a great poem may
be a great thing:  but to them who have the fulness of which the
greatest poem is but a little glimpse--what should it matter to
them?  And of the infinite knowledge at his disposal, would the
Man of Tao choose to burden himself with one little item of which
there was no present need?

So when they say, "Confucius was nobody; there is no evidence
that he knew the great secrets"; answer them:--"Yes, there is.
He knew that supreme secret, how to _teach,_ which is the
office of a Teacher:  he knew how to build up the inner life
of his disciples; to coax, train, lure the hidden god into
manifestation in them."  And for evidence you can give them this:
Tse Kung--who, you remember, was always comparing this man with
that--asked which was the better, Shih or Shang.  (They were two
disciples.)  Confucius answered:  "Shih goes too far; Shang not
far enough."  Said Tse Kung (just as you or I would have done):--
"Then Shih is the better man?"--"Too far," replied Confucius, "is
not better than not far enough."--To my ears there is more
occultism in that than in a thousand ethical injunctions.--Or
answered;--"Whilst thy father and they elder brother are alive,
how canst thou do all thou art taught?"  Jan Yu said:--"Shall I
do all I am taught?"  The Master said:--"Do all thou art taught."
Kung-hsi Hua said:  "Yu asked, 'Shall I do all I am taught?'
and you spoke, Sir, of father and elder brother.  Ch'iu asked,
'Shall I do all I am taught?'  and you answered:  'Do all thou
art taught.'  I am puzzled, and make bold to ask you, Sir."  The
Master said:--"Ch'iu is bashful, so I egged him on.  Yu has the
pluck of two, so I held him back."

Think it over!  Think it over!

This though occurs to me:  Was that sadness of his last days
caused by the knowledge that the School could not continue after
his death; because the one man who might have succeeded him as
the Teacher, Yen Huy, was dead?  So far as I know, it did not go
on; there was no one to succeed him.  That supreme success, that
grand capture of future ages for the Gods, was denied him; or I
daresay our own civilization might have been Confucian--BALANCED
--now.  But short of that--how sublime a figure he stands!  If
he had known that for twenty-five centuries or so he was to
shine within the vision of the great unthinking masses of his
countrymen as their supreme example; their anchor against the
tides of error, against abnormalities, extravagances, unbalance;
a bulwark against invading time and decay; a check on every bad
emperor, so far as check might be set at all; a central idea to
mold the hundred races of Chu Hia into homogeneity; a stay, a
prop, a warning against headlong courses at all times of cyclic
downtrend;--if he had known all this, he would, I think, have
ordered his life precisely as he did.  Is there no strength
implied, as of the Universal, and not of any personal, will,
however titanic, in the fact that moment after moment, day after
day, year after year, he built up this picture, gave the world
this wonderful assurance of a man?  In his omissions, no less
than in his fulfilments.  He taught,--so far as we know,--nothing
but what the common mind might easily accept; nothing to miss
the mark of the intelligence of dull Li or Ching toiling in the
rice-field;--nor yet too paltry for the notice of the Hwangti on
the Dragon Throne.  Laotse had come in the spirit of Plenydd the
Light-bringer; in the spirit of Alawn, to raise up presently
sweet profusions of song. He illuminated the inner worlds; his
was the urge that should again and again, especially later when
reinforced by Buddhism, prick up the Black-haired People to
heights of insight and spiritual achievement.--But the cycles of
insight and spiritual achievement, these too, must always run
their course and fall away; there is no year when it is always
Spring.  Dark moments and seasons come; and the Spirit becomes
hidden; and what you need most is not illumination,--which you
cannot get; or if you could, it would be hell, and not heaven,
that would be illuminated for you; not a spur to action,--for as
things are constituted, any spur at such a time would drive  you
to wrong and exorbitant action:--what you need is not these, but
simply stability to hold on; simply the habit of propriety, the
power to go on at least following harmless conventions and doing
harmless things; not striking out new lines for yourself, which
would certainly be wrong lines, but following as placidly as may
be lines that were laid down for you, or that you yourself laid
down, in more righteous and more luminous times.  A strong
government, however tyrannical, is better than an anarchy in
which the fiend in every man is let loose to run amuck.  Under
the tyranny, yes, the aspiring man will find himself hindered and
thwarted; but under the anarchy, since man is no less hell than
heaven, the gates of hell will be opened, and the Soul, normally
speaking, can only retire and wait for better times:--unless it
be the Soul of a Confucius, it can but wait till Karma with
ruthless hands has put down the anarchy and cleared things up.
Unless it be the Soul of a Confucius; and even Such a One is
bound to be a failure in his own day.

But see what he did.  The gates of hell were swung wide, and for
the time being, not the hosts of the Seraphim and Cherubim,--not
the armed Bodhisatvas and Dhyanis,--could have forced them back
on their hinges:  "the ripple of effect," we read, "thou shalt
let run its course."  But in the ideal world he erected a barrier
against them.  He set up a colossal statue with arms outthrown to
bar the egress; the statue of Confucius preaching the Balanced
Life.  With time it materialized, so to say, and fell into place.
You can never certainly stop the gates of hell,--in this stage of
our evolution.  But perhaps as nearly as it can be done, he did
it. Rome fell, and Christendom made a mess of things; it has
never yet achieved that union which is the first condition of
true civilization.  But China, older than Rome, despite her sins
and vicissitudes, has made a shift to stand.  I shall come to
comparing the two histories presently; then you will see.
When the pralaya came on her, and the forces of life all went
elsewhere--as they do and must from every civilization in their
season,--China lost two of her treasures:  Plenydd's vision, and
Alawn's gift of song, were taken from her.  But this stability;
these Gloves of Gwron; this instinct for middle courses and the
balance, this Doctrine of the Mean and love of plain sane doings:
she has retained enough of this to keep her in being.  And it was
K'ung Ch'iu of Lu that gave it to her.  Shall we not call him
Such a One as only the Gods send?

Someone told me the other day what he had seen a couple of
Chinamen do in a Californian garden.  They had a flower-bed
to plant, about forty feet long; and each a basket of seedlings
to plant it with, and a slip of wood for a model, with mystic
unintelligible signs inscribed thereon:  WELCOME HOME in English
capitals.  One went to one end of the bed and the other to the
other, and they began their planting.  They made no measurements
or calculations; used no rod or line; but just worked ahead
till they met in the middle.  When that happened, and the job was
done, the bed was inscribed, in perfectly formed and proportioned
English capitals made of young plants, WELCOME HOME.  There was
no crowding or omission.  To account for it you have twenty-four
centuries of Confucianism,--of Katherine Tingley's doctrine of
Middle Lines, the Balanced Life.

It is a very small thing; but it may help us to understand.



XII.  TALES FROM A TAOIST TEACHER


Confucius died in 478:  the year, it may be noted, in which
Athens attained her hegemony:  or just when the Greek Cycle
thirteen decades was opening.  Looking backward thirteen decades
from that, we come to 608 B.C.; four years after which date,
according to the usually accepted tradition, Laotse was born.
Thus we find the cycle preceding that of Greece mainly occupied,
in China, by the lives of the two great Teachers.

We should have seen by this time that these two lives were, so to
say, parts of a single whole:  co-ordinated spiritually, if not
in an organization on this plane.  Laotse, like H.P. Blavatsky,
brought the Teachings; he illuminated the inner worlds.  That
was his work.  We can see little of him as he accomplished it:
and only the smallest fragment of his doctrine remains:--five
thousand words, out of his whole long life.  But since we have
had in our own time an example of how these things are done, we
may judge him and his mission by this analogy; also by the
results.  Then came Confucius, like Katherine Tingley, to link
this wisdom with individual and national life.  The teachings
were there; and he had no need to restate them:  he might take
the great principles as already enounced.  But every Teacher has
his own method, and his need to accentuate this or that:  so time
and history have had most to say about the differences between
these two.  What Confucius had to do, and did, was to found his
school, and show in the lives of his disciples, modeled under his
hands, how the wisdom of the Ages (and of Laotse) can be made a
living power in life and save the world.

Contrasting the efforts of that age and this, we may say that
then, organization, such as we have now, was lacking.  Confucius
did not come as the official successor of Laotse; Laotse,
probably, had had no organized school that he could hand over to
Confucius.  He had taught, and his influence had gone far and
wide, affecting the thought of the age; but he had had no
trained and pledged body of students to whom he could say:
'Follow this man when I am gone; he is my worthy successor.'--
All of which will be laughed at:  I firmly believe, however, that
it is an accurate estimate of things.  When you come to think of
it, it was by the narrowest margine that H. P. Blavatsky, through
Mr. Judge--and his heroism and wisdom alone to be thanked
for it!--had anything beyond the influence of her ideas and
revelation to hand on to Katherine Tingley. In the way of an
organization, I mean.   Very few among her disciples had come to
have any glimmering of what discipleship means, or were prepared
to follow her accredited successors.

And Confucius, in his turn, had no established center for
his school; it was a thing that wandered the world with
him, and ceased, as in organization (however hazy) to exist
when he died.  Nothing remained, then, of either Teacher
for posterity except the ideas and example.  And yet I have
hinted, and shall try to show, that tremendous results for
good followed:  that the whole course of history was turned
in an upward direction.  You may draw what inferences you will.
The matter is profoundly significant.

Thirteen decades after the death of Confucius, Plato died in
Greece; and about that time two men arose in China to carry
forward, bring down, and be the expositors of, the work of
the two great Teachers of the  sixth and seventh centuries.
These were Chwangtse for  Taoism, and  Mangtse or Mencius for
Confucius:  the one, the channel through which spiritual thought
flowed to the quickening of the Chinese imagination; the other,
the man who converted the spiritual thought of Confucius into the
Chinese Constitution.  Alas! they were at loggerheads:  a wide
breach between the two schools of thought had come to be by their
time; or perhaps it was they who created it.  We shall arrive at
them next week; tonight, to introduce you to Liehtse, a Taoist
teacher who came sometime between Laotse and Chwangtse;--perhaps
in the last quarter of the fifth century, when Socrates was
active in Greece.

Professor De Groot, of Holland, speaks  boldly of Confucius as a
Taoist; and though I dislike many of this learned Dutchman's
ideas, this one is excellent. His thesis is that Laotse was no
more an innovator than Confucius; that both but gave a new
impulse to teachings as old as the race.  Before Laotse there had
been a Teacher Quan, a statesman-philosopher of the seventh
century, who had also taught the Tao.  The immemorial Chinese
idea had been that the Universe is made of the interplay of two
forces, _Yang_ and _Yin,_ positive and negative;--or simply the
Higher and the Lower natures.  To the Yang, the Higher, belong
the _Shen_ or gods,--all conscious beneficent forces within and
without man.  To the Yin or lower belong the _kwei,_ the opposite
of gods:  _fan_ means foreign; and _Fan Kwei_ is the familiar
Chinese term for white men.  From Shen and Tao we get the term
_Shentao,_ which you know better as _Shinto,_--the Way of the
Gods; or as well, the Wisdom of the Gods; as good an equivalent
of our term _Theosophy_ as you should find; perhaps indeed
better than _Theosophy_ itself; for it drives home the idea that
the _Wisdom_ is a practical _Way of Life._  Shentao, the Taoism
of the Higher Nature, then, was the primeval religion of the
Chinese;--Dr. De Groot arrives at this, though perhaps hardly
sees how sensible a conclusion he has reached.  In the sixth
century B.C. it was in a fair way to becoming as obsolete as
Neoplatonism or Gnosticism in the nineteenth A.D.; and Laotse
and Confucius simply restated some aspects of it with a new force
and sanction;--just as H.P. Blavatsky, in the _Key to Theosophy,_
begins, you will remember, with an appeal to and restatement of
the Theosophy of the Gnostics and Neoplatonists of Alexandria.

It may seem a kind of divergence from our stream of history, to
turn aside and tell stories from the _Book of Liehtse;_  but
there are excuses.  Chinese history, literature, thought--
everything--have been such a closed book to the West, that those
scholars who have opened a few of its pages are to be considered
public benefactors; and there is room and to spare for any who
will but hold such opened pages up;--we are not in the future to
dwell so cut off from a third of mankind.  Also it will do us
good to look at Theosophy from the angle of vision of another
race.  I think Liehtse has much to show us as to the difference
between the methods of the Chinese and Western minds:  the latter
that must bring most truths down through the brain-mind, and set
them forth decked in the apparel of reason; the former that is,
as it seems to me, often rather childlike as to the things of the
brain-mind; but has a way of bringing the great truths down and
past the brain-mind by some circuitous route; or it may be only
by a route much more direct than ours.  The West presents its
illuminations so that they look big on the surface; you say,
This is the work of a great mind. A writer in the _Times Literary
Supplement_ brought out the idea well, in comparing the two
poetries.  What he said was, in effect, as follows:--the Western
poet, too often, dons his singing robe before he will sing;
works himself up; expects to step out of current life into the
Grand Manner;--and unless the Soul happens to be there and vocal
at the time, achieves mostly _pombundle._  The Chinaman presents
his illumination as if it were nothing at all,--just the simplest
childish-foolish thing; nothing in the world for the brain-mind
to get excited about.  You take very little notice at the time:
more of their quaint punchinello _chinoiserie,_ you say.  Three
weeks after, you find that it was a clear voice from the
supermundane, a high revelation.  The Chinese poet saunters along
playing a common little tune on his Pan-pipes.  Singing robes?--
None in the world; just what he goes to work in. Grand Manner?--
'Sir,' says he, 'the contemptible present singer never heard of
it; wait for that till the coming of a Superior Man.'--'Well,'
you say, 'at least there is no danger of _pombundle';_   and
indeed there is not.  But you rather like the little tune, and
stop to listen . . . and then . . . Oh God! the Wonder of wonders
has happened, and the Universe will never be quite the dull,
fool, ditchwater thing it was to you before . . .

Liehtse gives one rather that kind of feeling.  We know
practically nothing about him.--I count three stages of growth
among the sinologists:  the first, with a missionary bias; the
second, with only the natural bias of pure scholarship and
critical intellectualism, broad and generous, but rather running
at times towards tidying up the things of the Soul from off the
face of the earth; the third, with scholarship plus sympathy,
understanding, and a dash of mystical insight.  The men of the
first stage accepted Liehtse as a real person, and called him a
degenerator of Taoism, a teacher of immoral doctrine;--in the
_Book of Liehtse,_ certainly, such doctrine is to be found.  The
men of the second stage effectually tidied Liehtse up:  Dr. H. A.
Giles says he was an invention of the fertile brain of Chwangtse,
and his book a forgery of Han times.  Well; people did forge
ancient literature in those days, and were well paid for doing
so; and you cannot be quite certain of the complete authenticity
of any book purporting to have been written before Ts'in Shi
Hwangti's time.  Also Chwangtse's brain was fertile enough for
anything;--so that there was much excuse for the men of the
second stage.  But then came Dr. Lionel Giles* who belongs to the
third stage, and perhaps _is_ the third stage.  He shows that
though there is in the _Book of Liehtse_ a residue or scum of
immoral teaching, it is quite in opposition to the tendency of
the teaching that remains when this scum is removed; and deduces
from this fact the sensible idea that the scum was a later
forgery; the rest, the authentic work of a true philosopher with
an original mind and a style of his own.  Such a man, of course,
might have lived later than Chwangtse, and taken his nom de plume
of Liehtse from the latter's book; but against this there is the
fact that Liehtse's teaching forms a natural link between
Chtangtse's and that of their common Master Laotse; and above
all--and herein lies the real importance of him--the real Liehtse
treats Confucius as a Teacher and Man of Tao.  But by Chwangtse's
time the two schools had separated:  Confucius was Chwangtse's
butt;--we shall see why. And in the scum of Liehtse he is
made fun of in Chwangtse's spirit, but without Changtse's wit
and style.

------
* Whose translation of parts of the _Book of Liehtse,_ with an
invaluable preface, appears in the _Wisdom of the East Series;_
from which translation the passages quoted in this lecture are
taken;--as also are many ideas from the preface.
------

So that whoever wrote this book,--whether it was the man referred
to by Chwangtse when he says:  "There was Liehtse again; he could
ride upon the wind and go wheresoever he wished, staying away as
long as thirteen days,"--or someone else of the same name, he did
not take his non de plume from that passage in Chwangtse, because
he was probably dead when Chwangtse wrote it.  We may, then,
safely call him a Taoist Teacher of the fifth century,--or at
latest of the early fourth.

The book's own account of itself is, that it was not written by
Liehtse, but compiled from his oral teaching by his disciples.
Thus it begins:

"Our Master Liehtse live in the Cheng State for forty years, and
no man knew him for what he was.  The prince, his ministers, and
the state officials looked upon him as one of the common herd.  A
time of dearth fell upon the state, and he was preparing to
emigrate to Wei, when his disciples said to him:  'Now that our
Master is going away without any prospect of returning, we have
ventured to approach him, hoping for instruction.  Are there no
words from the lips of Hu-Ch'iu Tsu-lin that you can impart to
us?'--Lieh the Master smiled and said:  'Do you suppose that Hu
Tzu dealt in words?  However, I will try to repeat to you what my
Teacher said on one occasion to Po-hun Moujen.  I was standing by
and heard his words, which ran as follows.'"

Then come some rather severe metaphysics on cosmogony:  really, a
more systematic statement of the teaching thereon which Laotse
referred to, but did not (in the _Tao Teh King_) define.  'More
systematic,'--and yet by no means are the lines laid down and the
plan marked out; there is no cartography of cosmogenesis; . . .
but seeds of meditation are sown.  Of course, it is meaningless
nonsense for the mind to which all metaphysics and abstract
thought are meaningless nonsense.  Mystics, however, will see in
it an attempt to put the Unutterable into words.  One paragraph
may be quoted:

"There is life, and That which produces life; form, and That
which imparts form; sound, and That which causes color; taste,
and That which causes taste.  The source of life is death; but
That which produces life never comes to an end."

Remember the dying Socrates:  'life comes from death, as death
from life.'  We appear, at birth, out of that Unseen into which
we return at death, says Liehtse; but that which produces life,
--which is the cause of this manifestation (you can say, the
Soul),--is eternal.

"The origin of form is matter; but That which imparts form has
no material existence."

No; because it is the down-breathing spirit entering into
matter; matter being the medium through which it creates, or to
which it imparts, form.  "The form to which the clay is modeled
is first united with"--or we may say, projected from--"the
potter's mind."

"The genesis of sound lies in the sense of hearing; but That
which causes sound is never audible to the ear.  The source of
color"--for 'source' we might say, the 'issuing-point'--"is
vision; but That which produces color never manifests to the
eye.  The origin of taste lies in the palate; but That which
causes taste is never perceived by that sense.  All these
pehnomena are functions of the Principle of Inaction--the inert
unchanging Tao."

One is reminded of a passage in the _Talavakara-Upanishad:_

"That which does not speak by speech, but by which speech is
expressed:  That alone shalt thou know as Brahman, not that which
they here adore.

"That which does not think by mind, but by which mind is itself
thought:  That alone shalt thou know as Brahman, not that which
they here adore."

And so it continues of each of the sense-functions.

After this, Liehtse for the most wanders from story to story; he
taught in parables; and sometimes we have to listen hard to
catch the meaning of them, he rarely insists on it, or drives it
well home, or brings it down to levels of plain-spokenness at
which it should declare itself to a westem mind.  Here, again, is
the Chinese characteristic:  the touch is lighter; more is left
to the intuition of the reader; the lines are less heavily
drawn.  They rely on a kind of intelligence in the readers, akin
to the writers', to see those points at a glance, which we must
search for carefully.  Where each word has to be drawn, a
little picture taking time and care, you are in no danger of
overlavishness; you do not spill and squander your words,
"intoxicated," as they say, "with the exuberance of your
verbosity."  Style was forced on the Chinese; ideograms
are a grand preventive against pombundle.--I shall follow
Liehtse's method, and go from story to story at random; perhaps
interpreting a little by the way.

We saw how Confucius insisted on balance:  egging on Jan Yu, who
was bashful, and holding back Tse Lu, who had the pluck of two;--
declaring that Shih was not a better man than Shang, because too
far is not better than not far enough.  The whole Chinese idea is
that this balance of the faculties is the first and grand
essential. Your lobsided man can make no progress really;--he
must learn balance first.  An outstanding virtue, talent, or
aptitude, is a deterrent, unless the rest of the nature is
evolved up to it;--that is why the Greatest Men are rarely the
most striking men; why a Napoleon catches the eye much more
quickly than a Confucius; something stands out in the one,--and
compels attention; but all is even in the other.  You had much
better not have genius, if you are morally weak; or a very
strong will, if you are a born fool.  For the morally weak genius
will end in moral wreck; and the strong-willed fool--a plague
upon him!  This is the truth, knowledge of which has made China
so stable; and ignorance of which has kept the West so brilliant
and fickle,--of duality such poles apart,--so lobsided and, I
think, in a true sense, so little progressive.  For see how many
centuries we have had to wait while ignorance, bigotry, wrong
ideas, and persecution, have prevented the establishment on any
large scale of a Theosophical Movement--and be not too ready
to accept  a whirl of political changes, experiment after
experiment,--and latterly a spurt of mechanical inventions,--for
True Progress:  which I take to mean, rightly considered, the
growth of human egos, and freedom and an atmosphere in which they
may grow. But these they had in China abundantly while China was
in manvantara; do not think I am urging as our example the
fallen China of these pralayic times.  Balance was the truth
Confucius impressed on the Chinese mentality:  the saving Truth
of truths, I may say; and it is perhaps the truth which most of
all will stand connected with the name of Katherine Tingley in
the ages to come:--the saving  Truth of truths, which will make
a new and better world for us.  You must have it, if you are to
build solidly; it is the foundation of any true social order;
the bedrock on which alone a veritable civilization can be built.
Oh, your unbalanced genius can produce things of startling
beauty; and they have their value, heaven knows.  The Soul
watches for its chances, and leaps in at surprising moments:  the
arm clothed in white samite may reach forth out of the bosom of
all sorts of curious quagmires; and when it does, should be held
in reverence as still and always a proof of the underlying
divinity of man. But--there where the basis of things is not
firmly set:  where that mystic, wonderful reaching out is not
from the clear lake, but from turbidity and festering waters--
where the grand balance has not been acquired:--You must look to
come on tragedy.  The world has gained something from the speech
of the Soul there; but the man through whom It spoke;--it has
proved too much for him.  The vibrations were too strong, and
shattered him.  Think of Keats . . . and of thousands of others,
poets, musicians, artists.  Where you get the grand creations,
the unfitful shining,--there you get evidence of a balance:  with
genius--the  daimonic force--no greater than, perhaps not so keen
as, that of those others, you find a strong moral will.  Dante
and Milton suffered no less than others from those perils to
which all creative artists are subject:  both complain bitterly
of inner assailments and torment; but they had, to balance their
genius, the strong moral urge to fight their weaknesses all
through life.  It could not save their personalities from
suffering; but it gave the Soul in each of them a basis on which
to build the grand steadfast creations.--All of which Chinese
Liehtse tells you without comment, and with an air of being too
childish-foolish for this world, in the following story:--

Kung-hu and Chi-ying fell ill, and sought the services of the
renowned doctor, Pien-chiao.  He cured them with his drugs; then
told them they were also suffering from diseases no drugs could
reach, born with them at their birth, and that had grown up with
them through life.  "Would you have me grapple with these?" said
he.--"Yes," said they; but wished first to hear the diagnosis.--
"You,"  he said to kung-hu, "have strong mental powers, but are
weak in character; so, though fruitful in plans, you are weak in
decision."  "You," he said to Chi-ying, "are stong of will,
though stupid; so there is a narrowness in your aims and a want
of foresight.  Now if I can effect an exchange of hearts between
you, the good will be equally balanced in both."

They agreed at once:  Kung-hu, with the weaker will, was to get
the smaller mental powers to match it; Chi-ying was to get a
mentality equal to his firm will.  We should think Kung-hu got
very much the worst of the bargain; but he, and Dr. Pien-chiao,
and Liehtse, and perhaps Chinamen generally, thought and would
think nothing of the kind.  To them, to have balanced faculties
was far better than to have an intellect too big for one's
will-power; because such balance would afford a firm basis from
which will and intellect might go forward in progress harmoniously.
So Pien-chiao put both under a strong anaesthetic, took out their
hearts, and made the exchange (the heart being, with the Chinese,
the seat of mentality); and after that the health of both was
perfect.--You may laugh; but after all there is a grandeur in
the recognition implied, that the intellect is not the man,
but only one of his possessions.  The story is profoundly
characteristic:  like Ah Sin's smile in the poem, "childlike and
bland"; but hiding wonderful depths of philosophy beneath.

Laotse showed his deep Occult wisdom when he said that the Man of
Tao  "does difficult things while they are still easy."  Liehtse
tells you the story of the Assitant to the Keeper of the Wild
Beasts at Loyang.  His name was Lian yang, and his fame went
abroad for having a wonderful way with the creatures in his
charge.  Hsuan Wang, the Chow king, heard of it; and sent orders
to the Chief Keeper to get the secret from Liang, lest it should
die with him.--"How is it," said the Keeper, "that when you feed
them, the tigers, wolves, eagles, and ospreys all are tame and
tractable?  That they roam at large in the park, yet never claw
and bite one another?   That they propagate their species
freely, as if they were wild?  His Majesty bids you reveal to
me the secret."

A touch of nature here:  all zoologists know how difficult it is
to get wild beasts to breed in captivity.

Lian Yang answered:  "I am only a humble servant, and have really
no secret to tell.  I fear the king has led you to expect
something mysterious.  As to the tigers:  all I can say is that,
like men, when yielded to they are pleased and when opposed they
are angry.  Nothing gives way either to pleasure or to anger
without a cause; and anger, by reaction, will follow pleasure,
and pleasure anger.  I do not excite the tigers' joy by giving
them live creatures to kill, or whole carcasses to tear up.  I
neither rouse their anger by opposing them, nor humor them to
make them pleased.  I time their periods of hunger and anticipate
them.  It is my aim to be neither antagonistic nor compliant; so
they look upon me as one of themselves.  Hence they walk about
the parks without regretting the tall forests and broad marshes,
and rest in the enclosure without yearning for lonely mountain or
dark vale.  It is merely using common sense."

And there Liehtse leaves it in all its simplicity; but I shall
venture to put my spoke in, and add that he has really given you
a perfect philosophy for the conduct of life:  for the government
of that other and inner tiger, the lower nature, especially; it
is always that, you will remember, for which the Tiger stands in
Chinese symbology;--and also for education, the government of
nations--everything.  Balance,--Middle lines,--Avoidance of
Extremes,--Lines of Least Resistance:--by whom are we hearing
these things inculcated daily?  Did they not teach Raja-Yoga in
ancient China?  Have not our school and its principles a Chinese
smack about them?  Well; it was these principles made China
supremely great; and kept her alive and strong when all her
contemporaries had long passed into death; and, I hope, have
ingrained something into her soul and hidden being, which will
make her rise to wonderful heights again.

You can hear Laotse in them; it is the practical application of
Laotse's doctrine.  But can you not equally hear the voice of
Confucius:  "too far is not better than not far enough"?  Western
ethical teaching has tended towards inculcating imitation of the
soul's action:  this Chinese teaching takes the Soul for granted;
says very little about it; but shows you how to provide the soul
with the conditions through and in which it may act.  "Love your
enemies;"--yes; that is fine; it is what the Soul, the Divine
Part of us, does;--but we are not in the least likely to do it
while suffering from the reaction from an outburst of emotion;
ethics grow rather meaningless to us when, for example, we have
toppled over from our balance into pleasure, eaten not wisely but
too well, say; and then toppled back into the dumps with an
indigestion.  But where the balance is kept you need few ethical
injunctions; the soul is there, and may speak; and sees to
all that.

Hu-Chiu Tzu-lin, we read, taught Liehtse these things.  Said he:
"You must familiarize yourself with the Theory of Consequents
before you can talk of regulating conduct."  Liehtse said:--"Will
you explain what you mean by the Theory of Consequents?"  "Look at
your shadow," said his teacher; "and you will know."  Liehtse
turned his head and looked at his shadow.  When his body was bent
the shadow was crooked; when upright, it was straight.  Thus it
appeared that the attributes of straightness and crookedness were
not inherent in the shadow, but corresponded to certain positions
in the body . . . . "Holding this Theory of Consequents,"
says Liehtse, "is to be at home in the antecedent."  Now the
antecedent of the personality is the Soul; the antecedent of the
action is the motive; the antecedent of the conduct of life is
the relation in which the component faculties of our being stand
to each other and to the Soul.  If the body is straight, so is
the shadow; if the inner harmony or balance is attained and held
to--well; you see the point.  "The relative agrees with its
antecedent," say the grammar books, very wisely.  It is karma
again:  the effect flowing from the cause.  "You may consider the
virtues of Shennung and Yuyen,"  says Liehtse; "you may examine
the books of Yu, Kia, Shang, and Chow,"--that is, the whole of
history;--"you may weight the utterances of the great Teachers
and Sages; but you will find no instance of preservation or
destruction, fulness or decay, which has not obeyed this supreme
Law of Causality."

Where are you to say that Liehtse's Confucianism ends, and his
Taoism begins?  It is very difficult to draw a line. Confucius,
remember, gave _"As-the-heart"_ for the single character that
should express his whole doctrine.  Liehtse is leading you
inward, to see how the conduct of life depends upon Balance,
which also is a word that may translate _Tao._  Where the balance
is, there we come into relations with the great Tao.  There is
nothing supra-Confucian here; though soon we may see an
insistence upon the Inner which, it may be supposed, later
Confucianism, drifting toxards externalism, would hardly have
enjoyed.--A man in Sung carved a mulberry-leaf in jade for his
prince.  It took three years to complete, and was so well done,
so realistic in its down and glossiness, that if placed in a heap
of real mulberry-leaves, it could not be distinguished from them.
The State pensioned him as a reward; but Liehtse, hearing of it,
said:  "If God Almighty took three years to complete a leaf,
there would be very few trees with leaves on them.  The Sage will
rely less on human skill and science, than on the evolution
of Tao."

Lung Shu came to the great doctor Wen Chih, and said to him:
"You are the master of cunning arts.  I have a disease; can you
cure it, Sir?"  "So far," said Wen Chih, "you have only made
known your desire.  Please let me know the symptoms of your
disease."  They were, utter indifference to the things and events
of the world.  "I hold it no honor to be praised in my own
village, nor disgrace to be decried in my native State.  Gain
brings me no joy, loss no sorrow.  I dwell in my home as if it
were a mere caravanserai, and regard my native district as though
it were one of the barbarian kingdoms.  Honors and rewards fail
to rouse me, pains and penalties to overawe me, good or bad
fortune to influence me; joy or grief to move me.  What disease
is this?  What remedy will cure it?" *

------
* I may say here that though I am quoting the speeches more or
less directly from Dr. Lionel Giles' translation, too many
liberties are being taken, verbally, with the narative parts of
these stories, to allow quotation marks and small type.  One
contracts and expands (sparingly, the latter); but gives
the story.
------

Wen Chih examined his heart under X-rays;--really and truly that
is in effect what Liehtse says.--"Ah," said he, "I see that a
good square inch of your heart is hollow; you are within a
little of being a true Sage.  Six of the orifices are open and
clear, and only the seventh is blocked up.  This last is
doubtless due to the fact that you are mistaking for a disease
what is in reality an approach to divine enlightenment. It is a
case in which my shallow art is of no avail."

I tell this tale, as also that other about the exchange of
hearts, partly to suggest that Liehtse's China may have had the
actuality, or at least a reminiscence, of scientific knowledge
since lost there, and only discovered in Europe recently.  In the
same way one finds references to automatic oxen, self-moving
chariots, traveling by air, and a number of other things which,
as we read of them, sound just like superstitious nonsense.
There are old Chinese drawings of pterodactyls, and suchlike
unchancey antediluvian wild fowl.  _Argal,_ (you would say) the
Chinese knew of these once; although Ptero and his friends have
been extinct quite a few million years, one supposes.  Or was it
superstition again?  Then why was it not superstition in
Professor So-and-so, who found the bones and reconstructed the
beastie for holiday crowds to gaze upon at the Crystal Palace
or the Metropolitan Museum?  Knowledge does die away into
reminiscence, and then into oblivion; and the chances are that
Liehtse's time retained reminiscences which have since become
oblivion-hidden;--then rediscovered in the West.--But I tell the
tale also for a certain divergence marked in it, between Taoist
and Confucian thought.  Laotse would have chuckled over it, who
brooded much on 'self-emptiness' as the first step towards
illumination.  Confucius would have allowed it; but it would not
have occurred to him, unsuggested.

Now here is something still further from Confucianism; something
prophetic of later Taoist developments, though it still contains
Laotse's thought, and--be it said--deep wisdom.

Fan Tsu Hua was a bully and a charlatan, who by his trickery
had won such hold over the king of Tsin that anyone he might
recommend was surely advanced to office, and anyone he cried down
would lose his all.  So it was said he had magic to make the rich
poor and the poor rich.  He had many disciples, who were the
terror of the peaceably disposed.

One day they saw an old weak man approaching, 'with weather-beaten
face and clothes of no particular cut.'  A chance for sport
not to be neglected, they thought; and began to hustle him
about in their usual fashion, 'slapping him on the back, and what
not.'  But he--Shang Ch'iu K'ai was his name--seemed only full of
joy and serenity, and heeded nothing.  Growing tired of their fun
at last, they would make an end of it; and led him to the top of
a high cliff.  "Whoever dares throw himself over,"  said one of
them, "will find a hundred ounces of silver," which certainly he
had not had with him at the top, and none of them had put there.

It was a wonder; and still more a wonder his being unhurt; but
you can make chance account for most things, and they meant to
get rid of him.  So they brought him to the banks of the river,
saying:  "A pearl of great price is here, to be had for the
diving."  In he went without a word, and disappeared duly; and
so, thought they, their fun had come to a happy end.  But no:  as
they turned to go, up he came, serene and smiling, and scrambled
out.  "Well; did you find the pearl?" they asked.  "Oh yes,"
said Shang; "it was just as your honors said."  He showed it to
them; and it was indeed a pearl of great price.

Here was something beyond them; the old man, clearly, was a
favorite of Fortune; Fan their master himself must deal with
him.  So they sent word ahead, and brought him to the palace of
Fan.  Who understood well the limitations of quack magic:  if he
was to be beaten at these tricks, where would his influence be?
So he heaped up riches in the courtyard, and made a great fire
all round.--"Anyone can have those things," he announced, "who
will go in and get them."  Shang quietly walked through the
flames, and came out with his arms full; not a hair of his head
was singed.

And now they were filled with consternation; they had been
making a mock of Tao these years; and here evidently was a real
Master of Tao, come to expose them.--"Sir," they said, "we did
not know that you posessed the Secret, and were playing you
tricks.  We insulted you, unaware that you were a divine man.
But you have leaped from the cliff, dived into the Yellow River,
and walked through the flames without injury; you have shown us
our stupidity, blindness, and deafness.  We pray you to forgive
us, and to reveal to us the Secret."

He looked at them in blank amazement.--"What is this you are
telling me?" said he.  "I am only old Shang Ch'iu K'ai the
peasant.  I heard that you, Sir, by your magic could make the
poor rich.  I wanted to be rich, so I came to you.  I believed in
you absolutely, and in all your disciples said; and so my mind
was made one; I forgot my body; I saw nothing of cliffs or fire
or water.  But now you say you were decieving me, my soul returns
to its perplexity, and my eyes and ears to their sight and
hearing.  What terrible dangers I have escaped!  My limbs freeze
with horror to think of them."

Tsai Wo, continues Liehtse, told this story to Confucius.--"Is
this so strange to you?"  said the latter.  "The man of perfect
faith can move heaven and earth, and fly to the six cardinal
points without hindrance.  His powers are not confined to walking
in perilous places and passing through water and fire.  If Shang
Ch'iu K'ai, whose motive was greed and whose belief was false,
found no obstacle in external things, how much more certainly
will it be so when the motive is pure and both parties sincere?"

I will finish it with what is really another of Liehtse's
stories,--also dealing with a man who walked through fire
uninjured, unconscious of it because of the one-pointedness of
his mind.

The incident came to the ears of Marquis Wen of Wei, who spoke to
Tsu Hsia, a disciple of Confucius, about it.--"From what I have
heard the Master say," said Tsu Hsia, "the man who achieves
harmony with Tao enters into close relations with outer objects,
and none of them has power to harm or hinder him."--"Why, my
friend," said the Marquis, "cannot you do all these marvels?"--"I
have not yet succeeded," said Tsu Hsia, "in cleansing my heart
from impurities and discarding brainmind wisdom."--"And why,"
said the Marquis, "cannot the Master himself" (Confucius, of course)
"perform such feats?"--"The Master," said Tsu Hsia, "is able to
perform them; but _he is also able to refrain from performing
them."_--which, again, he was.  Here is another example:

Hui Yang went to visit Prince K'ang of Sung.  The prince,
however, stamped his foot, rasped his throat, and said angrily:--
"The things I like are courage and strength.  I am not fond of
your good and virtuous people.  What can a stranger like you have
to teach me?"

 "I have a secret," said Hui Yang, "whereby my opponent,
however brave or strong, can be prevented from harming me
either by thrust or blow.  Would not Your Highness care to
know that secret?"

"Capital!" said the Prince; "that is certainly something I
should like to hear about."

"True," said Hui yang, "when you render his stabs or blows
ineffectual, you cover your opponent with shame.  But my secret
will make him, however brave or strong, afraid to stab or strike
at all."

 "Better still," said the Prince; "let me hear about it."

"It is all very well for him to be afraid to do it." said Hui
Yang; "but that does not imply he has no will to do it.  Now, my
secret would deprive him even of the will."

"Better and better," said Prince K'ang; "I beseech you to reveal
it to me."

"Yes," said Hui Yang; "but this not having the will to injure
does not necessarily connote a desire to love and do good.  But
my secret is one whereby every man, woman, and child in the
empire shall be inspired with the friendly desire to love and do
good to each other.  This is much better than the possession of
mere courage and strength.  Has Your Highness no mind to acquire
such a secret as this?"

The Prince confessed that, on the contray, he was most anxious to
learn it.

"It is nothing else than the teachings of Confucius and Mo Ti,"
said Hui Yang.

A main idea of Taoism--one with which the Confucius of orthodox
Confucianism did not concern himself--is the possibility of
creating within one's outer and mortal an inner and immortal
self; by subduing desire, by sublimating away all impurities, by
concentration.  The seed of that Immortality is hidden in us;
the seed of mastery of the inner and outer worlds.  Faith is the
key.  Shang Ch'iu K'ai, whose "faith had made him whole," walked
through fire.  "Whoso hath faith as a grain of mustard-seed,"
said Jesus, can move mountains.  It sounds as if he had been
reading the _Book of Liehtse;_  which is at pains to show how the
thing is done.  T'ai-hsing and Wang-wu, the mountains, stood not
where they stand now, but in the south of the Chi district and
north of Ho-yang.  I like the tale well, and shall tell it for
its naive Chinesity.  The Simpleton of the North Mountain, an old
man of ninety, dwelt opposite to them, and was vexed in spirit
because their northern flanks blocked the way for travelers, who
had to go round.  So he called his family together and broached a
plan.--"Let us put forth our utmost strength and clear away this
obstacle,"  said he; "let us cut right through the mountains
till we come to Han-yin."  All agreed except his wife.  "My
goodman,"  said she, "has not the strength to sweep away a
dung-hill, let alone such mountains as T'ai-hsing and Wang-wu.
Besides, where will you put the earth and stones?"  They answered
that they would throw them on the promontory of P'o-hai.  So the
old man, followed by his son and grandson, sallied forth with
their pickaxes, and began hewing away at the rocks and cutting up
the soil, and carting it away in baskets to the promontory.  A
widow who lived near by had a little boy who, though he was only
just shedding his milk-teeth, came skipping along to give them
what help he could.  Engrossed in their toil they never went home
except once at the turn of the season.

The Wise Old Man of the River-bend burst out laughing and urged
them to stop.  "Great indeed is your witlessness!"  said he.
"With the poor remaining strength of your declining years you
will not succeed in removing a hair's-breadth of the mountains,
much less the whole vast mass of rock and soil."  With a sigh the
Simpleton of the North Mountain answered:--"Surely it is you who
are narrow-minded and unreasonable.  You are not to be compared
with the widow's son, despite his puny strength.  Though I myself
must die, I shall leave my son behind me, and he his son.  My
grandson will beget sons in his turn, and those sons also will
have sons and grandsons.  With all this posterity my line will
not die out; while on the other hand the mountains will receive
no increment or addition.  Why then should I despair of leveling
them to the ground at last?"--The Wise Old Man of the River-bend
had nothing to say in reply.

Chinese!  Chinese!--From whatever angle you look at it, it smacks
of the nation that saw Babylon fall, and Rome, and may yet--

But look now, at what happened.  There was something about the
project and character of the Simpleton of the North Mountain,
that attracted the attention of the Serpent-Brandishing deities.
They reported the matter to Almighty God; who was interested;
and perhaps was less patient than the simpleton.--I do not quite
know who this person translated 'Almighty God' may be; I think
he figures in the Taoist hierarchy somewhere below Laotse and the
other Adepts.  At any rate he was in a position to order the two
sons of K'ua O--and I do not know who K'ua O and his sons were--
to expedite matters.  So the one of them took up T'ai-hsing, and
the other Wu-wang, and transported them to the positions where
they remain to this day to prove the truth of Liehtse's story.
Further proof:--the region between Ts'i in the north and Han in
the south--that is to say, northern Homan--is still and has been
ever since, an unbroken plain.

And perhaps, behind this naive Chinesity, lie grand enunciations
of occult law. . . .

I will end with what is probably Liehtse's most famous story--
and, from a purely literary standpoint, his best.  It is worthy
of Chwangtse himself; and I tell it less for its philosophy than
for its fun.

One morning a fuel-gatherer--we may call him Li for convenience,
though Liehtse leaves him nameless--killed a deer in the forest;
and to keep the carcass safe till he went home in the evening,
hid it under a pile of brushwood.  His work during the day took
him far and when he looked for the deer again, he could not find
it.  "I must have dreamed the whole thing," he said;--and
satisfied  himself with that explanation.  He made a verse about
it as he trudged home through the woods, and went crooning:

     At dawn in the hollow, beside the stream,
     I hid the deer I killed in the dream;
     At eve I sought for it far and near;
     And found 'twas a dream that I killed the deer.

He passed the cottage of Yen the woodman--Yen we may call him,
though Liehtse calls him nothing.--who heard the song, and
pondered.  "One might as well take a look at the place," thought
he; it seemed to him it might be such and such a hollow, by such
and such a stream.  Thither he went, and found the pile of
brushwood; It looked to him a likely place enough to hide a deer
under.  He made search, and there the carcass was.

He took it home and explained the matter to his wife.  "Once upon
a time," said he, "a fuel-gatherer dreamed he had killed a deer
and forgotten where he had hidden it.  Now I have got the deer,
and here it is; so his dream came true, in a way."--"Rubbish!"
she answered.  "It was you must have dreamed the fuel-gatherer
and his dreim.  You must have killed the deer yourself, since you
have it there; but where is your fuel-gatherer?"

That night Li dreamed again; and in his dream saw Yen fetch the
deer from its hiding-place and bring it home.  So in the morning
he went to Yen's house and there, sure enough, the deer was.
They argued the matter out, but to no purpose.  Then they took it
before the magistrate, who gave judgment as follows:

"The plaintiff began with a real deer and an alleged dream; and
now comes forward with a real dream and an alleged deer.  The
defendant has the deer the plaintiff dreamed, and wants to keep
it.  According to his wife, however, the plaintiff and the deer
are both but figments of the defendant's dream. Meanwhile, there
is the deer; which you had better divide between you."

The case was reported to the Prince of Cheng, whose opinion was
that the magistrate had dreamed the whole story, himself.  But
his Prime Minister said:  "If you want to distinguish between
dream and waking, you would have to go back to the Yellow Emperor
or Confucius.  As both are dead, you had better uphold the
magistrate's decision." *

------
* The tale is told both in Dr. Lionel Giles's translation
mentioned above, and also, with verbal differences, in Dr. H. A.
Giles's work on _Chinese Literature._  The present telling
follows now one, now the other version, now goes its own way;--
and pleads guilty to adding the verse the woodman crooned.
------



XIII.  MANG THE PHILOSOPHER, AND BUTTERFLY CHWANG


Liehtse's tale of the Dream and the Deer leads me naturally to
this characteristic bit from Chwangtse:*--

"Once upon a time, I, Chwangtse, dreamed I was a butterfly
fluttering hither and thither; to all intents and purposes a
veritable butterfly.  I followed my butterfly fancies, and was
unconscious of my individuality as a man.  Suddenly I awoke, and
there I lay, a man again.  Now how am I to know whether I was
then, Chwangtse dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a
butterfly dreaming I am Chwang?"

------
* Which, like nearly all the other passages from him in this
lecture, is quoted from Dr. H. A. Giles's _Chinese Literature,_
in the Literatures of the World series; New York, Appleton.
------

For which reason he is, says Dr. Giles, known to this day as
"Butterfly Chwang"; and the name is not all inappropriate.  He
flits from fun to philosophy, and from philosoply to fun, as if
they were dark rose and laughing pansy; when he has you in the
gravest depths of wisdom and metaphysic, he will not be content
till with a flirt of his wings and an aspect gravely solemn he
has you in fits of laughter again.  His is really a book that
belongs to world-literature; as good reading, for us now, as for
any ancient Chinaman of them all.  I think he worked more
strenuously in the field of sheer intellect--stirred the thought
stuff more--than most other Chinese thinkers,--and so is more
akin to the Western mind; he carves his cerebrations more
definitely, and leaves less to the intuition. The great lack in
him is his failure to appreciate Confucius; and to explain that,
before I go further with Butterfly Chwang, I shall take a glance
at the times he lived in.

They were out of joint when Confucius came; they were a couple
of centuries more so now.  Still more was the Tiger stalking
abroad:  there were two or three tigers in particular, among the
Great Powers, evidentlv crouching for a spring--that should
settle things.  Time was building the funeral pyre for the
Phoenix, and building it of the debris of ruined worlds.  In the
early sixth century, the best minds were retiring in disgust to
the wilds;--you remember the anchorite's rebuke to Tse-Lu. But
now they were all coming from their retirement--the most active
minds, whether the best or not--to shout their nostrums and make
confusion worse confounded.  All sorts of socialisms were in the
air, raucously bellowed by would-be reformers.  A "loud barbarian
from the south" (as Mencius called him--I do not know who he was)
was proclaiming that property should be abolished, and all goods
held in common.  One Yang Chu was yelling universal egoism:
"Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."  Against him, one Mo
Ti had been preaching universal altruism;--but I judge, not too
sensibly, and without appeal to philosophy or mysticism.  Thought
of all kinds was in a ferment, and the world filled with the
confused noise of its expression; clear voices were needed, to
restate the message of the Teachers of old.

Then Mencius arose to speak for Confucius in this China so much
further progressed along the Gadarene road.  A strong and
brilliant man, he took the field strongly and brilliantly, and
filled the courts of dukes and kings with a roll of Confucian
drums.  Confucius, as I have tried to show you, had all Mysticism
divinely behind and backing him, though he said little about it;
Mencius, I think, had none.  Mencius remade a Confucius of his
own, with the mystical elements lacking.  He saw in him only a
social reformer and teacher of ethics; and it is the easiest
thing in the world to see Confucius only through Mencian spectacles.

I would not fall into the mistake of undervaluing Mencius.  He
was a very great man; and the work he did for China was
enormous, and indispensable.  You may call him something between
the St. Paul and the Constantine of Confucianism.  Unlike
Constantine, he was not a sovereign, to establish the system;
but he hobnobbed with sovereigns, and never allowed them to think
him their inferior; and it was he who made of Confucianism a
system that could be established.  Unlike St. Paul, he did not
develop the inner side of his Master's teachings; but he so
popularized them as to ensure their triumph.  He took the ideas
of Confucius, such of them as lay within his own statesmanlike
and practical scope of vision, restated and formulated them, and
made of them what became the Chinese Constitution.  A brave and
honest thinker, essentially a man of action in thought, he never
consciously deteriorated or took away from Confucius' doctrine.
It is more as if some great President or Prime Minister, at some
future time, should suddenly perceive that H.P. Blavatsky had
brought that which would save his nation; and proceed to apply
that saving thing, as best he might, in the field of practical
politics and reform--or rather to restate it in such a way that
(according to his view) it might be applied.

He put the constituents parts of society in order of importance
as follows:  the People; the Gods; the Sovereign:  and this has
been a cardinal principle in Chinese polity.  He saw clearly that
the Chow dynasty could never be revived; and arrived at the
conclusion that a dynasty was only sacred while it retained the
"mandate of heaven."  Chow had lost that; and therefore it was
within the rights of Heaven, as you may say, to place its mandate
elsewhere;--and within the rights of the subject--as the logic of
events so clearly proved Chow had lost the mandate--to rebel.
Confucius had hoped to revivify Chow--had begun with that hope,
at any rate:  Mencius hoped to raise up some efficient sovereign
who should overturn Chow.  The Right of Rebellion, thus taught by
him, is another fundamental Chinese principle.  It works this
way:  if there was discontent, there was misrule; and it was the
fault of the ruler.  If the latter was a local magistrate,
or a governor, prefect, or viceroy, you had but to make a
demonstration, normally speaking, before his yamen:  this was
technically a 'rebellion' within Mencius' meaning; and the
offending authority must report it to Pekin, which then commonly
replaced him with another.  (It would get to Pekin's ears anyway;
so you had better--and ususally did--report it yourself.)  If the
offender was the Son of Heaven, with all his dynasty involved--
why, then one had to rebel in good earnest; and it was to be
supposed that if Heaven had really given one a mandate, one would
win.  The effect was that, although nominally absolute, very few
emperors have dared or cared to fly quite in the face of
Confucius, or Mencius, of their religio-political system, of the
Board of Censors whose business it was to criticize the Throne,
and of a vast opinion.

There was the tradition an emperor ruled for the people.  The
office of ruler was divine; the man that held it was kept an
impersonality as much as possible.  He changed his name on coming
to the throne, and perhaps several times afterwards:  thus we
speak of the great emperors Han Wuti and Tang Taitsong; who
might, however, be called more exactly, Liu Ch'e, who was emperor
during the period _Wuti_ of the Han Dynasty; Li Shihmin, who
filled the throne during the T'ang period called _Taitsong._
Again, there was the great idea, Confucio-Mencian, that the son
of Heven must be 'compliant':  leading rather than driving.  He
promulgated edicts, but they were never rigidly enforced; a
certain voluntaryism was allowed as to the carrying out of them:
if one of them was found unsuccessful, or not to command popular
approval, another could be--and was--issued to modify or change
it.  So that the whole system was far removed from what we think
of as an 'Oriental Despotism'; on the contrary, there was always
a large measure of freedom and self-government.  You began with
the family:  the head of that was its ruler, and responsible
for order in his little realm.  But he governed by consent
and affection, not by force.  Each village-community was
self-governing; the headman in it taking the place of the father
in the family; he was responsible for order, so it was his
business to keep the people happy;--and the same principle was
extended to fit the province, the viceroyalty, the empire.
Further, there was the absence of any aristocracy or privileged
class; and the fact that all offices were open to all Chinamen
(actors excepted)--the sole key to open it being merit, as attested
by competitive examinations.

The system is Mencian; the inspiration behind it from Confucius.
It is the former's working out of the latter's superb idea of
the _li._

The Mencian system has broken down, and been abolished.  It had
grown old, outworn and corrupt.  But it was established a couple
of centuries before that of Augustus, and has been subject to the
same stress of time and the cycles; and only broke down the
other day.  Time will wear out anything made by man.  There is no
garment, but the body will out-grow or out-wear it; no body, but
the soul will outlive it and cast it away.  Mencius, inspired by
his Master Confucius, projected a system that time took two
thousand years and more to wear out in China.  It was one that
did much or everything to shield the people from tyranny.
Whether a better system has been devised, I do not know; but
should say not--in historical times.  As to the inspiration
behind it--well, lest you should doubt the value of Confucius,
compare the history of Europe with that of China.  We have
disproportioned ideas, and do not see these things straight.  The
Chinese Empire was founded some two centuries before the Roman:
both composed of heterogeneous elements.  Both, after about four
centuries, fell; but China, after about four centuries more,
came together and was great again.  Fifteen hundred years after
Ts'in Shi Hwangti had founded China, her manvantara then having
ended, and her whole creative cycle run through, she fell to the
Mongols.  Fifteen hundred years after Julius Caesar had founded
his empire, the last wretched remnant of it fell to the Turks.
But China first compelled her conquerors to behave like Chinamen,
and then, after a century, turned them out.  The Turks never
became Greek or Roman, and so far have not quite been turned out.
The roman empire disappeared, and never reunited;--that is what
has been the matter with Europe ever since.  Europe, in her
manvantara, has wasted three parts of her creative force in wars
and disunion.  But China, even in her pralaya, became a strong,
united power again under the Mings (1368-1644)--the first of
them--a native dynasty.  Conquered again, now by the Manchus, she
mader her conquerors behave like Chinamen,--imposed on them her
culture;--and went forth under their banners to conquer.  The
European pralaya (630-1240) was a time barren of creation in art
and literature, and in life uttterly squalid and lightless The
Chinese pralaya, after the Mongol Conquest, took a very long time
to sink into squalidity.  The arts, which had died in Europe long
before Rome fell, lived on in China, though with ever-waning
energy, through the Mongol and well into the Ming time:  the
national stability, the force of custom, was there to carry them
on.  What light, what life, what vigor was there in Rome or
Constantinople a century and a half after Alaric or Heraclius?
But Ming Yunglo, a century and a half after the fall of Sung,
reigned in great splendor; sent his armies conquering to the
Caspian, and his navies to the conquest of Ceylon, the discovery
of Africa, the gathering in of the tribute of the Archipelago and
the shores of the Indian Ocean.  Until the end of the eighteenth
century the minor arts and crafts--pottery and bronzes--of which
there was nothing to speak of in Europe in the corresponding
European age--were flourishing wonderfully; and in the
seventeenth and eighteeenth centuries, under Kanghi and Kienlung,
China was once more a great military power.  She chased and
whipped the Goorkhas down through the Himalays and into India,
only twenty years before England fought difficult and doubtful
campaigns with those fierce little mountaineers.  You may even
say she has been better off in her pralaya, in many ways, and
until recently, than most of Europe has been in most of _her_
manvantara.  In Kienlung's reign, for example (1735-1795) there
were higher standards of life, more security, law, and order,
than in the Europe of Catherine of Russia, Frederick the Great,
Louis XV and the Revolution, and the English Georges.  There was
far less ferment of the Spirit, true; less possibility of
progress;--but that is merely to say that China was in pralaya,
Europe in high manvantara.  The explanation is that a stability
had been imparted to that Far Eastern civilization, which Europe
has lacked altogether; whose history, for all its splendid high-
lights, has had thousands of hideous shadows; has not been so
noble a thing as we tacitly and complacently assume; but a long
record of wars, confusions, disorder, and cruelities, with only
dawning now the possibility of that union which is the first
condition of true progress, as distinguished from the riot of
material inventions and political experiments that has gone by
that name.--But now, back to Mencius again.

In all things he tried to follow Confucius; beginning early by
being born in the latter's own district of Tsow in Shantung, and
having a woman in ten thousand for his mother;--she has been the
model held up to all Chinese mothers since.  He grew up strong in
body and mind, thoughtful and fearless; a tireless student of
history, poetry, national institutions, and the lives of great
men.  Like Confucius, he opened a school, and gathered disciples
about him:  but there was never the bond of love here, that there
had been between Confucius and Tse Lu, Yen Huy, and the others.
These may have heard from their Master the pure deep things of
Theosophy; one would venture the statement that none of Mencius'
following heard the like from him.  He saw in Confucius that
which he himself was fitted to be, and set out to become.  He
went from court to court, and everywhere, as a great scholar, was
received with honor.  (You will note as one more proof of an
immemorial culture, that then, as now the scholar, as such, was
at the very top of the social scale.  There was but one word for
_scholar_ and _official._)--He proposed, like Confucius, that
some king should make him his minister; and like Confucius, he
was always disappointed.  But in him we come on none of the soft
lights and tones that endear Confucius to us; he fell far short
of being Such a One.  A clear, bold mind, without _atmosphere,_
with all its lines sharply defined.... he made free to lecture
the great ones of the earth, and was very round with them,
even ridiculing them at his pleasure.  He held the field for
Confucius--not the Taoist, but the Mencian Confucius--against all
comers; smote Yang Chu the Egotist hip and thigh; smote gentle
Mo Ti, the Altruist; preached fine and practical ethics; and
had no patience with those dreamers of the House of Laotse.--A
man sent from the Gods, I should say, to do a great work;
even though--

And then there was that dreamer of dreams, of Butterfly dreams,--
subtle mystical humorous Chwangtse:  how could it be otherwise
than that clear-minded clarion-throated Philosopher Mang should
afford him excellent play?  Philosopher Mang (Philosopher of the
Second Class, so officially entitled), in the name of his Master
K'ung Ch'iu, fell foul of Dreamer Chwang; how could it be
otherwise than that Dreamer Chwang should aim his shafts, not a
Mang merely, but (alas!) at the one whose name was always on
Mang's lips?--"Confucius says, Confucius says, Confucius says"--
cries Philosopher Mang.--"Oh hang your Confucius!" thinks Chwang
the Mystic; "let us have a little of the silence and splendor of
the Within!"  (Well, Confucius would have said the same thing, I
think.)  "Let me tell you a tale," says Chwang; and straight
goes forward with it.

"It was the time of the autumn floods.  Every stream poured into
the river, which swelled in its turbid course.  The banks were so
far apart that from one to the other you could not tell a cow
from a horse.

"Then the Spirit of the River laughed for joy that all the beauty
of the earth was gathered to himself.  Down with the current he
journeyed east, until he reached the Ocean.  There looking
eastward, and seeing no limit to its expanse of waves, his
countenance changed.  As he gazed out, he sighed, and said to the
Spirit of the Ocean:  'A vulgar proverb says that he who has
heard but a part of the truth thinks no one equal to himself.
Such a one am I.

"'When formerly I heard people detracting from the learning of
Confucius, or underrating the heroism of Po I.  I did not
believe.  But now that I have looked on your inexhaustibility--
alas for me had I not reached your abode!  I should have been
forever a laughing-stock to those of comprehensive enlightenment.'

"To which the Spirit of the Ocean answered:  'You cannot speak of
ocean to a well-frog,--the creature of a narrower sphere.  You
cannot speak of ice to a summer insect,--the creature of a
season.  You cannot speak of Tao to a pedant; his scope
is too restricted.  But now that you have emerged from your
narrow sphere, and have seen the great sea, you know your own
insignificance, and I can speak of great principles.

"Have you never heard of the Frog of the Old Well?  The Frog
said to the Turtle of the Eastern Sea, 'Happy indeed am I!  I
hop on the rail around the well.  I rest in the hollow of some
broken brick.  Swimming, I gather the water under my arms and
shut my mouth tight.  I plunge into the mud, burying my feet and
toes.  Not one of the cockles, crabs, or tadpoles I see around me
is my match.  Why do you not come, Sir, and pay me a visit?'"

"Now the Turtle of the Eastern Sea had not got its left leg down
ere its right leg had stuck fast, so it shrank back and begged to
be excused.  It then described the sea, saying, 'A thousand
leagues would not measure its breadth, nor a thousand fathoms its
depth.  In the days of Yu the Great there were nine years of
flood out of ten; but this did not add to its contents.  In the
days of T'ang there were seven years of drought out of eight, but
this did not narrow its span.  Not to be affected by volume of
water, not to be affected by duration of time--this is the
happiness of the Eastern Sea.'  At this the Frog of the Old Well
was considerably astonished, and knew not what to say next.  And
for one whose knowledge does not reach to the positive-negative
domain the attempt to understand me is like a mosquito trying to
carry a mountain, or an ant to swim the Yellow River,--they
cannot succeed."

If Chwangtse had lived before Mencius, or Mencius after Chwangtse,
Chwangtse could have afforded to see Confucius in his true
light, as Liehtse did; but the power and influence of the
mind of Mencius were such that in his time there was no looking
at the Master except through his glasses.  We do not know what
happened when Laotse and Confucius met; but I suspect it was
very like what happened when Mr. Judge met Madame Blavatsky.  But
Butterfly Chwang, the rascal, undertook to let us know; and
wrote it out in full.  He knew well enough what would happen if
he met Mencius; and took that as his model.  He wanted Mencius
to know it too.  He itched to say to him, "Put away, sir, your
flashy airs," and the rest; and so made Laotse say it to
Confucius.  It shows how large Philosopher Mang had come to loom,
that anyone could attribute "flashy airs" to that great-hearted
simple Gentleman K'ung Ch'iu.  One thing only I believe in about
that interview:  Confucius' reputed speech on coming forth from
it to his disciples:--"There is the Dragon; I do not know how he
mounts upon the wind and rises about the clouds.  Today I have
seen Laotse, and can only compare him to the Dragon."  He _would
have said_ that; it has definite meaning; the Dragon was the
symbol of the spirit, and so universally recognised.--Confucius
appears to have taken none of his disciples into the Library;
and Confucianist writers have had nothing to say about the
incident, except that it occurred, I believe.  Chwangtse, and all
Taoist writers after him, show Confucius taking his rating very
quietly;--as indeed, he would have done, had Laotse been in a
mood for quizzing.  For Confucius never argued or pressed his
opinions; where his words were not asked for and listened to, he
retired.  But it is not possible the recognition should have been
other than mutual:  the great Laotse would have known a Man
when he saw him.  I like the young imperturbable K'ung Jung,
precocious ten-year-old of some seven centuries later.  His
father took him up to the capital when the Dragon Statesman Li
Ying was the height of his power; and the boy determined on
gaining an interview with Li.  He got admission to the latter's
house by claiming blood-relationship.  Asked by the great man
wherein it lay, says he very sweetly:  "Your ancestor Laotse and
my ancestor Confucius were friends engaged in the search for
truth; may we not then be said to be of the same family?"--
"Cleverness in youth," sneered a bystander, "does not mean
brilliancy in later life."--"You, Sir," says Ten-years-old,
turning to him, "must have been a very remarkable boy." *

-------
* Giles:  _Chinese Literature._
-------

The truth is, both Mencius and Chwangtse stood a step lower and
nearer this world than had the two they followed:  whose station
had been on the level platform at the top of the altar.  But
Mencius descending had gone eastward; Chwangtse towards
the west.

He was all for getting at the Mean, the Absolute Life, beyond the
pairs of opposites;--which is, indeed, the central Chinese
thought, Confucian or Taoist, the _raison d'etre_ of Chinese
longevity, and the saving health of China.  But unfortunately he
--Chwangtse--did not see that his own opposite, Philosopher Mang,
was driving him an inch or two away from the Middle Line.  So,
with a more brilliant mind (a cant phrase that!)  he stands well
below Laotse; just as Mencius stands below K'ung Ch'iu.  The
spiritual down-breathing had reached a lower plane:  soon the
manvantara was to begin, and the Crest-Wave to be among the
black-haired People.  For all these Teachers and Half-Teachers
were but early swallows and forerunners.  Laotse and Confucius
had caught the wind at its rising, on the peaks where they stood
very near the Spirit; Chwangtse and Mangtse caught it in the
region of the intellect:  the former in his wild valley, the
latter on his level prosaic plain.  They are both called more
daring thinkers than their predecessors; which is merely to say
that in them the Spirit figured more on the intellectual, less on
its own plane.  They were lesser men, of course.  Mencius had
lost Confucius' spirituality; Chwangtse, I think, something of
the sweet sanifying influence of Laotse's universal compassion.

Well, now:  three little tales from Chwangtse, to illustrate his
wit and daring; and after then, to the grand idea he bequeathed
to China.

"Chwangtse one day saw an empty skull, bleached, but still
preserving its shape.  Striking it with his riding-whip, he said:
'Was thou once some ambitious citizen whose inordinate yearnings
brought him to this pass?--some statesman who plunged his country
in ruin, and perished in the fray?--some wretch who left behind
him a legacy of shame?--some beggar who died in the pangs of
hunger and cold?  Or didst thou reach this state by the natural
course of old age?'

"He took the skull home, and slept that night with it under his
head for a pillow, and dreamed.  The skull appeared to him in his
dream, and said:  'You speak well, Sir; but all you say has
reference to the life of mortals, and to mortal troubles.  In
death there are none of these things.  Would you like to hear
about death?'

"Cwangtse, however, was not convinced, and said:  'Were I to
prevail upon God to let your body be born again, and your bones
and flesh be renewed, so that you could return to your parents,
to your wife and to the friends of your youth--would you
be willing?'

"At this the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows
and said:  'How should I cast aside happiness greater than
that of a king, and mingle once again in the toils and troubles
of mortality?'"

Here is the famous tale of the Grand Augur and the Pigs:--

"The Grand Augur, in his ceremonial robes, approached the
shambles and thus addressed the Pigs:--

"'Why,' said he, 'should you object to die?  I shall fattan you
for three months.  I shall discipline myself for ten days and
fast for three.  I shall strew fine grass, and place you bodily
upon a carved sacrificial dish.  Does not this satisfy you?

"'Yet perhaps after all,' he continued, speaking from the pigs'
point of view, 'it is better to live on bran and escape the
shambles...

"'No,' said he; speaking from his own point of view again.  'To
enjoy honor when alive one would readily die on a war-shield or
in the haeadsman's basket.'

"So he rejected the pigs' point of view and clung to his own.  In
what sense, then, was he different from the pigs?"

And here, the still more famous tale of the Sacred Tortoise:--

"Chwantse was fishing in the river P'u when the Prince of Ch'u
sent two high officials to ask him to take charge of the
administration.

"Chwangtse went on fishing, and without turning his head said:
'I have heard that in Ch'u there is a sacred tortoise which has
been dead now some three thousand years.  And that the prince
keeps this tortoise carefully enclosed in a chest on the altar of
his ancestral temple.  Now if this tortoise had its choice, which
would it prefer:  to be dead, and have its remains venerated; or
to be alive, and wagging its tail in the mud?'

"'Sir,' replied the two officials, 'it would rather be alive, and
wagging its tail in the mud.'

"'Begone!' cried Chwangtse.  'I too will wag my tail in the mud!'"

Well; so much for _Butterfly;_  now for _Chwang_--and to
introduce you to some of his real thought and teaching.  You will
not have shot so wide of the mark as to see in his story of the
skull traces of pessimism:  Chwantse had none of it; he was a
very happy fellow; like the policeman in the poem,

     ".....a merry genial wag
     Who loved a mad conceit."

But he was by all means and anyhow for preaching the Inner as
against the outer.  Yet he did not dismiss this world, either, as
a vain delusion and sorrowful mockery;--the gist of his teaching
is this:  that men bear a false relation to the world; and he
desired to teach the true relation.  He loved the Universe, and
had a sublime confidence in it as the embodiment and expression
of Tao; and would apply this thought as a solvent to the one
false thing in it:  the human personality, with its heresy of
separateness.  Dissolve that,--and it is merely an idea; in the
words of a modern philosopher, _all in the  mind,_--and you have
the one true elixir flowing in your veins, the universal harmony;
are part of the solemn and glorious pageant of the years.  The
motions of the heavenly bodies, the sweetness of Spring and the
wistfulness of Autumn, flaunting Summer and Winter's beauty of
snow--all are parcel of yourself, and within the circle of your
consciousness.  Often he rises to a high poetic note;--it is
largely the supreme beauty of his style which keeps his book, so
thouroughly unorthodox, still alive and wagging its tail among
his countrymen.  Chwangtse will not help you through the
examinations; but he is mighty good to read when your days of
competing are over; as I think it is Dr. Giles who says.

Like his contemporary Diogenes, he would have his dead body cast
out to the vultures; but the spirit of his wish was by no
means cynical.  "When Chwangtse was about to die," he writes
(anticipating things pleasantly), "his disciples expressed a wish
to give him a splendid funeral.  But he said:  'With heaven and
earth for my coffin and shell, and the sun, moon, and stars for
my burial regalia; with all creation to escort me to the grave--
is not my funeral already prepared?'"

He speaks of the dangers of externalism, even in the pursuit of
virtue; then says:  "The man who has harmony within, though he
sit motionless like the image of a dead man at a sacrifice, yet
his Dragon Self will appear; though he be absorbed in silence,
his thunder will be heard; the divine power in him will be at
work, and heaven will follow it; while he abides in tranquillity
and inaction, the myriads of things and beings will gather under
his influence."--"Not to run counter to the natural bias of
things," he says, "is to be perfect."  It is by this running
counter--going aginst the Law, following our personal desires and
so forth,--that we create karma,--give the Universe something to
readjust,--and set in motion all our troubles.  "He who fully
understands this, by storing it within enlarges the heart, and
with this enlargement brings all creation to himself.  Such a man
will bury gold on the hillside, and cast pearls into the sea."--
sink a plummet into that, I beseech you; it is one of the grand
utterances of wonder and wisdom.--"He will not struggle for
wealth or strive for fame; rejoice over longevity, or grieve at
an early death.  He will get no elation from success, nor chagrin
from failure; he will not account the throne his private gain,
no look on the empire of the world as glory personal.  His glory
is to know that all thigns are one, and life and death but phases
of the same existence."

Why call that about burying gold and casting pearls into the sea
one of the supreme utterances?--Well; Chwangtse has a way of
putting a whole essay into a sentence; this is a case in point.
We have discussed Natural Magic together many times; we know how
the ultimate beauty occurs when something human has flowed out
into Nature, and left its mysterious trace there, upon the
mountains, or by the river-brink,

     "By paved fountain, or by rushy brook.
     Or on the beached margent of the sea."

Tu Fu saw in the blues and purples of the morning-glory the
colors of the silken garments of the lost poet Ssema Hsiangju, of
a thousand years before--that is, of the silken garments of his
rich emotion and adventures.  China somehow has understood this
deep connexion between man and Nature; and that it is human
thought molds the beauty and richness, or hideousness and
sterility of the world.   Are the mountains noble?  They store
the grandeur and aspirations of eighteen millions of years of
mankind.  Are the deserts desolate and terrible?  It was man made
the deserts:  not with his hands, but with his thought.  Man is
the fine workshop and careful laboratory wherein Nature prepares
the most wonderful of her wonders.  It is an instinct for this
truth that makes Chinese poetry the marvel that it is.--So the
man of Tao is enriching the natural world:  filling the hills
with gold, putting pearls in the sea.

I do not know where there is a more pregnant passage than this
following,--a better acid (of words) to corrode the desperate
metal of selfhood; listen well, for each clause is a volume.
"Can one get Tao to possess it for one's own?"  asks Chwangtse;
and answers himself thus:  "Your very body is not your own; how
then should Tao be?--If my body is not my own, whose is it,
pray?--It is the delegated image of God.  Your posterity is not
your own; it is the delegated exuviae of God.  You move, but
know not how; you are at rest, but know not why; you taste, but
know not the cause; these are the operations of universal law.
How then should you get Tao so as to possess it for your own?"

Now then, I want to take one of those clauses, and try to see
what Chwangtse really meant by it.  "Your individuality is not
your own, but the delegated adaptability of God."--There is a
certain position in the Scheme of Things Entire,--a point, with a
relation of its own to the rest of the Scheme, to the Universe;--
as the red line has a relation of its own to the rest of the
spectrum and the ray of light as a whole..... From that point,
from that position, there is a work to be done, which can be done
from no other.  The Lonely Eternal looks out through these eyes,
because it must see all things; and there are things no eyes can
see but these, no other hands do.  This point is an infinitesimal
part of the whole; but without its full and proper functioning,
the Whole falls short in that much:--because of your or my petty
omissions, the Universe limps and goes lame.--Into this position,
as into all others impartially, the One Life which is Tao flows,
adapting itself through aeons to the relations which that point
bears to the Whole:  and the result and the process of this
adaptation is--your individuality or mine.

_You_ are not the point, the position:  because it is merely that
which you hold and through which you function; it is yours, but
not you.  What then are _you?_  That which occupies and adapts
itself to the point?  But that is Tao, the Universal.  You can
only say it is you, if from _you_ you subtract all _you_-ness.
Your individuality, then, is a temporary aspect of Tao in a
certain relation to the totality of Tao, the One Thing which is
the No Thing:--or it is the "delegated adaptability of God."

How and wherein adaptable?--The Infinite, occupying this
position, has formed therein all sorts of attachments and
dislikes; and each one of them hinders it adaptability.  Your
surroundings have reflected themselves on you:  and the sum of
the reflexions is your personality,--the little cage of I-am-ness
from which it is so hard to escape.  Every reflected image
engraves itself on the stuff of yourself by the sensation of
attachment or repulsion which it arouses.  When it says, "The
One becomes the Two"--which is the way in one form or another all
ancient philosophy sums up the beginning of things;--this is what
is meant:  the 'One' is Tao; the 'Two' is this conditioned
world, whose nature and essence is to appear as pairs of
opposites--to be attractive, or to repel.  The pigs' point of
view was that it was better to live on bran and escape the
shambles; the Grand Augur's, that the pomp and ceremony of the
sacrifice, the public honor, ought more than to compensate them
for the momentary inconvenience of being killed.  Opposite ways
of thinking; points of view:  which cherishing, Grand Augur and
pigs alike dwelt on the plane of externals; and so there was no
real difference between them.  When you stand for you, and I for
myself, it is six of one and half a dozen of the other; but when
either of us stand for That which is both of us, and all else,--
then we touch reality; then there is no longer conflict, or
opposites; no longer false appearances,--but the presence and
cognition of the True.

Here let me note what seems to me a radical superiority in
Chinese methods of thought.  You may take the _Bhagavad-Gita,_
perhaps, as the highest expression of Aryan religio-philosophic
thinking.  There we have the Spirit, the One, shown as the self
of the Universe, but speaking through, and as, Krishna, a human
personality.  Heaven forbid that I should suggest there is
anthropomorphism in this.  Still, I think our finest mystical and
poetic perceptions of the Light beyond all lights do tend to
crystallize themselves into the shape of a _Being;_  we do tend
to symbolize and figure that Wonder as ..... an Individuality
.....in some indefinable splendid sort.  Often you find real
mystics, men who have seen with their own eyes so to say, talking
about _God, the Lord,_ the _Great King,_ and what not of the
like; and though you know perfectly well what they mean, there
was yet that necessity on them to use those figures of speech.
But in China, no.  There, they begin from the opposite end.
Neither in Laotse nor in Confucius, nor in their schools, can you
find a trace of personalism. Gods many, yes; as reason and
common sense declare; but nothing you can call a god is so
ancient, constant, and eternal as Tao, "which would appear to
have been before God."  Go to their poets, and you find that the
rage is all for Beauty as the light shining through things.  The
grass-blade and the moutain, the moonlit water and the peony, are
lit from within and utterly adorable:  not because God made them;
not as reminding you of the Topmost of any Hierarchy of Being;
but, if you really go to the bottom of it, because there is no
personality in them,--and so nothing to hinder the eternal
wonder, impersonal Tao, from shining through.--As if _we_ came
through our individuality to a conception of the Divine;
but _they,_ through a perception of the divine, to a right
understanding of their individuality.  It amounts to _us_ to fall
into gross hideous anthropomorphism; the worst of them into
superstitions of their own.--When one quotes Chwangtse as
speaking of "the delegated adaptability of _God,_"  one must
remember that one has to use some English word for his totally
impersonal _Tao_ or _Tien,_ or even _Shangti,_ or whatever it
may be.

This Tao, you say, something far off,--a principle in philosophy
or a metaphysical idea,--may be very nice to discuss in a lecture
or write poetry about; but dear me! between whiles we have a
great deal to do, and really--But no! it is actually, as Mohammed
said, "nearer to thee than thy jugular vein."  It is a simple
adjustment of oneself to the Universe,--of which, after all, one
cannot escape being a part; it is the attainment of a true
relationship to the whole.  What obscures and hinders that, is
simply our human brain-mind consciousness.  "Consider the lilies
of the field,"  that attain a perfection of beauty.  The thing
that moves us, or ought to move us, in flowers, trees, seas and
mountains, is this:  that lacking this fretting, gnawing sense of
I-am-ness, their emanations are pure Tao, and may reach us along
the channel we call beauty:  may flood our being through "the
gateway of the eyes."  Beauty is Tao made visible.  The rose and
peony do not feel themselves 'I,' distinct from 'you' and the
rest; they are in opposition to nothing; they do not fall in
love, and have no aversions:  they simply worship Heaven and are
unanxious, and so beautiful.  When we know this, we see what
beauty means; and that it is not something we can afford to
ignore and treat with stoic indifference or puritan dislike.  It
is Tao visible; I call every flower an avatar of God.  Now you
see how Taoism leads to poetry; is the philosophy of poetry; is
indeed _Poetics,_ rather than _Metephysics._  Think of all the
little jewels you know in Keats, in Shelley, or Wordsworth:
the moments when the mists between those men and the divine
"defecated to a thin transparency";--those were precisely the
moments when the poets lost sight of their I-am-ness and entered
into true relations with the Universe.  A daffodil, every second
of its life, holds within itself all the real things poets have
ever said, or will ever say, about it; and can reach our souls
directly with edicts from the Dragon Throne of the Eternal.--I
watched the linarias yesterday, and their purple delicacy assured
me that all the filth, all the falsehood and tragedy of the
world, should pass and be blown away; that the garden was full
of dancing fairies, joy moving them to their dancing; that it
was my own fault if I could not see Apollo leaning down out of
the Sun; and my own fatuity, and that alone, if I could not hear
the Stars of Morning singing together, and all the sons of God
shouting for you.  And it was the truth they were telling; the
plain, bald, naked truth;--they have never learned to lie, and do
not know what it means.  There is no sentimentalism in this;
only science.  We live in a Universe absolutely soaked through
with God,--or with Poetry, which is perhaps a better name for It;
a Universe peopled thick with Gods.  But it is all very far from
our common thoughts and conceptions; that is why it sounds to
most people like sentimental nonsense and 'poetry.'  No wonder
Plato hated that word;--since it is made a hand-grenade, in the
popular mind, to fling at every truth.  And yet Poetry 'gets in
on us,' too, occasionally, and accomplishes for

     "the woods and waters wild"

the work they cannot do for themselves;--the work they cannot do,
cause we will not look at them, cannot see them, and have
forgotten their ancient language, being too much immersed in a
rubbishing gabble of our own.

What Toism, and especially Chwangtse as I think, did for the
Chinese was to publish the syntax and vocabulary of that ancient
language; to make people understand how to take these grand
protagonists of Tao; how to communicate familiarly with these
selfless avatars of the Most High.  Listen to this: the thought
is close-packed, but I think you will follow it:--

"The true Sage rejects all distinction of this and that," that is
to say, of subjective, or that which one perceives within one's
own mind and consciousness, and objective, or that which is
perceived as existing outside of them;--he does not look upon the
mountain or the daffodil as things different or apart from his
own conscious being.  "He takes his refuge in Tao, and places
himself in subjective relations with all things"; he keeps the
mountain within him; the scent of the daffodil, and her yellow
candle-flame of beauty, are within the sphere and circle of
himself;

     "...the little wave of Breffny goes stumbling through his
soul."

"Hence it is said"--this is Chwangtse again--"that there is
nothing like the light of Nature.

"Only the truly intelligent understand this principle of the
identity of things.  They do not view things as apprehended by
themselves, but transfer themselves into the position of the
things viewed."--And there, I may say, you have it:  the last is
the secret of the wonder-light in all Far Eastern Poetry and Art;
more, it is the explanation of all poetry everywhere.  It is the
doctrine, the archeus, the _Open Sesame,_ the thyme- and
lavender- and sweetwilliam-breathed Secret Garden of this old
wizardly Science of Song;--who would go in there, and have the
dark and bright blossoms for his companions, let him understand
this.  For Poetry is the revelation of the Great Life beyond the
little life of this human personality; to tap it, you must evict
yourself from the personal self; "transfer yourself into the
position of the things viewed," and not see, but _be,_ the little
stumbling wave or the spray of plum-blossom, thinking its
thoughts.--"Viewing things thus," continues our Chwangtse, "you
are able to comprehend and master them.  So it is that to place
oneself in inner relation with externals, without consciousness
of their objectivity,--this is Tao.  But to wear out one's
intellect in an obstinate adherence to the objectivity--the
apartness--of things, not recognizing that they are all one--this
is called _Three in the Morning._--'What do you mean by _Three in
the Morning?'_ asked Tse Yu.--'A keeper of monkeys,' Tse Chi
replied, 'said with regard to their daily ration of chestnuts
that each monkey should have three in the morning and four at
night.  At this the monkeys were very angry; so he said that
they might have four in the morning and three at night; whereat
they were well pleased.  The number of nuts was the same; but
there was an adaptation to the feelings of those concerned.'"--
which, again, means simply that to follow Tao and dodge until it
is altogether sloughed off the sense of separateness, is to
follow the lines of least resistance.

All these ideas are a natural growth from the teachings of
Laotse; but Butterfly Chwang, in working them out and stating
them so brilliantly, did an inestimable service to the ages that
were to come.



XIV.  THE MANVANTARA OPENS


Laotse's Blue Pearl was already shining into poetry.  Ch'u Yuan,
the first great poet, belongs to this same fourth century; it is
a long step from the little wistful ballads that Confucius
gathered to the "wild irregular meters," * splendid imagery, and
be it said, deep soul symbolism of his great poem the Li Sao
(Falling into Trouble).   The theme of it is this:  From earliest
childhood Ch'u Yuan had sought the Tao, but in vain.  At last,
banished by the prince whose minister he had been, he retired
into the wilds, and was meditating at the tomb of Shun in Hupeh,
in what was then the far south.  There the Phoenix and the Dragon
came to him, and bore him aloft, past the West Pole, past the
Milky Way, past even the Source of the Hoangho, to the Gates of
Heaven.  Where, however, there was no admittance for him; and
full of sorrow he returned to earth.

------
* _Chinese Literature,_ by Dr. H. A. Giles.  What is said about
the _Li Sao_ here comes from that work--except the suggestions as
to its inner meaning.
------

On the banks of the Mi-lo a fisherman met him, and asked him the
cause of his trouble.--"All the world is foul," answered Ch'u
Yuan, "and I alone am clean."--"If that is so," said the
fisherman, "why not plunge into the current, and make its
foulness clean with the infection of your purity?  The Man of Tao
does not quarrel with his surroundings, but adjusts himself to
them."  Ch'u Yuan took the hint:  leaped into the Mi-lo;--and
yearly since then they have held the Dragon-boat Festival on the
waters of Middle China to commemorate the search for his body.--
Just how much of this is in the _Li Sao,_--where the poem ends,--
I do not clearly gather from Professor Giles's account; but the
whole story appears to me to be a magnificent Soul Symbol:  of
that Path which leads you indeed on dragon flights to the borders
of the Infinite, but whose end, rightly considered, is in this
world, and to be as it were drowned in the waters of this world,
with your cleanness infecting them to be clean,--and lighting
them for all future ages with beauty, as with little dragon-boats
luminous with an inner flame.  Ch'u Yuan had followers in that
and the next century; but perhaps his greatness was hardly to be
approached for a thousand years.

But we were still in Tiger-time, and with quite the worst of it
to come.  Here lay the Blue Pearl scintillating rainbows up
through the heavy atmosphere; but despite its flashing and
up-fountaining those strange dying-dolphin hues and glories, you
could never have told, in Tiger-time, what it really was.  The
Dragon was yet a long way off; though indeed it must be allowed
that flight, when Chwangtse wrote and Ch'u Yuan sung, was
surprised with the far churr of startling wings under the stars.
Ears intent to listen were surprised; but only for a moment;--
there was that angry howling again from the northern hills and
the southern forests:  the two great Tigers of the world face to
face, tails lashing;--and between them and in their path, Chow
quite prone,--the helpless Black-haired People trembling or
chattering frivolously.  Not for such an age as that Chwangtse
and Ch'u Yuan wrote, but indeed you may say for all time.  What
light from the Blue Pearl could then shine forth and be seen,
would, in the thick fog and smoke-gloom, take on wild fantastic
guise; which, as we shall see, it did:--but what Chwangtse had
written remained, pure immortality, to kindle up better ages to
come.  When China should be ready, Chwangtse and the Pearl would
be found waiting for her.  The manvantara had not yet dawned;
but we may hurry on now to its dawning.

The Crest-Wave was still in India when China plunged into the
abyss from which her old order of ages never emerged.  Soon after
Asoka came to the throne of Magadha, in 284 B.C., Su Tai, wise
prime minister to the Lord of Chao, took occasion to speak--
seriously to his royal master as to the latter's perennial little
wars with Yen.*  "This morning as I crossed the river," said
he, "I saw a mussel open its shell to the sun.  Straight an
oyster-catcher thrust in his bill to eat the mussel; which
promptly snapped the shell to and held the bird fast.--'If it
doesn't rain today or tomorrow,' said the oyster-catcher, 'there'll
be a dead mussel here.'--'And if you don't get out of this by
today or tomorrow,'  said the mussel, 'there'll be a dead
oyster-catcher.'  Meanwhile up came a fisherman and carried
them both off.  I fear Ts'in will be our fisherman."

------
* The tale is taken from Dr. H.A. Gile's _Chinese Literature._
------

Which duly came to pass. Even in Liehtse's time Ts'in characteristics
were well understood:  he tells a sly story of a neighboring
state much infested by robbers.  The king was proud of a great
detective who kept them down; but they soon killed the Pinkerton,
and got to work again.  Then he reformed himself,--and the
robbers found his kingdom no place for them.  In a body they
crossed the Hoangho into Ts'in;--and bequeathed to its policy
their tendencies and aptitudes.

Ts'in had come to be the strongest state in China.  Next neighbor
to the Huns, and half Hun herself, she had learned warfare in a
school forever in session.  But she had had wise rulers also,
after their fashion of wisdom:  who had been greatly at pains to
educate her in all the learning of the Chinese.  So now she
stood, an armed camp of a nation, enamored of war, and completely
civilized in all external things.  Ts'u, her strongest rival,
stretching southward to the Yangtse and beyond, had had to deal
with barbarians less virile than the Huns; and besides, dwelling
as Ts'u did among the mountains and forests of romance, she had
some heart in her for poetry and mysticism, whereas Ts'in's was
all for sheer fighting.  Laotse probably had been a Ts'u man;
and also Chwangtse and Ch'u Yuan; and in after ages it was
nearly always from the forests of Ts'u that the great winds of
poetry were blown.  Still--he had immense territories and
resources, and the world looked mainly to her for defense against
the northern Tiger Ts'in.  Soon after Su Tai told his master the
parable of the mussel and the oyster-catcher the grand clash
came, and the era of petty wars and raidings was over.  Ts'u
gathered to herself most of the rest of China for her allies, and
there was a giant war that fills the whole horizon, nearly, of
the first half of the third century B. C.  New territories were
involved:  the world had expanded mightily since the days of
Confucius.  "First and last," says Ssema Tsien, "the allies
hurled a million men against Ts'in."  But to no purpose; one
nation after another went down before those Hun-trained half-Huns
from the north-west.  In 257 Chau Tsiang king of Ts'in took the
Chow capital, and relieved Nan Wang, the last of the Chows, of
the Nine Tripods of Ta Yu, the symbols of his sacred sovereignty;
--the mantle of the Caliphate passed from the House of Wen Wang
and the Duke of Chow.

The world had crumbled to pieces:  there had been changes of
dynasty before, but never (in known history) a change like this.
The Chows had been reigning nearly nine hundred years; but their
system had been in the main the same as that of the Shangs and
Hias, and of Yao, Shun, and Ta Yu:  it was two millenniums, a
century, and a decade old.  A Chinaman, in Chau Tsiang's place,
would merely have reshaped the old order and set up a new
feudal-pontifical house instead of Chow; which could not
have lasted, because old age had worn the old system out.
But these barbarians came in with new ideas.  A new empire,
a new race, a new nation was to be born.

Chau Tsiang died in 251; and even then one could not clearly
foresee what should follow.  In 253 he had performed the significant
sacrifice to Heaven, a prerogative of the King-Pontiff:  but he
had not assumed the title.  Resistance was still in being.
His son and successor reigned three days only; and _his_
son, another nonentity, five years without claiming to be
more than King of Ts'in.  But when this man died in 246, he left
the destinies of the world in the hands of a boy of thirteen;
who very quickly showed the world in whose hands its destinies
lay.  Not now a King of Ts'in; not a King-Pontiff of Chow;--not,
if you please, a mere _wang_ or king at all;--but Hwangti, like
that great figure of mythological times, the Yellow Emperor, who
had but to sit on his throne, and all the world was governed and
at peace.  The child began by assuming that astounding title:
_Ts'in Shi Hwangti,_ the First August Emperor:   peace to the
ages that were past; let them lie in their tomb; time now
should begin again!--Childish boyish swank and braggadocio, said
the world; but very soon the world found itself mistaken.
_Hwangti;_--but no sitting on his throne in meditation, no
letting the world be governed by Tao, for him!

If you have read that delightful book _Through Hidden Shensi,_ by
Mr. F. A. Nichols, the city of Hienfang, or Changan, or, by its
modern name, Singanfu or Sian-fu in Shensi, will be much more
than a name to you.  Thither it was that the Dowager Empress fled
with her court from Pekin at the time of the Boxer Rebellion;
there, long ago, Han Wuti's banners flew; there Tang Taitsong
reigned in all his glory and might; there the Banished Angel sang
in the palace gardens of Tang Hsuantsong the luckless:  history
has paid such tribute of splendor to few of the cities of the
world.  At Hienfang now this barbarian boy and Attila-Napoleon
among kings built his capital;--built it right splendidly,
after such ideas of splendor as a young half-Hun might cherish.
For indeed, he had but little and remote Chinese heredity
in him; was of the race of Attila and Genghiz, of Mahmoud
of Ghazna, Tamerlane, and all the world-shaking Turkish conquerors.
--Well, but these people, though by nature and function destroyers,
have been great builders too:  building hugely, monumentally,
and to inspire awe, and not with the faery grace and ephemeral
loveliness of the Chinese;--though they learned the trick
of that, too,--as they learned in the west kindred qualities
from the Saracens.  Grand Pekin is of their architecture;
which is Chinese with a spaciousness and monumental solemnity
added.  Such a capital Ts'in She Hwangti built him at Hien
fang or Changan.  In the Hall of audience of his palace within
the walls he set up twelve statues, each (I like this barbarian
touch) weighing twelve thousand pounds.  Well; _we_ should
say, each costing so many thousand dollars; you need not
laugh; I am not sure but that the young Hun had the best of
it.  And without the walls he built him, too, a Palace of
Delight with many halls and courtyards; in some of which
(I like this too) he could drill ten thousand men.

All of this was but the trappings and the suits of his sovereignty:
he let it be known he had the substance as well.  No great
strategist himself, he commanded the services of mighty generals:
one Meng-tien in especial, a bright particular star in the
War-God's firmament.  An early step to disarm the nations,
and have all weapons sent to Changan; then, with these, to
furnish forth a great standing army, which he sent out under
Meng-tien to conquer.  The Middle Kingdom and the quondam Great
Powers were quieted; then south of the Yangtse the great soldier
swept, adding unknown regions to his master's domain. Then rorth
and west, till the Huns and their like had grown very tame and
wary;--and over all these realms the Emperor spread his network
of fine roads and canals, linking them with Changan:  what the
Romans did for Europe in road-building, he did for China.

He had, of course, a host of relatives; and precedent loomed
large to tell him what to do with them:  the precedent of the
dynasty-founders of old.  Nor were they themselves likely to have
been backward in reminding him.  Wu Wang had come into possession
of many feudal dominions, and had made of the members of his
family dukes and marquises to rule them. Ts'in Shi Hwangti's
empire was many times the size of Wu Wang's; so he was in a much
better position to reward the deserving.  We must remember that
he was no heir to a single sovereignty, but a Napoleon with a
Europe at his feet.  Ts'in and Ts'u and Tsin and the others were
old-established kingdoms, with as long a history behind them as
France or England has now; and that history had been filled with
wars, mutual antagonisms and hatreds.  Chow itself was like an
Italy before Garibaldi;--with a papacy more inept, and holding
vaguer sway:--it had been at one time the seat of empire, and it
was the source of all culture.  He had to deal, then, with a
heterogeneity as pronounced as that which confronted Napoleon;
but he was not of the stuff for which you prepare Waterloos.  No
one dreamed that he would treat the world other than as such a
heterogeneity.  His relations expected to be made the Jeromes,
Eugenes, and Murats of the Hollands, Spains, and Sicilies to
hand.  The world could have conceived of no other way of dealing
with the situation.  But Ts'in Shi Hwangti could, very well.

He abolished the feudal system.  He abolished nationalities and
national boundaries.  There should be no more Ts'in and Tsin and
Ts'u; no more ruling dukes and marquises.  Instead, there should
be an entirely new set of provinces, of which he would appoint
the governors, not hereditary; and they should be responsible to
him:  promotable when good, dismissable and beheadable on the
first sign of naughtiness.  It was an idea of his own; he had no
foreign history to go to for models and precedents, and there had
been nothing like it in Chinese History.  Napoleon hardly
conceived such a tremendous idea, much less had he the force
to carry it out.  Even the achievement of Augustus was smaller;
and Augustus had before him models in the history of many
ancient empires.

Now what was the ferment behind this man's mind;--this barbarian
--for so he was--of tremendous schemes and doings?  The answer is
astonishing, when one thinks of the crude ruthless human dynamo
he was.  It was simply _Taoism:_  it was Laotse's Blue Pearl;--
but shining, of course, as through the heart of a very London
Particular of Hunnish-barbarian fogs.  No subtleties of
mysticism; no Chwangtsean spiritual and poetry-breeding ideas,
for him!--It has fallen, this magical Pearl, into turbid and
tremendous waters, a natural potential Niagara; it has stirred,
it has infected their vast bulk into active Niagarahood.  He was
on fire for the unknown and the marvelous; could conceive of no
impossible--it should go hard, he thought, but that the subtler
worlds that interpenetrate this one should be as wonderful as
this world under Ts'in Shi Hwangti.  Don't argue with him; it is
dangerous!--certainly there was an Elixir of Life, decantable
into goblets, from which Ts'in Shi Hwangti might drink and become
immortal,--the First August Emperor, and the only one forever!
Certainly there were those Golden Islands eastward, where Gods
dispensed that nectar to the fortunate;--out in your ships, you
there, and search the waves for them!  And certainly, too, there
were God knew what of fairylands and paradises beyond the western
desert; out, you General Meng-tien, with your great armies and
find them!  He did tremendous things, and all the while was thus
dreaming wildly.  From the business of state he would seize hours
at intervals to lecture to his courtiers on Tao;--I think _not_
in a way that would have been intelligible to Laotse or Chwangtse.
Those who yawned were beheaded, I believe.

How would such a prodigy in time appear to his own age?  Such
cataclysmic wars as Ts'in had been waging for the conquest of
China take society first, so to say, upon its circumference,
smash that to atoms, and then go working inwards.  The most
conservative and stable elements are the last and least affected.
The peasant is killed, knocked about, transported, enclaved; but
when the storm is over, and he gets back to his plough and hoe
and rice-field again, sun and wind and rain and the earth-breath
soothe him back to and confirm in what he was of old:  only some
new definite spiritual impulse or the sweep of the major cycles
can change him much,--and then the change is only modification.
At the other end of society you have the Intellectuals.  In
England, Oxford is the home and last refuge of lost causes.  A
literary culture three times as old as modern Oxford's, as
China's was then, will be, you may imagine, fixed and conservative.
It is a mental mold petrified with age; the minds participating
must conform to it, solidify, and grow harder in the matrix
it provides than granite or adamant.  We have seen how in
recent times the Confucian literati resisted the onset of
westernism.  All these steam-engines and telegraphs seemed to
them fearfully crude and vulgar in comparison with the niceties
of literary style, the finesses of time-taking ceremonious
courtesies, that had been to them and to their ancestors time out
of mind the true refinements of life, and even the realities.
China rigid against the West was not a semi-barbarism resisting
civilization, but an excessively perfected culture resisting the
raw energies of one still young and, in its eyes, still with the
taint of savagery:  brusque manners, materialistic valuations.

Ts'in Shi Hwangti in his day had to meet a like opposition.  The
wars had broken up the structure of society, but not the long
tradition of refined learning.  That had always seemed the
quarter from which light and leading must come; but it had long
ceased to be a quarter from which light or leading could come.
Mencius had been used to rate and ridicule the ruling princes;
and scholars now could not understand that Mencius and his ruling
princes and all their order were dead.  They could not understand
that they were not Menciuses, nor Ts'in Shi Hwangti a kinglet
such as he had dealt with.  Now Mencius had been a great man,--a
Man's son, as they say;--and very likely he and Ts'in Shi Hwangti
might have hit it off well enough.  But there was no Mencius, no
Man's son, among the literati now.  The whole class was wily,
polite, sarcastic, subtle, unimaginative, refined to a degree,
immovable in conservatism.  The Taoist teachers had breathed in a
new spirit, but it had not reached them. How would Ts'in Shi
Hwangti, barbarian, wild Taoist, and man of swift great action,
appear to them?

Of course they could not abide him; and had not the sense to
fear.  They were at their old game of wire-pulling:  would have
the feudal system back, with all the old inefficiency; in the
name of Ta Yu and the Duke of Chow they would do what they might
to undo the strivings of this Ts'in upstart.  So all the
subtleties of the old order were arrayed against him,--pull
devil, pull baker.

He knew it; and knew the extreme difficulty of striking any
ordinary blow to quiet them.  He had challenged Time Past to the
conflict, and meant to win.  Time Future was knocking at the
doors of the empire, and he intended it should come in and find a
home.  His armies had crossed the Gobi, and smelt out unending
possibilities in the fabulous west; they had opened up the
fabulous south, the abode of Romance and genii and dragons.  It
was like the discovery of the Americas:  a new world brought over
the horizon.  His great minister, Li Ssu had invented a new
script, the Lesser Seal, easier and simpler than the old one;
Meng-tien, conqueror of the Gobi, had invented the camel's-hair
brush wherewith to write gracefully on silk or cloth, instead of
difficultly with stylus on bamboo-strips as of old.  It was the
morning stir of the new manvantara; and little as the emperor
might care for culture, he heard the Future crying to him.  He
heard, too, the opposing murmur of the still unconquered Past.
The literati stood against him as the Papacy against Frederick II
of Sicily:  a less open opposition, and one harder to meet.

He did not solve the problem till near the end of his reign.  In
213 he called a great meeting in the Hall of Audience at Changan.
See the squat burly figure enthroned in grand splendor; the
twelve weighty statues arranged around; the chief civil and
military officers of the empire, thorough Taoists like himself,
gathered on one side; the Academies and Censorates, all the
leaders of the literati, on the other.  The place was big enough
for a largish meeting.  Minister Li Ssu rises to describe the
work of the Emperor; whereafter the latter calls for expressions
of opinion.  A member of his household opines that he "surpasses
the very greatest of his predecessors":  which causes a subdued
sneer to run through the ranks of scholars.  One of them takes
the floor and begins to speak.  Deprecates flattery guardedly, as
bad for any sovereign; considers who the greatest of these
predecessors were:--Yao, Shun, and Yu, 'Tang the Completer, Wu
Wang; and--implies a good deal.  Warms to his work at last, and
grows bitter; almost openly pooh poohs all modern achievements;
respectfully--or perhaps not too respectfully--advocates a return
to the feudal--

"Silence!" roars Attila-Napoleon from his throne; and motions Li
Ssu to make answer.  The answer was predetermined, one imagines.
It was an order that five hundred of the chief literati present
should retire and be beheaded, and that thousands more should be
banished.  And that all books should be burned. Attila-Napoleon's
orders had a way of being carried out.  This was one.

He had meanwhile been busy with the great material monument of
his reign:  the Wall of China; and with cautious campaigns
yearly to the north of it; and with personal supervision of the
Commissariat Department of all his armies everywhere; and with
daily long _hikes_ to keep himself in trim.  Now the Wall came in
useful.  To stretch its fifteen hundred miles of length over wild
mountains and valleys in that bleak north of the world, some
little labor was needed; and scholars and academicians were
many and, for most purposes, useless; and they needed to be
brought into touch with physical realities to round out their
characters;--then let them go and build the wall.  He buried
enough of them--alive, it is to be feared:  an ugly Ts'in
custom, not a Chinese,--to make melons ripen in mid-winter
over their common grave; the rest he sentenced to four years
of wall-building,--which meant death.  That, too, was the penalty
for concealing books.  He was now in dead earnest that the Past
should go, and history begin again; to be read forever afterwards
in this order,--the Creation, the Reign of Ts'in Shi Hwangti.

But he spared books on useful subjects:  that is to say, on
Medicine, Agriculture, and Magic.

So ancient China is to be seen now only as through a glass
darkly; if his great attempt had been quite successful, it would
not be to be seen at all.  His crimes made no karma for China;
they are not a blot on her record;--since they were done by an
outside barbarian,--a mere publican and Ts'inner.  From our
standpoint as students of history, he was a malefactor of the
first order; even when you take no account of his ruthless
cruelty to men;--and so China has considered him ever since.  Yet
Karma finds ruthless agents for striking its horrible and
beneficial blows; (and woe unto them that it finds!).  It seems
that Ts'in Shi Hwangti did draw the bowstring back--by this very
wickedness,--far back--that sent the arrow China tearing and
blazing out through the centuries to come.  The fires in which
the books were burned were the pyre of the Phoenix,--the burning
of the astral molds,--the ignition and annihilation of the weight
and the karma of two millenniums.  The Secular Bird was to burn
and be consumed to the last feather, and be turned to ashes
utterly, before she might spring up into the ether for her new
flight of ages.

One wonders what would happen if a Ts'in Shi Hwangti were to
arise and do by modern Christendom what this one did by ancient
China.  I say nothing about the literati, but only about the
literature.  Would burning it be altogether an evil?  Nearly all
that is supremely worth keeping would live through; and its
value would be immensely enhanced.  First the newspapers would
go, that sow lies broadcast, and the seeds of national hatreds.
The light literature would go, that stands between men and
thought.  The books of theology would go, and the dust of
creedalism that lies so thick on men's minds.  A thousand bad
precedents that keep us bound to medievalism would go with the
law-books:  there would be a chance to pronounce, here and now as
human beings, on such things as capital punishment;--which
remains, though we do not recognise the fact, solely because it
has been in vogue all these centuries, and is a habit hard to
break with.  History would go; yes;--but a mort of pernicious
lies would go with it.  Well, well; one speaks of course in jest
(partly).  But when all is said, China was not unfortunate in
having a strong giant of a man, a foreigner withal, at her head
during those crucial decades.  Ts'in Shi Hwangti guarded China
through most of that perilous intermission between the cycles.
It was the good that he did that mostly lived after him.

In 210 he fell ill, took no precautions, and died,--in his
fiftieth year.  A marvelous mausoleum was built for him:  a
palace, with a mountain heaped on top, and the floor of it a map
of China, with the waters done in quicksilver.  Whether his evil
deeds were interred with his bones, who can say?--certainly his
living wives were, and the thousands of living workmen who had
built the mausoleum.  Ts'innish doings, not Chinese.  In the
_Book of Odes,_ Confucius preserved a Ts'in ballad mourning over
men so buried alive with their dead king.

The strong hand lifted, rebellion broke out, and for awhile it
looked as if Chu Hia must sink into the beast again.  His feeble
son got rid of Meng-tien, poisoned Li Ssu, offered the feeblest
resistance to the rebels, and then poisoned himself.  After four
years of fighting,--what you might call "unpleasantness all
round,"--one Liu Pang achieved the throne.  He had started life
as a beadle; joined Ts'in Shi Hwangti's army, and risen to be a
general; created himself after the emperor's death Prince of
Han; and now had the honor to inaugurate, as Emperor Kaotsu, the
greatest of the Chinese dynasties.

In the two-fifties strong barbarous Ts'in had swallowed unmanly
worn-out China, and for half a century had been digesting the
feast.  Then--to mix my metaphors a little--China flopped up to
the surface again, pale, but smiling blandly.  In the sunlight
she gathered strength and cohesion, and proceeded presently to
swallow Ts'in and everything else in sight; and emerged soon
young, strong, vigorous, and glowing-hearted to the conquest of
many worlds in the unknown.  What was Ts'in, now is Shensi
Province, the very Heart of Han:  the Shensi man today is the Son
of Han, _Ts'in_ Englished; but in Shensi, the old Ts'in, in
their tenderest moods, they call it _Han_ still,--the proudest
most patriotic name there is for it.

Not at once was the Golden Age of Han to dawn:   half a
thirteen-decade cycle from the opening of the manvantara in
the two-forties had to pass first.  Ts'in Shi Hwangti had mapped
out a great empire; it fell to the Hans to consolidate it.
Han Kaotsu followed somewhat in the footsteps of his predecessor,
less the cruelty and barbarism, and most of the strength.
The sentiment of the empire was Chinese, not Ts'innish; so,
though not a brilliant or always a fortunate soldier, he
was able to assert his sway over the greater part of China
Proper.  Chinesism had spread over territories never before
Chinese, and wherever it had spread, the people were glad
of a Chinese dynasty; besides, his rule was tactful and
kindly.  They were glad that the Gods of the Soil of Han
were to be worshipped now, and those of Ts'in disthroned;
and that the Ts'in edicts were annulled;--as they were with
one important exception:  those relating to literature.  A
cultureless son of the proletariat himself.  Han Kaotsu felt no
urge towards resurrecting that; and perhaps it was as well that
the sleeping dogs should be let lie awhile.  The wonder is that
the old nationalities did not reassert themselves; but they did
not, to any extent worth mentioning; and perhaps this is the
best proof of Han Kaotsu's real strength.  Ts'in Shi Hwangti had
dealt soundly with the everlasting Hun in his time; but when he
died, the Hun recovered.  They kept Han Kaotsu busy, so that his
saddle, as he said, was his throne.   They raided past the
capital and down into Ssechuan; once very nearly captured the
emperor; and had to be brought out at last with a Chinese
princess for the Hun king.  Generally speaking, the Hans would
have lived at peace with them if they could, and were ready to
try better means of solving the problem than war.  But it
certainly was a problem; for in these Huns we find little traces
of human nature that you could work upon.  But China was a big
country by that time, and only a part of it, comparatively small,
suffered from the Huns.  For the rest, Han Kaotsu was popular,
his people were happy, and his reign of twelve years was a
breathing-time in which they gathered strength.  He kept a
hundred thousand workmen busy on public works, largely road- and
bridge-building:  a suspension bridge that he built, a hundred
and fifty yards long, and crossing a valley five hundred feet
below, is still in use,--or was during the last century.  He died
in 194.

He was succeeded, nominally, by his son Han Hweiti; really by
his widow, the empress Liu Chi:  one of the three great women who
have ruled China.  At this time the Huns, under their great Khan
Mehteh, were at the height of their power.  Khan Mehteh made
advances to the Empress:  "I should like," said he, "to exchange
what I have for what I have not."  You and I may think he meant
merely a suggestion for mutual trade; but she interpreted it
differently, thanked him kindly, but declined the flattering
proposal on the score of her age and ugliness.  Her hair and
teeth, she begged him to believe, were quite inadequate, and made
it impossible for her to think of changing her condition.--I do
not know whether it was vanity or policy.

But it was she, or perhaps her puppet son the emperor, who
started the great Renaissance.  A commission was appointed for
restoring the literature:  among its members, K'ung An-kuo,
twelfth in descent from Confucius.  Books were found, that
devotion had hidden in dry wells and in the walls of houses; one
Fu Sheng, ninety years old, repeated the Classics word for word
to the Commissioner, all from his memory. The restrictions gone,
a mighty reaction set in; and China was on fire to be her
literary self again.  A great ball was set rolling; learning
went forward by leaps and bounds. The enthusiasm, it must be
said, took directions legitimate and the reverse;--bless you, why
should any written page at all be considered lost, when there
were men in Han with inventive genius of their own, and a pretty
skill at forgery?  The Son of Heaven was paying well; to it,
then, minds and calligraphic fingers!

So there are false chapters of Chwangtse, while many true ones
have been lost.  And I can never feel sure of Confucius' own
_Spring and Autumn Annals,_ wherein he thought lay his highest
claim to human gratitude, and the composition of which the really
brilliant-minded Mencius considered equal to the work of Ta Yu in
bridling China's Sorrow;--but which, as they come down to us,
are not impressive.--The tide rolled on under Han Wenti, from 179
to 156:  a poet himself, a man of peace, and a reformer of the
laws in the direction of mercy.  Another prosperous reign
followed; then came the culmination of the age in the Golden
Reign of Han Wuti, from 140 to 86.

The cyclic impulse had been working mainly on spiritual and
intellectual planes:  Ssema Tsien, the Father of Chinese History,
gives gloomy pictures of things economic.*

"When the House of Han arose," says Ssema, "the evils of their
predecessors had not passed away.  Husbands still went off to the
wars; old and young were employed in transporting food,
production was almost at a standstill, and money was scarce.  The
Son of Heaven had not even carriage horses of the same color;
the highest civil and military authorities rode in bullock carts;
the people at large knew not where to lay their heads.  The
coinage was so heavy and cumbersome that the people themselves
started a new issue at a fixed standard of value.  But the laws
were lax, and it was impossible to prevent the grasping from
coining largely, buying largely, and then holding for a rise in
the market.  Prices went up enormously:"--it sounds quite modern
and civilized, doesn't it?--"rice sold at a thousand cash per
picul; a horse cost a hundred ounces of silver."

------
* The passages quoted are taken from Dr. Giles's work on
_Chinese Literature._
------

Under the Empress Liu Chi and her successors these conditions
were bettered; until, when a half cycle had run its course, and
Han Wuti had been some twenty years on the throne, prosperity
came to a culmination.  Says Ssema Tsien:

"The public granaries were well-stocked; the government
treasuries full... The streets were thronged with the horses of
the people, and on the highroads, whole droves were to be seen,
so that it became necessary to forbid the public use of mares.
Village elders ate meat and drank wine.  Petty government
clerkships lapsed from father to son, and the higher offices of
state were treated as family heirlooms.  For a spirit of
self-respect and reverence for the law had gone abroad, and a
sense of charity and duty towards one's neighbor kept men
aloof from disgrace and crime."

There had been in Kansuh, the north-westernmost province of China
Proper, a people called the Yueh Chi or White Scythians, whom the
Huns had driven into the far west; by this time they were
carving themselves an empire out of the domains of the Parthians,
and penetrating into north-west India, but Han Wuti knew nothing
of that.  All that was known of them was, that somewhere on the
limits of the world they existed, and were likely to be still at
loggerheads with their ancient foes the Huns.  Han Wuti had now
been on the throne seven years, and was and had been much
troubled by the Hun problem:  he thought it might help to solve
it if those lost Yueh Chi could be raked up out of the unknown
and made active allies.  To show the spirit of the age, I will
tell you the story of Chang Ch'ien, the general whom he sent to
find them.

Chang Ch'ien set out in 139; traversed the desert, and was duly
captured by the Huns.  Ten years they held him prisoner; then he
escaped.  During those ten years he had heard no news from home:
a new emperor might be reigning, for aught he knew; or Han Wuti
might have changed his plans.  Such questions, however, never
troubled him:  he was out to find the Yueh Chi for his master,
and find them he would.  He simply went forward; came presently
to the kingdom of Tawan, in the neighborhood of Yarkand; and
there preached a crusade against the Huns.  Unsuccessfully:  the
men of Tawn knew the Huns, but not Han wuti, who was too far away
for a safe ally; and they proposed to do nothing in the matter.
Chang Ch'ien considered.  Go back to China?--Oh dear no! there
must be real Yueh C'hi somewhere, even if these Tawanians were
not they.  On he went, and searched that lonely world until he
did find them.  They liked the idea of Hun-hurting; but again,
considered China too far away for practical  purposes.  He struck
down into Tibet; was captured again; held prisoner a year;
escaped again,--and got back to Changan in 126.  A sadder and a
wiser man, you might suppose; but nothing of the kind!  Full, on
the contrary, of brilliant schemes; full of the wonder and rumor
of the immense west.  These he poured into Han Wuti's most
sympathetic ears; and the emperor started now in real earnest
upon his Napoleonic career.

The frontier was no longer at the Great Wall.  Only the
other day Sir Aurel Stein discovered, in the far west, the
long straight furrows traced by the feet of Han Wuti's sentinels
on guard; the piles of reed-stalks, at regular intervals,
set along the road for fire-signals; documents giving details
as to the encampments, the clothes and arrows served out
to the soldiers, the provisions made for transforming armies
of conquest into peaceful colonies.  All these things the
sands covered and preserved.

And behind these outposts was a wide empire full of splendor
outward and inward; full of immense activities, in literature,
in engineering, in commerce.  New things and ideas came in from
the west:  international influences to reinforce the flaming up
of Chinese life.

The moving force was still Taoism; the Blue Pearl, sunk deep in
the now sunlit waters of the common consciousness, was flashing
its rainbows.  Ts'in Shi Hwangti, for all his greatness, had been
an uncouth barbarian; Han Wuti was a very cultured gentleman of
literary tastes,--a poet, and no mean one.  He too was a Taoist;
an initiate of the Taoism of the day; which might mean in part
that he had an eye to the Elixir of Life; but it also meant
(at least) that he had a restless, exorbitant, and gorgeous
imagination.  Such, indeed, inflamed the whole nation; which was
rich, prosperous, energetic, progressive, and happy.  Ts'in ideas
of bigness in architecture had taken on refinement in Chinese
hands; the palaces and temples of Han Wuti are of course all
lost, but by all accounts they must have been wonderful and
splendid.  Very little of the art comes down:  there are some
bas-reliefs of horses, fine and strong work, realistic, but with
redeeming nobleness.  How literature had revived may be gathered
from this:  in Han Wuti's Imperial Library there were 3123
volumes of the Classics and commentaries thereupon; 2705 on
Philosophy; 1318 of Poetry; 2528 on Mathematics; 868 on
Medicine; 790 on the Science of War.  His gardens at Changan
were famous; he had collectors wandering the world for new and
ornamental things to stock them; very likely we owe many of our
garden plants and shrubs to him.  He consecrated mountains and
magnificent ceremonies; and for the sake of the gods and genii
appeared as flaming splendors over Tai-hsing and the other sacred
heights.  For the light of Romance falls on him; he is a shining
half faery figure.--Outwardly there was pomp, stately manners,
pageantry, high magnificence; inwardly, a burning-up of the
national imagination to ensoul it.  The Unseen, with all its
mystery and awe or loveliness, was the very nearly visible:  not
a pass nor lake nor moor nor forest but was crowded with the
things of which wonder is made.  Muh Wang, the Chow king, eight
centuries before, had ridden into the West and found the garden
of that Faery Queen whose Azure Birds of Compassion fly out into
this world to sweeten the thoughts of men.  Bless you, Han Wuti
married the lady, and had her to abide peaceably in his palace,
and to watch with him

     "The lanterns glow vermeil and gold,
          Azure and green, the Spring nights through,
          When loud the pageant galeons drew
     To clash in mimic combating,
          And their dark shooting flames to strew
     Over the lake at Kouen Ming."

From about 130 to 110 Han Wuti was Napoleonizing:  bringing
in the north-west; giving the Huns a long quietus in 119;
conquering the south with Tonquin; the southern coast provinces,
and the lands towards Tibet.  Ssema Tsien tells us that "mountains
were hewn through for many miles to establish a trade-route
through the south-west and open up those remote regions";
that was a scheme of Chang Ch'ien's, who had ever an eye to
penetrating to India.

There was a dark side to it.  Vast sums of money were eaten up,
and estravagance in private life was encouraged.  Says Ssema:

"From the highest to the lowest, everyone vied with his neighbor
in lavishing money on houses and appointments and apparel,
altogether beyond his means.  Such is the everlasting law of the
sequence of prosperity and decay.... Merit had to give way to
money; shame and scruples of conscience were laid aside; laws
and punishments were administered with severer hand."

It is a very common thing to see signs of decline and darkness in
one's own age; and Ssema himself had no cause to love the
administration of Han Wuti; under which he had been punished
rather severely for some offense.  Still, what he says is more or
less what you would expect the truth to be.  And you will note
him historian of the life of the people; not mere recounter of
court scandals and chronicler of wars:  conscious, too, of the
law of cycles;--all told, something a truer historian than we
have seen too much of in the West.--Where, indeed, we are wedded
to politics, and must have our annalists chronicle above all
things what we call political growth; not seeing that it is but
a circle, and squirreling round valiantly in a cage to get
perpetually in high triumph to the place you started from; a
foolish externality at best.  But real History mirrors for us the
motions of the Human Spirit and the Eternal.

I said that what Ssema tells us is what you would expect the
truth to be; this way:--After half a cycle of that adventurous
and imaginative spirit, eyes jaundiced a little would surely find
excuse enough for querulous vision.  There is, is there not,
something Elizabethan in that Chang Ch'ien, taking the vast void
so gaily, and not to be quenched by all those fusty years
imprisoned among the Huns, but returning only the more fired and
heady of imagination?  If he was a type of Han Wuti's China, we
may guess Ssema was not far out, and that vaulting ambition was
overleaping itself a little; that men were buying automobiles
who by good rights should have ridden in a wheelbarrow.  Things
did not go quite so well with the great emperor after his twenty
flaming Napoleonic years; his vast mountain-cleaving schemes
were left  unfinished; Central Asia grew more troublesome again,
and he had to call off Chang Ch'ien from an expedition into India
by way of Yunnan and Tibet and the half-cleaved mountains, to
fight the old enemy in the north-west.  But until the thirteen
decades were passed, and Han Chaoti, his successor, had died in
63 B.C., the vast designs were still upspringing; high and
daring enterprise was still the characteristic of the Chinese
mind.  The thirteen decades, that is, from the accession of Han
Hueiti and the beginning of the Revival of Literature in 194.



XV.  SOME POSSIBLE EPOCHS IN SANSKRIT LITERATURE


Han Chaoti died in 63 B.C.; his successor is described as a
"boor of low tastes";--from that time the great Han impetus goes
slowing down and quieting.  China was recuperating after Han
Wuti's flare of splendor; we may leave her to recuperate, and
look meanwhile elsewhere.

And first to that most tantalizing of human regions, India;
where you would expect something just now from the cyclic
backwash.  As soon as you touch this country, in the domain of
history and chronology, you are certain, as they say, to get
'hoodooed.'  Kali-Yuga began there in 3102 B.C., and ever since
that unfortunate event, not a single soul in the country seems to
have had an idea of keeping track of the calendar.  So-and-so,
you read, reigned.  When?--Oh, in 1000 A.D.  Or in 213 A.D.  Or
in 78 A.D.  Or in a few million B.C., or 2100 A.D.  Or he did
not reign at all.  After all, what does it matter?--this is
Kali-Yuga, and nothing can go right.--You fix your eyes on a
certain spot in time, which, according to your guesses at
the cycles, should be important.  Nothing doing there, as
we say.  Oh no, nothing at all:  this is Kali-Yuga, and what
should be doing? .... Well, if you press the point, no doubt
somebody was reigning, somewhere.--But, pardon my insistence,
if seems--.  Quite so, quite so! as I said, somebody must
have been reigning.--You scrutinze; you bring your lenses
to bear; and the somebody begins to emerge.  And proves
to be, say, the great Samundragupta, emperor of all India
(nearly); for power and splendor, almost to be mentioned
with Asoka.  And it was the Golden Age of Music, and perhaps
some other things.--Yes, certainly; the Guptas were reigning
then, I forgot.  But why bother about it?  This is Kali-Yuga,
and what does anything matter?--And you come away with the
impression that your non-informant could reveal enough and
plenty, if he had a mind to.

Which is, indeed, probably the case.  All this nonchalant
indefiniteness means nothing more, one suspects, than that the
Brahmans have elected to keep the history of their country
unknown to us poor Mlechhas.  Then there are Others, too:  the
Guardians of Esotericism in a greater sense; who have not chosen
so far that Indian history should be known.  So we can only take
dim foreshadowings, and make guesses.

We saw the Maurya dynasty,--that one seemingly firm patch to set
your feet on in the whole morass of the Indian past,--occupy the
thirteen decades from 320 to 190 B.C., (or we thought we did);
now the question is, from that _pied-a-terre_ whither shall we
jump?  If you could be sure that the ebb of the wave would be
equal in length to its inrush,--the night to the day:--that the
minor pralaya would be no longer or shorter than the little
manvantara that preceded it--why, then you might leap out
securely for 60 B.C., with a comfortable feeling that there would
be some kind of turning-point in Indian history there or
thereabouts.  Sometimes things do happen so, beautifully, as if
arranged by the clock.  But unfortunately, enough mischief may be
done in thirteen decades to take a much longer period to
disentangle; and again, it is only when you strike an average
for the whole year, that you can say the nights are equal to the
days.  We are trying to see through to the pattern of history;
not to dogmatize on such details as we may find, nor claim on the
petty strength of them to be certain of the whole.  So, our
present leap (for we shall make it), while not quite in the dark,
must be made in the dusk of an hour or so after sunset.  There
must be an element of faith in it:  very likely we shall splash
and sink gruesomely.

Well, here goes then!  From 190 B.C. thirteen decades forward to
60 B.C., and,--squish!  But, courage! throw out your arm and
clutch--at this trailing root, _57 B. C.,_ here within easy
reach; and haul yourself out.  So; and see, now you are
standing on something.  What it is, _Dios lo sabe!_  But there is
an Indian era that begins in 57 B.C.; for a long time, dates
were counted from that year.  That era rises in undefined
legendary splendor, and peters out ineffectually you don't just
know where.  There is nothing to go upon but legends, with never
a coin nor monument found to back them;--never mind; dates you
count eras from are generally those in which important cycles
begin.  The legends relate to Vikramaditya king of Ujjain,--which
kingdom is towards the western side of the peninsula, and about
where Hindoostan and the Deccan join.  He is the Arthur-Charlemain
of India, the Golden Monarch of Romance.  In the lakes of his
palace gardens the very swans sang his praises daily--

     "Glory be to Vikramajeet
     Who always gives us pearls to eat";

and when he died, the four pillars that supported his throne rose
up, and wandered away through the fields and jungle disconsolate:
they would not support the dignity of any lesser man.*  Such
tales are told about him by every Indian mother to her children
at this present day, and have been, presumably, any time these
last two thousand years.

------
* _India through the Ages,_ by Mrs. Flora Annie Steel.
------

Of his real existence Historical Research cannot satisfy itself
at all;--or it half guesses it may have discovered his probable
original wandering in disguise through the centuries of a
thousand years or so later.   But you must expect that sort of
thing in India.

At his court, says tradition, lived the "Nine Gems of Literature,"
--chief among them the poet-dramatist Kalidasa; whom Historical
Research (western) rather infers lived at several widely
separated epochs much nearer our own day.  Well; for the
time being let us leave Historical Research (western) to stew in
its own (largely poisonous) juices, and see how it likes it,--and
say that there are good cyclic chances of something large here,
in the half-cycle between the Ages of Han Wuti and Augustus.

We may note that things Indian must be dealt with differently
from things elsewhere.  You take, for example, the old story
about the Moslem conquerors of Egypt burning the Alexandrian
Library.  The fact that this is mentioned for the first time by a
Christian who lived six hundred years after the supposed event,
while we have many histories written during those six hundred
years which say nothing about it at all,--is evidence amounting
to proof that it never happened; especially when you take into
account the known fact that the Alexandrian Library had already
been thoroughly burnt several times.   But you can derive no such
negativing certainty, in India, from the fact that Vikramaditya
and Ujjain and Kalidasa may never have been mentioned together,
not associated with the era of 57 B.C., in any extant writing
known to the west that comes from before several centuries later.
Because the Brahman were a close corporation that kept the
records of history, and kept them secret; and gave out bits
when it suited them.  Say that in 1400 (or whenever else it
may have been) they first allowed it to be published that
Kalidasa flourished at Vikrmaditya's court:--they may have been
consciously lying, but at least they were talking about what
they knew.  They were not guessing, or using their head-gear
wrongfully, their lying was intentional, or their truth warranted
by knowledge.  And no motive for lying is apparent here.--It
would be very satisfactory, of course, were a coin discovered
with King Vikrmaditya's image and superscription nicely engraved
thereon:  _Vikramaditya De Gratia:  Uj. Imp.; Fid. Def.; 57 B.C._
But in this wicked world you cannot have everything; you must be
thankful for what you can get.

You may remember that Han Wuti, to solve the Hun problem, sent
Chang Ch'ien out through the desert to discover the Yueh Chi'
and that Chang found them at last in Bactria, which they had
conquered from Greeks who had held it since Alexander's time.  He
found them settled and with some fair degree of civilization;
spoke of Bactria under their sway as a "land of a thousand
cities";--they had learned much since they were nomads driven out
of Kansuh by the Huns.  Also they were in the midst of a career
of expansion.  Within thirty years of his visit to them, or by
100 B.C., they had spread their empire over eastern Persia, at
the expense of the Parthians; and thence went down into India
conquering.  By 60 B.C. they held the Punjab and generally the
western parts of Hindoostan; then, since they do not seem to
have got down into the Deccan, I take it they were held up.  By
whom?--Truly this is pure speculation.  But the state of Malwa,
of which Ujjain was the capital, lay right in their southward
path; if held up they were, it would have been, probably, by
some king of Ujjain.  Was this what happened?--that the peril of
these northern invaders roused Malwa to exert its fullest
strength; the military effort spurring up national feeling; the
national feeling, creative energies spiritual, mental and
imaginative;--until a great age in Ujjain had come into being.
It is what we often see.  The menace of Spain roused England to
Elizabethanism; the Persian peril awakend Athens.  So King
Vikramaditya leads out his armies, and to victory; and the Nine
Gems of Literature sing at his court.  It is a backwash from Han
Wuti's China, that goes west with Chang Ch'ien to the Yueh Chi,
and south with them into India.  And we can look for no apex of
literary creation at this time, either in China or Europe.  In
the Roman literature of that cycle it is the keen creative note
we miss:  Virgil, the nearest to it, cannot be said to have
possessed quite; and Han literature was probably its first
culmination under Han Wuti, and its second under the Eastern
Hans.  One suspects that great creation is generally going on
somewhere, and is not displeased to find hints of its presence in
India; is inclined to think this may have been, after all,
the Golden Age of the Sanskrit Drama.--At which there can be
at any rate no harm in taking a glance at this point; and,
retrospectively, at Sanskrit literature as a whole;--a desperately
inadequate glance, be it said.

I ask you here to remember the three periods of English Poetry,
with their characteristics; and you must not mind my using my
Welsh god-names in connexion with them.  First, then, there was
the Period of Plenydd,--of the beginnings of _Vision;_  when the
eyes of Chaucer and his lyricist predecessors were opened to the
world out-of-doors; when they began to see that the skies were
blue, fields and forests green; that there were flowers in
the meadows and woodlands; and that all these things were
delectable.  Then there was the Period of Gwron, Strength; when
Marlowe and Shakespeare and Milton evolved the Grand Manner;
when they made the great March-Music, unknown in English before,
and hardly achieved by anyone since:--the era of the great
Warrior-poetry of the Tragedies and of _Paradise Lost._  Then
came, with Wordsworth and Keats and Shelley, the Age of Alawn,
lasting on until today; when the music of intonation brought
with it romance and mystery and Natural Magic with its rich glow
and wizard insight.  And you will remember how English Poetry, on
the uptrend of a major cycle, is a reaching from the material
towards the spiritual, a growth toward that.  Though Milton and
Shakespeare made their grand Soul-Symbols,--by virtue of a cosmic
force moving them as it has moved no others in the language,--you
cannot find in their works, or in any works of that age, such
clear perceptions or statements of spiritual truth as in
Swinburne's _Songs before Sunrise;_  nor was the brain-mind of
either of those giants of the Middle Period capable of such
conscious mystic thought as Wordsworth's.  There was an evolution
upward and inward; from Chaucer's school-boy vision, to
Swinburne's (in that one book) clear sight of the Soul.

We appear to find in Sanskrit literature,--I speak in a very
general sense,--also such great main epochs or cycles.  First a
reign of Plenydd, of Vision,--in the Age of the Sacred Books.
Then a reign of Gwron,--in the Age of the heroic Epics.  Then a
reign of Alawn, in the Age of the Drama.

But the direction is all opposite.  The cycle is not upward, from
the sough of a beastly Iron Age towards the luminance of a coming
Golden; but downward from the peaks and splendors of the Age of
Gold to where the outlook is on to this latter hell's-gulf
of years.  Plenydd, when he first touched English eyes, he
was Plenydd the Lord of Spiritual vision, the Seer into the
Eternities.  Wordsworth at his highest only approaches,--
Swinburne in _Hertha_ halts at the portals of, the Upanishads.

Now, what may this indicate?  To my mind, this:  that you are not
to take these Sanskrit Sacred Books as the fruitage of a single
literary age.  They do not correspond with, say, the Elizabethan,
or the Nineteenth-Century, poetry of England; but are rather the
cream of the output of a whole period as long (at least) as that
of all English literature; the blossoming of a Racial Mind
during (at least) a manvantara of fifteen hundred years.  I do
not doubt that the age that gave birth to the _Katha-Upanishad,_
gave birth to all manner of other things also; flippancies and
trivialities among the rest;--just as in the same England, and in
the same years, Milton was dictating _Samson Agonistes,_ and
Butler was writing the stinging scurrilities of _Hudibras._  But
the Sanskrit Hudibrases are lost; as the English one will be,
even if it takes millenniums to lose it.  Full-flowing time has
washed away the impermanencies of that ancient age, and left
standing but the palaces built upon the rock of the Soul.  The
Soul made the Upanishads, as it mide _Paradise Lost;_  it made
the former in the Golden Age, and the latter in this Age of Iron;
the former through men gifted with superlative vision; the
latter through a blind old bard.  Therein lies the difference:
all our bards, our very greatest, have been blind,--Dante and
Shakespeare, no less than Milton.  Full-flowing Time washed away
the impermanencies of that ancient age, and left standing but the
rock-built palaces of the Soul; and these,--not complete,
perhaps;--repaired to a degree by hands more foolish;--a little
ruinous in places,--but the ruins grander and brighter than all
the pomps, all the new-fangled castles of genii, of later times,
--come down to us as the Sacred Books of India, the oldest extant
literature in the world.  How old?  We may put their epoch well
before the death of Krishna in 3102 B. C.,--well before the
opening of the Kali-Yuga; we may say that it lasted a very long
time;--and be content that if all scholarship, all western and
modern opinion, laughs at us now,--the laugh will probably be
with us when we have been dead a long time.  Or perhaps sooner.

They count three stages in this Vedic or pre-classical literature,
wherefrom also we may infer that it was the output of a great
manvantara, not of a mere day of literary creation.  These
three, they say, are represented by the Vedas, the Brahmanas,
and the Upanishads.  The Vedas consist of hymns to the Gods;
and in a Golden Age you might find simple hymns to the Gods
a sufficient expression of religion.  Where, say, Reincarnation
was common knowledge; where everybody knew it, and no one
doubted it; you would not bother to make poems about it:
--you do not make poems about going to bed at night and getting up
in the morning--or not as a rule.  You make poems upon a reaction
of surprise at perceptions which seem wonderful and beautiful,--
and in a Golden Age, the things that would seem wonderful and
Beautiful would be, precisely, the Sky, the Stars, Earth, Fire,
the Winds and Waters.  Our senses are dimmed, or we should see in
them the eternally startling manifestations of the Lords of
Eternal Beauty.  It is no use arguing from the Vedic hymns, as
some folk do, a 'primitive' state of society; we have not the
keys now to the background, mental and social, of the people
among whom those hymns arose.  Poetry in every succeeding age has
had to fight harder to proclaim the spiritual truth proper to her
native spheres:  were all spiritual truth granted, she would need
do nothing more than mention the Sky, or the Earth, and all the
wonder, all the mystery and delight connoted by them would
flood into the minds of her hearers.  But now she must labor
difficultly to make those things cry through; she gains in glory
by the resistance of the material molds she must pierce.  So the
Vedas tell us little unless we separate ourselves from our
preconceptions about 'primitive Aryans'; whose civilization may
have been at once highly evolved and very spiritual.

The _Brahmanas_ are priest-books; the _Upanishads,_ it is
reasonable to say are Kshattriya-books;--you often find in them
Brahmans coming to Kshattriyas to learn the Inner Wisdom.  The
_Brahmanas_ are books of ritual; the _Upanishads_ came much
later that the _Brahmanas:_  that they represent a reaction
towards spirituality from the tyranny of a priestly caste.  But
probably the day of the Kshattriyas was much earlier than that of
the priests.  The Marlow-Shakespear-Milton time was the
Kshattriya period in English poetry; also the period during
which the greatest souls incarnated, and produced the greatest
work.  So, perhaps, in this manvantara of the pre-classical
Sanskrit literature, the Rig-Veda with its hymns represents the
first, the Chaucerian period; but a Golden Age Chaucerian,
simple and pure,--a time in which the Mysteries really ruled
human life, and when to hymn the Gods was to participate in the
wonder and freeddom of their being.  Think, perhaps, as the cycle
mounted to its hour of noon, esotericism opened its doors to pour
forth an illumination yet stronger and more saving:  mighty egos
incarnated, and put in writing the marvelous revelations of the
_Upanishads:_  there may have been a descent towards matter, to
call forth these more explicit declarations of the Spirit.  The
exclusive caste-system had not been evolved by any means, nor was
to be for many ages:  the kings are at the head of things; and
they, not the priests, the chief custodians of the Deeper
Wisdom.--And then, later, the Priest-cast made its contribution,
evolving in the _Brahmanas_ the ritual of their order; with an
implication, ever growing after the beginning of the Kali-Yuga,
that only by this ritual salvation could be attained.  Not that
it follows that this was the idea at first.  Ritual has its
place:  hymns and chantings, so they be the right ones, performed
rightly, have their decided magical value; we can understand
that in its inception and first purity, this Brahmana literature
may have been a growth or birth, under the aegis of Alawn of the
Harmonies, of the magic of chanted song.

And having said all this, and reconsidering it, one feels that
to attribute these three branches of literature to a single
manvantara is a woeful foreshortening.  I suppose the Rig-Veda
is as old as the Aryan Sub-race, which, according to our
calculations, must have begun some 160,000 years ago.

The _Upanishads_ affect us like poetry; even in Max Muller's
translation, which is poor prose, they do not lose altogether
their uplift and quality of song.  They sing the philosophy of
the divine in Man; I suppose we may easily say they are the
highest thing in extant literature.  They do not come to us whole
or untainted.  We may remember what the Swami Dayanand Sarasvati
said to H. P. Blavatsky:  that he could show the excellent "Moksh
Mooller" that "what crossed the Kalapani from India to Europe
were only the bits of rejected copies of some passages from our
sacred books."  Again, Madame Blavatsky says that the best part
of the Upanishads was taken out at the time Buddha was preaching;
the Brahmans took it out, that he might not prove too clearly the
truth of his teachings by appeals to their sacred books.  Also
the Buddha was a Kshattriya; so the ancient eminence of the
Kshattriyas had to be obscured a little;--it was the Brahmans, by
that time, who were monopolizing the teaching office.  And no
doubt in the same way from time to time much has been added:
the Brahmans could do this, being custodians of the sacred
literature.  Yet in spite of all we get in them a lark's song,--
but a spiritual lark's song, floating and running in the golden
glories of the Spiritual Sun; a song whose verve carries us
openly up into the realms of pure spirit; a wonderful radiance
and sweetness of dawn, of dawn in its fresh purity, its
holiness,--haunted with no levity or boisterousness of youth, but
with a wisdom gay and ancient,--eternal, laughter-laden,
triumphant,--at once hoary and young,--like the sparkle of snows
on Himalaya, like the amber glow in the eastern sky.  Here almost
alone in literature we get long draughts of the Golden Age:  not
a Golden Age fought for and brought down into our perceptions
(which all true poetry gives us), but one actually existing, open
and free;--and not merely the color and atmosphere of it, but the
wisdom.  One need not wonder that Madame Blavatsky drew so freely
on India for the nexus of her teachings.  That country has
performed a marvelous function, taking all its ages together, in
the life of humanity; in preserving for us the poetry and wisdom
of an age before the Mysteries had declined; in keeping open for
us, in a semi-accessible literature, a kind of window into the
Golden Age.--Well; each of the races has some function to
fulfil.  And it is not modern India that has done this; she has
not done it of her own good will,--has had no good will to do it.
It is the Akbars the Anquetil Duperrons and Sir William Joneses,
--and above all, and far above all, H. P. Blavatsky,--whom we
have to thank.

So much, then, for the age of the Vedic literature.  It passed,
and we come to an age when that literature had become sacred.  It
seems to me that in the natural course of things it would take a
very long time for this to happen.  You may say that in the one
analogy we have whose history is well known,--the _Koran,_--we
have an example of a book sacred as soon as written.   But I do
not believe the analogy would hold good here.  The _Koran_ came
as the rallying-standard of a movement which was designed to work
quick changes in the outer fabric of the world; it came when the
cycles had sunk below any possibility of floating spiritual
wisdom on to the world-currents;--and there were the precedents
of Judaism and Christianity, ever before the eyes of Mohammed,
for making the new religious movement center about a Book.  But
in ancient India, I take it, you had some such state of affairs
as this:  classes there would be, according to the natural
differences of egos incarnating; but no castes; religion there
was,--that is to say, an attention to, an aspiration towards, the
spiritual side of life; but no religions,--no snarling sects and
jangling foolish creeds.  Those things (a God's mercy!) had not
been invented then, nor were to be for thousands of years.  The
foremost souls, the most spiritual, gravitated upward to the
headship of tribes and nations; they were the _kings,_ as was
proper they should be:  King-Initiates, Teachers as well as
Rulers of the people.  And they ordained public ceremonies in
which the people, coming together, could invoke and participate
in the Life from Above.  So we read in the Upanishads of those
great Kshattriya Teachers to whom Brahmans came as disciples.
Poets made their verses; and what of these were good, really
inspired, suitable--what came from the souls of Poet-Initiates,--
would be used at such ceremonies:  sung by the assembled
multitudes; and presently, by men specially trained to sing
them.  So a class rose with this special function; and there
were other functions in connexion with these ceremonies, not
proper to be performed by the kings, and which needed a special
training to carry out.  Here, then, was an opening in life for
men of the right temperament;--so a class arose, of _priests:_
among whom many might be real Initiates and disciples of the
Adept-Kings.  They had the business of taking care of the
literature sanctioned for use at the sacrifices,--for convenience
we may call all the sacred ceremonies that,--at which they
performed the ritual and carried out the mechanical and formal
parts.  It is very easy to imagine how, as the cycles went on and
down, and the Adept-Kings ceased to incarnate continuously, these
religious officials would have crystallized themselves into a
close corporation, an hereditary caste; and what power their
custodianship of the sacrificial literature would have given
them;--how that literature would have come to be not merely
sacred in the sense that all true poetry with the inspiration of
the Soul behind it really is;--but credited with an extra-human
sanction.  But it would take a long time.  When modern creeds are
gone, to what in literature will men turn for their inspiration?
--To whatever in literature contains real inspiration, you may
answer.  They will not sing Dr. Watts's doggerel in their
churches; but such things perhaps as Wordsworth's _The World is
too much with us,_ or Henley's _I am the Captain of my Soul._
And then, after a long time and many racial pralayas, you can
imagine such poems as these coming to be thought of as not merely
from the Human Soul, an ever-present source of real inspiration,
--but as revelations by God himself, from which not one jot or
tittle should be taken without blasphemy; given by God when he
founded his one true religion to mankind.  We lose sight of the
spirit, and exalt the substance; then we forget the substance,
and deify the shadow.  We crucify our Saviors when they are with
us; and when they are gone, we crucify them worse with our
unmeaning worship and dogmas made on them.

Well, the age of the Vedas passed, and pralayas came, and new
manvantaras; and we come at last to the age of Classical
Sanskrit; and first to the period of the Epics.  This too is a
Kshattriya age.  Whether it represents a new ascendency of the
Kshattriyas, or simply a continuance of the old one:  whether the
priesthood had risen to power between the Vedas and this, and
somewhat fallen from it again,--or whether their rise was still
in progress, but not advanced to the point of ousting the kings
from their lead,--who can say?  But this much, perhaps, we may
venture without fear:  the Kshattriyas of the Epic age were not
the same as those of the Upanishads.  They were not Adept-Kings
and Teachers in the same way.  By Epic age, I mean the age in
which the epics were written, not that of which they tell.  And
neither the _Mahabharata_ nor the _Ramayana_ was composed in a
day; but in many centuries;--and it is quite likely that on them
too Brahmanical hands have been tactfully at work.  Some parts of
them were no doubt written in the centuries after Christ; there
is room enough to allow for this, when you think that the one
contains between ninety and a hundred thousand, the other about
twenty-four thousand couplets;--the _Mahabharata_ being about
seven times, the _Ramayana_ about twice as long as the _Iliad_
and the _Odyssey_ combined.  So the Age of the Epics must be
narrowed down again, to mean the age that gave birth to the
nuclei of them.

As to when it may have been, I do not know that there is any clue
to be found.  Modern criticism has been at work, of course, to
reduce all things to as commonplace and brain-mind a basis as
possible; but its methods are entirely the wrong ones.  Mr.
Romesh Dutt, who published abridged translations of the two poems
in the late nineties, says of the _Mahabharata_ that the great
war which it tells of "is believed to have been fought in the
thirteenth or fourteenth century before Christ"; and of the
_Ramayana,_ that it tells the story of nations that flourished in
Northern India about a thousand years B. C.--Is believed by whom,
pray?  It is also believed, and has been from time immemorial, in
India, that Krishna, who figures largely in the _Mahabharata,_
died in the year 3102 B.C.; and that he was the eighth avatar of
Vishnu; and that Rama, the hero of the _Ramayana,_ was the
seventh.  Now brain-mind criticism of the modern type is the most
untrustworthy thing, because it is based solely on circumstantial
evidence; and when you work upon that, you ought to go very
warily;--it is always likely that half the circumstances remain
un-discovered; and even if you have ninety and nine out of the
hundred possible, the hundredth, if you had it, might well change
the whole complexion of the case.  And this kind of criticism
leads precisely nowhere, does not build anything, but pulls down
what was built of old.  So I think we must be content to wait for
real knowledge till those who hold it may choose to reveal it;
and meanwhile get back to the traditional starting-point;
--say that the War of the Kuravas and Pandavas happened in the
thirty-second century B.C.; Rama's invasion of Lanka, ages earlier;
and that the epics began to be written, as they say, somewhere
between the lives of Krishna and Buddha,--somewhere between 2500
and 5000 years ago.

Why before Buddha?--Because they are still Kshattriya works;
written before the Brahman ascendency, though after the time when
the Kshattriyas were led by their Adept-Kings;--and because
Buddha started a spiritual revolt (Kshattriya) against a Brahman
ascendency well established then,--a revolt that by Asoka's time
had quite overthrown the Brahman power.  Why, then, should we not
ascribe the epics to this Buddhist Kshattriya period?  To Asoka's
reign itself, for example?--Well, it has been done; but probably
not wisely.  Panini in his _Grammar_ cites the Mahabharata as an
authority for usage; and even the westernest of criticism is
disinclined, on the evidence, to put Panini later than 400 B.C.
Goldstucker puts him in the seventh century B.C.  _En passant,_
we may quote this from the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_ as to
Panini's _Grammar:_  "For a comprehensive grasp of linguistic
facts, and a penetrating insight into the structure of the
vernacular language, this work stands probably unrivalled
in the literature of any language."--Panini, then, cites the
_Mahabharata;_  Panini lived certainly before Asoka's time; the
greatness of his work argues that he came in a culminating period
of scholarship and literary activity, if not of literary
creation; the reign of Asoka we may surmise was another such
period;--and from all this I think we may argue without much fear
that the the nucleus and original form of it, was written long
before the reign of Asoka.  Besides, if it had been written
during the Buddhist ascendency, one fancies we should find more
Buddhism in it than we do.  There is some;--there are ideas that
would be called Buddhist; but that really only prove the truth
of the Buddha's claim that he taught nothing new.  But a Poem
written in Asoka's reign, one fancies, would not have been
structurally and innately, as the _Mahabharata_ is, martial.

There is this difference between the two epics,--I speak of the
nucleus-poems in each case;--the _Mahabharata_ seems much more a
natural growth, a national epic,--the work not of one man, but of
many poets celebrating through many centuries a tradition not
faded from the national memory;--but the _Ramayana_ is more a
structural unity; it bears the marks of coming from one creative
mind:  even western criticism accepts Valmiki (whoever he may
have been) as its author.  To him it is credited in Indian
tradition; which ascribes the authorship of the _Mahabharata_
to Vyasa, the reputed compiler of the _Vedas;_--and this last is
manifestly not to be taken literally; for it is certain that a
great age elapsed between the _Vedas_ and the Epics.  So I think
that the _Mahabharata_  grew up in the centuries, many or few,
that followed the Great War,--or, say, during the second
millennium B.C.; that in that millennium, during some great
'day' of literary creation, it was redacted into a single poem;--
and that, the epic habit having thus been started, a single poet,
Valmiki, in some succeeding 'day,' was prompted to make another
epic, on the other great traditional saga-cycle, the story of
Rama.  But since that time, and all down through the centuries,
both poems have been growing _ad lib._

This is an endeavor to take a bird's-eye view of the whole
subject; not to look at the evidence through a microscope, in
the modern critical way.  It is very unorthodox, but I believe it
is the best way:  the bird's eye sees most; the microscope sees
least; the former takes in whole landscapes in proportion;
the latter gets confused with details that seem, under that
exaggeration, too highly important,--but which might be negatived
altogether could you see the whole thing at once.  A telescope
for that kind of seeing is not forthcoming; but the methods of
thought that H. P. Blavatsky taught us supply at least the first
indications of what it may be like:  they give us the first
lenses.  As our perceptions grow under their influence, doubtless
new revelations will be made; and we shall see more, and
further.  All we can do now is to retire from the confusion
brought about by searching these far stars with a microscope; to
look less at the results of such searching, than at the old
traditions themselves, making out what we can of them through
what Theosophic lenses we have.  We need not be misled by the
ridiculous idea that civilization is a new thing.  It is only the
bias of the age; the next age will count it foolishness.--But to
return to our epics.--

First to the  _Mahabharata._  It is, as it comes down to us,
not one poem, but a large literature.  Mr. Dutt compares it,
both for length and variety of material, to the sermons of
Jeremy Taylor and Hooker, Locke's and Hobbes's books of Philosophy,
Blackstone's _Commentaries,_ Percy's Ballads, and the writings
of Newman, Pusey, and Keble,--all done into blank verse and
incorporated with _Paradise Lost._  You have a martial poem like
the _Iliad,_ full of the gilt and scarlet and trumpetings and
blazonry of war;--and you find the _Bhagavad-Gita_ a chapter in
it.  Since it was first an epic, there have been huge accretions
to it:  Whosever fancy it struck would add a book or two, with
new incidents to glorify this or that locality, princely house,
or hero.  And it is hard to separate these accretions from the
original,--from the version, that is, that first appeared as an
epic poem.  Some are closely bound into the story, so as to be
almost integral; some are fairly so; some might be cut out and
never missed.  Hence the vast bulk and promiscuity of material;
which might militate against your finding in it, as a whole, any
consistent Soul-symbol.  And yet its chief personages seem all
real men; they are clearly drawn, with firm lines;--says Mr.
Dutt, as clearly as the Trojan and Achaean chiefs of Homer.
Yudhishthira and Karna and Arjuna; Bhishma and Drona and the
wild Duhsasan, are very living characters;--as if they had been
actual men who had impressed themselves on the imagination of the
age, and were not to be drawn by anyone who drew them except from
the life.  That might imply that poets began writing about them
not so long after they lived, and while the memory of them and of
their deeds was fresh.  We are to understand, however,--all India
has so understood, always,--that the poem is a Soul-symbol,
standing for the wars of Light and Darkness; whether this
symbol was a tradition firmly in the minds of all who wrote it,
or whether it was imposed by the master-hand that collated their
writings into an epic for the first time.

For it would seem that of the original writers, some had been on
the Kurava, some on the Pandava side; though in the symbol as it
stands, it is the Pandavas who represent the Light, the Kurava,--
the darkness.  There are traces of this submerged diversity of
opinion.  Just as in the _Iliad_ it is the Trojan Hector who is
the most sympathetic character, so in the _Mahabharata_ it is
often to some of the Kurava champions that our sympathies
unavoidably flow.  We are told that the Kurava are thoroughly
depraved and villainous; but not seldom their actions belie the
assertion,--with a certain Kshattriya magnamity for which they
are given no credit.  Krishna fights for the sons of Pandu; in
the _Bhagavad-Gita_ and elsewhere we see him as the incarnation
of Vishnu,--of the Deity, the Supreme Self.  As such, he does
neither good nor evil; but ensures victory for his protegees.
Philosophically and symbolically, this is sound and true, no
doubt, but one wonders whether the poem (or poems) ran so
originally; whether there may not be passages written at first
by Kuravist poets; or a Brahminical superimposition of motive on
a poem once wholly Kshattriya, and interested only in showing
forth the noble and human warrior virtues of the Kshattriya
caste.  I imagine that in that second millennium B. C., in the
early centuries of Kali-Yuga, you had a warrior class with their
bards, inspired with high Bushido feeling,--with chivalry and all
that is fine in patricianism--but no longer under the leadership
of Adept Princes;--the esoteric knowledge was now mainly in the
hands of the Priest-class.  The Kshattriya bards made poems about
the Great War, which grew and coalesced into a national epic.
Then in the course of the centuries, as learning in its higher
branches became more and more a possession of the Brahmans,--and
since there was no feeling against adding to this epic whatever
material came handy,--Brahmin esotericists manipulated it with
great tact and finesse into a symbol of the warfare of the Soul.

There is the story of the death of the Kurava champion Bhishma.
The Pandavas had been victorious; and Duryodhana the Kurava king
appealed to Bhishma to save the situation.  Bhishma loved the
Pandava princes like a father; and urged Duryodhana to end the
war by granting them their rights,--but in vain. So next day,
owing his allegiance to Duryodhana, he took the field; and

     "As a lordly tusker tramples on a field of feeble reeds,
     As a forest conflagration on the parched woodland feeds,
     Bhishma rode upon the warriors in his mighty battle car.
     God nor mortal chief could face him in the gory field of war." *

------
* The quotations are from Mr. Romesh Dutt's translation.
------

Thus victorious, he cried out to the vanquished that no appeal
for mercy would be unheard; that he fought not against the
defeated, the worn-out, the wounded, or "a woman born."  Hearing
this, Krishna advised Arjuna that the chance to turn the tide had
come. The young Sikhandin had been born a woman, and changed
afterwards by the Gods into a man.  Let Sikhandin fight in the
forefront of the battle, and the Pandavas would win, and Bhishma
be slain.--Arjuna, who loved Bhishma as dearly as Bhishma loved
him and his brothers, protested; but Krishna announced that
Bhishma was so doomed to die, and on the following day; a fate
decreed, and righteously to be brought about by the stratagem.
So it happened:

     "Bhishma viewed the Pandav forces with a calm unmoving face;
     Saw not Arjun's bow Gandiva, saw not Bhima's mighty mace;
     Smiled to see the young Sikhandin rushing to the battle's
          fore
     Like the white foam on the billow when the mighty storm
          winds roar;
     Thought upon the word he plighted, and the oath that he had
          sworn,
     Dropt his arms before the warrior that was, but a woman
          born;"

--and so, was slain.... and the chiefs of both armies gathered
round and mourned for him.--Now it seems to me that the poets who
viewed sympathetically the magnanimity of Bhishma, which meets
you on the plane of simple human action and character, would not
have viewed sympathetically, or perhaps conceived, the strategem
advised by Krishna,--which you have to meet, to find it acceptable,
on the planes of metaphysics and symbolism.

There is a quality in it you do not find in the _Illiad._  Greek
and Trojan champions, before beginning the real business of their
combats, do their best to impart to each other a little valuable
self-knowledge:  each reveals carefully, in a fine flow of
hexameters, the weak points in his opponent's character.  They
are equally eloquent about their own greatnesses, which stir
their enthusiasm highly;--but as to faults, neither takes thought
for his own; each concentrates on the other's; and a war of
words is the appetiser for the coming banquet of deeds.  Before
fighting Hector, Achilles reviled him; and having killed him,
dragged his corpse shamefully round the walls of Troy.  But
Bhishma, in his victorious career, has nothing worse to cry to
his enemies than--_Valiant are ye, noble princes!_ and if you
think of it on the unsymbolic plane, there is a certain nobility
in the Despondency of Arjuna in the _Bhagavad-Gita._

Says the _Encyclopaedia Brittanica:_

"To characterize the Indian Epics in a single word:  though often
disfigured by grotesque fancies and wild exaggerations, they are
yet noble works, abounding in passages of remarkable descriptive
power; and while as works of art they are far inferior to the
Greek epics, in some respects they appeal far more strongly to
the romantic mind of europe, namely, by the loving appreciation
of natural beauty, their exquisite delineation of womanly love
and devotion, and their tender sentiment of mercy and forgiveness."

--Precisely because they come from a much higher civilization
that the Greek.  From a civilization, that is to say, older and
more continuous.  Before Rome fell, the Romans were evolving
humanitarian and compassionate ideas quite unlike their old-time
callousness.  And no, it was not the influence of Christianity;
we see it in the legislation of Hadrian for example, and
especially in the anti-Christian Marcus Aurelius.  These feeling
grow up in ages unscarred by wars and human cataclysms; every
war puts back their growth.  The fall of Rome and the succeeding
pralaya threw Europe back into ruthless barbarity.  In the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries humanism began to grow again;
and has been gaining ground especially since H. P. Blavatsky
began her teaching.  But not much more than a century ago they
were publicly hanging, drawing, and quartering people in England;
crowds were gathering at Tyburn or before the Old Bailey to enjoy
an execution.  We have hardly had four generations in Western
Europe in which men have not been ruthless and brutal barbarians
with a sprinkling of fine spirits incarnate among them; no
European literature yet has had time to evolve to the point where
it could portray a Yudhishthira, at the end of a national epic,
arriving at the gates of heaven with his dog,--and refusing to
enter because the dog was not to be admitted.  There have been,
with us, too great ups and downs of civilization; too little
continuity.  We might have grown to it by now, had that medieval
pralaya been a quiet and natural thing, instead of what it was:--
a smash-up total and orgy of brutalities come as punishment for
our sins done in the prime of manvantara.

A word or two as to the _Ramayana._  Probably Valmiki had the
other epic before his mental vision when he wrote it; as Virgil
had Homer.  There are parallel incidents; but his genius does
not appear in them;--he cannot compete in their own line with the
old Kshattriya bards.  You do not find here so done to the life
the chargings of lordly tuskers, the gilt and crimson, the
scarlet and pomp and blazonry, of war.  The braying of the battle
conches is muted:  all is cast in a more gentle mold.  You get
instead the forest and its beauty; you get tender idylls of
domestic life.--This poem, like the _Mahabharata,_ has come
swelling down the centuries; but whereas the latter grew by the
addition of new incidents, the _Ramayana_ grew by the re-telling
of old ones.  Thus you may get book after book telling the same
story of Rama's life in the forest-hermitage by the Godavari;
each book by a new poet in love with the gentle beauty of
the tale and its setting, and anxious to put them into his
own language.  India never grows tired of these Ramayanic
repetitions.  Sita, the heroine, Rama's bride, is the ideal of
every good woman there; I suppose Shakespeare  has created no
truer or more beautiful figure.  To the _Mahabharata,_ the
_Ramayana_ stands perhaps as the higher Wordsworth to Milton;
it belongs to the same great age, but to another day in it.
Both are and have been wonderfully near the life of the people:
children are brought up on them; all ages, castes, and
conditions make them the  staple of their mental diet.  Both are
semi-sacred; neither is quite secular; either relates the deeds
of an avatar of Vishnu; ages have done their work upon them, to
lift them into the region of things sacrosanct.

And now at last we come to the age of King Vikramaditya of
Ujjain,--to the Nine Gems of Literature,--to a secular era of
literary creation,--to the Sanskrit Drama, and to Kalidisa, its
Shakespeare;--and to his masterpiece, _The Ring of Sakoontala._

There is a tendency with us to derive all things Indian from
Greek sources.  Some Greek writer says the Indians were familiar
with Homer; whereupon we take up the cry,--The _Ramayana_ is
evidently a plagiarism from the _Iliad;_  the abduction of Sita
by Ravan, of the abduction of Helen by Paris; the siege of
Lanka, of the siege of Troy.  And the _Mahabharata_ is too;
because,--because it must be; there's a deal of fighting in
both.  (So Macedon plagiarized its river from Monmouth.) We
believe a Greek at all times against an Indian; forgetting that
the Greeks themselves, when they got to India, were astounded at
the truthfulness of the people they found there.  Such strained
avoidance of the natural lie,--the harmless, necessary lie
that came so trippingly to a Greek tongue,--seemed to them
extraordinary.--So too our critics naturally set out from the
position that the Indian Drama must have been an offshoot or
imitation of the Greek.  But fortunately that position had to be
quitted _toute de suite;_  for the Indian theory is much nearer
the English than the Greek;--much liker Shakespeare's than
Aeschylus's.  _Sakoontal_ is romantic; it came in a Third or
Alawn Period; of all Englishmen, Keats might most easily have
written it; if _Endymion_ were a play, _Endymion_ would be the
likest thing to it in English.  You must remember that downward
trend in the Great Cycle; that make each succeeding period in
Sanskrit literature a descent from the heights of esotericism
towards the personal plane.  That is what brings Kalidasa on to a
level with Keats.

Behind _Sakoontala,_ as behind _Endymion,_ there is a Soul-symbol;
only Kalidasa, like Keats, is preoccupied in his outer mind
more with forest beauty and natural magic and his romantic
tale of love.  It marks a stage in the descent of literature from
the old impersonal to the modern personal reaches:  from tales
told merely to express the Soul-Symbol, to tales told merely for
the sake of telling them.  The stories in the _Upanishads_ are
glyphs pure and simple.  In the epics, they have taken on much
more human color, though still exalting and ennobling,--and all
embodying, or molded to, the glyph.  Now, in _The Ring of
Sakoontala,_--and it is typical of its class,--we have to look a
little diligently for the glyph; what impresses us is the
stillness and morning beauty of the forest, and,--yes, it must be
said.--the emotions, quite personal, of King Dushyanta and
Sakoontala, the hero and heroine.

She is a fairy's child, full beautiful; and has been brought up
by her foster-father, the yogi Kanwa, in his forest hermitage.
While Kanwa is absent, Dushyanta, hunting, follows an antelope
into that quiet refuge; finds Sakoontala, loves and marries her.
Here we are amidst the drowsy hum of bees, the flowering of large
Indian forest blossoms, the scent of the jasmine in bloom; it is
what Keats would have written, had his nightingale sung in an
Indian jungle.--The king departs for his capital, leaving with
Sakoontala a magical ring with power to reawaken memory of her in
his heart, should he ever forget.  But Durvasas, a wandering
ascetic, passes by the hermitage; and Sakoontala, absorbed in
her dreams, fails to greet him; for which he dooms her to be
forgotten by her husband.  She waits and waits, and at last seeks
the unreturning Dushyanta at his court; who, under the spell of
Durvasas, fails to recognise her.  If what she claims is true,
she can produce the ring?--But no; she has lost it on her
journey through the forest.  He repudiates her; whereupon
she is caught up by the Gods into the Grove of Kasyapa beyond
the clouds.

But the ring had fallen into a stream in the forest, and a fish
had swallowed it, and a fisherman had caught the fish, and the
police had caught the fisherman .... and so it came into the
hands of Dushyanta again; who, at sight of it, remembered all,
and was plunged in grief over his lost love.

Years pass, and Indra summons him at last to fight a race of
giants that threaten the sovereignty of the Gods.  In the course
of that warfare, mounting to heaven in the car of Indra,
Dushyanta comes to the Grove of Kasyapa, and is reunited with
Sakoontala and with their son, now grown into an heroic boy.

As in _The Tempest_ a certain preoccupation with the magical
beauty of the island dims the character-drawing a little,
and perhaps thereby makes the symbol more distinct,--so in
Sakoontala.  It is a faery piece:  begining in the morning calm
and forest magic; then permitting passion to rise, and sadness
to follow; ending in the crystal and blue clearness of the upper
air.  In this we see the basic form of the Soul-Symbol, which is
worked out in the incidents and characters.  Dushyanta, hunting
in the unexplored forest, comes to the abode of holiness, finds
and loves Sakoontala;--and from their union is born the perfect
hero,--Sarva-Damana, the 'All-tamer.'--Searching in the
impersonal and unexplored regions within us, we do at some time
in our career of lives come to the holy place, get vision of our
Immortal Self; from the union of which with this, our human
personality is to be born some time that new being we are to
become,--the Perfect Man or Adept.  But that first vision may be
lost; I suppose almost always is;--and there are wanderings and
sorrows, forgetfulness and above all heroic services to be
performed, before the final reunion can be attained.



XVI.  THE BEGINNINGS OF ROME


We have seen an eastward flow of cycles:  which without too much
Procrusteanizing may be given dates thus:--Greece, 478 to 348;
Maurya India, 320 to 190; Western Han China, 194 to 63; in this
current, West Asia, being then in long pralaya, is overleaped.
We have also seen a tide in the other direction; it was first
Persia that touched Greece to awakenment; and there is that
problematical Indian period (if it existed), thirteen decades
after the fall of the Mauryas, and following close upon the
waning of the first glory of the Hans.  So we should look for the
Greek Age to kindle something westward again, sooner or later;--
which of course it did.  478 to 348; 348 to 218; 218 to
88 B.C.; 88 B.C. to 42 A. D.:  we shall see presently the
significance of those latter dates in Roman history.  Meanwhile
to note this:  whereas Persia woke Greece at a touch, thirteen
decades elapsed before Greece began to awake Italy.  It waited to
do so fully until the Crest-Wave had sunk a little at the eastern
end of the world; for you may note that the year 63 B.C., in
which Han Chaoti died, was the year in which Augustus was born.

With him in the same decade came most of the luminaries that made
his age splendid:  Virgil in 70; Horace in 65; Vipsanius
Agrippa in 63; Cilnius Maecenas in what precise year we do not
know.  The fact is that the influx of vigorous light-bearing
egos, as it decreased in China, went augmenting in Italy:  which
no doubt, if we could trace it, we should find to be the kind of
thing that happens always.  For about four generations the
foremost souls due to incarnate crowd into one race or quarter of
the globe; then, having exhausted the workable heredity to be
found there,--_used up_ that racial stream,--they must go
elsewhere.  There you have the _raison d'etre,_ probably, of
the thirteen-decade period.  It takes as a rule about four
generations of such high life to deplete the racial heredity for
the time being,--which must then be left to lie fallow.  So now,
America not being discovered, and there being no further eastward
to go, we must jump westward the width of two continents
(nearly), and (that last lecture being parenthetical as it were)
come from Han Chaoti's death to Augustus' birth, from China
to Rome.

But before dealing with Augustus and the Roman prime, we must get
some general picture of the background out of which he and it
emerged:  this week and next we must give to early and to
Republican Rome.  And here let me say that these two lectures
will be, for the most part, a very bare-faced plagiarism;
summarizing facts and conclusions taken from a book called _The
Grandeur that was Rome,_ by Mr. J. C. Stobart, of the English
Cambridge.  One greatest trouble about historical study is, that
it allows you to see no great trends, but hides under the record
of innumerable fidgety details the real meanings of things.  Mr.
Stobart, with a gift of his own for taking large views, sees this
clearly, and goes about to remedy it; he does not wander with
you through the dark of the undergrowth, labeling bush after
bush; but leads you from eminence to eminence, generalizing, and
giving you to understand the broad lie of the land:  he makes you
see the forest in spite of the trees.  As this is our purpose,
too, we shall beg leave to go with him; only adding now and
again such new light as Theosophical ideas throw on it;--and for
the most part, to avoid a tautology of acknowledgments, or a
plethora of footnotes in the PATH presently, letting this one
confession of debt serve.  The learning, the pictures, the
marshaling of facts, are all Mr. Stobart's.

In the fifth and sixth centuries A. D., when the old manvantara
was closing, Europe was flung into the Cauldron of Regeneration.
Nations and fragments of nations were thrown in and tossing and
seething; the broth of them was boiling over, and,--just as the
the Story of Taliesin, flooding the world with poison and
destruction:  and all that a new order of ages might in due time
come into being.  One result that a miscellany of racial
heterogeneities was washed up into the peninsular and island
extremities of the continent.  In the British you had four Celtic
and a Pictish remnant,--not to mention Latins galore,--pressed on
by three or four sorts of Teutons.  In Spain, though it was less
an extremity of Europe than a highway into Africa, you had a fine
assortment of odds and ends:  Suevi, Vandals, Goths and what not;
superimposed on a more or less homogenized collection of
Iberians, Celts, Phoenicians, and Italians;--and in Italy you had
Italians broken up into numberless fragments, and overrun by all
manner of Lombards, Teutons, Slavs, and Huns.  Welded by cyclic
stress, presently first England, then Spain, and lastly Italy,
became nations; in all three varying degrees of homogeneity
being attained.  But the next peninsula, the Balkan, has so far
reached no unity at all; it remains to this day a curious museum
of racial  oddments, to the sorrow of European peace; and each
of them represents some people strong in its day, and perhaps
even cultured.

What the Balkan peninsula has been in our own time, the Apennine
peninsula was after the fall of Rome, and also before the rise of
Rome:  a job-lot of race-fragments driven into that extremity of
Europe by the alarms and excursions of empires in dissolution
whose history time has hidden.  The end of a manvantara, the
break-up of a great civilization and the confusion that followed,
made the Balkans what they are now, and Italy what she was in the
Middle Ages.  The end of an earlier manvantara, the break-up of
older and forgotten civilizations, made Italy what she was in the
sixth century B.C.  Both peninsulas, by their mere physical
geography, seem specially designed for the purpose.

Italy is divided into four by the Apennines, and is mostly
Apennines.  Everyone goes there:  conquerors, lured by the _dono
fatale,_ and for the sake of the prizes to be gathered; the
conquered, because it is the natural path of escape out of
Central Europe.  The way in is easy enough; it is only the way
out that is difficult.  The Alps slope up gently on the northern
side; but sharply fall away in grand precipices on the southern.
There, too, they overlook a region that would always tempt
invaders:  the great rich plain the Po waters; a land no
refugees could well hope to hold.  It has been in turn Cisalpine
Gaul, the Plain of the Lombards, and the main part of Austrian
Italy; this thrice a possession of conquerors from the north.
It is the first of the four divisions.

There never would be safety in it for refugees; you would not
find in it a great diversity of races living apart; conquerors
and conquered would quickly homogenize,--unless the conquerors
had their main seat in, and remained in political union with,
transalpine realms.  Refugees would still and always have to move
on, if they desired to keep their freedom.  Three ways would be
open to them, and three destinies, according to which way they
chose.  They might go down into the long strip of Adriatic
coastland, where there are no natural harbors--and remain
isolated and unimportant between the mountain barrier and the
sea.  Those who occupied this _cul de sac_ have played no great
part in history:  the isolated never do.--Or they might cross the
Apennines and pour down into the lowlands of Etruria and
Latium, where are rich lands, some harbors, and generally, fine
opportunities for building up a civilization.  Draw-backs also,
for a defeated remnant:  Etruria is not too far from Lombardy to
tempt adventurers from the north, the vanguard of the conquering
people;--although again, the Apennine barrier might make their
hold on that middle region precarious.  They might come there
conquering; but would form, probably, no very permanent part of
the northern empire:  they would mix with the conquered, and at
any weakening northward, the mixture would be likely to break
away.  So Austria had influence and suzerainty and various crown
appanages in Tuscany; but not such settled sway as over the
Lombard Plain.  Then, too, this is a region that, in a time of
West Asian manvantara and European pralaya, might easily tempt
adventurers from the Near East.

But the main road for true refugees is the high Apennines; and
this is the road most of them traveled.  Their fate, taking it,
would be to be pressed southward along the backbone of Italy by
new waves and waves of peoples; and among the wild valleys to
lose their culture, and become highlandmen, bandit tribes and
raiding clans; until the first comers of them had been driven
down right into the hot coastlands of the heel and toe of Italy.
Great material civilizations rarely originate among mountains:
outwardly because of the difficulty of communications; inwardly,
I suspect, because mountain influences pull too much away from
material things.  Nature made the mountains, you may say, for the
special purpose of regenerating effete remnants of civilizations.
Sabellians and Oscans, Samnites and Volscians and Aequians and
dear knows what all:--open your Roman Histories, and in each one
of the host of nation-names you find there, you may probably see
the relic of some kingdom once great and flourishing north or
south of the Alps;--just as you can in the Serbians, Roumanians,
Bulgars, Vlachs, and Albanians in the next peninsula now.

One more element is to be considered there in the far south. Our
Lucanian and Bruttian and Iapygian refugees,--themselves, or some
of them, naturally the oldest people in Italy, the most original
inhabitants,--would find themselves, when they arrived there,
very much de-civilized; but, because the coast is full of fine
harbors, probably sooner or later in touch with settlers from
abroad.  It is a part that would tempt colonists of any cultured
or commercial peoples that might be spreading out from Greece or
the West Asian centers or elsewhere; and so it was Magna Graecia
of old, and a mixing-place of Greek and old Italian blood; and
so, since, has been held by Saracens, Normans, Byzantines, and
Spaniards.

The result of all this diversity of racial elements would be that
Italy could only difficultly attain national unity at any time;
but that once such unity was attained, she would be bound to play
an enormous part.  No doubt again and again she has been a center
of empire; it is always your ex-melting-pot that is.

Who were the earliest Italians?  The earliest, it least, that we
can guess at?--Once on a time the peninsula was colonized by folk
who sailed in through the Straits of Gibraltar from Ruta and
Daitya, those island fragments of Atlantis; and (says Madame
Blavatsky) you should have found a pocket of these colonists
surviving in Latium, strong enough for the most part to keep the
waves of invaders to the north of them, and the refugees to the
high Apennines.  Another relic of them you would have found,
probably, driven down into the far south; and such a relic, I
understand, the Iapygians were.

One more ethnic influence,--an important one.  Round about the
year 1000 B.C., all Europe was in dead pralaya, while West Asia
was in high manvantara:  under which conditions, as I suggested
just now, such parts as the Lombard Plain and Tuscany might tempt
West Asians of enterprise;--as Spain and Sicily tempted the
Moslems long afterwards.  Supposing such a people came in; they
would be, while the West Asian manvantara was in being, much more
cultured and powerful than their Italian neighbors; but the
waning centuries of their manvantara would coincide with the
first and orient portion of the European one; so, as soon as
that should begin to touch Italy, things would begin to equalize
themselves; till at last, as Europe drew towards noon and West
Asia towards evening, these West Asians of Etruria would go the
way of the Spanish Moors.  There you have the probable history of
the Etruscans.

All Roman writers say they came from Lydia by sea; which
statement could only have been a repetition of what the Etruscans
said about themselves.  The matter is much in dispute; but most
likely there is no testimony better than the ancient one.  Some
authorities are for Lydia; some are for the Rhaetian Alps; some
are for calling the Etruscans 'autochthonous,'--which I hold to
be, like  _Mesopotamia,_ a 'blessed word.'  Certainly the Gauls
drove them out of Lombardy, and some of them, as refugees, up
into the Rhaetian Alps,--sometime after the European manvantara
began in 870.  We cannot read their language, and do not know
enough about it to connect it even with the Turanian Group; but
we know enough to exclude it, perhaps, from every other known
group in the Old World,--certainly from the Aryan.  There is
something absolutely un-Aryan (one would say) about their art,
the figures on their tombs.  Great finish; no primitivism; but
something queer and grotesque about the faces.... However, you
can get no racial indications from things like that.  There is a
state of decadence, that may come to any race,--that has perhaps
in every race cycles of its own for appearing,--when artists go
for their ideals and inspiration, not to the divine world of the
Soul, but to vast elemental goblinish limboes in the sub-human:
realms the insane are at home in, and vice-victims sometimes, and
drug-victims I suppose always.  Denizens of these regions, I take
it, are the models for some of our cubists and futurists. . . . I
seem to see the same kind of influence in these Etruscan faces.
I think we should sense something sinister in a people with
art-conventions like theirs;--and this accords with the popular
view of antiquity, for the Etruscans had not a nice reputation.

The probability appears to be that they became a nation
in their Italian home in the tenth or eleventh century B.C.;
were at first war-like, and spread their power considerably,
holding Tuscany, Umbria, Latium, with Lombardy until the Gauls
dispossessed them, and presently Corsica under a treaty with
Carthage that gave the Carthaginians Sardinia as a _quid pro
quo._  Tuscany, perhaps, would have been the original colony;
when Lombardy was lost, it was the central seat of their power;
there the native population became either quite merged in them,
or remained as plebeians; Umbria and Latium they possessed
and ruled as suzerains.  The Tuscan lands are rich, and the
_Rasenna,_ as they called themselves, made money by exporting the
produce of their fields and forests; also crude metals brought
in from the north-west,--for Etruria was the clearing-house for
the trade between Gaul and the lands beyond, and the eastern
Mediterranean.  From Egypt, Carthage, and Asia, they imported in
exchange luxuries and objects of art; until in time the old
terror of their name,--as pirates, not unconnected with something
of fame for black magic; one finds it as early as in Hesiod, and
again in the _Medea _of Euripides,--gave place to an equally ill
repute for luxurious living and sensuality.  We know that in war
it was a poor thing to put your trust in Etruscan alliances.

According to their own account of it, they were destined to
endure as a distinct people for about nine centuries; which is
probably what they did.  Their power was at its height about 600
B.C. As they began to decline, certain small Italian cities that
had been part of their empire broke away and freed themselves;
particularly in Latium, where lived the descendants of those
old-time colonists from Ruta and Daitya,--priding themselves still
on their ancient descent, and holding themselves Patricians or
nobles, with a serf population of conquered Italians to look down
upon.  Or, of course, it may have been _vice versa:_  that the
Atlanteans were the older stock, nearer the soil, and Plebeians;
and that the Patricians were later conquerors lured or driven
down from Central Europe.

At any rate, as their empire diminished, Etruria stood like some
alien civilized Granada in the midst of surrounding medieval
barbarism; for Italy, in 500 B.C., was simply medieval.  Up in
the mountains were war-like highlanders:  each tribe with its
central stronghold,--like Beneventum in Samnium, which you could
hardly call a city, I suppose:  it was rather a place of refuge
for times when refuge was needed, than a group of homes to live
in; in general, the mountains gave enough sense of security, and
you might live normally in your scattered farms.--But down in the
lowlands you needed something more definitely city-like:  at once
a group of homes and a common fortress.  So Latium and Campania
were strewn with little towns by river and seashore, or hill-top
built with more or less peaceful citadel; each holding the lands
it could watch, or that its citizen armies could turn out quickly
to defend.  Each was always at war or in league with most of the
others; but material civilization had not receded so far as
among the mountaineers.  The latter raided them perpetually, so
they had to be tough and abstemious and watchful; and then again
they raided the mountaineers to get their own back, (with
reasonable interest); and lastly, lest like Hotspur they should
find such quiet life a plague, and want work, it was always
their prerogative, and generally their pleasure, to go to war
with each other.--A hard, poor life, in which to be and do right
was to keep in fit condition for the raidings and excursions and
alarms; ethics amounted to about that much; art or culture, you
may say, there was none.  Their civilization was what we know as
Balkanic, with perpetual Balkanic eruptions, so to speak.  Their
conception of life did not admit of the absence of at least one
good summer campaign.  Mr. Stobart neatly puts it to this effect:
no man is content to live ambitionless on a bare pittance and the
necessaries; he must see some prospect, some margin, as well;
and for these folk, now that they had freed themselves from the
Etruscans, the necessaries were from their petty agriculture, the
margin was to be looked for in war.

Among these cities was one on the Tiber, about sixteen miles up
from the mouth.  It had had a great past under kings of its own,
before the Etruscan conquest; very likely had wielded wide
empire in its day.  A tradition of high destiny hung about it,
and was ingrained in the consciousness of its citizens; and I
believe that this is always what remains of ancient greatness
when time, cataclysms, and disasters have wiped all actual
memories thereof away.  But now, say in 500 B.C., we are to think
of it as a little peasant community in an age and land where
there was no such wide distinction between peasant and bandit.
It had for its totem, crest, symbol, what you will, very
appropriately, a she-wolf....

Art or culture, I said, there was none;--and yet, too, we might
pride ourselves on certain great possessions to be called
(stretching it a little), _in that line;_  which had been left to
us by our erstwhile Etruscan lords, or executed for us by
Etruscan artists with their tongues in their cheeks and sides
quietly shaking.--Ha, you men of Praeneste! you men of Tibur!
sing small, will you?  _We_ have our grand Jupiter on the
Capitoline, resplendent in vermilion paint; what say you to
that?  Paid for him, too, (a surmise, this!) with cattle raided
from your fields, my friends!

Everything handsome about us, you see; but not for this must you
accuse us of the levity of culture. We might patronize; we did
not dabble.--One seems to hear from those early ages, echoes of
tones familiar now.  Ours is the good old roast beef and common
sense of--I mean, the grand old _gravitas_ of Rome.  What! you
must have a Jupiter to worship, mustn't you?  No sound as by
Parliament-Established-Religion of Numa Pompilius, Sir, and the
world would go to the dogs!  And, of course, vermilion paint.  It
wears well, and is a good bloody color with no levity about it;
besides, can be seen a long way off--whereby it serves to keep
you rascals stirred up with jealousy, or should.  So: we have our
vermilion Jupiter and think of ourselves very highly indeed.

Yes; but there is a basis for our boasting, too;--which
boasting, after all, is mainly a mental state; we aim to be
taciturn in our speech, and to proclaim  our superiority with
sound thumps, rather than like wretched Greeks with poetry and
philosophy and such.  We do possess, and love,--at the very least
we aim at,--the thing we call _gravitas;_ and--there are points
to admire in it.  The legends are full of revelation; and what
they reveal are the ideals of Rome.  Stern discipline; a rigid
sense of duty to the state; unlimited sacrifice of the
individual to it; stoic endurance in the men; strictest
chastity in the women:--there were many and great qualities.
Something had come down from of old, or had been acquired in
adversity:  a saving health for this nation.  War was the regular
annual business; all the male population of military age took
part in it; and military age did not end too early.  It was an
order that tended to leave no room in the world but for the
fittest, physically and morally, if not mentally.  There was
discipline, and again and always discipline:  _paterfamilias_
king in his household, with power of life and death over his
children.  It was a regime that gave little chance for loose
living. A sterile and ugly regime, Nevertheless; and, later,
they fell victims to its shortcomings.  Vice, that wrecks every
civilization in its turn, depend upon it had wrecked one here:
that one of which we get faint reminiscences in the stories of
the Roman kings.  Then these barren and severe conditions ensued,
and vice was (comparatively speaking) cleaned out.

What were the inner sources of this people's strength?  What
light from the Spirit shone among them?  Of the Sacred Mysteries,
what could subsist in such a community?--Well; the Mysteries
had, by this time, as we have seen, very far declined.  Pythagoras
had made his effort in this very Italy; he died in the first
year of the fifth century soon after the expulsion of the
kings, according to the received chronology;--in reality,
long before there is dependable history of Rome at all.  There
had been an Italian Golden Age, when Saturn reigned and the
Mysteries ruled human life.  There were reminiscences of a long
past splendor; and an atmosphere about them, I think, more
mellow and peace-lipped than anything in Hesiod or Homer.  I
suppose that from some calmer, firmer, and more benignant Roman
Empire manvantaras back, when the Mysteries were in their flower
and Theosophy guided the relations of men and nations, some thin
stream of that divine knowledge flowed down into the pralaya;
that an echo lingered,--at Cumae, perhaps, where the Sibyl was,--
or somewhere among the Oscan or Sabine mountains.  Certainly
nothing remained, regnant and recognised in the cities, to
suggest a repugnance to the summer campaigns, or that other
nations had their rights.  Yet there was something to make life
sweeter than it might have been.

They said that of old there had been a King in Rome who was a
Messenger of the Gods and link between earth and heaven; and
that it was he had founded their religion.  Was Numa Pompilius, a
real person?--By no means, says modern criticism.  I will quote
you Mr. Stobart:--

  "The Seven Kings of Rome are for the most part mere names
which have been fitted by rationalizing historians, presumably
Greek, with inventions appropriate to them.  Tomulus is simply
the patron hero of Rome called by her name.  Numa, the second,
whose name suggests _numen,_ was the blameless Sabine who
originated most of the old Roman cults, and received a complete
biography largely borrowed from that invented for Solon."

--He calls attention, too, to the fact that Tarquin the Proud is
made a typical Greek Tyrant, and is said to have been driven out
of Rome in 510,--the very year in which that other typical Greek
Tyrant, Hippias, was driven out of Athens;--so that on the whole
it is not a view for easy unthinking rejection.  But Madame
Blavatsky left a good maxim on these matters:  that tradition
will tell you more truth than what goes for history will; and
she is quite positive that there is much more truth in the tales
about the kings than in what comes down about the early Republic.
Only you must interpret the traditions; you must understand
them.  Let us go about, and see if we can arrive at something.

Before the influx of the Crest-Wave began, Rome was a very petty
provincial affair, without any place at all in the great sweep of
world-story.  Her annals are about as important as those of the
Samnium of old, of which we know nothing; or those, say, of
Andorra now, about which we care less.  Our school histories
commonly end at the Battle of Acium; which is the place where
Roman history becomes universal and important:  a point wisely
made and strongly insisted on by Mr. Stobart.  I shows how
thoroughly we lack any true sense of what history is and is for.
We are so wrapped up in politics that our vision of the motions
of the Human Spirit is obscured.  There were lots of politics in
Republican Rome, and you may say none in the empire; so we make
for the pettiness that obsesses us, and ignore the greatness
whose effects are felt yet.  Rome played at politics:  old-time
conqueror-race Patricians against old-time conquered-race
Plebians:  till the two were merged into one and she grew tired
of the game.  She played at war until her little raidings and
conquests had carried her out of the sphere of provincial
politics, and she stood on the brink of the great world.  Then
the influx of important souls began; she entered into history,
presently threw up politics forever, and performed, so far as it
was in her to do so, her mission in the world.  What does History
care for the election results in some village in Montenegro?  Or
for the passage of the Licinian Rogations, or the high exploits
of Terentilius Harsa?

Yet, too, we must get a view of this people in pralaya, that we
may understand better the workings of the Human Spirit in its
fulness.  But we must see the forest, and not lose sight and
sense of it while botanizing over individual trees.  We must
forget the interminable details of wars and politics that amount
to nothing; that so we may apprehend the form, features, color,
of this aspect of humanity.

Here is a mighty river:  the practical uses of mankind are mainly
concerned with it as far up as it may be navigable; or at most,
as far up as it may be turning mills and watering the fields of
agriculture.  There may be regions beyond when poets and
mythologists may bring great treasures for the Human Spirit; but
do you do well to treat such treasures as plug material for
exchange and barter?  They call for another kind of treatment.
The sober science of history may be said to start where the
nations become navigable, and begin to affect the world.  You can
sail your ships up the river Rome to about the beginning of the
third century B.C., when she began to ermerge from Italian
provincialism and to have relations with foreign peoples:
Pyrrhus came over to fight her in 280.  What is told of the
century before may be true or not; as a general picture it is
probably true enough, and only as a general picture does it
matter; its details are supremely unimportant.  The river here
is pouting through the gorges, or shallowly meandering the meads.
It is watering Farmer Balbus's fields; Grazier Ahenobarbus's
cows drink at it; idle Dolabell angles in its quiet reaches:
there are bloody tribal affrays yearly at its fords.  It is
important, certainly, to Babbus and Dolabella, and the men slain
in the forays;--but to us others--.

And then at 390 there are falls and dangerous rapids; you will
get no ships beyond these.  The Gauls poured down and swept away
everything:  the records were burnt; and Rome, such as it was,
had to be re-founded.  Here is a main break with the past;
something like Ts'in Shi Hwangti's Book-burning; and it serves
to make doubly uncertain all that went before.  Go further now,
and you must take to the wild unmapped hills.  There are no
fields beyond this; the kine keep to the lush lowland meadows;
rod and line must be left behind,--and angler too, unles he is
prepared for stiff climbing, and no marketable recompense.  Nor
yet, perhaps, for some time, much in things unmarketable:  I will
not say there is any great beauty of scenery in these rather
stubborn and arid hills.

As to the fourth century, then (or from 280 to 390)--we need not
care much which of Ahenobarbus's cows was brindled, or which had
the crumpled horn, or which broke off the coltsfoot bloom with
lazy ruthless hoof.  As to the fifth,--we need not try to row the
quinqueremes of history beyond that Gaulish waterfall.  We need
not bother with the weight Dolabella claims for the trout he says
he caught up there:  that trout has been cooked and eaten these
twenty-three hundred years.  Away beyond, in the high mountains,
there may be pools haunted by the nymphs; you cannot sail up to
them, that is certain; but there may be ways round.....

Here, still in the foot-hills, is a pool that does look, if not
_nymphatic,_ at least a little fishy, as they say; the story
of Rome's dealings with Lars Porsenna.  It even looks as if
something historical might be caught in it.  The Roman historians
have been obviously camouflaging:  they do not want you to
examine this too closely.  Remember that all these things came
down by memory, among a people exceedingly proud, and that had
been used to rely on records,--which records had been burnt by
the Gauls.  Turn to your English History, and you shall probably
look in vain in it for any reference to the Battle of Patay; you
shall certainly find Agincourt noised and trumpted _ad lib._  Now
battles are never decisive; they never make history; the very
best of them might just as well not have been fought.  But at
Patay the forces which made it inevitable France should be a
nation struck down into the physical plane and made themselves
manifest:  as far as that plane is concerned, the centuries of
French history flow from the battlefield of Patay.  But what made
trumpery Agincourt was only the fierce will of a cruel, ambitious
fighting king; and what flowed from it was a few decades of war
and misery.  That by way of illustration how history is envisaged
and taught:  depend upon it, by every people; it is not peculiar
to this one or that.--Well then, the fish we are at liberty to
catch in this particular Roman pool is a period during which Rome
was part of the Etruscan Empire.

The fact is generally accepted, I believe; and is, of course,
the proposition we started from.  How long the period was, we
cannot say.  The Tarquins were from Tarquinii in Etruria;
perhaps a line of Etruscan governors.  The gentleman from Clusium
who swore by the Nine Gods was either a king who brought back a
rebellious Rome to temporary submission, or the last Etruscan
monarch in whose empire it was included.  But here is the point:
whether fifty or five hundred years long--and perhaps more likely
the former than the latter--this period of foreign rule was long
enough to make a big break in the national tradition, and to
throw all preceding events out of perspective.

At the risk of _longueurs_--and other things--let me take an
illustration from scenes I know.  I have heard peasants in Wales
talking about events before the conquest;--people who have never
learnt Welsh history out of books, and have nothing to go on but
local legends;--and placing the old unhappy far-off things and
battles long ago at "over a hundred years back, I shouldn'
wonder."  It is the way of tradition to foreshorten things like
that,--Nothing much has happened in Wales since those ancient
battles with the English; so the six or seven centuries of
English rule are dismissed as "over a hundred years."  Rome under
the Etruscans, like Wales under the English, would have had no
history of her own:  there would have been nothing to impress
itself on the race-memory.  Such times fade out easily:  they
seem to have been very short, or are forgotten altogether.  But
this same Welsh peasant, who thus forgets and foreshortens recent
history, always remembers that there were kings of Wales once.
Perhaps, if he were put to it to write a history, with no books
to guide him, he would name you as many as seven of them, and
supply each with more or less true stories.  In reality, of
course, there were eight centuries of Welsh kings; and before
them, the Roman occupation,--which he also remembers, but very
vaguely; and before that, he has the strongest impression that
there were ages of wide sovereignty and splendor.  The kings he
would name, naturally, are the ones that made the most mark.--I
think the Romans, in constructing or making Greeks construct for
them their ancient history, did very much the same kind of thing.
They remembered the names of seven kings, with tales about them,
and built on those.  There were the kings who had stood out and
stood for most; and the Romans remembered what they stood for.
So here I think we get real history; whereas in the stories of
republican days we may see the efforts of great families to
provide themselves with a great past.  But I doubt we could take
anything _aupied de la lettre;_  or that it would profit us to do
so if we could.  Here is a pointer:  we have seen how in India
a long age of Kshattriya supremacy preceded the supremacy
of the Brahmins.  Now observe Kshattriya Romulus followed
by Brahmin Numa.

I do not see why Madame Blavatsky shold have so strongly insisted
on the truth of the story of the roman Kings unless there were
more in it than mere pralayic historicity.  Unless it were of
bigger value, that is, than Andorran or Montenegrin annals.
Rome, after the Etruscan domination, was a meanly built little
city; but there were remains from pre-Etruscan times greater
than anything built under the Republic.  Rome is a fine modern
capital now; but there were times in the age of papal rule, when
it was a miserable depopulated village of great ruins, with
wolves prowling nightly through the weed-grown streets.  Yet even
then the tradition of _Roma Caput Mundi_ reigned among the
wretched inhabitants,--witness Rienzi:  it was the one thing,
besides the ruins, to tell of ancient greatness.  Some such
feeling, borne down out of a forgotten past, impelled Republican
Rome on the path of conquest.  It was not even a tradition, at
that time; but the essence of a tradition that remained as a
sense of high destinies.

Who, then, was Romulus?--Some king's son from Ruta or Daitya, who
came in his lordly Atlantean ships, and builded a city on the
Tiber?  Very likely.  That would be, at the very least, as far
back as nine or ten thousand B.C.; which is contemptibly modern,
when you think of the hundred and sixty thousand years of our
present sub-race.  The thing that is in the back of my mind is,
that Rome is probably as old as that sub-race, or nearly so; but
wild horses should not drag from me a statement of it.  Rome,
London, Paris,--all and any of them, for that matter.--But a
hundred and sixty thousand or ten thousand, no man's name could
survive so long, I think, as a peg on which to hang actual
history.  It would pass, long before the ten millenniums were
over, into legend; and become that of a God or demigod,--whose
cult, also, would need reviving, in time, by some new avatar.
Now (as remarked before)  humanity has a profound instinct for
avatars; and also (as you would expect)  for Reincarnation.  The
sixth-century Britons were reminded by one of their chieftains of
some mighty king or God of prehistory; the two got mixed, and
the mixture came down as the Arthur of the legend.  This is what
I mean by 'reviving the cult.'  Now then, who was Romulus?--Some
near or remote descendant of heroic refugees from fallen Troy,
who rebuilt Rome or reestablished its sovereignty?--Very likely,
again;--I mean, very likely both that and the king's son from
Ruta or Daitya.   And lastly, very likely some tough little
peasant-bandit restorer, not so long before the Etruscan
conquest, whom the people came to mix up witl mightier figures
half forgotten. . . . .

We see his history, as the Romans did, through the lens of a
tough little peasant-bandit city; through the lens of a pralaya,
which makes pralayic all objects seen.  It is like the Irish
peasant-girl who has seen the palace of the king of the fairies;
she describes you something akin to the greatest magnificence she
knows,--which happens to be the house of the local _squireen._
Now the Etruscan domination, as we have noted, could probably
not have begun before 1000 B.C.; at which time, to go by our
hypothesis as to the length and recurrence of the cycles, Europe
was in dead pralaya, and had been since 1480. So that, possibly,
you would have had between 1480 and 1000 a Rome in pralaya, but
independent--like Andorra now, or Montenegro.  The stories we get
about the seven kings would fit such a time admirably.  They tell
of pralayic provincials; and Rome, during that second half of
the second millennium B.C., would have been just that.

But again, if the seven kings had been just that and nothing
more, I cannot see why H. P. Blavatsky should have laid such
stress on the essential truth of their stories.  She is
particular, too, about the Arthurian legend:--saying that it is
at once symbolic and actually historical,--which latter, as
concerns the sixth-century Arthur, it is not and she would not
have considered it to be:  no Briton prince of that time went
conquering through Europe.  So there must be some further value
to the tales of the Roman kings; else why are they so much
better than the Republican annals?  Why?--unless all history
except the invented kind or the distorted-by-pride-or-politics
kind is symbolic; and unless we could read in these stories the
record, not merely of some pre-Etruscan pralayic centuries, but
of great ages of the past and of the natural unfoldment of the
Human Spirit in history through long millenniums?  Evolution is
upon a pattern; understand the drift of any given thousand years
in such a way that you could reduce it to a symbol, and probably
you have the key to all the past.

So I imagine there would be seven interpretations to these kings,
as to all other symbols.  Romulus may represent a Kshattriya, and
Numa a Brahmin domination in the early ages of the sub-race.
Actual men, there may yet be mirrored in them the history--shall
we say of the whole sub-race?  Or Root-race?  Or the whole
natural order of human evolution?  It is business for imaginative
meditation,--which is creative or truth-finding meditation.  But
now let us try, diffidently, to search out the last, the
historic, pre-Etruscan Numa.

If you examined the Mohammedan East, now in these days of its
mid-pralaya and disruption:  Turkey especially, or Egypt:  you
should find constantly the tradition of Men lifted by holiness
and wisdom and power above the levels of common humanity:  Unseen
Guardians of the race,--a Great Lodge or Order of them.  In
Christendom, in its manvantara, you find no trace of this
knowledge; but it may surprise you to know that it is so common
among the Moslems, that according to the Turkish popular belief,
there is always a White Adept somewhere within the mosque of St.
Sophia,--hidden under a disguise none would be likely to
penetrate.  There are hundreds of stories. The common thought is
that representatives of this Lodge, or their disciples, often
appear; are not so far away from the world of men; may be
teaching, quite obscurely, or dropping casual seeds of the Secret
Wisdom, in the next village.  Well; I imagine pralayic
conditions may allow benign spiritual influences to be at work,
sometimes, nearer the surface of life than in manvantara.  The
brain-mind is less universally dominant; there is not the same
dense atmosphere of materialism.  You get on the one hand a
franker play of the passions, and no curbs imposed either by a
sound police system or a national conscience; in pralaya
time there is no national conscience, or, I think, national
consciousness,--no feeling of collective entity, of being a
nation,--at all; perhaps no public opinion.  As it is with a man
when he sleeps:  the soul is not there; there is nothing in that
body that feels then 'I am I'; nothing (normally) that can
control the disordered dreams. . . . Hence, in the sleeping
nation, the massacres, race-wars, mob-murders, and so on; which,
we should remember, affect parts, not the whole, of the race.
But on the other hand that very absence of brain-mind rule may
imply Buddhic influences at work in quiet places; and one cannot
tell what unknown graciousnesses may be happening, that our
manvantaric livelinesses and commercialism quite forbid. . . .
Believe me, if we understood the laws of history, we should waste
a deal less time and sanity in yelling condemnations.

Italy then was something like Turkey is now.  Dear knows whom you
might chance on, if you watched with anointed eyes . . . in St.
Sophia . . . or among the Sabine hills.  Somewhere or other, as I
said just now, reminiscences of the Mysteries would have
survived.  I picture an old wise man, one of the guardians of
those traditions, coming down from the mountains, somewhere
between 1500 and 1000 B. C., to the little city on the Tiber;
touching something in the hearts of the people there, and
becoming,--why not?--their king.  For I guess that this one was
not so different from a hundred little cities you should have
found strewn over Italy not so long ago.  The ground they
covered,--and this is still true,--would not be much larger than
the Academy Garden; their streets but six or seven feet across.
Their people were a tough, stern, robberish set; but with a
side, too, to which saintliness (in a high sense) could make
quick appeal.  Intellectual culture they had none; the brain-mind
was the last thing you should look for (in ancient Rome at
least);--and just because it was dormant, one who knew how to go
about it could take hold upon the Buddhic side.  That was perhaps
what this Numa Pompilius achieved doing.  There would be nothing
extraordinary in it. The same thing may be going on in lots of
little cities today, in pralayic regions:  news of the kind does
not emerge.  We have a way of dividing time into _ancient and
modern;_  and think the one forever past, the other forever to
endure.  It is quite silly. There are plenty of places now where
it is 753 B.C.; and no doubt there were plenty then where it was
pompous 1919.--Can anyone tell me, by the bye, what year it
happens to be in Europe now?

How much Numa may have given his Romans, who can say?  Most of it
may have worn away, before historic times, under the stress of
centuries of summer campaigns.  But something he did ingrain into
their being; and it lasted, because not incompatible with the
life they knew.  It was the element that kept that life from
complete vulgarity and decay.

You have to strip away all Greekism from your conceptions, before
you can tell what it was.  The Greek conquest was the one Rome
did not survive.  Conquered Greece overflowed her, and washed her
out; changed her traditions, her religion, the whole color of
her life.  If Greece had not stepped in, myth-making and
euhemerizing, who would have saved the day at Lake Regillus?
_Not_ the Great Twin Brothers from lordly Lace-daemon, be sure.
Who then?  Some queer uncouth Italian nature-spirit gods?  One
shakes one's head in doubt:  the Romans did not personalize their
deities like the Greeks.  Cato gives the ritual to be used at
cutting down a grove; says he--"This is the proper Roman way to
cut down a grove. Sacrifice with a pig for a peace-offering.
This is the verbal formula:  'Whether thou art a god or a goddess
to whom that grove is sacred,' "--and so on.  Their gods were
mostly like that:  potentialities in the unseen, with whom good
relations must be kept by strict observance of an elaborate
ritual.  There were no stories about them; they did not marry
and have families like the good folk at Olympus.

Which is perhaps a sign of this:  that Numa's was a religion, the
teaching of a (minor) Teacher who came long after the Mysteries
had disappeared.  Because in the Mysteries, cosmogenesis was
taught through dramas which were symbolic representations of its
events and processes; and out of these dramas grew the stories
about the gods.  But when the real spiritual teaching has ceased
to flow through the Mysteries, and the stones are accepted
literally, and there is nothing else to maintain the inner life
of the people,--a Teacher of some kind must come to state things
in plainer terms.  This, I take it, is what happened here; and
the very worn-outness of conditions that this implies, implies
also tremendous cultural and imperial activities in forgotten
time; I imagine Italy, then, at two or three thousand B.C.,
was playing a part as much greater outwardly than Greece
was, as her part now is greater than Greece's, and has been
during recent centuries.

This, then, is what Numa's religion did for Rome:--it peopled the
woods and fields and hills with these impersonal divinities; it
peopled the moments of the day with them; so that nothing in
space or time, no near familiar thing or duty, was material
wholly, or pertained to this world alone;--there was another side
to it, connected with the unseen and the gods.  There were Great
Gods in the Pantheon; but your early Roman had no wide-traveling
imagination; and they seemed to him remote and uncongenial
rather,--and quickly took on Greekishness when the Greek
influence began.  Minerva, vaguely imagined, assumed soon the
attributes of the very concretely imagined Pallas; and so on.
But he had nearer and Numaish divinities much more a part of his
life,--which indeed largely consisted of rituals in their honor.
There were Lares and Penates and Manes, who made his home a kind
of temple, and the earth a kind of altar; there were deities
presiding over all homely things and occasions; formless
impersonal deities; presences to be felt and remembered, not
clothed imaginatively with features and myths:--Cuba, who gave
the new-born child its first breath; Anna Perenna of the
recurring year; hosts of agricultural gods without much
definition, and the unseen genii of wood, field, and mountain.
Everything, even each individual man, had a god-side:  there was
something in it or him greater, more subtle, more enduring, than
the personality or outward show.--To the folk-lorist, of course,
it is all 'primitive Mediterranean' religion or superstition;
but the inner worlds are wonderful and vast, if you begin to have
the smallest inkling of an understanding of them.  I think
we may recognise in all this the hand of a wise old Pompilius
from the Sabine hills, at work to keep the life of his Romans,
peasant-bandits as they were, clean in the main and sound.  Yes,
there were gross elements:  among the many recurring festivals,
some were gross and saturnalian enough.  The Romans kept near
Nature, in which are, both animal and cleansing forces; but
the high old _gravitas_ was the virtue they loved. And supposing
Numa established their religion, it does not follow that he
established what there came to be of grossness in it.

They kept near Nature; very near the land, and the Earth Breath,
and the Earth Divinities, and the Italian soil,--and that
southern laya center and gateway into the inner world which,
I am persuaded, is in Italy.  There are many didactic poems in
world-literature,--poems dealing with the operations of agriculture;--
and they are mostly as dull as you would expect, with that for
their subject; but one of them, and one only, is undying poetry.
That one is the Roman one.  Its author was a Celt, and his models
were Greek; and he was rather a patient imitative artist than
greatly original and creative;--but he wrote for Rome, and with
the Italian soil and weather for his inspiration; and their
forces pouring through him made his didactics poetry, and poetry
they remain after nineteen centuries.  Nothing of the kind comes
from Greece.  As if whenever you broke the Italian soil, a voice
sang up to you from it:  _Once Saturn reigned in Italy!_

It is this that brings Cincinnatus back to his cabbage-field from
the war,--and politics, as to something sacred, a fountain at
which life may be renewed. Plug souls; no poetry in them;--but
the Earth Breath cleanses and heals and satisfies them.  In place
of a literature, they have wild unpoetical chants to their Mayors
to raise as they go into battle; for art and culture, they have
that bright vermilion Jove; nothing from the Spirit to comfort
them in these!  But put the ex-dictator to hoe his turnips, and
he is in a dumb sort of way in communication at once with the
Spirit and all deepest sources of comfort.--What is Samnite gold
to me, when I have my own radishes to toast,--sacred things out
of my own sacred soil?  The Italian sun shines down on me, and
warms more than my physicality and limbs.  See, I strike my hoe
into Italy, and the sacred essences of Earth our Mother flow up
to me, and quiet my mind from anxious and wasting thought, and
fill me with calmness and vigor and Italy, and her old quaint
immemorial gods!

Not that the Roman had any conception, patriotically speaking,
about Italy; it was simply the soil he was after,--which
happened to be Italian.  Not for him, in the very slightest,
Filicaia's or Mazzini's dream!  Good practical soul, what would
he have done with dreaming?--But he had his feet on the ground,
and was soaked through, willy nilly, with its forces; he lived
in touch with realities, with the seasons and the days and
nights,--how we do forget those great, simple, life-giving,
cleansing things!--and his mind was molded to what he owed to the
soil, to the realities, to _Dea Roma;_--and Duty became a great
thing in his life.  Out of all this comes something that makes
this narrow little cultureless bandit city almost sympathetic to
us,--and very largely indeed admirable.

They knew how to keep their heads.  There were those two races
among them,--races or orders;--and a mort of politics between the
two.  Greek cities, in like manner but generally less radically
divided, knew no method but for one side to be perpetually
banishing the other, turn and turn about, and wholesale; but
these spare, tough Romans effect compromise after compromise,
till Patricians and Plebs are molten down into one common type.
They are not very brilliant, even at their native game of war:
given a good general, their enemies are pretty sure to trounce
them.  Pyrrhus, a fine tactician but no great strategist, does so
several times;--and then they reply to his offers of peace, that
they make no peace with enemies still camped on Italian soil.--
Comes next a real master-strategist, Hannibal; and senate and
people, time after time, are forced (like Balbus in the poem)

     "With a frankness that I'm sure will charm ye
     To own it is all over with the army."

He wipes them out in a most satisfactory and workmanlike manner.
Their leading citizens, _ipso facto_ their generals (amateur
soldiers always cabbage-hoers at heart) afford him a good deal of
amusement; as if you should send out the mayor of Jonesville,
Arkansaw, against a Foch or a Hindenburg.  One of them, a fool of
a fellow, blunders into a booby-trap and loses the army which is
almost the sole hope of Rome; and comes home, utterly defeated,
--to be gravely thanked by the Senate for not committing suicide
after his defeat:  "for not despairing of the Republic."  Ah,
there is real Great Stuff in that; they are admirable peasant
bandits after all!  Most people would have straight court
martialed and beheaded the man; as England hanged poor Admiral
Byng _pour encourager les autres._  And all the while they have
been having the sublime impudence to keep an army in Spain
conquering there.  How to account for this unsubduability?  Well;
there is Numa's teaching; and what you might call a latent habit
of _Caput-Mundi-ship:_  imperial seeds in the soil.

There is that indestructible god-side to everything; especially,
behind and above this city on the seven hills, there is divine
eternal ROME.  So, after the Gaulish conquest, they rejected
proffered and more desirable Etruscan sites, and came back and
provided _Dea Roma_ with a new out-ward being; the imperial
seeds, molds of empire, were on the Seven Hills, not at Veii.
So, when this still greater peril of Hannibal so nearly submerged
them, they took final victory for granted,--could conceive of no
other possibility,--and placidly went forward while being whipped
in Italy with the adventure in Spain.  There was one thing they
could not imagine:  ultimate defeat.  It was a kind of stupidity
with them.  They were a stupid people.  You might thrash them;
you might give them their full deserts (which were bad), and
fairly batter them to bits; all the world might think them dead;
dozens of doctors might write death-certificates; you might have
Rome coffined and nailed down, and be riding gaily to the
funeral;--but you could not convince _her_ she was dead; and at
the very graveside, sure enough, the 'pesky critter' (as they
say) would be bursting open the coffin lid; would finish the
ceremony with you for the corpse, and then ride home smiling to
enjoy her triumph, thank God for his mercies,--and get back to
her hoe and her cabbages as quickly as might be.

It is this that to my mind makes it philosophically certain that
she had had a vast antiquity as the seat of empire; I mean,
before the Etruscan domination.  _Dea Roma,_--the Idea of Rome,--
was an astral mold almost cast in higher than astral stuff:  it
was so firmly fixed, so unalterably there, that I cannot imagine
a few centuries of peasant-bandits building it,--unimaginative
tough creatures at the best.  No; it was a heritage; it was
built in thousands of years, and founded upon forgotten facts.
There was something in the ideal world, the deposit of long ages
of thinking and imagining.  How, pray, are nations brought
into being?

By men thinking and willing and imagining them into being.  Such
men create an astral matrix; with walls faint and vague at
first, but ever growing stronger as more and more men reinforce
them with new thought and will and imagination.  But in Rome we
see from the first the astral mold so strong that the strongest
party feelings, the differences of a conqueror and a conquered
race, are shaped by it into compromise after compromise.  And
then, too, an instinct among those peasant-bandits for empire:
an instinct that few European peoples have possessed; that it
took the English, for example, a much longer time to learn than
it took the Romans.  For let us note that even in those early
days it was not such a bad thing to come under Roman sway; if
you took it quietly, and were misled by no patriotic notions.
That is, as a rule. Unmagnanimous always to men, Rome was not
without justice, and even at times something quite like
magnanimity, to cities and nations.  She was no Athens, to
exploit her subject peoples ruthlessly with never a troubling
thought as to their rights.  She had learned compromise and horse
sense in her politics it home:  if her citizens owed her a duty,
--she assumed a responsibility towards them.  It took her time to
learn that; but she learned it.  She went conquering on the same
principle.  Her plebeians had won their rights; in other towns,
mostly, the plebeians had not.

Roman dominion meant usually a betterment of the conditions of
the plebs in the towns annexed, and their entering in varying
degrees upon the rights the plebs had won at Rome.  She went
forward taking things as they came, and making what arrangements
seemed most feasible in each case.  She made no plans in advance;
but muddled trough like an Englishman.  She had no Greek or
French turn for thinking things out beforehand; her empire grew,
in the main, like the British, upon a subconscious impulse to
expand.  She conquered Italy because she was strong; much
stronger inwardly in spirit than outwardly in arms; and because
(I do but repeat what Mr. Stobart says:  the whole picture really
is his) what should she do with her summer holidays, unless go on
a campaign?--and because while she had still citizens without
land to hoe cabbages in, she must look about and provide them
with that prime necessity.  All of which amounts to saying that
she began with a habit of empire-winning,--which must have been
created in the past.  On her toughness the spirited Gaul broke
as a wave, and fell away.  On her narrow unmagnanimity the
chivalrous mountain Samnite bore down, and like foam vanished.
She had none of the spiritual possibilities of the Gaul; but the
Crest-Wave was coming, and the future was with Italy.  She had
none of the high-souled chivalry of the Samnite; but she was the
heart of Italy, and the point from which Italy must expand.  She
was hard, tough, and based on the soil; and that soil, as it
happened, the laya center,--a sort of fire-fountain from within
and the unseen.  You stood on the Seven Hills, and let heaven and
hell conspire together, you _could not_ be defeated.  Gauls,
Samnites, Latins,--all that ever attacked her,--were but taking a
house-cloth to dry up a running spring.  The Crest-Wave was
coming to Italy; whose vital forces, all centrifugal before,
must now be made to turn and flow towards the center.  That was
Rome; and as they would not flow to her of their own good will,
out she must go and gather them in.  Long afterwards, when the
Caesars and Augusti of the West left her for Milan and Ravenna,
it was because the Crest-Wave was departing, the forces turning
centrifugal, and Italy breaking to pieces; long afterwards
again, in the eighteen-seventies, when the Crest-Wave was
returning, Italy must flow in centripetally to Rome; no Turin,
no Florence would do.

So, by 264 B.C., she had conquered Italy.  Then, still land-hungry,
she stepped over into Sicily, invited by certain rascals in
Messana, and light-heartedly challenged the Mistress of the
Western Seas.  At this point the stream is leaving Balbus's
fields and Ahenobarbus's cattle, and coming to the broad waters,
where the ships of the world ride in.



XVII.  ROME PARVENUE *


The Punic War was not forced on Rome. She had no good motive for
it; not even a decent excuse.  It was simply that she was
accustomed to do the next thing; and Carthage presented itself
as the next thing to fight,--Sicily, the next thing to be
conquered.  The war lasted from 264 to 241; and at the end of it
Rome found herself out of Italy; mistress of Sicily, Sardinia,
and Corsica.  The Italian laya center had expanded; Italy had
boiled over.  It was just the time when Ts'in at the other end of
the world was conquering China, and the Far Eastern Manvantara
was beginning.  Manvantaras do not begin or end anywhere, I
imagine, without some cyclic event marking it in all other parts
of the world.

---------
* This lecture, like the preceding one, is based on Mr. J. H.
Stobart's, _The  Grandeur that was Rome._
---------

We have heard much talk of how disastrous the result would have
been if Carthage, not Rome, had won.  But Carthage was a far and
belated outpost of West Asia and of a manvantara that had ended
over a century before:--there was no question of her winning.
Though we see her only through Roman eyes, we may judge very well
that no possibility of expansion was left in her.  There was no
expansive force.  She threw out tentacles to suck in wealth and
trade, but was already dead at heart.  All the greatness of old
West Asia was concentrated, in her, in two men:  Hamilcar Barca
and his son:  they shed a certain light and romantic glory over
her, but she was quite unworthy of them.  Her prowess at any time
was fitful:  where money was to be made, she might fight like a
demon to make it; but she was never a fighting power like Rome.
She won her successes at first because her seat was on the sea,
and the war was naval, and sea-battles were won not by fighting
but by seamanship.  If Carthage had won, they say;--but Carthage
could not have won, because the cycles were for Rome.  You will
note how that North African rim is tossed between European and
West Asian control, according to which is in the ascendant.  Now
that Europe's up, and West Asia down, France, Italy, and England
hold it from Egypt to the Atlantic; and in a few centuries'
time, no doubt it will be quite Europeanized.  But West Asia,
early in its last manvantara, flowed out over it from Arabia,
drove out all traces of Europeanism, and made it wholly Asiatic.
Before that, while a European manvantara was in being, it was
European, no less Roman than Italy; and before that again, while
the Crest-Wave was in West Asia, it was West Asian, under Egypt
and Phoenician colonies.  As for its own native races, they
belong, I suppose, to the fourth, the Iberian Sub-race; and now
in the days of our fifth Sub-race (the Aryan), seem out of the
running for wielding empires of their own.

So if Carthage had won then, things would only have been delayed
a little; the course of history would have been much the same.
Rome might have been destroyed by Hannibal; she would have been
rebuilt when Hannibal had departed; then gone on with her
expansion, perhaps in other directions,--and presently turned,
and come on Carthage from elsewhere; or absorbed her quietly,
and let her do the carrying trade of the Mediterranean 'under the
Roman flag' as you might say,--or something of that sort.  Rome
eradicated Carthage for the same reason that the Spaniards
eradicated the Moors:  because the West Asian tide, to which
Moors and Carthaginians belonged, had ebbed or was ebbing, and
the European tide was flowing high.  Hamilcar indeed, and
Hannibal, seem to have been touched by cyclic impulses, and to
have felt that a Spanish Empire might have received the influx
which a West Asian town in Africa could not.  But Italy's turn
came before Spain's; and all Hamilcar's haughty heroism, and
Hannibal's magnanimous genius, went for nothing; and Rome, the
admirable and unlovely, that had suffered the Caudine Forks, and
then conquered Samnium and beheaded that noble generous Samnite
Gaius Pontius, conquered in turn the conqueror at Cannae, and did
for his reputation what she had done with the Samnite hero's
person:  chopped its head off, and dubbed him in perfect
sincerity 'perfidus Hannibal.'  Over that corpse she stood, at
the end of the third century B.C., mistress of Italy and the
Italian islands; with proud Carthage at her feet; and the old
cultured East, that had known of her existence since the time of
Aristotle at least, now keenly aware of her as the strongest
thing in the Mediterranean world.

Now while she had been a little provincial town in an Italy deep
in pralaya, Numa's religion, what remained of it, had been enough
to keep her life from corruption.  Each such impulse from the
heaven-world's, in its degree, an elixiral tincture to sweeten
life and keep it wholesome; some, like Buddhism, being efficient
for long ages and great empires; some only for tiny towns like
early Rome.  What we may call the exoteric basis of Numaism
was a ritual of many ceremonies connected with home-life and
agriculture, and designed to keep alive a feeling for the
sacredness of these.  It was calculated for its cycle:  you could
have given no high metaphysical system to peasant-bandits of
that type;--you could not take the Upanishads to Afghans or
Abyssinians today.  But as soon as that cycle was ended, and Rome
was called on to come out into the world, there was need of a new
force and a new sanction.

Has it occurred to you to wonder why, in that epochal sixth
century B.C., when in so many lands the Messengers of Truth
were turning away from the official Mysteries, and preaching
their Theosophy upon a new plan broadcast among the peoples,
Pythagoras, after wandering the east and west to gather up the
threads of wisdom, should have elected not to return to Greece,
but to settle in Italy and found his Movement there?  I suppose
the reason was this:  He knew in what direction the cycles should
flow, and that the greatest need of the future ages would be for
a redeemed Italy; he foresaw, or Those who sent him foresaw,
that it was Italy should mold the common life of Europe for a
couple of thousand years.  Greece was rising then, chiefly on the
planes of intellect and artistic creation; but Italy was to rise
after a few centuries on planes much more material, and therefore
with a force much more potent and immediate in its effects in
this world. The Age of Greece was nearer to the Mysteries; which
might be trusted to keep at least some knowledge of Truth alive;
the Age of Italy, farther away and on a lower plane, would be in
need of a Religion.  So he chose Croton, a Greek city, because if
he had gone straight to the barbarous Italians, he could have
said nothing much at that time,--and hoped that from a living
center there, the light might percolate up through the whole
peninsula, and be ready for Rome when Rome was ready for it.  He
left Athens to take care of itself;--much as H. P. Blavatsky
chose New York at first, and not immediately the then world-capitals
Paris and London;--I suppose we may say that Magna Graecia
stood to old Greece in his time as America did to western
Europe forty years ago.  Had his Movement succeeded; had it
struck well up into the Italian lands; how different the whole
after-history of Europe might have been!  Might?--certainly
would have been!  But we know that a revolution at Croton
destroyed, at the end of the sixth century, the Pythagorean
School; after which the hope and messengers of the Movement--
Aeschylus, Plato--worked in Greece; and that although the
Pythagorean individual Lucanians, Iapygians, and even Samnites--
that noble Gaius Pontius of the Caudin Forks was himself a
Pythagorean and a pupil of the Pythagorean Archytas,--it was, in
the Teacher's own lifetime, practically broken up and driven out
into Sicily, where those two great Athenians contacted it.  We
have seen that it was not effectless; and, what glimmer of it
came down, through Plato, into the  Middle Ages.  But its main
purpose:  to supply nascent Italy with a saving World-Religion;
had been defeated.  Of all the Theosophical Movements of the
time, this so far as we know was the only one that failed.
Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, each lasted on as a grand force
for human upliftment; but Pythagoreanism, as an organized
instrument of the Spirit, passed.  When Aeschylus made his
protests in Athens, the Center of the Movement to which he
belonged had already been smashed.  Plato did marvels; but the
cycle had gone by and gone down, and it was too late for him to
attempt that which Pythagoras had failed to accomplish.

So Rome, when she needed it most, lacked divine guidance; so
drifted out on to the high seas of history pilotless and
rudderless;--so _Weltpolitik_ only corrupted and vulgarized her.
She had no Blue Pearl of Laotse to render her immortal; no
Confucian Doctrine of the Mean to keep her sober and straight;
and hence it came that, though later a new start was made, and
great men arose, once, twice, three times, to do their best for
her, she fell to pieces at last, a Humpty-Dumpty that all the
king's horses and all the king's men could never reweld into
one;--and the place she should have filled in history as Unifier
of Europe was only filled perfunctorily and for a time; and her
great duty was never rightly done. _Hinc lacrimae aetatum_--hence
the darkness and miseries of the Christian Era!

Take your stand here, at the end of the Punic War, on the brink
of the Age of Rome; and you feel at once how fearfully things
have gone down since you stood, with Plato, looking back
over the Age of Grecce.  There is nothing left now of the
high possibilities of artistic creation.  Of the breath of
spirituality that still remained in the world then, now you can
find hardly a trace.  A Cicero presently, for a Socrates of old;
it is enough to tell you how the world has fallen.  Some fall, I
suppose, was implied in the cycles; still Rome might have gone
to her more material duties with clean heart, mind, and hands;
she might have built a structure, as Ts'in Shi Hwangti and Han
Wuti did, to endure.  It would not be fair to compare the Age of
Han with the Augustan; the morning glory of the East Asian, with
the late afternoon of the European manvantara; and yet we cannot
but see, if we look at both dispassionately and with a decent
amount of knowledge, how beneficently, the Eastern Teachers had
affected their peoples, and what a dire thing it was for Europe
that the work of the Western Teacher had failed.  Chow China and
Republican Rome fell to pieces in much the same way: in a long
orgy of wars and ruin;--but the rough barbarian who rebuilt China
found bricks to his hand far better than he knew he was using,--
material with a true worth and vitality of its own,--a race with
elements of redemption in its heredity; whereas the great
statesman, the really Great Soul who rebuilt Rome, had to do it,
if the truth should be told, of materials little better than
stubble and rottenness.  Roman life, when Augustus came to work
with it for his medium, was fearfully infected with corruption;
one would have said that no power human or divine could have
saved it.  That he did with it as much as he did, is one of the
standing wonders of time.

But now back to the place where we left Rome: in 200 B.C., at the
end of the Carthaginian War.  No more now of Farmer Balbus's
fields; no more of the cows of Ahenobarbus; Dolabella's rod and
line, and his fish-stories, shall not serve us further.  It is
the navigable river now; on which we must  sail down and out on
to the sea.

Already the little Italian city is being courted by fabulously
rich Egypt, the doyen of culture since Athens declined; and soon
she is to be driven by forces outside her control into conquest
of all the old seats of Mediterranean civilization;--and withal
she is utterly unfitted for the task in any spiritual or cultural
sense:  she is still little more than the same narrow little
provincial half-barbarous Rome she has always been.  No grand
conceptions have been nourished in her by a literature of her own
with high lights couched in the Grand-Manner; no olden Homer has
sung to her, with magnificent roll of hexameters to set the wings
of her soul into magnificent motion.  Beyond floating folk
ballads she has had no literature at all; though latterly, she
is trying to supply the place of one with a few slave-made
translations from the Greek, and a few imitations of the decadent
Greek comedy of Alexandria;--also there has been a poet Naevius,
whom--she found altogether too independent to suit her tastes;
and a Father Ennius,--uncouth old bone of her bone, (though he
too Greek by race) who is struggling to mold her tough inflexible
provincial dialect into Greek meter of sorts,--and thereby doing
a real service for poets to come.  And there is a Cato the
Censor, writing prose; Cato, typical of Roman breadth of view;
with, for the sum of a truly national political wisdom, yelping
at Rome continually that fool's jingo cry of his:--your finest
market in the western seas, your richest potential commercial
asset, must be destroyed.  There you have the high old Roman
conception of _Weltpolitik;_  whereby we may understand how
little fitted Rome was for _Weltpolitik_ at all; how hoeing
cabbages and making summer campaigns,--as Mr. Stobart says, with
a commissariat put up for each soldier in a lunch-bag by his
wife,--were still her metier,--the Italian soil, whether in
actual or only potential possession--held already, or by the
grace of God soon to be stolen--still her inspiration.  And this
Italian soil she was now about to leave forever.

The forces that led her to world-conquest were twofold, inner and
outer.  The inner one was the summer campaign habit, formed
during several centuries; and the fact that she could form no
conception of life that did not include it:  the impulse to
material expansion was deep in her soul, and ineradicable.  She
might have followed it, perhaps, north and westward; finished
with Spain; gone up into Gaul (though in Gaul she might have
found, even at that time, possibly, an unmanageable strength);
she might even have carried her own ultimite salvation up into
Germany.  But we have seen Darius flow victorious eastward
towards India, but unsuccessful when he tried the passes of the
west; and Alexander follow him in the same path, and not turn
westward at all.  So you may say an eastward habit had been
formed, and inner-channels were worn for conquest in that
direction, but none in the other.  Besides,--and this was the
outer of the two forces,--the East was crying out to Rome.  There
were pirates on the other side of the Adriatic; and for the
safety of her own eastern littoral she had been dealing with
them, as with Spain, during and before the terrible Hannibalic
time.  To sit securely at home she must hold the Illyrian coast:
and, she thought, or events proved it to her, to hold that coast
safely, she must go conquering inland.  Then again Egypt had
courted her alliance, for regions.  The Ptolemy of the time was a
boy; and Philip of Macedon ind Antiochus of Syria had hatched a
plan to carve up his juicy realm for their own most delectable
feasting.  It was the very year after peace--to call it that--had
been forced on prostrate Carthage; and you might think an
exhausted Rome would have welcomed a breathing time, even at the
expense of losing her annual outing.  And so indeed the people
were inclined to do.  But the summer was icumen in; and
what were consuls and Senate for?  Should they be as these
irresponsibles of the comitia?  Should they fail to look about
them and take thought?--As if someone should offer you a cottage
(with all modern appointments) by the seaside, or farmhouse among
the mountains, free of rent for July and August, here were all
the respectabilities of the East cooingly inviting Rome to spend
her summer with them; they to provide all accessories for a
really enjoyable time.

In this way eastern politics assorted themselves,--thus was the
Levant divided:   on the one hand you had the traditional seats
of militariasm; on the other, famous names--and the heirs to the
glory (a good deal tarnished now) that once had been Greece.  The
former were Macedon and Syria, or Macedon with Syria in the
background; what better could you ask that a good square se-to
with these?  Oh, one at a time; that was the fine old Roman way;
_divide et impera;_  Mecedon now, and, a-grace of God, Syria--But
let be; we are talking of this summer; for next, the Lord
(painted bright vermilion) it may be hoped will provide.  So for
the present Philip of Mecedon figures as the desired enemy.--As
to the other side, the famous names to be our allies, they are:
Egypt, chief seat in recent centuries of culture and literature,
and incidentally the Golconda of the time, endowed past dreaming
of with commerce, wealth, and industries; and Rhodes, rich and
republican, and learned too; and the sacred name of Athens; and
Pergamum in Asia, cultured Attalus's kingdom.  Are we not to ally
ourselves with the arts and humanities, with old fame, with the
most precious of traditions?--For Rome, it must be said, was not
all Catos:  there was something in her by this time that could
thrill to the name of Greece.  And Philip had been in league with
Hannibal, though truly he had left him shamefully unsupported.
_Philip had been in league with Hannibal--with Hannibal!_--Why,
it was a glorious unsought fight, such as only fortune's favored
soldiers might attain.  The comitia vote against it?  They say
Hannibal has made them somewhat tired?--Nonsense! let 'em vote
again! let 'em vote again!--They do so; assured pithily that it
is only a question whether we fight Philip in Macedon, or he us
on our own Italian soil.  Of course, if you put it that way, it
is Hobson's choice:  the voting goes all right this time.  So we
are embarked on the great Eastern Adventure; and Flamininus sets
out for Greece.

Now your simple savage is often a gentleman.  I don't mean your
Congo Quashi or Borria Bungalee from the back-country blocks of
New South Wales--our Roman bore no resemblance to them; but say
your Morocco kaid, your desert chieftain from Tunis or Algiers.
Though for long generations he has lost his old-time civilized
attainments, he retains in full his manners, his native dignity,
his wild Saharan grace.  But banish him to Paris, and see what
happens.  He buys up automobiles,--and poodles,--and astrolabes,
--and patent-leather boots,--and a number of other things he were
much better without.  He exchanges his soul for a pass into the
_demi-monde;_  and year by year sees him further sunk into depths
of vulgarism.  This is precisely what in a few generations
happened to Rome.

But meanwhile she was at an apex; touched by some few luminous
ideals here and there, and producing some few great gentlemen.
Unprovincial egos; like Scipio Africanus had been edging their
way into Roman incarnation; they were swallows of a still
far-off summer; they stood for Hellenization, and the modification
of Roman rudeness with a little imported culture.  Rome had
conquered Magna Graccia, and had seen something there; had felt
a want in herself, and brought in slaves like Livius Andronicus
to supply it.  Flamininus himself was really a very great
gentleman:  a patrician, type of the best men there were in Rome.
He went to Greece thrilled with generous feelings, as to a sacred
land.  When he restored to the Greek cities their freedom,--
handed them back to their own uses and devices, after freeing
them from Philip,--it was with an infinite pride and a high
simplicity. We hear of him overcome in his speech to their
representatives on that occasion, and stopping to control the
lump in his throat:  conqueror and master of the whole peninsula
and the islands, he was filled with reverence, as a great
simple-hearted gentleman might be, for the ancient fame and genius
of the peoples at his feet.  He and his officers were proud to be
admitted to the Games and initiated at Eleusis.  I think this is
the finest chapter in early Roman history.  There is the
simplicity, pride, and generosity of the Roman gentleman,
confronted with a culture he was able to admire, but conscious he
did not possess;--and on the other hand the fine flow of Greek
gratitude to the liberator of Greece, in whom the Greeks
recognised that of old time, and which had been so rare in their
own life.  At this moment Rome blossomed:  a beautiful bloom,
we may say.

But it was a fateful moment for her, too.  The Greeks had long
lost what capacity they had ever had for stable politics.
Flamininus might hand them back their liberties with the utmost
genuineness of heart; but they were not in a condition to use
the gift.  Rome soon found that she had no choice but to annex
them, one way or another.  They were her proteges; and Antiochus
attacked them;--so then Antiochus had to be fought and conquered.
That fool had great Hannibal with him, and resources with which
Hannibal might have crushed Rome; but it did not suit Antiochus
that the glory should be Hannibal's.  Then presently Attalus
bequeathed Pergamum to the Senate; which involved Rome in Asia
Minor.  So step by step she was compelled to conquer the East.

Now there was a far greater disparity of civilization between
Rome and this Hellenistic Orient and half-orientalized Greece,
than appeared afterwards between the Romans and Spaniards and
Gauls.  Spain, very soon after Augustus completed its conquest,
was producing most of the brightest minds in Latin literature:
the influx of important egos had hardly passed from Italy before
it began to appear in Spain.  Had not Rome become the world
metropolis, capable of attracting to herself all elements of
greatness from every part of the Mediterranean world, we should
think of the first century A.D., as a great Spanish Age.  Gaul,
too, within a couple of generations of Ceasar's devastating
exploits there, had become another Egypt for wealth and
industries.  The grandson's of the Vercingetorixes and Dumnorixes
were living more splendidly, and as culturedly, in larger and
better villas than the patricians of Italy; as Ferrero shows.
We may judge, too, that there was a like quick rise of manvantaric
conditions in Britain after the Claudian conquest:  we have
news of Agricola's speaking of the "labored studies of the
Gauls,"  as if that people were then famed for learning,--to
which, he said, he preferred the "quick wits and natural genius
of the Britons."  And here I may mention that, even before the
conquest of Gaul, Caesar's own tutor was a man of that nation, a
master of Greek and Latin learning;--but try to imagine a Roman
tutoring Epaminondas or Pelopidas!  So we may gather that a touch
from Italy--by that time highly cultured,--was enough to light up
those Celtic countries at once; and infer from that that no such
long pralayic conditions had obtained in them as had obtained in
Italy during the centuries preceding the Punic Wars.  Spain at
thirteen decades before Scipio, Gaul at as much before Caesar,
Britain at as much before Caesar or Claudius, may well have
been strong and cultured countries:  because you wake quickly
after the thirteen decade period of rest, but slowly after
the long pralayas.

Roman Italy woke very slowly at the touch of Greece; and woke,
not like Spain and Gaul afterwards at Rome's touch, to culture;
not to learning or artistic fertility.  What happened was what
always does happen when a really inferior civilization comes
in contact with a really superior one.  Rome did not become
civilized in any decent sense:  she simply forwent Roman virtues
and replaced them with Greek vices; and made of these, not the
vices of a degenerate culture, but the piggishness of cultureless
boors.--Behold her Gadarene stations, after Flamininus's return:--

Millions of money, in indemnities, loot, and what not,--in bribes
before very long,--are flowing in to her.  Where not so long
since she was doing all her business with stamped lumps of bronze
or copper, a pound or so in weight, in lieu of coinage, nor
feeling the need of anything more handy,--now she is receiving
yearly, monthly, amounts to be reckoned in millions sterling;
and has no more good notion what to do with them than ever she
had of old.  If the egos (of Crest-Wave standing) had come in as
quickly as did the shekels, things might have gone manageably;
but they did not by any means.  Her great misfortune was to enter
the world-currents only on the material plane; to find her poor
little peasant-bandit-souled self mistress of the world and its
money, and still provincial to the core and with no ideas of
bigness that were not of the earth earthy; with nothing whatever
that was both spiritual and Roman to thrill to life the higher
side of her;--a multimillionaire that could hardly read or write,
and knew no means of spending her money that was not essentially
vulgar.  She had given up her sole means of salvation--which was
hoeing cabbages; her slaves did all that for her now;--and so
was at a loss for employment; and Satan found plenty of mischief
for her idle hands to do.  There were huge all-day-long banquets,
where you took your emetic from time to time to keep you going.
There were slaves,--armies of them; to have no more than a dozen
personal attendants was poverty.  There were slaves from the East
to minister to your vices; some might cost as much as five
thousand dollars; and there were dirt-cheap Sardinians and
'barbarians' of all sorts to run your estates and farms.  All the
work of Italy was done by slave labor; and the city swarmed with
an immense slave population; the country slaves with enough of
manhood left in them to rise and butcher and torture their
masters when they could; the city slaves, one would say, in no
condition to keep the semblance of a soul in them at all,--living
dead.  For the most part both were shamefully treated; Cato,--
high old Republican Cato, type of the free and nobly simple
Roman--used to see personally to the scourging of his slaves
daily after dinner, as a help to his digestion.--So the rich
wasted their money and their lives.  They bought estates galore,
and built villas on them; Cicero had--was it eighteen?--
country-houses.  They bought up Greek art-treasures, of which
they had no appreciation whatever,--and which therefore only helped
to vulgarize them.  Such things were costly, and thought highly of
in Greece; so Rome would have them for her money, and have them
_en masse._  Mummius brought over a shipload; and solemnly
warned his sailors that they would have to replace any they might
break or lose.  The originals, or such substitutes as the sailors
might supply,--it was all one to him. As to literature,--well, we
have seen how it began with translations made by a Greek slave,
Livius Andronicus, who put certain Hellenistic comedies and the
Odyssey into Latin ballad meters; the kind of verse you would
expect from a slave ordered promiscuously by his master to get
busy and do it.  Then came Father Ennius; and here I shall
diverge a little to try to show you what (as I think) really
happened to the soul of Rome.

It was a queer set-out, this job that Ennius attempted,--of
making a real Roman poem, an epic of Roman history.  Between old
Latin and Greek there was the same kind of difference as between
French and English:  one fundamental in the rhythm of the
languages.  I am giving my own explanation of a very puzzling
problem; and needless to say, it may be wrong.  The ancient
Roman ballads were in what is called Saturnian meter, which
depends on stress and accent; it is not unlike the meter of the
Scotch and English ballads.  That means that old Latin was spoken
like English is, with syllabic accent.  But Greek was not.  In
that, what counted, what made the meters, was tone and quantity.
Now we have that in English too; but it is a subtler and more
occult influence in poetry than accent is.  In English, the
rhythm of a line of verse depends on the stresses; but where
there is more than rhythm,--where there is music,--quantity is a
very important factor.  For example, in the line

     "That carried the take to Sligo town to be sold,"

you can hear how the sound is held up on the word _take,_ because
the _k_ is followed by the _t_ in _to;_  and what a wonderful
musical effect is given thereby to the line.  All the swing and
lilt and rhythm of Greek poetry came in that way; there were no
stresses, no syllabic accents; the accents we see written were
to denote the tones the syllables should be--shall I say _sung
on?_  Now French is an example of a language without stresses;
you know how each syllable falls evenly, all taking an unvarying
amount of time to enounce.  I imagine the basic principle of
Greek was the same; only that you had to add to the syllables a
length of sound where two consonants combining after a vowel
retarded the flow of tone, as in _take to_ in the line quoted
just now.

Now if you try to write a hexameter in English on the Greek
principle, you get something without the least likeness either to
a Greek hexameter or to music; because the language is one of
stresses, not, primarily, of tones.

     "This is the forest pimeval; the murmuring pines and
the hemlocks."

will not do at all; there is no Greek spondee in it but--_rest
prime_--; and Longfellow would have been surprised if you had
accused that of spondeeism.  What you would get would be
something like these--I forget who was responsible for them:

     "Procession, complex melodies, pause, quantity, accent,
     After Virgilian precedent and practice, in order."

Lines like these could never be poetry; poetry could never be
couched in lines like these;--simply because poetry is an
arrangement of words upon a frame-work of music:  the poet has to
hear the music within before his words can drop naturally into
the places in accordance with it.  You could not imitate a French
line in English, because each of the syllables would have to be
equally stressed; you could not imitate an English line in
French, because in that language there are none of the stresses
on which an English line depends for its rhythm.

But when I read Chaucer I am forced to the conclusion that what
he tried to do was precisely that:  to imitate French music; to
write English without regard to syllabic accent.  The English
lyrics of his time and earlier depend on the principle of accent:

     Sum'--mer is'--i-cum'--en in,
          Loud'--e sing'--cuccu';

--but time and again in Chaucer's lines we find that if we allow
the words their natural English stresses, we break up the music
altogether; whereas if we read them like French, without
syllabic accent, they make a very reasonable music indeed.  Now
French had been in England the language of court and culture; it
was still spoken in polite circles at Stratforde-at-le-Bowe; and
Chaucer was a courtier, Anglo-French, not Anglo-Saxon; and he
had gone to France for his first models, and had translated a
great French poem; and Anglo-Saxon verse-methods were hardly
usable any longer.  So it may well have appeared to him that
serious poetry was naturally French in meter and method.  There
was no model for what he wanted to do in English; the English
five-iambic line had not been invented, and only the popular
lyricists, of the proletariat, sang in stresses.  And anyhow, as
the upper classes, to which he belonged more or less, were only
growing out of French into English, very likely they pronounced
their English with a good deal of French accent.

Now it seems to me that something of the same kind, with a
difference, is what happened with Ennius.  You are to understand
him as, though Greek by birth, _Romanior ipsis Romanis:_  Greek
body, but ultra-Roman ego.  One may see the like thing happen
with one's own eyes at any time:  men European-born, who are
quite the extremest Americans.  In his case, the spark of his
Greek heredity set alight the Roman conflagration of his nature.
He was born in Calabria, a Roman subject, in 239; and had fought
for Rome before Cato, then quaestor, brought him in his train
from Sardinia in 204.

A glance at the cycles, and a measuring-up of things with our
thirteen-decade yardstick, will suggest the importance of the
time he lived in.  The _Encyclopaedia Britannica_ gives A.D. 42
as the date for the end of the golden Age of Latin Literature.
Its first great names are those of Cicero, Caesar, and Lucretius.
Thirteen decades before 42 A.D., or in 88 B.C., these three were
respectively eighteen, fourteen, and eight years old; so we may
fairly call that Golden Age thirteen decades long, and beginning
in 88.  Thirteen decades back from that bring us to 218; and as
much more from that, to 348.  You will remember 348 as the year
of the death of Plato, which we took as marking the end of the
Golden Age of Greek.  In 218 Ennius was twenty-one.  He was the
Father of Latin Poetry; as Cato the Censor, seven years his
junior, was the Father of Latin Prose.  So you see, he came right
upon a Greek cycle; right upon the dawn of what should have been
a new Greek day, with the night of Hellenisticism in between.
And he took, how shall I put it?--the forces of that new day, and
transmuted them, in himself as crucible, from Greek to Roman... A
sort of Channel through which the impulse was deflected from
Greek to Latin...

I think that, thtilled with a patriotism the keener-edged because
it was acquired, he went to work in this way:--He was going to
make one of these long poems, like those (inferior) Greek fellows
had; and he was going to make it in Latin.  (I do not know which
was his native language, or which tradition he grew up in.)  He
didn't see why we Romans should not have our ancient greatness
sung in epic; weren't we as good as Homer's people, anyhow?
Certainly we were; and a deal better!  Well, of course there was
our old Saturnian meter; but that wasn't the kind of way serious
poetry was written.  Serious poetry was written in hexameters. If
Greek was his native tongue, he may have spoken Latin all his
life, of course, with a Greek accent; and the fact that he was
sitting down to make up his 'poem' in a meter which no native-born
Latin speaker could hear as a meter at all, may have been
something of which he was profoundly unconscious.  But that is
what he did.  He ignored (mostly) the stresses and accents
natural to Latin, and with sweet naivete made a composition that
would have scanned if it had been Greek, and that you could make
scan by reading with a Greek rhythm or accent. The Romans
accepted it.  That perhaps is to say, that he had no conception
at all of poetry as words framed upon an inner music.  I think he
was capable of it; that most Romans of the time, supposing they
had had the conviction of poethood, would have been capable of
it.  It was the kind of people they were.

But that was not all there was to Ennius, by any means.  A
poet-soul had incarnated there; he had the root of the matter
in him; it was only the racial vehicle that was funny, as you
may say.  He was filled with a high conception of the stern
grandeur Romans admired; and somehow or other, his lines
carry the impress of that grandeur at times:  there is inspiration
in them.

And now comes the point I have fetched all this compass to arrive
at.  By Spenser's time, or earlier, in England, all traces of
Chaucer's French accent had gone; the language and the poetry
had developed on lines of their own, as true expressions of the
national soul.  But in Rome, not so.  Two centuries later great
Roman poetry was being written:  a major poet was on the scenes,
--Virgil.  He, I am certain, wrote with genuine music and
inspiration.  We have accounts of his reading of his own poems;
how he was carried along by the music, chanting the lines in a
grand voice that thrilled all who heard.  He chanted, not spoke,
them; poets always do.  They formed themselves, grew in his
mind, to a natural music already heard there, and existent before
the words arose and took shape to it.  That music is the creative
force at work, the whirr of the loom of the Eternal; it is the
golden-snooded Muses at song.  And therefore he was not, like
Ennius, making up his lines on an artificial foreign plan; to my
mind that is unthinkable;--he was writing in the Latin spoken by
the cultured; in Latin as all cultured Romans spoke it.  But,
_mirabile dictu,_ it was Latin as Ennius had composed it:  he was
writing in Ennius' meter.  I can only understand that Greek had
so swamped the Latin soul, that for a century or more cultured
Latin had been spoken in quantity, not in accent; in the Greek
manner, and with the Greek rhythm.  Ennius had come to be
appreciable as meter and music to Roman ears; which he certainly
could not have been in his own day.

So we may say that there is in a sense no Roman literature at
all.  Nothing grew out of the old Saturnian ballad-meter,--except
perhaps Catullus, who certainly had no high inspiring impersonal
song to sing.  The Roman soul never grew up, never learned to
express itself in its own way; before it had had time to do so,
the Greek impulse that should have quickened it, swamped it.  You
may think of Japan, swamped by Chinese culture in the sixth
century A.D., as a parallel case; but no; there Buddhism, under
real spiritual Teachers, came in at the same time, and fostered
all that was noblest in the Japanese soul, so that the result was
fair and splendid.  A more cognate case is that of the Turks, who
suffered through suddenly conquering Persia while they were still
barbarous, and taking on, outwardly, Persian culture wholesale;
Turkish and Latin literature are perhaps on a par for originality.
But if the Greek impulse had touched and wakened Rome under
the aegis of Pythagoreanism,--Rome might have become, possibly,
as fine a thing as Japan.  True, the Crest-Wave had to roll
in to Rome presently, and to raise up a great literature
there.  But whose is the greatest name in it?  A Gaul's, who
imitated Greek models.  There is something artificial in the
combination; and you guess that whatever most splendid effort
may be here, the result cannot be supreme.  The greatest name in
Latin prose, too,--Livy's--was that of a Gaul.

And herefrom we may gather what mingling of forces is needed to
produce the great ages and results in literature.  You have a
country; a tract of earth with the Earth-breath playing up
through the soil of it; you have the components or elements of a
race mixed together on that soil, and molded by that play of the
Earth-breath into homogeneity, and among them, from smallest
beginnings in folk-verse, the body of a literature must grow up.
Then in due season it must be quickened:  on the outer plane by
an impulse from abroad,--intercourse with allies, or resistance
to an invader; and on the inner, by an inrush of Crest-Wave
egos.  There must be that foreign torch applied,--that spark of
inter-nationalism; and there must be the entry of the vanguard
of the Host of Souls with its great captains and marshals,
bringing with them, to exhibit once more in this world, the loot
of many lands and ages and old incarnations; which thing they
shall do through a sudden efflorescence of the literature that
has grown up slowly to the point of being ready for them.  Such
natural growth happened in Greece, in China; in our own cycle,
in France, Italy, England:  where the trees of the nation
literatures received buddings and manurings from abroad, but
produced always their own natural national fruit:--Shakespeare
was your true English apple, grown from the Chaucer stock;
although in him flower for juices the sweetness and elixir of all
the world and the ancient ages.  But in Rome, before the stock
was more than a tiny seedling, a great branch of Greece was
grafted on it,--and a degenerate Greece at that--and now we do
not know even what kind of fruit-tree that Roman stock should
have grown to be.

How, then, did this submersion and obliteration of the Roman soul
come to pass?  It is not difficult to guess.  Greek meant
culture:  if you wanted culture you learnt Greek.  All education
was in Greek hands.  The Greek master spoke Latin to his boys;
no doubt with a Greek accent.  So cultured speech, cultured
Latin, came to mean Latin without its syllabic stresses; spoken,
as nearly as might be, with Greek evenness and quantity.--As if
French should so submerge us, that we spoke our United States
dapping out syllable by syllable like Frenchmen.  But it is a
fearful thing for a nation to forgo the rhythm evolved under the
stress of its own Soul,--especially when what it takes on instead
is the degenerate leavings of another:  Alexandria, not Athens.
This Rome did.  She gained the world, and lost her own soul; and
the exchange profited her as little as you might expect.

Imitation of culture is often the last touch that makes the
parvenu unbearable; it was so in Rome.  One likes better in some
ways Cato's stult old Roman attitude:  who scorned Greek all his
life for sheer foppery, while he knew of nothing better written
in it than such trash as poetry and philosophy; but at eighty
came on a Greek treatise on manure and straightway learned the
language that he might read and enjoy something profitable and
thoroughly Roman in spirit.--Greek artists flocked to Rome; and
doubtless the more fifth-rate they were the better a thing they
made of it:  but it was risky for good men to rely on Roman
appreciations.  Two flute-players are contending at a concert;
Greek and perhaps rather good.  Their music is soon drowned in
catcalls:  What the dickens do we Romans want with such _footling
tootlings?_  Then the presiding magistrate has an idea.  He calls
on them to quit that fooler and get down to business:--Give us
our money's worth, condemn you to it, ye naughty knaves:
_fight!_--And fight they must, poor things, while the audience,
that but now was bored to death, howls with rapture.

So Rome passed away.  Where now is the simple soul who, while
his feet were on his native soil and he asked nothing better
than to hoe his cabbages and turn out yearly for patriotic
throat-cuttings, was reputable--nay, respect-worthy,--and above
all, not a little picturesque?  Alas! he is no more.--You remember
Kelly,--lovable Kelly, who in his youth, trotting the swate ould
bogs of Cohhacht, heard poetry in every sigh of the wind,--saw
the hosts of the Danaan Sidhe riding their flamey steeds
through the twilight,--listened, by the cabin peat-fire in
the evenings, to tales of Finn MacCool and Cuculain and the
ancient heroes and Gods of Ireland?--Behold this very Kelly
now!--What! is this he?--this raucous, pushing, red-haired,
huge-handed, green-necktied vulgarian who has made his pile
bricklaying in Chicago;--this ward-politician; this--Well,
well; _Sic transit gloria mundi!_ And the Roman cad of the
second century B.C. was worse than a thousand Kellys.  He
had learned vice from past-masters in the Levant; and added
to their lessons a native brutality of his own.  His feet
were no longer on the Italian soil; _that_ was nothing sacred
to him now.  His moral went as his power grew.  His old tough
political straightforwardness withered at the touch of Levantine
trickery; his subjects could no longer expect a square deal
from him.  He sent out his gilded youth to govern the provinces,
which they simply fleeced and robbed shamelessly; worse
than Athens of old, and by much.  The old predatory instinct
was there still:  Hellenisticism had supplied no civilizing
influence to modify that.  But it was there minus whatever
of manliness and decency had once gone with it.

Karma travels by subtle and manifold links from the moral cause
to the physical effect.  There are historians who will prove to
you that the ruin of Rome came of economic causes:  which were,
in fact, merely some of the channels through which Karma flowed.
They were there, of course; but we need not enlarge on them too
much.  The secret of it all is this:  a people without the
Balance of the Faculties, without the saving doctrine of the
Mean, with but one side of their character developed, was called
by cyclic law, while still semi-barbarian, to assume huge
responsibilities in the world.  Their qualities were not equal to
the task.  The sense of the Beautiful, their feeling for Art and
Poetry, had not grown up with their mateial strength.  Why should
it? some may ask; are not strength and moral enough?--No; they
are not:  because it is only the Balance which can keep you on
the right path; strength without the beauty sense,--yes, even
fortitude, strength of will,--turns at the touch of quickening
time and new and vaster conditions, into gaucherie, disproportion,
brutality; ay, it is not strength:--the saving quality of
strength, morale, dribbles out and away from it:  only the
Balance is true strength.  The empires that were founded upon
uncompassion, through they swept the world in a decade, within a
poor century or so were themselves swept away.  Rome, because she
was only strong, was weak; her virtues found no exit into life
except in things military; the most material plane, the farthest
from the Spirit.  Her people were not called, like the Huns
or Mongols, to be a destroyer race:  the Law designed them
for builders.  But to build you must have the Balance, the
proportionate development spiritual, moral, mental, and physical:
it is the one foundation.  Rome's grand assets at the start were
a sense of duty, a natural turn for law and order:  grand assets
indeed, if the rest of the nature be not neglected or atrophied.
In Rome it was, largely.

To be strong-willed and devoted to duty, and without compassion:
--that means that you are in train to grow a gigantic selfhood,
which Nature abhors; emptiness of compassion is the vacuum
nature most abhors.  You see a strong man with his ambitions:
scorning vices, scorning weakness; scorning too, and lashing
with his scorn, the weak and vicious; bending men to his will
and purposes.  Prophesy direst sorrow for that man!  Nature will
not be content that he shall travel his chosen path till
a master of selfishness and a great scourge for mankind has
been evolved in him.  She will give him rope; let him multiply
his wrong-doings; because, paradoxically, in wrong-doing is
its own punishment and cure. His selfishness sinks by its own weight
to the lowest levels; prophesy for him that in a near life he shall
be the slave of his body and passions, yet keeping the old desire
to excel;--that common vice shall bring him down to the level of
those he scorned, while yet he forgets not the mountain-tops
he believed his place of old.  Then he shall be scourged with
self-contempt, the bitterest of tortures; and the quick natural
punishments of indulgence shall be busy with him, snake-locked
Erinyes with whips of wire.  In that horrible school, struggling
to rise from it, he shall suffer all that a human being can in
ignominy, sorrow and shame;--and at last shall count it all well
worth the while, if it has but taught him That which is no
atribute, but Alaya's self,--Compassion.  So Karma has its
ministrants within ourselves; and the dreadful tyrants within
are to be disthroned by working and living, not for self, but for
man.  This is why Brotherhood is the doctrine and practice that
could put a stop to the awful degeneratioin of mankind.

Rome was strong without compassion; so her strength led her on
to conquests, and her conquests to vices, and her vices to
hideous ruin and combustion.  She loved her _gravitas,_--which
implied great things;--but contemned the Beautiful; and so, when
a knowledge of the Beautiful would have gone far to save her, by
maintaining in her a sense of proportion and the fitness of
things--she lost her morale and became utterly vulgarian.  But
think of China, taking it as a matter of course that music was an
essential part of government; or of France, with her _Ministre
des Beaux Arts_ in every cabinet.  Perhaps; these two, of all
historical nations, have made the greatest achievements; for you
must say that neither India nor Greece was a nation.--As for
Rome, with all her initial grandeur, it would be hard to find
another nation of her standing that made such an awful mess of it
as she did; one refers, of course, to Republican Rome; when
Augustus had had his way with her, it was another matter.

She took the Gadarene slope at a hand-gallop; and there you have
her history during the second century B.C.  Not till near the end
of that century did the egos of the Crest-Wave begin to come in
in any numbers.  From the dawn of the last quarter, there or
thereabouts, all was an ever-growing rout and riot; the hideous
toppling of the herd over the cliff-edge.  It was a time of wars
civil and the reverse; of huge bloody conscriptions and
massacre; reforms and demagogism and murder of the Gracchi:--
Marius and Sulla cat and dog;--the original Spartican movement,
that wrecked Italy and ended with six thousand crucifixions along
the road to Capua;--ended so, and not with a slave conquest
and wiping-out of Rome, simply because Spartacus's revolted
slave-army was even less disciplined than the legions that
Beast-Crassus decimated into a kind of order and finally conquered
them with.  It was decade after decade of brutal devasting wars,
--wars chronic and incurable, you would say:  the untimely wreck
and ruin of the world.

It is a strange gallery of portraits that comes down to us from
this time: man after notable man arising without the qualities
that could save Rome.  Here are a few of the likenesses, as they
are given Dr. Stobart:  there were the Gracchi, with so much that
was fine in them, but a ruining dash of the demagog,--an idea
that socialism could accomplish anything real;--and no wisdom to
see through to ultimite causes.  There was Marius, simple peasant
with huge military genius:  a wolf of a soldier and foolish lamb
of a politician; a law-maker who, captured by  the insinuations
and flatteries of the opposite side, swears to obey his own laws
"so far as they may be legal."  There was Sulla, of the class
of men to which Alcibiades and Alexander belonged, but an
inferior specimen of the class and unscrupulous rip, and a brave
successful commander; personally beautiful, till his way of
living made his face "like a mulberry sprinkled with flour";--
with many elements of greatness always negatived by sudden
fatuities; much of genius, more of fool, and most of rake-helly
demirep; highly cultured, and plunderer of Athens and Delphi;
great general, who maintained his hold on his troops by unlimited
tolerance of undiscipline.  There was Crassus the millionaire,
and all his millions won by cheatery and ugly methods; the man
with the slave fire-brigade, with which he made a pretty thing
out of looting at fires.  There was Cicero, with many noble and
Roman qualities and a large foolish vanity:  thundering orator
with more than a _soupcon_ of the vaudeville favorite in him:  a
Hamlet who hardly showed his real fineness until he came to die.

And there was Pompey;--real honesty in Pompey, perhaps the one
true-hearted gentleman of the age:  a man of morale, and a
great soldier,--who might have done something if his general
intelligence had been as great as his military genius and his
sense of honor:--surely Pompey was the best of the lot of them;
only the cursed spite was that the world was out of joint, and it
needed something more than a fine soldier and gentleman to set it
right.--And then Caesar--could he not do it?  Caesar, the
Superman,--the brilliant all-round genius at last,--the man of
scandalous life--scandalous even in that cesspool Rome,--the
epileptic who dreamed of world-dominion,--the conqueror of Gaul,
says H.P. Blavatsky, because in Gaul alone the Sacred Mysteries
survived in their integrity, and it was his business, on behalf
of the dark forces against mankind, to quench their life and
light for ever;--could not this Caesar do it?  No; he had the
genius; but not that little quality which all greatest
personalities,--all who have not passed beyond the limits of
personality:  tact, impersonality, the power that the disciple
shall covet, to make himself as nothing in the eyes of men:--
and because he lacked that for armor, there were knives
sharpened which should reach his heart before long.--And then,
in literature, two figures mentionable:  Lucretius, thinker and
philosopher in poetry:  a high Roman type, and a kind of
materialist, and a kind of God's warrior, and a suicide.  And
Catullus:  no noble type; neither Roman nor Greek, but Italian
perhaps; singing in the old Saturnian meters with a real lyrical
fervor, but with nothing better to sing than his loves.--And
then, in politics again, Brutus:  type, in sentimental history of
the Republican School, of the high old roman and republican
virtues; Brutus of the "blood-bright splendor,"  the tyrant-slayer
and Roman Harmodios-Aristogeiton; the adored of philosophic
French liberty-equality-fraternity adorers; Shakespeare's
"noblest Roman of them all";--O how featly Cassius might
have answered, when Brutus accused him of the "itching palm,"
if he had only been keeping _au fait_ with the newspapers
through the preceding years!  _"Et tu, Brute,"_ I hear him say,
quoting words that should have reminded his dear friend of the
sacrd ties of friendship,--

     "Art thou the man will rate thy Cassius thus?
     This is the most unkindest cut of all;
     For truly I have filched a coin or two:--
     Have been, say, _thrifty;_  gathered here and there
     _Pickings,_ we'll call them; but, my Brutus, thou--
     Didst thou not shut the senators of Rhodes
     (I think 'twas Rhodes) up in their senate-house,
     And keep them there unfoddered day by day.
     Until starvation forced them to disgorge
     All of their million to thee?  Didst not thou--"

Brutus is much too philosophical, much to studious, to listen
to qualities of that kind, and cuts the conversation short right
there.  Cassius was right:  that about starving the senators of
his province that surrendered their wealth was precisely what our
Brutus did.--Then there was Anthony, the rough brave soldier,--a
kind of man of the unfittest when the giants Pompey and Caesar
had been in; Anthony, master of Rome for awhile,--and truly, God
knows Rome will do with bluff Mark Anthony for her master!--It is
a very interesting list; most of them queer lobsided creatures,
fighting with own hands or for nothing in particular; most with
some virtues:  Then that might have saved Rome, if, as Mrs Poyser
said, "they are hatched again, and hatched different."



XVIII.  AUGUSTUS


We left Rome galloping down the Gadarene slope, and scrimmaging
for a vantage point whence to hurl herself headlong.  Down she
came; a riot and roaring ruin:  doing those things she ought not
to have done, and leaving undone those things she ought to have
done, and with no semblance of health in her.  There was nothing
for it but the downfall of the world; good-bye civilization and
all that was ever upbuilded of old.  Come now; we should become
good Congo forester in our time, with what they call 'long pig'
for our daintiest diet.  It is a euphemism for your brother man.

But supposing this mist-filled Gadarene gulf were really
bridgable:  supposing there were another side beyond the roar of
hungry waters and the horror; and that mankind,--European
mankind,--might pass over, and be saved, were there but staying
the rout for a moment, and affording a means to cross?

There is a bardic proverb in the Welsh:  _A fo Ben, bydded
Bont:_--'He who is Chief, let him be the bridge':  Bran the
Blessed said it, when he threw down his giant body over the gulf,
so that the men of the Island of the Mighty might pass over into
Ireland.  And the end of an old cycle, and the beginning of a
new, when there is--as in our Rome at that time--a sort of
psychic and cyclic impasse, a break-down and terrible chasm in
history, if civilization is to pass over from the old conditions
to the new, a man must be found who can be the bridge.  He must
solve the problems within himself; he must care so little for,
and have such control of, his personality, that he can lay it
down, so to speak, and let humanity cross over upon it.  History
may get no news of him at all; although he is then the Chief of
Men, and the greatest living;--or it may get news, only to
belittle him.  His own and the after ages may think very little
of him; he may possess no single quality to dazzle the
imagination:--he may seem cold and uninteresting, a crafty
tyrant;--or an uncouth old ex-rail-splitter to have in the White
House;--or an illiterate peasant-girl to lead your armies; yet
because he is the bridge, he is the Chief; and you may suspect
someone out of the Pantheons incarnate in him.

For the truth of all which, humanity has a sure instinct.  When
there is a crisis we say, _Look for the Man._  Rome thought (for
the most part) that she had found him when Caesar, having
conquered Pompey, came home master of the world.  If this phoenix
and phenomenon in time, now with no competitor above the
horizons, could not settle affairs, only Omnipotence could.
Every thinking (or sane) Roman knew that what Rome needed was a
head; and now at last she had got one.  Pompey, the only
possible alternative, was dead; Caesar was lord of all things.
Pharsalus, the deciding battle, was fought in 48; he returned
home in 46.  From the year between, in which he put the finishing
touches to his supremacy, you may count the full manvantara of
Imperial Rome:  fifteen centuries until 1453 and the fall of
the Eastern Empire.

All opinion since has been divided as to the character of Caesar.
To those whose religion is democracy, he is the grand Destroyer
of Freedom; to the worshipers of the Superman, he is the chief
avatar of their god.  Mr. Stobart,* who deals with him sanely,
but leaning to the favorable view, says he was "not a bad man,
for he preferred justice and mercy to tyranny and cruelty, and
had a passion for logic and order"; and adds, "he was a man
without beliefs or illusions or scruples."  He began by being a
fop and ultra-extravagant; and was always, if we may believe
accounts, a libertine of the first water.  He was, of course, an
epileptic.  In short, there is nothing in history to give an
absolutely sure clue to his real self.  But there is that passage
in Madame Blavatsky, which I have quoted before, to the effect
that he was an agent of the dark forces, and conquered Gaul for
them, to abolish the last effective Mysteries; and I think in
the light of that, his character, and a great deal of history
besides, becomes intelligible enough.--I will be remembered that
he stood at the head of the Roman religion, as Potifex Maximus.

------
* On whose book, _The Grandeur that was Rome,_ this paper also
largely leans.
------

But it was not the evil that he did that (obviously) brought
about his downfall.  Caesar was fortified against Karma by the
immensity of his genius.  Whom should he fear, who had conquered
Pompeius Magnus?  None in the roman world could reach so high as
to his elbow;--for sheer largeness of mind, quickness and daring,
he stoood absolutely the Superman among pygmies.  He knew his
aim, and could make or wait for it; and it was big and real.
Other men crowed or fumbled after petty and pinch-beck ends;
impossible rhetorical republicanisms; vain senatorial prestiges;
--or pleasure pure and simple--say rather, very complex and
impure.  Let them clack, let them fumble!  Caesar would do
things and get things done.  He wore the whole armor of his
greatness, and could see no chink or joint in it through which a
hostile dagger might pierce.  Even his military victories were
won by some greater than mere military greatness.--Karma,
perhaps, remembering the Mysteries at Gaulish Bibracte, and the
world left now quite lightless, might have a word to say; might
even be looking round for shafts to speed.  But what, against a
man so golden-panoplied?  "Tush!" saith Caesar, "there are no
arrows now but straws."

One such straw was this:  (a foolish one, but it may serve)--

Rome for centuries has been amusing herself on all public
occasions with Fourth of July rhetoric against kings, and in
praise of tyrannicides.  Rome for centuries has been cherishing
in her heart what she calls a love of Freedom,--to scourge your
slaves, steal from your provincials, and waste your substance in
riotous living.  All of which Julius Caesar,--being a real man,
mind you,--holds in profoundest contempt for driveling unreality;
which it certainly is.  But unrealities are awfully real
at times.

Unluckily, with all his supermannism, he retained some traces of
personality.  He was bald, and sensitive about it; he always had
been a trifle foppish.  So when they gave him a nice laurel
wreath for his triumph over Pompey, he continued, against all
precedent, to wear it indefinitely,--as hiding certain shining
surfaces from the vulgar gaze....  "H'm," said Rome, "he goes
about the next thing to crowned!"  And here is his statue, set up
with those of the Seven Kings of antiquity; he allowing it, or
not protesting.--They remembered their schoolboy exercises, their
spoutings on many Latins for Glorious Fourth; and felt very
badly indeed.  Then it was unlucky that, being too intent on
realities, he could not bother to rise when those absurd old
Piccadilly pterodactyls the Senators came into his presence;
that he filled up their ridiculous house promiscuously with
low-born soldiers and creatures of his own.  And that there was a
crowd of foolish prigs and pedants in Rome to take note of these
so trivial things, and to be more irked by them than by all the
realities of his power:--a lean hungry Cassius; an envious
brusque detractor Casca; a Brutus with a penchant for being
considered a philosopher, after a rather maiden-auntish sort
of conception of the part,--and for being considered a true
descendant of his well-known ancestor:  a cold soul much
fired with the _ignis fatuus_ of Republican slave-scourging
province-fleecing freedom.  An unreal lot, with not the ghost
of a Man between them;--what should the one Great Man of the
age find in them to disturb the least ofhis dreams?

Came, however, the Ides of March in B.C. 44; and the laugh once
more was with Karma,--the one great final laugher of the world.
Caesar essayed to be Chief of the Romans:  he who is chief, let
him be the bridge;--this one, because of a few ludicrous personal
foibles, has broken down now under the hurry and thunder of the
marching cycles.  The fact being that your true Chief aspires
only to the bridgehood; whereas this one overlooked that part of
it, intent on the chieftaincy.--And now, God have mercy on us!
there is to be all the round of wars and proscriptions and
massacres over again:  _Roma caput mundi_ herself piteously
decapitate; and with every booby and popinjay rising in turn to
kick her about at his pleasure;--and here first comes Mark
Anthony to start the game, it seems.

Well; Mark Anthony managed wisely enough at that crisis; you
would almost have said, hearing him speak at Caesar's funeral,
that there was at least a ha'porth of brains hidden somewhere
within that particularly thick skull of his.  Half an hour
changes him from a mere thing alive on sufferance--too foolish to
be worth bothering to kill--into the master of Rome.  And yet
probably it was not brains that did it, but the force of genuine
feeling:  he loved dead Caesar; he was trying now to be
cautious, for his own skin's sake:  was repressing himself;--but
his feelings got the better of him,--and were catching,--
and set the mob on fire.  Your lean and hungry ones; your
envious detractors; your thin maiden-auntish prig republican
philosophers:--all very wisely sheer off.  Your grand resounding
Cicero,--_vox et praeterea almost nihil_ (he had yet to die and
show that it was _almost,_ not _quite,_) sheers off too, into the
country, there to busy himself with an essay on the _Nature of
the Gods_ (to contain, be sure, some fine eloquence), and with
making up his mind to attack Anthony on behalf of Republican
Freedom.--Anthony's next step is wise too:  he appoints himself
Caesar's executor, gets hold of the estate, and proceeds to
squander it right and left buying up for himself doubtful
support.--All you can depend on is the quick coming-on of final
ruin and dismay:  of all impossibilities, the most impossible is
to imagine Mark Anthony capable of averting it.  As to Caesar's
heir, so nominated in the will--the persona from whom busy
Anthony has virtually stolen the estate,--no one gives him a
thought.  Seeing who he was, it would be absurd to do so.

And then he turned up in Rome, a sickly youth of eighteen;
demanded his moneys from Anthony; dunned him till he got some
fragment of them;--then borrowed largely on his own securities,
and proceeded to pay--what prodigal Anthony had been much too
thrifty to think of doing--Ceasar's debts.  Rome was surprised.

This was Caesar's grand-nephew, Octavius; who had been in camp
at Apollonia in Illyricum since he had coolly proposed to his
great-uncle that the latter, being Dictator, and about to start
on his Parthian campaign, should make him his Master of the
Horse.  He had been exempted from military service on account of
ill-health; and Julius had a sense of humor; so he packed him
off to Apollonia to 'finish' a military training that had never
begun.  There he had made a close friend of a rising young
officer by the name of Vipsanius Agrippa; a man of high
capacities who, when the news came of Caesar's death, urged him
to lose no time, but rouse the legions in their master's name,
and march on Rome to avenge his murder.--"No," says Octavius, "I
shall go there alone."

Landing in Italy, he heard of the publication of the will, in
which he himself had been named heir.  That meant, to a very vast
fortune, and to the duty of revenge.  Of the fortune, since it
was now in Mark Anthony's hands, you could predict nothing too
surely but its vanishment; as to the duty, it might also imply a
labor for which the Mariuses and Sullas, the Caesars and Pompeys,
albeit with strong parties at their backs, had been too small
men.  And Octavius had no party, and he was no soldier, and he
had no friends except that Vipsanius back in Apollonia.

His mother and step-father, with whom he stayed awhile on his
journey, urged him to throw the whole matter up:  forgo the
improbably fortune and very certain peril, and not rush in where
the strongest living might fear to tread.  Why, there was Mark
Anthony, Caesar's lieutenant--the Hercules, mailed Bacchus, Roman
Anthony--the great dashing captain whom his soldiers so adored--
even he was shilly-shallying with the situation, and not daring
to say _Caesar shall be avenged._  And Anthony, you might be
sure, would want no competitor--least of all in the boy named
heir in Caesar's will.--"Oh, I shall go on and take it up," said
Octavius; and went.  And paid Caesar's debts, as we have
seen, presently:  thereby advertising his assumption of all
responsibilities.  Anthony began to be uneasy about him; the
Senatorial Party to make advances to him; people began to
suspect that, possibly, this sickly boy might grow into a man to
be reckoned with.

I am not going to follow him in detail through the next thirteen
years.  It is a tortuous difficult story; to which we lack the
true clues, unless they are to be found in the series of
protrait-busts of him taken during this period.  The makers of
such busts were the photographers of the age; and, you may say,
as good as the best photographers.  Every prominent Roman availed
himself of their services.  Mr. Baring-Gould, in his _Tragedy of
the Caesars,_ arranges, examines, and interprets these portraits
of Augustus; I shall give you the gist of his conclusions,
which are illuminating.--First we see a boy with delicate and
exceedingly beautiful features, impassive and unawakend:
Octavius when he came to Rome.  A cloud gathers on his face,
deepening into a look of intense anguish; and with the anguish
grows firmness and the clenched expression of an iron will:  this
is Octavian in the dark days of the thirties.--the anguish
passes, but leaves the firmness behind:  the strength remains,
the beauty remains, and a light of high serenity has taken the
place of the aspect of pain:  this is Augustus the Emperor.  The
same writer contrasts this story with that revealed by the busts
of Julius:  wherein we see first a gay insouciant dare-devil
youth, and at last a man old before his time; a face sinister (I
should say) and haunted with ugly sorrow.

We get no contemporary account of Augustus; no interpeting
biography from the hand of any one who knew him.  We have to read
between the lines of history, and with what intuition we can
muster:  and especially the story of that lonely soul struggling
through the awful waters of the years that followed Caesar's
death.  We see him allying himself first with one party, then
with another; exercising (apparently) no great or brilliant
qualities, yet by every change thrown nearer the top; till with
Anthony and Lepidus he is one of the Triumvirate that rules the
world.  Then came those cruel proscriptions.  This is the picture
commonly seen:--a cold keen intellect perpetually dissembling;
keen enough to deceive Anthony, to decieve the senate, to decieve
Cicero and all the world; cruel for policy's sake, without ever
a twinge of remorse or compunciton:  a marble-cold impassive
_mind,_ and no heart al all, with master-subtlety achieving
mastery of the world.--Alas! a boy in his late teens and early
twenties, so nearly friendless, and with enemies so many and so
great...  A boy "up aginst" so huge and difficult circumstances
always, that (you would say) there was no time, no possibility,
for him to look ahead:  in every moment the next agonizing
perilous step that must be taken vast enough to fill the whole
horizon of his mind, of any human mind perhaps;--ay, so vast and
compelling that every day with wrenches and torsion that horizon
must be pushed back and back to contain them,--a harrowing
painful process, as we may read on his busts... As to the
proscriptions, Dio, a writer, as Mr. Baring-Gould says, "never
willing to allow a good quality to one of the Caesars, or to put
their conduct in other than an unfavorable light,"  says that
they were brought about mainly--"by Lepidus and Anthony, who,
having been long in honor under Julius Caesar, and having held
many offices in state and army, had acquired many enemies.  But
as Octavian was associated with them in power, an appearance of
complicity attached to him.  But he was not cruel by nature, and
he had no occasion for putting many to death; moreover, he had
resolved to imitate the example of his adoptive father.  Added to
this, he was young, was just entering on his career, and sought
rather to gain hearts than to alienate them.  No sooner was he in
sole power than he showed no signs of severity, and at that time
he caused the death of very few, and saved very many.  He
proceeded with the utmost severity against such as betrayed their
[proscribed?] masters or friends; but was most favorable to such
as helped the proscribed to escape."

It was that "appearance of complicity" that wrote the anguish on
his face:  the fact that he could not prevent, and saw no way but
to have a sort of hand in, things his nature loathed.  In truth
he appears to us now rather like a pawn, played down the board by
some great Chess-player in the Unseen:  moving by no volition or
initiative of its own through perils and peace-takings to
Queenhood on the seventh square.  But we know that he who would
enter the Path of Power must use all the initiative, all the
volition, possible in any human being, to attain the balance, to
master the personality, to place himself wholly and unreservedly
in the power, under the control, of the Higher thing that is
"within and yet without him"'  The Voice of his Soul, that speaks
also through the lips of his Teacher; whether that Teacher be
embodied visibly before men or not.  He obeys; he follows the
gleam; he sufferes, and strives, and makes no question; and his
striving is all for more power to obey and to follow.  In this, I
think, we have our clue to the young Octavian.--'Luck' always
favored him; not least when, in dividing the world, Anthony
chose the East, gave Lepidus Africa, and left the most difficult
and dangerous Italy to the youngest partner of the three.

He had two friends, men of some genius both:  Vipsanius Agrippa
the general, and Cilnius Maecenas the statesman.  Both appear to
us as great personalities; the master whom they served so
loyally and splendidly remains and Impersonality,--which those
who please may call a 'cold abstraction.'  While Octavian was
away campaigning, Maecenas, with no official position, ruled Rome
on his behalf; and so wisely that Rome took it and was well
content.  As for those campaigns, 'luck' or Agrippa won them for
him; in Octavian himself we can see no qualities of great
generalship.  And indeed, it is likely he had none; for he
was preeminently a man of peace.  But they always were won.
Suetonius makes him a coward; yet he was one that, when occasion
arose, would not think twice about putting to sea in an open boat
during a storm; and once, when he heard that Lepidus was
preparing to turn against him, he rode alone into that general's
camp, and took away the timid creature's army without striking a
blow:  simply ordered the soldiers to follow him, and they did.
If he seems now a colorless abstraction, he could hardly have
seemed so then to Lepidus' legions, who deserted their own
general--and paymaster--at his simple word of command.  Or to
Agrippa, or to Maecenas, great men who desired nothing better
than to serve him with loyal affection.  Maecenas was an
Etruscan; a man of brilliant mind and culture; reputed somewhat
luxurious when he had nothing to do, but a very dynamo when there
was work.--A man, be it said, of great ideals on his own account:
we see it in his influence on Virgil and Horace.  In his last
years some coldness, unexplained, sprung up between him and his
master; yet when Maecenas died, it was found he had made
Augustus his sole heir.--But now Augustus is still only Octavian,
moving impassively and impersonally to his great destiny; as if
no thing of flesh and blood and common human impulses, but a
cosmic force acting;--which indeed the Impersonal Man always is.

What he did, seems to have done, or could not help doing, always
worked out right, whether it carries for us an ethical look or
no.  The problems and difficulties that lay between that time and
Peace flowed to him:  and as at the touch of some alchemical
solvent, received their solution.  We get one glimpse of the
inner man of him, of his beliefs or religion.  He believed
absolutely in his _Genius_ (in the Roman sense); his luck, or
his Karma, or--and perhaps chiefly--that God-side of a man which
Numaism taught existed:--what we should call, the Higher Law, the
Warrior, and the Higher Self.  There, as I think, you have the
heart of his mystery; he followed that, blindly,--and made no
mistakes.  In the year 29 B.C. it led him back to Rome in
Triumph, having laid the world at his feet.  He had been the
bridge over that chasm in the cycles; the Path through all the
tortuosities of that doubtful and wayward time; over which the
Purposes of the Gods had marched to their fulfilment.  He had
been strong as destiny, who seemed to have little strength in his
delicate body.  With none of Caesar's dash and brilliance, he had
repeated Caesar's achievement; and was to conquer further in
spiritual

     "regions Caesar never knew."

With none of Anthony's soldiership, he had easily brought Anthony
down.--Why did Cleopatra lose Actium for Anthony?

We face the almost inexplicable again in the whole story of
Octavian's dealings with Cleopatra.  She is one of the characters
history has most venomously lied about.  Mr. Wiegand has shown
some part of the truth about her in his biography; but I do not
think he has solved the whole problem; for he takes the easy
road of making Octavian a monster.  Now Augustus, beyond any
question, was one of the most beneficent forces that ever
appeared in history; and no monster can be turned, by the mere
circumstance of success achieved, into that.  Cleopatra had made
a bid to solve the world-problem on an Egyptian basis:  first
through Caesar, then through Anthony.  We may dismiss the idea
that she was involved in passionate attachments; she had a grand
game to play, with World-stakes at issue.  The problem was not to
be solved through Caesar, and it was not to be solved through
Anthony; but it had been solved by Octavian.  There was nothing
more for her to do, but step aside and be no hindrance to the man
who had done that work for the Gods that she had tried and been
unable to do.  So she sailed away from Actium.

Julius Caesar in his day had married her; and young Caesarion
their son was his heir by Egyptian, but not by Roman, law.  When,
in the days of Caesar's dictatorship, she brought the boy to
Rome, Caesar refused to recognise her as his wife, or to do the
right thing by Caesarion.  To do either would have endangered his
position in Rome; where by that time he had another wife, the
fourth or fifth in the series.  He feared the Romans; and they
feared Egypt and its Queen.  It seemed very probably at that time
that the headship of the world might pass to Egypt; which
was still a sovereign power, and immensely rich, and highly
populated, and a compact kingdom;--whereas the Roman state was
everywhere ill-defined, tenebrous, and falling to pieces.  At
this distance it is hard to see in Egypt anything of strength or
morale that would have enable it to settle the world's affairs;
as hard, indeed, as it is to see anything of the kind in Rome.
But Rome was haunted with the bogey idea; and terribly angry,
aftewards, with Anthony for his Egyptian exploits; and hugely
relieved when Actium put an end to the Egyptian peril.  Egypt, it
was thought, if nothing else, might have starved Italy into
submission.  But in truth the cycles were all against it:
Cleopatra was the only Egyptian that counted,--the lonely
Spacious Soul incarnate there.

When Octavian reached Alexandria, all he did was to refuse to be
influenced by the queen's wonderfully magnetic personality.  He
appears to me to have been uncertain how to act:  to have been
waiting for clear guidance from the source whence all his
guidance came.  He also seems to have tried to keep her from
committing suicide.  It is explained commonly on the supposition
that he intended she should appear in his triumph in Rome; and
that she killed herself to escape that humiliation.  I think it
is one of those things whose explanation rests in the hands of
the Gods, and is not known to men.  You may have a mass of
evidence, that makes all humanity certain on some point; and yet
the Gods, who have witnessed the realities of the thing, may know
that those realities were quite different.

Then her two elder children were killed; and no one has
suggested, so far as I know, that it was not by Octavians's
orders.  It is easy, even, to supply him with a motive for it;
one in keeping with accepted ideas of his character:--as he was
Caesar's heir, he would have wished Caesar's own children out of
the way;--and Caesar's children by that (to Roman ideas) loathed
Egyptian connexion.  His family honor would have been touched....

Up to this point, then, such a picture as this might be the true
portrait of him:--a sickly body, with an iron will in it; a
youth with no outstanding brilliancies, who never lost his nerve
and never made mistakes in policy; with no ethical standars
above those of his time:--capable of picking his names coldly on
the proscription lists; capable of having Cleopatra's innocent
children killed;--one, certainly, who had followed the usual
custom of divorcing one wife and marrying another as often as
expediency suggested.  Above all, following the ends of his
ambition unerringly to the top of success.

The ends of his ambition?--That is all hidden in the intimate
history of souls.  How should we dare say that Julius was
ambitious, Augustus not?  Both apparently aimed at mastery of the
world; from this human standpoint of the brain-mind there is
nothing to choose, and no means of discrimination.  But what
about the standpoint of the Gods?  Is there no difference, as
seen from their impersonal altitudes, between reaching after a
place for your personality, and supplying a personality to fill a
place that needs filling?  There is just that difference, I
think, between the brilliant Julius and the staid Octavian.  The
former might have settled the affairs of the world,--as its
controller and master and the dazzling obvious mover of all the
pieces on the board.  I do not believe Octavian looked ahead at
all to see any shining pinnacle or covet a place on it; but time
and the Law hurled one situation after another at him, and he
mastered and filled them as they came because it was the best
thing he could do.... If we say that the two men were as the
poles apart, there are but tiny indications of the difference:
the tactlessness and small vanities that advertise personality in
the one; the supreme tact and balance that affirm impersonality
in the other.  The personality of Julius must tower above the
world; that of Augustus was laid down as a bridge for the world
to pass over.  Julius gave his monkeys three chestnuts in the
morning and four at night;--you remember Chwangtse's story;--and
so they grew angry and killed him.  Augustus adjusted himself;
decreed that they should have their four in the morning. His
personality was always under command, and he brought the world
across on it.  It never got in the way; it was simply the
instrument wherewith he (or the Gods) saved Rome.  He--we may say
he--did save Rome.  She was dead, this time; dead as Lazarus,
who had been three days in the tomb, etc.  He called her forth;
gave her two centuries of greatness; five of some kind of life
in the west; fifteen, all told, in west and east.  Julius is
always bound to make on the popular eye the larger impression of
greatness.  He retains his personality with all its air of
supermanhood; it is easy to see him as a live human being, to
imagine him in his habit as he lived,--and to be astounded by his
greatness.  But Augustus is hidden; the real man is covered by
that dispassionate impersonality that saved Rome.  If all that
comes down about the first part of his life is true, and has been
truly interpreted, you could not call him _then_ even a good man.
But the record of his reign belies every shadow that has been
cast on that first part.  It is altogether a record of beneficence.

H.P. Blavatsky speaks of Julius as an agent of the dark forces.
Elsewhere she speaks of Augustus as an Initiate.

Did she mean by that merely an initiate of the Official Mysteries
as they still existed at Eleusis and elsewhere?  Many men, good,
bad and indifferent, were that:  Cicero,--who was doubtless, as
he says, a better man for his initiation:  Glamininus and his
officers; most of the prominent Athenians since the time of
Pericles and earlier.  I dare say it had come to mean that though
you might be taught something about Karma and Reincarnation, you
were not taught to make such teachings a living power in your own
life or that of the world.  There is nothing of the Occultists,
nothing of the Master Soul, in the life and actions of Cicero;
but there was very much, as I shall try to show, in the life and
actions of Augustus.  And, we gather from H.P. Blavatsky, the
only Mysteries that survived in their integrity to anything like
this time had been those at Bibracte which Caesar destroyed.
(Which throws light, by the bye, on Lucan's half-sneering remark
about the Druids,--that they alone had real knowledge about the
Gods and the things beyond this life.)  So it seems to me that
Augustus' initiation implied something much more real,--much more
a high status of the soul,--than could have been given him by any
semi-public organized body within the Roman world.

Virgil, in the year 40 B.C., being then a pastoral poet imitating
Theocritus,--nothing very serious,--wrote a strange poem that
stands in dignity and depth of purpose far above anything in his
model.  This was the Fourth Eclogue of his Bucolics, called the
_Pollio._  In it he invokes the "Sicilian Muse" to inspire him to
loftier strains; and proceeds to sing of the coming of a new
cycle, the return of a better age, to be ushered in, supposedly,
by a 'child' born in that year:--

     _Ultima Cumaci venit jam carminis aetas;
     Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo;
     Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
     Jam nora progenies coelo demittitur alto._

This was taken in the Middle Ages as referring to the birth of
Jesus; and on the strength of having thus prophesied, Virgil
came to be looked on as either a true prophet or a black
magician.  Hence his enormous reputation all down the centuries
as a master of the secret sciences.  The chemist is the successor
to the alchemist; and in Wales we still call a chemist
_fferyll,_ which is _Virgil_ Cymricized.  Well; his reputation
was not altogether undeserved; he did know much; you can
find Karma, Reincarnation, Devachan, Kama-loka--most of the
Theosophical teachings as to the postmortem-prenatal states,--
taught in the Sixth Book of the _Aeneid._  But as to this
_Pollio_ Eclogue:  even in modern textbooks one often sees it
asserted that he must have been familiar with the Hebrew
Scriptures;--because in the Book of Isaiah the coming of a
Messiah to the Jews is prophesied in terms not very unlike those
he used.  To my mind this is far-fetched:  Virgil had Gaul behind
him, if you must look for explanations in outside things; and at
least in after ages Celtic Messianism was as persistent a
doctrine as Jewish.  A survival, of course; in truth the
initiated or partly initiated among all ancient peoples knew that
avatars come.  Virgil, if he understood as much about Theosophy
as he wrote into the Sixth Aeneid, would also have known, from
whatever source he learnt it, the truth about cycles and
Adept Messengers.

There has been much speculation as to who the child born in the
year of Pollio's consulship, who was to bring in the new order of
ages, could have been.  But we may note that in the language of
Occultism (and think of Virgil as an Occultist), the 'birth of a
child' had always been a symbolical way of speaking of the
inititation of a candidate into the (true) Mysteries.  So that it
does not follow by any means that he meant an actual baby born in
that year; he may have intended, and probably did intend, some
Adept then born into his illumination,--or that, according to
Virgil's own ideas, might be thought likely soon to be.  One
cannot say; he was a very wise man, Virgil.  At least it
indicates a feeling,--perhaps peculiar to himself, perhaps
general,--that the world stood on the brink of a great change in
the cycles, and that an Adept Leader might be expected, who
should usher the new order in.

His eyes may have been opened to the possibilities of the young
Octavian.  It is possible that the two were together at school in
Rome, studying rhetoric under Epidius, in the late fifties; and
certainly Virgil had recently visited Rome and there interviewed
the Triumvir Octavian; and had obtained from him an order for
the restitution of his parental farm near Mantua, which had been
given to one of the soldiers of Philippi after that battle.  Two
or three of the Eclogues are given to the praises of Octavian;
whom, even as early as that, Virgil seems to have recognised as
the future or potential savior of Rome.  The points to put side
by side are these:  Virgil, a Theosophist, expected the coming of
an avatar, an Initiate who should save Rome;--H.P. Blavatsky
speaks of Augustus as an Initiate;--Augustus did save Rome.

When did he become an Initiate?  Was there, at some time, such a
change in his life that it was as if a new Soul had come in to
take charge of that impersonal unfailing personality?  There are
tremendous mysteries connected with incarnation; the possibility
of a sudden accession of entity, so to say,--a new vast increment
of being.  As Octavius and Octavian, the man seems like one
without will or desires of his own, acting in blind obedience to
impersonal forces that aimed at his supremacy in the Roman
world.  As Augustus, he becomes another man altogether, almost
fathomlessly wise and beneficient; a Master of Peace and Wisdom.
He gave Rome Peace, and taught her to love peace.  He put _Peace_
for a legend on the coinage; and in the west _Pax,_ in the east
_Irene,_ became favorite names to give you children.  He did what
he could to clean Roman life; to give the people high ideals;
to make the empire a place,--and in this he succeeded,--where
decent egos could incarnate and hope to progress; which,
generally speaking, they cannot in a chaos.  His fame as a
benefactor of the human race spread marvelously:  in far-away
India (where at that time the Secret Wisdom and its Masters were
much more than a tradition), they knew of him, and struck coins
in his honor; coins bearing the image and superscription of this
Roman Caesar.

I said that he went to work like an Occultist:  like one with an
understanding of the inner laws of life, and power to direct
outward things in accordance with that knowledge.  Thus:--the
task that lay before him was to effect a complete revolution.
Rome could not go on under the old system any longer.  That
system had utterly broken down; and unless an efficient
executive could be evolved, there was nothing for it but that
the world should go forward Kilkenny-catting itself into
non-existence.  Now an efficient executive meant one-man rule; or
a king, by whatsoever name he might be called.  But the tradition
of centureis made a king impossible.  There were strongly formed
astral molds; and whoever should attempt to break them would,
like Caesar, ensure his own defeat.  Whoever actually should
break them,--well, the result of breaking astral molds is always
about the same.  H.P. Blavatsky said that she came to break molds
of mind; and so she did; but it was not in politics; and the
while she was laying her trains of thought-dynamite, and
exploding them gloriously, she was also building up fair and
glorious mansions of thought to house those made homeless.  The
situation we are looking at here is on a different plane, the
political.  You break the astral molds there; and they may be
quite worthless, quite effete and contemptible,--yet they are the
things which alone keep the demon in man under restraint.  It is
the old peril of Revolutions.  They may be started with the best
of intentions, in the name of the highest ideals; but, unless
there be super-human strength (like Ts'in Shi Hwangti's) or
superhuman wisdom (like Augustus') to guide them, as surely as
they succeed in breaking the old molds, they degenerate into
orgies,--blood, vice, and crime.

Augustus effected his revolution and kept all that out; he
substituted peace and prosperity for the blood and butchery of a
century.  And it was because he went to work with the knowledge
of an Occultist that he was able to do so.

He carefully abstained from breaking the molds.  He labored to
keep them all intact,--for the time being, and until new ones
should have been formed. Gently and by degrees he poured a new
force and meaning into them; which, in time, would necessarily
destroy them; but mean-while others would have been growing.
He took no step without laboriously ascertaining that there
were precedents for it.  Rome had been governed by Consuls
and Tribunes; well, he would accept the consulate, and the
tribuniciary power; because it was necessary now, for the time
being at any rate, that Rome should be governed by Augustus.  It
is as well to remember that it was the people who insisted
on this last.  The Republican Party might subsist among the
aristocracy, the old governing class; but Augustus was the hero
and champion of the masses.  Time and again he resigned:  handed
back his powers to the senate, and what not;--whether as a matter
of form only, and that he might carry opinion along with him; or
with the real hope that he had taught things at last to run
themselves.  In either case his action was wise and creditable;
you have to read into him mean motives out of your own nature, if
you think otherwise.  Let there be talk of tyrants, and plots
arising, with danger of assassination,--and what was to become of
re-established law, order, and the Augustan Peace?  The fact was
that the necessities of the case always compelled the senate to
reinstate him:  it was too obvious that things could not run
themselves.  If there had been any practicable opposition, it
could always have made those resignations effectual; or at least
it could have driven him to a show of illegalism, and so,
probably, against the point of some fanatic theorist's dagger.
In 23 B.C. there was a food shortage; and the mob besieged the
senate house, demanding that new powers should be bestowed on the
Caesar:  they knew well what mind and hands could save them.

But he would run up no new (corrugated iron or reinforced
concrete) astral molds, nor smash down any old ones.  There
should be no talk of a king, or, perpetual dictator.  Chief
citizen, as you must have a chief,--since a hundred years had
shown that haphazard executives would not work.  _Primus inter
Pares_ in the senate:  _Princeps,_--not a new title, nor one that
implied royalty,--or meant anything very definite; why define
things, anyhow, now while the world was in flux?  Mr. Stobart,
who I think comes very near to showing Augustus as he really was,
still permits himself to speak of him as "chilly and statuesque."
But can you imagine the mob so in love with a chilly and
statuesque--tyrant, or statesman, or politician,--as to besiege
the senate-house and clamor for an extension of his powers?  And
this chilly statuesque person was the man who delighted in
sharing in their games with children!

Another reason why there was no talk of a king:  he was no Leader
of  a spiritual movement, but merely dealing with politics, with
which the cycles will have their way:  a world of ups and downs,
not stable because linked to the Heart of Things.  Supposing he
should find one to appoint as his worthy successor:  with the
revolutions of the cycles, could that one hope to find another to
succeed him?  Political affairs move and have their being at best
in a region of flux, where the evils, and especially the duties,
of the day are sufficient therefor.  In attending to these,--
performing the duties, fighting the evils,--Augustus laid down
the lines for the future of Rome.

He tried to revive the patriciate; he wanted to have, cooperating
with him, a governing class with the ancient sense of responsibility
and turn for affairs.  But what survived of the old aristocracy
was wedded to the tradition of Republicanism, which meant
oligarchy, and doing just what you liked or nothing at all.
The one thing they were not prepared to do was to cooperate
in saving Rome.  At first they showed some eagerness to flatter
him; but found that flattery was not what he wanted.  Then
they were inclined to sulk, and he had to get them to pass a
law making attendance at the senate compulsory.  Mean views as to
his motives have become traditional; but the only view the facts
warrant is this:  he lent out his personality, not ungrudgingly,
to receive the powers and laurels that must fall upon the central
figure in the state, while ever working to vitalize what lay
outward from that to the circumference, that all Romans might
share with him the great Roman responsibility of running and
regenerating the world.  Where there was talent, he opened a way
for it.  He made much more freedom than had ever been under the
Republic; gave all classes functions to perform; and curtailed
only the freedom of the old oligarchy to fleece the provinces and
misdirect affairs.

And meanwhile the old Rome that he found on his return in 29,--
brick-built ignobly at best, and now decaying and half in ruins,
--was giving place to a true imperial city.  In 28, eighty-two
temples were built or rebuilt in marble; among the rest, one to
Apollo on the Palatine, most magnificent, with a great public
library attached.  The first public library in Rome had been
built by Asinius Pollio nine years before; soon they became
common.  Agrippa busied himself building the Pantheon; also
public baths, of which he was responsible for a hundred and
seventy within the limits of the city.  Fair play to the Romans,
they washed.  All classes had their daily baths; all good houses
had hot baths and swimming-tanks.  The outer Rome he found in
brick and left in marble:--but the inner Rome he had to rebuild
was much more ruinous than the outer; as for the material he
found it built of--well, it would be daring optimism and
euphemism to call those Romans _bricks_--says someone.

Time had brought southern Europe to the point where national
distinctions were disappearing.  No nation could now stand apart.
Greek or Egyptian or Gaul, all were, or might be, or soon would
be, Romans; and if any ego with important things to say should
incarnate anywhere, what he said should be heard all round the
Middle Sea.  This too is a part of the method of natural Law;
which now splits the world into little fragments, the nations,
and lets them evolve apart, bringing to light by the intensive
culture of their nationalisms what hidden possibilities lie
latent in their own soils and atmospheres;--an anon welds them
into one, that all these accomplished separate evolutions may
play upon each other, interact,--every element quickening and
quickened by the contact.  In the centrifugal or heterogenizing
cycles national souls are evolved; in the centripetal or
homogenizing they are given freedom to affect the world.  We have
seen what such fusion meant for China; perhaps some day we may
see what such fusion may mean for the world entire.  In Augustus'
time, fusion was to do something for the Mediterranean basin.  If
he had been an Occultist, to know it, his great cards lay in
Italy and Spain:  the former with her cycle of productiveness due
to continue, shall we say until about 40 A.D.?--the latter with
hers due soon to begin.

Well, it does look rather as if he knew it.  We shall see
presently how he dealt with Italy; within two years of his
triumph he was turning his attention to Spain, still only
partly conquered.  We may picture that country, from its first
appearance in history until this time we are speaking of, as in
something like modern Balkan conditions.  Hamilcar Barca, a great
proud gentlman, the finest fruit of an ancient culture, had
thought no scorn to marry a Spanish lady; as a king of Italy
nowadays found it nowise beneath him to marry a Montenegrin
princess.  In either case it meant no unbridgable disparity in
culture.  Among any of the Spanish people you should have found
men who would have been at home in Greek or Carthaginian
drawing-rooms, so to say; though the break-up of a forgotten
civilization there had left the country in fragments and small
warfares and disorder.  If you read the earliest Spanish accounts
of their conquests in the new world, you cannot escape the
feeling that, no such long ages ago, Spain was in touch with
America; not so many centuries, say, before Hamilcar went to
Spain.  Such accounts are no doubt unscientific; but may be the
more intuitional and true and indicative for that.  When Augustus
turned his eyes on Spain, Basque and Celtic chieftains in
the northern mountains and along the shores of Biscay, the
semi-decivilized _membra disjecta_ of past civilizations, were
always disposed to make trouble for the Roman south. He could not
have left them alone, except at the cost of keeping huge garrisons
along the border, with perpetual alarms for the province. So he
went there in person, and began the work of conquering those
mountains in B.C. 27.  It was a long and difficult war with
hideous doings on both sides:  the Romans crucified the
Spaniards, and the Spaniards jeered at them from their crosses.
This because Augustus was too sick to attend to things himself;
half the time he was at death's door. Not till he could afford to
take Agrippa from work elsewhere was any real progress made.  But
at one point we see his own hand strike into it; and the
incident is very instructive.

Spain had her Vercingetorix in one Corocotta, a Celt who kept all
Roman efforts useless and all Roman commanders tantalized
and nervous till a reward of fifty thousand dollars was offered
for his capture.  Augustus, recovered a little, was in camp;
and things were going ill with the Spainiards.  One day an
important-looking Celt walked in, and demanded to see the Caesar
upon business connected with the taking of Corocotta.  Led into
the Caesar's presence, he was asked what he wanted.--"Fifty-thousand
dollars," said he; "I am Corocotta."  Augustus laughed long and
loud; shook hands with him  heartily; paid him the money down,
and gave him his liberty into the bargain; whereafter soon this
_Quijote espanol_ married a Roman wife, and as Caius Julius
Corocottus "lived happily ever after."  It was a change from the
'generous' Julius' treatment of Vercingetorix; but that Rome
profited by the precedent thus established, we may judge from
Claudius' treatment of the third Celtic hero who fell into Roman
hands,--Caradoc of Wales.

Spain was only one of the many places where the frontier had to
be settled.  The empire was a nebulous affair; you could not say
where it began and ended; and to bring all out of this
nebulosity was one of the labors that awaited Augustus.  Even a
Messenger of the Gods is limited by the conditions he finds in
the world; and is as great as his age will allow him to be.
Though an absolute monarch, he cannot change human nature.  He
must concentrate on points attackable, and do what he can;
deflect currents in the right direction; above all, sow ideals,
and wait upon the ministrations of time.  He must take conditions
as he finds them, following the lines of least resistance.  It is
nothing to him that posterity may ask, Why did he not change this
or that?--and add he was no better than he should be.  At once to
change outer things and ways of feeling that have grown up
through centuries is not difficult but impossible; and sometimes
right courses, violently taken, are wronger than wrong ones.
Augustus was a man of peace, if anybody ever was, yet (as in
Spain) made many wars.  The result of this Spanish conquest was
that the Pax Romana came into Spain, bringing with it severa
centuries of high prosperity; the world-currents flowed in there
at once and presently the light of Spain, such as it was at that
time, shone out over the Roman world.  Most of the great names of
the first century A.D. are those of Spaniards.

After Spain, the most immediate frontier difficulty was with
Parthia; and there Augustus won his greatest victory.  At
Carrhae the Parthians had routed Crassus and taken the Roman
eagles.  Rome was responsible for the provinces of Asia; and she
was nominally at war with Parthia,--so those provinces were in
trim to be overrun at any time.  The war, then, must be finished;
and could Rome let it end on terms of a Parthian victory?  Where
(it would be argued) would then be Roman prestige?  Where Roman
authority (a more real and valuable thing)?  Where the Pax
Romana?--All very true and sound; everybody knew that for the
war to reopen was only a question of time;--Julius had been on
the point of marching east when the liberators killed him.  Yes,
said Augustus; the matter must be attended to.  But Parthia was
a more of less civilized power:  a state at least with an
established central government; and when you have that, there is
generally the chance to settle things by tact instead of by
fighting.  He found a means.  He opened negotiations, and brought
all his tact to bear.  He was the chief, and a bridge again.
Over which presently came Phraates king of Parthia, amenable and
well-disposed, to return the eagles and such of the prisoners as
were still alive.  Rome had won back her prestige; Parthia was
undegraded; peace had won a victory that war would have spent
itself in vain striving after.

But the frontier was enormous, and nowhere else marched with that
of an established power.  There was no winning by peace along
that vast northern line from the Black to the North Sea, at the
most vital spot of which an unlucky physical geography makes
Italy easily invadable and rather hard to defend.  Negotiations
would not work here, since there was no union to negotiate with;
only ebullient German tribes whose game was raiding and whose
trade plunder.  So the Alps had to be held, and a line drawn
somewhere north of them,--say along the Danube and the Rhine or
Elbe; a frontier that could be made safe with a minimum of
soldiers.  All this he did; excluding adventurous schemes:
leaving Britain, for example, alone;--and was able to reduce the
army, before he died, to a mere handful of 140,000 men.--Varus
and his lost legions?  Well; there is something to be said about
that.  Augustus was old, and the generals of the imperial family,
who knew their business, were engaged elsewhere.  And Germany was
being governed by a good amiable soul by the name of Quintilius
Varus, who persisted in treating the Germans as if they had been
civilized Italians.  And there was a young Cheruscan who had
become a Roman citizen, spoke Latin fluently, and had always been
a good ally of Rome.  His Latin cognomen was Arminius; of which
German patriotism has manufactured a highly improbable _Hermann._
The trustful Varus allowed himself to be lured by this seemingly
so good friend into the wilds of the Saltus Teutobergiensis,
where the whole power of the Cheruscans fell on and destroyed
him.  Then Tiberius came, and put the matter right; but there
was an ugly half hour of general panic first.  There had been no
thought of adding Germany to the empire but only as to whether
the frontier should be on the Elbe or the Rhine.   Varus' defeat
decided Augustus for the Rhine.

Now we come to what he did for Italy:  his second trump card, if
we call Spain his first.  Spain belonged to the future, Italy to
the present.  Her cycle was half over, and she had done nothing
(in B.C. 29) very worthy with it.  First, an effort should be
made towards the purificatior of family-life:  a pretty hopeless
task, wherein at last he was forced to banish his own daughter
for notorious evil-living.  He made laws; and it may be supposed
that they had some effect _in time._  A literary impulse towards
high dignified ideals, however, may be much more effective than
laws.  He had Maecenas with his circle of poets.

Of course, poetry written to order, or upon imperial suggestion,
is not likely to be of the highest creative kind.  But the high
creative forces were not flowing in that age; and we need not
blame Augustan patronage for the limitations of Augustan
literature.  There is no time to argue the question; this much
we may say:  the two poets who worked with the emperor, and wrote
under his influence and sometimes at his suggestion, left work
that endures in world-literature; that is noble and beautiful,
and still interesting.  I mean Virgil and Horace, of course.
Ovid, who was not under that influence, but of the faction
opposed to it, wrote stuff that it would be much better were
lost entirely.

The poet's was the best of pulpits, in those days:  poets stood
much nearer the world then than for all the force of the
printing-press they can hope to do now.  So, if they could preach
back its sacredness to the soil of Italy; if they could recreate
the ideal of the old agricultural life; something might be done
towards (among other things) checking the unwholesome crowding to
the capital,--as great an evil then as now.  Through Maecenas and
directly Augustus influenced Virgil, the laureate; who responded
with his _Georgics._

It is a wonderful work.  Virgil was a practical farmer; he tells
you correctly what to do.  But he makes a work of art of it all
poetical.  He suffuses his directions for stock-raising and
cabbage-hoeing with the light of mythology and poetry.  He gives
you the Golden Age and Saturn's Italy, and makes the soil seem
sacred.  He had the Gaul's feeling for grace and delicacy, and
brought in Celtic beauty to illumine the Italian world.  The
lines are impregnated with the soul, the inner atmosphere, of the
Italian land; full of touches such as that lovely

     _Muscosi fontes et somno mollior herba,_

of violets and popies and narcissus; quinces and chestnut trees.
All that is of loveliness in rural (and sacred) Italy is there;
the landscapes are there, still beautiful; and the dignity and
simplicity of the old agricultural life.  It is a practial
treatise on farming; yet a living poem.

Horace too played up for his friend Maecenas and for Caesar.
Maecenas gave him that Sabine farm; and Horace made Latin songs
to Greek meters about it:  made music that is a marvel to this
day, so that it remains a place of pilgrimage, and you can still
visit, I believe, that

     _fons Bandusia splendidiot vitro_

that he loved so well and set such sweet music to.  He give you
that country as Virgil gives you the valley vistas, not unfringed
with mystery, of Appenines and the north.  Between them, Italy is
there, as it had never been interpreted before.  If--in Virgil at
least--there is a direct practical purpose, there is no less
marvelous art and real vision of Nature.

And then Augustus set both of them to singing the grandeur of
Rome; to making a new patriotism with their poetry; to
inspiring Roman life with a sense of dignity,--a thing it needed
sorely:  Virgil in the _Aeneid_ (where also, as we have seen, he
taught not a little Theosophy); Horace in the _Carmen Saeculare_
and some of the great Odes of the third and fourth books.  The
lilt of his lines is capable of ringing, and does so again and
again, into something very like the thrill and resonance of the
Grand Manner.  Listen for it especially in the third and fourth
lines of this:

     _Quid debeas, o Roma, Neronibus
     Testis Metaurum flumen et Hasdrubal
          Devictus, et pulcher fugatis
               Ille dies Latio tenebris._

I am not concerned here to speak of his limitations; nor of
Virgil's; who, in whatever respect the _Aeneid_ may fall short,
does not fail to cry out in it to the Romans.  Remember the
dignity and the high mission of Rome!--By all these means
Augustus worked towards the raising of Roman ideals.

To that end he wrote, he studied, he made orations.  He searched
the Latin and Greek literatures; and any passage he came on that
illumined life or tended towards upliftment, he would copy out
and send to be read in the senate; or he would read it there
himself to the senators; or publish it as an edict.  There is a
touch of the Teacher in this, I think.  He has given Rome Peace;
he is master of the world, and now has grown old.  He enjoys no
regal splendor, no pomp or retinue; his life is as that of any
other senator, but simpler than most.  And his mind is ever
brooding over Rome, watchful for the ideas that may purify Roman
life and raise it to higher levels.

Many things occurred to sadden his old age.  His best friends
were dead; Varus was lost with his legions; there had been the
tragedy of Julia, whom he had loved well, and the deaths of the
young princes, her sons.  He was a man of extraordinarily keen
affections, and all these losses came home to him sorely.

But against every sadness he had his own achievements to set.
There was Rome in its marble visibly about him, that he had found
in brick and in ruins; Rome now capable of centuries of life,
that had been, when he came to it, a ghastly putridity.



XIX.  AN IMPERIAL SACRIFICE


"Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's"


This is the secret of writing:  look at the external things until
you see pulsating behind them the rhythm and beauty of the
Eternal.  Only look for it, and persist in your search, and
presently the Universal will be revealed shining through the
particular, the sweep of everlasting Law through the little
object, and happenings of a day.

Come to history with the same intent and method, and at last
things appear in their true light.  Here, too, as in a landscape,
is the rhythm of the Eternal; here are the Basic Forms.  I doubt
if the evidence of the annalists is ever worth much, unless
they had an eye to penetrate to these.  When one sees behind
the supposed fact narrated and the judgments pronounced the
glimmering up of a basic form, one guesses one is dealing with a
true historian.

Recently I read a book called _The Tragedy of the Caesars,_ by
the novelist Baring-Gould; and in it the life of a certain man
presented in a sense flatly contradictory to the views of
nineteen centuries anent that man; but it seemed to me at last
an account that had the rhythm, the basic form, showing through.
So in this lecture what I shall try to give you will be Mr.
Baring-Gould's version of this man's life, with efforts of my
own to go further and make quite clear the basic form.

What does one mean by 'basic form'?  In truth it is hard to
define.  Only, this world, that seems such a heterogeneous
helter-skelter of mournful promiscuities, is in fact the pattern
that flows from the loom of an Eternal Weaver:  a beautiful
pattern, with its rhythms and recurrences; there is no haphazard
in it; it is not mechanical,--yet still flawless as the
configuarations of a crystal or the petals of a perfect flower.

The name of the man we are to think of tonight has come down as a
synonym for infamy:  we imagine him a gloomy and bloodthirsty
tyrant; a morose tiger enthroned; a gross sensualist;--well, I
shall show you portraits of him, to see whether you can accept
him for that.  The truth is that aristocratic Rome, degenerate
and frivolous, parrot-cried out against the supposed deneracy of
the imperial, and for the glories of the old republican, regime;
for the days when Romans were Romans, and 'virtuous.'  One came
to them in whom the (real) ancient Roman honor more appeared than
in another man in Italy, perhaps before or since;--and they could
not understand the honor, and hated the man.  They captured his
name in a great net of lies; they breathed a huge fog of lies
about him, which come down to us as history.  Now to see whether
a plain tale may not put them down.

Once more take your stand, please, on the Mountain of the Gods:
the time, in or about the year 39 B.C.:--and thence try to
envisage the world as Those do who guide but are not involved in
the heats and dusts of it.  The Western World; in which
Rome, _caput mundi,_ was the only thing that counted.  _Caput
mundi;_  but a kind of idiot head at that:  inchoate, without
co-ordination; maggots scampering through what might have been
the brain; the life fled, and that great rebellion of the many
lives which we call decay having taken its place.  And yet, it
was no true season for Rome to be dead; it was no natural
death; not so much decent death at all as the death in life
we call madness.  For the Crest-Wave men were coming in; it
was the place where they should be.  The cycle of Italy had
begun, shall we say, in 94 B.C., and would end in 36 A.D.;
--for convenience one must give figures, though one means
only approximations by them;--and not until after that latter
date would souls of any caliber cease to be incarnate in
Roman bodies.  Before that time, then, the madness had to
be cured and Rome's mission had to be fulfilled.

The mission was, to homogenize the world.  That was the task the
Law had in mind for Rome; and it had to be done while the
Crest-Wave remained in Italy and important egos were gathered
in Rome.  Some half dozen strong souls, under the Gods' special
agent Octavian, had gone in there to do the work; but the
Crest-Wave had flowed into Rome when Rome was already vice-rotten;
and how could she expect to run her whole thirteen decades a great
and ruling people?  None of those strong souls could last out the
whole time.  Octavian himself, should he live to be eighty, would
die and not see the cycle finished:  twenty years of it would
remain--to be filled by one worthy to succeed him, or how
should his work escape being undone?  The world must be made
homogensous, and Rome not its conqueror and cruel mistress, but
its well-respected heart and agreed-on center; and all this must
be accomplished, and established firmly, before her cyclic
greatness had gone elsewhere:--that is, before 37 A.D.

The Republic, as we have seen, had had its method of ruling the
provinces:  it was to send out young profligates to fleece and
exploit them, and make them hate Rome. This must be changed, and
a habit formed of ruling for the benefit of the subject peoples.
Two or three generations of provincials must have grown up in
love with Rome before the end of the cycle, or the Empire would
then inevitably break.   By 37 A.D., the Crest-Wave would have
left Italy, and would be centering in Spain.  Spain, hating Rome,
would shake off the Roman yoke; she would have the men to do
it;--and the rest of the world would follow suit.  Even if Spain
should set herself to the Gods' work of union-making, what path
should she take towards it?  Only that of conquest would be open;
and how should she hope to conquer, and then wipe out the evil
traces of her conquering, and create a homogeneity, all within
her possible cycle of thirteen decades?  Rome's great opportunity
came, simply because Rome had done the conquering before ever the
Crest-Wave struck her; in days when the Crest-Wave was hardly in
Europe at all.  Even so, it would be a wonder if all could be
finished in the few years that remained.

By  Rome it never could have been done at all:  it was the office
of a Man, not of a state or nation.  The Man who should do it,
must do it from Rome:  and Rome had first to be put into such
condition as to be capable of being used.  It devolved upon
Augustus to do that first, or his greater work would be
impossible.  He had to win Rome to acquiescence in himself as
Princeps.  So his primary need was a personality of infinite
tact; and _that_ he possessed.  He was the kind of man everybody
could like; that put everyone at ease; that was friendly and
familiar in all sorts of society; so he could make that
treacherous quagmire Rome stable enough to be his _pied-a-terre._
That done, he could stretch out his arms thence to the provinces,
and begin to weld them into unity.  For this was the second
part and real aim of his work:  to rouse up in the Empire a
centripetalism, with Rome for center, before centripetalism, in
Rome itself, should have given place to the centrifugal forces of
national death.

Rome ruled the world, and Augustus Rome, by right of conquest;
and that is the most precarious right of all, and must always
vanish with a change in   the cycles.  He had to, and did,
transmute it into a stable right:  first with respect to his own
standing in Rome,--which might be done, with _tact_ for weapon,--
in a few years; then with respect to Rome's standing in the
world,--which could not be done in less than a couple of
lifetimes, and with the best of good government as means.   If
the work should be interrupted too early it would all fall to
pieces.  So then he must have one successor at least, a soul of
standing equal to his own:  one that could live and reign until
37 A.D.  Let the Empire until that year be ruled continuously
from Rome in such a manner as to rouse up Roman--that is, World,
--patriotism in all its provinces, and the appearance of the
Crest-Wave in a new center would not be the signal for a new
break-up of the world. The problem was, then, to find the man
able to do this.

The child:  for he must not be a man yet.  And seeing what was at
stake, he must be better equipped than Augustus:  he must be
trained from childhood by Augustus.  Because he was to work in
the midst of much more difficult conditions.  Augustus had real
men to help him:  the successor probably would have none.  When
the Crest-Wave struck it, Rome was already mean and corrupt and
degenerate.  Augustus, not without good human aid, might hope to
knock it into some kind of decency during the apex-time of the
thirteen decades.  His reign would fall, roughly, in the third
quarter of the cycle, which is the best time therein; but his
successor would have to hold out through the last quarter, which
is the very worst.  The Crest-Wave would then be passing from
Italy:  Rome would be becoming ever a harder place for a Real Man
to live and work in.  Meaner and meaner egos would be sneaking
into incarnation; decent gentlemanly souls would be growing ever
more scarce.  By 'mean egos' I intend such as are burdened with
ingrate personalities:  creatures on whom sensuality has done its
disintegrating work; whose best pleasure is to exempt themselves
from any sense of degradation caused by fawning on the one strong
enough to be their master, by tearing down as they may his work
and reputation, circulating lies about him, tormenting him in
every indirect way they can.  Among such as these, and probably
quite lonely among the, the successor of Augustus would lave to
live, fulfilling Heaven's work in spite of them.  Where to find a
Soul capable, or who would dare undertake the venture?  Well;
since it was to be done, and for the Gods,--no doubt the Gods
would have sent their qualified man into incarnation.

In B.C. 39 Octavian proclaimed a general amnesty; and among
these who profited by it was a certain member of the Claudian
gens,--one of that Nero family to which Rome owed so much--

     _Testis Metaurum flumen et Hasdrubal
     Devictus_

He had been a friend of Caesar's and an enemy of Octavian's; and
had been spending his time recently in fleeing from place to
place in much peril; as had also his wife, aged eighteen, and
their three-year-old son.  On one occasion this lady was hurrying
by night through a forest, and the forest took fire; she
escaped, but not until the heat singed the cloak in which the
baby boy in her arms was wrapped.  Now they returned, and
settled in their house on the Palatine not far from the house
of Octavian.

In Rome at that time marriage was not a binding institution.  To
judge by the lives of those prominent enough to come into
history, you simply married and divorced a wife whenever
convenient.  Octavian some time before had married Scribonia, to
patch up an alliance with her kins-man Sextus Pompey, then
prominent on the high seas in the role--I think the phrase is Mr.
Stobart's--of gentleman-pirate. As she was much older than
himself, and they had nothing in common, it occurred to no one
that, now the utility of the match had passed, he would not
follow the usual custom and divorce her.  He met Livia, the wife
of this Tiberius Claudius Nero, and duly did divorce Livia.  A
new wedding followed, in which Claudius Nero acted the part of
father to his ex-wife, and gave her away to Octavian.  It all
sounds very disgraceful; but this must be said:  the great
Augustus could never have done his great work so greatly had he
not had at his side the gracious figure of the empress Livia,--
during the fifty-two years that remained to him his serenest
counselor and closest friend.

And then--there was the boy:  I believe the most important
element in the transaction.

His father died soon afterwards, and he came to live in the
palace, under the care of his mother,--and of Augustus; who had
now within his own family circle the two egos with whom he was
most nearly concerned, and without whom his work would have been
impossible.  So I think we may put aside the idea that the
marriage with Livia was an 'affair of the heart,' as they call
it:--a matter of personal and passional atraction.  He was guided
to it, as always, by his _Genius,_ and followed the promptings of
the Gods.

But,--Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  The divorced
Scribonia never forgave Augustus.  She became the center of a
faction in society that hated him, hated Livia, loathed and
detested the whole Claudian line.  There must have been bad blood
in Scribonia.  Her daughter Julia became profligate.  Of Julia's
five children, Agrippa Postumus went mad through his vices;
Julia inherited her mother's tendencies, and came to a like end.
Agrippina, a bitter and violent woman, became the evil genius of
the next reign.  Of this Agrippina's children, Drusus and
Caligula went mad and her daughter was the mother of the madman
Nero.  To me the record suggest this:  that the marriage with,
not the divorce of, Scribonia was a grave mistake on the part of
Octavian; bringing down four generations of terible karma.  He
was afloat in dangerous seas at that time, and a mere boy to take
arms against them:  did he, trusting in material alliances and
the aid of Sextus Pirate, forget for once to trust in his
_Genius_ within?  We have seen how the lines of pain became
deeply graven on his face during the years that followed Caesar's
death.  A high soul, incarnating, must take many risks; and
before it has found itself and tamed the new personality, may
have sown griefs for itself to be reaped through many lives.  The
descendants of Augustus and Scribonia were the bane of Augustus
and of Rome.  But Livia was his good star, and always added to
his peace.

But now, back to the household on the Palatine, in the thirties B.C.

Julia (Scribonia's daughter), pert, witty, bold, and daring, was
the darling of her father, whom she knew well how to amuse.
Drusus, the younger son of Livia and Claudius Nero, was a bold
handsome boy of winning manners and fine promise, generally
noticed and loved.  To these two you may say Augustus stood in
only human relations: the loving, careful, and _jolly_ father,
sharing in all their games and merriment.  He always liked
playing with children: as emperor, would often stop in his walks
through the streets to join in a game with the street-boys.  But
with Livia's elder son, Tiberius, he was different.  Tiberius had
no charm of manner:  Drusus his brother quite put him in the
shade.  He carried with him the scars of his babyhood's perilous
adventures, and the terror of that unremembered night of fire.
He was desperately shy and sensitive; awkward in company;
reserved, timid, retiring, silent.  Within the nature so pent up
were tense feelings; you would say ungovernable, only that he
always did govern them.  He went unnoticed; Drusus was the pet
of all; under such conditions how much harmony as a rule exists
between two brothers?  But Tiberius loved Drusus with his whole
heart; his thoughts knew no color of jealousy; unusual harmony
was between them until Drusus died.--The world said Augustus
disliked the boy:  we shall see on what appearances that opinion
was based.  But Tiberius, then and ever afterwards, held for
Augustus a feeling deeper and stronger than human or filial
affection:  it was that, with the added reverence of a disciple
for his Teacher.--You shall find these intense feelings sometimes
in children of his stamp; though truly children of the stamp of
Tiberius are rare enough; for with all his tenderness, his
over-sensitiveness and timidity, put him to some task, whisper
to him _Duty!_--and the little Tiberius is another child altogether:
unflinching, silent, determined, pertinacious, ready to die
rather than give in before the thing is most whole-souledly done.

Augustus, merriest and most genial of men, never treated him as
he did Julia and Drusus:  there were no games and rompings with
Tiberius.  Let this grave child come into the room, and all
ended; as if the Princeps were a school-boy caught at it by some
stern prowling schoolmaster.  Indeed, it was common talk that
Augustus, until the last years of his life, never smiled in
Tiberius' presence; that his smile died always on his stepson's
entry; the joke begun went unfinished; he became suddenly grave
and restrained;--as, I say, in the presence of a soul not to be
treated with levity, but always upon a considered plan.

The children grew up, and people began to talk of a successorship
to Augustus in the Principate.  It would be, of course, through
Julia, his daughter.  He married her to Marcellus, aged
seventeen, his sister Octavia's son, who he adopted.  Marcellus
and Julia, then, would succeed him; no one thought of retiring
Tiberius.  Marcellus, however, died in a couple of years; and
folk wondered who would step into his place.  Augustus gave Julia
to Vipsanius Agrippa, the man who had won so many campaigns for
him.  Agrippa was as old as the Princeps, but of much stronger
constitution; and so, likely to outlive him perhaps a long
while.  Very appropriate, said Rome:  Agrippa will reign next:
an excellent fellow.  No one thought of shy Tiberius.--Agrippa,
by the way, was a strong man and a strict disciplinarian,--with
soldiers, at any rate:  it might be hoped also with wives.  It
was just as well for lady Julia to be under a firm hand.

Ten years later Agrippa died, and the heirship presumptive passed
to his two eldest children by Julia:  the princes Caius and
Lucius.  Augustus adopted them in due course.  Heirship
presumptive means here, that they were the ones Rome presumed
would be the heirs:  a presumption which Augustus, without being
too definite, encouraged.  The Initiate Leaders and Teachers of
the world do not, as a rule, as far as one can judge, advertise
well beforehand the identity of their successors.--As for
Tiberius;--why, said Rome, his stepfather does not even like
him.  Drusus, now, and _his_ children,--ah, that might be
a possibility.

For the marriages of the two brothers told a tale.  Drusus had
married into the sacred Julian line:  a daughter of Octavia and
Mark Anthony; his son Germanicaus was thus a grand-nephew of
Augustus, and a very great pet.  But Tiberius had made a
love-match, with a mere daughter of Agrippa by some former wife:
an alliance that could not advance him in any way.  Her name was
Vipsania; the whole intensity of his pent-up nature went into
his feeling for her; he was remarkably happily married;--that
is, for the human, the tender, sensitive, and affectionate
side of him.

Meanwhile both brothers had proved their worth.  At twenty-two,
Tiberius set up a kind in Armenia, and managed for Augustus the
Parthian affair, whereby the standards of Crassus were returned.
There were Swiss and German campaigns:  in which Drusus was
rather put where he might shine,--and he did shine;--and Tiberius
a little in the shade.  But Drusus in Germany fell from his
horse, and died of his injuries; and then Tiberius was without
question the first general of his age, and ablest man under the
Princeps.  As a soldier he was exceedingly careful of the welfare
of his men; cautious in his strategy, yet bold; reserved; he
made his own plans, and saw personally to their carrying out;--
above all, he never made mistakes and never lost a battle.  His
natural shyness and timidity and awkwardness vanished as soon as
there was work to be done: in camp, or on the battlefield, he was
a very different man from the shy Tiberius of Roman society.

Gossip left his name untouched.  It took advantage of Augustus;
natural _bonhomie,_ and whispered tales agains _him_ galore:
even said that Livia retained her hold on him by taking his
indiscretions discreetly;--which is as much as to say that an
utterly corrupt society judged that great man by its own corrupt
standards.  But Tiberius was too austere; his life chilled even
Roman gossip into silence.  There was also his patent devotion to
Vipsania..... You could only sneer at him, if at all, for
lack of spirit.

He had, then, great and magnificent qualities; but the scars of
his babyhood peril remained.  There was that timid and clinging
disposition; that over-sensitiveness that came out when he was
away from camp, or without immediate business to transact, or in
any society but that of philosophers and occultists:--for we do
know that he was a student of Occult Philosophy.  He had grand
qualities; but felt, beneath his reserve, much too strongly;
had a heart too full of pent-up human affections.  But it
is written:

     _"Before the Soul can stand in the prescence of the Masters,
its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart."_

It devolved upon his Teacher to break that heart for him; so
that he might stand in the presence of the Masters.

Agrippa had died; and for Julia's sake it was wise and better to
provide her with a husband.  Augustus hesitated long before he
dared take the tremendous step he did:  as one doubtful whether
it would accomplish what he hoped, or simply kill at once the
delicate psychic organism to be affected by it.  Then he struck,
--hurled the bolt.  Let Tiberius put away Vipsania and marry Julia.

Put away that adored Vipsania:--marry that Julia,--whom every
single instinct in his nature abhorred!  Incompatible:--that is
the very least and mildest thing you can say about it;--but he
must say nothing, for he is speaking to her father.  He resists a
long time, in deep anguish; but there is one word that for
Tiberius was ever a clarion call to his soul.

What, cries he, is this terrible thing you demand of me?--and his
Teacher answers:  _Duty._  Duty to Rome, that the Julian and
Claudian factions may be united; duty to the empire, that my
successors, Caius and Lucius, may have, after I am gone, a strong
man for their guardian.--You will note that, if you please.
Augustus had just adopted these two sons of Julias; they were,
ostensibly, to be his successors; there was no bait for ambition
in this sacrifice Tiberius was called on to make; he would not
succeed to the Principate; the marriage would not help him;
there was to be nothing in it for him but pure pain.  In the name
of duty he was called on to make a holocaust of himself.

He did it; and the feet of his soul were indeed washed in the
blood of his heart.  He said no word; he divorced Vipsania and
explained nothing.  But for months afterwards, if he should
chance to meet her, or see her in the street far off, he could
not hide the fact that his eyes filled with tears.--Then Rome in
its own kindly way took upon itself the duty or pleasure of
helping him out a little:  gossip got to work to soothe the ache
of his wound.  "Vipasania," said gossip;--"you are well rid of
her; she was far from being all that you thought her."  Probably
he believed nothing of it; but the bitterness lay in its being
said.  A shy man is never popular.  His shyness passes for pride,
and people hate him for it.  Tiberius was very shy.  So society
was always anxious to take down his pride a little.  The truth
was, he was humble to the verge of self-distrust.

He did his best for Julia:  lived under the same roof with her
for a few agonized months, and discovered what everyone knew or
suspected about her.  The cup of his grief was now quite full;
and indeed, worse things a man could hardly suffer.  Austere,
reserved, and self-controlled as he was, at sight of Vipsania he
could not hide his tears.  But it is written:

     _"Before the eyes can see, they must become incapable of
tears."_

--He was the butt of Roman gossip:  in all rancorous mouths
because of the loved Vipsania; in all tattling mouths because of
the loathed Julia; laughed at on both accounts; sympathized
with by nobody; hearing all whispers, and fearfully sensitive to
them.  But

     _"Before the ear can hear, it must have lost its sensitiveness."_

The storm was upon him; the silence was ahead; he was rocked
and shaken and stunned by the earthquakes and thunders of
Initiation:  when a man has to be hopeless, and battered, and
stripped of all things:  a naked soul afflicted with fiery rains
and torments; and to have no pride to back him; and no ambition
to back him; and no prospect before him at all, save such as can
be seen with the it may be unopened eyes of faith.  This is the
way Tiberius endured his trials:--

All Rome knew what Julia was, except Augustus.  So it is said;
and perhaps truly; for here comes in the mystery of human
duality:  a thing hard enough to understand in ourselves, that
are common humanity; how much harder the variety that appears in
one such as Augustus!  You may say, He must have known.  Well,
there was the Adept Soul; that, I doubt not, would have known.
But perhaps it is that those who have all knowledge at their beck
and call, have the power to know or not know what they will?--to
know what shall help, not to know what shall hinder their work?
Julia was not to be saved:  was, probably, tainted with madness
like so many of her descendants:--then what the Adept Soul could
not forfend, why would the human personality, the warn-hearted
father, be aware of?   Had that last known, how should he escape
being bowed down with grief:  then in those years when all his
powers and energies were needed?  Octavian had gone through storm
and silence long since:  in the days of the Triumvirate, and his
enforced partnership in its nefarious deeds;--now his personal
mind and his hands were needed to guide the Empire:  and needed
clear and untrammeled with grief... Until Tiberius should be
ready; at least until Tiberius.... So I imagine it possible that
the soul of Augustus kept from its personality that wounding
knowledge about Julia.

Tiberius was not the one to interfere with its purposes.  Why did
he not get a divorce?  The remedy was clear and easy; and he
would have ceased to be the laughing stock of Rome.  He did not
get a divorce; or try to; he said no word; he would not
lighten his own load by sharing it with the Teacher he loved.  He
would not wound that Teacher to save himself pain or shame.
Augustus had made severe laws for punishing such offenses as
Julia's; and--well, Tiberius would bear his griefs alone.  No
sound escaped him.

But, as no effort of his could help or save her, live with Julia,
or in Rome, he could not.  His health broke down; he threw up
all offices, and begged leave to retire to Rhodes.  Augustus was
(apparently) quite unsympathetic; withheld the permission until
(they say) Tiberius had starved himself for four days to show it
was go or die with him.  And no, he would not take Julia; and he
would give no reason for not taking her.  Well; what was
Augustus to do, having to keep up human appearances, and suit his
action to the probabilities?  What, but appear put out, insulted,
angry?  Estrangement followed; and Tiberius went in (apparent)
disgrace.  I find the explanation once more in _Light on the
Path;_  thus--

"In the early state in which a man is entering upon the silence
he loses knowledge of his friends, of his lovers, of all
who have been near and dear to him:  _and also loses sight of
his teachers._"

So in this case.  "Scarce one passes through," we read, "without
bitter complaint."  But I think Tiberius did.

How else to explain the incident I cannot guess.  Or indeed, his
whole life.  Tacitus' account does not hang together at all; the
contraditions trip each other up, and any mud is good enough to
fling.  Mr. Baring-Gould's version goes far towards truth; but
the well is deep for his tackle, and only esotericism, I think,
can bring up the clear water.  Whether Augustus knew all
personally, or was acting simply on the promptings of his inner
nature, or of Those who stoood behind him,--he took the course,
it seems to me, which as an Occult Teacher he was bound to take.
His conduct was framed in any case to meet the needs of his
disciple's initiation.  He, for the Law, had to break that
disciple's outer life; and then send him lonely into the silence
to find the greater life within.  Truly these waters are deep;
and one may be guessing with the utmost presumption.  But hear
_Light on the Path_ again; and judge whether the picture that
emerges is or is not consistent.  It says:

"Your teacher or your predecessor, may hold your hand in his, and
give you the utmost sympathy the human heart is capable of.  But
when the silence and the darkness come, you lose all knowledge of
him:  you are alone, and he cannot help you; not because his
power is gone, but because you have invoked your great enemy."

--Tiberius was alone, and Augustus could not help him; and
he went off, apparently quite out of favor, to seven years
of voluntary exile in Rhodes, there to don the robe of a
philosopher, and study philosophy and "astrology," as they say.
Let us put it, the Esoteric Wisdom; I think we may.

The truth about Julia could not be kept from Augustus forever.
It came to his ears at last; when his work was by so much nearer
completion, and when Tiberius was by so much nearer his
illumination.  The Princeps did his duty, thought it made an old
man of him:  he banished Julia according to his own law.  Then it
was the wronged husband who stepped in and interceded; who wrote
pleading letters to his stepfatehr, imploring him to have mercy
on the erring woman:  to lighten her punishment; to let her
mother, at least, be with her in her exile.  He knew well what
tales Julia had been telling her father about him; and how
Augustus had seemed to believe them; but "a courageous endurance
of personal injustice" is demanded of the disciple; and very
surely it was found in him.  Rome heard of his intercession,
and sneered at him for his weak-spiritedness; as kindly
letter-writers failed not to let him know.

     "Look for the flower to bloom in the silence that follows
the storm, not till then."

The flower bloomed in this case during those seven years at
Rhodes; then Tiberius was fit to return.  Outer events shaped
themseves to fit inner needs and qualifications:  here now at
last was the Man who was to succeed Augustus, duly and truly
prepared, worthy and well-qualified:  initiated, and ready to be
named before the world Heir to the Principate.  Within a few
months of each other Caius and Lucius, the hitherto supposed
successors designate, died; their brother Agrippa Postumus was
already showing signs of incipient madness.  True, there
were many of the Julian line still alive and available, were
Augustus (as had been thought) bent on making Julian blood the
qualification necessary:  there was Germanicus, married to
Agrippina; he the son of Drusus and Antonia, Octavia's
daughter; she the daughter of Julia, and so grand-daughter of
Augustus himself:  there were these two with their several
children.  But all else might wait upon the fact that Tiberius,
the real man, was now ready.  The Princeps adopted him, and no
one was left to doubt who was to be the successor.  The happiest
years in Tiberius's life began:  he had at last the full,
unreserved, and undisguised friendship of his Teacher.  His
portarait-busts taken at this period show for the fist and only
time a faint smile on his gravely beautiful face.

Also he was given plenty of work.  His great German campaigns
followed quickly; and the quelling of the Pannanian insurrection
that called him back from the Rhine; and Varus' defeat while
Tiberius was in Pannonia; and Tiberius's triumphant saving of
the situation.  It was then, when the frontier was broken and all
the world aquake with alarm, that he consulted his generals; the
only time he ever did so.  Says Velleius Paterculus, who served
uner him:--"There was no ostentation in his conduct; it was
marked by solid worth, practicality, humaneness.  He took as much
care of any one of us who happened to be sick, as if that one's
health were the main object of his concern."  Ambulances, he
continues, were always in attendance, with a medical staff, warm
baths, suitable food, etc., for the sick.  "The general often
admonished, rarely punished; taking a middle part, dissembling
his knowledge of most faults, and preventing the commission of
others.... He preferred the approval of his own conscience to the
acquisition of renown."

He returned to Rome in triumph in the autumn of A.D. 12; and
dismissed his chief captives with present, instead of butchering
them in the fine old Roman way.  He was at the height of his
fame; undeniably Rome's savior, and surely to be Princeps on his
Teacher's death.  Augustus, in letters that remain, calls him
"the only strength and stay of the Empire."  "All who were with
you," says he, "admit that this verse suits you:"

     'One man by vigilance has restored the state.'

Whenever anything happens that requires more than ordinary
consideration, or when I am out of humor, then, by Hercules, I
long for the presence of my dear Tiberius; and Homer's lines
rise in my mind:

     'Bold from his prudence, I could e'en aspire
     To dare with him the burning rage of fire.'

"When I hear that you are worn out with incessant fatigue, the
Gods confound me  if I am not all in a quake.  So I entreat you
to spare yourself, lest, should we hear of your being ill, the
news prove fatal to your mother and myself, and the Roman people
be alarmed for the safety of the Empire.  I pray heaven to
preserve you for us, and bless you with health now and ever,--if
the Gods care a rush for the Roman people.  ....Farewell, my
dearest Tiberius; may good success attend you, you best of all
generals, in all that you undertake for me and for the Muses."

Two years later Augustus died, and Tiberius became emperor; and
the persecution broke out that was not to end till his death.
Let us get the whole situation firmly in mind.  There was that
clique in high society of men who hated the Principate because it
had robbed them of the spoils of power.  It gathered first round
Scribonia, because she hated Augustus for divorcing her; then
round Julia, because she was living in open contempt of the
principles her father stood for.  Its chief bugbear of all
was Tiberius, because he was the living embodiment of those
principles; and because Julia, the witty and brilliant, hated
him above all things and made him in the salons the butt for her
shafts.  Its darling poet was Ovid; whose poetic mission was, in
Mr. Stobart's phrase, "to gild uncleannes with charm."  Presently
Augustus sent him into exile:  whiner over his own hard lot.  But
enough of unsavory him:  the clique remained and treasured his
doctrine.  When Caius and Lucius died, it failed not to whisper
that of course Tiberius had poisoned them; and during the next
twenty-five years you could hardly die, in Rome, without the
clique's buzzing a like tale over your corpse.--A faction that
lasted on, handing down its legends, until Suetonius and Tacitus
took them up and immortalized them; thus creating the Tiberius
of popular belief and "history," deceiving the world for
twenty centuries.

The Augustan system implied no tyranny; not even absolutism:--it
was through no fault of its founder, or of his successor, that
the constitutional side of it broke down.  Remember the divine
aim behind it all:   to weld the world into one.  So you must
have the provinces, the new ones that retaineed their national
identity, under Adept rule; there must be no monkeying by
incompetents there.  Those provinces were, absolutely all in the
hands of Caesar.  But in Rome, and Italy, and all quiet and
long-settled parts, the senate was to rule; and Augustus' effort,
and especially Tiberius' effort, was to make it do so.  But by
this time, you may say, there was nothing resembling a human ego
left among the senators:  when the Manasaputra incarnated, these
fellows had been elsewhere.  They simply could not rule.
Augustus had had constantly to be intervening to pull them out of
scrapes; to audit their accounts for them, because they could
not do the sums themselves; to send down men into their
provinces to put things right whenever they went wrong.  Tiberius
was much more loath to do this.  At times one almost suspects him
of being at heart a republican, anxious to restore the Republic
the first moment it might be practicable.  That would be, when
the whole empire was one nation and some few souls to guide
things should have appeared.  At any rate (in his latter years)
it must have seemed still possible that the Principate should
continue:  there was absolutely no one to follow him in it.  So
the best thing was to leave as much as possible the senate's duty
to the senate, that responsibility might be aroused in them.  For
himself, he gave his whole heart and mind to governing the
provinces of Caesar.  He went minutely into finances; and would
have his sheep sheared, not flayed. His eyes and hands were
everywhere, to bring about the Brotherhood of Man.  There is,
perhaps, evidence in the Christian Evangels:  where we see the
Jewish commonalty on excellent good terms with the Roman soldier,
and Jesus consorting freindily with Tiberius' centurions and
tax-gatherers; but the Jewish national leaders as the enemies of
both--of the Romans, and of the democratic Nazarene.  If this
emperor's life had come down through provincial, and not
metropolitan, channels, we should have heard of him as the most
beneficent of men.  Indeed, Mr. Baring-Gould argues that among
the Christians a tradition came down of him as of one "very near
the Kingdom of God."  It may be so; and such a view may even be
the reflexion of the Nazarene Master's own opinion as to
Tiberius.  At any rate, we must suppose that at that time the
Christian Movement was still fairly pure:   its seat was in the
provinces, far from Rome; and its strength among humble people
seeking to live the higher life.  But those who were interested
to lie against Tiberius, and whose lies come down to us for
history, were all metropolitans, and aristocrats, and apostles
of degeneracy.  I do not mean to include Tacitus under the last
head; but he belonged to the party, and inherited the tradition.


It was on the provinces that Tiberius had his hand, not on the
metropolis.  He hoped the senators would do their duty, gave them
every chance to; he rather turned his eyes away from their
sphere, and kept them fixed on his own.  We must understand this
well:  the histories give but accounts of Roman and home affairs;
with which, as they were outside his duty, Tiberius concerned
himself as little as he might.

But the senate's conception of duty-doing was this:   flatter the
Caesar in public with all the ingenuity and rhetoric God or the
devil has given you; but for the sake of decency slander him in
private, and so keep your self-respect.--I abased my soul to
Caesar, I?  Yes, I know I licked his shoes in the senate house;
but that was merely camouflage.  At Agrippina's _at home_ I made
up for it; was it not high-souled I who told that filthy story
about him?--which, (congratulate me!) I invented myself.  How
dare you then accuse me of being small-spirited, or one to
reverence any man soever?--So these maggots crawled and tumbled;
untill they brought down their own karma on their heads like the
Assyrian in the poem, or a thousand of bricks.  Constitutuionalism
broke down, and tyranny came on awfully in its place; and those
who had not upheld the constitution suffered from the tyranny.
But it was not heroic Tiberius who was the tyrant.

He was unpopular with the crowd, because austere and taciturn;
he would not wear the pomps and tinsels, or swagger it in public
to their taste.  He was too reserved; he was not a good mixer:
if you fell on your knees to him, he simply recoiled in disgust.
He would not witness the gladiatorial games, with their sickening
senseless bloodshed; nor the plays at the theatre, with their
improprieties.  In these things he was an anomaly in his age, and
felt about them as would any humane gentleman today.  So it was
easy for his enemies to work up popular feeling aginst him.

At the funeral of Augustus he had to read the oration.  A lump in
his throat prevented him getting through with it, and he handed
the paper to his son Drusus to finish.  "Oh!" cried his enemies
then and Tacitus after them, "what dissimulation!  what rank
hypocrisy!  when in reality he must be overjoyed to be in the
dead man's shoes."  When that same Drusus (his dear son and sole
hope) died some years later, he so far controlled his feelings
that none saw a muscle of his face moved by emotion while he read
the oration.  "Oh!" cried his enemies then and Tacitus after
them, "what a cold unfeeling monster!"  Tiberius, with an
absolute eye for reading men's thoughts, knew well what was being
said on either occasion.

When Augustus died, his one surviving grandson, Agrippa Postumus,
was mad and under restraint in the island of Planasia, near Elba.
A plot was hatched to spirit him away to the Rhine, and have him
there proclaimed as against Tiberius by the legions.  One Clemens
was deputed to do this; but when Clemens reached Planasia, he
found Agrippa murdered.  Says Suetonius:

"It remained doubtful whether Augustus left the order (for the
murder) in his last moments, to prevent any public disturbance
after his death; or whether Livia issued it in the name of
Augustus, or whether it was issued with or without the knowledge
of Tiberius."--Tacitus in the right,--though truly this Agrippa
Postumus was a peculiarly violent offensive idiot, and Augustus
knew well what the anti-Claudian faction was capable of.  Nor can
one credit that gracious lady Livia with it; though it was she
who persuaded Tiberius to hush the thing up, and rescind his
order for a public senatorial investigation.  For an order to
that effect he issued; and Tacitus, _more suo,_ puts it down to
his hypocrisy.  Tacitus' method with Tiberius is this:  all his
acts of mercy are to be attributed to weak-spiritedness; all his
acts of justice, to blood-tyranny; everything else to hypocrisy
and dissimulation.

Neither Augustus, nor yet Livia, then, had Agrippa killed; must
we credit it to Tiberius?  Less probably, I think, it was he than
either of the others:  I can just imagine Augustus taking the
responsibility for the sake of Rome, but not Tiberius criminal
for his own sake.  Here is an explanation which incriminates
neither:  it may seem far-fetched; but then many true things do.
We know how the children of darkness hate the Messengers of
Light.  Tiberius stood for private and public morality; the
Julian-republican clique for the opposite.  He stood for the
nations welded into one, the centuries to be, and the high
purposes of the Law.  They stood for anarchy, civil war, and the
old spoils system.--Down him then! said they.  And how?--Fish up
mad Postumus, and let's have a row with the Legions of the
Rhine.--Yes; that sounds pretty--for you who are not in the deep
know of the thing.  But how far do you think the Legions of the
Rhine are going to support this young revolting-habited madman
against the first general of the age?  You are green; you are
crude, my friends;--but go to it; your plot shall do well. But
we, the cream and innermost of the party,--we have another.  Let
the madman be murdered,--and who shall be called the murderer?

I believe they argued that way;--and very wisely; for Tiberius
still carries the odium of the murder of Agrippa Postumus.

Why did he allow himself to be dissuaded from the public
investigation?  Was it weakness?  His perturbation when he heard
of the murder, and his orders for the investigation, were natural
enough.  One can perhaps understand Livia, shaken with the grief
of her great bereavement, fearing the unknown, fearing scandal,
fearing to take issue with the faction whose strength and
bitterness she knew, pleading with her son to let the matter be.
Was it weakness on his part, that he concurred?  This much must
be allowed:  Tiberius was always weak at self-defense.  Had he
taken prompt steps against his personal enemies, it might have
been much better for him, in a way.  But then and always his eyes
were upon the performance of his duty; which he understood to be
the care of the empire, not the defense of himself.  We called
Augustus the bridge; Tiberius was the shield.  He understood the
business of a shield to be, to take shafts, and make no noise
about it.  Proud he was; with that sublime pride that argues
itself capable of standing all things, so that the thing it cares
for--which is not its own reputation--is unhurt.  You shall see.
We might call it unwisdom, if his work had suffered by it; but
it was only his peace, his own name--and eventually his enemies--
that suffered.  He brought the world through.

Detail by detail, Mr. Baring-Gould takes the incidents of his
reign, and show how the plot was worked up against him, and every
happening, all his deeds and motives, colorless or finely
colored, given a coat of pitch.  We can only glance at one or two
points here:  his relations with Germanicus, and with Agrippina;
the rise and fall of Sejanus.

Germanicus, his nephew, was fighting on the Rhine when Tiberius
came to the throne.  There was a mutiny; which Germanicus
quelled with much loss of dignity and then with much bloodshed.
To cover the loss of dignity, he embarked on gay adventures
against the Germans; and played the fool a little, losing some
few battles.  Tiberius, who understood German affairs better than
any man living, wanted peace in that quarter; and recalled
Germanicus; then, lest there should be any flavor of disgrace in
the recall, sent him on a mission to the East.  Your textbooks
will tell you he recalled him through jealousy of his brilliant
exploits.  Germanicus being something flighty of disposition, the
emperor sent with him on his new mission a rough old fellow by
the name of Calpurnius Piso to keep a weather eye open on him,
and neutralize, as far as might be, extravagant actions.  The
choice, it must be said, was a bad one; for the two fought like
cat and dog the better part of the time.  Then Germanicus died,
supposing that Piso had poisoned him; and Agrippina his wife
came home, an Ate shrieking for revenge.  She had exposed her
husband's naked body in the marketplace at Antioch, that all
might see he had been poisoned; which shows the kind of woman
she was.  Germanicus was given a huge funeral at Rome; he
was the darling of the mob, and the funeral was really a
demonstration against Tiberius.  then Piso was to be tried for
the murder:  a crabbed but honest old plebeian of good and
ancient family, who Tiberius knew well enough was innocent.
There were threats of mob violence if he should be acquitted;
and the suggestion studiously sown that Piso, guilty, had been
set on to the murder by the Princeps.  Tiberius, knowing the
popular feeling, did not attend the funeral of his nephew.  It
was a mistake in policy, perhaps; but his experience had been
unpleasant enought at the funeral of Augustus.  Tacitus says he
stayed away fearing lest the public, peering into his face thus
from close to, might see the marks of dissimulation in it, and
realize that his grief was hypocrisy.  How the devil did Tacitus
know?  Yet what he says comes down as gospel.

This sort of thing went on continually, and provided him a poor
atmosphere in which to do his great and important work.  As he
grew older, he retired more and more.  He trusted in his minister
Sejanus who had once heroically save his life:  an exceedingly
able, but unfortunately also an exceedingly wicked man.  Sejanus
became his link with Rome and the senate; and used that
position, and the senate's incompetence, to gather into his own
hands a power practically absolute in home affairs.  Home
affairs, be it always remembered, were what the Princeps expected
the senate to attend to:  their duty, under the constitution.
Instead, however, they fawned on Sejanus _ad lib._  Sejanus
murdered Tiberius' son Drusus, and aspired to the hand of
Livilla, his widow:  she was the daughter of Germanicus and
Agrippina; and she certainly, and Agrippina probably, were
accessories to the murder of Drusus.  For Agrippina was obsessed
with hatred for Tiberius:  with the idea that he had murdered her
husband, and with thirst for revenge.  Sejanus was thus in a fair
way to the ends of his ambition:  to be named the successor to
the Principate.

Then Tiberius found him out; and sent a message to a senate
engaged in Sejanus-worship, demanding the punishment of the
murderers of Drusus.

Sejanus had built up his power by fostering the system of
delation.  There was no public prosecutor in the Roman system:
when any wrong had been done, it was anyone's business to
prosecute.  The end of education was rhetoric, that you might get
on in life.  The first step was to bring an accusation against
some public man, and support it with a mighty telling speech.  If
you succeeded, and killed your man,--why, then your name was
made.  On this system, with developments of his own, Sejanus had
built; had employed one half of Rome informing against the
other.  It took time to bring about; but he had worked up by
degrees a state of things in which all went in terror of him;
and the senate was eager perpetually to condemn any one he might
recommend for condemnation.  When Tiberius found him out, they
lost their heads entirely, and simply tumbled over themselves
in their anxiety to accuse, condemn, and execute each other.
Everyone was being informed against as having been a friend of
Sejanus, and therefore an enemy of their dear Princeps; who was
away at Capri attending to his duty; and whose ears, now Sejanus
was gone, they might hope to reach with flatteries.  You supped
with your friend overnight; did your best to diddle him into
saying something over the wine-cups;--then rose betimes in the
morning to accuse him of saying it:  only too often to find that
he, (traitorly wretch!) had risen half an hour earlier and
accused you; so you missed your breakfast for nothing; and
dined (we may hope) in a better world.  Thus during the last
years of the reign there was a Terror in Rome:  in the senate's
sphere of influence; the senatorial class the sufferers and
inflictors of the suffering.  Meanwhile Tiberius in his
retirement was still at his duty; his hold on his provinces
never relaxed. When the condemned appealed to him, the records
show that in nearly every case their sentences were commuted.
Tiberius' enemies were punishing themselves; but the odium of it
has been fastened on Tiberius.  He might have interfered, you
say?--What! with Karma?  I doubt.

His sane, balanced, moderate character comes out in his own words
again and again:  he was a wonderful anomaly in that age.  Rome
was filled with slanders against him; and the fulsome senate
implored him to punish the slanderers.  "We have not much time to
spare," Tiberius answered; "we need not involve ourselves in
this additional business."  "If any man speaks ill of me, I shall
take care so to behave as to be able to give a good accound of my
words and acts, and so confound him.  If he speaks ill of me
after that, it will be time enough for me to think about hating
him."  Permission was asked to raise a temple to him in Spain;
he refused to grant it, saying that if every emperor was to be
worshiped, the worship of Augustus would lose its meaning.  "For
myself, a mere mortal, it is enough for me if I do my duties as a
mortal; I am content if posterity recognises that... This is the
only temple I desire to have raised in my honor,--and this only
in men's hearts."--the senate, in a spasm of flattery, offered to
swear in advance to all his acts.  He forbade it, saying in
effect that he was doing and proposed to do his best; but all
things human were liable to change, and he would not have them
endorsing the future acts of one who by the mere failure of his
faculties might do wrong.

In those sayings, I think, you get the man:  perhaps a disciple
only, and never actually a Master; perhaps never absolutely sure
of himself, but only of his capacity and determination to do his
duty day by day:  his own duty, and not other men's:--never
setting himself on a level with his Teacher; or thinking himself
able, of his own abilities, to run the world, as Augustus had had
the power and the mission to do,--but as probably no man might
have had the power to do in Tiberius' time;--and by virtue of
that faith, that high concentration on duty, carrying the world
(but not Rome) through in spite of Rome, which had become then a
thing incurable, nothing more than an infection and lamentable scab.

He left it altogether in his last years; its atmosphere and
bitterness were too much for him.  Form the quiet at Capri he
continued to rule his provinces until the end; ever hoping that
if he did his duty, someone or some spirit might arise in the
senate to do theirs.  Tacitus explains his retirement--as Roman
society had explained it when it happened,--thus:  Being then
seventy-two years old, Tiberius, whose life up to that time had
been irreproachable and untouched by gossip, went to Capri to
have freedom and privacy for orgies of personal vice.  But why
did he not stay at Rome for his orgies:  doing at Rome as the
Romans did, and thereby perhaps earning a measure of popularity?

Over the bridge Augustus, western humanity had made the crossing;
but on the further shore, there had to be a sacrifice to the
Fates.  Tiberius was the sacrifice.  And that sacrifice was not
in vain.  We get one glimpse through provincial (and therefore
undiseased) eyes of the empire he built up in the provinces.  It
is from Philo Judaeus, a Jewish Theosophist of Alexandria, who
came to Rome in the reign of Caligula, Tiberius' successor.
(Tiberius, it must be said, appointed no successor; there was
none for him to appoint.)  Caligula, says Philo,

"....succeeded to an empire that was well organized, tending
everywhere to conceed--north, south, east, and west brought into
friendship; Greeks and barbarians routed, soldiers and civilians
linked together in the bonds of a happy peace."

That was the work of Tiberius.

In the Gospel narrative, Jesus is once made to allude to him;
in the words quoted at the head of this paper:  "Render unto
Caesar"--who was Tiberius--"the things which are Caesar's"  I
think it is about time it should be done:  that the wreath of
honor should at last be laid on the memory of this brave, just,
sane, and merciful man; this silent duty-doer, who would speak
no word in his own defense; this Agent of the Gods, who endured
all those years of crucifixion, that he might build up the Unity
of Mankind.

Says Mr. Baring-Gould:

"In the galleries of Rome, of Naples, Florence, Paris, one sees
the beautiful face of Tiberius, with that intellectual brow and
sensitive mouth, looking pleadingly at the passer-by, as though
seeking for someone who would unlock the secret of his story and
vindicate his much aspersed memory."



XX.  CHINA AND ROME:  THE SEE-SAW


That mankind is a unit;--that the history of the world, however
its waters divide,--whatever islands and deltas appear,--is one
stream;--how ridiculous it is to study the story of one nation or
group of nations, and leave the rest ignored, coming from your
study with the impression (almost universal,) that all that
counts of the history of the world is the history of your own
little corner of it:--these are some of the truths we should have
gathered from our survey of the few centuries we have so far
glanced at.  For take that sixth century B.C.  The world seems
all well split up.  No one in China has ever heard of Greece; no
one in Italy of India.  What do the Greeks know about Northern
Europe, or the Chinese about the Indians or Persians?--And yet we
find in Italy, in Persia, in India, in China, men appearing,--
phenomenal births,--evolved far above their fellows:  six
of them, to do the same work:  Founders of Religions, all
contemporary more or less; all presenting to the world and
posterity the same high passwords and glorious countersigns.  Can
you conceive that their appearance, all in that one epoch, was a
matter of chance?  Is not some prearrangement suggested,--a
_put-up job,_ as they say:  a definite plan formed, and a definite
end aimed at?  Then by whom?  Can you escape the conclusion that,
behind all this welter of races and separate histories aloof or
barking at each other, there is yet somewhere, within the
ringfence of humankind, incarnate or excarnate, One Center from
which all the threads and currents proceed, and all the great
upward impulses are directed?

Those Six Teachers came, and did their work; then two or three
centuries passed; time enough for the seeds they sowed to sprout
a little; and we come to another phase of history, a new region
in time.  High spiritual truth has been ingeminated in all parts
of the world where the ancient vehicle of truth-dissemination
(the Mysteries) has declined; A Teacher, a Savior, has failed to
appear only in the lands north and west of Italy, because there
among the Celts, and there alone, the Mysteries are still
effective:--so you may say the seeds of spirituality have been
well sown along a great belt stretching right across the Old
World.  Why?  In preparation for what?  For something, we may
suppose.  Certainly for something: for example, for the next two
thousand five hundred years,--the last quarter, I would say, of a
ten-millennium cycle, which was to end with a state of things
in which every part of the world should be know to, and in
communication with, every other part.  So now in the age that
followed that of the Six Teachers, in preparation for that
coming time (our own), the attempt must be made to weld nations
into unities.  Nature and Law compel it:  whose direction now is
towards grand centripetalism, where before they had ordained
heterogeneity and the scattering and aloofness of peoples.

But Those who sent out the great six Teachers have a hand to play
here:  they have to put the welding process through upon their
own designs.  They start at the fountain of the cyclic impulses,
on the eastern rim of the world:  as soon as the cycle rises
there, they strike for the unification of nations.  Then they
follow the cycle westward.  To West Asia?--Nothing could be done
there, because this was the West Asian pralaya; those parts must
wait for Mohammed.  In Europe then,--Greece?--No; its time and
vigor had passed; and the Greeks are not a building people.
They must bide their time, then, till the wave hits Italy, and
what they have done in China, attempt to do there.

Only, what they had done in China was a mere Ts'in Shi Hwangti,--
because Laotse and Confucius had not failed spiritually to
prepare the ground,--they must send forth Adept-souled Augustus
and Tiberius to do,--if human wisdom and heroism could do it,--in
Italy;--because Pythagoras' Movement had failed.

The Roman Empire was the European attempt at a China; China was
the Asiatic creation of a Rome.   We call the Asiatic creation,
_China, Ts'in-a;_  it may surprise you to know that they called
the European attempt by the same name:  Ta _Ts'in,_ 'the Great
Ts'in.'  Put the words _Augustus Primus Romae_ into Chinese, and
without much straining they might read, _Ta Ts'in Shi Hwangti._
The whole period of the Chinese manvantara is, from the
two-forties B.C. to the twelve-sixties A.D., fifteen centuries.
The whole period of the Roman Empire, Western and Eastern, is from
the forties B.C. to the Fourteen-fifties A.D., fifteen centuries.
The first phase of the Chinese Empire, from Ts'in Shi Hwangti to
the fall of Han, lasted about 460 years; the Western Roman
Empire, from Pharsalus to the death of Honorius, lasted about as
long.  Both were the unifications of many peoples; both were
overturned by barbarians from the north:  Teutons in the one
case, Tatars in the other.  But after that overturnment, China,
unlike Rome, rose from her ashes many times, and still endures.
Thank the success of Confucius and Laotse; and blame the failure
of Pythagoreanism, for that!

But come now; let me draw up their histories as it were in
parallel columns, and you shall see the likeness clearly; you
shall see also, presently, how prettily time and the laws that
govern human incarnation played battledore and shuttlecock with
the two:  what a game of see-saw went on between the East and West.

From 300 to 250 B.C. there was an orgy of war in which old Feudal
China passed away forever, and from which Ts'in emerged Mistress
of the world.  From 100 to 50 B. C. there was an orgy of war in
which Republican Rome passed away forever, and out of which
Caesar emerged World-Master. Caesar's triumph came just two
centuries after Ts'in Shi Hwangti's accession; Kublai Khan the
Turanian, who smashed China, came just about as much before
Mohammed II the Turanian, who swept away the last remnant of Rome.

In the first cycles of the two there is a certain difference in
procedure.  In China, a dawn twilight of half a cycle, sixty-five
years, from the fall of Chow to the Revival of Literature under
the second Han, preceded the glorious age of the Western Hans.
In Rome, the literary currents were flowing for about a half-cycle
before the accession of Augustus:  that half-cycle formed a
dawn-twilight preceding the glories of the Augustan Age.

It was just when the reign of Han Wuti was drawing towards a
sunset a little clouded,--you remember Ssema Ts'ien's strictures
as to the national extravagance and its results,--that the
Crest-Wave egos began to come in in Rome.  Cicero, eldest of
the lights of the great cycle of Latin literature, would have
been about twenty when Han Wuti died in 86.  We counted the
first "day" of the Hans as lasting from 194 (the Revival of
the Literature) to the death of Han Wuti's successor in 63;
in which year, as we saw, Augustus was born.  During the next
twenty years the Crest-Wave was rolling more and more into
Rome:  where we get Julius Caesar's career of conquest;--
it was a time filled with wine of restlessness, and, you may
say, therewith 'drunk and disorderly.'  Meanwhile (from 61
to 49) Han Suenti the Just was reigning in China.  His "Troops
of justice" became, after a while, accustomed to victory;
but in defensive wars.  Here it was a time of sanity and order,
as contrasted with the disorder in Rome; of pause and reflexion
compared with the action and extravagance of the preceding
Chinese age.  It was Confucian and ethical; no longer Taoist
and daringly imaginative; Confucianism began to consolidate
its position as the state system.  So in England Puritan
sobriety followed Elizabethanism.  Han Wuti let nothing impede
the ferment of his dreams:  Han Suenti retrenched, and walked
quietly and firmly.  His virtues commanded the respect of Central
Asia:  the Tatars brought him their disputes for arbitration,
and all the regions west of the Caspian sent him tribute.
China forwent her restless and gigantic designs, and took
to quietude and grave consideration.--So we may perhaps distribute
the characteristics of these two decades thus between the
three great centers of civilization:  in China, the stillness
that follows an apex time; in India, creation at its apex; in
Rome, the confusion caused by the first influx of Crest-Wave Souls.

As Octavian rose to power, the House of Han declined.  We hear of
a gorging Vitellius on the throne in the thirties; then of
several puppets and infants during the last quarter of the
century; in A.D. 1, of the dynasty overthrown by a usurper, Mang
Wang, who reigned until A.D. 25.  Thus the heyday of Augustan
Rome coincides with the darkest penumbra of China.  Then
Kwang-wuti, the eldest surviving Han prince, was reinstated; but
until two years before the death of Tiberius, he had to spend his
time fighting rebels.  Now turn to Rome.

While Han Kwang-wuti was battling his way towards the restitution
of Han glories, Tiberius, last of the Roman Crest-Wave Souls, was
holding out grimly for the Gods until the cycle should have been
completed, and he could say that his and their work was done.
For sixty-five years he and his predecessor had been welding the
empire into one:  now, that labor had been so far accomplished
that what dangerous times lay ahead could hardly imperil it.  So
far it had been a case of Initiate appointing Initiate to succeed
him:  Augustus, Tiberius;--but whom should Tiberius appoint?
There was no one.  The cycle was past, and for the present Rome
was dead; and on the brink of that unfortunate place to which
(they say) the wicked dead must go.  Tiberius finally had had to
banish Agrippina, her mischief having become too importunate.
You remember she was the daughter of Julia and Agrippa, and
Germanicus' widow.  His patience with her had been marvelous.
Once, at a public banquet, to do her honor he had picked a
beautiful apple from the dish, and handed it to her:  with a
scowl and some ostentation, she gave it to the attendant behind
her, as who should say:  'I know your designs; but you do not
poison me this time'; all present understood her meaning well.
Once, when he met her in the palace, and she passed him with some
covert insult, he stopped, laid a hand on her shoulder, and said:
"My little woman, it is no hurt to you that you do not reign."
But his patience only encouraged her in her machinations; and at
last he was compelled to banish her.  Also to keep one of her
sons in strictest confinement; of which the historians have made
their for him discreditable tale:  the truth is, it was an heroic
effort on his part to break the boy of his vices by keeping him
under close and continuous supervision.  But that is more easily
said than done, sometimes; and this Drusus presently died a
madman.  He then took the youngest son of Agrippina to live with
him at Capri; that he, Tiberius, might personally do the best
with him that was to be done; for he foresaw that this youth
Caius would succeed him; his own grandson, Tiberius Gemellus,
being much younger.  He foresaw, too, that Caius, once on the
throne, would murder Gemellus; which also happened.  But there
was nothing to be done.  Had he named his grandson his successor,
a strong regent would have been needed to carry things through
until that successor's majority, and to hold the Empire against
the partisans of Caius.  There was no such strong man in sight;
so, what had to come, had to come.  _Apres lui le deluge:_
Tiberius knew that.  _Le deluge_ was the four years' terror of
the reign of Caius, known as Caligula; who, through no good will
of his own, but simply by reason of his bloodthirsty mania, amply
revenged the wrongs done his pedecessor.  Karma put Caligula on
the throne to punish Rome.

The reign was too short, even if Caligula had troubled his head
with the provinces, for him to spoil the good work done in them
during the preceding half-cycle.  He did not so trouble his head;
being too busy murdering the pillars of Roman society.  Then a
gentleman who had been spending the afternoon publicly kissing
his slippers in the theater, experienced, as they say, a change
of heart, and took thought to assassinate him on the way home;
whereupon the Praetorians, let loose and having a thoroughly good
time, happened on a poor old buffer of the royal house by the
name of Claudius; and to show their sense of humor, made him
emperor _tout de suite._  The senate took a high hand, and
asserted _its_ right to make those appointments; but Claudius
and the Praetorians thought otherwise; and the senate, after
blustering, had to crawl.  They besought him to allow them the
honor of appointing him.--what a difference the mere turn of a
cycle had made:  from Augustus bequeathing the Empire to
Tiberius, ablest man to ablest man, and all with senatoral
ratification; to the jocular appointment by undisciplined
soldiery of a sad old laughingstock to succeed a raging maniac.

Claudius was a younger brother of Germanicus; therefore
Tiberius' nephew, Caligula's uncle, and a brother-in-law to
Agrippina.  Mr. Baring-Gould says that somewhere deep in him was
a noble nature that had never had a chance: that the soul of him
was a jewel, set in the foolish lead of a most clownish
personality.  I do not know; certainly some great and fine
things came from him; but whether they were motions of his own
soul (if he had one), or whether the Gods for Rome's sake took
advantage of his quite negative being, and prompted it to their
own purposes, who can say?--Sitting down, and keeping still, and
saying nothing, the old man could look rather fine, even
majestic; one saw traces in him of the Claudian family dignity
and beauty.  But let hm walk a few paces, and you noted that his
feet dragged and his knees knocked together, and that he had a
paunch; and let him get interested in a conversation, and you
heard that he first spluttered, and then roared.  Physical
wakness and mental backwardness had made him the despair of
Augustus:  he was the fool of the family, kept in the background,
and noticed by none.  Tiberius, in search of a successor, had
never thought of him; had rather let things go to mad Caligula.
He had never gone into society; never associated with men of his
own rank; but chose his companions among small shopkeepers and
the 'Arries and 'Arriets of Rome, who, 'tickled to death' at
having a member of the reigning family to hobnob with them in
their back-parlors, would refrain from making fun of his
peculiatities.  Caligula had enjoyed using him as a butt, and so
had spared his life.  He had never even learned to behave at
table:  and so, when he came to the throne, made a law that
table-manners should no longer be incumbent on a Roman gentleman.
All this is recorded of him; one would hardly believe it, but
that his portraits bear it out.*

------
* The accounts of Claudius and Nero are from _The Tragedy of the
Caesars,_ by S. Baring-Gould.
------

For all that he did well at first.  He made himself popular with
the mob, cracking poor homely jokes with them at which they
laughed uproariously.  He paid strict attention to business:
made some excellent laws; wisely extended Roman citizenship
among the subject peoples; undertook and pushed through useful
public works.  Rome was without a decent harbor:  corn from Egypt
had to be transshipped at sea and brought up the Tiber in
lighters; which resulted in much inconvenience, and sometimes
shortage of food in the city.  Claudius went down to Ostia and
looked about him; and ordered a harbor dredged out and built
there on a large scale.  The best engineers of the day said it
was impossible to do, and would not pay if done.  But the old
fool stuck to his views and made them get to work; and they
found it, though difficult and costly, quite practicable; and
when finished, it solved the food problem triumphantly.  This is
by way of example.--Poor old fool! it was said he never forgot a
kindness, or remembered an injury.  He came soon, however, to be
managed by various freedmen and rascals and wives; all to the
end that aristocratic Rome should be well punished for its sins.
One day when he was presiding in the law courts, someone cried
out that he was an old fool,--which was very true.--and threw a
large book at him that cut his face badly,--which was very
unkind.  And yet, all said, through him and through several fine
and statesmanlike measures he put through, the work of Augustus
and Tiberius in the empire at large was in many ways pushed
forward:  he did well by the provinces and the subject races, and
carried on the grand homogenization of the world.

He reigned thirteen years; then came Nero.  If one accepts the
traditional view of him, it is not without evidence.  His
portraits suggest one ensouled by some horrible elemental; one
with no human ego in him at all.  The accounts given of his moods
and actions are quite credible in the light of the modern medical
knowledge as to insanity; you would find men like Tacitus Nero
in most asylums.  Neither Tacitus nor Suetonius was in the habit
of taking science as a guide in their transcriptions; they did
not, in dealing with Tiberius for example, suit their facts to
the probabilities, but just set down the worst they had heard
said.  What they record of him is unlikely, and does not fit in
with his known actions.  But in drawing Nero, on the contrary,
they made a picture that would surprise no alienist.  Besides,
Tacitus was born some seventeen years after Tiberius died; but
he was fourteen years old at the death of Nero, and so of an age
to have seen for himself, and remembered.  Nero did kill his
mother, who probably tried to influence him for good; and he did
kill Seneca, who certainly did.  His reign is a monument to the
rottenness of Rome; his fall, a proof, perhaps, of the soundness
of the provinces.  For when _they_ felt the shame of his conduct,
they rose and put him down; Roman Gaul and Germany and Spain and
the East did.  Here is a curious indication:  Galba, Otho, and
Vitellius, who made such a sorry thing of the two years (68 and
69) they shared in the Principate, had each done well as a
provincial governor.  In the provinces, then, the Tiberian
tradition of honest efficient government suffered not much, if
any, interruption.  The fact that Rome itself stood the nine
years of Nero's criminal insanity,--and even, so far as the mob
was concerned, liked it (for his grave was long kept strewn with
flowers)--shows what a people can fall to, that the Crest-Wave
had first made rotten, and then left soulless.

By the beginning of 70, things were comfortably in the hands of
Vespasian, another provincial governor; under whom, and his son
Titus after him, there were twelve years of dignified government;
and seven more of the same, and then seven or eight of tyranny,
under his second son, Domitian.  Against the first two of these
Flavians nothing is to be said except that the rise of their
house to the Principate was by caprice of the soldiery.
Vespasian was an honest Sabine, fond of retiring to his native
farm; he brought in much good provincial blood with him into
Roman society.--Then in 96 came a revolution which placed the
aged senator Nerva on the throne; who set before himself the
definite policy--as it was intended he should--of replacing
personal caprice by legality and constitutionalism as the
instrument of government.  He  reigned two years, and left the
empire to Trajan; who was strong enough as a general to hold his
position, and as a statesman, to establish the principles of
Nerva.  And so things began to expand again; and a new strength
became evident, the like of which had not been seen since (at
least) the death of Tiberius.

Octavian returned to Rome, sole Master of the world, in B.C. 29.
A half-cycle on from that brings us to 36 A.D., the year before
Tiberius died:  that half-cycle was one, for the Empire all of
it, and for Rome most of it, of bright daylight.  The next
half-cycle ends in 101, in the third year of Trajan:  a time,
for the most part, of decline, of twilight.  You will notice
that the Han day lasted the full thirteen decades before twilight
came; the Roman, but six decades and a half.

We ought to understand just how far this second Roman half-cycle
was an age of decline:  just how much darkneww suffused the
twilight it was.  We talk of representative government; as
if any government were ever really anything else.  Men get
the government that represents them; that represent their
intelligence, or their laxity, or their vices:--whether it be
sent in by the ballot or by a Praetorian Guard with their caprice
and spears.  In a pralayic time there is no keen national
consciousness, no centripetalism.  There was none in Rome in
those days; or not enough to counteract the centrifugalism that
simply did not care.  The empire held together, because Augustus
and Tiberius had created a centripetalism in the provinces; and
these continued in the main through it all to enjoy the good
government the first two emperors had made a tradition in them,
and felt but little the hands of the fools or madmen reigning in
Rome.  And then, blood from the provinces was always flowing into
Rome itself; particularly in the Flavian time; and supplied or
fed a new centripetalism there which righted things in the next
half-cycle.  It was Rome, not the provinces, that Nero and
Caligula represented in their day; the time was transitional;
you may call Otho and Vitellius the first bungling shots of the
provinces at having a hand in things at the center; wholesome
Vespasian was their first representative emperor:  Nerva and
those that followed him represented equally the provinces and a
regenerated Rome.--This tells you what Nero's Rome was, and how
it came to tolerate Nero; when Vitellius came in with his band
of ruffians from the Rhine, and the streets flowed with blood day
after day, the places of low resort were as full as ever through
it all; while carnage reigned in the forums, riotous vice
reigned within doors.

But look outside of Rome, and the picture is very different.  The
Spaniard, Gaul, Illyrian, Asiatic and the rest, were enjoying the
Roman Peace.  There was progress; if not at the center,
everywhere between that and the periphery of civilization. Life,
even in Italy (in the country parts) was growing steadily more
cultured, serious, and dignified; and in all remote regions was
assimilating its standards to the best in Italy.  From the
Scottish Lowlands to the Cataracts of the Nile a single people
was coming into being; it was a wide and well-tilled field in
which incarnate souls might grow. The satirists make lurid
pictures of the evils Rome; and the evils were there, with
perhaps not much to counter-balance them, _in Rome._  Paris has
been latterly the capital of civilization; and one of its phases
as such has been to be the capital of the seven deadly sins.  The
sins are or were there:  Paris provided for the sinners of the
world, in her capacity of world-metropolis; just as she provided
for the artists, the _litteratuers,_ and so on.  Foolish people
drew from that the conclusion that therefore Frenchmen were more
wicked than other people:  whereas in truth the life of
provincial France all along has probably been among the soundest
of any.  So we must offset Martial's and Juvenal's pictures of
the calm and gracious life in the country:  virtuous life, often,
with quiet striving after usefulness and the higher things.  He
reveals to us, in the last quarter of the century, interiors in
northern Italy, by Lake Como; you should have found the like
anywhere in the empire.  And where, since Rome fell, shall you
come on a century in which Britain, Gaul, Spain, Italy, the
Balkans, Asia and Africa, enjoyed a Roman or any kind of peace?
Be not deceived:  there has been no such success in Europe since
as the empire that Augustus the Initiate made, and for which
Tiberius his disciple was crucified.

Yet they captured it, as I find things, out of the jaws of
failure and disaster.  Failure:  that of Pythagoreanism six
centuries before;--disaster:  Caesar's conquest of Gaul and
destruction of the Mysteries there.  Men come from the Masters of
the World to work on this plane or on that:  to found an empire
perhaps, or to start a spiritual movement.  Augustus came
commissioned to the former, not to the latter, work.  Supposing
in his time the Gaulish Mysteries had been intact.  We may trust
him to have established relations somehow:  he would have had
close and friendly relations with the Gaulish hierophants; even
if he had conquered the people, he would not have put out their
light.  But I imagine he would have found a means to union
without conquest.  Then what would have happened?  We have seen
that the cyclic impulse did touch Gaul at that time; it made her
vastly rich, hugely industrial;--as Ferero says, the Egypt of the
West.  That, and nothing better than that, because she had lost
her spiritual center, and might not figure as the world Teacher
among nations.  But, you say, Augustus proscribed Druidism--which
sounds like carrying on Julius' nefarious work.  He did, I
believe;--but why?  Because Julius had seen to it that the
white side of Druidism had perished.  The Druids were magicians;
and now it was the dark magic and its practitioners that remained
among them,--at least in Gaul.  So of course Augustus proscribed it.

Remember how France has stood, these last seven centuries, as the
teacher of the arts and civilization to Europe; and this idea
that she might have been, and should have been, something far
higher to the Roman world, need not seem at all extravagant.  I
think it was a possibility; which Caesar had been sent by the
kings of night to forestall.  And so, that Augustus lacked that
reinforcement by which he might have secured for Europe a unity
as enduring as the Chinese Teachers secured for the Far East.

And yet the Lodge did not leave Rome lightless; there was much
spiritual teaching in the centuries of the Empire; indeed, a new
out-breathing in each century, as an effort to retrieve the great
defeat;--and this has been the inner history of europe ever
since.  This:  raidings from the Godworld:  swift cavalry
raidings, that took no towns as a rule, nor set up strongholds
here on hell's border; yet did each time, no doubt, carry off
captives.  Set up no strongholds;--that is, until our own times;
so what we have missed is the continuous effort; the established
base 'but here upon this bank and shoal,' from which the shining
squadrons of the Gods might ride.  Such a base was lost when
Caesar conquered Gaul; then some substitute for Gaul had to be
found.  It was Greece and the East; where, as you may say,
abjects and orts of truth came down; not the live Mysteries, but
the _membra disjecta_ of the vanished Mysteries of a vanished
age.  With these the Teachers of the Roman world had to work,
distilling out of them what they might of the ancient Theosophy.
So latterly H.P. Blavasky must gather up fragments in the East
for the nexus of her teaching; she must find seeds in old
sarcophagi, and plant and make them grow in this soil so
uncongenial; because there was no well-grown Tree patent to the
world, with whose undeniable fruitage she might feed the nations.
This was one great difficulty in her way; whe had to introduce
Theosphy into a world that had forgotten it ever existed.

So,--but with a difference,--in that first century.  The
difference was that Pythagoreanism, the nexus, was only six
hundrd years away, and the memory of it fairly fresh.  Stoicism
was the most serious living influence within the empire; a
system that concerned itself with right and brave living, and was
so far spiritual; but perhaps not much further.  The best in men
reacted against the sensuality of the mid-century, and made
Stoicism strong; but this formed only a basis of moral grit for
the higher teaching; of which, while we know it was there,
there is not very much to say.  I shall come to it presently;
meanwhile, to something else.--In literature, this was the cycle
of Spain:  the Crest-Wave was largely there during the first
thirteen decades of the Christian era.  Seneca was born in
Cordova about 3 B. C.; Hadrian, the last greatman of Spanish
birth (though probably of Italian race), died in 138.  Seneca was
a Stoic:  a man with many imperfections, of whom history cannot
make up its mind wholly to approve.  He was Nero's tutor and
minister during the first five golden years of the reign; his
government was wise and beneficent, though, it is said, sometimes
upheld by rather doubtful means.  In the growing gloom and horror
of the nightmare reign of Nero, he wrote many counsels of
perfection; his notes rise often, someone has said, to a sort of
falsetto shriek; but then, the wonder is he could sing at all in
such a hell's cacophony.  A man with obvious weaknesses, perhaps;
but fighting hard to be brave and hopeful where there was nothing
in sight to encourage bravery or foster hope; when every moment
was pregnant with ghastly possibilities; when death and
abominable torture hobnobbed in the Roman streets with riots of
disgusting indulgence, abnormal lusts, filthiness parading
unabashed.  He speaks of the horrors, the gruesome impalings;
deprecating them in a general way; not daring to come down to
particulars, and rebuke Nero.  Well; Nero commanded the legions,
and was kittle cattle to rebuke.  If sometimes you see tinsel and
tawdriness about poor Seneca, look a little deeper, and you seem
to see him writing it in agony and bloody sweat. . . . He was
among the richest men in Rome, when riches were a deadly peril:
he might even, had he been another man, have made himself
emperor; perhaps the worst thing against him is that he did
not.  His counsels and aspirations were much better than his
deeds;--which is as  much as to say his Higher Self than his
lower.  He stood father-confessor to Roman Society:  a Stoic
philosopher in high, luxurious, and most perilous places:  he
cannot escape looking a little unreal.  Someone in some seemingly
petty difficulties, writes asking him to sue his influence on his
behalf; and he replies with a dissertation on death, and what
good may lie in it, and the folly of fearing it.  Cold comfort
for his correspondent; a tactless, strained, theatrical thing to
do, we may call it.  But what strain upon his nerves, what
hideous knowledge of the times and of evils he did not see his
way to prevent, what haunting sense of danger, must have driven
him to that fervid hectic eloquence that now seems so unnatural!
One guesses there may be a place in the Pantheons or in Valhalla
of the heroes for this poor not untawdry not unheroic Seneca.
One sees in him a kind of Hamlet, hitting in timorous indecision
on the likely possibility of converting his Claudius by a string
of moral axioms and eloquence to a condition that should satisfy
the Ghost and undo the something rotten in the state.... Yet the
Gods must have been grateful to him for the work he did in
holding for Stoicism and aspiration a center in Rome during that
dreadful darkness.  Perhaps only the very strongest, in his
position, could have done better; and then perhaps only by
killing Nero.*

------
* Dill:  _Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius._
------

But there was a greater than Seneca in Rome, even in Nero's
reign;--there intermittently, and not to abide:  Appollonius of
Tyana, presumably the real Messenger of the age:--and by the
change that had come over life by the second century, we may
judge how great and successful.  But there is not getting at the
reality of the man now.  We have a _Life_ of him, written about a
hundred years after his death by Philostratus, a Greek sophist,
for the learned Empress Julia Domna, Septimius Severus' wife;
who, no doubt, chose for the work the best man to hand; but the
age of great literature was past, and Philostratus resurrects no
living soul.  The account may be correct enough in outline; the
author was painstaking; visited the sites of his subject's
exploits, and pressed his inquiries; he claims to have based his
story on the work of Damis of Neneveh, a disciple of Apollonius
who accompanied him everywhere.  But much is fabulous:  there is
a gorgeous account of dragons' in India, and the methods used in
hunting them; and you know nothing of the real Apollonius when
you have read it all.  Here, in brief, is the outline of the
story:  Apollonius was born at Tyana in Cappodocia somewhere
about the year 1 A.D., and died in the reign of Nerva at nearly a
hundred:  tradition ascribed to his birth its due accompaniment
of signs and portents.  At sixteen he set himself under Pythagorean
discipline; kept silence absolute for five years; traveled,
healing and teaching, and acquired a great renown throughout
Asia Minor.  He went by Babylon and Parthia to India; spent
some time there as the pupil of certain Teachers on a sacred
mountain; they, it appears, expected his coming, received
him and taught him; ever afterwards he spoke of himself as a
disciple of the Indian Master Iarchus.  Nothing in the book is
more interesting than the curious light it throws on popular
beliefs of the time in the Roman World as to the existence of
these Indian masters of the Secret Wisdom;--India, of course,
included the region north of the Himalayas.  Later he visited the
Gymnosophists of the Tebaid in Egypt; according to the account,
these were of a lower standing than the Indian Adepts; and
Apollonius came among them not as a would-be disciple, but as an
equal, or superior.--He was persecuted in Rome by Nero; but over
awed Tigellinus, Nero's minister, and escaped.  He met Vespasian
and Titus at Alexandria, soon after the fall of Jerusalem; and
was among those who urged Vespasian to take the throne.  He was
arrested in Rome by Domitian, and tried on charges of sorcery and
treason; and is said to have escaped his sentence and execution
by the simple expedient of vanishing in broad daylight in court.
One wonders why this from his defense before Domitian, as
Philostratus gives it, has not attracted more comment; he says:
"All unmixed blood is retained by the heart, which through the
blood-vessels sends it flowing as if through canals over the
entire body."--According to tradition, he rose from the dead,
appeared to several to remove their doubts as to a life beyond
death, and finally bodily ascended into heaven.  Reincarnation
was a very cardinal point in his teaching; perhaps the name of
Neo-Pythagoreanism, given to his doctrine, is enough to indicate
in what manner it illuminated the inner realms and laws which
Stoicism, intent only on brave conduct and the captaincy of one's
own soul, was unconcerned to inquire into.  Another first century
Neo-Pythagorean Teacher was Moderatus of Gades in Spain.  The
period of Apollonius's greatest influence would have corresponded
with the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, from 69 to 83; the
former, when he came to the throne, checked the orgies of vice
and brought in an atmosphere in which the light of Thesophy might
have more leave to shine.  The certainty is that the last third
of the first century wrought an enormous change:  the period that
preceded it was one of the worst, and the age that followed it,
that of the Five Good Emperors, was the best, in known European
history.--Under the Flavians, from 69 to 96,--or roughly, during
the last quarter,--came the Silver Age, the second and last great
day of Latin literature:  with several Spanish and some Italian
names,--foam of the Crest-Wave, these latter, as it passed over
from Spain to the East.  It will, by the way, help us to a
conception of the magnitude of the written material at the
disposal of the Roman world, to remember that Pliny the Elder, in
preparing his great work on Natural History, consulted six
thousand published authorities.  That was in the reign of Nero;
it makes one feel that those particular ancients had not so much
less reading matter at their command than we have today.

Of the great Flavian names in literature, we have Tacitus;
Pliny the Younger, with his bright calm pictures of life;
Juvenal, with his very dark ones:  these were Italians.  Juvenal
was a satirist with a moral purpose; the Spaniard Martial,
contemporary, was a satirist without one.  Martial drew from
life, and therefore his works, though coarse, are still interesting.
We learn from him what enormous activity in letters was to be
found in those days in his native Spain; where every town
had its center of learning and apostles and active propaganda
of culture.  Such things denote an ancient cultural habit,
lapsed for a time, and then revived.

Another great Spainiard, and the best man in literature of the
age, was Quintilian:  gracious, wise, and of high Theosophic
ideals, especially in education.  He was born in A.D. 35; and
was probably the greatest literary critic of classical antiquity.
For twenty years, from 72 until his death, he was at the head of
the teaching profession in Rome.  The "teaching" was, of course,
in rhetoric.  Rome resounded with speech-makings; and Gaul,
Spain, and Africa were probably louder with it than Rome.  Though
the end of education then was to turn out speech-makers,--as it
is now to turn out money-makers,--I do not see but that the
Romans had the best of it,--Quintilian saw through all to
fundamental truths; he taught that your true speech-maker must
be first a true man.  He went thoroughly into the training of the
orator,--more thoroughly, even from the standpoint of pure
technique, than any other Greek or Roman writer;--but would base
it all upon character, balance of the faculties,--in two words,
Raja-Yoga.  Pliny the Younger was among his pupils, and owed much
to him; also is there to prove the value of Quintilian's
method;--for Quintilian turned out Pliny a true gentlman.  Prose
in those days,--that is, rhetoric,--was tending ever more to
flamboyancy and extravagance:  a current which Quintilian stood
against valiantly.  We find in him, as critic, just judgment,
sane good taste, wide and generous sympathies;--a tendency to
give the utmost possible credit even where compelled in the main
to condemn;--as he was in the case of Senaca.  He had the faculty
of hitting off in a phrase the whole effect of a man's style; as
when he speaks of the "milky richness of Livy," and the "immortal
swiftness of Sallust." *

------
* _Encyclopaedia Britannica;_ article 'Quintilian'
------

So then, to sum up a little:  I think we gain from these times a
good insight into cyclic workings.  First, we shall see that the
cycles are there, and operative:  action and reaction regnant in
the world,--a tide in the affairs of men; and strong souls
coming in from time to time, to manipulate reactions, to turn the
currents at strategic points in time; making things, despite
what evils may be ahead, flow on to higher levels than their own
weight would carry them to:  thus did Augustus and Tiberius;
--or throwing them down, as the merry Julius did, from bright
possibilities to a sad and lightless actuality.  For perhaps we
have been suffering because of Julius' exploit ever since; and
certainly, no matter what Neros and Caligulas followed them, the
world was a long time the better for the ground the great first
two Principes captured from hell.--And next, we shall learn to
beware of being too exact, precise, and water-tight with out
computations and conceptions of these cycles:  we shall see that
nature works in curves and delicate wave-lines, not in broken off
bits and sudden changes.  Rome was going down in Tiberius' reign:
she was bad enough then, heaven knows; though we may put
her passing below the meridian at or near the end of it;--
conveniently, in the year 36.  And then, what with (1) the
tenseness of the gloom and the severity of suffering in the
reigns of Caligula, Nero, and Domitian;--and (2) the inflow of
new and cleaner blood from the provinces at all times but
especially under Vespasian; and above all, (3) the Theosophic
impulse whose outward visible sign is the mission of Apollonius
and Moderatus:--we find her ready to emerge into light in 96,
when Nerva came to the throne, instead of having to wait the five
more years for the end of the half-cycle;--although we may well
suppose it took that time at least for Nerva and Trajan to clear
things up and settle them.  So we may keep this scheme of dates
in memory as indicative:  a (rough) half-cycle before 29 B.C.,
that of dawn and darkest hour preceding it; 29 B.C. to 36 A.D.
daylight; 36 to 101, night and the beginnings of a new dawn.

And now we must turn to China.

Dusk came on in Rome with the death of Tiberius in A.D. 37; but
what is dusk in the west is dawn in the east of the world.  In 35
Han Kwang-wuti had put down the Crimson-Eyebrow rebellion, and
seated himself firmly on the throne.  The preceding half-cycle,
great in Rome under Augustus and Tiberius, had been a time, first
of puppet emperors, then of illegalism and usurpation, then of
civil war.  Han Kwang-wuti put an end to all that, and opened, in
35, a new cycle of his own.

But there is also an old cycle to be taken into account:  the
original thirteen-decade period of the Hans, that began in 194,
and ended its first "day" in 63 or so,--to name convenient dates.
I should, if I believed in this cyclic law, look for a recurrence
of that:  a new day to dawn, under its influence, in 66 or 67
A.D., thirteen decades after the old one ended,--and to last
until 196 or 197.  But on the other hand, here is Han Kwang-wuti
starting things going in 35, a matter of thirty-two years ahead
of time,--catching the flow of force just as it diminished in
Rome.--And this thirty-two years, you may note, with what odd
months we may suppose thrown in, is in itself a quarter-cycle.

Now cyclic impulses waste; a second day of splendor will
commonly be found a Silver Age, where the first was Golden:  it
will often be more perfect and refined, but much less vigorous,
than the first.  So I should look for the second "day" of the
Hans to come on the whole with less light to shine and less
strength to endure than its predecessor; I should expect a
gentleness as of late afternoon in place of the old noontide
glory.  But then there is the complication induced by Han
Kwang-wuti, who started his cycle in 35.... or more probably
his half-cycle;--I should look for it to be no more than that,
on account of this same wastage of the forces;--this also has
to be taken into consideration.

Brooding over the whole situation, I should foretell the history
of this second Han Dynasty in this way:  from 35 to 67,--the
latter date the point where the old and new cycles intersect,--
would be a static time:  of consolidation rather than expansion;
of the gathering of the wave, not of its outburst into any
splendor of foam.  Between 67 and 100, or when the two cycles
coincide, I should look for great things and doings; for some
echo or repetition of the glories of Han Wuti,--perhaps for a
finishing and perfecting of his labors.  From then on till 197 I
should expect static, but weakening conditions:  static mainly
till 165, weakening rapidly after.  Advise me, please, if this is
clear.--Well, if you have followed so far, you have a basis for
understanding what is to come.

The dynasty, as thus re-established by Kwang-wuti, is known as
that of the Eastern Hans; for this reason:--just as late in the
days of the Roman empire, Diocletian was stirred by cyclic
flowing east-ward to move his capital from Rome to Nicomedia,--
Constantine changed it afterwards to Byzantium,--so was Han
Kwang-wuti to move his from Changan in Shensi, in the west,
eastward to Loyang or Honanfu,--the old Chow capital,--in Honan.

While Rome was weltering under Caligula, Claudius, and Nero,
China was recovering herself, getting used to a calm equanimity,
under Haii Kwang-wuti:  the conditions in the two were as
opposite as the poles.  She dwelt in quietness at home, and held
her own, and a little more, on the frontiers.  In 57, two years
before Nero went mad and took the final plunge into infamy, Han
Kwang-wuti died, and Han Mingti succeeded him.  As Nero went
down, Han Mingti went up.  His ninth or tenth year, remember, was
to be that of the recurrence of the old Han cycle.  It was the
year in which the provinces rose against Nero,--the lowest point
of all in Rome.  I do not know that it was marked by anything
special in China; the fact being that all the Chinese sixties
were momentous.

In the third Year of his reign Han Mingti dreamed a dream:  he
saw a serene and "Golden Man" descending towards him out of the
western heavens.  It would mean, said his brother, to whom he
spoke of it, the Golden God worshiped in the West,--the Buddha.
Buddhism had first come into China in the reign of Tsin Shi
Hwangti; but that imperial ruffian had made short work of it:--
he threw the missionaries into prison, and might have dealt worse
with them, but that a "Golden Man" appeared in their cell in
the night, and opened all doors for their escape.  Buddhist
scriptures, probably, were among the books destroyed at the great
Burning.  So there may have been Buddhists in China all through
the Han time; but if so, they were few, isolated and inconspicuous;
it is Han Mingti's proper glory, to have brought Buddhism in.

He liked well his brother's interpretation, and sent inquirers
into the west.  In 65 they returned, with scriptures, and an
Indian missionary, Kashiapmadanga,--who was followed shortly by
Gobharana, another.  A temple was built at Loyang, and under the
emperor's patronage, the work of translating the books began.--We
have seen before how some touch from abroad is needed to quicken
an age into greatness:  such a touch came now to China with these
Indian Buddhists;--who, in all likelihood, may also have been in
their degree Messengers of the Lodge.

In the usual vague manner of Indian chronology, the years 57 and
78 A.D. are connected with the name of a great king of the Yueh
Chi, Kanishka, whose empire covered Northern India.  Almost every
authority has a favorite point in time for his habitat; but
these dates, not so far apart but that he may well have been
reigning in both, will do as well as another.  You will note that
72 A.D. (which falls between them) is a matter of thirteen
decades from 58 B.C., the date sometimes ascribed to that
much-legended Vikramaditya of Ujjain.  Or, if we go back to the
(fairly) settled 321 B.C. of Chandragupta Maurya, and count
forward thirteen-decade periods from that, we get 191 for the end
of the Mauryas (it happened about then); 61 for Vikramaditya
(which may well be); 69 for Kanishka,--which also is likely
enough, and would make him contemporary with Han Mingti.  As the
years 57 and 78 are both ascribed to him, it may possibly be that
they mark the beginning and end of his reign respectively.

We know very little about him, except that he was a very great
king, a great Buddhist, a man of artistic tastes, and a great
builder; that he loved the beautiful hills and valleys of
Cashmere; and that his reign was a wonderful period in sculptue,
--that of the Gandhara or Greco-Buddhist School.  Again,
he is credited (by Hiuen Tsang) with convening the Fourth
Buddhist Council:  following in this, as in other matters, the
example of Asoka.  We are at liberty I suppose, if we like, to
assign that cyclic year 69 to the meeting of this Council:  this
year or its neighborhood.  So that all this may have had
something to do with the missionary activity that responded to
Han Mingti's appeal.  But there is something else to remember;
something of far higher importance; namely, that during all this
period of her most uncertain chronology, India was in a peculiar
position:  the Successors of the Buddha were more or less openly
at work there;--a long line of Adept leaders and teachers that
can be traced (I believe) through some thirteen centuries from
Sakya-muni's death.  We may suppose, not unreasonably, that
Kashiapmadanga and Gobharana were disciples and emissaries of the
then Successor.

It is, so far, and with so little translated, extremely hard to
get at the undercurrents in these old Chinese periods; but I
suspect a strong spiritual influence, Buddhist at that, in the
great events of the years that followed.  For China proceeded to
strike into history in such a way that the blow resounded, if not
round the world, at least round as much of it as was discovered
before Columbus; and she did it in such a nice, clean, artistic
and quiet way, and withal so thoroughly, that I cannot help
feeling that that glorious warriorlike Northern Buddhism of the
Mahayana had something to do with it.

It was not Han Mingti himself who did it, but one of his sevants;
of whom, it is likely, you have never heard; although east or
west there have been, probably, but one or two of his trade so
great as he, or who have mattered so much to history.  His name
was Pan Chow; his trade, soldiering.  He began his career of
conquest about the time the major Han Cycle was due to recur,--in
the sixties; maintained it through three reigns, and ended it at
his death about when the Eastern Han half-cycle, started in 35,
was due to close;--somewhere, that is, about 100 A.D., while
Trajan was beginning a new day and career of conquest in Rome.



XXI.  CHINA AND ROME: THE SEE-SAW (CONTINUED)


During the time of Chinese weakness Central Asia had relapsed
from the control the great Han Wuti had imposed on it, and that
Han Suenti had maintained by his name for justice; and the Huns
had recovered their power.  One wonders what these people were;
of whom we first catch sight in the reign of the Yellow Emperor,
nearly 3000 B.C.; and who do not disappear from history until
after the death of Attila.  During all those three millenniums
odd they were predatory nomads, never civilized:  a curse to
their betters, and nothing more.  And their betters were, you may
say, every race they contacted.

It seems as if, as in the human blood, so among the races of
mankind, there were builders and destroyers.  I speculate as to
the beginnings of the latter:  they cannot be . . . races apart,
of some special creation;--made by demons, where it was the Gods
made men. . . . "To the Huns," says Gibbon, "a fabulous origin
was assigned worthy of their form and manners,--that the witches
of Scythia, who for their foul and deadly practices had been
driven from society, had united in the desert with infernal
spirits, and that the Huns were the offspring of this execrable
conjunction."  But it seems to me that it is in times of
intensive civilization, and in the slums of great cities, that
Nature--or anti-Nature--originates noxious human species.  I
wonder if their forefathers were, once on a time, the hooligans
and yeggmen of some very ancient Babylon Bowery or the East End
of some pre-Nimrodic Nineveh?  Babylon was a great city,--or
there were great cities in the neighborhood of Babylon, before
the Yellow Emperor was born.  One of these may have had, God
knows when, its glorious freedom-establishing revolution, its
up-fountaining of sansculottes,--patriots whose predatory
proclivities had erstwhile been checked of their free brilliance
by busy-body tyrannical police;--and then this revolution may
have been put down, and the men of the underworld who made turned
out now from their city haunts, driven into the wilderness and
the mountains,--may have taken,--would certainly have taken, one
would say,--not to any industry, (they knew none but such as are
wrought by night unlawfully in other men's houses); not to
agriculture, which has ever had, for your free spirit, something
of degradation in it;--but to pure patriotism, freedom and
liberty, as their nature was:  first to cracking such desultory
cribs as offered,--knocking down defenseless wayfarers and the
like:  then to bolder raidings and excursions;--until presently,
lo, they are a great people; they have ridden over all Asia like
a scirocco; they have thundered rudely at the doors of proud
princes,--troubling even the peace of the Yellow Emperor on
his throne.

Well,--but isn't the stature stunted, physical, as well as mental
and moral, when life is forced to reproduce itself, generation
after generation, among the unnatural conditions of slums and
industrialism? . . . Can you nourish men upon poisons century by
century, and expect them to retain the semblance of men?

They had bothered Han Kwang-wuti; who could do little more than
hold his own against them, and leave them to his successor to
deal with as Karma might decree.  Karma, having as you might
say one watchful eye on Rome and Europe, and what need of
chastisement should arise after awhile at that western end of the
world, provided Han Mingti with this Pan Chow; who, being a
soldier of promise, was sent upon the Hun war-path forthwith.
Then the miracles began to happen.  Pan Chow strolled through
Central Asia as if upon his morning's constitutional:   no fuss;
no hurry; little fighting,--but what there was, remarkably
effective, one gathers.  Presently he found himself on the
Caspian shore; and if he had left any Huns behind him, they were
hardly enough to do more than pick an occasional pocket.  He
started out when the Roman provinces were rising to make an end
of Nero; in the last year of Domitian, from his Caspian
headquarters he determined to discover Rome; and to that end
sent an emissary down through Parthia to take ship at the port of
Babylon for the unknown West.  The Parthians (who were all
against the two great empires becoming acquainted, because they
are making a good thing of it as middle-men in the Roman-Chinese
caravan trade), knew better, probably, than to oppose Pan Chow's
designs openly; but their agents haunted the quays at Babylon,
tampered with west-going skippers, and persuaded the Chinese
envoy to go no farther.  But I wonder whether some impulse
achieved flowing across the world from east to west at that
time, even though its physical link or channel was thus left
incomplete?  It was in that very year that Nerva re-established
constitutionalism and good government in Rome.

Pan Chow worked as if by magic:  seemed to make no effort, yet
accomplished all things.  For nearly forty years he kept that
vast territory in order, despite the huge frontier northward, and
the breeding-place of nomad nations beyond.  All north of Tibet
is a region of marvels.  Where you were careful to leave only the
village blacksmith under his spreading chestnut-tree, or the
innkeeper and his wife, for the sake of future travelers, let a
century or two pass, and their descendants would be as the
sea-sands for multitude; they would have founded a power, and be
thundering down on an empire-smashing raid in Persia or China or
India:  Whether Huns, Sienpi, Jiujen, Turks, Tatars, Tunguses,
Mongols, Manchus:  God knows what all, but all destroyers.  But
as far as the old original Huns were concerned, Pan Chow settled
their hash for them.  Bag and baggage he dealt with them; and
practically speaking, the land of their fathers knew them no
more.  Dry the starting tear! here your pity is misplaced.  Think
of no vine-covered cottages ruined; no homesteads burned; no
fields laid waste.  They lived mainly in the saddle; they were
as much at home fleeing before the Chinese army as at another
time.  A shunt here; a good kick off there:  so he dealt with
them.  It is in European veins their blood flows now;--and prides
itself on its pure undiluted Aryanism and Nordicism, no doubt.  I
suppose scarcely a people in continental Europe is without some
mixture of it; for they enlisted at last in all foraying armies,
and served under any banner and chief.

Pan Chow felt that they belonged to the (presumably) barbarous
regions west of the Caspian.  Ta Ts'in in future might deal with
them; by God's grace, Han never should.  He gently pushed them
over the brink; removed them; cut the cancer out of Asia.  Next
time they appeared in history, it was not on the Hoangho, but on
the Danube.  Meanwhile, they established themselves in Russia;
moved across Central Europe, impelling Quadi and Marcomans
against Marcus Aurelius, and then Teutons of all sorts against
the whole frontier of Rome.  In the sixties, for Han Mingti, Pan
Chow set that great wave in motion in the far east of the world.
Three times thirteen decades passed, and it broke and wasted in
foam in the far west:  in what we may call the Very First Battle
of the Marne, when Aetius defeated Attila in 451.  I can but
think of one thing better he might have done:  shipped them
eastward to the remote Pacific Islands; but it is too late to
suggest that now.  But I wonder what would have happened if Pan
Chow had succeeded in reaching his arm across, and grasping hands
with Trajan?  He had not died; the might of China had not begun
to recede from its westward limits, before the might of Rome
under that great Spaniard had begun to flow towards its limits
in the east.

Through the bulk of the second century China remained static, or
weakening.  Her forward urge seems to have ended with the death
of Pan Chow, or at the end of the half-cycle Han Kwang-wuti began
in 35.  We might tabulate the two concurrent Han cycles, for the
sake of clearness, and note their points of intersection, thus:

--Western Han Cycle, 130 years

--Eastern Han Half-Cycle, 65 yrs

--35 A.D. Opened by Han Kwang-wuti.

--A static and consolidating time until 67 A.D., thirteen decades
from the death of Han Chaoti.  Introduction of Buddhism in 65.

--The period of Pan Chao's victories; the Golden Age of the
Eastern Hans, lasting until (about):

--100 A. D. the end of the Eastern Han 'Day'; death of Pan Chow.

--Continuance of Day under this, and supervention of Night under
this Cycle, produce:

--A static, but weakening period until:

--165, the year in which a new Eastern Han Day should begin.  A
weak recrudescence should be seen.

--197: the year in which the main or original Han Cycle should
end.  We should expect the beginnings of a downfall.  By or before:

--230, the end of the second, feeble, Eastern Han Day, the
downfall would have been completed.

Now to see how this works out.

The first date we have to notice is 165.  Well; in the very
scant notices of Chinese history I have been able to come on, two
events mark this date; or rather, one marks 165, and the other
166.  To take the latter first:  we saw that at a momentous point
in Roman history,--in the year of Nerva's accession, 96,--China
tried to discover Rome.  In 166 Rome actually succeeded in
discovering China.  This year too, as we shall see, was momentous
in Roman history.  You may call it a half cycle after the other;
for probably the ambassadors of King An-Tun of Ta Ts'in who
arrived at the court of Han Hwanti at Loyang in 166, had been a
few years on their journey.  You know King An-tun better by his
Latin name of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

The event for 165 is the foundation of the Taoist Church, under
the  half-legendary figure of its first Pope, Chang Taoling;
whose lineal descendants and successors have reigned Popes of
Taoism from their Vatican on the Dragon-Tiger Mountain in Kiangsi
ever since.  They have not adverertised their virtues in their
names, however:  we find no Innocents and Piuses here:  they are
all plain Changs; his reigning Holiness being Chang the
Sixth-somethingth.  It was from Buddhism that the Taoists took
the idea of making a church of themselves.  Taoism and Buddhism
from the outset were fiercely at odds; and yet the main
splendor of China was to come from their inner coalescence.
Chu Hsi, the greatest of the Sung philosophers of the brilliant
twelfth century A.D., says that "Buddhism stole the best
features of Taoism; Taoism stole the worst features of Buddhism:
as if the one took a jewel from the other, and the other
recouped the loss with a stone." *  This is exact:  the jewel
stolen by Buddhism was Laotse's Blue Pearl,--Wonder and Natural
Magic; the stone that Taoism took instead was the priestly
hierarchy and church organization, imitated from the Buddhists,
that grew up under the successors of Chang Taoling.

------
* _Chinese Literature:_  H.A. Giles
------

If Laotse founded any school or order at all, it remained quite
secret.  I imagine his mission was like Plato's, not Buddha's:
to start ideas, not a brotherhood.  By Ts'in Shi Hwangti's time,
any notions that were wild, extravagant, and gorgeous were
Taoism; which would hardly have been, perhaps, had there been a
Taoist organization behind them;--although it is not safe to
dogmatize.  It was, at any rate, mostly an inspiration to the
heights for the best minds, and for the masses (including Ts'in
Shi Hwangti) a rumor of tremendous things.  After Han Wuti's next
successor, the best minds took to thinking Confucianly:  which
was decidedly a good thing for China during the troublous times
before and after the fall of the Western Hans.  Then when
Buddhism came in, Taoism came to the fore again, spurred up to
emulation by this new rival.  I take it that Chang Taoling's
activities round about this year 165 represent an impulse of the
national soul to awakenment under the influence of the recurrence
of the Eastern Han Day half-cycle.  What kind of reality Chang
Taoling represents, one cannot say:  whether a true teacher in
his degree, sent by the Lodge, around whom legends have gathered;
or a mere dabbler in alchemy and magic.  Here is the story told
of him; you will note an incident or two in it that suggest the
former possibility.

He retired to the mountains of the west to study magic, cultivate
purity of life, and engage in meditation; stedfastly declining
the offers of emperors who desired him to take office.  Laotse
appeared to him in a vision, and gave him a treatise in which
were directions for making the 'Elixir of the Dragon and the
Tiger.'  While he was brewing this, a spirit came to him and
said:  "On the Pesung Mountain is a house of stone; buried
beneath it are the Books of the Three Emperors (Yao, Shun, and
Yu).  Get these, practise the discipline they enjoin, and you
will attain the power of ascending to heaven."  He found the
Pesung Mountain; and the stone house; and dug, and discovered
the books; which taught him how to fly, to leave his body at
will, and to hear all sounds the most distant.  During a thousand
days he disciplined himself; a goddess came to him, and taught
him to walk among the stars; then he learned to cleave the seas
and the mountains, and command the thunder and the winds.  He
fought the king of the demons, whose hosts fled before him
"leaving no trace of their departing footsteps."  So great
slaughter he wrought in that battle that, we are told, "various
divinities came with eager haste to acknowledge their faults."
In nine years he gained the power of ascending to heaven.  His
last days were spent on the Dragon-Tiger Mountain; where, at the
age of a hundred and twenty-three, he drank the elixir, and
soared skyward in broad daylight;--followed (I think it was he)
by all the poultry in his barnyard, immortalized by the drops
that fell from the cup as he drank.  He left his books of magic,
and his magical sword and seal, to his descendants; but I think
the Dragon-Tiger Mountain did not come into their possession
until some centuries later.

I judge that the tales of the Taoist _Sennin_ or Adepts, if told
by some Chinese-enamored Lafcadio, would be about the best
collection of fairy-stories in the world; they reveal a
universe so deliciously nooked and crannied with bewildering
possibilities:--as indeed this our universe is;--only not all its
byways are profitable traveling.  It is all very well to cry out
against superstition; but we are only half-men in the West:  we
have lost the faculty of wonder and the companionship of
extrahuman things.  We walk our narrow path to nowhere safely
trussed up in our personal selves:  or we not so much walk at
all, as lie still, chrysalissed in them:--it may be just as well,
since for lack of the quality of balance, we are about as capable
of walking at ease and dignity as is a jellyfish of doing Blondin
on the tight-rope.  China, in her pralaya and dearth of souls,
may have fallen into the perils of her larger freedom, and some
superstition rightly to be called degrading:  in our Middle Ages,
when we were in pralaya, we were superstitious enough; and being
unbalanced, fell into other evils too such as China never knew:
black tyrannies of dogmatism, burnings of heretics wholesale.
But when the Crest-Wave Egos were in China, that larger freedom
of hers enabled her, among other things, to achieve the highest
heights in art:  the Yellow Crane was at her disposal, and she
failed not to mount the heavens; she had the glimpses Wordsworth
pined for; she was not left forlorn. This merely for another
blow at that worst superstition of all:  Unbrotherliness, and our
doctrine of Superior Racehood.--Many of the tales are mere
thaumatolatry:  as of the man who took out his bones and washed
them once every thousand years; or of the man who would fill his
mouth with rice-grains, let them forth as a swarm of bees to
gather honey in the valley,--then readmit them into his mouth as
to a hive, where they became rice again,--presumably "sweetened
to taste."  But in others there seems to be a core of symbolism
and recognition of the fundamental things.  There was a man
once,--the tale is in Giles's Dictionary of Chinese Biography,
but I forget his name--who sought out the Sennin Ho Kwang (his
name might have been Ho Kwang); and found him at last in a
gourd-flask, whither he was used to retire for the night.  In
this retreat Ho Kwang invited our man to join him; and he was
enabled to do so; and found it, once he had got in, a fair and
spacious palace enough.  Three days he remained there learning;
while fifteen years were passing in China without.  Then Ho Kwang
gave him a rod, and a spell to say over it; and bade him go his
ways.  He would lay the rod on the ground, stand astride of it,
and speak the spell; and straight it became a dragon for him to
mount and ride the heavens where he would.  Thenceforth for many
years he was a kind of Guardian Spirit over China:  appearing
suddenly wherever there was distress or need of help:  at dawn in
mountain Chungnan by Changan town in the north; at noon, maybe,
by the southern sea; at dusk he might be seen a-dragon-back
above the sea-mists rolling in over Yangtse;--and all in the same
day.  But at last, they say, he forgot the spell, and found
himself riding the clouds on a mere willow wand;--and the wand
behaving as though Newton had already watched that aggravating
apple;--and himself, in due course dashed to pieces on the earth
below.--There is some fine symbolism here; the makings of
a good story.

And now we come to 197, "the year in which (to quote our
tabulation above) the main or original Han Cycle should end," and
in which "we should expect the beginnings of a downfall."  The
Empire, as empires go, is very old now:  four hundred and forty
odd years since Ts'in Shi Hwangti founded it; as old as Rome was
(from Julius Caesar's time) when the East and West split under
Arcadius and Honorius; nearly three centuries older than the
British Empire is now;--the cyclic force is running out,
centripetalism very nearly wasted.  In these one-nineties we find
two non-entitous brothers quarreling for the throne:  who has
eyes to see, now, can see that the days of Han are numbered.  All
comes to an end in 220, ten years before the third half-cycle
(and therefore second 'day') of the Eastern Han series; there is
not force enough left to carry things  through till 230.  Han
Hienti, the survivor of the two brothers aforesaid, retired into
private life; the dynasty was at an end, and the empire split in
three.  In Ssechuan a Han prince set up a small unstable throne;
another went to Armenia, and became a great man there; but in
Loyang the capital, Ts'ao Ts'ao, the man who engineered the fall
of the Hans, set his son as Wei Wenti on the throne.

He was a very typical figure, this Ts'ao Ts'ao:  a man ominous of
disintegration.  You cannot go far in Chinese poetry without
meeting references to him.  He rose during the reign of the last
Han,--the Chien-An period, as it is called, from 196 to 221,--by
superiority of energies and cunning, from a wild irregular youth
spent as hanger-on of no particular position at the court,--the
son of a man that had been adopted by a chief eunuch,--to be
prime minister, commander of vast armies (he had at one time,
says Dr. H. A. Giles, as many as a million men under arms),
father of the empress; holder of supreme power; then overturner
of the Han, and founder of the Wei dynasty.  Civilization had
become effete; and such a strong wildling could play ducks and
drakes with affairs.  But he could not hold the empire together.
Centrifugalism was stronger than Ts'ao Ts'ao.

The cycles and all else here become confused.  The period from
220 to 265--about a half-cycle, you will note, from 196 and the
beginning of the Chien-An time, or the end of the main Han
Cycle,--is known as that of the San Koue or Three Kingdoms:  its
annals read like Froissart, they say; gay with raidings,
excursions, and alarms.  It was the riot of life disorganized in
the corpse, when organized life had gone.  A great historical
novel dealing with this time,--one not unworthy, it is said, of
Scott,--remains to be translated.  Then, by way of reaction, came
another half-cycle (roughly) of reunion:  an unwarlike period of
timid politics and a super-refined effeminate court; it was,
says Professor Harper Parker, "a great age of calligraphy, belles
lettres, fans, chess, wine-bibbing and poetry-making."  Then,
early in the fourth century, China split up again:  crafty
ladylike Chinese houses ruling in the South; and in the north a
wild medley of dynasties, Turkish, Tungus, Tatar, and Tibetan,--
even some relics of the Huns:  sometimes one at a time, sometimes
half a dozen all together.  Each barbarian race took on hastily
something of Chinese culture, and in turn imparted to it certain
wild vigorous qualities which one sees very well in the northern
art of the period:  strong, fierce, dramatic landscapes:  Nature
painted in her sudden and terrific moods.  China was still in
manvantara, though under obscuration; she still drew her moiety
of Crest-Wave souls:  there were great men, but through a lack of
co-ordination, they failed to make a great empire or nation.  So
here we may take leave of her for a couple of centuries.
Just why the vigor of the Crest-Wave was called off in the
two-twenties, causing her to split then, we shall see presently.
Back now to Rome, at the time of the death of Pan Chow the
Hun-expeller and the end of the one glorious half-cycle of the
Eastern Hans.

As China went down, Rome came up.  Pan Chow died early in the
reign of Trajan, the first great Roman conqueror since Julius
Caesar; and only the Caspian Sea, and perhaps a few years,
divided Trajan's eastern outposts from the western outposts of
the Hans.  We need not stay with this Spaniard longer than to
note that here was a case where grand military abilities were of
practical value:  Trajan used his to subserve the greatness of
his statesmanship; only a general of the first water could have
brought the army under the new constitutional regime.  The
soldiers had been setting up Caesars ever since the night they
pitched on old Claudius in his litter; now came a Caesar who
could set the soldiers down.--His nineteen years of sovereignty
were followed by the twenty-one of Hadrian:  a very great emperor
indeed; a master statesman, and queer mass of contradictions
whose private life is much better uninquired into.  He was a
mighty builder and splendid adorner of cities; all that remained
unsystematized in the Augustan system, he reduced to perfect
system and order.  His laws were excellent and humane; he
introduced a special training for the Civil Service, which
wrought enormous economies in public affairs:  officials were no
longer to obtain their posts by imperial appointment, which might
be wise or not, but because of their own tested efficiency for
the work.--Then came the golden twenty-three years of Antoninus
Pius, from 138 to 161:  a time of peace and strength, with a wise
and saintly emperor on the throne.  The flower Rome now was in
perfect bloom:  an urbane, polished, and ordered civilization
covered the whole expanse of the empire.  Hadrian had legislated
for the down-trodden:  no longer had you power of life and death
over your slaves; they were protected by the law like other men;
you could not even treat them harshly.  True, there was slavery,
--a canker; and there were the gladiatorial games; we may feel
piously superior if we like.  But there was much humanism also.
There was no proletariat perpetually on the verge of starvation,
as in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe.  If we can look
back now and say, There this, that, or the other sign of oncoming
decay; the thing could not last;--it will also be remarkably
easy for us, two thousand years hence, to be just as wise about
these present years 'of grace.'  It is perhaps safe to say,
--as I think Gibbon says--that there was greater happiness
among a greater number then than there has been at any time in
Christendom since.  Gibbon calculates that there were twice as
many slaves as free citizens:  we do know that their number was
immense,--that it was not unusual for one man to own several
thousand.  But they were well treated:  often highly  educated;
might become free with no insuperable difficulty:--their position
was perhaps comparable with that of slaves in Turkey now, who
are insulted if you call them servants.  Gibbon estimates the
population at a hundred and twenty millions; many authorities
think that figure too high; but Gibbon may well be right, or
even under the mark,--and it may account for the rapid decline
that followed the age of the Antonines.  For I suspect that a too
great population is a great danger, that hosts at such times pour
into incarnation, besides those that have good right to call
themselves human souls;--that the maxim "fewer children and
better ones" is based upon deep and occult laws.  China in her
great days would never appear to have had more than from fifty to
seventy millions:  the present enormous figures have grown up
only since the Manchu conquest.

There was no great stir of creative intellect and imagination in
second century Rome:  little noteworthy production in literature
after Trajan's death.  The greatest energies went into building;
especially under Hadrian.  The time was mainly static,--though
golden.  There were huge and opulent cities, and they were
beautiful; there was enormous wealth; an even and widespread
culture affecting to sweetness and light the lives of millions--
by race Britons, Gauls, Moors, Asiatics or what not, but all
proud to be Romans; all sharing in the blessings of the Roman
Citizenship and Peace.  Not without self-government, either, in
local affairs:  thus we find Welsh clans in Britain still with
kings, and stranger still, with senates, of their own.

It was the quiet and perfect moment at the apex of a cycle:  the
moment that precedes descent.  The old impulse of conquest
flickered up, almost for the last time, under Trajan, some of
whose gains wise Hadrian wisely abandoned.  Under whom it was,
and under the first Antonine, that the empire stood in its
perfect and final form:  neither growing nor decreasing; neither
on the offensive nor actively on the defensive.  Now remember
the cycles:  sixty-five years of manvantara under Augustus and
Tiberius,--B.C. 29 to A. D. 36.  Then sixty-five mostly of
pralaya from 36 to 101; and now sixty-five more of mnavantara
under the Five Good Emperors (or three of them), from 101 to 166.

But why stop at 166, you ask.  Had not Marcus Aurelius, the best
of them all, until 180 to reign?--He had; and yet the change
came in 166; after that year Rome stood on the defensive until
she fell.  It was in that year, you will remember, that King
An-tun Aurelius's envoys reached Loyang by way of Bumiah
and the sea.

But note this:  Domitian was killed, and Nerva came to the
throne, and Rome had leave to breathe freely again, in five years
before the half-cycle of shadows should have ended:  the two
years of Nerva, and the first three of Trajan, we may call
borrowed by the dawning manvantara from the dusk of the pralaya
that was passing.  Now if we took the strictness of the cycles
_au_ very _pied de lettre,_ we should be a little uneasy about
the last five years of that manvantara; we should expect them at
least to be filled with omens of coming evil; we should expect
to find in them a dark compensation for the five bright years at
the tail of the old pralaya.--Well, cycles have sometimes a
pretty way of fulfilling expectations.  For see what happened:--

Marcus Aurelius came to the throne in 161:  a known man, not
untried; one, certalnly, to keep the Golden Age in being,--if
kept in being it might be.  Greatly capable in action, saintly in
life and ideals:  what could Rome ask better?  Or what had she to
fear?--The king is the representative man:  it must have been a
wonderful Rome, we may note in passing, that was ruled by and
went with and loved well those two saintly philosophic Antonines
enthroned.--Nothing, then, could seem more hopeful.  Under the
circumstances it was rather a mean trick on the part of Father
Tiber (to whom the Romans pray), that before a year was out he
must needs be breeding trouble for his votaries:  overflowing,
the ingrate, and sweeping away large parts of his city; wasting
fields and slaughtering men (to quote Macaulay again); drowning
cattle wholesale, and causing shortage of supplies.  And he does
but give the hint to the other gods, it seems; who are not slow
to follow suit.  Earthquakes are the next thing; then fires;
then comes in Beelzebub with a plague of insects.  There is no
end to it.  The legions in Britain,--after all this long
peace and good order,--grow frisky:  mind them of ancient and
profitable times when you might catch big fish in troubled
waters;--and try to induce their general to revolt.  Then
Parthian Vologaeses sees his chance; declares war, annihilates a
Roman army, and overruns Syria.  Verus, co-emperor by a certain
too generous unwisdom that remains a kind of admirable fly in the
ointment of the character of Aurelius, shows his mettle against
the Parthians,--taking his command as a chance for having a
luxurious fling beyond the reach and supervision of his severe
colleague;--and things would go ill indeed in the East but for
Avidius Cassius, Verus' second in command.  This Cassius returns
victorious in 165, and brings in his wake disaster worse than any
Parthians:--after battle, murder, and sudden death come plague,
pestilence, and famine.  In 166 the first of these latter three
broke out, devastated Rome, Italy, the empire in general; famine
followed;--it was thought the end of all things was at hand.  It
was the first stroke of the cataclysm that sent Rome down. . . .
Then came Quadi and Marcomans, Hun-impelled, thundering on the
doors of Pannonia; and for the next eleven years Aurelius was
busy fighting them.  Then Avidius Cassius revolted in Asia;--but
was soon assassinated.  Then the Christians emerged from their
obscurity, preachers of what seemed anti-national doctrine; and
the wise and noble emperor found himself obliged to deal with
them harshly.  He _was_ wise and noble,--there is no impugning
that; and he _did_ deal with them harshly:  we may regret it;
as he must have regretted it then.

So the reign marks a definite turning-point:  that at which the
empire began to go down.  In it the three main causes of the ruin
of the ancient world appeared:  the first of the pestilences that
depopulated it; the first incursion of the barbarians that broke
it down from without; the new religion that, with its loyalty
primarily to a church, an _imperium in imperior,_ undermined
Roman patriotism from within.  Nero's persecution of the
Christians had been on a different footing:  a madman's lust to
be cruel, the sensuality that finds satisfaction in watching
torture:  there was neither statecraft nor religion in it; but
here the Roman state saw itself threatened.  It was threatened;
but it is a pity Aurelius could find no other way.

In himself he was the culmination of all the good that had been
Roman:  a Stoic, and the finest fruit of Stoicism,--which was the
finest fruit of philosophy unillumined (as I think) by the
spiritual light of mysticism.  He practised all the virtues; but
(perhaps) we do not find in him that knowledge of the Inner Laws
and Worlds which alone can make practise of the virtues a saving
energy in the life of nations, and the imspiration of great ages
and awakener of the hidden god in the creative imagination of
man.  The burden of his _Meditations_ is self-mastery:  a
reasoning of himself out of the power of the small and great
annoyances of life;--this is to stand on the defensive; but
the spiritual World-Conqueror must march out, and flash his
conquering armies over all the continents of thought.  An
underlying sadness is to be felt in Aurelius's writings.  He
lived greatly and nobly for a world he could not save... that
could not be saved, so far as he knew.  He died in 180; and
another Nero, without Nero's artistic instincts, came to the
throne in his son Commodus; pralaya, military rule, disruption,
had definitely set in.

Now anciently a manvantara had begun in Western Asia somewhere
about 1890 B.C.; had lasted fifteen centuries, as the wont of
them appears to be; and had given place to pralaya about 390;
and that, in turn, was due to end in or about 220 A.D.  We
should, if we had confidence in these cycles, look for what
remained of the Crest-Wave in Europe to be wandering flickeringly
eastward about this time.  Hitherto it had been in two of the
three world-centers of civilization:  in China and in Europe;
now for a few centuries it was to be divided between three.--I am
irrigating the garden, and get a fine flow from the faucet, which
gives me a sense of inward peace and satisfaction.  Suddenly the
fine flow diminishes to a miserable dribble, and all my happiness
is gone.  I look eastward, to the next garden below on the slope;
and see my neighbors busy there:  their faucet has been turned
on, and is flowing royally; and I know where the water is going.
The West-Asian faucet was due to be turned on in the two-twenties;
now watch the spray from the sprinklers in the Chinese and
Roman gardens.  In those two-twenties we saw China split into
three; and it rather looked as if the manvantara had ended.  I
shall not look at West Asia yet, but leave it for a future
lecture.  But in Europe, with Marcus Aurelius died almost the
last Italian you could call a Crest-Wave Ego.  The cyclic forces,
outworn and old, produced after that no order that you can go
upon:  events followed each other higgledipiggledy and inertly;--
but it was the Illyrian legions that put him on the throne.  Note
that Illyria:  it is what we shall soon grow accustomed to
calling _Jugoslavia._  Severus's reign of eighteen years, from
193 to 211, was the only strong one, almost the only one not
disgraceful, until 268; by which time the Roman world was in
anarchy, split into dozens, with emperors springing up like
mushrooms everywhere.  Then came a succession of strong soldiers
who reestablished unity:  Claudius Gothicaus, an Illyrian
peasant; Aurelian, an Illyrian peasant; Tacitus, a Roman
senator, for one year only; Probus, an Illyrian peasant; Caus,
an Illyrian; then the greatest of all statesmen since Hadian,
who refounded the empire on a new plan,--the Illyrian who began
life as Docles the slave, rose to be Diocles the soldier, and
finally, in 284, tiaraed Diocletian reigning with all the pomp
and mystery and magnificence of an Eastern King of kings.  He it
was who felt the cyclic flow, and moved his capital to Nicomedia,
which is about fifty miles south and east from Constaintinople.

One can speak of no Illyrian cycle; rather only of the Crest-Wave
dropping a number of strong men there as it trailed eastward
towards West Asia.  The intellect of the empire, in that third
century, and the spiritual force, all incarnated in the Roman
West-Asian seats; in Egypt, Asia Minor, and Syria, as we shall
see in a moment.  But you not how bueautifully orderly, in a
geographical sense, are the movements of the Wave in Roman world
and epoch:  beginning in Italy in the first century B.C.; going
west to Spain about A.D. 1,--and to Gaul too, though there
kindling chiefly material and industrial greatness; passing
through Italy again in the late first and in the second century,
in the time of the Glavians and the five Good Emperors; the