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Title: Child and Country - A Book of the Younger Generation
Author: Comfort, Will Levington, 1878-1932
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Child and Country - A Book of the Younger Generation" ***

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

by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)





 Child and Country

 _A Book of the
 Younger Generation_





 Copyright, 1916,






... To-day the first glimpse of this manuscript as a whole. It was all
detached pieces before, done over a period of many months, with many
intervening tasks, the main idea slightly drifting from time to time....
The purpose on setting out, was to relate the adventure of home-making
in the country, with its incidents of masonry, child and rose culture,
and shore-conservation. It was not to tell others how to build a house
or plant a garden, or how to conduct one's life on a shore-acre or two.
Not at this late day. I was impelled rather to relate how we found
plenty with a little; how we entered upon a new dimension of health and
length of days; and from the safe distance of the desk, I wanted to
laugh over a city man's adventures with drains and east winds, country
people and the meshes of possession.

In a way, our second coming to the country was like the landing of the
Swiss Family Robinson upon that little world of theirs in the midst of
the sea. Town life had become a subtle persecution. We hadn't been
wrecked exactly, but there had been times in which we were torn and
weary, understanding only vaguely that it was the manner of our days in
the midst of the crowd that was dulling the edge of health and taking
the bloom from life. I had long been troubled about the little children
in school--the winter sicknesses, the amount of vitality required to
resist contagions, mental and physical--the whole tendency of the school
toward making an efficient and a uniform product, rather than to develop
the intrinsic and inimitable gift of each child.

We entered half-humorously upon the education of children at home, but
out of this activity emerged the main theme of the days and the work at
hand. The building of a house proved a natural setting for that; gardens
and woods and shore rambles are a part; the new poetry and all the fine
things of the time belong most intensely to that. Others of the coming
generation gathered about the work here; and many more rare young beings
who belong, but have not yet come, send us letters from the fronts of
their struggle.

It has all been very deep and dramatic to me, a study of certain
builders of to-morrow taking their place higher and higher day by day in
the thought and action of our life. They have given me more than I could
possibly give them. They have monopolised the manuscript. Chapter after
chapter are before me--revelations they have brought--and over all, if
I can express it, is a dream of the education of the future. So the
children and the twenty-year-olds are on every page almost, even in the

Meanwhile the world-madness descended, and all Europe became a
spectacle. There is no inclination to discuss that, although there have
been days of quiet here by the fire in which it seemed that we could see
the crumbling of the rock of ages and the glimmering of the New Age
above the red chaos of the East. And standing a little apart, we
perceived convincing signs of the long-promised ignition on the part of
America--signs as yet without splendour, to be sure. These things have
to do with the very breath we draw; they relate themselves to our
children and to every conception of home--not the war itself, but the
forming of the new social order, the message thrilling for utterance in
the breasts of the rising generation. For they are the builders who are
to follow the wreckers of war.

Making a place to live on the lake shore, the development of bluff and
land, the building of study and stable and finally the stone house (a
pool of water in the centre, a roof open to the sunlight, the outer
walls broken with chimneys for the inner fires), these are but exterior
cultivations, the establishment of a visible order that is but a symbol
of the intenser activity of the natures within.

Quiet, a clean heart, a fragrant fire, a press for garments, a bin of
food, a friendly neighbour, a stretch of distance from the
casements--these are sane desirable matters to gather together; but the
fundamental of it all is, that they correspond to a picture of the
builder's ideal. There is a bleakness about buying one's house built; in
fact, a man cannot really possess anything unless he has an organised
receptivity--a conception of its utilities that has come from long need.
A man might buy the most perfect violin, but it is nothing more than a
curio to him unless he can bring out its wisdom. It is the same in
mating with a woman or fathering a child.

There is a good reason why one man keeps pigs and another bees, why one
man plants petunias and another roses, why the many can get along with
maples when elms and beeches are to be had, why one man will exchange a
roomful of man-fired porcelain for one bowl of sunlit alabaster. No
chance anywhere. We call unto ourselves that which corresponds to our
own key and tempo; and so long as we live, there is a continual
re-adjustment without, the more unerringly to meet the order within.

The stone house is finished, roses have bloomed, but the story of the
cultivation of the human spirits is really just beginning--a work so
joyous and productive that I would take any pains to set forth with
clearness the effort to develop each intrinsic gift, to establish a deep
breathing of each mind--a fulness of expression on the one hand, and a
selfless receptivity on the other. We can only breathe deeply when we
are at peace. This is true mentally as well as physically, and
soulfully, so far as one can see. The human fabric is at peace only when
its faculties are held in rhythm by the task designed for them.
Expression of to-day makes the mind ready for the inspiration of

It may be well finally to make it clear that there is no personal
ambition here to become identified with education in the accepted sense.
Those who come bring nothing in their hands, and answer no call save
that which they are sensitive enough to hear without words. Hearing
that, they belong, indeed. Authorship is the work of Stonestudy, and
shall always be; but first and last is the conviction that literature
and art are but incident to life; that we are here to become masters of
life--artists, if possible, but in any case, men.

... To-day the glimpse of it all--that this is to be a book of the
younger generation.... I remember in the zeal of a novice, how earnestly
I planned to relate the joys of rose-culture, when some yellow teas came
into their lovely being in answer to the long preparation. It seemed to
me that a man could do little better for his quiet joy than to raise
roses; that nothing was so perfectly designed to keep romance perennial
in his soul. Then the truth appeared--greater things that were going on
here--the cultivation of young and living minds, minds still fluid,
eager to give their faith and take the story of life; minds that are
changed in an instant and lifted for all time, if the story is well
told.... So in the glimpse of this book as a whole, as it comes to-day
(an East wind rising and the gulls blown inland) I find that a man may
build a more substantial thing than a stone house, may realise an
intenser cultivation than even tea-roses require; and of this I want to
tell simply and with something of order from the beginning.


STONESTUDY, March, 1916.



 BEES AND BLOOMS                17

 BLUFF AND SHORE                28

 STONESTUDY                     38

 IMAGINATION                    43

 WILD GEESE                     55

 WORKMANSHIP                    65

 THE LITTLE GIRL                78

 THE ABBOT                      90

 THE VALLEY-ROAD GIRL          102

 COMPASSION                    113



 NATURAL CRUELTY               151

 CHILDREN CHANGE               163

 A MAN'S OWN                   171

 THE PLAN IS ONE               186

 THE IRISH CHAPTER             196

 THE BLEAKEST HOUR             202

 THE NEW SOCIAL ORDER          217

 COMMON CLAY BRICK             222


 MIRACLES                      248

 MORE ABOUT ORDER              259

 THE FRESH EYE                 270


 THE ROSE CHAPTER              284

 LETTERS                       294

 THE ABBOT DEPARTS             301

 THE DAKOTAN                   313

 THE DAKOTAN (_Continued_)     319

 THE HILL ROCKS                330

 ASSEMBLY OF PARTS             339





In another place,[1] I have touched upon our first adventure in the
country. It was before the children came. We went to live in a good
district, but there was no peace there. I felt _forgotten_. I had not
the stuff to stand that. My life was shallow and artificial enough then
to require the vibration of the town; and at the end of a few weeks it
was feverishly missed. The soil gave me nothing. I look back upon that
fact now with something like amazement, but I was young. Lights and
shining surfaces were dear; all waste and stimulation a part of
necessity, and that which the many rushed after seemed the things which
a man should have. Though the air was dripping with fragrance and the
early summer ineffable with fruit-blossoms, the sense of self poisoned
the paradise. I disdained even to make a place of order of that little
plot. There was no inner order in my heart--on the contrary, chaos in
and out. I had not been manhandled enough to return with love and
gratefulness to the old Mother. Some of us must go the full route of the
Prodigal, even to the swine and the husks, before we can accept the
healing of Nature.

So deep was the imprint of this experience that I said for years: "The
country is good, but it is not for me...." I loved to read about the
country, enjoyed hearing men talk about their little places, but always
felt a temperamental exile from their dahlias and gladioli and wistaria.
I knew what would happen to me if I went again to the country to live,
for I judged by the former adventure. Work would stop; all mental
activity would sink into a bovine rumination.

Yet during all these years, the illusions were falling away. It is true
that there is never an end to illusions, but they become more and more
subtle to meet our equipment. I had long since lost my love for the
roads of the many--the crowded roads that run so straight to pain. A
sentence had stood up again and again before me, that the voice of the
devil is the voice of the crowd.

Though I did not yet turn back to the land, I had come to see prolonged
city-life as one of the ranking menaces of the human spirit, though at
our present stage of evolution it appears a necessary school for a
time. Two paragraphs from an earlier paper on the subject suggest one of
the larger issues:

"The higher the moral and intellectual status of a people, the more
essential become space, leisure and soul-expression for bringing
children into the world. When evolving persons have reached
individuality, and the elements of greatness are formative within them,
they pay the price for reversion to worldliness in the extinction of
name. The race that produced Emerson and Thoreau and Whitman, that
founded our culture and gave us a name in English, is following the red
Indian _westward_ off the face of the earth.

"Trade makes the city; congestion makes for commonness and the death of
the individual. Only the younger and physical races, or the remnant of
that race of instinctive tradesmen which has failed as a spiritual
experiment, can exist in the midst of the tendencies and conditions of
metropolitan America. One of the most enthralling mysteries of life is
that children will not come to highly evolved men and women who have
turned back upon their spiritual obligations and clouded the vision
which was their birthright."

It is very clear to me that the Anglo-Saxons at least, after a
generation or two of town-life, must give up trade and emerge from the
City for the recreating part of their year, or else suffer in deeper
ways than death. The City will do for those younger-souled peoples that
have not had their taste of its cruel order and complicating pressures;
for the Mediterranean peoples already touched with decadence; for the
strong yet simple peasant vitalities of Northern Europe, but the flower
of the American entity has already remained too long in the ruck of

There came a Spring at last in which there was but one elm-tree. The
rest was flat-buildings and asphalt and motor-puddled air. I was working
long in those April days, while the great elm-tree broke into life at
the window. There is a green all its own to the young elm-leaves, and
that green was all our Spring. Voices of the street came up through it,
and whispers of the wind. I remember one smoky moon, and there was a
certain dawn in which I loved, more strangely than ever, the cut-leaved
profile against the grey-red East. The spirit of it seemed to come to
me, and all that the elm-tree meant--hill-cabins and country dusks, bees
and blooms and stars, and the plain holy life of kindliness and
aspiration. In this dawn I found myself dreaming, thirsting, wasting for
all that the elm-tree knew--as if I were exiled from the very flesh that
could bring the good low earth to my senses again.

Could it be that something was changed within--that we were ready at
last? One of those Spring days, in the midst of a forenoon's work, I
stopped short with the will to go to the country to look for a place to
rent. I left the garret, found Penelope, who was ready in fifteen
minutes. We crossed the river first of all into Canada, because the
American side within fifty miles in every direction had been sorted over
again and again, by those who had followed just such an impulse. In the
smaller city opposite, we learned that there were two suburban cars--one
that would take us to the Lake St. Claire shore, and another that
crossed the country to Lake Erie, travelling along her northern
indentations for nearly ten miles.

"We'll take the car that leaves here first," said I.

It was the Erie car. In the smoking compartment I fell into conversation
with a countryman who told me all that could possibly be synthesised by
one mind regarding the locality we were passing through. He suggested
that we try our fortune in the little town where the car first meets the
Lake. This we did and looked up and down that Main Street. It was quiet
and quaint, but something pressed home to us that was not all joy--the
tightness of old scar-tissue in the chest.... The countryman came
running to us from the still standing car, though this was not his
destination, and pointing to a little grey man in the street, said:

"He can tell you more than I can."

I regarded the new person with awe if he could do that.... In a way it
was true. He was a leisurely-minded man, who knew what he was going to
say before he spoke, had it correctly in mind. The product came forth
edited. He called men by 'phone--names strange to me then that have
become household names since--while we sat by smiling and silent in his
little newspaper shop.... And those who came wanted to know if we drank,
when they talked of renting their cottages; and if we were actors.

Not that we looked like actors, but it transpired that actor-folk had
rented one of the cottages another year, and had sat up late and had not
always clothed themselves continually full-length. Once, other actor
people had motored down, and it was said that those on the back seats of
the car had been rigid among beer-cases.

We were given the values and disadvantages of the East shore and also of
the West shore, the town between.... Somehow we always turn to the East
in our best moments and it was so this day.... We were directed to the
house of a man who owned two little cottages just a mile from town. He
was not well that day, but his boy went with us to show the cottages.
That boy you shall be glad to know.

We walked together down the long lane, and I did not seem able to reach
our guide's heart, so we were silent, but Penelope came between us. He
would have been strange, indeed, had she failed.... I look back now
from where I sit--to that long lane. I love it very much for it led to
the very edge of a willowed bluff--to the end of the land. Erie brimmed
before us. It led to a new life, too.

I had always disliked Erie--as one who lived in the Lake Country and
chose his own. I approved mildly of St. Claire; Michigan awed me from a
little boy's summer; Huron was familiar from another summer, but Erie
heretofore had meant only something to be crossed--something shallow and
petulant. Here she lay in the sunlight, with bars of orange light
darkening to ocean blue, and one far sparkling line in the West. Then I
knew that I had wronged her. She seemed not to mind, but leisurely to
wait. We faced the South from the bluffs, and I thought of the stars
from this vantage.... If a man built his house here, he could explain
where he lived by the nearest map in a Japanese house, or in a Russian
peasant's house, for Erie to them is as clear a name as Baikal or the
Inland Sea is to us. I had heard Japanese children repeat the names of
the Great Lakes. When you come to a shore like this you are at the end
of the landscape. You must pause. Somehow I think--we are pausing still.
One must pause to project a dream.

... For weeks there, in a little rented place, we were so happy that we
hardly ventured to speak of it. We had expected so little, and had
brought such weariness. Day after day unfolded in the very fulness of
life, and the small flower-beds there on the stranger's land held the
cosmic answer. All that summer Jupiter marked time across the southern
heavens; and I shall never forget the sense of conquest in hiving the
first swarm of bees. They had to be carried on a branch down a deep
gulley, and several hundred feet beyond. Two-thirds of the huge cluster
were in the air about me, before the super was lifted. Yet there was not
a sting from the tens of thousands. We had the true thirst that year.
Little things were enough; we were innocent, even of possession, and
brought back to the good land all the sensitizing that the City had
given. There were days in which we were so happy--that another summer of
such life would have seemed too much to ask.

I had lived three weeks, when I remembered that formerly I read
newspapers, and opened the nearest. The mystery and foreignness of it
was as complete as the red fire of Antares that gleamed so balefully
every night across the Lake--a hell of trials and jealousy and suicide,
obscenity and passion. It all came up from the sheet to my nostrils like
the smell of blood.

       *       *       *       *       *

... There are men and women in town who are dying for the country;
literally this is so, and such numbers of them that any one who lives
apart from the crowds and calls forth guests from time to time, can
find these sufferers among his little circle of friends. They come here
for week-ends and freshen up like newly watered plants--turning back
with set faces early Monday morning. I think of a flat of celery plants
that have grown to the end of the nourishment of their crowded space,
and begin to yellow and wither, sick of each other.... One does not say
what one thinks. It is not a simple thing for those whose life and work
is altogether identified with the crowded places, to uproot for roomy
planting in the country. But the fact remains, many are dying to be

The City, intolerable as it is in itself--in its very nature against the
growth of the body and soul of man after a certain time--is nevertheless
the chief of those urging forces which shall bring us to simplicity and
naturalness at the last. Manhood is built quite as much by learning to
avoid evil as by cultivating the aspiration for the good.

Just as certainly as there are thousands suffering for the freedom of
spaces, far advanced in a losing fight of vitality against the cruel
tension of city life, there are whole races of men who have yet to meet
and pass through this terrifying complication of the crowds, which
brings a refining gained in no other way. All growth is a passage
through hollows and over hills, though the journey regarded as a whole
is an ascent.

A great leader of men who has never met the crowds face to face is
inconceivable. He must have fought for life in the depths and
pandemoniums, to achieve that excellence of equipment which makes men
turn to him for his word and his strength. We are so made that none of
us can remain sensitive to prolonged beauty; neither can we endure
continuously the stifling hollows between the hills. Be very sure the
year-round countryman does not see what you see coming tired and
half-broken from the town; and those who are caught and maimed by the
City cannot conceive their plight, as do you, returning to them again
from the country replenished and refreshed.

The great names of trade have been country-bred boys, but it is equally
true that the most successful farmers of to-day are men who have
returned to Nature from the town, some of them having been driven to the
last ditch physically and commanded to return or die. It is in the
turnings of life that we bring a fresh eye to circumstances and events.

Probably in a nation of bad workmen, no work is so stupidly done as the
farming. Great areas of land have merely been scratched. There are men
within an hour's ride from here who plant corn in the same fields every
year, and check it throughout in severing the lateral roots by deep
cultivation. They and their fathers have planted corn, and yet they have
not the remotest idea of what takes place in their fields during the
long summer from the seedling to the full ear; and very rarely in the
heart of the countryman is there room for rapture. Though they have the
breadth of the horizon line and all the skies to breathe in, few men
look up more seldom.


[1] Midstream, 1914, George H. Doran Co., New York.



There is no playground like a sandy shore--and this was sheltered from
the north by a high clay bluff that tempered all voices from below and
made a sounding board for the winds. The beach, however, was not as
broad then as now. To the east for a mile is a shallow sickle of shore
with breakers on the point. In itself this indentation is but a squab of
the main Pigeon Bay, which stretches around for twenty miles and is
formed of Pelee Point, the most southern extension of Canada. The nearer
and lesser point is like a bit of the Mediterranean. It takes the greys
of the rain-days with a beauty and power of its own, and the mornings
flash upon it. I call it the Other Shore, a structure of idealism
forming upon it from much contemplation at the desk. The young people
turn to it often from the classes.

The height of land from which the Other Shore is best visible had merely
been seen so far from the swimming place in front of the rented
cottages. It was while in the water that I determined to explore. The
first thing that impressed me when I reached the eminence was the
silence. It was something to be dreamed of, when the Lake was also
still. There was no road; a hay field came down to the very edge of the
bluff, and the shore fifty feet below was narrow and rocky. Very few
people passed there. That most comfortable little town was lying against
the rear horizon to the West. I used to come in the evenings and smoke
as the sun went down. Sometimes the beauty of it was all I could
bear--the voices of children in the distance and the Pelee light
flashing every seven seconds far out in the Lake.

I first saw it in dry summer weather and did not know that a bumper crop
of frogs had been harvested that Spring from the deep, grass-covered
hollows formed by the removal of clay for a brick-business long ago.
There was good forage on the mounds, which I did not appreciate at the
time. The fact is these mounds were formed of pure dark loam, as fine a
soil as anywhere in the Lake Country.

Those of the dim eyes say that once upon a time an orchard and
brick-house stood on a bluff in front of the brick-yard, on a natural
point, but that the Lake had nibbled and nibbled, finally digesting the
property, fruit-trees, brick-house and all.

I could well believe it when the first storm came. An East wind for
three days brought steady deluges of high water that wore down the
shore-line almost visibly. A week later came a West wind that enfiladed,
so that what remained of the little point was caught in the cross-play
of the weathers. If some one did not intervene, the brick-yard site
would follow the orchard--that was clear.

... Three or four times the owner came to see me. We had rejoiced in the
rented property, rejoiced in owning nothing, yet having it all....
Thoreau in his daily westward migrations studied it all with the same
critical delight, and found his abode where others did not care to
follow. We look twice at the spot we choose to build our house. That
second look is not so free and innocent.... Yet a man may build his
house. Thoreau had no little brood coming up, and I have doubted many
times, even in moments of austere admiration, if he wouldn't have lived
longer, had there been a woman about to nourish him. She would have
insisted upon a better roof, at least.... I told the neighbour-man I
would buy the brick-yard, if he didn't stop pestering me about it. He
smiled and came once too often.

The day before, standing upon that height of land (not too near the
edge, for it looked higher in those days) I had gazed across the Lake,
at one with it all, a friendly voyager of the skies, comrade of the
yarrow and the daisy. I remember the long grass of the hollows, the
peculiar soft bloom of it, and what a place it was to lie and dream,
until one became a part of the solution of sunshine and tinted

So I lost the universe for a bit of bluff on the Lake shore.

When the East wind came, I saw with proprietary alarm the point wearing
away. That which coloured the Lake was fine rose-clay and it was mine,
bought by the foot-front.... A man may build his house.

Every one who came along told me how to save the point. For weeks they
came. Heavy drift-wood was placed in times of peace, so that the sand
would be trapped in storm. No one failed me in advice, but the East wind
made match-wood of all arrangements.... The high water would wash and
weaken the base, and in the heaviness of the rains the bulk of earth
above would fall--only to be carried out again by the waves. The base
had to be saved if a natural slope was ever to be secured. Farther down
the shore I noted one day that a row of boulders placed at right angles
with the shore had formed a small point, and that a clump of willows
behind had retained it. This was a bit of advice that had not come so
authoritatively, but I followed the cue, and began rolling up rocks now
like an ancient Peruvian. It was a little jetty, that looked like a lot
of labour to a city man, and it remained as it was for several days.

One morning I came forth in lashing weather--and rubbed my eyes. The
jetty was not in sight. It was covered with a foot of sand, and the clay
was dry at the base. A day's work with a team after that in low water,
snaking the big boulders into line with a chain--a sixty-foot jetty by
sun-down, built on top of the baby spine I had poked together. No man
ever spent a few dollars more profitably. Even these stones were covered
in time, and there was over a yard-deep of sand buttressing the base of
the clay and thinning out on the slope of shore to the end of the
stones. Later, when building, I took four hundred yards of sand from the
east side of the stone jetty, and it was all brought back by the next

I read somewhere with deep and ardent sanction that a man isn't worth
his spiritual salt if he lets a locality hold him, or possessions
possess him; and yet, the spell was broken a little when we came to buy.
Whenever you play with the meshes of possession, a devil is near at hand
to weave you in. It is true that we took only enough Lake-frontage for
quiet, and enough depth for a permanent fruit-garden--all for the price
of a fifty-foot lot in the City; but these things call upon one for a
certain property-mindedness and desiring, in the usage of which the
human mind is common and far from admirable. There were days in the
thrall of stone-work and grading and drainage, in which I forgot the
sun-path and the cloud-shadows; nights in which I saw fireplaces and
sleeping-porches (still innocent of matter to make the dreams come
true), instead of the immortal signatures of the heavens.

But we had learned our City lessons rather well, and these disturbers
did not continue to defile. A man may build his house, if he can also
forget it. A few good things--perennials, by all means an elm-tree,
stone-work and an oaken door; the things that need not replenishing in
materials, that grow old with you, or reach their prime after you have
passed--these are enough. For a home that does not promote your
naturalness, is a place of vexation to you and to your children.

Yet it is through this breaking of the husks of illusion--through the
very artificialities that we come to love the sane and holy things. The
man of great lands, who draws his livelihood from the soil, can never
know the healing nor the tender loveliness that came up to us that first
summer. One must know the maiming of the cities to bring to the land a
surface that nature floods with ecstasies. Carlyle thundered against
artificial things all his wonderful life, exalted the splendours of
simplicity which permit a man to forget himself--just missing the fact
that a man must be artificial before he can be natural; that we learn by
suffering and come up through the hell and complication of cities only
to show us wherein our treasure lies.

The narrow non-sensitive consciousness of the peasant, with its
squirrel-dream of filled barns, its cruelty and continual
garnering--that is very far from the way. Tolstoi went against the
eternal law to try that. He wanted simplicity so tragically that he
permitted his desire to prevail, and turned back to the peasants for it.
It is against the law to turn back. The peasants are simple because they
have not met the intervening complications between their inland lake
consciousness and the oceanic clarity ahead. Be very sure that none will
escape the complication, for we rise to different dimensions of
simplicity through such trials. War, Trade, the City, and all organised
hells are our training-fields. The tragedy is to remain, to remain fixed
in them--not to rush forth at length from our miserable
self-consciousness and self-serving in the midst of them. Cosmic
simplicity is ahead; the naturalness of the deeper health of man--that
is ahead.

That summer is identified with the Shore. I worked at the desk through
the long forenoons, and in a bathing-suit for the rest of the day. I
expect to get to the Shore again when the last of the builders leave the
bluff, when the bit of an orchard can run itself, and the big and little
trees are at home. They are in sick-beds now from transplanting. From
one to another I move almost every day. It is not that they are on my
land--that insensate motive is pretty well done away with. But they
have been uprooted and moved, and they are fighting to live. I sometimes
think that they need some one to watch. If one goes away for a
week--there is a change, sometimes for the worse. The sun strikes them
on a different side; their laterals and tap-roots have been severed;
they meet different conditions of soil than they were trained for. Much
water helps, but they must breathe, and sometimes mulch keeps them too
cold. Then they have their enemies like every other living thing--and
low in health from moving, they cannot withstand these foes without
help. The temporality of all things--even of the great imperturbable
trees--is a thought of endless visitation in Nature. She seems to say
morning and evening, "Do not forget that everything here must pass."

There is to be little woodland, a miniature forest, a hundred feet long
and thirty feet wide only. Beech and ash and elm are started
there--dogwoods and hawthorns and lilacs. Mulch from the woods is being
brought, and violets. Twice I have tried to make young hickories live,
but failed. I think the place where the roots are cut in transplanting
should be sealed with wax. A man here said that you can transplant
hickories if you get all the roots, but that they bleed to death even in
winter, if their laterals are severed.... I want the birds to come to
this little wood. Of course, it will be many years before it follows the
plan, but there is a smile in the idea. The hawthorns came whole; the
ash and beech are doing well. Some wild grape is started, but that must
be watched for it is a beautiful murderer....

I want to get back to the Shore. Something was met there the first
summer that I yearn for again--close to the sand, close to the voices of
the water. The children often tell me what I feel. To them the stones
have their gnomes, the water its sprites, and the sand a spirit of
healing. There, too, the sunlight is so intense and vitalising as it
plays upon the water and penetrates the margin.

The clay bluff is finding its grade, since it is spared the wash from
beneath. That which breaks from erosion above straightens it out below,
and in time it will find a permanent slope (something near thirty
degrees, they say) that cannot be approached for beauty by any
artificial process. I would not miss one of the natural shelves or
fissures. The Japanese are interesting in their treatment of slopes.
Something of the old temples and stonepaved paths--a trickle of water
over the stones, deep shadows and trailing vines--something of all this
will come to the clay bluff, if time is given to play on. But that is
last, as the Shore was first.... I brought a willow trunk there this
Spring and let the waves submerge it in sand. There are fifty small
shoots springing up; and they will fight their way with each other, the
leaders surviving. I planted one cedar on the Shore. It is good to
plant a cedar. You are working for posterity.

The first Fall came, and nothing had been done above, though I had begun
to have visions of a Spanish house there, having seen one that I could
not forget somewhere in Luzon. A north-country house should have a
summer heart, which is a fountain, and a winter heart which is a
fireplace. I wanted both. The thought of it became clearer and
clearer--a blend of _patio_ and broad hearth--running water and red
firelight--built of stone and decorated with ivy. A stone house with a
roof of wired glass over a _patio_ paved with brick; the area sunken
slightly from the entrance; a balcony stretching around to connect the
sleeping rooms, and rimmed with a broad shelf of oak, to hold the palms,
urns, ferns and winter plants.

All this in a grove of elms and beeches, as I saw it--and as yet, there
wasn't a tree on the place. First of all there needed to be a work-shop
to finance the main-dream. That was built in the Fall, after the reverse
was put on the devouring conditions of the Shore.



Somewhere in the past ages, I've had something to do with stone-work.
This came to me first with a poignant thrill when I found myself in the
presence of the Chinese Wall. Illusion or not, it seemed as if there
were ancient scars across my back--as if I had helped in that building,
and under the lash, too.

... I heard the mason here tell his tender that he had done a lot of
stone-work, but had never been watched so closely as this. He penetrated
to the truth of the matter presently. I wasn't watching because I was
afraid of short time or flaws of construction--I was watching because it
satisfied something within, that had to do with stone-work. I do not get
accustomed to the marvel of cement. The overnight bond of that heavy
powder, and its terrible thirst, is a continual miracle to me. There is
a satisfaction about stone-work. It is at its weakest at the moment of
setting. If you can find a bearing for one stone upon another without
falling, you may know that every hour that passes for years, your wall
is hardening. These things move slowly, too. All that has to do with
stone-work is a slow process. In the very lifting, the masons learn that
muscles must not tug or jerk, but lift slowly. The mortar that hardens
slowly hardens best.

The study building happened between two long tasks of my own, so that
there was time to be much outdoors. I doubt if there ever was a lovelier
Fall than that--a full year before the thought of Europe became action.
I watched the work--as the Japanese apprentices watch their craftsmen,
so that the mind gets the picture of every process. The hand learns
easily after this.

It is a grand old tool, the trowel, perhaps the most perfect of all
symbols which suggest the labour of man upon the earth, his making of
order out of chaos. The hammers interested me as well--six, eight, and
eighteen pounds. The young man who used them was not much to look at,
his body sagging a bit from labour, set in his opinions like the matter
he dealt with, but terrible in his holding to what he knew, and steadily
increasing that store. I have come to respect him, for he has done a
great deal of stone-work here since those Fall days, when I seemed to be
learning masonry all over again.

"Handle these hard-heads all day, and you're pretty well lifted out by
night," he would remark, and add deprecatingly, "as the feller says."

There's a magic about the breaking. It isn't all strength. I think it is
something the same that you do in billiards to get that smooth, long
roll without smashing the balls. The mason says it is in the wrist. I
asked him if it was the flash of the heat through the stone that broke

"No, it's just the way you hit it," he answered.

Two old masons worked with him for a time on the later work. They have
built in these parts thousands of tons of brick and stone--fifty years
of masonry; and their order is wonderful. I watched them taking their
stone-hammers to the stable in the evening, and placing them just so.
They have learned their mastery over the heavy things; they have hewed
to the Line, and built to the Square. Their eyes are dim but the essence
of their being (I cannot think it otherwise) is of more orderly
integration. There is a nobility from stone-work which the masons put on
with the years--the tenders have it not; neither have any of the
indiscriminate labour men. One must have a craft to achieve this. The
building is not so much. The houses and barns and stores which the elder
masons pass everywhere as the labour of their hands in this
country--they are but symbols of the building of character within. They
see _into_ the stones, see through their weathered coatings. To another
all would look the same--the blacks and reds and whites, even the
amalgans--all grey-brown and weathered outside--but the masons know what
is within, the colour and grain and beauty.

"Try that one," I might say, looking for a certain fireplace corner.

"No, that's a black feller."

"And this?"

"Good colour, but he ain't got no grain--all _gnurly_--as the feller

Sometime this mason will be able to see like that into the hearts of

A stone study sixteen by twenty-three feet, built about a chimney--faced
stone in and out, windows barred for the vines, six-inch beams to hold a
low gable roof, and a damper in the chimney; the door of oak, wooden
pegs to cover the screw-insets, a few rugs, a few books, the magic of
firelight in the stone cave--a Mediterranean vision of curving shore to
the East, and the single door overhanging the Lake--to the suspense of
distance and Southern constellations.

I laugh at this--it sounds so pompous and costly--but it is the shop of
a poor man. The whole Lake-frontage, as I have told you, cost no more
than a city lot; and with sand on the beach, and stone on the shore and
nearby fields, it all came to be as cheaply as a wooden cabin--indeed,
it had to. That winter after we had left for the City, the elms were put
out--a few six-inch trunks, brought with their own earth frozen to
them--a specimen of oak, walnut, hickory (so hard to move)--but an elm
over-tone was the plan, and a clump of priestly pines near the stable.
These are still in the revulsions of transition; their beauty is yet to
be. Time brings that, as it will smoke the beams, clothe the stone-work
in vines, establish the roses and wistaria on the Southern exposure,
slope and mellow and put the bloom over all.

We remained until November and returned the following April to stay. In
the meantime the three children--a girl of ten and two younger boys--had
almost their final bit of public schooling, though I was not so sure of
that then; in fact, I planned to have them continue their training from
April on in the small town school until the summer vacation. This was
tried for a few weeks, the result of the experience hastening us toward
the task of teaching our own.



Matters of child-education became really interesting to me for the first
time that winter. There were certain unfoldings of the little daughter
in our house, and I was associating a good deal with a group of teachers
in town, some of whom while still professionally caught in the rigid
forms of modern education, were decades ahead in realisation. I recall
especially a talk with one of my old teachers, a woman who had taught
thirty years, given herself freely to three generations--her own and
mine and to another since then. She had administered to me a thing
called _rhetoric_ in another age, and she looked just the same, having
kept her mind wide open to new and challenging matters of literature and
life and religious thought.

I had the pleasant sense in this talk of bringing my doubts and ideas to
her tentatively, much as I used to bring an essay in school days. She
still retained a vivid impression of my faults, but the very finest
human relationships are established upon the knowledge of one's
weaknesses--as the Master established His church upon the weakest link
of the discipleship. Speaking of the children, I observed:

"I find them ready, _when they ask_. In the old occult schools there is
a saying that the teacher will always come half-way, but that the
student must also come half-way----"

"It is soil and seed in everything," the woman said. "In all life, it is
so. There must be a giving, but also a receiving. I talk to five classes
a day--twenty-five to fifty students each--but so much falls upon stony
ground, among tares, so much is snapped up by the birds----"

"When a child asks a question, he is prepared to receive," I repeated.
"If the answer is true and well-designed, it will stay. The question
itself proves that the soil is somehow ready----"

"Yes," she said, "but one cannot sit at a desk and wait for questions.
The teacher in dealing with numbers must not only plant the seed, but
prepare the soil, too."

"I should say that the way to do that would be to quicken the
imagination--to challenge the imagination," I suggested. "I know it has
to be done in writing a story. One has to pick up the reader and carry
him away at first. And most readers are limp or logy in the midst of

The teacher bowed gravely. Apparently she had come to listen.

"... Now, with this little girl here, there is but one subject that
surely interests her. That has to do with the old Mother of us all----"


"Yes. I've tried to find out something of what Nature means to her--what
pictures _mean_ Nature to that fresh young mind. It seems to her, Nature
is a kind of presiding mother to all things, possibly something like a
God-mother--to kittens and trees and butterflies and roses and children.
She is mistress of the winds and the harvests.... I have talked with her
about it. Sometimes again, Nature is like a wonderful cabinet--shelf
after shelf full of amazing things, finished or to be finished. I told
her about the Sun as the Father, and Nature the Mother. That helped her.
She held to that. Always now when we fall into talk _naturally_--it is
about the old Mother and the brilliant Father who pours his strength
upon all concerned--Mother Nature's mate."

The teacher nodded indulgently. "That's preparing the soil. That's
quickening the imagination. But one must have imagination to do

We fell silent. I was thinking of the old school days--of the handful of
days in the midst of thousands that had left a gleam; of the tens of
thousands of young women now teaching in America without the gleam;
beginning to teach at the most distracted period of their lives, when
all Nature is drawing them toward mating and reproduction....

"Yes, a teacher should have imagination," I added. "There's no way out
of that, really. A teacher who hasn't--kills it in the child; at least,
all the pressure of unlit teaching is a deadening weight upon the
child's imagination. What is it that makes all our misery--but the lack
of imagination? If men could see the pictures around everything, the
wonderful connecting lines about life, they couldn't be caught so
terribly in the visible and the detached objects; they couldn't strangle
and repress their real impulses and rush for things to hold in their
hands for a little time. If they had imagination they would see that the
things they hold in their hands are disintegrating _now_ as everything
in Nature is; that the hand itself weakens and loses its power. Why,
here we are upstanding--half-gods asleep within us. Imagination
alone--the seeing of the spirit of things--that can awaken us."

I felt the need of apologising at this point for getting on that old
debatable ground--but the secret was out. It was the essence of my
forming ideas on educating the children, as it is the essence of
everything else--all writing, all craftsmanship, labour and life itself.

"... Half-gods asleep in a vesture," I added. "All nature and life
prompting us to see that it is but vesture we make so much of. Children
see it--and the world takes them in their dearest years, and scale by
scale covers their vision. I talked with a man yesterday--a man I
like--a good man, who loves his wife by the pound, believes all things
prospering when fat--children and churches, purses and politicians. A
big, imperial-looking man himself, world-trained, a man who has learned
to cover his weaknesses and show a good loser on occasion; yet, through
twenty years' acquaintance, he has never revealed to me a ray other than
from the visible and the obvious. He hunted me up because one of his
children seemed to want to write. We talked in a club-room and I
happened to note the big steel chandelier above his head. If that should
fall, this creature before me would mainly be carrion.

"You see what I mean. He has spent every energy of his life here, in
building the vesture. That which would escape from the inert poundage
has not been awakened. One of the queerest facts of all life is that
these half-gods of ours must be awakened here in the flesh. No sooner
are they aroused than we have imagination; we begin to see the
connecting lines of all things, the flashes of the spirit of things at
once. No workman, no craftsman or artisan can be significant without
it.... However, as I thought of the chandelier and the sumptuous flesh
beneath, I talked of writing--something of what writing means to me.
When I stopped, he said:

"'I didn't know you were so religious.... But about this writing
matter----' and opened the subject again....

"He's all right. Nature will doubtless take care of him. Perhaps his
view of life: 'I see what I see and take what I can,' is as much as is
asked from the many in the great plan of things--but I like madness
better. To me, his is fatal enchantment; to me, wars and all tragedies
are better. I would rather live intensely in error than stolidly in
things as they are. If this is a devil and not a half-god that sleeps
within--at least, I want him awake. I must feel his force. If he is a
devil, perhaps I can beat him."

"That's something of a definition of imagination," the teacher said,
"----seeing the spirit of things."

"I hadn't thought of it as a definition--but it expresses what the real
part of life means to me. Men and women move about life and affairs,
knowing nine out of ten times what is going to happen next in their
wheel of things; what their neighbour is going to say next, from the
routine of the day's events. After a little of that, I have to run
away--to a book, to a task, to an awakened imagination. Only those who
are in a measure like us can liberate us. That's the key to our
friendships, our affections and loves. We seek those who set us
free--they have a cup to hold the vital things we have to give--a
surface to receive. If they are in a measure our true kin--our dynamics
is doubled. That's the secret of affinities, by the way----"

The teacher smiled at me. "Tell me more about the little girl," she

"... She learned so quickly from the processes of Nature. I found her
sitting in the midst of the young corn last summer, where the ground was
filled with vents from the escaping moisture. I told her about the root
systems and why cultivation means so much to corn in dry weather. She
read one of Henry Ward Beecher's _Star Papers_ and verified many of its
fine parts. She finds the remarkable activities in standing water. The
Shore is ever bringing her new studies. Every day is Nature's. The rain
is sweet; even the East winds bring their rigour and enticements. She
looks every morning, as I do, at the Other Shore. We know the state of
the air by that. And the air is such drink to her. You have no idea how
full the days are."

"You mean to make a writer of her?" the teacher asked.

"No--that was settled the first day. I asked the little girl what she
wanted to be."

"'I want to be a mother,' she answered.

"'Of course,' said I, thoughtfully.... It had been the same with her
music. She liked it and did well, but it never burned into her
deeps--never aroused her productivity. And I have found it so with her
little attempts at written expression. She is to be a mother--the
highest of the arts.... Once we saw the terrible drama of the hornet and
the grasshopper. I had read it in Fabre, and was enabled to watch it
work out with some intelligence. Nature is a perfect network of
processes, the many still to be discovered, not by human eyes but by
intuitional vision. Finally I asked her to write what she thought of one
of our walks together, not trying to remember what I had said--only
expressing something of the activity which my words suggested."

The teacher nodded again. Her face had become saddened.

"I would not encourage her to become a writer," I repeated. "Expression
of some sort is imperative. It is the right hand. We receive with the
left, so to speak, but we must give something of our own for what we
receive. It is the giving that completes the circle; the giving
formulates, makes matter of vision, makes the dream come true. You know
the tragedies of dreaming without expression. Even insanity comes of
that. I have never told her matters of technique in writing, and was
amazed to find that she has something that none of us grown-ups have,
who are formed of our failures and drive our expression through an
arsenal of laws and fears."

"Do you mean that you instruct her in nothing of technique?"

"I haven't--at least, not yet. I have hardly thought of it as
instruction even."

"And spelling?"

"Her spelling is too novel. It would not do to spoil that. In fact, she
is learning to spell and punctuate quite rapidly enough from reading.
These matters are automatic. The world has taught men to spell rather
completely. God knows we've had enough of it, to the abandonment of the
real. I could misspell a word in every paragraph of a three-hundred-page
manuscript without detriment to the reception of the same, all that
being corrected without charge. There are men who can spell, whose
God-given faculties have been taught to spell, who have met the world
with freshness and power, and have learned to spell. I have no objection
to correct spelling. I would rather have it than not, except from
children. But these are things which a man does with the back of his
neck, and he who does the constructive tasks of the world uses different
and higher organs."

"I have taught much spelling," the teacher said quietly.

"You will forgive me for being so enthusiastic. These things are fresh
to me," I said.

"The little girl is ten, you say?"


"She has a fine chance," the teacher remarked presently. "It saddens me
to think of my myriads. But we do our best----"

"That is one sure thing," I said quickly.

"Still you are taking her away from us."

I felt a throb of meaning from that. I had to be sure she meant just as
much as that throb meant to me. Constructive realisations come this way.

"What do you mean--taking her away?"

"You will make a solitary of her. She will not be of the world. You deal
with one lovingly. It will become more and more a part of your work.
Your work is of a kind to show you the way. She is following rapidly. I
believe you have established the point that one can learn best from
within, but one who does, must be so much alone. The ways will be lost
between her and her generation--as represented by my five classes each

I had done a good deal of talking, but the teacher had guided me
straight to the crossing--and with very few words. I realised now that
more and more, I was undertaking to show the little girl short cuts to
possessions that I had found valuable, but for which I had been forced
to go around, and often with difficulty. Above all, I was trying to keep
open that dream-passage, to keep unclouded that lens between spirit and
flesh through which fairies are seen and the lustrous connecting lines
around all things. By every impulse I was arousing imagination--it is
all said in that. In doing this, was I also making a "solitary" of
her--lifting her apart from the many?

There was no squirming out. I was doing exactly this; and if I went on,
the job would be done more and more completely.

"She is not strange or different now," I said, "but see what will
happen. She will find it harder and harder to stay. She will begin
searching for those who liberate her. They are hard to find--not to be
found among the many. Books and nature and her dreams--but the many will
not follow her to these sources.... And yet every man and woman I know
who are great to me, have entered this solitude in childhood. They were
Solitaries--that seems the mark of the questers.... Why, you would not
have one stay with the many--just to avoid the loneliness and the
heart-pulling that leads us into ourselves. Everything done in the world
that is loved and remembered--every life lived with beauty and
productiveness to the many--has come from the Solitaries. _Quest_, that
is the greatest word in English. One must have imagination to set out on
the quest.... In reality we only search for our real selves--that which
we yearn toward is the arousing of the half-gods within. When they are
fully awake, we return to tell the many. Perhaps we do meet a more
poignant suffering--but that is an honour----"

The teacher was smiling at me again. "Do you not see," she asked, "that
all that you do and say and teach is for those who have the essential

"But children have it," I said.



I could not stay away entirely that winter. After a week or ten days of
hard work, night-classes and furnace air--imagination would work to the
extent that a day by the open fire was required. It seemed to me some
days that I wanted a century of silence.... There was one bright cold
mid-March day, the northern shore still frozen a mile out. I had come
forth from the city to smell wood-smoke, a spring symptom. It was now
sunset. In the noble stillness, which for many moments had been broken
only by the sagging of the dead ice, there came now a great cackling of
geese, so that I looked up the lane a quarter of a mile to the nearest
farmyard, wondering who had turned loose the collie pups. It hadn't
occurred to me to look up; and that, when you come to think of it, is
one of the tragedies of being city-bred.

Presently I had to. Voices of wild geese carry with astonishing force
and accuracy. A hundred yards ahead was the long-necked gander, with
the lines of a destroyer, his wings sweeping more slowly because of
their strength and gear, yet he was making the pace. Then came his
second in command, also alone, and as far back again, the point of the
V. In this case, the formation was uneven, the left oblique being twice
as extended as the right.... They were all cackling, as I imagined,
because of the open water ahead, for geese either honk or are silent in
passage. They began to break just above, the formation shattering piece
by piece as they swept on with wild ardour toward the ice-openings.
Coming up from the thrall of the thing, I found my hat in hand.

It would shake any one. Indeed, there's a fine thrill in the flight of
ducks--darting dwarfs compared to these standard-breds, whose pinions
sweep but once to the triple-beat of the twinkling red-heads and
canvas-backs. You can tell the difference by the twinkle, when the
distance over water confuses the eye as to size. Mighty twelve-pounders
with a five-foot spread of wing, many of these, and with more than a
suggestion of the swan's mystic grandeur in passing.

Somewhere back of memory, most of us have strange relations with the
wild things. Something deeper than the beauty of them thrills. Moments
of music stir these inward animations; or steaming for the first time
into certain oriental harbours. Suddenly we are estranged from the
self, as we know it, and are greater beings. I feel as new as a tourist
before Niagara or Montmorency, but as old as Paul and Silas in the
presence of the Chinese Wall. The lips of many men, strange save to
common sayings, are loosed to murmurings of deepest yearning before the
spectacle of a full-rigged ship; and it matters not if, within memory,
they have ever felt the tug of filling cloth in the timber underfoot, or
crossed even an inland waterway without steam. It was this that the
flight of geese gave me--a throb from the ancient and perennial romance
of the soul.

Many a man goes gunning on the same principle, and thinks that the urge
is game. It isn't so, unless he is a mere animated stomach; the many
think they have come into their own as they go to sea, the vibration of
the triple-screws singing along the keel.... They pass an iceberg or a
derelict, some contour of tropical shore, a fishing fleet, or an old
fore-and-after, and the steamer is a stifling modern metropolis after
that--galley and stoke-hole its slums. Then and there, they vow some
time _really_ to go to sea.

Sing the song of steam--the romance of steel? There isn't any, yet.
Generations hence, when the last turbine comes puffing into port, taking
its place like a dingy collier in the midst of ether-driven
hydroplanes--some youth on the waterfront, perhaps, will turn his back
on the crowd, and from his own tossing emotions at sight of the old
steamer--emotions which defy mere brain and scorn the upstart
memory--will catch the coherent story of it all, and his expression will
be the song of steam. For the pangs and passions of the Soul can only
become articulate at the touch of some ancient reminder, which erects a
magnificent distance of perspective, and permits to flood in the
stillness of that larger time, whose crises are epochal and whose
yesterdays are lives.

       *       *       *       *       *

Waiting for the suburban car that night in the little Lake town, I
mentioned the flying wedge.

"Why, those are Jack Miner's geese," remarked a voice of the

I ignored a reply. A local witticism past doubt--the cut-up of the
place. Jack Miner, as I saw it, might own Pelee Island, Lake Erie or the
District of Columbia, but no man's pronoun of possession has any
business relation to a flock of wild geese, the same being about the
wildest things we have left. I recalled the crippled goose which the
farmer's boy chased around a hay-stack for the better part of a June
afternoon, and only saw once; the goose being detained that particular
once with the dog of the establishment. This dog ranged the countryside
for many years thereafter, but couldn't be coaxed past a load of hay,
and was even sceptical of corn-shocks. I knew, moreover, that the geese
are shot at from the Gulf rice-marshes to the icy Labradors; that they
fly slightly higher since the common use of smokeless instead of black

Yet the stranger hadn't been humorous. Any of his fellow townsmen would
have made the same remark. In fact, I had the good fortune a few weeks
afterward to see several hundred wild geese playing and feeding on Jack
Miner's farm--within a hundred feet of his door-step, many of them.

Years ago, a winter came on to stay before the corn was all in--a patch
of corn on a remote backfield of Jack Miner's farm. A small flock of
geese flying North in March, knew as much about the loss as Jack did. A
farm-hand was first to note their call, and got such a case of
_wanderlust_ when he observed the geese that he kept on going without
return to the house. He wrote, however, this significant news:

"Jack: Wild guse on your pleace. Leve corn on wood-lot. He come back
mabe. Steve."

Jack Miner did just that; and the next year he left the corn a little
nearer the house and so on. Meanwhile he made a law that you couldn't
come onto his place with a shotgun. He couldn't stop the townspeople
from taking a shot at the small flocks as they passed over, from the
farm feeding ground to the Lake, but the geese didn't seem to expect
that of Jack. He says they would miss it, if the shooting stopped, and
get stale; and then it does a similar lot for the town in the critical
month of April.

Finally Jack built a large concrete pond on his house acres, leaving
much corn on the clean marges. He has a strong heart to wait with. The
geese "had him" when he first carried forth the corn, but it was a year
or two afterward before a daring young gander and pair made a hasty
drop. For once there was no chorus of "I-told-you-so's," from the wiser
heads cocked stiff as cattails from the low growth of the surrounding
fields. That was the second beginning.

The system has been cumulative ever since, and in something like this
order: fifteen, forty, one hundred and fifty, four hundred, six
hundred--in five years. The geese never land all at once in the
artificial pond--some watching as far back as from the remote wood-lot,
others in the south fields across the road. Jack Miner feeds five
bushels of corn a day and would like to feed fifteen.

"A rich man can afford a few geese," he remarked, "but it takes a poor
man to feed six hundred."

He asked the Canadian Government for one hundred dollars the year to
help feed the geese, but the formidable process entailed to get it
evidently dismayed Ottawa at the outset, for it didn't go through. An
automobile magnate came over from the States recently. The substance of
his call didn't leak out. In any event, Jack Miner is still managing
his brick-kiln. Bird-fanciers come nowadays in season from all over the
States and Provinces, and Jack feeds them too. Meantime, we Lake folk
who come early enough to the Shore to see the inspiring flocks flying
overland to the water in the beginnings of dusk, and hear them out on
the Lake where they moor at night, a bedtime music that makes for
strange dreaming--we know well what kind of a gift to the community Jack
Miner is; and we are almost as sorry as he, when the keen, hardy Norse
blood of the birds calls them forth from the May balm.

Of course, Jack is an individual. He has time to plant roses as well as
corn. At luncheon to-day, there was an armful of red roses on the table
from Jack Miner's. He had sent them three miles in hay time, and didn't
know that I had spent the morning in writing about his geese. He has
time to tempt thousands of smaller birds to his acreage. It's one
seething bird-song there. Besides, he makes a fine brick. You'd expect
him to be a workman.... But the wild geese are a part of his soul.

"I've watched them for a good many years now," he told me. "I've seen
them tackle a man, a bull, a team, and stand against the swoop of an
eagle. Two ganders may be hard as swordsmen at each other, when they're
drawing off their flocks, but they'll stand back to back against any
outsider. Yes, I've watched them a long time, and I've never yet seen
them do anything a man would be ashamed of. Why, I'd like to see the
wild goose on the back of the Canadian flag!"

I wondered if Canada were worthy, but didn't say so.

It is rather too fine an event to go often to Jack Miner's. The deeper
impressions are those which count, and such are spontaneous. They do not
come at call. One feels as if breaking into one of the natural
mysteries--at first glimpse of the huge geese so near at hand--a
spectacle of beauty and speed not to be forgotten. They are built long
and clean. Unlike the larger fliers as a whole, they need little or no
run to rise; it is enough to say that they rise from the water. You can
calculate from that the marvellous strength of pinion. And they are
continental wing-rangers that know the little roads of men, as they know
the great lakes and waterways and mountain chains--Jack Miner's
door-yard and Hudson's Bay.

"I'd give a lot to see one right close, Jack," said I.

"You don't have to. Come on."

He took me to a little enclosure where a one-winged gander was held.

"He came home to me with a wing broken one Sunday," said Jack. "It was
heavy going, but he managed to get here. I thought at first we'd have
some goose, but we didn't. The fact is, I was sort of proud that he came
home in his trouble. I took the wing off, as you see. He's doing fine,
but he tried to drink himself to death, as they all do. That appears to
be the way they fix a broken wing. It may be the fever or the pain;
anyway, they'll drink until they die. I kept this fellow dry, until he

The splendid gamester stretched out his black head and hissed at
me--something liquid and venomous in the sound--the long black beak as
fine and polished as a case for a girl's penknife. He was game to the
core and wild as ever.... Jack hadn't let him die--perhaps he felt out
of the law because of that.

"I'll go and do my chores," Jack Miner said. "You can stay and think it

I knew from that how well he understood the same big thing out of the
past which the wild bird meant to me. He had the excellent delicacy
which comes from experience, to leave me there alone.

An hysterical gabble broke the contemplation. Waddling up from behind
was a tame goose. The shocking thing was too fat and slow to keep itself
clean--its head snubbed, its voice crazily pitched, its wings gone back
to a rudiment, its huge food-apparatus sagging to the ground, straining
to lay itself against the earth, like a billiard-ball in a stocking full
of feathers.

And before me was the Magnificent, one that had made his continental
flights, fasting for them, as saints fast in aspiration--lean and long,
powerful and fine in brain and beak and wing--an admirable adversary,
an antagonist worthy of eagles, ready for death rather than for
captivity.... All that Gibbon ever wrote stood between this game bird
and its obscene relative dragging its liver about a barnyard--the rise
and fall of the Roman, and every other human and natural, empire--the
rise by toil and penury and aspiration, and the fall to earth again in
the mocking ruins of plenty....

Good Jack Miner expressed the same, but in his own way, when he came
back from the chores.



As related, I had seen the Lake-front property first in August. The
hollows were idealised into sunken gardens, while the mason was building
the stone study. We returned in April--and the bluff was like a string
of lakes. The garden in the rear had been ploughed wrong. Rows of
asparagus were lanes of still water, the roots cut off from their supply
of air. Moreover, the frogs commented in concert upon our comings and
goings.... I set about the salvage alone, and as I worked thoughts came.
Do you know the suction of clay--the weight of adhering clay to a
shovel? You can lift a stone and drop it, but the substance goes out of
a city man's nerve when he lifts a shovel of clay and finds it united in
a stubborn bond with the implement. I went back to the typewriter, and
tried to keep up with the gang of ditchers who came and tiled the entire
piece. It was like healing the sick to see the water go off, but a bad
day for the frogs in the ponds where the bricks had been made.

"You'll be surprised at the change in the land which this tiling will
make in one season," the boss told me. "It will turn over next
corn-planting time like a heap of ashes."

That's the general remark. Good land turns over like a heap of ashes.

I would hardly dare to tell how I enjoyed working in that silent cave of
red firelight. Matters of craftsmanship were continually in my
thoughts--especially the need in every human heart of producing
something. Before the zest is utterly drained by popular din from that
word "efficiency," be reminded that the good old word originally had to
do with workmanship and not with dollar-piling.... The world is crowded
with bad workmen. Much of its misery and cruelty is the result of bad
workmanship, which in its turn results from the lack of imagination. A
man builds his character in his work; through character alone is the
stamina furnished to withstand with dignity the heavy pressures of life.

... I arranged with a neighbour to do some work for me. In fact he asked
for the work, and promised to come the next Tuesday. He did not appear.
Toward the end of the week following I passed him in the lane that leads
down to the Lake--a tall, tired man, sitting beside a huge stone, his
back against a Lombard poplar, a shotgun across his knees.

"I thought I'd wait here, and see if I couldn't hit one of them geese,"
he explained, as I came up.

It seemed I had never seen such a tired face. His eyes were burning like
the eyes of a sentry, long unrelieved, at the outpost of a city.... The
geese ride at mooring out in the Lake at night. I have fallen asleep
listening to their talk far out in the dark. But I have never seen them
fly overland before sunset, which was two hours away at the time I
passed up the lane. I do not know how long Monte had been sitting there.

Now except for the triviality of the promise, I had no objection to his
not working for me, and no objection to his feeding his family, thus
first-handed, though very little breast of the game wild goose comes to
the board of such as he.... I was on the way to the forge of a workman.
I wanted a knocker for an oaken door; and I wanted it just so. Moreover,
I knew the man who would make it for me.

At the head of the lane, still on the way, I met a farmer, who had not
missed the figure propped between the stone and the poplar tree. He said
that the last time Monte had borrowed his gun, he had brought it back
fouled. That was all he said.

I passed Monte's house, which is the shocking depression of a prosperous
community. There were many children--a stilled and staring lot. They
sat in dust upon the ground. They were not waiting for goose. Their
father had never inspired them with expectancy of any sort; their mother
would have spoiled a goose, had it been brought by a neighbour. She came
to the door as I passed, spilled kitchen refuse over the edge of the
door-stone, and vanished. The children seemed waiting for death. The
virtue of fatherhood is not to be measured numerically.... April was
nearly over, but the unsightly heaps that the snows had covered were not
yet cleared away. Humped, they were, among the children. This is a
world-old picture--one that need not be finished.

Monte was not a good shot, not a good workman, not a good father--a
burden and bad odour everywhere, a tainter of the town and the blood of
the human race. That, which was gathered about him was as pitifully bred
as reared. Monte's one value lay in his horrible exemplarship. He was a
complete slum microcosm, without which no civilisation has yet arrived.
Monte has given me more to think about than any of the happier people.
In his own mute way, he reminds each man of the depths, furnishes the
low mark of the human sweep, and keeps us from forgetting the world as
it is, the myriads of bad workmen of which the leaning cities are made.

Sitting there by the rock, letting the hours go by--and in his own weak
heart, my neighbour knew that he wouldn't "hit one of them geese." All
his life he had failed. Nature had long since ceased trying to tempt him
into real production. Even his series of natural accidents was doubtless
exhausted. That is the pace that kills--that sitting.

I went on to the forge of the workman. We talked together. I sat by
while he made the thing I wanted, which was not an ornament simply. He
will always be identified there in the oak, an excellent influence; just
as I think of him when I save the wood in the open fireplace, because of
the perfect damper he made for the stone chimney. Monte was still there
when I went back. The problem of him returned to mind after the
freshening of the forge.

He belongs to us as a people, and we have not done well by him. We did
not help him to find his work. We did not consider his slowness, nor the
weariness of his flesh, the sickness he came with, nor the
impoverishment of his line. We are not finding their work for his
children. We have sent them home from school because they were not
clean. We complain that they waste what we give them; that they are
harder on the shoes we furnish, than are our own children. We do not
inquire with wisdom into their life, to learn on which side of the human
meridian they stand--whether their disease is decadence and senility of
spiritual life, or whether their spines are but freshly lifted from the
animal levels.

As a purely physical aggregate--if our civilisation be that--our
business is quickly to exterminate Monte and his whole breed. He
embarrasses us, as sleeker individuals of the herd and hive. He is
tolerated to the diseases with which he infects us, because we have
weakened our resistance with cleanliness. But by the authority of our
better understanding, by our sacred writings and the intuitions of our
souls, we are men and no longer an animal aggregate. As men, our
business is to lift Monte from his lowly condition, and hold him there;
to make him and his children well first, and then to make workmen of
them. _There are workmen in the world for this very task of lifting
Monte and his brood._ We do not use them, because the national instinct
of Fatherhood is not yet profoundly developed. We are not yet brothers.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the recent winter months in the city it came to me that I had certain
things to tell a group of young men. The class was arranged. In the
beginning I warned them not to expect literary matters; that I meant to
offer no plan to reach the short-story markets (a game always rather
deep for me); that the things which I wanted to tell were those which
had helped me toward being a man, not an artist. Fifteen young men were
gathered--all strangers to me. When we were really acquainted, weeks
afterward, I discovered that seven of the fifteen had been writing for
months or years--that there was certain stuff in the seven that would
write or die.

They had not come for what I meant to give. As a whole they were
indifferent at first to my idea of the inner life. They had come for the
gleanings I would drop, because I could not help it, having spent twenty
years learning how to learn to write. The name that had called them from
the different parts of the city was identified for good or bad in their
minds with the work they meant to do. And what I did for them was done
as a workman--that was my authority--a workman, a little older, a little
farther along in the craft that called.

And to every workman there are eager apprentices, who hunger to know,
not his way, but the way. Every workman who does the best he can, has a
store of value for the younger ones, who are drawn, they know not why,
to the production he represents. Moreover, the workman would learn more
than he could give, but he is not called. He seldom offers himself,
because the laugh of the world has already maimed him deeply.... I had
told them austerely what I would do for them, and what I would not do;
but I did more and more what they really asked, for therein and not
elsewhere I had a certain authority. More and more accurately I learned
to furnish what they came for. All my work in the study alone was to do
just that for a larger class, and in this effort I stumbled upon the
very heart of the fatherhood ideal and the educational ideal--for they
are one and the same.

A man is at his best in those periods in which self-interest is lost to
him. The work in which a man can lose the sense of self for the most
hours each day--that is his especial task. When the workman gives forth
the best that is in him, not feeling his body, above all its passions
and petty devices for ruling him, concentrated upon the task, a pure
instrument of his task and open to all inspiration regarding it--that
man is safe and superb. There is something holy in the crafts and arts.
It is not an accident that a painting lives three hundred years. We are
not permitted to forget the great potters, the great metallists, the rug
and tapestry makers. They put themselves in their tasks, and we are very
long in coming to the end of their fineness.

They produced. They made their dreams come true in matter; and that is
exactly what our immortal selves are given flesh to perform. Each
workman finds in his own way the secret of the force he represents. He
is an illuminated soul in this discovery. It comes only to a man when he
is giving forth, when he is in love, having lost the love of self.
Giving forth purely the best of self, as the great workmen do, a man is
on the highway to the divine vocation which is the love and service of

... They begin to call him twenty minutes before dinner is ready. He is
caught in the dream of the thing and has little time to bargain for it.
He feels for his glasses, when you call him forth; he sweats; he listens
to the forge that calls him. The unfinished thing is not only on his
bench, but in his mind--in its weakness, half-born and uncouth.... "Talk
to my daughter. She knows about these things," he says. "I must go....
Yes, it is a fine day."

It is raining like as not.... And because the world has laughed at him
so long, he has forgotten how to tell his story by the time he has
perfected his task. The world laughs at its betters with the same
facility that it laughs at the half-men. Our national and municipal
fathers should teach us first that the man who has found his work is one
of the kings of the earth. Children should be taught to know a workman
anywhere. All excellence in human affairs should be judged by the
workmanship and not by the profits.

We are neighbourhoods in name only. How often has our scorn for some
strange little man changed to excited appreciation, when the world came
at last to his shop with its sanctions of money and noisy affairs. He is
nervous and ill at ease. His world has ceased to laugh. He wonders at
that; asks himself if this praise and show is not a new kind of
laughter, for he cannot forget the grinding and the rending of the early
years--when there were days in which he doubted even his work. Perhaps
his has been a divided house all these years; it may be that he has lost
even Her for his work.

The world has left him richer, but he is not changed, and back to the
shop again. A man's work lives with him to the end--and beyond--that is
the eternal reason of its importance.... All quandaries cease; all
doubts sink into the silence; the task assumes once more; his real life
is awake; the heart of reality throbs for him, adjusting the workman to
an identity which cannot grow old.

He may not know this miracle of fine workmanship. This that has come to
him from the years of truth, may not be a possible expression from his
lips, but he knows in his heart one of the highest truths of here below:
That nothing which the world can give is payment for fine workmanship;
that the world is never so vulgar as when it thinks it can pay in money
for a life's task. The workman can only be paid in kind.

It is not the product that men use that holds the immortal result. They
may come to his shop fifty years after he has left it; they may cross
seas and continents to reach this shop, saying: "This is where he did
it. His bench was just there--his house over yonder. Here is where he
stood, and there he hung his coat." But these are only refinements of
irony.... They may say, "This is his grandson." But that will only
handicap or ruin the child, if he find not _his_ work. A thousand lesser
workmen may improve his product, lighten it, accelerate its potency,
adapt it to freight rates--but that is no concern of the dream.

The payment of it all, the glory of it all, is that the real workman
finds himself. His soul has awakened. In the trance of his task, he has
lost the love of self which the world knows, and found the blessedness
of the source of his being. He does not need to state it
philosophically, for he lived it. He found the secret of blessedness, if
not of happiness. At his bench, he integrated the life that lasts. He
could have told you in the early years, if the world had not laughed. He
would have learned himself more swiftly, had he been encouraged to tell,
as he toiled--if the world had not shamed away the few who were drawn to
his bench.

But alone, he got it all at last--the passion and power of the spiritual
workman which sustains him now, though his body has lain under the hill
for fifty years. His shop is the place of a greater transaction than his
task. The breadth and essence of it that lingers makes it a sacred place
to the few who would take off their shoes to enter--were it not for the
misunderstanding of the world.

Out of the artificial he became natural; out of the workman, he emerged
a man, a living soul.

I would support every plan or dream of education, and none other, that
seeks to find for the youth his life work. I would call upon every
workman personally to help; and urge for every community, the goodness
of its products and not the richness of its markets. I would put the
world's premium upon fine workmanship of the hand or brain or spirit;
and a stiff pressure upon the multiplication of these products by
mechanical means, for we have too many common things, and so few fine
things. I would inculcate in the educational ideal, first of all, that
in every man there is a dream, just as there is a soul, and that _to
express the dream of the soul in matter_ is the perfect individual
performance. I would impress upon the youth that in all arts and crafts,
the dream fades and the spirit of the product dies away, when many are
made in the original likeness. Nature does not make duplicates; her
creative hallmark is upon every leaf and bee; upon every cliff and cloud
and star.

I would not endow the young workman while he is learning his trade or
art; but I would have the State intensely watchful of him, and
impassioned with parental conviction that her greatness is inseparable
with his possibilities of achievement. I would not make his ways short,
but despise and crush all evidences of facility. I would keep him plain
and lean and fit, and make him earn his peace. All fine work comes from
the cultivation of the self, not from cultivated environment.... I
dreamed for twenty years of a silent room and an open wood fire. I shall
never cease to wonder at the marvel of it, now that it has come. It is
so to-night alone in the stillness. The years of struggle to produce in
the midst of din and distraction, while they wore as much as the work
itself, were helpful to bring the concentration which every decent task
demands; and in the thrill of which a man grows in reality, and not



It was determined that the children should try the country-town school
that Spring from April to June. This school was said to be of
exceptional quality, and I talked with the master, a good man. In fact,
there was none but the general causes for criticism in this
establishment--the same things I found amiss in city schools. The
children accepted the situation with a philosophy of obedience which
should have taught the race many things it does not yet know. The
journey was considerable for them twice daily in warming weather; and
from little things I heard from time to time, words dropped with no idea
of rebellion, I was reminded of the dark drama of my own "Education,"
written explicitly enough elsewhere and which I am glad to forget.

The schools of to-day are better, no doubt about that, but the
improvement is much in the way of facility and convenience; the systems
are not structurally changed--facility and convenience, speed of
transit, mental short-cuts, the science of making things not more plain,
but more obvious, the science of covering ground....

I read a book recently written by a woman who mothered an intellectual
child of cormorant appetite. That child learned everything in sight from
fairies to grease-traps. What was difficult to manage in that mass of
whipcord mental fibre, was put into verse and sung. The book told how
the child was nourished on all things that only specialists among men
cared to litter their minds with. Then there was a supplement of
additional assimilations, and how to get them in. With all this, the
child had been taught to dance; and there was a greed of learning about
it (the book being designed to show the way to others) that struck me as
avarice of the most violent and perverse form; the avarice of men for
money and baronial holdings being innocent compared, as sins of the
flesh are innocent compared to the sins of mind. This book and the
tragic child form to my idea one of the final eruptions of the ancient
and the obscene.

The word education as applied in this woman's book, and through the long
past of the race, represents a diagram of action with three items:

One, the teacher; 2, the book; 3, the child. Teacher extracting fact
from book and inserting same in child's brain equals education.

I suffered ten years of this, entering aged six, and leaving the passage
aged sixteen, a cruel young monster filled with rebellion and
immorality, not educated at all, but full of the sense of vague
failures, having in common with those of my years, all the levels of
puerile understanding, stung with patronage and competitive strife,
designed to smother that which was real in the heart.

Very securely the prison-house had closed upon me, but please be very
sure that I am not blaming teachers. Many of them met life as it
appeared, and made the best of conditions. There were true teachers
among them, women especially who would have ascended to genius in their
calling, had they been born free and in a brighter age. They were called
upon, as now, to dissipate their values in large classes of children,
having time to see none clearly, and the powers above dealt them out the
loaf that was to be cut. The good teacher in my day was the one who cut
the loaf evenly--to every one his equal part. The first crime was

I sat here recently with a little class of six young people ranging in
age from eleven to twenty. Side by side were a girl of seventeen and a
boy of fourteen, who required from me handling of a nature diametrically
opposite. The approaches to their hearts were on opposite sides of the
mountain. Yet they had been coming for three months before I acutely
sensed this. The girl had done very well in school. She was known to be
bright; and yet, I found her all caught in rigidities of the brain,
tightly corseted in mental forms of the accepted order. Her production
was painfully designed to meet the requirements of her time and place;
the true production of her nature was not only incapable of finding
expression, but it was not even in a state of healthful quiescence. It
was pent, it was dying of confinement, it was breathing with only a
tithe of its tissue.

The wonderful thing about youth is that it answers.

The boy next had not done well in school. The word _dreamer_ was
designated to the very thought of him. Yet this boy had awed me--the
mute might of him. One day I talked for fifteen minutes and abruptly
told him to bring in the next day, written, what had struck him, if
anything, in what I had said. He brought me in two thousand words of
almost phenomenal reproduction--and yet he had listened sleepily. Of
course, I did not care to develop his reportorial instinct after this
display. My work was to develop his brain to express the splendid inner
voltage of the boy, just as certainly as I had found it necessary to
repress the brain and endeavour to free the spirit of the girl. I will
come to this individual study again. It is my point here merely to show
how helpless even great vision must be to the needs of the individual,
in classes of youths and children ranging as they do in crowded

I had been one who thought my own work most important--to the exclusion
even of the rights of others. For instance when the Old Man (as he is
affectionately designated) went to the Study, he was not to be
disturbed. All matters of domestic order or otherwise must be carried on
without him in these possessed and initialed hours. After dinner the Old
Man had to read and rest; later in the afternoon, there was the Ride and
the Garden, and in the evening, letters and possibly more production. At
meal-time he was available, but frequently in the tension of food and
things to do.... As I see it now, there was a tension everywhere--tension
wherever the Old Man appeared, straining and torturing his own tasks, had
he only known it.

The little girl dared to tread where the older ones had been so
well-taught to hold back. One of the first vacation mornings she joined
him on the path to the Study and lured him down to the beach. It was the
time of day for the first smoke, the smoke of all. Now the Old Man was
accustomed to enter the Study, sweep the hearth with his own hands,
regard the bow of shore-line from the East window--the Other Shore--for
a moment; scrutinise the copy of the day or night before, for the
continuity of the present day, light the pipe and await the impulse of
production. Many years of work had ordained this order; many hard
lessons resulting from breaking the point of the day's work before
sitting down to it; many days that had been spoiled by a bite too much
breakfast, or by a distraction at the critical moment.

However, the Old Man was down on the beach with a little girl of ten who
wanted to talk. She wanted to know about the shells and waves, what
ridged the sand, and what the deep part of the Lake was paved with. The
answers were judicious. Presently he was talking about things nearer the
front of mind, about the moon and tides, the tides of the sea, in this
Lake, in teacups, in the veins of plants and human blood--the backward
and forward movement of everything, the ebb and flow everywhere--in
short, the Old Man was discussing the very biggest morsel of all
life--vibration. He arose and started up the bank.

"Don't go yet," the little girl called.

"Wait," said he. "I'm coming back. I want to get my pipe."

There was a mist in the morning, and the big stone where she sat was
still cool from the night before. The South Wind which has a sweetness
of its own was just ruffling the Lake; there had been rain, and it was
Summer. The smell of the land was there--the perfume of the Old Mother
herself which is the perfume of the tea-rose--the blend of all that
springs into being.

"Sometimes you catch her as she is," the Old Man said. "Now to-day she
smells like a tea-rose. I don't mean the smell of any particular plant,
but the breath of all--as if old Mother Nature were to pass, and you
winded the beauty of her garments. At night, sometimes she smells like
mignonette--not like mignonette when you hold it close to your face, but
when the wind brings it."

He found this very interesting to himself, because he had not thought
about it just so. He found also that a man is dependent for the quality
of his product upon the nature of his listener, just as much as the seed
is dependent upon the soil. It is true a man can go on producing for
years in the quiet without talking to any one, but he doubles on his
faults, and loses more and more the wide freedom of his passages. Here
was a wrinkled forehead to warn one that the expression wasn't coming
clearly, or when the tension returned. The Other Shore was faintly
glorified in her morning veil.

"We'll go back to the Study and write some of these things we've seen
and talked about," the Old Man said at length. "You see they're not
yours until you express them. And the things _you_ express, as I
expressed them, are not yours either. What you want to express is the
things you get from all this. The value of that is that no one else can
do it."

She went willingly, sat in a corner of the Study.

The Old Man forgot her in a moment.

That was the real beginning.

Presently she came every morning.... I (to return to first person again)
had been led to believe that any outside influence in a man's Study is a
distraction; not alone the necessary noise and movement of the other,
but the counter system of thinking. I perceived little difference,
however. I had no fewer _good_ mornings than formerly; and yet, any
heavy or critical attitudes of mind would have been a steady and
intolerable burden. In fact, I believe that there was a lift in her
happiness and naturalness. It came to me so often that she belonged

She remained herself absolutely. She had never been patronised. Recently
with six young people in the Study, I suddenly thought of the relation
of teacher to student in a finer light. I was impelled to say to them:

"I do not regard you from any height. You are not to think of yourselves
as below. It might happen that in a few years--this relation might be
changed entirely even by the youngest of you. The difference between us
now is merely a matter of a decade or two. You have more recently come
in; things are strange to you. Intrinsically you may be far greater than
I, but we do not deal with comparisons. We are friends; we are all one.
I sit in the midst of you--telling you from day to day of the things I
have learned about this place, having come here with an earlier caravan.
My first years here were of rapid learning, as yours will be. Presently
the doors will shut upon my new impressions, but you will go on. When
you reach your best, you may smile at your childish fancies of how much
I knew. You will always be kind in your thoughts of these early days,
for that is the deep law of good men and women; indeed one must
reverence one's teacher, for the teacher is the symbol of Nature, of
Mother, of Giving. But there must be equality first. My brain is somehow
filled now; the time will come when yours is more filled than mine with
the immediate matters of our life. For children become old, and the old
become children, if their days are happy. After all, the immediate
matters of our present life are of astonishingly small account, in
relation to the long life--the importance only of one bead on the
endless string. So I would have you know that the differences between us
that have to do with this single life-adventure are of very slight
moment--that we really are the sum of innumerable adventures, the
lessons of which form us, and only a little of which we have yet learned
to tell."

I had something of this attitude when the little girl came alone, and I
believe it to be important. A sense of it in the teacher's mind (and the
more one thinks of it, the less it appears an affectation) will help to
bring about that equality between the young and the old which the recent
generations did not possess, and from the absence of which much
deformity and sorrow has come to be.

The little girl could quickly understand from the rapt moments of her
own production, how disordering a thing it is to bring foreign matter to
one's mental solution in an abrupt fashion. She saw that the
organisation of ideas for expression is a delicate process; that it
never occurs twice the same, and that the genuine coherence is apt to be
at its best in the first trial, for one of the essences of the rapture
of production is the novelty of the new relation. There were times in
the forenoons when I met halting stages and was ready possibly to banter
a moment. I very quickly encountered a repulse, if she were in the
thrall. She would wave her hand palm outward before her face--a mistake
of meaning impossible.

Now she had only learned to write two years before, this detail
purposely postponed. I did not undertake to correct spelling, permitting
her to spell phonetically, and to use a word she was in doubt of. What I
wanted her to do was to say the things in her soul--if the expression
can be forgiven.

I believe (and those who do not believe something of the kind will not
find the forthcoming ideas of education of any interest) that there is a
sleeping giant within every one of us; a power as great in relation to
our immediate brain faculties, as the endless string is great in
relation to one bead. I believe that every great moment of expression
in poetry and invention and in every craft and bit of memorable human
conduct, is significant of the momentary arousing of this sleeping giant
within. I believe that modern life and modern education of the faculties
of brain and memory are unerringly designed to deepen the sleep of this
giant. I believe, under the influence of modern life on a self-basis,
and modern education on a competitive basis, that the prison-house
closes upon the growing child--that more and more as the years draw on,
the arousing of the sleeping giant becomes impossible; that the lives of
men are common on account of this, because the one perfect thing we are
given to utter remains unexpressed.

I believe by true life and true education that the prison-house can be
prevented from closing upon the growing child; that the giant is eager
to awake; that, awakened, he makes the thoughts, the actions, the smiles
and the words of even a child significant.

I believe that an ordinary child thus awakened within, not only can but
must become an extraordinary man or woman. This has already been proved
for me in the room in which I write. I believe that this very awakening
genius is the thing that has made immortal--shoemakers, blacksmiths and
the humblest men who have brought truth and beauty to our lives from the
past. Moreover the way, although it reverses almost every process of
life and education that now occupies our life and race, is not hard, but
a way of beauty and joyousness, and the way is no secret.



He was a still boy--the boy who had first shown us the two cottages on
the shore the afternoon his father was ill. You would have thought him
without temperament. I often recalled how little he knew about the
affairs of prospective tenants that afternoon; and how Penelope rescued
me from his silences.... We saw him often, coming down to bathe with
another lad during the afternoons throughout that first summer, but drew
no nearer to acquaintance. Sometimes as I rode to town for mail in the
evening I would see him watching me from his walk or porch; and the
sense that his regard was somehow different, I believe, did impress me
vaguely. It all happened in a leisurely sort of ordained fashion. I
remember his "hello," cheerful but contained, as I would ride by. He was
always still as a gull, and seemed natural with the dusk upon him....
One day his father said to me:

"I have to buy everything you write for him."

"Well, well," said I.

I had not looked for market in the little town, and The Abbot was only
fourteen. (One of the older boys christened him The Abbot afterward,
because he seemed so freshly come from monastic training.) ... Finally I
heard he was interested in the stars and owned a telescope. I called him
over to the Study one day, and we talked star-stuff. He had done all
that I had and more. It appears that in his Sunday School paper when he
was seven or eight, there had been an astronomical clipping of some sort
that awakened him. He had it read to him several times, but his own
reading picked up at that time with an extraordinary leap, as any study
does under driving interest. Presently he was out after the star books
on his own hook. He suggested bringing his telescope to the Study, and
that night I got my first look at the ineffable isolation of Saturn. It
was like some magnetic hand upon my breast. I could not speak. Every
time I shut my eyes afterward I saw that bright gold jewel afar in the
dark. We talked.... Presently I heard that he hated school, but this did
not come from him. The fact is, I heard little or nothing from him.

This generation behind us--at least, the few I have met and loved--is
not made up of explainers. They let you find out. They seem able to
wait. It is most convincing, to have events clean up a fact which you
misunderstood; to have your doubts moved aside, not by words, nor any
glibness, but leisurely afterward by the landmarks of solid matter. He
did not come to the Study unless called for. The little girl brought in
word from him from time to time, and the little girl's mother, and the
boy's father--a very worthy man. I heard again that he was not doing
well in school. I knew he was significant, very much so, having met the
real boy on star-matters. I knew that the trouble was they were making
him look down at school, when he wanted to look up. His parents came
over to dinner one day, and I said:

"You'd better let the boy come to me every day."

It was an impulse. I don't know to this hour why I said it, because at
that time I wasn't altogether sure that I was conducting the little
girl's education on the best possible basis. Moreover, it seemed to me
even then that my own time was rather well filled. Neither his father
nor mother enthused, and I heard no more from the subject for many days.
Meeting The Abbot finally, I asked him what of school.

"It's bad. I'm not doing anything. I hate it."

"Did your father think I didn't mean what I said--about you coming to me
for a time?"

"I don't think he quite thought you meant it. And then he doesn't know
what it would cost."

I told him it wouldn't cost anything. There was a chance to talk with
his father again, but nothing came of that, and The Abbot was still
suffering weeks afterward. Finally his father and uncle came over to the
Study. It seemed impossible for them to open the subject. I had to do it
after an hour's conversation about immediate and interesting matters of
weather and country.

"I would like to try him," I said. "He can come an hour after dinner
each day. He is different. They can't bring him out, when they have to
deal with so many."

"He's a dreamer," they said, as if confessing a curse.

It appears that there had been a dreamer in this family, a well-read man
whose acres and interests had got away from him, long ago.

"That's why I want him," said I.

"But the thing is, we don't want him--a----"

"I know, you don't want an ineffectual. You want some dreams to come
true--even if they are little ones----"


I had my own opinion of a boy who could chart his own constellations,
without meeting for years any one who cared enough about the stars to
follow his processes, but one can't say too much about a boy to his
relatives. Then I had to remember that the little Lake town had only
touched me on terms of trade. They did not know what sort of devil lived
in my heart, and those who were searching my books to find out were in
the main only the more doubtful. Especially, I bewildered these men by
not asking for anything in the way of money.

However, the thing came to be.

My first idea was to take him alone--the little girl coming in the
morning with me, and the boy after dinner, during an hour that I had
been accustomed to read and doze. The first days were hard for us both.
I sat down in a big chair before the fire and talked with him, but there
was no sign. He stared at the stones and stared out of the window, his
eyes sometimes filmy, his body sometimes tense. I seemed to require at
first some sort of recognition that I was talking--but none came,
neither nod of acquiescence, look of mystification nor denial.... They
said as he passed the house farther along the Shore after leaving the
Study, that his head was bowed and that he walked like a man heavy with

I tried afresh each day--feared that I was not reaching him. I told him
the things that had helped me through the darker early years, and some
of the things I had learned afterward that would have helped me had I
known enough. I tried different leads, returning often to the stars, but
couldn't get a visible result. He was writing little things for me at
this time and, though I detected something in the work more than he
showed me, sitting opposite in the Study, his writing was turgid and
unlit--like one playing on an instrument he did not understand; indeed,
it was like a man talking in his sleep. At the end of one of the talks
within the first week, at wit's end as to what I was accomplishing, I

"Write me what you remember of what I said to-day."

I touched upon this earlier. The result shocked me--it came back like a
phonograph, but the thoughts were securely bound by his own
understanding. I once listened to a series of speeches of welcome from
members of the Japanese Imperial court to a group of foreigners in
Tokyo. The interpreter would listen for several minutes and then in the
pause of the speaker put the fragment into English for us, without a
colour of his own, without disturbing even a gesture or an intonation of
the source of eloquence and ideation. Something of the same returned to
me from the boy's work. I tried him again on the plan a few days
later--just to be sure. The result was the same.

I have not done that since, because I do not wish to encourage physical
memory, an impermanent and characterless faculty, developed to excess in
every current theory of education. You cannot lift or assist another, if
your hands are full of objects of your own. One puts aside his
belongings, when called upon to do something with his hands for
another. Free-handed, he may succeed. It is the same with the mind.
One's faculties are not open to revelations from the true origin of all
values, if one's brain is clutching, with all its force, objects that
the volition calls upon to be remembered. The memory is temporal; if
this were not so, we would know the deeps of that great bourne from
which we come. No man is significant in any kind of expression when he
is using merely his temporal faculties. Time ruptures the products of
these faculties as it does the very body and instrument that produces

However, I realised that I had an almost supernatural attention from the
lad who did not deign to grant me even a nod of acquiescence. I began to
tell him a few things about the technical end of writing for others to
read. I encountered resistance here. Until I pressed upon them a little,
the same mistakes were repeated. This should have shown me before it did
that the boy's nature was averse to actual fact-striving--that he could
grasp a concept off the ground far easier than to watch his steps on the
ground--that he could follow the flight of a bird, so to speak, with far
more pleasure than he could pick up pins from the earth, even if
permitted to keep the pins. I was so delighted to awaken the giant,
however, that I was inclined to let pass, for the present, the matters
of fact and technicality.

Finding that he listened so well--that it was merely one of the
inexplicable surfaces of the new generation that dismayed me--I, of
course, learned to give to him more and more freely. I allowed myself to
overlap somewhat each day, gave little or no thought as to what I should
say to him until the hour came. I was sleepy from old habit at first,
but that passed. Presently it occurred to me that things were happening
in the Study with the boy, that the little girl could ill afford to
miss; and also that he would feel more at ease if I could divide my
attention upon him with another, so I rearranged her plans somewhat, and
there were two.

As I recall, The Abbot had been coming about three weeks, when I related
certain occult teachings in regard to the stars; matters very far from
scientific astronomy which conducts its investigations almost entirely
from a physical standpoint. You may be sure I did not speak
authoritatively, merely as one adding certain phases I had found
interesting of an illimitable subject. The next day he slipped in alone
and a bit early, his "hello" hushed. I looked up and he said, almost

"I had a wonderful night."

The saying was so emotional for him that I was excited as in the midst
of great happenings.

"Tell me," I said, drawing nearer.

"It's all here," he replied, clearing his voice.

His own work follows, with scarcely a touch of editing. The Abbot called
his paper--


     Some people say that by thinking hard of a thing in the
     day-time, you may dream about it. Perhaps this that I had
     last night was a dream, but it was more than a stomach dream.
     I like to think it was a true vision. Before bedtime I was
     reading out of two books; a little pamphlet on astronomy
     containing the nebular theory, and another that told about
     the planetary chain.

     The planetary chain was a continuation of the nebular theory,
     but in the spiritual form. It was that which threw me into
     the vision. I was away from the world; not in the physical
     form but in another--the first time I have ever lost my
     physical body. When I awoke from the vision, I had my clothes
     still on.

     As I drifted off into that mighty sleep, the last thing I
     heard on earth was my mother playing and singing, "The
     Shepherd's Flute." It dulled my worldly senses and I slowly
     drifted away into the pleasant spiritual valley. Who could
     drift off in a more beautiful way than that?...

     I was gradually walking up the side of a large mountain to an
     observatory of splendour. The turret was crowned with gold.
     As I opened the door and stepped inside, I saw a large
     telescope and a few chairs. The observer's chair was
     upholstered with velvet. It was not a complicated observatory
     like the worldly ones.... I removed the cap of the great
     telescope, covering the object-glass, and then uncovered the
     eye-piece. As I looked around the heavens to find the great
     spiral of planets (the planetary chain told about) I heard a
     voice from the lens of the telescope saying: "This is the
     way. Follow me."

     I looked through the lens and there I saw a long spiral of
     planets leading heavenwards. The spiral gradually arose, not
     making any indication of steps, but the close connection of
     the rise was like the winding around of the threads of a
     screw. Towards the top, the spiral began to get larger until
     it was beyond sight. Presently I heard the voice again: "This
     no doubt is a complicated affair to you."


     "Focus your telescope and then look and see if it is any

     I did so, and upon looking through the glass, I saw a large
     globe. It was cold and blank-looking. It seemed to be all
     rocks and upon close examination I found that it was mostly
     mineral rocks. That globe drifted away and left a small trail
     of light until another came in sight. On this globe, there
     was a green over-tone, luxuriant vegetation. Everywhere there
     were trees and vegetable growths of all kinds. This one
     gradually drifted away like the preceding. The third was
     covered with animals of every description--a mass, a chaos of
     animals. The fourth was similarly crowded with hairy men in
     battle, the next two showed the development of these
     men--gradual refinement and civilisation. The seventh I did
     not see.

     I was staring into the dark abyss of the heavens, when I
     heard the voice again:

     "I suppose you are still amazed."


     "Well, then, listen to me and I'll try to explain it all. The
     great spiral of planets represents the way man progresses in
     the life eternal. Man's life on this earth is the life of a
     second, compared with the long evolution. In these six globes
     you saw when the telescope was focussed, is represented the
     evolution of man. The rocks were first. As they broke up and
     melted into earth, vegetable life formed, crawling things
     emerged from vegetable life and animals from them. Man grew
     and lifted out from the form of lower animals. The lower
     globes represented the development of man. In the long cycle
     of evolution, man continues in this way. After he finishes
     life on the seven globes, he starts over again on another
     seven, only the next group he lives on, his life keeps
     progressing. It is not the same life over again. Now you may
     look at the Seventh, the planet of Spirituality."

     When I looked through the telescope again, I saw a beautiful
     globe. It was one great garden. In it there was a monastery
     of Nature. Overhead the trees had grown together and formed a
     roof. Far off to the north stretched a low range of hills,
     also to the east and west, but at the south was a small brook
     which ran along close to the altar of the monastery. It
     seemed to be happy in its course to the lake as it leaped
     over rocky shelves and formed small cascades while the
     sunbeams shone through the matted branches of the trees whose
     limbs stretched far out over the brook, and made it appear
     like a river of silver. I was admiring the scenery when I
     heard the voice again:

     "You must go now, tell the people what you saw, and some
     other night you will see the globe of spirituality more

     I awoke and found myself sitting in the big arm-chair of my
     room. "Can it be true, am I mistaken?" I pinched myself to
     see if I were awake; walked over to the window and looked
     out. There the world was just the same. I was so taken with
     the wonderful vision that at the hour of midnight I sit here
     and scratch these lines off. I have done as the great mystic
     voice commanded me, although it is roughly done, I hope to be
     able to tell you about the rest of the vision and more about
     the seventh globe some time again.



The Abbot had been with me about three months when he said:

"We were out to dinner yesterday to a house on the Valley Road, and the
girl there is interested in your work. She asked many things about it.
She's the noblest girl I know."

That last is a literal quotation. I remember it because it appealed to
me at the time and set me to thinking.

"How old is she?"


"What is she interested in?"

"Writing, I think. She was the best around here in the essays."

"You might ask her to come."

I heard no more for a time. The Abbot does not rush at things. At the
end of a week he remarked:

"She is coming."

It was two or three days after that before I saw them walking down the
lane together.... She took a seat by the door--she takes it still, the
same seat. It was an ordeal for her; also for The Abbot who felt in a
sense responsible; also for me.... I could not begin all over again, in
justice to him. We would have to continue his work and the little girl's
and gradually draw the new one into an accelerating current. We called
her The Valley-Road Girl. She suffered. It was very strange to her. She
had been at school eleven years. I did not talk stars; in fact, I fell
back upon the theme of all themes to me--a man's work, the meaning of
it; what he gets and what the world gets out of it; intimating that this
was not a place to learn how to reach the book and story markets. I said
something the first day, which a few years ago I should have considered
the ultimate heresy--that the pursuit of literature for itself, or for
the so-called art of it, is a vain and tainted undertaking that cannot
long hold a real man; that the real man has but one business: To awaken
his potentialities, which are different from the potentialities of any
other man; to express them in terms of matter the best he can, the
straightest, simplest way he can. I said that there is joy and
blessedness in doing this and in no other activity under the sun; that
it is the key to all good; the door to a man's religion; that work and
religion are the same at the top; that the nearer one reaches the top,
the more tremendous and gripping becomes the conception that they are
one; finally that a man doing his own work for others, losing the sense
of self in his work, is touching the very vitalities of religion and
integrating the life that lasts.

I have said this before in this book--in other books. I may say it
again. It is the truth to me--truth that the world is in need of. I am
sorry for the man who has not his work. A man's work, such as I mean, is
production. Handling the production of others in some cases is
production. There are natural orderers and organisers, natural
synthesisers, shippers, assemblers, and traffic masters. A truth is true
in all its parts; there are workmen for all the tasks.

The Valley-Road Girl's work, in the first days, reminded me of my own
early essay classes. Old friends were here again--Introduction,
Discussion, Conclusion. Her things were rigid, mental. I could see where
they would make very good in a school-room, such as I had known. Her
work was spelled and periodic, phrased and paragraphed. The eyes of the
teachers, that had been upon her these many years, had turned back for
their ideas to authors who, if writing to-day, would be forced to change
the entire order and impulse of their craft.

She was suffused with shyness. Even the little girl so far had not
penetrated it. I was afraid to open the throttle anywhere, lest she
break and drop away. At the end of a week, The Abbot remained a moment
after she was gone, and looked at me with understanding and sorrow.

"I'm afraid I made a mistake in asking her to come," he said.

Just then I was impelled to try harder, because he saw the difficulty.
We had missed for days the joy from the session, that we had come to
expect and delight in. Yet, because he expressed it, I saw the shortness
and impatience of the point of view which had been mine, until he
returned it to me.

"We won't give up," I said. "It didn't happen for nothing."

When he went away I felt better; also I saw that there was a personal
impatience in my case that was not worthy of one who undertook to awaken
the young. I introduced The Valley-Road Girl to Addison's "Sir Roger."
There is an emptiness to me about Addison which I am not sure but
partakes of a bit of prejudice, since I am primarily imbued with the
principle that a writer must be a man before he is fit to be read. If I
could read Addison now for the first time, I should know. The
Valley-Road Girl's discussion of Addison was scholarly in the youthful

The day that she brought in this paper we got somehow talking about
Fichte. The old German is greatly loved and revered in this Study. He
set us free a bit as we discussed him, and I gave to the newcomer a
portion of one of his essays having to do with the "Excellence of the
Universe." The next day I read her paper--and there was a beam in it.

I shut my eyes in gratitude that I had not allowed my stupidity to get
away. I thanked The Abbot inwardly, too, for saying the words that set
me clearer. The contrast between Addison and Fichte in life, in their
work, in the talk they inspired here, and in The Valley-Road Girl's two
papers--held the substance of the whole matter--stumbled upon as usual.
We had a grand time that afternoon. I told them about Fichte losing his
positions, writing to his countrymen--a wanderer, an awakened soul. And
this brought us the hosts of great ones--the Burned Ones and their
exaltations--George Fox and the Maid of Domremy--the everlasting spirit
behind and above mortal affairs--the poor impotency of wood-fire to
quench such immortality. Her eyes gleamed--and all our hearts burned.

"We do not want to do possible things," I said. "The big gun that is to
deposit a missile twelve miles away does not aim at the mark, but at the
skies. All things that are done--let them alone. The undone things
challenge us. The spiritual plan of all the great actions and devotions
which have not yet found substance--is already prepared for the workmen
of to-day to bring into matter--all great poems and inventions for the
good of the world. They must gleam into being through our minds. The
mind of some workman is being prepared for each. Our minds are darkened
as yet; the sleeping giant awaits the day. He is not loathe to awake.
Inertia is always of matter; never of spirit. He merely awaits the
light. When the shutters of the mind are opened and the grey appears, he
will arise and, looking forth, will discover his work.

"Nothing common awaits the youngest or the oldest. You are called to the
great, _the impossible_ tasks. But the mind must be entered by the
Light--the heavy curtains of the self drawn apart...."

That was the day I found the new, sweet influence in the room. It was
not an accident that the boy had gone to dinner at her house. I saw that
my task with The Valley-Road Girl was exactly opposite to the work with
The Abbot--that he was dynamic within and required only the developed
instrument for his utterances, and that she had been mentalised with
obscuring educational matters and required a re-awakening of a naturally
splendid and significant power; that I must seek to diffuse her real
self through her expression. The time came that when she was absent, we
all deeply missed her presence from the Study.

Months afterward, on a day that I did not give her a special task, she
brought me the following which told the story in her own words of
something she had met:


     Try to remember some of your early ideas and impressions. Can
     you recall the childish thoughts that came when a new thing
     made its first impress on your mind? If so, try to feel with
     me the things I am struggling to explain.

     I like to look back at those times when everything to me was
     new; when every happening brought to me thoughts of my very
     own. Just now I recall the time I first noticed a tiny chick
     raise its head after drinking from a basin of water. To me
     that slow raising of the head after drinking seemed to
     indicate the chick's silent thanks to God. It meant that for
     each swallow it offered thanks. This was before I went to

     There I learned the plain truth that the chick must raise its
     head to swallow. School had grasped the door-knob of my soul.
     The many children taught me the world's lesson that each man
     must look out for himself. If the simpler children did not
     keep up, that was their look-out. There was no time to stop
     and help the less fortunate. Push ahead! This is what I came
     to learn.

     At school I met for the first time with distrust. At home I
     had always been trusted; my word never doubted. Once I was
     accused of copying; that was the first wound. How I would
     have those all-powerful teachers make the child know he is

     At school there were many other lessons for me to learn. One
     of the chief was competition. I learned it early. To have
     some of the class-stars shine brighter than I was
     intolerable. To shine as bright, was sufficient compensation
     for any amount of labour. The teachers encouraged
     competition. It lent life to labour; made the children more
     studious. Our motto was not to do our best, but to do as well
     as the best. Competition often grew so keen among my school
     friends that rivalry, jealousy and dislike entered our
     hearts. I am afraid we sometimes rejoiced at one another's
     misfortunes. Yet these competitors were my school friends.
     Out of school we were all fond of one another, but in school
     we grew further apart. My sister would compete with no one. I
     have often since wondered if that is why she, of all my
     school companions, has ever been my closest friend. The child
     filled with the competitive spirit from his entrance to his
     egress from school, enters the world a competitive man. It is
     hard for such a one to love his neighbour.

     The one thing I consider of great benefit from school life is
     the taste of the world it gave me. For school is the
     miniature world. A man is said to benefit from a past evil.

     The school did not teach me to express myself; it taught me
     how to echo the books I read. I did not look through my own
     eyes, but used the teacher's. I tried to keep from my work
     all trace of myself, reflecting only my instruction, knowing
     well that the teacher would praise his perfect reflection.
     Sometimes I feel that the door of my soul has so far shut
     that I can but get a glimpse of the real Me within.

     Unless the school can trust children, show them that they
     should also be interested in their less fortunate
     school-mates, try to do always their best at the particular
     work to which they are best adapted, it must go on failing. A
     child had much better remain at home, a simple but
     whole-souled creature, learning what he can from Nature and
     wise books.

       *       *       *       *       *

... I had talked to them long on making the most of their misfortunes.
This also which came from The Valley-Road Girl, I thought very tender
and wise:


     A spirit of restlessness ruled me. Each night I retired with
     the hope that the morning would find it gone. It disturbed my
     sleep. It was not the constant discontent I had hitherto felt
     with the world. This was a new disquietude.

     One May evening I followed our little river down to the place
     it flows into the Lake. Slowly the light of day faded. From
     my seat upon the green bank of a stream, a wonderful picture
     stretched before me. The small stream and the surrounding
     country were walled in by dense green trees. To the west the
     cool, dark depths parted only wide enough for the creek to
     disappear through a narrow portal. Through small openings in
     the southern wall, I caught glimpses of the summer cottages
     on the sandy shore. To the north stretched the pasture-lands
     with shade-trees happy to hide their nakedness with thick
     foliage. Here, too, a large elm displayed all its grace. To
     the east was a bridge and a long lane. From behind a misty
     outline of trees, the sun's crimson reflections suffused the
     western sky. Two men paddled a boat out into the light and
     disappeared under the bridge. Nothing disturbed the peace of
     the stream save the dip of the paddles, and the fish rising
     to the surface for food. A circle on the surface meant that
     an insect had lain at its centre; a fish had risen and
     devoured it. Circles of this kind were continually being cut
     by the circumferences of other circles.... A dark speck moved
     down the stream. A turtle was voyaging.

     Now, far in the shadows, I saw a man sitting on the bank
     fishing. His patience and persistence were remarkable, for he
     had been there all the time. But the fish were at play. The
     occasional splash of the carp, mingling with the perpetual
     song of the birds and the distant roar of the waves breaking
     on the shore to the south, formed one grand over-tone.

     A feeling of awe came over me. I felt my insignificance. I
     saw the hand of God. My relation to my surroundings was very
     clear. My soul bowed to the God-ness in all things natural.
     The God-ness in me was calling to be released. It was useless
     to struggle against it, and deafen my ears to the cry. It
     must be given voice. I felt my soul condemning me as an
     echoer and imitator of men, as one whose every thought
     becomes coloured with others' views. Like a sponge I was
     readily receptive. Let a little mental pressure be applied
     and I gave back the identical thoughts hardly shaded by
     inward feelings. This was my soul's complaint.

     No tree was exactly like one of its neighbours. Each
     fulfilled its purpose in its particular way. Yet all
     proclaimed the One Source. Performing its function, it was
     fit to censure me and I took the cup.

     ... The sun had set. Darkness was wrapping the basin of the
     little stream; heavy dew was falling. Mother Nature was
     weeping tears of sympathy for one so short-sighted and drawn
     to failure.



I was struck early in the progress of the class of three with the
difference between the little girl, now turned eleven, and the other two
of fourteen and seventeen, in the one particular of daring to be
herself. She has never been patronised; and in the last year or more has
been actively encouraged to express the lovely and the elusive. Also, as
stated, she has no particular talent for writing. She is the one who
wants to be a mother. Not in the least precocious, her charm is quite
equal for little girls or her elders. Her favourite companions until
recently were those of her own age.

On the contrary, the other two were called to the work here because they
want to write, and although this very tendency should keep open the
passages between the zone of dreams and the more temperate zones of
matter, the fashions and mannerisms of the hour, artfulness of speech
and reading, the countless little reserves and covers for neglected
thinking, the endless misunderstandings of life and the realities of
existence--had already begun to clog the ways which, to every old
artist, are the very passages of power.

"... Except that ye become as little children----" that is the
beginning of significant workmanship, as it is the essential of faith in
religion. The great workmen have all put away the illusions of the
world, or most of them, and all have told the same story--look to Rodin,
Puvis de Chavannes, Balzac, Tolstoi, only to mention a little group of
the nearer names. In their mid-years they served men, as they fancied
men wanted to be served; and then they met the lie of this exterior
purpose, confronted the lie with the realities of their own nature, and
fought the fight for the cosmic simplicity which is so often the
unconscious flowering of the child-mind. All of them wrenched open, as
they could, the doors of the prison-house, and became more and more like
little children at the end.

The quality I mean is difficult to express in straight terms. One must
have the settings to see and delight in them. But it is also the quality
of the modern verse. The new generation has it as no other generation,
because the old shames and conventions are losing their weight in our
hearts.... I was promising an untold something for a future lesson to
the little girl yesterday, just as she was getting to work. The
anticipation disturbed the present moment, and she said:

"Don't have secrets. When there are secrets, I always want to peek----"

Yesterday, a little later, we both looked up from work at the notes of a
song-sparrow in the nearest elm. The song was more elaborate for the
perfect morning. It was so joyous that it choked me--in the sunlight and
elm-leaves. It stood out from all the songs of the morning because it
was so near--every note so finished and perfect, and we were each in the
pleasantness of our tasks. The little girl leaned over to the window. I
was already watching. We heard the answer from the distance. The song
was repeated, and again. In the hushes, we sipped the ecstasy from the
Old Mother--that the sparrow knew and expressed. Like a flicker, he was
gone--a leaning forward on the branch and then a blur,... presently this
sentence in the room:

"... _sang four songs and flew away._"

It was a word-portrait. It told me so much that I wanted; the number of
course was not mental, but an obvious part of the inner impression.
However, no after explanations will help--if the art of the thing is not
apparent. I told it later in the day to another class, and a woman
said--"Why, those six words make a Japanese poem."

And yesterday again, as we walked over to dinner, she said: "I see a
Chinese city. It is dim and low and smoky. It is night and the lights
are at half-mast."

She had been making a picture of her own of China. It throws the child
in on herself to imagine thus. She has never been to China, and her
reading on the subject was not recent. I always say to them: "It is all
within. If you can listen deeply enough and see far enough, you can get
it all. When a man wishes to write about a country, he is hindered as
much as helped if he knows much about it. He feels called upon to
express that which he has seen--which is so small compared to the big
colour and atmosphere."

I had been to China but would have required a page to make such a

A little while before she had been to Holland in fancy. She had told a
story of a child there and "the little house in which she lived looked
as if it had been made of old paving-blocks ripped up from the street."

Often she falls back upon the actual physical environment _to get
started_, as this recent introduction: "To-day I am sitting on the end
of a breakwater, listening to the peaceful noise the Lake makes as it
slaps up against the heavy old rocks. The sun is pouring down hot rays
upon my arms, bare feet and legs, turning them from winter's faded


"Once I had my back up against an old Beech tree on a carpet of spring
beauties and violet plants. Spiders, crickets and all sorts of little
woodland bugs went crawling on me and around, but instead of shuddering
at their little legs, I felt a part----"

I said to her about the China picture: "Put it down, and be careful to
write it just as you see it, not trying to say what you have heard,--at
least, until after your first picture is made...." I had a conviction
that something prompted that "half-mast" matter, and that if we could
get just at that process in the child's mind, we should have something
very valuable for all concerned. But we can only approximate the inner
pictures. The quality of impressionism in artistry endeavours to do
that--to hurl the fleeting things into some kind of lasting expression.
The greatest expressionist can only approximate, even after he has
emerged from the prison-house and perfected his instrument through a
life of struggle. His highest moments of production are those of his
deepest inner listening--in which the trained mind-instrument is
quiescent and receptive, its will entirely given over to the greater
source within.

The forenoons with the little girl before the others came, showed me,
among many things, that education should be mainly a happy process. If I
find her getting too dreamy with the things she loves (that her
expression is becoming "wumbled," as Algernon Blackwood says), I
administer a bit of stiff reading for the pure purpose of straightening
out the brain. The best and dryest of the human solids is John Stuart
Mill. Weights, measures and intellectual balances are all honest in his
work--honest to madness. He is the perfect antidote for dreams. Burke's
ancient essay "On the Sublime" is hard reading, but has its rewards. You
will laugh at a child of ten or eleven reading these things. I once kept
the little girl for three days on the latter, and when I opened the
doors of her refrigerating plant, and gave her Thoreau's
"Walking"--there was something memorable in the liberation. She took to
Thoreau, as one held in after a week of storm emerges into full summer.
The release from any struggle leaves the mind with a new receptivity. It
was not that I wanted her to _get_ Mill or Burke, but that the mental
exercise which comes from grappling with these slaves of logic, or
masters, as you like, is a development of tissue, upon which the dreams,
playing forth again from within, find a fresh strength for expression.

Dreaming without action is a deadly dissipation. The mind of a child
becomes fogged and ineffective when the dreams are not brought forth.
Again, the dreams may be the brooding of a divine one, and yet if the
mind does not furnish the power for transmuting them into matter, they
are without value, and remain hid treasures. It is the same as faith
without works. While I hold the conviction that the brain itself is best
developed by the egress of the individual, rather than by any processes
from without, yet I would not keep the exterior senses closed.

In fact, just here is an important point of this whole study. In the
case of The Abbot it was the intellect which required development, even
to begin upon the expression of that within which was mainly
inarticulate, but mightily impressive, at least, to me. The Valley-Road
Girl's mind was trained. She had obeyed scrupulously. In her case, the
first business was to re-awaken her within, and her own words have
related something of the process.

The point is this: If I have seemed at any time to make light of
intellectual development, subserving it to intuitional expression, it is
only because nineteen-twentieths of the effort of current educational
systems is toward mental training to the neglect of those individual
potencies which are the first value of each life, and the expression of
which is the first purpose of life itself. My zeal for expression from
within-outward amounts to an enthusiasm, and is stated rushingly as an
heroic measure is brought, only because it is so pitifully overlooked in
the present scheme of things.

Latin, mathematics, the great fact-world, above all that endlessly
various plane of fruition which Nature and her infinite processes amount
to, are all splendid tissue-builders; and of this tissue is formed the
calibre of the individual by which his service is made effective to the
world. As I have already written, one cannot shoot a forty-five
consciousness through a twenty-two brain. The stirring concept cannot
get through to the world except through the brain.

In the last sentence I see a difficulty for the many who still believe
that the brain contains the full consciousness. Holding that, most of
the views stated here fall away into nothing. Perhaps one is naïve, not
to have explained before, that from the view these things are written
the brain is but a temporary instrument of expression--most superb and
admirable at its best, but death is at work upon it; at its best, a
listener, an interpreter, without creativeness; an instrument, like the
machine which my fingers touch, but played upon not only from without
but within.

If you look at the men who have become great in solitude, in prison,
having been forced to turn their eyes within--you will find a hint to
the possibilities. Yet they are rare compared to the many upon whom
solitude has been thrust as the most terrible punitive process. By the
time most men reach mid-life they are entirely dependent upon exterior
promptings for their mental activity--the passage entirely closed
between their intrinsic content and the brain that interprets. Solitary
confinement makes madmen of such--if the door cannot be wrenched ajar.

The human brain is like a sieve, every brain differently meshed. If the
current flows continually in one direction either from within-outward,
or from the world-inward, the meshes become clogged, and can be cleansed
only, as a sieve is flushed, by reversing the current. The ideal is to
be powerful mentally and spiritually, of course. "I would have you
powerful in two worlds," a modern Persian mystic said to one of his
disciples.... Still I would not hold the two methods of development of
equal importance. The world is crowded with strongly developed
intellects that are without enduring significance, because they are not
ignited by that inner individual force which would make them inimitable.

A man must achieve that individuality which is not a threescore-ten
proposition, and must begin to express it in his work before he can take
his place in the big cosmic orchestra. In fact, he must achieve his own
individuality before he has a decent instrument to play upon, or any
sense of interpretation of the splendid scores of life. In fact again, a
man must achieve his own individuality before he can realise that the
sense of his separateness which he has laboured under so long is a sham
and a delusion.

Until a man has entered with passion upon the great conception of the
Unity of all Existing Things (which is literally brooding upon this
planet in these harrowing but high days of history), he is still out of
the law, and the greater his intellect, the more destructive his energy.
Time has made the greatest of the _sheer_ intellects of the past appear
apish and inane; and has brought closer and closer to us with each
racial crisis (sometimes the clearer according to their centuries of
remoteness) those spiritual intelligences who were first to bring us the
conception of the Oneness of All Life, and the immortal fire,
Compassion, which is to be the art of the future.

Finally, a man must achieve his own individuality before he has anything
fit to give the world. He achieves this by the awakening of the giant
within, whom many have reason to believe is immortal. Inevitably this
awakening is an illumination of the life itself; and in the very dawn of
this greater day, in the first touch of that white fire of Compassion,
the Unity of All Things is descried.



"We will do a book of travels," I said to the little girl. "You have
done Holland; you are on China. After you have made your picture of
China, I'll tell you what I saw there in part, and give you a book to

So often her own progress has given me a cue like this for the future
work. I put The Abbot on this travel-work for a few days, starting him
with Peru. He found a monastery there. In India he found monasteries,
even in the northern woods of Ontario. He would shut his eyes; the
setting would form, and after his period of imaginative wandering, the
monastery would be the reward. I will not attempt to suggest the
psychology of this, but to many there may be a link in it. In any event,
the imagination is developed, and its products expressed.

The little girl was asked to write an essay on a morning she had spent
along the Shore. She sat in the Study with a pencil and paper on her
lap--and long afterward, perhaps ten minutes, exclaimed:

"Why, I began at the beginning and told the whole story to myself, and
now I've got to begin all over and write it, and it won't be half so

"Yes, that's the hard part, to put it down," I said. "Write and write
until you begin to dream as you write--until you forget hand and paper
and place, and instead of dreaming simply make the hand and brain
interpret the dream as it comes. That is the perfect way."

In these small things which I am printing of the little girl's, you will
get a glimpse of her reading and her rambles. Perhaps you will get an
idea, more clearly than I can tell it, of the nature of the philosophy
back of the work here, but there can be no good in hiding that. All who
come express themselves somehow each day. I have merely plucked these
papers from the nearest of scores of her offerings. There seems to be a
ray in everything she does, at least one in a paper. What is more
cheerfully disclosed than anything else, from my viewpoint, is the
quickening imagination. Apparently she did not title this one:

     Nature is most at home where man has not yet started to build
     his civilisation. Of course, she is everywhere--in Germany,
     in Canada and California, but the Father is more to be seen
     with her in the wild places.

     In the beginning everything belonged to Nature. She is the
     Mother. Flowers, then, could grow where and when they wanted
     to, without being placed in all kinds of star and round and
     square shapes. Some of their leaves could be longer than
     others if Nature liked, without being cut. The great trees,
     such as beeches, elms, oaks and cedars, could coil and curve
     their branches without the thought of being cut down for a
     sidewalk, or trimmed until they were frivolous nothings.
     Small stones and shells could lie down on a bed of moss at
     the feet of these trees and ask questions that _disgraced_
     Mr. Beech. (But of course they were young.) The flower
     fairies could sit in the sunlight and laugh at the simple
     little stones.

     Oh! dear, I just read this through and it's silly. It sounds
     like some kind of a myth, written in the Fifteenth Century
     instead of the Twentieth, but I am not going to tear it up.
     The thing I _really_ wanted to write about this morning was
     the goodness of being alive here in winter.

After a long, lovely sleep at night, in a room with wide-open windows
and plenty of covers, you wake up fresh and happy. From the East comes
up over the frozen Lake, the sun sending streaks of orange, red, yellow,
all through the sky.

Here and there are little clouds of soft greys and pinks, which look
like the fluffy heads of young lettuce.

Venus in the south, big and wonderful, fades out of sight when the last
shades of night pass out of the sky.

Dress, every minute the sky growing more brilliant, until you cannot
look at it. A breakfast of toast and jam--just enough to make you feel
like work.

A short walk to the Study with the sweet smell of wood-smoke sharpening
the air. Then in the Study, reading essays by great men, especially of
our favourite four Americans, Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, and Lincoln. A
wonderful Nature essay from Thoreau!

       *       *       *       *       *

So many things of Nature are spoiled to make more money for men; so many
lambs and horses and birds are killed to make coats and hats. Horses are
killed and sold as beef, and the animals are slaughtered in such hideous
and vulgar ways--maddened with fear in butchers' pens before the end.
Wise people know that fears are poison. Day by day and year by year
these poisons are being worked into our bodies until we get used to them
and then we find it hard to stop eating meat. A person in this condition
is never able to associate with the mysteries of earth, such as fairies
and nymphs of flowers, water and fire, nor with the real truths of
higher Nature, which men should know.

In among the rocks and mountains I can imagine cross, ugly little gnomes
going about their work--I mean their _own_ work and affairs. To me it
seems that gnomes are not willing to associate with people; they haven't
got the time to bother with us. They go grumbling about, muttering:
"Somebody sat on my rock; somebody sat on my rock."

I would like to see them and find out what they are so busy about; see
the patterns of their leathery little clothes; their high hats, leathery
capes and aprons. Some time I will see them. I am not familiar with all
this, but I imagine very thick leather belts and buckles. Their feet are
small, but too big _for them_, and make a little clatter as they go over
the rocks. Their hands I cannot see; they must be under the cape or
somewhere that I do not know of.

The Spring, I think, is the best time for the little green woodsmen. The
trees are beginning to get pale-green buds, and the ground is all damp
from being frozen so long. The woodsmen sing a great deal then and laugh
and talk. They come to the edge of the river when a boat comes in, but
if one moves quickly they all run away.

I think there must have been many happy little fairies and cross old
gnomes in the northern woods where I stayed a week last summer. There
were so many great rocks, so many trees and all. Many mysteries must
have floated around me wanting me to play with them, but I wasn't ready.
Fairies were only a dream to me then. But some time I must have been a
friend of the fairies, for it seems to me that I have seen them, and
spent a good deal of time with them, because the memories are still with
me. I will spend most of my spare time with them next summer and learn
much more about them.

       *       *       *       *       *

... She could get no further on the Chinese picture, except that the low
street lamps were shaped like question-marks. I told her there was
something in that street if she could find it, suggesting that she might
think hard about it the last thing at night before she went to sleep,
but I have heard nothing further. On occasions I have been stopped
short. For instance, yesterday the little girl began to tell me
something with great care, and I was away until she was in the middle of
the story, and the intimate gripping thing about it aroused me. I told
her to write the thing down just as she had told it, with this result:

     "... Every little while, when I am not thinking of any one
     thing, there is a voice inside. It seems to be telling me
     something, but I never know what it says. I never wanted or
     tried to know until a month ago, but it stops before I can
     get the sense of it. It is three things, I am sure, because
     after the voice stops these three things run through my mind,
     just as quick as the voice came and went away: A thought
     which is full of mystery; another one that is terrible; and
     the third which is strange but very funny. The third seems to
     be connected with Mother in some way; something she said
     many, many years ago.... I asked Mother to talk that way, and
     she talked like old country women, but it was not the voice I
     asked for."

I have read this many times, unable to interpret. One of the loveliest
things about the child-mind is its expectancy for answers, for
fulfilments at once.

"I do not know what it means," I said. "If some answer came, I could not
be sure that it was the perfect one, but I am thinking about it every
day, and perhaps something will come."

These are serious things.... Here is one of her more recent products on

     If one wants to have perfect beauty and the odour of the Old
     Mother herself in his yard, he will plant roses. I cannot
     express in words what roses bring to me when I look down at
     them or sniff their magnificently shaded petals. They seem to
     pull me right out of the body and out into another world
     where everything is beautiful, and where people do not choose
     the red ramblers for their garden favourites, but the real
     tea roses.

     I took three roses into a house--a red one, a white one, very
     much finer than the first, and the third a dream-rose that
     takes me into the other world--the kind of yellow rose that
     sits in a jet bowl leaning on the cross in the Chapel room
     every day.

     A girl that was in that house looked at the roses.

     "Oh," she shouted, after a moment, "what a grand red one that

     "Which one do you like best?" I asked.

     "The red one, of course," the girl answered.

     "Why, the other two are much----" I began.

     "No, they ain't," said the girl. "Don't you know every one
     likes them red ones best?"

     I walked away. I believe that city people who never see
     Nature, know her better from their reading than country
     people who are closer to her brown body (than those who walk
     on pavements) but never look any higher. And I think country
     people like red roses because they are like them. The red
     roses do not know they are not so beautiful as the yellow
     teas; they bloom just as long and often, and often grow
     bigger. They are not ashamed.

     A mystery to me: A tiny piece of exquisite foliage is put
     into the ground. After a while its leaves all fall off and it
     is bare and brown, like a little stick in the snow. Yet down
     under the snow at the roots of the brown stick, fairy rose
     spirits are being worked up into the small stalks. They have
     been waiting for a rose to be put into the ground that is
     fine enough for them, and it has come--and others. Months
     afterward, a dozen or more of pinkish yellow-golden roses
     come out, loosening as many fairy spirits again. Isn't it all

I enjoyed the first reading of this which the little girl called A Grey

     Small, cold, happy waves constantly rolling up on the tan
     shore. The air is crisp and cool, but there is very little
     wind. Everything is looking fresh and green. The train on the
     crossing makes enough noise for six, with a screeching of
     wheels and puffing of steam. The tug and dredge on the
     harbour are doing their share, too. All is a happy workday
     scene. I started in this morning to finish an essay I had
     begun the day before. After a little while, I opened the
     window, and the happy working sounds came into the room. I
     could not finish that essay; I had to write something about
     the grey happy day.

     On a grey day I delight in studying the sky, for it is always
     so brimming full of pictures. Pictures of every kind. It was
     on a grey day like this in the early Spring that "Cliff" made
     us see the great snow giants on the other side of the water,
     cleaning away all the snow and ice with great shovels and
     pick-axes. It was on a grey day that a Beech tree made me see
     that all the rocks, bugs, flowers, trees, and people are only
     one. These grey days that people find so much fault with, if
     they are not so important as the days when the sun cooks you,
     they are far more wonderful! One's imagination can wander
     through the whole universe on grey days. The pictures in the
     sky give one hints of other worlds, for there are so many
     different faces, different and strange lands and people.
     Far-off houses, kingdoms, castles, birds, beasts and
     everything else. Such wonderful things. Sometimes I see huge
     dragons, and then the cloud passes and the dragons go away.
     The sky is always changing. The pictures never last, but new
     ones come.


What wonderful things come of little talks. I mean the right kind. Whole
lives changed, perhaps by a half-hour's talk, or the same amount of time
spent in reading. Man comes to a point in life, the half-way house, I
have heard it called, when he either takes the right path which leads to
the work that was made for him or he goes the wrong. Oftentimes a short
talk from one who knows will set a man on the right track. One man goes
the wrong way through many a danger and pain and suffering, and finally
wakes up to the right, goes back, tells the others, and saves many from
going the wrong way and passing through the same pain and suffering.

At breakfast this morning we were talking about the universe from the
angels around the throne to the little brown gnomes that work so hard,
flower fairies, and wood and water nymphs and nixies. Such a strange,
wild, delightful feeling comes over me when I hear about the little
brown and green gnomes or think of them. One who does not know the
fairies well would think they were all brothers, but it doesn't seem so
to me. When I think of the green gnomes, a picture always comes of a
whole lot of beautiful springy-looking bushes. I can always see the
green gnomes through the bushes. They pay no attention to me, but just
go right on laughing and talking by themselves. But when I think of
brown gnomes a very different picture comes. It is Fall then, and leaves
are on the ground and brown men are working so hard and so fast their
hands and feet are just a blur. They give you a smile if you truly love
them. But that is all, for they are working hard.

If one were well and could master his body in every way, he would be
able to see plainly the white lines which connect everything together,
and the crowns that are on the heads of the ones who deserve them. And
one could see the history of a stone, a tree, or any _old_ thing.

What wonderful stories there would be in an old Beech tree that has
stood in the same place for more than a hundred years, and has seen all
the wonders that came that way. Their upper branches are always looking
up, and so at night they would see all the Sleep-bodies that pass that
woods. The beech trees would make the old witches feel so good and happy
by fanning them with their leaves and shading them that the witches
would undo all the evil spells they had cast on people, and so many
other wonderful stories would there be in a Beech tree's history.



It was mid-fall. Now, with the tiling, planting, stone study and stable,
the installation of water and trees and payments on the land, I
concluded that I might begin on that winter and summer dream of a
house--in about Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-three.... But I had been
seeing it too clearly. So clear a thought literally draws the particles
of matter together. A stranger happened along and said:

"When I get tired and discouraged again, I'm coming out here and take
another look at your little stone study."

I asked him in. He was eager to know who designed the shop. I told him
that the different city attics I had worked in were responsible. He
found this interesting. Finally I told him about the dream that I hoped
some time to come true out yonder among the baby elms--the old father
fireplace and all its young relations, the broad porches and the nine
stone piers, the bedrooms strung on a balcony under a roof of glass,
the brick-paved _patio_ below and the fountain in the centre.... As he
was a very good listener, I took another breath and finished the
picture--to the sleeping porch that would overhang the bluff,
casement-windows, red tiles that would dip down over the stone-work,
even to the bins for potatoes and apples in the basement.

"That's very good," he said. "I'm an architect of Chicago. I believe I
can frame it up for you."

When a thing happens like that, I invariably draw the suspicion that it
was intended to be so. Anyway, I had to have plans.... When they came
from Chicago, I shoved the date of building ahead to Nineteen-Thirty,
and turned with a sigh to the typewriter.... Several days afterward
there was a tap at the study door in the drowsiest part of the
afternoon. A contractor and his friend, the lumberman, were interested
to know if I contemplated building. Very positively I said not--so
positively that the subject was changed. The next day I met the
contractor, who said he was sorry to hear of my decision, since the
lumberman had come with the idea of financing the stone house, but was a
bit delicate about it, the way I spoke.

This was information of the most obtruding sort.... One of my
well-trusted friends once said to me, looking up from a work-bench in
his own cellar:

"When I started to build I went in debt just as far as they would let

He had one of the prettiest places I ever saw--of a poor man's kind, and
spent all the best hours of his life making it lovelier.

"And it's all paid for?" I asked.

He smiled. "No--not by a good deal less than half."

"But suppose something should happen that you couldn't finish paying for

"Well, then I've had a mighty good time doing it for the other fellow."

That was not to be forgotten.

So I went down the shore with the lumberman, and we sat on the sand
under a pine tree.... On the way home I arranged for excavation and the
foundation masonry.... I'm not going to tell you how to build a house,
because I don't know. I doubt if ever a house was built with a completer
sense of detachment on the part of the nominal owner--at times.... When
they consulted me, I referred to the dream which the architect had
pinned to matter in the form of many blue-prints--for a time.

As the next Spring and the actual building advanced, chaos came down
upon me like the slow effects of a maddening drug. For two years I had
ridden through the little town once or twice a day for mail; and had
learned the pleasure of nodding to the villagers--bankers, doctors,
merchants, artisans, labourers and children. I had seldom entered stores
or houses and as gently as possible refrained from touching the social
system of the place. Our lives were very full on the Shore.

There was a real pleasure to me in the village. Many great ones have
fallen before the illusion of it.... There is a real pleasure to me in
the village still, but different.

Long ago, I went up into the north country and lived a while near a
small Indian party on the shore of a pine-shadowed river. I watched
their life a little. They knew fires and enjoyed tobacco. They feasted
upon the hard, gamey bass, and sent members of their party to the fields
for grains. Their children lived in the sun--a strange kind of
enchantment over it all. I stood high on a rock above the river one
evening across from the Indian camp, with a Canadian official who was a
kind of white father to the remnant of the Indian tribes in that part of
the province. We talked together, and as we talked the sun went down. An
old Indian arose on the bank opposite. In the stillness we heard him tap
out the ashes of his pipe upon a stone. Then he came down like a dusky
patriarch to the edge of the stream, stepped into his canoe and lifted
the paddle.

There was no sound from that, and the stream was in the hush of evening
and summer. He had seen us and was coming across to pay his respects to
my companion. When he was half-way across, a dog detached himself from
the outer circle of the fire and began to swim after the canoe. We saw
the current swing him forward, and the little beast's adjustment to it.
The canoe had come straight. It was now in the still water beneath, and
the dog in the centre of the stream--the point of a rippling wedge.

The Indian drew up his craft, and started to climb to us. The dog made
the bank, shook himself and followed upward, but not with a scamper like
a white man's dog, rather a silent keeping of distance. Just below us
the Indian halted, turned, picked up with both hands a rock the size of
a winter turnip and heaved it straight down at the beast's head. No

The dog lurched sideways on the trail, so that the missile merely grazed
him. We heard a subdued protest of one syllable, as he turned and went
back. It was _all_ uninteresting night to me now--beauty,
picturesqueness, enchantment gone, with that repressed yelp. I didn't
even rise from my seat on the rock. I had looked too close. That night
the Canadian said:

"The Indian race is passing out. They do not resist. I go from camp to
camp in the Spring, and ask about the missing friends--young and old,
even the young married people. They point--back and upward--as if one
pointed over his shoulder toward a hill just descended.... It's
tuberculosis mainly. You see them here living a life designed to bring
anything but a corpse back to health. When the winter comes they go to
the houses, batten the windows, heap up the fires, and sit beside them,
sleep and have their food beside them, twenty in a room. Before Spring,
the touched ones cough, and are carried out. They seem to know that the
race is passing. They do not resist--they do not care to live

Had it not been for that hurled rock which broke open the old Indian's
nature for me, I should have preserved a fine picture perhaps, but it
would not have been grounded upon wisdom, and therefore would have
amounted to a mere sentiment. It was the same with the country town,
when the house-building forced me to look closely at the separate groups
of workmen that detached themselves from the whole, and came to build
the house. I think I can bring the meaning even clearer through another

... One of the young men here loved the sunlight on his shoulders so
well--had such a natural love for the feel of light and air upon his
bare flesh--that he almost attained that high charm of forgetting how
well he looked.... The country people occasionally come down to the
water on the Sabbath (from their homes back on the automobile routes and
the interurban lines), and for what they do not get of the natural
beauty of shore and bluff, I have a fine respect. However, they didn't
miss the Temporary Mr. Pan.

They complained that he was exposing himself, even that he was

Now I am no worshipper of nudity. I'd like to be, but it disappoints in
most cases. There is always a strain about an object that is conscious
of itself--and that nudity which is unconscious of itself is either
shameless, an inevitable point of its imperfection anatomically for the
trained eye; or else it is touched with divinity and does not frequent
these shores.

The human body has suffered the fate of all flesh and plant-fibre that
is denied light. A certain vision must direct all growth--and vision
requires light. The covered things are white-lidded and abortive,
scrawny from struggle or bulbous from the feeding dream into which they
are prone to sink.

It will require centuries for the human race to outgrow the shames which
have come to adhere to our character-structure from recent generations.
We have brutalised our bodies with these thoughts. We associate women
with veils and secrecy, but the trouble is not with them, and has not
come from women, but from the male-ordering of women's affairs to
satisfy his own ideas of possession and conservation. The whole cycle of
human reproduction is a man-arrangement according to present standards,
and every process is destructively bungled. However, that's a life-work,
that subject.

In colour, texture and contour, the thoughts of our ancestors have
debased our bodies, organically and as they are seen. Nudity is not
beautiful, and does not play sweetly upon our minds because of this
heritage. The human body is associated with darkness, and the place of
this association in our minds is of corresponding darkness.

The young man and I talked it over. We decided that it would be a
thankless task for him to spend the summers in ardent endeavour to
educate the countryside by browning his back in public. _That_ did not
appeal to us as a fitting life-task; moreover, his project would
frequently be interrupted by the town marshal. As a matter of truth, one
may draw most of the values of the actinic rays of the sun through thin
white clothing; and if one has not crushed his feet into a revolting
mass in pursuit of the tradesmen, he may go barefooted a little while
each day on his own grass-plot without shocking the natives or losing
his credit at the bank. The real reason for opening this subject is to
express (and be very sure to express without hatred) certain facts in
the case of the countryside which complained.

They are villagers and farm-people who live with Mother Nature without
knowing her. They look into the body of Nature, but never see her face
to face. The play of light and the drive of intelligence in her eyes is
above the level of their gaze, or too bright. Potentially they have all
the living lights--the flame immortal, but it is turned low. It does not
glorify them, as men or parents or workmen. It does not inspire them to
Questing--man's real and most significant business. They do not know
that which is good or evil in food, in music, colour, fabric, books, in
houses, lands or faith. They live in a low, lazy rhythm and attract unto
themselves inevitably objects of corresponding vibration. One observes
this in their children, in their schools and most pathetically in their
churches. They abide dimly in the midst of their imperfections, but with
tragic peace. When their children revolt, they meet on every hand the
hideous weight of matter, the pressure of low established forces, and
only the more splendid of these young people have the integrity of
spirit to rise above the resistance.

As for the clothing that is worn, they would do better if left suddenly
naked as a people, and without preconceptions, were commanded to find
some covering for themselves. As herds, they have fallen into a
descending arc of usage, under the inevitable down-pull of trade. Where
the vibrations of matter are low, its responsive movement is gregarian
rather than individual. The year around, these people wear
clothing,--woollen pants and skirts, which if touched with an iron,
touched with sunlight, rain or any medium that arouses the slumbering
quantities, the adjacent nostril is offended.

They are heavy eaters of meat the year round. They slay their pets with
as little concern as they gather strawberries. Their ideas of virtue and
legitimacy have to do with an ecclesiastical form, as ancient as Nineveh
and as effaced in meaning. They accept their children, as one pays a
price for pleasure; and those children which come from their stolen
pleasures are either murdered or marked with shame. Their idea of love
is made indefinite by desire, and their love of children has to do with
the sense of possession.

They are not significant men in their own fields; rarely a good mason, a
good carpenter, a good farmer. The many have not even found the secret
of order and unfolding from the simplest task. The primary meaning of
the day's work in its relation to life and blessedness is not to be
conceived by them. They are taught from childhood that first of all work
is for bread; that bread perishes; therefore one must pile up as he may
the where-with to purchase the passing bread; that bread is bread and
the rest a gamble.... They answer to the slow loop waves which enfold
the many in amusement and opinion, in suspicion and cruelty and
half-truth. To all above, they are as if they were not; mediocre men,
static in spiritual affairs, a little pilot-burner of vision flickering
from childhood, but never igniting their true being, nor opening to them
the one true way which each man must go alone, before he begins to be
erect in other than bone and sinew.

They cover their bodies--but they do not cover their faces nor their
minds nor their souls. And this is the marvel, _they are not ashamed!_
They reveal the emptiness of their faces and the darkness of their minds
without complaining to each other or to the police. From any standpoint
of reality, the points of view of the many need only to be expressed to
reveal their abandonment.... But this applies to crowds anywhere, to the
world-crowd, whose gods to-day are trade and patriotism and

The point is, we cannot look back into the centres of the many for our
ideals. There is no variation to the law that all beauty and progress is
ahead. Moreover, a man riding through a village encounters but the mask
of its people. We have much practice through life in bowing to each
other. There is a psychology about greetings among human kind that is
deep as the pit. When the thing known as Ignorance is established in a
community, one is foolish to rush to the conclusion that the trouble is
merely an unlettered thing.

No one has idealised the uneducated mind with more ardour than the one
who is expressing these studies of life. But I have found that the mind
that has no quest, that does not begin its search among the world's
treasures from a child, is a mind that is just as apt to be aggressive
in its small conceptions as the most capacious and sumptuously
furnished, and more rigorous in its treatment of dependents. I have
found that the untrained mind is untrained in the qualities of
appreciation, is not cleanly, nor workmanlike, nor spiritual, nor
generous, nor tolerant; that the very fundamentals of its integrity will
hurt you; that it talks much and is not ashamed.

All literature has overdone the dog-like fidelity of simple minds. The
essence of loyalty of man to man is made of love-capacity and
understanding--and these are qualities that come from evolution of the
soul just as every other fine thing comes.

We perceive the old farmer on his door-step in the evening--love and
life-lines of labour upon him; we enjoy his haleness and laughter....
But that is the mask. His mind and its every attribute of consciousness
is designed to smother an awakened soul. You have to bring God to him in
his own terminology, or he will fight you, and believe in his heart that
he is serving his God. His generation is moving slowly now, yet if his
sons and daughters quicken their pace, he is filled with torments of
fear or curses them for straying.

I would not seem ill-tempered. I have long since healed from the chaos
and revelations of building. It brought me a not too swift review of
life as I had met it afield and in the cities for many years. The fact
that one little contract for certain interior installations was strung
over five months, and surprised me with the possibilities of
inefficiency and untruth, is long since forgotten. The water runs. Ten
days after peace was established here, all my wounds were healing by
first intention; and when I saw the carpenters at work on a new contract
the day after they left me, the pity that surged through my breast was
strangely poignant, and it was for them. The conduct of their days was a
drive through the heaviest and most stubborn of materials, an arriving
at something like order against the grittiest odds, and they must do it
again and again. There is none to whom I cannot bow in the evening--but
the idealisation of the village lives is changed and there is knowledge.

I had been getting too comfortable. One cannot do his service in the
world and forget its fundamentals. We have to love before we can serve,
but it is fatuous to love blindly. The things that we want are ahead.
The paths behind do not contain them; the simplicity of peasants and
lowly communities is not merely unlettered. One does not need to deal
with one small town; it is everywhere. The ways of the crowds are small
ways. We wrong ourselves and bring imperfection to our tasks when we
forget that. We love the Indian crossing the stream in the great and
gracious night--but God pity the Indian's dog. We must look close at
life, and not lie to ourselves, because our ways are cushioning a

All idealism that turns back must suffer the fate of mere sentiments. We
must know the stuff the crowds are made of, if we have a hand in
bringing in the order and beauty. You have heard men exclaim:

"How noble are the simple-minded--how sweet the people of the
Countryside--how inevitable and unerring is the voice of the people!" As
a matter of truth, unless directed by some strong man's vision, the
voice of the people has never yet given utterance to constructive truth;
and the same may be said of those who cater to the public taste in
politics or the so-called arts. The man who undertakes to give the
people what the people want is not an artist or a true leader of any
dimension. He is a tradesman and finds his place in his generation.

The rising workman in any art or craft learns by suffering that all good
is ahead and not elsewhere; that he must dare to be himself even if
forced to go hungry for that honour; that he must not lose his love for
men, though he must lose his illusions. Sooner or later, when he is
ready, one brilliant little fact rises in his consciousness--one that
comes to stay, and around which all future thinking must build itself.
It is this:

When one lifts the mask from any crowd, commonness is disclosed in
every change and movement of personality. At the same time, the crowds
of common people are the soil of the future, a splendid mass
potentially, the womb of every heroism and masterpiece to be.

All great things must come from the people, because great leaders of the
people turn their passionate impregnation of idealism upon them. First
the dreamer dreams--and then the people make it action....

What we see that hurts us so as workmen is but the unfinished picture,
the back of the tapestry.

To be worth his spiritual salt, the artist, any artist, must turn every
force of his conceiving into that great restless Abstraction, the many;
he must plunge whole-heartedly in the doing, but cut himself loose from
the thing done; at least, he must realise that what he is willing to
give could not be bought.... When he is quite ready, there shall arise
for him, out of the Abstraction, something finished; something as
absolutely his own as the other half of his circle.

The one relentless and continual realisation which drives home to a man
who has any vision of the betterment of the whole, is the low-grade
intelligence of the average human being. Every man who has ever worked
for a day out of himself has met this fierce and flogging truth. The
personal answer to this, which the workman finally makes, may be of
three kinds: He may desert his vision entirely and return to operate
among the infinite small doors of the many--which is cowardice and the
grimmest failure. He may abandon the many and devote himself to the few
who understand; and this opens the way to the subtler and more powerful
devils which beset and betray human understanding, for we are not
heroically moulded by those who love us but by the grinding of those who
revile. If a key does not fit, it must be ground; and to be ground, its
wards made true and sharp, it must be held somehow in a vise. The
grinding from above will not bite otherwise. So it is with the workman.
He must fix himself first in the knowledge of the world....

The workman of the true way abandons neither his vision nor the world.
Somehow to impregnate the world with his particular vision--all good
comes from that. In a word, the workman either plays to world entirely,
which is failure; to his elect entirely, which is apt to be a greater
failure; or, intrenched in the world and thrilling with aspiration, he
may exert a levitating influence upon the whole, just as surely as wings
beat upward. There are days of blindness, and the years are long, but in
this latest struggle a man forgets himself, which is the primary

The real workman then--vibrating between compassion and contempt--his
body vised in the world, his spirit struggling upward, performs his
task. When suddenly freed, he finds that he has done well. If one is to
have wings, and by that I don't mean feathers but the intrinsic
levitating force of the spiritual life, be very sure they must be grown
here, and gain their power of pinion in the struggle to lift matter.



In dealing with the young, especially with little boys, one of the first
things to establish is gentleness to animals. Between the little boy and
the grown man all the states of evolution are vaguely reviewed, as they
are, in fact, in that more rapid and mysterious passage between
conception and birth. Young nations pass through the same phases, and
some of them are abominable. The sense of power is a dangerous thing.
The child feels it in his hands, and the nation feels it in its first
victory.... In the Chapel during a period of several days we talked
about the wonder of animals (the little boys of the house present) and
the results were so interesting that I put together some of the things
discussed in the following form, calling the paper Adventures in

     As a whole, the styles in cruelty are changing. Certain
     matters of charity as we used to regard them are vulgar now.
     I remember when a great sign, THE HOME OF THE
     FRIENDLESS, used to stare obscenely at thousands of city
     school children, as we passed daily through a certain street.
     Though it is gone now, something of the curse of it is still
     upon the premises. I always think of what a certain observer

     "You would not think the Christ had ever come to a world,
     where men could give such a name to a house of love-babies."

     I remember, too, when there formerly appeared from time to
     time on the streets, during the long summers, _different_
     green-blue wagons. The drivers were different, too--I recall
     one was a hunchback. These outfits formed one of the
     fascinating horrors of our bringing-up--the fork, the noose,
     the stray dog tossed into a maddened pulp of stray dogs, the
     door slammed, and no word at all from the driver--nothing we
     could build on, or learn his character by. He was a part of
     the law, and we were taught then that the law was
     everlastingly right, that we must grind our characters
     against it.... But the green-blue wagons are gone, and the
     Law has come to conform a bit with the character of youth.

     The time is not long since when we met our adventures in
     cruelty alone--no concert of enlightened citizens on these
     subjects--and only the very few had found the flaw in the
     gospel that God had made the animals, and all the little
     animals, for delectation and service of man. Possibly there
     is a bit of galvanic life still in the teaching, but it
     cannot be said to belong to the New Age.

     Economic efficiency has altered many styles for the better.
     Formerly western drovers used to drive their herds into the
     brush for the winters. The few that the winter and the wolves
     didn't get were supposed to be hardy enough to demand a
     price. It was found, however, that wintering-out cost the
     beasts more in vitality than they would spend in seven years
     of labour; that the result was decrepit colts and stringy
     dwarfs for the beef market. Also there was agitation on the
     subject, and the custom passed. City men who owned horses in
     large numbers found their _efficiency_ brought to a higher
     notch at the sacrifice of a little more air and food, warmth
     and rest. There is a far-drive to this appeal, and there are
     those who believe that it will see us through to the

     A woman told this story: "When I was a child in the country
     there was an old cow that we all knew and loved. She was red
     and white like Stevenson's cow that ate the meadow flowers.
     Her name was Mary--Mr. Devlin's Mary. The Devlin children
     played with us, and they were like other children in every
     way, only a little fatter and ruddier perhaps. The calves
     disappeared annually (one of the mysteries) and the Devlin
     children were brought up on Mary's milk. It wasn't milk, they
     said, but pure cream. We came to know Mary, because she was
     always on the roadside--no remote back-pastures for her. She
     loved the children and had to know what passed. We used to
     deck her with dandelions, and often just as we were getting
     the last circlet fastened, old Mary would tire of the game
     and walk sedately out of the ring--just as she would when a
     baby calf had enough or some novice had been milking too
     long. I have been able to understand how much the Hindus
     think of their cattle just by thinking of Mary. For years we
     passed her--to and from school. It was said that she could
     negotiate any gate or lock.

     "Well, on one Spring morning, as we walked by the Devlin
     house, we saw a crated wagon with a new calf inside, and they
     were tying Mary behind. She was led forth. I remember the
     whites of her eyes and her twisted head. Only that, in a kind
     of sickening and pervading blackness. The calf cried to her,
     and Mary answered, and thus they passed.... 'But she is old.
     She dried up for a time last summer,' one of the Devlin
     children said.

     "Devlin wasn't a bad man, a respected churchman.... I spoke
     to certain grown-ups, but did not get the sense of tragedy
     that was mine. No one criticised Devlin. It was the custom,
     they said.... Even the butcher had heard of old Mary.... You
     see how ungrippable, how abstract the tragedy was for a
     child--but you never can know what it showed me of the world.
     None of us who wept that day ate meat for many days. I have
     not since. I cannot."

Her story reminded me sharply of a recent personal experience. I had
been thinking of buying a cow. It appears that there are milch-cows and
beef-cows. Country dealers prefer a blend, as you shall see. I said I
wanted butter and milk, intimating the richer the better; also I wanted
a front-yard cow, if possible.... There was a gentle little Jersey lady
that had eyes the children would see fairies in----

"Yes, she's a nice heifer," the man said, "but now I'm a friend of

"I appreciate that. Isn't she well?"

"Yes, sound as a trivet."

"A good yielder?"

"All of that."

"What's the matter?"

"Well, a cow is like a peach-tree, she doesn't last forever. After the
milktime, there isn't much left for beef----"

"But I don't want to eat her."

"But as an investment--you see, that's where the Jerseys fall down--they
don't weigh much at the butcher's."

The styles change more slowly in the country.... I found this good
economy so prevalent as to be rather high for humour. In fact, that's
exactly why you can't get "grand" stakes in the country.... I related
the episode to a man interested in the prevention of cruelty. He said:

"Don't blame it all on the country. I saw one of those butcher's
abominations in a city street yesterday--cart with crate, new calf
inside, old moaning mammy dragged after to the slaughter--a very
interesting tumbril, but she hadn't conspired against the government.
For a year she had given the best of her body to nourish that little
bewildered bit of veal--and now we were to eat what was left of her....
Also I passed through a certain railway yard of a big city last
holidays. You recall the zero weather? Tier on tier of crated live
chickens were piled there awaiting shipment--crushed into eight-inch
crates, so that they could not lift their heads. Poe pictured an
atrocious horror like that--a man being held in a torture-cell in such a
position that he could not stand erect. It almost broke a man's nerve,
to say nothing of his neck, just to read about it.... I had seen this
thing before--yet never as this time. Queer how these things happen! A
man must see a thing like that just right, in full meaning, and then
tell it again and again--until enough others see, to make it dangerous
to ship that way. I got the idea then, 'Suppose a man would make it his
life-work to change those crates--to make those crates such a stench and
abomination, that poultry butchers would not dare use them. What a
worthy life work that would be!...' And then I thought, 'Why leave it
for the other fellow?...' The personal relation is everything," he

There was something round and equable about this man's talk, and about
his creeds. He was "out for the chickens," as he expressed it. This task
came to him and he refused to dodge. Perhaps he will be the last to see
the big thing that he is doing, for he is in the ruck of it. And then
very often a man sets out to find a passage to India and gets a New
World. In any case, to put four inches on the chicken-crates of America
is very much a man's job, when one considers the relation of tariff to
bulk in freight and express.

Yet there is _efficiency_ even to that added expenditure--a very
thrilling one, if the public would just stop once and think. If you have
ever felt the heat of anger rising in your breast, given way to it, and
suffered the lassitude and self-hatred of reaction, it will be easy for
you to believe the demonstrable truth that anger is a poison. Fear is
another; and the breaking down of tissue as a result of continued
torture is caused by still another poison. The point is that we consume
these poisons. The government is very active in preventing certain
diseased meats from reaching our tables, but these of fear, rage,
blood-madness and last-days-of-agony are subtler diseases which have so
far had little elucidation.

Though this is not a plea for vegetarianism, one should not be allowed
to forget too long the tens of thousands of men and boys who are engaged
in slaughtering--nor the slaughtered.... Long ago there was a story of
an opera cloak for which fifty birds of paradise gave their life and
bloom. It went around the world, that story, and there is much beauty in
the wild to-day because of it. The trade in plumes has suffered. Styles
change--but there is much Persian lamb still worn. Perhaps in good time
the Messiah of the lambs will come forth, as the half-frozen chickens
found theirs in the city yards.

The economical end will not cover all the sins; that is, the repression
of cruelty on an efficiency basis. Repressed cruelty will not altogether
clear the air, nor laws. A true human heart cannot find its peace,
merely because cruelty is concealed. There was a time when we only hoped
to spare the helpless creatures a tithe of their suffering, but that
will not suffice now. A clean-up is demanded and the forces are at work
to bring it about.

Formerly it was granted that man's rise was mainly on the necks of his
beasts, but that conception is losing ground. Formerly, it was enough
for us to call attention on the street to the whip of a brutal driver,
but it has been found that more is required. You may threaten him with
the police, even with lynching; you may frighten him away from his
manhandling for the moment--but in some alley, he is alone with his
horse afterward. His rage has only been flamed by resistance met. It is
he who puts the poor creature to bed.

The fear of punishment has always been ineffectual in preventing crime,
for the reason that the very passion responsible for the crime masters
the fear.... It is difficult to discuss these ravages on a purely
physical basis, for the ramifications of cruelty are cumulatively
intense, the higher they are carried. Ignorance is not alone the lack of
knowing things; it is the coarseness of fibre which resists all the
fairer and finer bits of human reality. Just so long as men fail to
master the animals of which they are composed, the poor beasts about
them will be harrowingly treated.

So there are many arms to the campaign. Specific facts must be supplied
for the ignorant, an increasingly effective effort toward the general
education of the public; but the central energy must be spent in lifting
the human heart into warmth and sensitiveness.

On a recent January night, an animal welfare society had a call to one
of the city freight-yards where a carload of horses was said to be
freezing to death. It was not a false alarm. The agents knew that these
were not valuable horses. Good stock is not shipped in this precarious
fashion. It was a load of the feeble and the aged and maimed--with a few
days' work left in them, if continuously whipped, gathered from the
fields and small towns by buyers who could realise a dollar or two above
the price of the hide--to meet the demand of the alley-minded of the big
city. The hard part is that it costs just as much pain for such beasts
to freeze to death, in the early stages, at least. The investment would
have been entirely spoiled had it been necessary to furnish blankets for
the shipment.

The public reading a story of this adventure, remarks, "Why, I thought
all that was stopped long ago----"

Just as underwriters will gamble on anything, even to insure a ship that
is to run a blockade, if the premium is right--so will a certain element
of trade take a chance on shipping such horses, until the majority of
people are awake and responsive to the impulses of humanity. It isn't
being sanctified to be above cruelty; it is only the beginning of
manhood proper.

The newspapers and all publicity methods are of great service, but the
mightiest effort is to lift the majority of the people out of the
lethargy which renders them immune to pangs of the daily spectacle. The
remarkable part is that the people are ready, but they expect the
stimulus to come from without instead of from within.

Custom is a formidable enemy--that herd instinct of a people which
causes it to accept as right the methods of the many. Farmers to-day
everywhere are following the manner of Devlin; yet the story brings out
the lineaments of most shocking and unforgettable cruelty. How can one
expect effective revulsion on the part of a band of medical students
when the bearded elders bend peering over their vivisections? What are
children to do when their parents shout _mad-dog_ and run for clubs and
pitch-forks at the passing of a thirst-frenzied brute; or the teamster
when the blacksmith does not know the anatomy of a horse's foot?
Ignorance is the mother of cruelty, and custom is the father.

The great truths that will fall in due time upon all the sciences--upon
astronomy, pathology, even upon criminology--are the results of flashes
of intuition. Again and again this is so. The material mind is proof
against intuition, and of necessity cruel. It keeps on with its
burnings, its lancings, its brandings, its collections of skulls and
cadavers, until its particular enlightener appears. The dreadful thing
to consider is that each department of cruelty brings its activity up
into a frightful state of custom and action, before the exposures begin.

Which brings us to the very pith of the endeavour: The child is ready
to change--that is the whole story. The child is fluid, volatile,
receptive to reason. In all our world-life there is nothing so
ostentatiously or calamitously amiss as the ignorance and customs of our
relation to children. The child will change in a day. The child is ready
for the beauty and the mystery of mercy. The prison-house must not be
closed to sensitiveness and intuition. If that can be prevented the
problem of animal welfare is solved, and in the end we will find that
much more has been done for our children than for the animals. So often
again we set out to discover the passage to India and reach the shores
of a New World.



The first of the young men to come to Stonestudy followed an attraction
which has never been quite definite to me. He was strongly educated,
having studied art and life at Columbia and other places. His chief
interest at first appeared to be in the oriental philosophy which he
alleged to have found in my work. After that he intimated that he
aspired to write. The second young man came from Dakota, also a
college-bred. A teacher there wrote to me about him. I looked at some of
his work, and I found in it potentialities of illimitable promise. I was
not so excited as I would have been had I not met this discovery in
other cases from the generation behind us. Their fleets are upon every

The need of a living was somehow arranged, I worked with the two a while
in the evening on short manuscript matters. In fact, the dollar-end has
not pinched so far; and they help a while in the garden in the
afternoons, designating the period, Track, as they named the little
class after mid-day, Chapel. At first, I was in doubt as to whether they
really belonged to the class. It was primarily designed for the younger
minds--and I was unwilling to change that.

You would think it rather difficult--I know I did--to bring the work in
one class for ages ranging from eleven to twice that. I said to the
young men:

"Of course it is _their_ hour. I don't want to bore you, but come if you
like. Be free to discontinue, if what you get isn't worth the time. As
for me--the young ones come first, and I am not yet ready for two

They smiled. About a week later, they came in a half-hour late. It
happened we had been having an exceptionally good hour.

"I would rather have you not come, if you cannot come on time," I said.

They sat down without any explanation. It was long afterward that I
heard they had been busy about a trunk; that their delay had been
unavoidable in getting it through customs, a barbarous and war-making
inconvenience which cannot flourish much longer. And one day we went out
into the garden together for the hoes, and the Dakota young man said:

"Chapel is the best hour of the day----"

He said more, and it surprised me from one who talked so rarely. This
younger generation, as I have said, has an impediment of speech. It is
not glib nor explanatory.... One of the happiest things that has ever
befallen me is the spirit of the Chapel. It happened that The Abbot
brought in a bit of work that repeated a rather tiresome kind of
mis-technicality--an error, I had pointed out to him before. I took him
to task--lit into him with some force upon his particular needs of
_staying down_ a little each day--or the world would never hear his
voice.... In the silence I found that the pain was no more his than the
others in the room--that they were all sustaining him, their hearts like
a hammock for him, their minds in a tensity for me to stop.... I did.
The fact is, I choked at the discovery.... They were very far from any
competitive ideal. They were one--and there's something immortal about
that. It gave me the glimpse of what the world will some time be. There
is nothing that so thrills as the many made one.... Power bulks even
from this little group; the sense of self flees away; the glow suffuses
all things--and we rise together--a gold light in the room that will
come to all the world.

It is worth dwelling upon--this spirit of the Chapel.... The war has
since come to the world, and many who are already toiling for the
reconstruction write to the Study from time to time--from different
parts of the world. I read the class a letter recently from a young
woman in England. It was like the cry of a soul, and as I looked up from
the paper, a glow was upon their faces. A group of workers in the
Western coast send us their letters and actions from time to time, and
another group from Washington. All these are placed before the Chapel
kindred for inspiration and aliment.

"As this is the time for you to be here," I said one day, "the time
shall come for you to go forth. All that you are bringing to yourselves
from these days must be tried out in the larger fields of the world. You
will meet the world in your periods of maturity and genius--at the time
of the world's greatest need. That is a clue to the splendid quality of
the elect of the generation to which you belong. You are watching the
end of the bleakest and most terrible age--the breaking down at last of
an iron age. It has shattered into the terrible disorder of continental
battlefields. But you belong to the builders, whose names will be called

... I have come to the Chapel torn and troubled; and the spirit of it
has calmed and restored me. They are so ready; they listen and give....
We watch the world tearing down--from this quietude. We have no country
but God's country. Though we live in the midst of partisanship and
madness, we turn our eyes ahead and build our thoughts upon the New
Age--just children.

... For almost a year I had been preparing a large rose-bed--draining,
under-developing the clay, softening the humus. The bed must be
developed first. The world is interested only in the bloom, in the
fruit, but the florists talk together upon their work before the plants
are set. The roses answered--almost wonderfully. They brought me the old
romance of France and memories of the Ireland that has vanished. This
point was touched upon in the Foreword--how in the joy of the roses that
answered months after the labour was forgotten, it suddenly occurred
what a marvel is the culture of the human soul.

The preparation of the mind is paramount. Not a touch of care or a drop
of richness is lost; not an ideal fails. These young minds bring me the
thoughts I have forgotten--fruited thoughts from their own boughs. They
are but awakened. They are not different from other children. Again and
again it has come to me from the wonderful unfoldings under my eyes,
that for centuries the world has been maiming its children--that only
those who were wonderfully strong could escape, and become articulate as

Again, the splendid fact is that children change. You touch their minds
and they are not the same the next day.

... I do not see how preachers talk Sunday after Sunday to
congregations, which, though edified, return to their same little
questionable ways. There are people in the cults who come to teachers
and leaders to be ignited. They swim away with the new message; they
love it and are lifted, but it subsides within them. In their depression
and darkness they seek the outer ignition again. We must be
self-starters.... I once had a class of men and women in the city. We
met weekly and some of the evenings were full of delight and aspiration.
For two winter seasons we carried on the work. After a long summer we
met together and even in the joy of reunion, I found many caught in
their different conventions--world ways, the obvious and the temporal,
as if we had never breathed the open together. It was one of the great
lessons to me--to deal with the younger generation. I sometimes think
the younger the better. I have recalled again and again the significance
of the Catholic priests' saying--"Give us your child until he is seven

In one year I have been so accustomed to see young people change--to
watch the expression of their splendid inimitable selves, that it comes
like a grim horror how the myriads of children are literally sealed in
the world.

We believe that God is in everything; that we would be fools, or at best
innocuous angels if there were not evil in the world for us to be ground
upon and master. We are held and refined between the two
attractions--one of the earth and the other a spiritual uplift. We
believe that the sense of Unity is the first deep breath of the soul,
the precursor of illumination; that the great Brotherhood conception
must come from this sense. Next to this realisation, we believe that
man's idea of time is an illusion, that immortality is here and now;
that nothing can happen to us that is not the right good thing; that the
farther and faster we go, the more beautiful and subtle is the system of
tests which are played upon us; that our first business in life is to
reconcile these tests to our days and hours, to understand and regard
them from the standpoint of an unbroken life, not as a three-score-and-ten
adventure here. You would think these things hard to understand--they
are not. The littlest ones have it--the two small boys of seven and nine,
who have not regularly entered the Chapel.

       *       *       *       *       *

The little girl brought us some of these thoughts in her own way, and
without title:

     The soul is very old. It has much to say, if one learns to
     listen. If one makes his body fine, he can listen better. And
     if one's body is fine from the beginning, it is because he
     has learned to listen before. All that we have learned in
     past ages is coiled within. The good a man does is all kept
     in the soul, and all his lessons. The little fairy people
     that played around him and told him queer things when he was
     first a rock, then flowers and trees, are still printed in
     his soul. The difficult thing is to bring them out into the
     world, to tell them. By listening, in time, the soul's
     wonderful old voice will tell us all things, so that we can
     write and tell about them. Every thought we try so hard to
     get, is there. It is like losing track of a thimble. If you
     know it is somewhere and you need it badly enough, you will
     find it.

     The brain cannot get for us a mighty thought. The brain can
     only translate soul-talk into words. It was not the _brain_
     which told Fichte, a long, long time ago, that Germany was
     going wrong and that _he_ should fix it by telling them the
     right way to go; but it was the brain that told the people
     not to listen to him, but to go on just as they had been.

     It is always the brain that makes one add columns correctly,
     and learn the number tables and how to spell words. But these
     will come themselves, without a life spent studying them.
     After a life of this kind, the soul is not a bit farther
     ahead than it was when coming into the world in the body of a

     The brain will also show one the way to make money, perhaps
     lots of it, the most terrible thing that can happen to you,
     unless, as Whitman says, "you shall scatter with lavish hand
     all that you earn or achieve."



The first and general objection to the plan made much of here, that of
educating young minds in small classes with a design toward promoting
the individual expression, is that the millions of our rising race could
not be handled so; in fact, that it is a physical and economic

The second objection is that I have in a sense called my own to me; that
the great mass of children could not be ignited except by an orderly and
imperceptible process, either from within or without. In fact, it has
been said repeatedly that I deal with extraordinary soil. I wish to
place the situation here even more intimately, in order to cover these
and other objections, for I believe they are to be covered in this book.

... In the last days of the building here, when the fireplace of the
study was the only thing we had in the way of a kitchen-range, when the
places of books became repositories for dishes, and the desk a
dining-table--the little afternoon Chapel was of course out of the
question for some weeks.... I used to see The Abbot (longer-legged each
week) making wide circles against the horizon, his head turned this way,
like a bird's in flight. And The Valley-Road Girl, whom I met rarely,
shook her head at me once, though I had to look close to catch it. The
little girl declared, with a heartbroken look, that the Chapel would
never be the same again after cabbage had been cooked there.

"But it was a wonderful young cabbage from the garden," I said. "And
then the Chapel cannot be hurt by being so differently valuable just
now. It is seeing us through these hard days."

But _I_ missed something through these days; the fact of the matter is,
my thoughts were not so buoyant as usual through the last half of the
days, nor nearly so decent. Something I missed deeply, and moved about
as one does trying to recall a fine dream. The little group had given me
a joy each day that I hadn't realised adequately. That was the secret. I
had been refreshed daily as a workman; learned each day things that I
didn't know; and because of these hours, I had expressed better in the
writing part of the life, the things I did know. Certainly they taught
me the needs of saying exactly what I meant. All of which to suggest
again that teaching is a mutual service. Just here I want to reprint the
first and last thought, so far as I see it, as regards the first
objection: These paragraphs are taken from a former essay on Work,
published in the book called _Midstream_.

"Work and life to me mean the same thing. Through work in my case, a
transfer of consciousness was finally made from animalism to a certain
manhood. This is the most important transaction in the world. Our
hereditary foes are the priests and formalists who continue to separate
a man's work from his religion. A working idea of God comes to the man
who has found his work--and the splendid discovery invariably follows,
that his work is the best expression of God. All education that does not
first aim to find the student's life-work is vain, often demoralising;
because, if the student's individual force is little developed, he sinks
deeper into the herd, under the levelling of the class-room.

"There are no men or women alive, of too deep visioning, nor of too
lustrous a humanity, for the task of showing boys and girls their work.
No other art answers so beautifully. This is the intensive cultivation
of the human spirit. This is world-parenthood, the divine profession.

"_I would have my country call upon every man who shows vision and
fineness in any work, to serve for an hour or two each day, among the
schools of his neighbourhood, telling the children the mysteries of his
daily task--and watching for his own among them._

"All restlessness, all misery, all crime, is the result of the betrayal
of one's inner life. One's work is not being done. You would not see the
hordes rushing to pluck fruits from a wheel, nor this national madness
for buying cheap and selling dear--if as a race we were lifted into our
own work.

"The value of each man is that he has no duplicate. The development of
his particular effectiveness on the constructive side is the one
important thing for him to begin. A man is at his best when he is at his
work; his soul breathes then, if it breathes at all. Of course, the
lower the evolution of a man, the harder it is to find a task for him to
distinguish; but here is the opportunity for all of us to be more eager
and tender.

"When I wrote to Washington asking how to plant asparagus, and found the
answer; when I asked about field-stones and had the output of the
Smithsonian Institute turned over to me, my throat choked; something
sang all around; the years I had hated put on strange brightenings. I
had written Home for guidance. Our national Father had answered. Full,
eager and honest, the answer came--the work of specialists which had
moved on silently for years. I saw the brotherhood of the race in
that--for that can only come to be in a Fatherland.

"Give a man his work and you may watch at your leisure, the clean-up of
his morals and manners. Those who are best loved by the angels, receive
not thrones, but a task. I would rather have the curse of Cain, than the
temperament to choose a work because it is easy.

"Real work becomes easy only when the man has perfected his instrument,
the body and brain. Because this instrument is temporal, it has a height
and limitation to reach. There is a year in which the sutures close.
That man is a master, who has fulfilled his possibilities--whether
tile-trencher, stone-mason, writer, or a carpenter hammering his periods
with nails. Real manhood makes lowly gifts significant; the work of such
a man softens and finishes him, renders him plastic to finer forces.

"No good work is easy. The apprenticeship, the refinement of body and
brain, is a novitiate for the higher life, for the purer
receptivity--and this is a time of strain and fatigue, with breaks here
and there in the cohering line.

"... The best period of a man's life; days of safety and content; long
hours in the pure trance of work; ambition has ceased to burn, doubt is
ended, the finished forces turn _outward_ in service. According to the
measure of the giving is the replenishment in vitality. The pure trance
of work, the different reservoirs of power opening so softly; the
instrument in pure listening--long forenoons passing, without a single
instant of self-consciousness, desire, enviousness, without even
awareness of the body....

"Every law that makes for man's finer workmanship makes for his higher
life. The mastery of self prepares man to make his answer to the world
for his being. The man who has mastered himself is one with all. Castor
and Pollux tell him immortal love stories; all is marvellous and lovely
from the plant to the planet, because man is a lover, when he has
mastered himself. All the folded treasures and open highways of the
mind, its multitude of experiences and unreckonable possessions--are
given over to the creative and universal force--the same force that is
lustrous in the lily, incandescent in the suns, memorable in human
heroism, immortal in man's love for his fellow man.

"This giving force alone holds the workman true through his task. He,
first of all, feels the uplift; he, first of all, is cleansed by the
power of the superb life-force passing through him.... This is rhythm;
this is the cohering line; this is being the One. But there are no two
instruments alike, since we have come up by different roads from the
rock; and though we achieve the very sanctity of self-command, our
inimitable hallmark is wrought in the fabric of our task."

       *       *       *       *       *

Guiding one's own for an hour or two each day is not a thing to do for
money. The more valuable a man's time (if his payment in the world's
standards happens to be commensurate with his skill) the more valuable
he will be to his little group. He will find himself a better workman
for expressing himself to his own, giving the fruits of his life to
others. He will touch immortal truths before he has gone very far, and
Light comes to the life that contacts such fine things. He will see the
big moments of his life in a way that he did not formerly understand.
Faltering will more and more leave his expression, and the cohering line
of his life will become more clearly established.

_A man's own are those who are awaiting the same call that he has
already answered._ Browning stood amazed before a man who had met
Shelley and was not different afterward--a man who could idly announce
that he had met the poet Shelley and not accept it as the big event of a
period. Browning described his dismay at the other in the story of
finding the eagle feather. He did not know the name of the moor; perhaps
men had made much of it; perhaps significant matters of history had been
enacted on that moor, but they were nothing to the mystic. One square of
earth there, the size of a human hand, was sacred to him, because it was
just on that spot that he found an eagle's feather.

I stood waist-high to Conan Doyle years ago--was speechless and outraged
that groups of people who had listened to him speak, could gather about
afterward, talk and laugh familiarly, beg his autograph.... Had he
spoken a word or a sentence to me, it would not have been writ in
water.... There is no hate nor any love like that which the men who are
called to the same task have for each other. The masters of the crafts
know each other; the mystics of the arts know each other.

The preparation for the tasks of the world is potential in the breasts
of the children behind us. For each there is a magic key; and that man
holds it who has covered the journey, or part of it, which the soul of a
child perceives it must set out upon soon. The presence of a good
workman will awaken the potential proclivity of the child's nature, as
no other presence can do. Every autobiography tells the same story--of a
certain wonder-moment of youth, when the ideal appeared, and all
energies were turned thereafter to something concrete which that ideal
signified. Mostly the "great man" did not know what he had done for the
boy.... I would have the great man know. I would have him seek to
perform this miracle every day.

There's always a hush in the room when some one comes to me saying,
"There is a young man who dreams of writing. He is very strange. He does
not speak about it. He is afraid to show what he has done. I wanted to
bring him to you--but he would not come. I think he did not dare."

Formerly I would say, "Bring him over some time," but that seldom
brought the thing about. A man should say, "_Lead me to him now_!..."
Those who want to write for money and for the movies come. They put
stamps upon letters they write. God knows they are not ashamed to come
and ask for help, and explain their symptoms of yearning and show their
structure of desire.... The one who dares not come; who dares not mail
the letter he has written to you, who is speechless if you seek him out,
full of terror and torture before you--take him to your breast for he is
your own. Children you have fathered may not be so truly yours as he....
Do you want a slave, a worshipper--seek out your own. You want nothing
of the sort, but you alone can free the slave, you alone can liberate
his worship to the task. He can learn from you in a week what it would
take years of misery in the world to teach him. You have done in a way
the thing he wants to do--that's the whole magic. You have fitted
somehow to action the dream that already tortures his heart. There is
nothing so pure as work in the world. There is something sacred about a
man's work that is not elsewhere in matter. Teaching is a mutual
service.... It is not that you want his reverence, but because he has
reverence, he is potentially great.

The ignition of one youth, the finding of his work for one youth, is a
worthy life task. The same possibility of service holds true for all
kinds of workmen; these things are not alone for the artists and the
craftsmen and the professions. There is one boy to linger about the
forge of an artisan, after the others have gone. I would have the
artisan forget the thing he is doing, to look into the eyes of that
boy--and the chemist, the electrician, the florist.

It is true that the expression called for here is mainly through written
words, but that is only our particularity. It need not be so.... The
work here would not do for all.... A young woman came and sat with us
for several days. She was so still that I did not know what was
happening in her mind. My experience with the others had prevailed to
make me go slowly, and not to judge. We all liked her, all learned to be
glad that she had come. I asked no expression from her for several days.
When I finally suggested something of the kind, I felt the sudden terror
in the room. Her expression came in a very brief form, and it showed me
the bewilderment with which she had encountered the new points of view
in the Chapel. I learned afresh that one must not hurry; that my first
work was to put to rest her fears of being called upon. I impressed upon
the class the next day that we have all the time there is; that we want
nothing; that our work is to establish in due time the natural
expressions of our faculties. To the young woman in particular, I said
that when she felt like it she could write again.

Presently there was a day's absence and another. I sent the little girl
to see if she were ill. The little girl was gone the full afternoon. All
I ever got from that afternoon was this sentence:

"... She is going to be a nurse."

I have wondered many times if she would have become a nurse had I
allowed her to sit unexpressed for a month instead of a week; permitting
her surely to find her ease and understanding of us.... Still we must
have nurses.

       *       *       *       *       *

... And then the Columbia young man--a big fellow and a soul. I had
talked to him for many nights in an Upper Room class in the city. He
took a cottage here through part of the first summer, before the Chapel
began; then, through the months of Chapel and story work in the evening,
I had good opportunity to become acquainted with the processes of his
mind and heart. Of the last, I have nothing but admiration; invincible
integrity, a natural kindness, a large equipment after the manner of the
world's bestowal--but Inertia.

Now Inertia is the first enemy of the soul. It is caused by pounds. I do
not mean that because a body is big, or even because a body is fat, that
it is of necessity an impossible medium for the expression of the
valuable inner life. There have been great fat men whose spiritual
energy came forth to intensify the vibrations of the race, to say
nothing of their own poundage. It is less a matter of weight after all
than texture; still their fat was a handicap.

These facts are indubitable: Sensuousness makes weight in bulls and men;
all the habits that tend to put on flesh tend to stifle the expression
of the inner life. All the habits which tend to express the human spirit
bring about a refinement of the body. More spiritual energy is required
to express itself through one hundred and ninety pounds than through one
hundred and forty pounds. Accordingly as we progress in the expression
of the spiritual life, the refinement of our bodies takes place. As a
whole, the great servers of men carry little excess tissue; as a whole
in every fabrication of man and nature--the finer the work, the finer
the instrument.

The body is continually levitated through spiritual expression and
continually the more responsive to gravitation by sensuous expression.

The exquisite blending of maiden pink and sunlight gold that is brought
forth in the Clovelly tea-rose could not be produced upon the petals of
a dahlia or a morning-glory. That ineffable hue is not a matter of
pigment alone; it can only be painted upon a surface fine enough. The
texture of the tea-rose petals had to be evolved to receive it.... You
must have gold or platinum points for the finest work; the brighter the
light the finer the carbon demanded. It is so with our bodies. We live
either for appetites or aspirations. The flood of outgoing human spirit,
in its passionate gifts to men, incorporates its living light within the
cells of our voice-cords and brain and hands. With every thought and
emotion we give ourselves to the earth or give ourselves to the sky.

The soul is not inert; its instrument, the body, is so, by its very
nature, formed of matter. The earth has required the quickening of
countless ages to produce the form that we see--the gracious beauties of
the older trees, the contour of cliffs. The very stem and leaf of a
Clovelly rose is beautiful.

The finest rose of this season, when cut at the end of its budding
mystery, left nothing but a little grey plant that you could cover in
your hand. You would not think that such a plant could grow a bachelor's
button; and yet it gave up an individual that long will be remembered in
human minds. I saw that rose in the arch of a child's hand--and all
about were hushed by the picture. For three days it continued to expand,
and for three days more it held its own great beauty and then showered
itself with a laugh upon a desk of blackened oak. We will not forget
that inner ardency--the virgin unfolding to the sun--born of some great
passion that seemed poised between earth and heaven--and expectant of
its own great passion's maturity.

I went back to the little plant, called the children to it and all who
would come. It was grey and neutral like the ground. I think a low song
of content came from it. The Dakotan said so, and he hears these things.
I thought of the ecstasy of the great givings--the ecstasy of the little
old grey woman who had mothered a prophet and heard his voice afar in
the world.

I showed them the lush and vulgar stems of the American beauties, whose
marketable excellence is measured by size, as the cabbage is, and whose
corresponding red is the red of an apoplectic throat. I showed them the
shoulders and mane of a farm-horse and then the shoulders and mane of a
thoroughbred. Upon the first the flies fed without touching a nerve; but
the satin-skinned thoroughbred had to be kept in a darkened stall. The
first had great foliages of coarse mane and tail; the other, a splendid
beast that would kill himself for you, did not run to hair.

We stand to-day the product of our past ideals. We are making our future
in form and texture and dynamics by the force of our present hour
idealism. Finer and finer, more and more immaterial and lustrous we
become, according to the use and growth of our real and inner life. It
is the quickening spirit which beautifies the form, and draws unto
itself the excellences of nature. The spiritual person is lighter for
his size, longer-lived, of more redundant health, of a more natural
elasticity, capable of infinitely greater physical, mental, and moral
tasks, than the tightly compacted earth-bound man.... That is not a mere
painter's flourish which adds a halo to the head of a saint. It is there
if we see clearly. If the sanctity is radiant, the glow is intense
enough to refract the light, to cast a shadow, to be photographed, even
caught with the physical eye.



I was relating the experience of the Columbian. In his case there had
been much time, so there could be no mistake. He had devoted himself to
making and keeping a rather magnificent set of muscles which manifested
even through white man's clothing. He did this with long days of sailing
and swimming, cultivating his body with the assiduity of a
convalescent.... I told him in various ways he was not getting himself
out of his work; explained that true preparation is a tearing off of
husks one after another; that he was a fine creation in husk, but that
he must get down to the quick before he could taste or feel or see with
that sensitiveness which would make any observation of his valuable.
With all this body-building, he was in reality only covering himself the
thicker. If a man does this sort of thing for a woman's eye, he can only
attract a creature of blood and iron whose ideal is a policeman--a very
popular ideal....

For two or three days he would work terrifically, then, his weight
besetting, he would placate himself with long tissue-feeding sports. I
told him that he had everything to build upon; that true strength really
begins where physical strength ends; that all that he had in equipment
must be set in order and integrated with his own intrinsic powers, it
being valueless otherwise. I pointed out that he was but a collector of
things he could not understand, because he did not use them; that the
great doers of the world had toiled for years upon years, as he did not
toil for one week's days successively.... It would not do, except for
short intervals, and it came to me that my best service was to get out
from under. I told him so, and the manliness of his acceptance choked
me. I told him to go away, but to come again later if he mastered
Inertia in part.... It was not all his fault. From somewhere, an income
reached him regularly, a most complete and commanding curse for any boy.

... I do not believe in long vacations. Children turned loose to play
for ten weeks without their tasks, are most miserable creatures at the
end of the first fortnight. They become more at ease as the vacation
period advances, but that is because the husk is thickening, a most
dangerous accretion. The restlessness is less apparent because the body
becomes heavy with play. It all must be worn down again, before the
fitness of faculty can manifest.

If one's body is ill from overexertion, it must rest; if one's mind is
ill from nervousness, stimulation, or from excessive brain activity, it
must rest; but if one's soul is ill, and this is the difference, nothing
but activity will help it, and this activity can only be expressed
through the body and mind. Surplus rest of body or mind is a process of
over-feeding, which is a coarsening and thickening of tissue, which in
its turn causes Inertia, and this word I continually capitalise, for it
is the first devil of the soul.

Before every spiritual illumination, this Inertia, in a measure, must be
overcome. If you could watch the secret life of the great workers of the
world, especially those who have survived the sensuous periods of their
lives, you would find them in an almost incessant activity; that their
sleep is brief and light, though a pure relaxation; that they do not eat
heartily more than once a day; that they reach at times _a great calm_,
another dimension of calm entirely from that which has to do with animal
peace and repletion. It is the peace of intensive production--and the
spectacle of it is best seen when you lift the super from a hive of
bees, the spirit of which animates every moving creature to one
constructive end. That which emanates from this intensity of action is
calm, is harmony, and harmony is rest. A man does not have to sink into
a stupor in order to rest. The hours required for rest have more to do
with the amount of food one takes, and the amount of tissue one tears
down from bad habits, than from the amount of work done. Absolutely this
is true if a man's work is his own peculiar task, for the work a man
loves replenishes.

Desire tears down tissue. There is no pain more subtle and terrifying
than to want something with fury. To the one who is caught in the rhythm
of his task, who can lose himself in it, even the processes which so
continually tear down the body are suspended. In fact, if we could hold
this rhythm, we could not die.

This is what I would tell you: Rhythm of work is joy. This is the full
exercise--soul and brain and body in one. Time does not enter; the self
does not enter; all forces of beautifying play upon the life. There is a
song from it--that some time all shall hear, the song that mystics have
heard from the bees, and from open nature at sunrise, and from all
selfless productivity.

One cannot play until one has worked--that is the whole truth. Ask that
restless child to put a room in order, to cleanse a hard-wood floor, to
polish the bath fixtures. Give him the ideal of cool, flyless
cleanliness in a room. Hold the picture of what you want in mind and
detail it to him, saying that you will come again and inspect his work.
Watch, if you care, the mystery of it. There will be silence until the
thing begins to unfold for him--until the polish comes to wood or metal,
until the thing begins to answer and the picture of completion bursts
upon him. Then you will hear a whistle or a hum, and nothing will break
his theme until the end.

The ideal is everything. You may impress upon him that the light falls
differently upon clean things, that the odour is sweet from clean
things; that the hand delights to touch them, that the heart is rested
when one enters a clean room, because its order is soothing.... It isn't
the room, after all, that gets all the order and cleansing. The whistle
or the hum comes from harmony within.

A man who drank intolerably on occasion told me that the way he "climbed
out" was to get to cleaning something; that his thoughts freshened up
when he had some new surface to put on an object. He meant that the
order came to his chaos, and the influx of life began to cleanse away
the litter of burned tissue and the debris of debauch. One cannot keep
on thinking evil thoughts while he makes a floor or a gun or a field
clean. The thing is well known in naval and military service where
bodies of men are kept in order by continual polishing of brasses and
decks and accoutrements. A queer, good answer comes to some from
softening and cleansing leather. There is a little boy here whose
occasional restlessness is magically done away with, if he is turned
loose with sponge and harness-dressing upon a saddle and bridle. He
sometimes rebels at first (before the task answers and the picture
comes) but presently he will appear wide-eyed and at peace, bent upon
showing his work.

Play is a drug and a bore, until one has worked. I do not believe in
athletics for athletics' sake. Many young men have been ruined by being
inordinately praised for physical prowess in early years. Praise for
bodily excellence appeals to deep vanities and is a subtle deranger of
the larger faculties of man. The athlete emerges into the world
expectant of praise. It is not forthcoming, and his real powers have
been untrained to earn the greater reward. Moreover the one-pointed
training for some great momentary physical stress, in field events, is a
body-breaker in itself, a fact which has been shown all too often and
dramatically. Baseball and billiards are great games, but as
life-quests--except for the few consummately adapted players whose
little orbit of powers finds completion in diamond or green-baized
rectangle--the excessive devotion to such play is desolating, indeed,
and that which is given in return is fickle and puerile adulation.

A man's work is the highest play. There is nothing that can compare with
it, as any of the world's workmen will tell you. It is the thing he
loves best to do--constructive play--giving play to his powers,
bringing him to that raptness which is full inner breathing and
timeless.... We use the woods and shore, water and sand and sun and
garden for recreation. In the few hours of afternoon after Chapel until
supper, no one here actually produces anything but vegetables and tan,
yet the life-theme goes on. We are lying in the sun, and some one
speaks; or some one brings down a bit of copy. We listen to the Lake;
the sound and feel of water is different every day. We find the
stingless bees on the bluff-path on the way to the bathing shore. It is
all water and shore, but there is one place where the silence is deeper,
the sun-stretch and sand-bar more perfect. We are very particular. One
has found that sand takes magnetism from the human body, as fast as
sunlight can give it, and he suggests that we rest upon the grass
above--that fallow lands are fruitful and full of giving. We test it out
like a wine, and decide there is something in it.

There is something in everything.

The Dakotan said (in his clipped way and so low-voiced that you have to
bend to hear him) that the birds hear something in the morning that we
don't get. He says there is a big harmony over the earth at sunrise, and
that the birds catch the music of it, and that songs are their efforts
to imitate it. An afternoon was not badly spent in discussing this. We
recall the fact that it isn't the human ear-drum exactly which will get
this--if it ever comes to us--and that Beethoven was stone-deaf when he
_heard_ his last symphonies, the great pastoral and dance and choral
pieces, and that he wrote them from his inner listening. Parts of them
seem to us strains from that great harmony that the birds are trying to
bring out.

We thought there must be such a harmony in a gilding wheat-field. Wheat
is good; even its husk is good; beauty and order and service have come
to it. There is dissonance from chaos; the song clears as the order
begins. Order should have a Capital too. All rising life is a putting of
surfaces and deeps in Order. The word Cosmos means Order.... Wheat has
come far, and one does well to be alone for a time in a golden afternoon
in a wheat-field just before cutting. One loves the Old Mother better
for that adventure. She must give high for wheat. She must be virgin and
strong and come naked and unashamed to the sun to bring forth wheat. She
must bring down the spirit of the sun and blend it with her own--for
wheat partakes of the _alkahest_. Wheat is a master, an aristocrat.

The Dakotan said that once when he was on the Open Road through the
northwest, he slept for two days in a car of wheat, and that it was a
bath of power.... We thought we would make our beds in wheat,
thereafter--but that would be sacrilege.

Then we talked of that mysterious harmony from the beehives, and we saw
at once that it has to do with Order, that Inertia was mastered
there--that the spirit of wheat has mastered Inertia--so that there is a
nobility, even about the golden husk. It occurred to us, of course,
then, that all the aristocrats of Nature--rose and wheat and olives and
bees and alabaster and grapes--must all have their part of the harmony,
for Order has come to their chaos. Their spirit has come forth, as in
the face of a far-come child--the brute earth-bound lines of self
gone--the theme of life, Service.

I am at the end of Capitals now.

One afternoon we talked about corn--from the fields where the passionate
mystic Ruth gleaned, to our own tasseled garden plot. And another day we
found the ants enlarging the doors of their tunnels, to let out for the
nuptial flight certain winged mistresses. There is something in

Each of us sees it differently. Each of us can take what he sees, after
all the rest have told their stories, and make a poem of that. The first
wonder of man cannot be conceived until this is realised.

There is an inner correspondence in the awakened human soul for every
movement and mystery of Nature. When the last resistance of Inertia is
mastered, we shall see that there is no separateness anywhere, no
detachment; that the infinite analogies all tell the same story--that
the plan is one.



There was a row of us preparing for sleep out under the stars--the
Dakotan at one side, then two small boys, the little girl and the old
man.... It was one of those nights in which we older ones decided to
tell stories instead of writing them. We had talked long, like true
Arabs around a fire on the beach. A South Wind came in and the Lake
received and loved it. I asked the Dakotan what the Lake was saying.

"It isn't--it's listening."

It made me think at once of the first movement of Beethoven's sonata,
called _Appassionata_. There is one here who plays that, and because it
tells him a story, he plays it sometimes rather well and makes the
others see.... The slow movement is deeply rich; the inspiration seems
to go out of the sonata after that, but of the first movement we never
tire, and the drama is always keen. It tells the story (to us) of a
woman--of love and life and death. She wants the earth in her love--but
her lover is strange and hears persistently a call that is not of earth.
The woman tries to hold him. All earth beauty is about her--her love a
perfume, a torrent. The voice of destiny speaks to her that it must not
be. She rebels. The story rushes on, many voices coming to her
re-stating the inexorable truth that he must go.

The same story is told in Coventry Patmore's _Departure_--to us the most
magic of all the great little poems. But in _Departure_ it is the woman
who is called.

... Again and again in the _Appassionata_, the word comes to the woman,
saying that she will be greater if she speeds him on his way. She will
not hear. We sense her splendid tenure of beauty--all the wonder that
Mother Earth has given her.... One after another the lesser voices have
told her that it must be, but she does not obey--and then the Master
comes down.

It is one of the most glowing passages in all the literature of tone.
The _chelas_ have spoken and have not availed. Now the _Guru_ speaks.
Out of vastness and leisure, out of spaciousness of soul and wisdom, out
of the deeps and heights of compassion, the _Guru_ speaks--and suddenly
the woman's soul turns to him listening. That miracle of listening is
expressed in the treble--a low light rippling receptivity. It is like a
cup held forth--or palms held upward. The _Guru_ speaks. His will is

And that is what I thought of, when the Dakotan said that the Lake was
listening. It was listening to the South Wind.... That night we talked
of Ireland. It may have been the fairies that the little girl always
brings; or it may have been that a regiment of Irish troops had just
been slaughtered in a cause that had far less significance to Ireland
than our child talk by the fire; or it may have been the South Wind that
brought us closer to the fairy Isle, for it is the Irish peasants who
say to a loved guest at parting:

"May you meet the South Wind."

"... There isn't really an Ireland any more--just a few old men and a
few old, haunting mothers. Ireland is here in America, and the last and
stiffest of her young blood is afield for England. Her sons have always
taken the field--that is their way--and the mothers have brought in more
sons born of sorrow--magic-eyed sons from the wombs of sorrow. Elder
brothers afield--fathers gone down overseas--only the fairies left by
the hearth for the younger sons to play with.... So they have sung
strange songs and seen strange lights and moved in rhythms unknown to
many men. It is these younger sons who are Ireland now. Not a place, but
a passion; not a country, but a romance.... They are in the love stories
of the world, and they are always looking for their old companions, the
fairies. They find the fairies in the foreign woodlands; they bring the
fairies to the new countries. They are in the songs that hush the heart;
they are in the mysticism that is moving the sodden world. Because they
played with fairies, they were taught to look past and beyond the flesh
of faces--past metals and meals and miles. Of the reds and greys and
moving golds which they see, the soul of the world loves to listen, for
the greatest songs and stories of all are from the Unseen----"

It was the old man dreaming aloud.

"Ireland isn't a place any more. It is a passion infused through the
world," he added.

"But the fairies are still there," the little girl said.

"Some are left with the old mothers--yes, some are left. But many have
taken the field, and not for the wars."

A four-day moon was dropping fast in the low west. Jupiter was climbing
the east in imperial purple--as if to take command.... The littlest boy
stirred in the arms of the Dakotan and began to speak, staring at the
fire. We all turned and bent to listen--and it was that very thing that
spoiled it--for the sentence faltered and flew away.

We all wanted to know what had been born in that long silence, for the
firelight was bright in two eyes that were very wide and wise--but the
brain was only seven.... I left the circle and went up the cliff to
find a book in the study--a well-used book, an American book. Returning,
I read this from it, holding the page close to the fire:


 Far hence, amid an isle of wondrous beauty,
 Crouching over a grave, an ancient, sorrowful mother,
 Once a queen--now lean and tatter'd, seated on the ground,
 Her old white hair drooping dishevel'd round her shoulders;
 Long silent--she too long silent--mourning her shrouded hope and heir;
 Of all the earth her heart most full of sorrow, because most full of love.

 Yet a word, ancient mother;
 You need crouch there no longer on the cold ground, with forehead between
   your knees;
 O you need not sit there, veil'd in your old white hair, so dishevel'd;
 For know you, the one you mourn is not in that grave;
 It was an illusion--the heir, the son you love, was not really dead;
 The Lord is not dead--he is risen, young and strong, in another country;
 Even while you wept there by your fallen harp, by the grave,
 What you wept for, was translated, pass'd from the grave,
 The winds favoured and the sea sail'd it,
 And now with rosy and new blood,
 Moves to-day in a new country.

One by one they dropped off asleep, the little ones first, as the moon
went down--their thoughts so full of stars, asking so dauntlessly all
questions of world and sky. What I could, I answered, but I felt as
young as any. It seemed their dreams were fresher than mine, and their
closeness to God.... The little girl touched me, as we drifted away----

"May you meet the South Wind!" she whispered.



It is a thankless job to raise a voice in the din of things as they are,
a voice saying things are wrong. One may do this for years without
penetrating the din, so long as he does not become specific. Or one may
become a specialist in a certain wrong, gain recognition as a gentle
fanatic on a certain subject, do much good with his passion, find
certain friends and sterling enemies--and either lose or win,
ultimately, according to change in the styles of his time.

Or, with one-pointed desire to change the spirit of things, one may
reach the gloomy eminence from which it is perceived that all things are
wrong, because the present underlying motive of the whole is wrong. He
sees one body of men scrubbing one spot on the carpet, another sewing
earnestly at a certain frayed selvage, another trying to bring out the
dead colour from a patch that wear and weather have irrevocably changed.
He blesses them all, but his soul cries out for a new carpet--at least,
a wholesome and vigorous tubbing of the entire carpet, and a turning
over of the whole afterward.

Unless our life here is a sort of spontaneous ebullition out of the
bosom of nature, without significance to us before and after, we are
moving about our business of house and country and world in a most
stupid, cruel and short-sighted fashion. I realise, and this is the wine
of life, that the hearts of men are tender and lovable, naturally open
and subject by nature to beauty and faith; that the hearts of men,
indeed, yearn for that purity of condition in which truth may be the
only utterance, and the atmosphere of untruth as revolting as bad air to
the nostrils.

But with this realisation appears the facts that the activities in the
world of men have little to do with this purity and heart-giving--but
with an evil covering, the integument of which is the lie born of
self-desire, and the true skin of which is the predatory instinct which
has not remotely to do with an erect spine.

Higher days are coming for the expression of the human spirit. There is
no doubt about that. But still the men who do the most to hurry them
along, find a fight on each ledge of the cliff. Philosophically, it may
be said that wars have brought great benefits to the race; that
materialism has taught us our place here below as no other passion
could; that trade has wrought its incomparable good to the races of
men; that Fear has been the veritable mother of our evolution, its dark
shadow forever inciting us, breaking our Inertia, bringing swiftness and
strength first to the body, then to brain. Even desire for self, on the
long road behind, has been the good angel of our passage, for we had to
become splendid beasts before the dimension of man could be builded....
All good; mistakes nowhere in the plan.

But the trouble is, the passage of the many from grade to grade is
intolerably slow. We had thought the many had finished with war. The few
already are many grades ahead of that; the few have seen the virtues die
out of patriotism and trade; they have watched the desire for self turn
reptile, and hearkened to this truth which is beginning to reverberate
around the world: _What is good for beasts is not of necessity good for
men_.... One recent caller here, male, middle-aged, smilingly discussed
all things from the philosophical point of view. I was saying:

"From the nursery to world-clutched retirement from public affairs, a
man nowadays is taught more and more to keep his heart-principle

He smiled: "We have all the time there is. It will all come out right.
You fellows excite yourselves and try to change things overnight. Others
of us think them over quietly by our fires. That is the whole
difference. Scratch off the veneer, and we are all the same kind of
God-yearning animal underneath."

Few sayings ever have hit me harder.

I studied the years' offerings from this man--to his house, to his
acquaintances, to the world in general. An irony filled the room, and so
intense was it that it seemed to have a colour, a kind of green and
yellow vapour. It emanated from the centre of his face. I think the
point that animated me especially was that he was in the habit of
talking to young men. He had no children of his own. I changed the
subject and opened the door--not to hasten his departure but because the
air was close.

By every law which makes us hold fast to the memory of saviours and
great men, the finest fabric of any race is its pioneers. We are living
and putting into action now the dreams of brave spirits who have gone
before. Philosophically, even they may have found that the plan is good,
but that did not prevent them from giving their lives to lift the
soddenness and accelerate the Inertia of the crowds. They took their joy
in the great goodness of the plan--only after they had done their best
to bring the race more swiftly into its higher destiny. A man does not
sit back and allow his children to spend years in learning that which he
can explain in a moment from his own experience.... I did not answer the
philosopher, but many things that occurred from that little talk were
brought out in Chapel during the days which followed--matters that had
to do with America and literary workmanship in particular. Certain of
the matters we discussed have been written down for expression here:

       *       *       *       *       *

If some one announced that there lived in the Quattuor Islands a man who
knew the exact way to bring into the world, not only the spirit, but the
action of _brotherhood_ and _fatherland_, there would be some call for
maps and steamship passages. If the Quattuor Islands were not already on
the maps, they would presently appear, but not before the first pilgrims
had set out. And if some one should add that all expression of the arts
so far in the world is addled and unsightly compared to that which is
about to be, if a certain formula is followed, and that this man in the
Quattuor group has the formula--many more would start on the quest, or
send their most trusted secretaries.

And yet the truth and the way is all here, and has been uttered again
and again by every voice that has lifted itself above the common din.

The wise men carried gifts. You would expect to give something for the
secret. You might expect to be called upon to sell all you have and give
to the poor. You would not be surprised even if the magnetic Islander

"It is not your frankincense and myrrh that I want, though I thank you.
That which I have is for you. I am more anxious for you to know and
live it, than you can be to have and hold it. But the mystery is that it
will not come to abide with you, while you are passionate for
possession. The passion to give to others must be established within you
before you can adequately receive----"

You are beginning to see how ancient is the gospel. It _is_ old, older
than that. It belongs to the foundations. Personally and nationally, the
law works the same way. That which is true, is true in all its parts.
There is an adjustment by which that which is good for the whole is good
for the part; but each, whole and part, nation and man, must have for
the first thought, not self-good, but the general good. One nation, so
established in this conviction that its actions are automatically
founded upon the welfare of the world, could bring about the true
world-fatherland in a generation; and one human heart so established
begins to touch from the first moment the profound significances of

Personally and nationally, this plain but tremendous concept is
beginning to manifest itself here in America. I do not write as a
patriot. It is not _my country_ that is of interest, but humankind.
America's political interests, her trade, all her localisations as a
separate and bounded people, are inimical to the new enthusiasm. The new
social order cannot concern itself as a country apart. American
predatory instincts, her self-worship, her attempt at neutrality while
supplying explosives for the European slaughter arenas, her deepening
confinement in matter during the past fifty years, have prepared her for
the outright demoralisation of war, just as surely as Europe is meeting
to-day the red harvest from such instincts and activities. For action
invariably follows the thought.

Yet the hearts of men in America are changing. I do not write as a
religionist, but as one very much of the world. For the hearts of men do
change, and it is only through such changes that the material stagnation
of a people can be relieved without deluges of blood.

The high hope is upon us. In being apart from war, America has been
enabled to see. One must always remove himself from the ruck to see its
movement. Within these western shores, the voices of true inspiration
have recently been heard. From a literary standpoint alone, this is the
most significant fact since Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau and Lanier took
pen in hand, forgetting themselves a little while each day. There is a
peculiar strength upon American production of all kinds as a result of
the very act of getting out from under European influence.

England and France and Germany have fallen into mere national voices.
The voice of the partisan is but a weak treble, against the basic rumble
of war. War in this century is a confession, as suicide is a
confession, as every act of blood and rage is a confession, of the
triumph of the animal in the human mind.... If you received letters from
friends in England or Germany or France during the war--friends whom
formerly you admired for their culture and acumen--you were struck by
the dulness and misery of the communications, the uncentred points of
view, the incapacity of human vision in the midst of the heaviness and
blackness of life there; if, indeed, you read the newspapers and
periodicals of those countries, you required no further proof of the
fact--that a nation at war is an obscene nation, its consciousness all
driven down into the physical, its voice tonally imperfect from hate and
fear, its eyes open to red illusion and not to truth.

Even in America the voice of the nationalist is a part of the old and
the unclean. The new social order does not recognise the rights and
desires of any isolated people. Humankind is basically _one_ in meaning,
in aim and in destiny. The differences of nations in relation to the
sun's rays and in character of country, environment, race, colour and
structure of mind--these are primal values, the very values that will
sum up into the essential grandeur of the whole. Personally and
nationally there are no duplicates in the social scheme. The instruments
of this magnificent orchestra are of infinite diversity, but the harmony
is one.

The spiritual source of all human achievement is already a harmonic
whole. That globe is complete. It is our business as men to make a
pattern of it in matter--to make the dream come true in flesh, each man
and each nation bringing his labour.

If a certain plant, bird, insect, beast, man or nation, rises by
intrinsic force and predation to dangerous increase, a devouring
parasite, or formidable rival, is invariably fostered within its shadow.
In good time there is war to the death.

In a doctor's office in Canada, I saw the picture of a bull-dog standing
large against the background of the accepted flag, and beneath was this

"What we have, we'll hold."

I found that the picture had a national popularity. Yet a child stopping
to think would have seen breakers ahead for a nation so lost in material
things, as thus to challenge the Fates.... There is a fairy-tale of a
man building a great boat for the air. It looked to win, and in the
effrontery of achievement, he set forth to conquer God. Just then a
hornet stung him.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a conviction held here that the darkest period of American
materialism came to its end with the beginning of the war. The
generation of literary producers in manifestation at that time was
responsible for the bleakest products which America will ever have the
shame of showing to future generations.

It was not so devoid of genius as would appear; the first cause was the
difficulty in getting the best work "through." This again was not
because the public was not ready for the good, but because the public
taste was brutalised by men who stood between the public and the
producers. These middlemen insisted, by the right of more direct
contact, that the public should have what they fancied the public desire
to be.

I sat in Union Square recently with a beggar who studied me, because it
appeared to be my whim to help him with a coin. Back of his temples was
a great story--sumptuous drama and throbbing with the first importance
of life. He did not tell me that story, and I could not draw it from
him. Rather he told me the story that he fancied I would want. There was
a whine in it. He chose to act, and he was not a good actor. His
offering hurt, not because he was filthy and a failure, but because he
lied to himself and to me, because he did not dare to be himself, though
the facts were upon him, eye and brow and mouth. So I did not get his
story, but I got a thrilling picture of the recent generation in
American letters--I, being the public; the truth of his story
representing the producer, and the miserable thing he fancied I was
ready for, being the middleman's part.

All workmen of the last generation--all who would listen--were taught to
bring forth their products with an intervening lie between the truth and
their expression--the age of advertising heavy in all production.

I recall from those days what was to me a significant talk with an
American novelist who wanted sales, who was willing to sacrifice all but
the core of his character to get sales, and who found himself at that
time in a challenging situation. As he expressed it:

"Along about page two hundred in the copy of the novel I am on, the
woman's soul wakes up."

"A woman's novel?" I asked.

"Meant to be," said he. "Study of a woman all through. Begins as a
little girl--different, you know--sensitive, does a whole lot of
thinking that her family doesn't follow. Tries to tell 'em at first, but
finds herself in bad. Then keeps quiet for years--putting on power and
beauty in the good old way of bumps and misunderstanding. She's pure
white fire presently--body and brain and something else asleep. She
wants to be a mother, but the ghastly sordidness of the love stories of
her sisters to this enactment, frightens her from men and marriage as
the world conducts it----"

"I follow you," said I.

"Well, I'm not going to do the novel here for you," he added. "You
wouldn't think there was a ray of light in it from this kind of
telling. A man who spends five months of his best hours of life in
telling a story, can't do it over in ten minutes and drive a machine at
the same time----"

"We're getting out of the crowd. What did the girl do?" I asked.

"Well, she wanted a little baby--was ready to die for it, but had her
own ideas of what the Father should be. A million women--mostly having
been married and failed, have thought the same thing here in
America--pricked the unclean sham of the whole business. Moreover,
they're the best women we've got. There are----"

He purposely shook the hat from his head--back into the seat--at this

"There are some young women coming up into maturity here in America--God
bless 'em--who are almost brave enough to set out on the quest for the
Father of the baby that haunts them to be born.... That's what she did.
He was a young man doing his own kind of work--doctoring among the poor,
let us say, mainly for nothing--killing himself among men and women and
babies; living on next to nothing, but having a half-divine kind of
madness to lift the world.... She saw him. You can picture that. They
were two to make one--and a third. She knew. There was a gold light
about his head which she saw--and some of the poverty-folk saw--but
which he didn't know the meaning of, and the world missed altogether.

"She went to him. It's cruel to put it in this way.... I'm not saying
anything about the writing or about what happened, but the scene as it
came to me was the finest thing I ever tried to put down. We always fall
down in the handling, you know.... I did it the best I could.... No, I'm
not going to tell you what happened. Only this: a little
afterward--along about page two hundred of the copy--the woman's soul
woke up."

"Why not, in God's name?" I asked.

He glanced quickly at me as a man does from ahead when his car is
pressing the limit.

"Ever have a book fail?" he asked.

"Seven," said I.

He cleared his throat and the kindest smile came into his eyes:

"They tell me at my publishers' that I slowed up my last book badly--by
taking a woman's soul out for an airing--just a little invalid kind of a
soul, too. Souls don't wake up in American novels any more. You can't do
much more in print nowadays than you can do on canvas--I mean _movie_
canvas. You can paint _soul_ but you can't photograph it--that's the
point. The movies have put imagination to death. We have to compete. You
can't see a soul without imagination--or some sort of madness--and the
good people who want imagination in their novels don't buy 'em. They
rent or borrow. It's the crowds that go to the movies that have
bright-coloured strings of American novels as the product runs--on their
shelves--little shiny varnished shelves--red carpets--painted birds on
the lamp-shades and callers in the evenings."

There was a good silence.

"Do you know," he added presently, "I've about come to the conclusion
that a novel must play altogether on sensuous tissue to catch the crowd.
Look at the big movie pictures--the actors make love like painted
animals.... I'm not humorous or ironical. It's a big problem to me----"

"Why, you can't touch the hem of the garment of a real love story until
you are off the sensuous," I offered. "The quest only begins there. I'm
not averse to that. It belongs in part. We are sensuous beings--in part.
But I am averse to letting it contain all. Why, the real glow comes to a
romance when a woman's soul wakes up. There's a hotter fire than that
which burns blood-red----"

"I know," he said quickly. "I know. That blood-red stuff is the cheapest
thing in the world.... I'm sure of this story until her soul wakes up.
She stirs in her sleep, and I see a giantess ahead--the kind of a woman
who could whistle to me or to you--and we'd follow her out--dazed by the
draw of her. They are in the world. I reckon souls do wake up--but I can
feel the public dropping off every page after two hundred--like chilled
bees--dropping off page by page--and the old familiar battle ahead for
me. I can feel that tight look of poverty about the eyes again----"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Are you going to put her soul back to sleep?" I asked, as we turned
again into the crowd.

I wasn't the least lordly in this question. I knew his struggle, and
something of the market, too. I was thinking of tradesmen--how easy it
is to be a tradesman; in fact, how difficult it is to be otherwise--when
the very passion of the racial soul moves in the midst of trade.

"She's beautiful--even asleep," he said. "I'm afraid I'll have to give
her something. I'm building a house. She's in the comprehension of the
little varnished shelves--asleep."

"Doesn't a tight look come about the eyes--from much use of that sort of
anæsthetic?" I asked.

"Let's get a drink," he answered.



But the stroke of death has fallen upon such pandering, and the war put
it there. The big names of the last generation are now magazine and
movie men; all save the few whose sutures have not entirely closed, and
they are making their last frenzied turn to meet the new social order,
as they met the floating vogues and whims so long. But this is a
difficult turn for panderers and caterers, because it does not have to
do with the surface matter, nothing to do with dance and dress and
appetite, but with the depths of the human spirit, quickened to
animation afresh by the agony of the world.

Only the rarest few of the greatest names of England and Europe have
escaped the fatal partisanship. They have become little national voices,
and in the coming years this will be remembered against them bitterly.
The truly liberated soul does not fall into lying attempts at national
exoneration. The truly liberated soul is no longer a nationalist. A few
of the young men have escaped this curse, but the older had their
training, as has been told, in the blackest age of man. Men have been
diminished in more spacious times than these by becoming laureates; they
cannot but be degraded by becoming nationalists in these abandoned

Genius, in the last generation, met a destructive force in the material
world, almost as deadly and vindictive as that encountered by
Copernicus. The voices of very few heralds were even heard, but there is
a battle-line of genius in the new generation, timed for the great
service years following the chaos of war. They will bring in the
liberation of religion from mammon; they will bring in the religion of
work, the equality of women, not on a mere suffrage matter alone, but in
spirit and truth; they will bring in their children unaccursed.

       *       *       *       *       *

... There's always a squeaking when a wagon climbs out of a rut, which
is another way of saying that a time of transition is a time of pain.

This is a notable and constructive generation now beginning its work in
America, and joining hands with the few remaining Undefiled of Europe.
They are not advertisers, nor self-servers. They do not believe in
intellect alone. Their genius is _intuitionally_ driven, not
intellectually. Just as steam has reached its final limitations as a
force, and is being superseded by electricity (the limitations of which
have not yet been sensed so far even by the most audacious), so the
intellect, as a producing medium, has had its period--a period of
style-worship, vanities of speech and action, of self-service, of
parading, of surface-show and short-sightedness, without parallel in the

For the intellect is a product of sunlight, its energy supplied by human
blood, a temporal heat. Intuition is driven from the fountain-head of
spiritual energy. Its great conception is the unity of all nature. The
intellect is as old as your body is; the giant that is awakening from
sleep in the breasts of the rising generation is immortal.

In all times, second-class artists have dealt in the form and matter of
the age, talked of its effects and paraded its styles. Only the very
greatest above them have realised that the true story of the thing, as
any given man sees it, is the one important thing in the world for him
to produce; that the nearness of the expression to the thought is the
measure of his success; in a word, that his thought must be put into
words (or tones or paint or stone) without an intervening lie from the

The race of men and women in their twenties, now at work in America, are
doing these things. Especially in the new poetry is the fine
consummation apparent. These are the leaders of the new social order.
Before the war, such as had developed a voice had to shout through shut
doors. The war has beaten down the doors. A comparable race of young
workmen (more men than women there; more women than men here) has
appeared in Russia and raised its voice. It is not altogether a dream
that a unifying span will stretch across the pillars raised by these two
groups of builders.

In America this rising generation shall return to us the prestige which
Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau and Lanier so superbly attracted. Indeed,
Whitman is the master of the new poetry; his free verse lives in every
line of the modern production, a point that would not be significant if
it were alone of manner; but his broad human spirit, the infusing
brotherhood which was his passion, and the same universal toleration,
are the inspiring energies of the new workmanship.

What is the vision of this new social order?

These workmen recognise that no saint's blood, nor the power of any God,
is going to interfere before a heavenly throne to save sinners who have
wasted their lives in predatory accomplishment, instead of saving

That the re-distribution of the world's wealth will not bring about the
new order and beauty of life; that the rich man is to be pitied as much
as the poor (God knows that intrinsically he is to be pitied more,
because his shell is thicker) that the time is at hand when the
vulgarity of being rich in material wealth will be a sense of the common
mind; That women are not golden fleeces, nor clinging vines, but human
adults with separate principles from men, which make them equally
valuable in the social scheme; that women should be their own law in all
matters of mating and reproduction, because the male has not the mental
organism to cope authoritatively with these affairs;

That heretofore as educators, as fathers, mothers and bringers-forth of
children, humankind, in the large, has shown itself less than the
animals, inasmuch as it does not fulfil its possibilities as animals do;

That the time is past for cults and creeds, for separate interests and
national boundaries, for patriotism and all the other _isms_; that we
are all one in the basic meaning of existence; that there is an
adjustment founded upon the principles of liberty and brotherhood, in
which that which is good for the one is good for all; that this
adjustment can only be attained by a reversal of the old form,
personally and nationally--of thinking not of the self first in all
things, but of the general good;

Finally, the new social order of workmen, having come up through the
blear and sickness of lies, has arrived at the high vantage which
reveals that there is nothing so potent as a straight statement of fact,
nothing so strategically the masterstroke.



Certain Chapel days we require music instead of talk; other times only a
walk will do, to the woods or shore according to the mood. One afternoon
we walked up the shore where the beach is narrow and the bluffs high. A
gleam of red in the sand became the theme of the day. It was just a
half-brick partly submerged in sand, and momentarily in the wash of the
waves.... It had a fine gleam--a vivid wet red against the gravel greys.
Its edges were rounded by the grind of sand and water, and one thought
of an ancient tile that might be seen in a Chinese rose garden.

... Just a common clay brick, not very old, not very hard, but a thing
of beauty in the greys of the beach. It suggested a girl's dress I had
once seen on a winter's day--a rough cloth of mixed grey wool with a
narrow edging of red velvet around the sleeves and collar.... Yet,
alone, and now that it was dry--this was just a brick-red. It needed
the grey grain.... I reflected that there must be a deep human reason
for its appeal to our sense of beauty.

There was something in the hollowing and rounded edges, such as no
machine or hand-grinding could duplicate, but that had to do with the
age of the impression it gave. There is beauty in age, a fine mystery in
itself. Often the objects which our immediate forebears found decorative
strike our finer eyes as hideous, and with truth; but the more ancient
things which simpler races found useful and lovely, often appeal to us
as consummate in charm and grace, though we may never have seen them
before in this life. The essence of their beauty now is a certain
thrilling familiarity--the same mystery that awakens us in an occasional
passing face, which we are positive has not met these eyes before.

We are all more or less sensitive to mystic relationships with old vases
and coppers, with gourds and bamboo, urns and sandal-wood, with the
scents and flavours of far countries and sudden stretches of coast, so
that we repeat in wonder--"And this is the first time----" Something
deep within knows better, perhaps. It is enough, however, to grant the
profound meanings underlying our satisfaction in ancient objects, and
that our sense of their beauty is not accidental.

For instance, there was something behind our pleasure in the gleam of
red from the pervading greys of the beach.... I pointed to the Other
Shore--a pearly cloud overhanging the white of breakers at its
point--and the little bay asleep in the hollow. The view was a
fulfilment. That little headland breaks the force of the eastern gales
for all this nearer stretch of shore, but its beauty is completed by the
peace of the cove. The same idea is in the stone-work of the Chapel, and
the completing vine.

Beauty is a globe of meaning. It is a union of two objects which
complete each other and suggest a third--the union of two to make one.
Our minds are satisfied with the sustaining, the masculine in the
stone-work and the gaunt headland, because they are completed by the
trailing vine and the sleeping cove. The suggestion in each is peace,
the very quest of life.

There is always this trinity, to form a globe of beauty. From the union
of matter and spirit, all life is quickened; and this initial formula of
completing a circle, a trinity, pervades all life.

We are thrilled by the symbols of the great original affinity of matter
and spirit, and the very life which we thrill with is its completing

Artists know this deeper than brain. We regarded the elm tree with its
haggard weather-blackened limbs, and springing from it, the delicate
green foliage. It was like the background of a great painting. I brought
forth later some small reproductions of a number of famous paintings.
Among them, we found the stone and the vine often in the background, or
the branch and the leaf, pictured usually with a suggestion of running
water at the base, for action and progress and the ever-onward human
spirit. We didn't find full-leafed trees there (for that would hide the
lineaments of beauty, as the character of a face is concealed in
fatness)--but branch and leaf, the need each of the other, and the
promise of the fruit. It was the globe again--the union of the strong
and the fragile for a finer dimension of power--bow and cord, ship and
sail, man and woman, stalk and leaf, stone and vine--yes, and that which
surprised me at the beginning--that gleam of red in the wash of water
upon the greys. It was the suggestion of warmth and life brought to the
cold, inanimate hues of sand and gravel, that gave us the sense of
beauty in a wet, worn brick.

Firelight in a room is just the same thing--a grey stone fireplace with
red embers is the very heart of a winter house.... If there had not been
a vital significance back of our discovery of the day, our sense of a
brick's beauty would have been untimely and disordered....

Such were the points brought out as we walked. The episode is indicative
of the days here. The best hours are always spontaneous. I am always
occupied with my own affairs until the moment of Chapel, but Nature is
invariably safe and replete. There are a thousand analogies for every
event of the human spirit, even for the resurrection of the human soul.
The plan is one.

The day would have been poorly spent, no matter what I might say,
without an expression from the others on the beauty conception. It is
the union again of receiving and expressing that makes growth and
character. They would not try to remember what I said. Memory is not the
faculty I cared to cultivate. The endeavour here is from the spirit
outward. I do not wish to fill their brains, but to inspire their souls
to fill their own brains. All work is a training for the expression of
the real self. We are infinitely greater than our brains. If I can
arrive at the truth of any subject, I need have no worry about sleepy
heads or Inertia. A disclosure of truth, and the process of it made
clear, is the perfect awakener, for truth is the aliment of the soul. It
is not what I say, but what a truth suggests to them, that determines
the value of their expression of it.

Expression is the triumph. Every time the brain gives expression to the
real self, there is a memorable vitality, not only in the expression,
but strength and authority added to the brain itself. This is training
for writers, but words are the natural implements for us all.... So the
ardent aim of the classes here is to awaken the deeper vitalities of
those who listen. When one awakens a soul interest, you may rely upon
it the brain is open to its full zest and capacity. Pattering of
uncohered facts upon the temporal surface of the brain in the effort to
lodge them in the tentacles of memory, does not construct the character
of man or woman.

The superb flower of any educational work is the occasional disclosure
of the real bent of a student. That is always like the discovery of el
dorado. The most important fact to be considered in any educational
ideal is that the soul of every one has its own especial treasures and
bestowals; and when one succeeds in touching with fresh fire an ancient
facility or proclivity in the breast of a boy or girl--the rest is but
following the gleam.... The world finds us significant, even heroic,
only in so far as we give expression to a power intrinsic.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another day we found more water-worn bricks. An old brick house long ago
had rubbed itself into the falling bank, and now its parts are spread
along certain portions of the shore and buried in the sand. The boys
brought in a half-bushel of this red treasure, and we set about
constructing a narrow cement walk of quality. Our idea was to carry out
and make perpetual the affinity of the red gleams as insets in a grey
pebble walk.

We worked raptly, even through the hard, dull labour of levelling,
setting the frames and laying the concrete foundation. The finishing
was the absorbing part. The idea was not for a fine-grained sand walk,
but a mixture of all sizes from a penny large down to the finest sand.
The cement makes the most lasting bond in a mixture of this kind;
moreover, the pebbly finish was effective and darker for the insets.

The walk was less than two feet wide and roughly squared by pieces of
shingle laid in the concrete, tip to tip. The final dressing, two inches
of pebble mortar, looked unpromising on account of its coating of white.
It would have hardened a dingy cement colour, instead of the deep,
sparkling grey desired, had we not thought of turning a fine spray from
the hose upon the newly trowelled surface to wash away the top cement.
To make sure, the surface was then lightly sponged until the pebble-tops
were absolutely without the clinging white. The water also erased the
least mark of the trowel.

The red insets were now tamped in with the trowel-handle, the unique
round edges appearing without a touch of stain. The rapidly hardening
mortar was not packed about the brick pieces, but the natural edge of
the grey preserved, as if they had been hurled in. They were placed
without immediate regularity, but with relation to the walk in its
length.... We regarded it afterward in the rain--all frames and shingles
removed, the loam and humus of the rose-soil softening the border--the
red rounded edges of the brick-insets gleaming out of the grey--a walk
that seemed to have been there a thousand years, the red pieces
seemingly worn by the bare feet of centuries.... It satisfied, and the
thought, too, that those who helped to do the work could not be quite
the same after that afternoon.



One day at Chapel, neither the Abbot nor the Dakotan appeared. The
Columbian had left us. I looked up to see two young girls and another
there. One of the papers brought in that day was upon the joining of two
rivers. Where they came together was a whirlpool, a tremendous vortex
that hushed all surrounding Nature. In the lowlands that lay about the
place of that mighty meeting, a deep verdure came, for the winds carried
the spray from the vortex. Nature loved the sounds of that pouring
together. From the whirlpool, where two met, one great river emerged,
white-maned with rapids for a way--then broad and pure and still, so
that only birds and poets could hear the harmony deep as life. From time
to time it gave forth its tributaries, yet seemingly was undiminished.
Always on, always one, carrying all, making all pure, through the silent
places, past the great mountains--to the sea.

It was not until I had read of this mating of waters that I realised the
slightly different conditions in the Chapel, the young men not being

... The strangest humility stole over me. It had become the
life-theme--to bring a breath from the open splendour of the future to
the matings of men and women. I have never been able to understand how
anything can be expected of men, if women are not great. I have never
been able to understand how men and women can take each other as a
matter of course. Most of all, I have been unable to understand how
women can accept the man-idea of things.

The great killing in Europe was brought about because women have
accepted the man-idea of life. Women are in this sense immediately
responsible for the war, because they have not been true to the
limitless potentialities of their being. Still from the very hour when
man realised his greater bodily strength, continual pressures have
fallen upon woman to break her dream. The Hebrew Scriptures show best
the processes that have been brought to bear upon women--from the
establishment of the patriarchal idea to the final going down into

It is in the nature of women to please men, but they have not been
allowed through the centuries to please men in their own way. Man wanted
to be pleased according to his idea--and women, in accepting that, have
prostituted themselves. Men have united with submissive women to bring
forth children farther and farther from the dream. Man's idea is
possession; that which is possessed is not free. Man's thought is to
make woman conform to his ideas; and that which conforms, at once
betrays the first law of the growth to greatness--that of being true to
one's self.

The veil, the mouth-veil, the crippled foot, the harem, the barred
lattice, the corset, the eunuch, the denial of education to women, the
very text of the marriage-rites in all countries, are man's ideas of
keeping woman for himself, from herself. The Orient is rotted with this

Would you like to know where man's ideas--man's plan of Conception--is
most utterly outraged? _In the coming of Messiahs._ The Josephs are
mainly dangling. They are in the mere passage of events, having to do
neither with heights nor depths.

One of the deepest human instincts of the male is that woman is a
wanton. It breaks out still in the best of men, wherever the
sex-principle overpowers the mind. This is well-covered ground. I would
suggest only that the present horrible chaos of human affairs, while
directly the fault of the absence of rational idealism in the world, has
been brought about in reality by the man-pressure which for centuries
has fallen upon the nature of woman. I hold it as one of the miracles
that great women still move among us; and that to-day in every movement
and voice of women at large in the world, one perceives that the
transition is on....

The great love story can only be founded upon liberty. Bring the plan of
serfdom to a woman's nature, and one of two things takes place within
her--submission utterly or outwardly. The sons of the submissive are
neither conquerors of self nor takers of cities. The outwardly
submissive woman may inwardly contain and foster a great dream--indeed,
the fruits of these dreams have come to be--but more often the heart is
filled with secret hatreds. Sons of hatred may be sons of strength, but
the fire they burn with is red and not white.

Once I expressed the conviction that if the right man talked to a
roomful of young, unmarried women upon the great ideals of
motherhood--and his words were wise and pure enough--that not one of the
women in the room would bring forth the children afterward that would
have come to them had they not been there to listen. I believe that many
young women of the arriving generation are tremendously eager to listen,
and to answer the dream....

I looked in humility and great tenderness upon those pure feminine
elements in the Chapel, awaiting as usual what I should ask or say. When
I thought that some time they would be mothers, it came with a rush of
emotion--that I had neither words nor art, nor strength nor purity to
make them see the almost divine possibilities of their future. For years
I had written in the hope of lifting the ideals of such as these;
dreamed of writing at last with such clarity and truth that they could
not be the same after reading; but it is different writing to the great
outer Abstraction, than talking face to face in one's Study. Some of the
things said that day are written here without quotations:

... It is all soil and seed again. The world to-day has not entered the
outer courts even of the physical beauty of romance. The lower the
orders of human understanding, the easier it is for the young men and
women to accept their mates. It is often a matter of propinquity--the
handiest. The women of the lower classes do not bring an alabaster bowl
to one certain spring of pure water. There seems to be a red enchantment
upon the many--the nearest will do. The great loves of the world have
not thus come to be. Great women, carrying the whitest fires, have
waited for the One; they have listened for a certain voice. Their hearts
knew. There was no chance. When they were ready, the One arrived.

The lovelier we become in conduct and the higher we turn in
aspiration--the more beautifully are we prepared for the great services
of Romance. As a race we have only touched our lips to the cup of its
beauty and fruitfulness.... Would you, who understand so well what
culture has done for corn and roses, forget the mysteries of your own
great being--rush blindly as the world does into the arms that first
beckon, following the laws that have made you the most superb of
animals, forgetting the laws that have made you living souls?

I would have you study the lineage of Mary, the wonderful care with
which it was written, even to include that blent flame of earth and
heaven which was Ruth; I would have you read again the stories of
Gautama and Jesus, and of the mothers of the prophets. The stories of
the coming of Messiahs are always the greatest stories in the world....
And then we see the great stony fields of humanity--the potential mass
in which the great ones of the future are to rise. Their matings are
makeshifts; their brief honeymoons are matters from which the finer
world turns its eyes.

... For many days you have come in here quietly at this time, taking
your seats together, and listening so cheerfully to what has passed. You
know as well as I that there have been moments in which the stones of
the Chapel walls faded from our eyes, and that which we saw in each
other was not that which we see as we pass in colder moments in the
street. We have had moments here when it seemed that any thought was
easily to be comprehended--that it had but to be spoken to be
embraced.... There have been moments, too, sudden spontaneities when we
were pure givers, when there was love in our hearts for all beings, and
we were strong to answer any call.

It is not that which we pass coldly on the street that has gladdened me
so often and so strangely in your coming--but those mysteries within,
those arousings deeper than brain, that do away so peremptorily with all
systems of teacher and student; which show us one in meaning and one in
aim.... It is tragic that the romances of the world so seldom touch
these high mysteries. We feel the Old Mother drawing us together--all
her great blind forces for renewing her lands and seas and realms of
air. But we forget that the animals follow this; the myriads of
unawakened men and women follow this; the products of this are used for
every waste and violence. Nature brings them in, and then destructive
principles play upon them. They are dealt with in great numbers, because
individuals have not emerged. They have slain them twenty thousand the
day in Europe of late--the bodies of men whose mothers in the main have
followed the blind forces of Nature, and no more. Nature will replenish
these losses.

Perceive, too: The many have not even sensed the beauties of Nature.
This physical being of ours which the Old Mother has raised from the
earth that a God might be built within it--even the beauty of this is
not yet fulfilled--much less the powers of the mind which we have
touched--much less that radiance of spirit which has made our highest
moments together so memorable.

... You would be mothers--that is the highest of the arts. The making of
books is childish and temporal compared to that. Mothering of men--that
is the highest art.... Yet we do not make books blindly. For years we
labour and watch the world; for years we gather together our thoughts
and observations of men and Nature; studiously we travel and willingly
at last we learn to suffer. Suffering brings it all home to us;
suffering connects together all our treasures, so that we see their
inter-relations and our meaning to them all. At last (and this, if we
have been called in the beginning) we dare to write our book. It fails.
Again and again we fail--that is the splendid unifying force, working
upon us. So far, we have only brought into the world our half-gods.
Failures melt us into the solution of the world.... We have learned to
welcome suffering now; we have detached ourselves from the shams that
the world can give. We have learned that the world cannot pay in kind
for any noble action--that the spirit of human hearts alone can answer
any great striving.... We go apart to the wildernesses to listen. In the
summit of our strength, the voice begins to speak--the _Guru's_ voice.

We are but instruments for the making of books. We are but listening
surfaces for the voice to play upon. At last and at best, we have merely
made ourselves fine enough to be used. Then our book is done. We have no
part in it afterward. If we have done well, the world will serve it in
God's good time.... And that is the low and the temporal art. Mere
bodies of books come into the world in thousands. They move their little
season and pass. Even the half-gods only rise and stir and pass away.
But when the half-gods go, the Gods arrive.

... You would not do less than this to bring forth men--you who have the
call.... You must learn the world--be well grounded in the world. You
need not forget the Old Mother. Your feet are of clay--but you must have
the immortal gleam in your eyes. Do not forget the Old Mother--yet it is
only when the Father appears that you can see her as she really is. It
is the light of His spirit that has shown you the passion of the rose,
the goodness of the wheat, the holiness of the forests. By His
quickening you are hushed in the beauty of the Mother.... The myriads of
makers of books have not yet sensed this beauty.

There is a _different_ love of Nature. We cry aloud in our surface
ecstasies--that the Old Mother was never so beautiful, her contours and
colourings. We travel far for a certain vista, or journey alone as if
making a pilgrimage to a certain nave of woodland where a loved hand has
touched us.... But this lifted love of nature is different from the
Pipes of Pan, from all sensuous beauty. The love of Nature that I mean
is different even from wooings and winnings and all that beauteous
bewilderment of sex-opposites--different from all save the immortal

I wonder if I can suggest what is in the heart; it cannot be more than a
suggestion, for these things have not to do with words. You who have
felt it may know; and in those high moments you were very far from the
weight and symbols of Nature, but very close to her quickening
spirit.... I walked for hours alone, through different small communities
of beech and oak and elm; and on a slope before my eyes there was a
sudden low clearing of vapour, as if a curtain were lifted, and I saw a
thicket of dogwood in the mystery of resurrection, the stone of the
sepulchre rolled away.

I do not know to this day if they were really there. I have never found
the trees again.... I was sitting here one fall night, a South Wind
straight from the great water, and the mignonette came in and
lingeringly passed. The garden was behind to the North. I went to it and
it gave me nothing, moved around it, and there was no respiration of
the heaven-breath. Yet the oneness and the spirit of life had touched me
from the miracle, like the ineffable presence of the dogwood in bloom on
that fairy slope.

The love of Nature, the different love, is a matter of our own
receptivity. If we are brave enough, or sweet enough within, we will not
require the touch of the senses, nor Nature's masterstrokes to awaken
us. We will not need to leave our rooms, for it is all here--in the deep
gleam of polished strength of the hickory axe-handle, in the low light
of the blade, in stone wall and oaken sill, in leather and brass and
pottery, in the respiration of the burning wood, and veritably massed
upon the sweeping distance from the window. It is because we are coarse
and fibrous and confined in the sick weight of flesh that we do not
stand in a kind of creative awe before the lowliest mystery of our
physical sight.

Do you know that there is a different fragrance, a different manner of
burning to each tree, whose parts you bring to the open camp fire or
your own hearth; that some woods shriek at this second death after the
cutting, that others pass with gracious calm, and still others give up
their dearest reality, at the moment of breaking under the fire, like
the released spirit of a saint that was articulate heretofore only in
beautiful deeds?

The willow burns with quiet meagre warmth, like a lamb led to slaughter,
but with innocence feigned, keeping her vain secrets to the last. The
oak resists, as he resists the axe, having spent all his energy in
building a stout and perfect body, proud of his twisted arms and gnarled
hands. The pine rebels, and noisily to the swift end, saying: "I do not
believe in cremation. I believe in breaking down alone and apart, as I
lived. I am clean without the fire. You should let me alone, and now I
shall not let you think nor talk of real things until I am gone...."
Each with its fragrance--the elm, the silentest and sweetest of all. The
elm has forgotten her body in spreading her grace to the stars; the elm
for aspiration, loving the starlight so well that she will not hide it
from the ground; most beautiful of all, save the beech in winter, a
swift and saintly passing of a noble life. The maple warms you in spite
of herself, giving up her secrets which are not all clean--a lover of
fatness, her shade too dense, a hater of winter, because she is bare,
and the secret of all ugliness in her nudity. (The true tree-lover is
never a stranger to the winter woods.)

And the mothering beech, with her soft incense, her heart filling the
room with warmth and light, her will to warm the world; the mothering
beech, a healer and a shelterer, a lover like that Magdalen whose sin
was loving much. She gives her body to Gods and men--and most sweetly to
the fire, her passing naked and unashamed.

The different love of Nature that the child knows instinctively; that
young men and maidens forget in the heat of themselves--but that comes
again to us if we grow decently older; in rock and thicket, in the
voices of running water, in every recess of woodland and arch of
shore--not the Pipes of Pan, but the mysteries of God, not sensuousness,
but the awakening of a spirit that has slumbered--the illumination,
sudden and splendid, _that all is One_--that Nature is the plane of
manifestation for the infinite and perfect story of God; that Nature is
the table which God has filled to overflowing--this is a suggestion, a
beginning of the lifted love of Nature....

If they beckon to you, the trees on the horizon (and God be with you if
there are none); if they seem to be calling to you, do not fail them, do
not wait too long. For surely that time will come when they will cease
to call to your heart. They will not have changed, but you will have
gone too far back among the spectres and illusions of detached things to
know that they are calling. And be very sure you will never find the
love of God in the eyes of passing men--if you have forgotten our

... Yet Nature alone is but the lowliest of the three caskets. I would
not have you miss a breath of her beauty--but upon and within it, I
would build the great dream of the coming of one from the Father's
House. The Coming to you.... Would you hesitate to make ready for that
Guest?... The thousands come in and out and pass to the unprepared
houses. They are mute--suffering is unspoken in their eyes. Even their
faces and hands are unfinished. They leave no gift nor message. Nature
who brought them does not spare them from the infinite causes of death.

... Would you hesitate to go into the wilderness to meet such a
Guest?... But you will not hear the call to the wilderness unless your
heart is listening--unless your limbs are mighty for the Quest--the
little things of life silenced, the passions of the self put away.

There is beauty in the wilderness--the beauty of the Old Mother is there
in the stillness.... Would you not go up into the hills for your great
passion? Would you not lift your arms for the highest; would you not
integrate the fire of martyrdoms in your breast, that you may not be
destroyed by the lustre of that which descends to you? Would you be a
potter's vessel to contain the murky floods of the lowlands--when you
may become an alabaster bowl held to the source of all purity and power?

Do you know that a woman with a dream in her eyes may hold forth her
arms and command heaven as no man, as no mere artist, can do? Do you
know that her arms shall be filled with glory, according to her dream?

Did I say that you must go into the wilderness alone?... There is one to
add his call to yours. There is the other half of your circle. He seldom
comes first. Pan comes first to test you. By the very spirit that gives
you the different love of Nature, you shall know your Lord when he
comes. He is searching, too. Perhaps you shall know him by the Quest in
his eyes. He, too, is looking for the white presences.... You must know
the world--so that you may not be bewildered. You must not be caught in
the brown study of Pan.

This earthy one is very subtle. He will try to take you first. He will
try to rub the dreaming and the Quest from your eyes. He will stand
between you and the white presences yonder in the hills. Sometimes he is
very near to those who try to be simple. There are many who call him a
God still. You must never forget that bad curve of him below the
shoulders. Forever, the artists lying to themselves have tried to cover
that bad curve of Pan as it sweeps down into the haunches of a goat. Pan
is the first devil you meet when you reach that rectitude of heart which
dares to be mother of souls.

Whole races of artists have lied about Pan, because they listened to the
haunting music of his pipes. It calls sweetly, but does not satisfy. How
many Pan has called and left them sitting among the rocks with mindless
eyes and hands that fiddle with emptiness!... Pan is so sad and
level-eyed. He does not explain. He does not promise--too wise for that.
He lures and enchants. He makes you pity him with a pity that is red as
the lusts of the flesh.

You may come to know that red in the breast. It is the red that drives
away the dream of peace.... Yet the pity of him deludes you. You look
again and again, and the curve of his back does not break the dream as
before. You think that because you pity him, you cannot fall; and all
the pull of the ground tells you that your _very thought of falling_ is
a breath from the old shames--your dead, but as yet unburied heritage,
from generations that learned the lie to self.

You touch the hair of the goat, and say it is Nature. But Pan is not
Nature--a hybrid, half of man's making, rather. Your eyes fall to the
cloven hoof, but return to the level, steady gaze, smiling with such
soft sadness that your heart quickens for him, and you listen, as he
says: "All Gods have animal bodies and cloven hoofs, but I alone have
dared to reveal mine...." "How brave you are!" your heart answers, and
the throb of him bewilders you with passion.... You who are so high must
fall far, when you let go.

... And many of your generation shall want to fall. Pan has come to you
because you _dare_.... You have murdered the old shames, you have torn
down the ancient and mouldering churches. You do not require the blood,
the thorn, the spikes, but I wonder if even you of a glorious
generation, do not still require the Cross?... It is because you see so
surely and are level-eyed, that Pan is back in the world for you; and it
is very strange but true that you must first meet Pan and pass him by,
before you can enter into the woodlands with that valid lord of Nature,
whose back is a challenge to aspiration, and whose feet are of the
purity of the saints.

... He is there, or it may be, if you are not through with the world, he
is waiting in the wilderness. You must learn the hardest of all
lessons--to wait. You must pass by all others who are not true to the
dream. You must integrate your ideal of him--as you dream of the Shining
One who will become the third of the Trinity. He must be true to the
laws of beauty that the Old Mother has shown you. If he is less than the
dream, pass on--for though you travel together for years, at the end you
will look into the eyes of a stranger.... They are for those who have no
dreams--the dalliances that dull our senses, the Arrivals for whom
another is waiting.

... Perhaps in that solitary place, you turn to find him beside you.
There is a hush upon the world as you meet his eyes.... The wilderness
is bursting into verdure and singing.... He will not lure you to the low
earth; he will love you best when your arms turn upward in aspiration.
... A whirlpool, a vortex--this is but the beginning of ecstasy.

This is your hour. The flame that glows upon your mighty mating is from
the future. The woman is a love-instrument now, played upon by creative
light. This is the highest mystery of Nature--all hitherto is background
for this hour. The flight of the bee-queens, the lifting of wings
through all the woodland festivals, the turning of comets back to the
sun--such are but symbols. In the distance loom the mountains--and
beyond them is the ocean of time and space.



From within and without for many months, promptings have come to me on
the subject of Order, which mystics denote as the most excellent thing
in the Universe.... I remember once emerging from a zone of war in Asia
to enter a city untouched by it. The order in that city was to me like
the subsiding of a fever. The most terrible picture of disorder that the
world can show is a battlefield of human beings.

Order has to do with peace of mind; disorder everywhere is a waste of
force. In a purely mental sense, the cultivation of Order begins to
appear essential to the worker, as he approaches the height of his
powers and realises that there is so much to do, and that life here is
both brief and precarious. Order, however, is larger than a mere mental
matter. Its abiding-place is in the lasting fabric of man and nature.
Evolution in its largest sense is the bringing of Order out of Chaos.
The word _Cosmos_ means order, as stated once before.

One descends into the terrors of disorder, financial and otherwise, in
building his house. When I look back to the conditions that existed on
this bit of Lake-front three years ago--the frog-hollows, tiling, the
wasting bluffs, excavation, thirty-five cords of boulders unloaded
perversely--the mere enumeration chafes like grit upon surfaces still
sore.... I have sadly neglected the study of house-building in this
book. It would not do now. The fact is, I don't know how to build a
house, but one learns much that one didn't know about men and money. I
sat here in the main, working with my back to the building. At times the
approach of a contractor upon the Study-walk gave me a panic like a
hangman's step; often again as he discussed the weather, all phases and
possibilities, reviewing the past season, before telling what he came
for, I boiled over like a small pot, but noiselessly for the most part.
With penetrative eye, distant but careful observations, I would refer
him to the dream which the architect had drawn.... When the different
contractors came a last time with bills, I would take the accounts and
look studiously into a little book, holding it severely to the light.
After much conning, I would announce that my accounts tallied with
theirs in the main. And when they had departed, finished and paid with
another man's money,--standing alone, tormented with the thought of how
little money really can pay for, I wanted to rush after them and thank
them for going away.

In the evening, when the last workman was gone, I used to venture into
the piling structure. The chaos of it would often bring a fever around
the eyes, like that which a man wakes with, after a short and violent
night. Then on those evenings when something seemed accomplished that
gave a line to the blessed silence of the finished thing, and I found
myself turning in pleasure to it--the thought would come that it wasn't
really mine; that after all the detail remained of paying for it. I used
to go from the building and grounds then--cutting myself clear from it,
as a man would snip with scissors the threads of some net that entangled
him. I don't breathe freely even now in the meshes of possession.

I used to wonder at the confidence and delight which the other members
of the household took in the completing house. They regarded it as the
future home.... One by one the different sets of workmen came and went.
I am in awe of men who plaster houses for a living--and for pennies the
hour. Always they arrive at the very summit of disorganisation--one
house after another through life--to accept money and call their work
paid for.... There is something to play with in masonry--every stone is
different--but to learn order by lathing and plastering! Dante missed it
from his inventions. I do not count the plasterers paid--nor the house
paid for....

One evening I went through the structure when all but the final
finishing was over. I saw it all and was in a daze. The town regarded it
as having to do with me; the establishment was connected with my name;
yet I stood in a daze, regarding the pool and the balcony and the
fireplaces--finding them good.... The lumberman had outlined a plan by
which the years would automatically restore me to my own, but I am
unable still to see how these things are done. I would go to any length
to help him in ways familiar to me, but I could never stake him to a
stone house. And that was not all. I didn't look for the bit of Lake
shore bluff. I merely chose it to smoke on, because it was still--and
presently they called it mine. I didn't look for the architect, yet what
he did, his voice and letters full of unvarying pleasure, I could never
hope to do for him.... Yet here was the stone house--a week or two more
from this night of the dazed inspection, we were supposed to move in.

The old Spanish house in Luzon was quite as real to me. It was in that
verdant and shadowy interior that I first saw the tropical heart of a
human habitation. But there was no wired glass; its roof was the sky. I
remember the stars, the palms and the running water. A woman stood there
by the fountain one night--mantilla, dark eyes and falling water. It
was there in the palm-foliage that I plighted my troth to the

And here was its northern replica--sunken area paved with gold-brown
brick, the gurgle of water among the stones. Some one said that you
could see right through from the road to the Lake, through the rear and
front doors. I wanted it so--a house to see through like an honest face.
Some one said that the whole house could be lit by firelight. I wanted
it so.

"When we move in----" one of the children began.

I shivered.... But of one thing I was certain. If the lumberman didn't
move in, we would....

A certain Order came out of it all. A man should build something beside
his house, while he is at it. That something should enable him to build
another (if he ever _had_ to do it again) without raising his voice;
without losing his faith in men; without binding himself to the place or
the structure by any cords that would hurt more than a day or two if
they were cut.... The house is a home. It wasn't the lumberman who moved
in. The rooms are warm with firelight at this moment ... and yet with my
back still turned upon it and the grinding and rending of chaos ended, I
arise to remark with calmness and cheer that I would rent for indefinite
generations rather than build again.

There is the order of the small man--a baneful thing in its way,
sometimes a terrible and tragic thing. The narrow-templed Order which
has destroyed our forests to make places for rows of sugar-beets. Then
there is the order of Commerce which in multiplying and handling
duplicates of manufacture, has found Order an economical necessity. Let
that be confined to its own word, Efficiency.

The true individual rebels against the narrow-templed Order, rushes to
the other extreme; and we observe a laughable phenomenon--the
eccentricities of genius. In truth these eccentricities merely betoken
the chaos of the larger calibre. Order in the case of the genius is a
superb result, because of the broader surfaces brought under cultivation.
"The growth of the human spirit is from simplicity to complication, and
up to simplicity again, each circle in a nobler dimension of progress.
There is the simplicity of the peasant and the simplicity of the seer.
Between these two lie all the confusion and alarm of life, a passage of
disorder, well designated Self-consciousness."[2]

Cleanliness of the body is said to be one of the first rules for the
following of a certain religious plan of life. This is not the case
exactly; rather one of the first things that occur to a man on the road
to sanctity is that he must keep his body clean; second, that he must
keep his mind clean; third, that he must begin to put his spiritual
house in order. This is a basic principle of occultism. We must prove
faithful in the small things, first.

I rode over to a little cottage occupied by two young men who came here
in the interests of writing careers. They had talent, soul, brain,
balance, the unmistakable ignitions of the New Age. In a word, they were
large-calibred men, whose business in life was to put in order a fine
instrument for expression. Their cottage was not orderly. They did not
seem to mind; in fact, they appeared to disdain such trifles. They were
at the age when men may eat or drink anything and at all times without
apparently disturbing the centres of energy. They were, in fact, doing
large quantities of work every day--for boys. Yet daily in their work, I
was finding the same litter and looseness of which their cottage was but
an unmistakable suggestion. In fact, the place was a picture of their
minds.... We are each given a certain area of possibility. Not one in a
million human beings even roughly makes the most of it. The organisation
of force and the will to use it must be accomplished in childhood and
youth. This driving force is spiritual.

In this sense, all education is religion. Work is that, as well. It is
man's interpretation, not the fault of the religion, that has set apart
six days to toil in the earth and one day to worship God. A man worships
God best in his work. His work suffers if he misses worship one day in
seven, to say nothing of six. I do not mean piety. A feeling of
devoutness does not cover at all the sense I mean. A man's spirituality,
as I would reckon it, has to do with the power he can bring into the
world of matter from the great universe of spiritual force which is God,
or the emanation of God, as all the great religions reverently agree.

I do not mean to bring cults or creeds or hymns or affirmations into the
schools. This driving force which all the great workmen know and bow
before, is above and beyond man-uttered interpretations, above all
separateness, even above anything like a complete expression in matter
as yet. One day the workman realises that he has fashioned something
greater than himself--that he has said or sung or written or painted
something that he did not know he knew, and that his few years of
training in the world did not bring to him. He turns within to do it
again.... I would have the children begin at once to turn within. In awe
and humility, I beg you to believe that as a vast human family, we have
but wet our ankles in an infinite ocean of potentiality designed for our
use; that by giving ourselves to it we become at once significant and
inimitable; that its expression _through us_ cannot be exactly
reproduced by any other instrument; and that if we fail to become
instruments of it, the final harmony must lack our part, which no other
can play.

That which we see by means of an optic nerve is but the stone, but the
pit, of any object, a detached thing, which can be held in mind after
the eye turns away, only by a sensible retaining of memory, as an object
is held in the hand. There is a higher vision--and the word
_imagination_ expresses it almost as well as any other--by which the
thing can be seen, not as a detached object, but in its relation to the

There is a book on the table. You give it a day or a year. You find your
utmost limitations expanded if it is great enough and you can give
yourself freely enough. This book is no more a mere object upon a board.
Its white lines are as long as the spires of magnetism which stretch up
from the polar centre of the earth to the isolated northern stars.

You have read the book. Its separateness and detachment for you has
ended. That which you held in your hand was but the pit, the stone....
You can read the whole story of the tree in the pit; the whole story of
creation in any stone. The same magnetism that rises in spires from the
poles of the earth and is seen by the optic nerve under certain
conditions of atmosphere, rises from your brow, pours forth from the
finger-ends of man. The actual skull of a human mind is but the centre
of a flame of force, as seen by the truer vision, and the colour and the
beauty of it is determined by its instrumentation of the driving energy
which gives life to all men and things.

Every object and every man tells the same story with its different
texture, with its own tongue. One plan is written in every atom, woven
in and through and around us in a veritable robe of glory.... The
farther a man goes in vision, the more he sees that the plan is for joy;
that the plan is one; that separateness and self-sense is illusion and
pain; that one story is written in every stone and leaf and star and
heart--the one great love story of the universe.

Miracles? They are everywhere; every day to one who enters upon the
higher vision. I heard a young man speak for an hour recently--rising to
superb rhythm, his voice modulated, his mind constructive and inspired.
Three years ago he was inarticulate. No process of intellectual training
could have brought him even the beginnings of mastery in this period--or
in thirty years. He had listened until he was full, and then had spoken.

Miracles every day here. I am sometimes in awe of these young beings who
show me such wisdom, in years when the human child is supposed to be
callow and fatuous, his voice even a distraction.... It is only that
they have come to see the illusion of detached things; to relate and
cohere all together by the use of the power that seeks to flood through
them. I am in awe before them many times. The child that can see
fairies in wood and water and stone shall see so very soon the Ineffable
Seven and the downcast immortals in the eyes of friends and strangers.


[2] From _Midstream_.



The order of the narrow-templed men is not to be criticised in itself.
In fact it must be accomplished before the fresh complications and the
resulting larger dimensions of faculty may be entered upon. The error
lies in the hardening of the perceptions of children, through the
existing methods of purely mental training; and in the manner of adult
life, wherein the one imperious aim is dollar-making.

The men employed in the building here worked ten hours the day. No man
lives who can do a thing well for ten hours a day as a habit. The last
two or three hours of such a working-day is but a prolongation of strain
and hunger. Here is a little town full of old young men. There is no
help for him who "soldiers," since that is the hardest work. If you look
at the faces of a half-hundred men engaged upon any labour, you will
observe that the tiredest faces belong to those of the structurally
inert--the ones who have to surmount themselves as well as their tasks,
and who cannot forget themselves in their activity.

In many of the modern mills, they called it a fine thing when the labour
hours were shortened from ten to eight. As I see it, the man who is
allowed to do the same thing every second or two for eight hours
presents a picture of the purest tragedy.

Two of the primary causes of human misery are competitive education of
children and the endless multiplication of articles of trade by
mechanical means. Of the first only a thought or two need be added. I
have suggested the spirit of the Chapel, in its upholding of the one
whom I undertook lightly to reprimand for repeating a technical error.
All the others sustained him and waited almost breathlessly for me to
cease, so that I suddenly found myself out of order with one entity, as
it were.

The big plan of unity and brotherhood has been enunciated again and
again--from the tub of Diogenes, from Socrates and his golden-haired
disciple; from that superb slave, Epictetus, whose spirit has since been
a tonic for all races of men; from the deep-hearted emperor
Aurelius--and even before these, whom we have the temerity to call
Pagans. Then the Master Jesus came down, and left the story told more
clearly and perfectly than any.

A loaf of bread may be leavened by yeast over night, but it requires
thousands of years to leaven a planet with a new spiritual power. We
look at the world just now and are inclined to say that it is at its
worst. In truth, this is the hour before daybreak. In every land men are
watching the East. Already some have cried out at the false dawns; and
in their misery afterward have turned back hopelessly to the
strife--immersed themselves again in the long night of war.

But the causes of war are still operative in our midst, and they are
more terrible than trenches in Flanders, because their effects must
still be reckoned with after the madmen of Europe have found their rest.
The idea of Brotherhood has been brooding over the planet for thousands
of years. It tells us that all life is one; that we do the best unto
ourselves by turning outward our best to others, and that which is good
for the many is good for the one; that harmony and beauty and peace is
in the plan if we turn outward from self to service.

Yet behold the millions of children taught at this hour on a competitive
plan that reverses every idealism and shocks every impulse toward unity.
I would count a desperate evil (one to be eradicated if possible by
heroic measure) the first competitive thought that insinuated itself in
the minds of those who come to the Chapel. Yet you and I have suffered
this for years and years in our bringing up; and the millions behind
us--every day, every hour, in every class, they are stimulated by this
baneful energy out of the descent of man. Thus we are still making wars.
The child goes forth established in the immorality of taking what he can
and giving only what he must--against every call, every fragrance, every
flash of light from the new social order and the dream that shall bring
us nearer home as a race.

Again as adults we are slaves to the ruin of mechanically multiplied
things. On every hand, we are stimulated to believe that our worth is in
material possessions; school and press and platform inciting us to the
lie that we prosper by adding _things_ unto ourselves.... A certain
automobile factory decides to build one hundred thousand machines within
a year. It is almost like a cataclysm when one begins to consider the
maiming of the human spirit which follows in the wake of such a
commercial determination. Mortgages, the impulse to stretch the means,
the binding slavery to matter to pay, the rivalry of neighbours, actual
lapses of integrity, the lie, the theft, the desire, the spoliation of
children, the lowered vibration of the house, the worry, the fear--to
say nothing of the ten thousand factory workers, each of whom has built

There are men in that great mound of mills who have merely used a foot,
or a wrist, or an eye. Some of these good mechanics hold a file, others
screw bolts, for eight hours; the many serve steel to the machines and
pluck it forth--eight hours each day. Fifty men of the ten thousand have
a concept of the finished task; the rest have but a blind piece to do
again and again, until their Order is madness, and all the faculties of
the human will are rendered automatic for money, as if any form of wages
could pay for these hells of routine.

Each man's sense of origins, his faculties won from Nature, his
individuality and dispensations of human spirit, all are deadened. And
for this men are said to be paid in dollars; the mill is said to be a
marvel for efficiency.

The mercantile directorate that gathers every four days, to clip a wage
here and stretch a margin there, is innocent; the man who knocks down
another for his purse is but an erring, short-sighted child; the hordes
who weaken themselves in waste and indulgence are clean-hearted, since
they play fast and loose with what is in a sense their own property--but
the efficiency system which uses men this way, is a slayer of more than
mind and body. It commits the psychological crime.

       *       *       *       *       *

A man who has nothing but money to give is bound to be vulgar; and he is
never so vulgar as when he thinks he can pay in money for a fine task
well done. The man who does an excellent bit of production from his own
centres of being, puts his enduring self in it--a self said to be
fashioned not of clay. I repeat his work can only be paid for in kind.
You cannot buy any bit of fine spirit with money, no gift of love or
friendship, no turning toward you of any creative force. That which goes
to you for a price, is of the dimension of the price--matter yields unto
you matter. You can only purchase a fine instrument, or a fine horse, or
the love of woman or child, by presenting a surface that answers. You
possess them in so far as you liberate their secrets of expression.

I moved with a rich man about an estate which he had bought--and he
didn't know the dogwood from the beech. I doubt if he saw anything but
bark and green, shade and sun--a kind of twilight curtain dropped before
his eyes. There was a low hill with a mass of stones grouped on top.

"I shall have those taken away," he said idly.


"Why, they're just stones----"

I didn't answer.... He wouldn't have believed me, nor possibly his
landscape gardener. He couldn't see through the twilight curtain the
bleach or the tan of the rock pile, its natural balance--that it was a
challenge to a painter. The place would be all hedged and efficient
presently. He spoiled everything; yet he would have known how to deal
with you had you brought to him a commercial transaction--the rest of
his surfaces were covered in a thick, leathery coat, very valuable in a
septic-tank where air and light must be excluded.... This man had
another country estate in the East and still another in the South. I
would point out merely that he did not truly own them.

Rather it would seem that one must spend years to be worthy of communion
with one hillside of dogwood. According to what you can receive of any
beauty, is the measure of your worthiness.

I remember my first adventure with a player-piano. I was conscious of
two distinct emotions--the first a wearing tension lest some one should
come to interrupt, and the second that I did not deserve this, that I
had not earned it.... The instrument had that excellence of the finely
evolved things. It seemed to me that the workmen had done something that
money should not be able to buy. One does not buy such voices and genius
for the assembly of tones. It seemed to me that I should have spent
years of study to be worthy of this. There is a difference, as deep as
life, in the listening and in the doing. Something of the plan of it
all, is in that difference. I found that the spirit I brought was more
designed to be worthy of this happiness, than any money could be. I
found that a man does not do real work for money. That which he takes
for his labour is but the incident of bread and hire, but the real thing
he puts into a fine task, must be given. One after another, for many
decades, workmen had given their best to perfect this thing that
charmed me. Every part from Bach's scale to the pneumatic boxes in the
making of a piano and player had been drawn from the spirit of things by
men who made themselves ready to receive. They had toiled until they
were fine; then they received.

It was something the same as one feels when he has learned to read; when
the first messages come home to him from black and white, and he
realises that all the world's great literature is open to his hand.
Again the great things are gifts. You cannot pay in matter for a
spiritual thing; you can only pay in kind. I saw that the brutalisation
of the player-piano resulted from people who thought they had earned the
whole right, because they paid a price; that they did not bring the awe
and reverence to their interpretations, and therefore they got nothing
but jingle and tinkle and din.

I didn't know the buttons and levers, but I had an idea how a certain
slow movement should sound, if decently played. In two hours the
instrument gradually fitted itself to this conception. It was ready in
every detail; only I was to blame for the failures. The excitement and
exultation is difficult to tell, as I entered deeper and deeper into the
genius of the machine. It answered, not in _tempo_ and volume alone, but
in the pedal relaxations and throbs of force. I thought of the young
musicians who had laboured half their lives to bring to concert pitch
the _Waldstein_ or the _Emperor_, and that I had now merely to
punctuate and read forth with love and understanding....

A word further on the subject of disposing of one hundred thousand motor
cars in a year. You will say there was a market for them. That is not
true. There is not a natural market for one-fourth of the manufactured
objects in the world. A market was created for these motor-cars by
methods more original and gripping than ever went into the making of the
motor or the assembly of its parts. The herd-instinct of men was played
upon. In this particular case I do not know what it cost to sell one
hundred thousand cars; in any event it was likely less in proportion to
the cost of the product than is usually spent in disposing of
manufactured duplicates, because the methods were unique.... Foot and
mouth and heart, America is diseased with this disposal end. More and
more energy is taken from production and turned into packing and

Manufactured duplicates destroy workmen, incite envy and covetousness,
break down ideals of beauty, promote junk-heaps, enforce high prices
through the cost of disposal, and destroy the appreciation and
acceptance of the few fine things. These very statements are unprintable
in newspapers and periodicals, because they touch the source of revenue
for such productions, which is advertising.

You will say that people want these things, or they would not buy. A
people that gets what it wants is a stagnant people. We are stuffed and
sated with inferior objects. The whole _art of life_ is identified with
our appreciations, not with our possessions. We look about our houses
and find that which we bought last month unapproved by the current
style. If we obey the herd-instinct (and there is an intensity of
stimulation on every hand for us to obey) we must gather in the new, the
cheap, the tawdry, obeying the tradesmen's promptings, not our true
appreciations--in clothing, house-building and furnishing--following the
heavy foot-prints of the advertising demon, a restless matter-mad race.

We have lost the gods within; we have forgotten the real producers, the
real workmen; our houses are dens of the conglomerate, and God knows
that implicates the status of our minds. William Morris is happily
spared from witnessing the atrocities which trade has committed in his
name, and the excellent beginning of taste and authority over matter
inculcated by the spiritual integrity of Ruskin is yet far from becoming
an incentive of the many.

There are men who would die to make others see the wonderful
character-building of productive labour. Until the work is found for the
man, or man rises to find his own; until the great impetus in our
national life is toward the end of developing the intrinsic values of
each child, and fitting the task to it; so long as trade masters the
many, and the minds of the majority are attracted toward the simple
theorem of making cheap and forcing sales, or buying cheap and selling
dear; so long as the child is competitively educated in great classes,
and the pride of life is in possession of material things, instead of
the eternal things--just so long will we have war and governmental
stupidity, and all shames and misery for our portion.



Living in rows, conducting our movements and our apparel as nearly as
possible in accordance with the hitch of the moment, singing the songs
our neighbours sing--this is Order, but gregarian order. It is thus that
we lose or postpone the achievement of the fresh eye, the sensitiveness
to feel ourselves and the truth. We accept that which we are told as
true and beautiful; we accept that which is accepted. In reality, each
man's sense of beauty is a different treasure. He must have the spirit
of pioneers to come into his own.

A few years ago I passed for a square or two along the main avenue of a
large city--a sunny afternoon in early winter, as I remember, and the
hour of promenade. Young women and girls were wearing reds of the most
hideous shades--the reds of blood and lust and decadence.

"Those are the Balkan reds," I was told.

A bit of poison has lingered from that shaft. I saw something about
America that I have been unable to forget. The women and girls didn't
know what they were doing. They had accepted Trade's offering of the
season blindly. Trade had exploited the reds, because the word Balkans
was in the air that Fall, on account of an extra vicious efflorescence
of the fighting disease. American mothers had allowed their children to
ape barbarities of colour which are adjusted exactly to those sinking
and horror-bound peoples--bloody as the Balkans--because Trade had
brought them in.

These reds meant that the American multitude was unaware that certain
colours are bad as hell. Trade will always lead a people astray. The eye
that wants something from you, cannot lead you into beauty, does not
know beauty.... Moreover, we are led downward in taste by such short
steps that often we forget where we have landed.... I was sitting in a
street-car just recently, near the rear door where the conductor stood.
I had admired his quiet handling of many small affairs, and the courtesy
with which he managed his part. When I saw the mild virtue and decency
of his face and head and ears, I wondered afresh that he should be

He did the same thing each day, like a child compelled to remain at a
certain small table to turn over again and again a limited and unvarying
set of objects. There were but a few people in the car. I turned forward
to the shoulders of the motorman; and from his figure my mind wandered
to the myriads of men like him, somehow opening and shutting valves upon
the _juice_ and upon the passing force of steam--through tunnels and
trestles at this moment--driving trains and cars and ships around the

It was all a learning of Order, an integration of Order; and yet this
motorman was held in rigid bands of steel, making the same unswerving
passage up and down the same streets, possibly a score of times each
day--his lessons of Order having long since lost their meaning; his
faculties narrowing as fingers tighten, lest Order break into chaos
again. And I wondered what a true teacher might have done for this
motorman as a child, to make the best and most of his forces. The
average child can be made into an extraordinary man. In some day, not
too far, it will be the first business of the Fatherland to open the
roads of production to those who are ready.

Now I was back with the conductor; found myself attentively regarding
his trousers.

They were of heavy wool and blue, doubtless as clean as the usual
every-day woollen wear of men.... Here is a peculiar thing: If we wear
white clothing for a day or two, an unmistakable soil attaches, so that
change is enforced. And yet, since there is no cry of Scandal across the
more civilised zones of earth, the many wear the same woollen outer
clothing winter and summer for months at a stretch. One must accept
this conclusion: It is not that we object to dirt, but that we do not
want the dirt obvious. The garment that holds dirt may be worn until its
threads break down, but the garment that shows dirt must be washed.

... They were heavy wool and blue. It was not the fabric alone, but the
cut that held my eye. They were shaped somehow like a wide _W_ that a
child might bend with stiff wire, a letter made to stand alone. I
suppose some firm makes them in great quantities for motormen and
conductors. Had we not been led by easy grades to the acceptance, these
things would have cried out for our eyes. Nowhere in the Orient or the
Islands, is the male form made so monstrous. Had some one drawn them for
us, in a place where we are accustomed to look for caricature; had we
seen them in comic opera, or upon the legs of a Pacific Islander; or had
we come from another planet, there would have been no mistake as to the
debauchery of taste they represented. Over all, was a sadness that this
good man should be shamed so.

And when one thinks of what women have done in obedience to the
tradesman's instincts in late years; narrowing their waists one season,
widening their hips or accentuating the bust another, loosening the
abdomen as from a tightened stem the next--these are the real
obscenities which we perform in the shelter of the herd. Exposure is
frank and clean-hearted compared to these manifestations of human
beings; so that one with the beginnings of fresher vision cries out, "If
I do not know, if I have not taste and cannot see truly, at least let me
do as others do not...." And again the heaviness of it all lies in the
bringing up of children _not to revolt_.

       *       *       *       *       *

I talked of these matters to the Chapel group. Once I had seen a tall
man, who was going away, look down into the eyes of a little boy he
loved, saying: "Never do anything in secret that you wouldn't do before
your best friend. The fact is, the only way you can ever be _alone_ is
to be beneath yourself." I remembered that as something very wise and

It came to me, as I talked, that what we love best in children is their
freshness of eye. We repeat their sayings with pleasure because they see
things without the world-training; they see objects in many cases as
they are. It was but a step then to the fact that the artist or worker
who brings up anything worthy, has done just this--reproduced the thing
more nearly as it is, because of a natural freshness of vision, or
because he has won back to himself through years of labour, the absolute
need of relying upon what his own senses and his own spirit bring him.
It was this reliance that I was endeavouring to inculcate in every day's
work in the Chapel.

Again and again the children have made me see the dissolving of
character which comes from all forms of acting, even the primary defect
of the novel as a vehicle, and the inevitable breaking down in good time
of every artificial form of expression. It is true now, that an
important message can be carried to the many more effectively in a play
or a novel than through the straight white expression of its truth. This
is so because the many have been pandered to so long by artificial
settings and colourings, that the pure spirit of truth--_white_ because
it contains all colour--is not dominant and flaring enough for the
wearied and plethoric eye.

We say that character-drawing in fiction, for instance, is an art. A
writer holds a certain picture of a man or woman in his brain, as the
story containing this character develops. In drawing a low character,
the mind must be altered and deformed for its expression. In a book of
fiction of a dozen different characters, the productive energy passes
through a dozen different matrices before finding expression. These
forms lie in the mind, during the progress of the novel; and since our
own characters are formed of the straight expression of the thought as
it appears in the brain, one does not need to impress the conclusion
that we are being false to ourselves in the part of fictionists, no
matter how consummate we become as artists.

It is an old story how the daughter of Dickens sat forgotten in his
study, while he was at work upon some atrocious character of the under
London world, possibly Quilp; how the great caricaturist left his desk
for a mirror, and standing there went through the most extraordinary
grimaces and contortions, fixing the character firmly in his mind for a
more perfect expression in words.

In this same regard, one of the most interesting and sorrowful of all
observations is the character disintegration of those who take up the
work of acting as a career. Yet fiction writing is but a subtler form of
acting in words. The value of our books is in part the concision of
character portrayal--the facility with which we are able to lose
ourselves and be some one else. Often in earlier years, I have known
delight when some one said, "You must _be_ that person when you are
writing about him." I would answer: "He comes clearer and clearer
through a book and presently begins _to do himself_. After that one goes
over the early part of the book during which the character is being
learned, and corrects him in the light of the more nearly finished

It was a betrayal of glibness, of lightly-founded character, a
shiftiness which must pass.

The utterance of truth is not aided by passing through a brain that is
cut like a hockey rink from the passage of many characters. The
expression of truth preserves its great vitality by passing in as near
a straight line as possible from the source through the instrument. The
instrument is always inferior. It is always somehow out of true, because
it is human and temporal. It is not enhanced by human artifice, by
actings, nor by identification with fictions. The law of all life tells
us, and we do not need to be told if we stop to realise, that the spirit
of man is integrated by truth in expression, that the more nearly the
truth we speak, the more nearly we bring the human and temporal to a par
with the immortal within us. Bringing the mind to interpret the immortal
is the true life, the true education, the fruits of which are the love
of men and serenity and growth. I once heard it said that Carlyle,
Whitman, Thoreau, Emerson and such men could not be artists in the
fiction sense--that their efforts were pathetic, when they tried to
enflesh their literary efforts in story form.

This is true. Yet we do not count our greatest novelists and actors
above them in the fine perspective of the years, for they were
interpreters of the human spirit. They interpreted more and more, as the
years mounted upon them, the human spirit as it played through their own
minds, which steadily conformed more nearly to truth. The point of the
whole matter is, that in learning to interpret the human spirit more and
more directly, by actions in the world or written words apart, the mind
draws increasingly deep from a source that is inexhaustible, and its
expression finally becomes so rich and direct and potent that acting and
fictioning of any form is impossible.

Again, it is the straight expression of things as they find them, that
charms us in the words of children and masters. The true education is to
encourage such expression, to keep the passage between the mind and its
centre of origins wide open for the forth-sending of the inimitable and
the actual.

The young minds here are trained to realise that the biddings of their
inner life are more interesting and reliable than any processes merely
mental can possibly be. Unless their teacher fails, they will become
more and more the expressionists of themselves. No matter what form
their work takes in the world, the ideal is held that the dimension of
the human spirit will be upon their work, and this alone makes the task
of any man or woman singular and precious and of the elect.

I hear again, "But you will make them solitaries...." The solitary way
is first--all the great companions have taken that way at first.
Solitude--that is the atmosphere for the conception of every heroism.
The aspirations of the solitary turn to God. Having heard the voice of
God--then comes the turning back to men.... To be powerful in two
worlds--that is the ideal. There is a time for nestlings--and a time for
great migratory flights.



A teacher said upon hearing the title of this book, that she supposed it
had to do with the child in relation to the state or nation--a patriotic
meaning. I was wrong in getting a sting from this, for one should not be
ambiguous. The sting came because of a peculiar distaste for national
integrations and boundaries of any kind between men. The new
civilisation which the world is preparing for, and which the war seems
divinely ordained to hasten to us, will have little to do with tightly
bound and self-contained peoples. In fact, such nations furnish in
themselves an explosive force for disruption. Little more than material
vision is now required to perceive most of the nations of lower Europe
gathered like crones about a fire hugging the heat to their knees, their
spines touched with death.

The work in the Chapel is very far from partisanship, nationalism and
the like. It has been a true joy to watch the young minds grasp the
larger conception. It is as if they were prepared for it--as if they had
been waiting. Encouraged to look to their own origins for opinion and
understanding; taught that what they find there is the right opinion and
conception _for them_, they find it mainly out of accord with things as
they are. They express the thing as they see it, and in this way build
forms of thought for the actions of the future to pass through.

This is sheer realism. We have always called those who walked before us,
the mystics, because the paths they tread are dim to our eyes and their
distance far ahead. That which is the mystic pathway of one generation
is the open highway of the next. No man ever felt the awakening of his
spirit and bowed to its manifestation, who was not a mystic to the many
or few about him, and always the children of his fellows come to
understand him better than their fathers.

I say to them here: I do not expect common things from you. I expect
significant things. I would have you become creatively significant as
mothers and as writers and as men. The new civilisation awaits you--new
thought, the new life, superb opportunities for ushering in an heroic

You are to attempt the impossible. Nothing of the temporal must hold you
long or master you. Immortality is not something to be won; it is here
and now in the priceless present hour, this moving point that ever
divides the past from the future. Practice daily to get out of the
three-score-and-ten delusion, into the eternal scope of things, wherein
the little troubles and the evils which so easily and continually beset,
are put away. There is no order in the temporal, no serenity, no
universality. You who are young can turn quickly. That which you suffer
you have earned. If you take your suffering apart and search it, you
will find the hidden beauty of it and the lesson. If you learn the
lesson, you will not have to suffer this way again. Every day there is a
lesson, every hour. The more you pass, the faster they come. One may
live a life of growth in a year. That which is stagnant is dying; that
which is static is dead.

There is no art in the temporal. You are not true workmen as slaves of
the time. Three-score-and-ten--that is but an evening camp in a vast
continental journey. Relate your seeming misfortunes not to the hour,
but to the greater distances, and the pangs of them are instantly gone.
Art--those who talk art in the temporal--have not begun to work. If they
only would look back at those masters whose work they follow, whose
lives they treasure, they would find that they revere men who lived
beyond mere manifestations in a name, and lifted themselves out of the
illusion of one life being all.

There is no philosophy in the temporal. That which we call reason and
science changes like the coats and ties of men. Material science talks
loud, its eyes empty, clutching at one restless comet and missing the
universe. That thing known as _psychology_ taught to-day in colleges
will become even for your generation a curio, sacred only for the
preservation of humour. No purpose that confines itself to matter can
become a constructive effect, for matter breaks down, is continually
changed into new forms.

Electric bulbs wear out and are changed, but the current does not
change. The current lights them one after another of different sizes, as
you put them on. The bulb is an instrument like the brain. You turn on
the power, and there is light. You would not rely upon the passing
machine, when you know the secret of its force. Matter is driven, flesh
is driven, all that answers to the pull of the ground is driven and
changed and broken down and reunited in ever refining forms. That in
your heart--that sleeping one--is dynamic with all that you have been.
Your brain knows only the one. Do not forget your native force, as an
immortal being. You may be workers in magic.

Do not become bewildered by what the world calls good. The world does
not know. Follow the world and in that hour when you have obeyed its
dictates and learned its wants--its taste will change and leave you
nothing. That which the many have chosen is of the many. The voice of
the many is not the voice of God--it is the voice of the temporal and
its destiny is swift mutation.

Nothing greater than the many can come from the ballot of the many; that
is so well learned that its few and startling exceptions but help us to
see the bleakness of the blind choice of the crowd, which conducts us
sometimes to war and invariably to commonness. The few great men who
have touched the seats of the mighty in this or any country--have walked
with God alone against the crowd--until they were given the power to
master their way into authority.

The choice of the many in a political leader is not different from its
choice of a book or a flower or a fabric. A low vibration is demanded.



I remember the February day in Chapel when the winter first became
irksome. It had settled down in mid-November and been steady and
old-fashioned. The little girl opened the matter. Winter had become a
tiresome lid upon her beloved Nature--a white lid that had been on quite
long enough. She had not let us forget the open weather much, for her
talk and her essays had to do with growing days invariably.... The Abbot
began to talk of Spring. Spring had also appeared in his paper, though
outside there was two feet of steely frost in the ground.... Memories of
other Springs began to consume us that day. We talked of buds and bugs
and woodland places--of the gardens we would make presently.

"When roses began to come out for me the first time," said the old man,
"I sort of lost interest in the many flowers. I saw a rose-garden and
little beside--vines, of course. I know men who fall like this into the
iris, the dahlia, the gladiolus and the peony. There are folks who will
have salvia and petunias, and I know a man who has set out poppies in
his front yard with unvarying resolution--oh, for many years. He knows
just how to set them out, and abandonment is over for that place with
the first hard frost in the Fall. There is one good thing about poppies.
They do not lie to you. They are frankly bad--the single ones, dry and
thin with their savage burning, their breath from some deep-concealed
place of decay. The double poppies are more dreadful--born of evil
thoughts, blackness blent with their reds. Petunias try to appear
innocent, but the eye that regards them as the conclusion in decorative
effect, has very far to come. Every man has the flower that fits him,
and very often it is the badge of his place in human society.

"The morning-glory is sweeter natured and somewhat finer in colour than
the petunia, but very greedy still. It does not appreciate good care.
Plant it in rose soil and it will pour itself out in lush madness that
forgets to bloom--like a servant that one spoils by treating as a human.
Each flower tells its story as does a human face. One needs only to see
deeply enough. The expression of inner fineness makes for beauty."

Which remarks were accepted without comment.

"Again," the old man added, "some of the accepted things are not so far
along in beauty. Tulips are supposed to be such rejoicers. I can't see
it They are little circles, a bit unpleasant and conceited. If one were
to explain on paper what a flower is like, to a man who had never seen
anything but trees, he would draw a tulip. They are unevolved. There is
raw green in the tulip yellows; the reds are like a fresh wound, and the
whites are either leaden or clayey.... Violets are almost spiritual in
their enticements. They have colour, texture, form, habit, and an
exhalation that is like a love-potion--earthy things that ask so little,
do so well apart and low among the shadows. They have come far like the
bees and the martins. Lilacs are old in soul, too, and their fragrance
is loved untellably by many mystics, though the green of their foliage
is questionable. Nothing that is old within is complacent. Complacency
goes with little orbits in men and all creatures."

"Cats are complacent," said the Abbot.

"Nasturtiums are really wonderful the more one lives with them," the
voice of the Chapel went on. "They are not so old, but very pure. Their
odour, in delicacy and earth-purity, is something that one cannot
express his gratitude for--like the mignonette. Their colouring and form
warms us unto dearer feelings. They seem fairer and brighter each
year--not among the great things yet, but so tenderly and purely on the
way. Then I may betray a weakness of my own--and I am glad to--but I
love the honeysuckle vine. Its green is good, its service eager, the
white of its young blossoms very pure and magically made. The yellow of
its maturer flowers is faintly touched with a durable and winning brown
like the Hillingdon rose, and its fragrance to me though very sweet has
never cloyed through long association. Yet clover scent and many of the
lilies and hyacinths and plants that flower in winter from tubers, can
only be endured in my case from a distance."

"Soon he will get to his roses," said the little girl.

"Yes, I am just to that now. It has been an object of curiosity to me
that people raise so many _just roses_. Here is a world by itself. There
is a rose for every station in society. There are roses for beast and
saint; roses for passion and renunciation; roses for temple and
sanctuary, and roses to wear for one going down into Egypt. There are
roses that grow as readily as morning-glories, and roses that are
delicate as children of the Holy Spirit, requiring the love of the human
heart to thrive upon, before sunlight and water. There is a rose for
Laura, a rose for Beatrice, a rose for Francesca.... Do you know that
one of the saddest things in the world, is that we have to hark back so
far for the great romances? Here am I recalling the names of three women
of long ago whose kisses made immortals of their mates, as thousands of
other writers have done who seek to gather a background out of the past
against which to measure their romances.

"You will say that the romances of to-day are not told; that a man and
woman of to-day keep the romance apart of their life from the world--of
all things most sacred. You may discuss this point with eloquence and at
length, but you are not on solid ground. A great romance cannot be
veiled from the world, because of all properties that the world waits
for, this is the most crying need. Great lovers must be first of all
great men and women; and lofty love invariably finds expression, since
greatness, both acknowledged and intrinsic, comes to be through
expression. A great romance will out--through a child or a book or some
mighty heroism. Its existence changes all things in its environment. One
looks about the place of it and finds the reporters there. The highest
deeds and utterances and works have come to man through the love of
woman; their origins can be traced to a woman's house, to a woman's
arms. A woman is the mother of a man's children, but the father of his
actions in the world. He is but the instrument of bearing; it is her
energy that quickens his conceiving....

"Roses--how strangely they have had their part in the loves of men and
women. Do you think that our Clovelly roses have come to be of
themselves? Do you think that the actual _hurt_ of their beauty--the
restless, nameless quest that comes spurring to our hearts from their
silent leaning over the rim of a vase--is nothing more than a product of
soil and sun? Has their great giving to human romances been dead as
moonlight? Have roses taken nothing in return?... I would not insist
before the world that the form and fragrance and texture of the rose has
come to be from the magnetisms of lovers, but we of the Chapel may think
as we will. That liberty is our first law. We may believe, if we like,
that the swans of Bruges have taken something in return for their mystic
influence upon the Belgian lovers at evening--something that makes a
flock of flying swans one of the most thrilling spectacles in Nature.

"... I was speaking of how curious it is that so many people who have
reached roses--have ended their quest on the borders, at least that they
linger so long. They raise red roses; they bring forth spicy June roses.
In truth, the quest never ends. We do not stop at the Clovelly, which
has so strangely gladdened our past summer. We pass from the red to the
white to the pink roses--and then enter the garden of yellow roses, the
search ever more passionate--until we begin to discover that which our
hearts are searching for--not upon any plant but in ideal.

"The instant that we conceive the picture, earth and sun have set about
producing the flower--as action invariably follows to fill the matrix of
the thought. At least we think so--as the universe is evolving to
fulfil at last the full thought of God....

"The quest never ends. From one plant to another the orchid-lover goes,
until he hears at last of the queen of all orchids, named of the Holy
Spirit, which has the image of a white dove set in a corolla as chaste
as the morning star. An old Spanish priest of saintly piety tells him,
and he sets out for the farthest continent to search. It was his
listening, his search for the lesser beauty that brought him to the news
of the higher. It is always so. We find our greater task in the
performance of the lesser ones.... But roses--so many by-paths, because
roses are the last and highest words in flowers, and the story they tell
is so significant with meanings vital to ourselves and all Nature.

"First I want to divulge a theory of colour, beginning with the greens
which are at the bottom. There are good greens--the green of young elms
and birches and beeches. Green may be evil too, as the lower shades of
yellow may be--and certain blends of green and yellow are baleful. The
greens are first to appear. They are Nature's nearest emerging--the
water-colours--the green of the water-courses and the lowlands. Nature
brings forth first the green and then the sun does his part. Between the
rose-gold and the green of a lichen, there seems to be something like
ninety degrees of evolution--the full quarter of the circle that is
similarly expressed between the prone spine of the serpent and the erect
spine of man.

"Reds are complementary to the greens and appear next, refining more or
less in accord with the refinement of the texture upon which they are
laid; a third refinement taking place, too, that of form. These
improvements of value are not exactly concurrent. There are roses, for
instance, to represent all stages--roses that are specialising in their
present growth, one might say, in form _or_ colour _or_ texture; but in
the longer line of growth, the refinement is general. We look from our
window at the Other Shore and a similar analogy is there. From this
distance it seems but one grand sweep to the point of the breakers, but
when we walk along the beach, we are often lost to the main curve in
little indentations, which correspond to the minor specialisations of
evolving things. It is the same in man's case. We first build a body,
then a mind, then a soul--and growth in the dimension of soul unifies
and beautifies the entire fabric. All Nature reveals to those who
see--that the plan is one....

"The first roses were doubtless of a watery red. Their colour evolved
according to association of the particular plants, some into the deeper
reds, others paling to the white. It was the latter that fell into the
path of truer progress. Reaching white, with a greatly refined texture,
the sun began to paint a new beauty upon them--not the pink that is a
diluted red, but the colouring of sunlight upon the lustre of a pearl.
The first reds were built upon the greens; this new pink was laid upon a
white base.

"The story is the same through all evolving things. Growth is a spiral.
We return to the same point but upon a higher level. Our ascent is
steadily upward--always over hills and valleys, so to speak, but our
valleys always higher above the level of the sea. So that the white is a
transition--an erasure of the old to prepare for the finer colouring.

"And now comes the blend of the maiden pink and the sunlight gold. The
greens and the reds are gone entirely. Mother Earth brings up the rose
with its virgin purity of tint, and the sun plays its gold upon it.
There are pink and yellow roses to show all the processes of this
particular scope of progress; some still too much pink, other roses have
fallen by the way into lemon and ochre and sienna; there are roses that
have reverted to the reds again; roses that have been caught in a sort
of fleshly lust and have piled on petals upon petals as the Holland
maidens pile on petticoats, losing themselves to form and texture and
colour, for the gross illusion of size. We see whole races of men lost
in the same illusion....

"There are roses that have accomplished all but perfection, save for a
few spots of red on the outer petals--like the persistent adhering
taint of ancient sins.... But you have seen the Clovellys--they are the
best we have found. They have made us deeper and wiser for their beauty.
Like some saintly lives--they seem to have come all but the last of the
ninety degrees between the green of the level water-courses and the
flashing gold of the meridian sun.... The Mother has borne them, and in
due time (as men must do, or revert to the ground again) they have
turned to the light of the Father.... The fragrance of these golden teas
is the sublimate of all Nature. Man, in the same way, is inclusive of
all beneath. He contains earth, air, water, fire and all their products.
In the tea-rose is embodied all the forces of plant-nature, since they
are the highest manifestation.... The June roses have lost the way in
their own spice; so many flowers are sunk in the stupors from their own
heavy sweetness. The mignonette has sacrificed all for perfume, and the
Old Mother has given her something not elsewhere to be found; the
nasturtium has progressed so purely as to have touched the cork of the
inner vial, but the golden teas have brought the _fragrance itself_ to
our nostrils. Those who are ready can sense the whole story. It is the
fragrance of the Old Mother's being. You can sense it without the rose,
on the wings of a South Wind that crosses water or meadows after a



Outside, as I have said, it was cracking cold. We talked thirstily by
the big fire, discussed the perfect yellows in Nature--symbols of purest
aspiration--and the honest browns that come to the sunlight-gold from
service and wear--the yellow-brown of clustered honey bees, of the
Sannysin robe, of the purple martin's breast. We were thirsting for
Spring before the fire. The heart of man swells and buds like a tree. He
waits for Spring like all living things. The first months of winter are
full of zest and joy, but the last becomes intolerable. The little girl
had not let us forget at all, and so we were yearning a full month too

"I know a bit of woods," said the Abbot. "It is only two miles away. A
creek runs through it, and there are hills all 'round--lots of hickory
and elm and beech. There's one beech woods off by itself. Maples and
chestnuts are there, too, and many little cedars. There is a log house
in the centre, and right near it a Spring----"

He was talking like an old saint would talk of the Promised Land.

"You are breaking our hearts," I said.

"The hills are dry, so you can go early," he went on. "The cattle have
been there in season, as long as I can remember, so there are little
open meadows like lawns. The creek is never dry, and the Spring near the
log house never runs dry. I could go there now----"

"So could I," said the little girl.

They almost trapped me. I stirred in the chair, and remembered there was
but an hour or two of daylight left in the afternoon.... Besides there
was a desk covered with letters.... People ask problems of their own,
having fancied perhaps that they met a parallel somewhere in the
writings from this Study. I used to answer these perfunctorily, never
descending to a form but accepting it as a part of the labour of the
work. I shudder now at the obtuseness of that. I have met people who
said, "I have written you several letters, but never mailed them."

"Why?" I would ask.

Answers to this question summed into the reason that they found
themselves saying such personal things that they were afraid I would
smile or be bored.... Letters are regarded as a shining profit now, a
fine part of the real fruits. The teaching-relation with young minds has
shown me the wonderful values of direct contact. The class of letters
that supplies sources of human value are from men and women who are too
fine ever to lose the sense of proportion. The letters that are hardest
to answer, and which remain the longest unanswered, are from people who
have merely intellectual views; those who are holding things in their
minds with such force that their real message is obstructed. I dislike
aggressive mentality; it may be my weakness, but much-educated persons
disorder this atmosphere. They want things; they want to discuss. A man
is not free to give nor to receive when his hand or brain is occupied
with holding. I have had the choicest relations with honest criticism,
the criticism that is constructive because the spirit of it is not
criticism. Letters, however, critical or otherwise, that are heady, do
not bring the beauty that we seem to need, nor do they draw the answers
they were designed for. The pure human impulse is unmistakable.

There are letters from people who want things. Some people want things
so terribly, that the crush of it is upon their pages. I do not mean
autographs. Those who have a penchant for such matters have learned to
make reply very easy; nor do I mean those who have _habits_. There seems
to be a class of men and women who want to "do" literature for money,
and who ask such questions as, "What is the best way to approach a
publisher?" "What should a writer expect to make from his first novel?"
"Do you sell outright or on royalty, and how much should one ask on a
first book, if the arrangement is made this or that way?"

I think of such as the eighty-thousand-the-year folk. The detail of
producing the novel is second to the marketing. The world is so full of
meaning to the effect that fine work is not produced this way; and yet,
again and again, this class of writers have gotten what they want. Much
money has been made out of books by those who wrote for that. People, in
fact, who have failed at many things, have settled down in mid-life and
written books that brought much money.

But such are only incidents. They are not of consequence compared to the
driving impulse which one man or woman in a hundred follows, to write to
one who has said something that quickens the heart.... There was a
letter on the desk that day from a young woman in one of the big
finishing schools. The message of it was that she was unbearably
restless, that her room-mate was restless. They were either out of all
truth and reason, or else the school was, and their life at home as
well. They had been brought up to take their place in that shattered
world called Society--winter for accomplishments, summers for mountain
and shore. They were very miserable and they seemed to sense the
existence of a different world.... Was there such a world? Was there
work for women to do? Was it all an un-mattered ideal that such a world
existed? This letter achieved an absolute free-hearted sincerity in the
final page or two--that most winning quality of the younger generation.

... Then, many people are whole-heartedly in love around the world.
Letters often bring in this reality, many calling for a wisdom that is
not of our dispensation.... It was from personal letters first of all
that I learned of the powerful corrective force, which is being
established against American materialism along the Western coast. There
is to-day an increasingly finer surface for the spiritual things of art
and life, the farther westward one travels across the States. It is a
conviction here that the vital magic of America's ideal, promulgated in
the small eastern colonies, will be saved, if at all, by the final stand
of its defenders with their backs to the Pacific.

All our East has suffered from the decadent touch of Europe. Matter is
becoming dense and unescapable in the East. Chicago, a centre of
tremendous vitalities of truth, is making a splendid fight against the
entrenchments of the temporal mania; but in the larger sense, all that
is _living spirit_ is being driven westward before gross Matter--westward
as light tends, as the progress of civilisation and extinction tends.

The gleam is in the West, but it faces the East. It is rising. In
California, if anywhere in the world, the next Alexandria is to be
builded. Many strong men are holding to this hope, with steady and
splendid idealisation.

But there is black activity there, too. Always where the white becomes
lustrous the black deepens. On the desk before me on that same winter
day, was a communication from San Francisco--the last to me of several
documents from a newly-formed society for applying psychology. The
documents were very carefully done, beautifully typed and composed. They
reckoned with the new dimension which is in the world, which is above
flesh and above brain; which is, in fact, the unifying force of the
brain faculties, called here Intuition. The founders of this society
reckoned, too, with the fact that psychology as it has been taught from
a material basis in schools and colleges is a blight. One can't, as a
purely physical being, relate himself to mental processes; nor can one
approach the super-mental area by the force of mentality alone.

But I found _the turning_ in these documents with alarm; that the
purpose divulged was to master matter for material ends. This is black
business--known to be black before the old Alexandria, known to be black
before the Christ came. They had asked for comment, even for criticism.
I recalled that psychology is the science of the soul, and wrote this

"I have received some of your early papers and plans, and thank you. I
want to offer an opinion in good spirit. I find the powerful impulse
running through your effort, as expressed in the papers I have read--to
play to commerce and the trade mind. This is developing fast enough
without bringing inner powers to work in the midst of these low forces.
They will work. They will master, but it seems to me that spiritual ruin
will result. For these forces which you show in operation are the real
vitalities of man, which used other than in the higher schemes of
life--call in the bigger devils for man to cope with. When one begins to
use the dimension of the inner life, before the lower phases of the self
are mastered, he becomes a peril to himself and to others. I feel that I
do not need to be explicit to psychologists. I want to be on record as
strongly urging you to be sure that the animal is caged before you loose
the angel. Also that I have a conviction that there are ten times too
many tradesmen in the world now; and that office-efficiency is not the
kind that America is in need of. I repeat that I know you are in the way
of real work, and that's why I venture to show my point of view; and
please believe me energetic only toward the final good of the receptive
surface you have set out to impress."



One day in March, the Abbot said:

"You know that woods I was telling you about?"


"Well, my father bought it the other day."

... Something rolled over me, or within. This was a pervading ache that
had to do with the previous summer. I had ridden several times to the
Perfect Lane. It cut a man's farm in two from north to south and was
natural; that is, the strip of trees had been left when the land was
cleared, and they had reached a venerable age. Oak, hickory and
beech--clean, vast, in-their-prime forest-men--with thorn and dogwood
growing between. It had been like a prayer to ride through that Lane.
The cattle had made a path on the clay and the grass had grown in soft
and blue-green in the shade. In sapling days, the great trees had woven
their trunks on either side of a rail-fence that had stood for a
half-century. It was an approach to the farm-house that an artist would
have named an estate after--or a province.

Then came the day that I rode toward a smudge in the sky, and found men
and boys at work burning and cutting. The superb aisle was down. I
turned the horse and rode back. I learned that in the fields on either
side of the lane a strip of land, fifty or sixty feet wide, had been too
much shaded so that the corn and oats had not prospered. Perhaps it was
there that the cruelty of the narrow-templed Order made its deepest
impression. God bless the fodder--but what a price to pay. They had
burned the thorn and dogwood, felled the giants; they would plough under
that sacred cattle-path.

Then I thought of the denuded lands of North America; the billions of
cubic feet of natural gas wasted; lakes of oil, provinces of pine and
hard-wood vanished; the vast preserves of game destroyed to the wolf and
the pig and the ostrich still left in man's breast. The _story_ of the
struggle for life on Mars came to me--how the only water that remains in
that globe of quickened evolution is at the polar caps, and that the
canals draw down from the meltings of the warm season the entire supply
for the midland zones. They have stopped wastage on Mars.

It was these things that came to me at the mere mention of the transfer
of the woodland property. If it were going to be cut, I was glad I
hadn't seen it, and certainly I didn't want to enter now.

"What's your father going to do with it?" I asked.

"Use it for a pasture."

"Isn't going to cut it--any of it?"


Always there had been something absolute about the Abbot's _No_ and
_Yes_. I took hope.

"Is it thin enough to pasture?"

"The main piece is. Better come and see."

A pair of rubber boots in the corner of the Chapel caught my eye and the
wan light of March outside.

"There's everything there--a virgin beech wood--a few acres of
second-growth stuff that has all the vines and trailers--then the stream
and the big hollow where the cattle move up and down."

"Did you have anything to do with keeping it unspoiled?" I asked.

"My father didn't intend to cut anything right away. He might have
thinned the pasture section a little. I asked him not to. When he saw
the way I felt about it, he said he would never cut it."

There was a healing in that _never_.... The Abbot was not the kind to
ask his father for unreasonable things. I had seen the two together, and
had studied their relation with some pleasure. In the main, the father
had merely to understand, to be at one with the boy.... It happened that
we were alone in the Chapel at that time. I reached for the

"I'll ride as far as town and put the horse up," said I. "Meet me at the
far-end in a half-hour and we'll start the hike from there."

He was off at once. Chillness was still in the air, the land grey,
clouds yellowish-grey and watery.

We slipped out behind the stores and outhouses to a field that had a
stream running across--a stream and a hill and a band of oaks that still
held fast to a few leaves on the lower limbs, where the winds could not
get at them so freely. You can't expect to get anything out of an
oak-tree without working for it. I have seen an oak-log softened to
punk, the bark gone, having lain in a woodland shadow, doubtless for
thirty or forty years, but still holding fast to its unmistakable grain
and formation, though you could rub it to powder between the fingers.
For quite a little way, we followed the stream which was swollen with
melting snows, and then straight toward the wooded horizon line, the
afternoon hastening so that we marched with it, hot under our sweaters,
presently getting the stride of fence and ditch. The sun appeared at
times milk-like and ghostly in the south-west.... That was the first
time I saw the Amphitheatre.

We had reached the edge of the woodland and the height of land and
looked over the wooded slope into a silent pasture-land, a stream
winding through the centre. The grass had been cropped to the last of
the Fall days, and in the recent thaws the stream had overrun the entire
bottom, so that the lowland pasture was not only tonsured, but combed
and washed. I looked up. A beech-tree was shivering on the slope beside
me, holding fast to her leaves of paper white on wide and pendent
branches; a smooth and beautiful trunk of bedford grey, with eyes like
kine carved upon it. Then I saw that this was but one of a
sisterhood--the mother-tree fallen. Across were oaks and hickories, and
through the naked branches, a log cabin.

An enumeration will not even suggest the picture. Sheep and cattle had
made it a grove of the earth-gods. We remembered the Spring by the
cabin, and crossed to it. Skimming the leaves from the basin, we watched
it fill with that easy purity of undisturbed Nature.... Now there was a
fine blowing rain in our faces, and the smell of the woods itself in the
moist air was a Presence. The cabin had been built for many
decades--built of white oak, hewn, morticed and tenoned. The roof and
floor was gone, but the walls needed only chinking. They were founded
upon boulders.... I saw in days to come a pair of windows opening to the
north, and a big open fireplace on the east wall, a new floor and a new
roof.... It would be a temple. I saw young men and children coming
there in the long years ahead.... Across the open field beyond was a

"The big beeches are there," the Abbot said.

"It can't be so perfect as this," I declared.

"It is different. This is a grove--thinned for pasture land. Over there
it is a forest of beech. To the west is a second growth of
woods--everything small but thick. You can see and take things right in
your hand----"

We did not go to the forest nor to the jungle that day, but moved about
the rim of that delved pasture-land, watching the creek from different
angles, studying the trees without their insignia. We knew the main
timbers only--beech, oak, elm, maple and hickory and ash, blue beech and
ironwood and hawthorn. There were others that I did not know, and the
Abbot seemed disturbed that he could not always help.

"It won't be so another Spring," he said.

Altogether it hushed us. I was holding the picture of the temple of the
future years--for those to come, especially for the young ones, who were
torn and wanted to find themselves for a time.

"You say he is not going to cut anything from the pasture-grove?" I


There was ease in that again. We walked back with the falling
dusk--across a winter wheat field that lay in water like rice. The town
came closer, and we smelled it. The cold mist in the air livened every
odour. It is a clean little town as towns go, but we knew very well what
the animals get from us.... I was thinking also what a Chinese once said
to me in Newchwang. He had travelled in the States, and reported that it
was a long time before he could get accustomed to the aroma of the white
man's civilisation. Newchwang was long on the vine at that very moment,
but he did not get that. I did not tell him. That which we are, we do
not sense. Our surfaces are only open to that which we are not. We must
depart from our place and ourselves, in order to catch even a fleeting
glimpse, or scent, of our being. The Abbot and I lifted our noses high.
The post-office was thick with staleness that held its own, though
chilled. I was glad to have the horse feel as I did, and clear out for
the edge of the Lake where we belonged.

... We went many days that Spring. The town thought us quite bereft. We
were present for the hawthorn day; saw the ineffable dogwoods at their
highest best; the brief bloom of the hickories when they put on their
orchids and seemed displeased to be caught in such glory by human eyes.
I love the colour and texture of hickory wood, but it insists on
choosing its own place to live.... We saw the elms breaking another day,
and the beech leaves come forth from their wonderful twists of brown,
formed the Fall before. Everything about the beech-tree is of the
highest and most careful selection; no other tree seems so to have
forgotten itself; a noble nature that has lost the need of insisting its
demands and making its values known, having long since called unto
itself the perfect things.... There was one early May day of high
northwind, that we entered the beech-wood, and saw those forest lengths
of trunk swaying in a kind of planetary rhythm. Full-length the beeches
gave, and returned so slowly, a sweeping vibration of their own, too
slow and vast for us to sense. I thought of a group of the great women
of the future gathered together to ordain the way of life. There is no
holier place than a beech-wood....

The Abbot's father repaired the cabin for us--put in the fireplace and
the windows to the north. Many nights the Chapel kindred have spent
there, in part or as a party; and it is the centre of the wonderful days
of our Spring Questing, when humankind brings a thirst almost
intolerable for the resuming of the Mother's magic.... We want it a
place some day for many of the great little books of all time--the place
for the Stranger to lodge and for Youth to come into its own. The
Abbot's father who has made it all possible seems to like the dream,

... But the Abbot has gone back to school. I think it is only
temporary.... He remained after the others some weeks ago, and said to
me quite coldly:

"They have decided to make me go back to school----"

"Sit down," I answered.

As I look back, I think that was said because I, too, felt the need of
sitting down. He had been with me nearly a year. I had found him at
first, immersed in brooding silence. In a way, that silence was chaotic;
full day was far from rising upon it. He is without ambition in the
worldly sense. Ambition is a red devil of a horse, but he gets you
somewhere. One overcomes Inertia in riding far and long on that mount.
He takes you to the piled places where the self may satisfy for the
moment all its ravishing greeds. This is not a great thing to do. One
sickens of this; all agony and disease comes of this. The red horse
takes you as far as you will let him, on a road that must be retraced,
but he gets you somewhere! Inertia does not. The point is, one must not
slay the red horse of ambition until one has another mount to ride.

The Abbot caught the new mount quickly. He seemed to have had his hand
on the tether when he came. The name of the red horse is Self. The white
breed that we delight to ride here might be called generically Others.
The Abbot was astride a fine individual at once--and away.... He is but
fifteen now. With utmost impartiality I should say that wonderful
things have happened to him.

They said at his home that he has become orderly; that he rises early
and regularly, a little matter perhaps, but one that was far from
habitual before. They told me that he works with a fiery zeal that is
new in their house; that he is good-tempered and helpful. I knew what he
was doing here from day to day, and that he was giving me a great deal
of that joy which cannot be bought, and to which the red horse never

But the town kept hammering at his parents' ears, especially his former
teachers, his pastor and Sabbath-school teacher, the hardware man. I
asked his father to bring the critics for a talk in the Study, but they
did not come. A friend of the family came, a pastor from Brooklyn. The
appointment was made in such a way that I did not know whether he was
for or against the Abbot's wish to remain in the work here. I told the
story of the Abbot's coming, of his work and my ideas for him; that I
would be glad to keep him by me until he was a man, because I thought he
was a very great man within and believed the training here would enable
him to get himself out.

My main effort with the Abbot, as I explained, was to help him develop
an instrument commensurate in part with his big inner energies. I told
them how I had specialised in his case to cultivate a positive and
steadily-working brain-grip; how I had sought to install a system of
order through geometry, which I wasn't equipped to teach, but that one
of the college men was leading him daily deeper into this glassy and
ordered plane.

The fact is, the Abbot had my heart because he loved his dreams, but I
used to tell him every day that a man is not finished who has merely
answered a call to the mountain; that Jesus himself told his disciples
that they must not remain to build a temple on the mountain of
Transfiguration. Going up to Sinai is but half the mystery; the gifted
one must bring stone tablets down. If in impatience and anger at men, he
shatter the tablets, he has done ill toward himself and toward men, and
must try once more.

It appears that I did most of the talking and with some energy,
believing that the Abbot had my best coming, since the hostility against
his work here had long been in the wind from the town.... It was the
next day that the boy told me that the decision had gone against us. I
cannot quite explain how dulled it made me feel. The depression was of a
kind that did not quickly lift. I was willing to let any one who liked
hold the impression that the obligation was all my way, but there was
really nothing to fight. I went to see the Abbot's father shortly
afterward. We touched just the edges of the matter. As I left he assured

"The minister said that he didn't think the boy would come to any harm
in your Study."

There was no answer to that.... And yet, as I have said, we have come up
in different ways from the townspeople. The manuscripts that go forth
from this Study are not designed to simplify matters for them, and the
books we read in the main are not from the local library. One should
really rise to a smile over a matter like this. The fact is, I said to
the Abbot:

"Go and show them your quality. There's no danger of your falling into
competitive study. Show them that you can move in and around and through
the things they ask of you. We're always open when you want to come.
You're the first and always one of us. You've got the philosophy--live
it. This is just a mission. Take it this way, Abbot. Take it as an
honour--a hard task for which you are chosen, because you are ready.
Make your days interpret the best of you. Go to it with all your might.
Feel us behind you--rooting strong--and hurry back."



It was a rainy Fall night. The Dakotan came in barefooted with two large
bundles of copy. It was a bit cold to take the ground straight, but he
had walked along the bluff for some distance in absolute darkness, over
grassy hollows filled with water as well as bare patches of clay. One's
shelf of shoes is pretty well used up on a day like this, and one learns
that much labour can be spared by keeping his shoes for indoor use.
Incidentally, it is worth having a garden, walled if necessary, for the
joy of hoeing flowers and vegetables barefooted.... I had just about
finished the work of the evening. It would not have mattered anyway. The
Dakotan sat down on the floor before the fire and was still as a spirit.
He has no sense of time nor hurry; he would have waited an hour or two,
or passed along quite as genially as he came, without my looking up.

But one does not often let a friend go like this. These things are too
fine, of too pure a pleasantness. One does not learn the beauty of them
until one has come far through terror and turmoil. It is almost a
desecration to try to put such things into words; in fact, one cannot
touch with words the heart of the mystery. One merely moves around it
with an occasional suggestive sentence and those who know, smile warmly
over the writer's words.

The Study was red with firelight. Burning wood played with its tireless
gleam upon the stones, upon the backs of books, and into the few
pictures, bringing the features forth with restless familiarity. I left
the desk and came to the big chair by the fire. I was glad he was there.
I think I had been watching him intently for several seconds before he
looked up.... I had not been thinking of Thoreau; at least, not for
days, but it suddenly came to me that this was extraordinarily like
Thoreau, who had come in so silently through the darkness to share the
fire. I found that he had just been writing of the relations of men, the
rarer moments of them; and queerly enough, I found that night more of
the master of Walden in his work.

The Dakotan is twenty. All summer he has been doing some original
thinking on the subject of Sound. When I was his age, Tyndall was the
big voice on this subject; yet we have come to think in all humbleness
that Tyndall only touched his toes in the stream. The Dakotan has spent
the last few years afield. He is a tramp, a solitaire, a student at the
sources of life. Things have been made easier for him here. He took to
this life with the same equableness of mind that he accepted the
companions of hardship and drudgery on the open road. Throughout the
last summer he has moved about field and wood and shore, between hours
of expression at his machine, in a kind of unbroken meditation. I have
found myself turning to him in hard moments. Some of our afternoons
together, little was said, but much accomplished. A few paragraphs
follow from the paper brought in on this particular night:

     "Vibration is the law that holds the Universe together. Its
     energy is the great primal Breath. Vibration is life and
     light, heat and motion. Without it, there would be blackness
     and universal death. From the almost static state of rock and
     soil, we have risen steadily in vibration up through the
     first four senses, to Sound, the fifth. The scope of
     Sound-vibration yet to be experienced by us is beyond our
     wildest imagination.

     "Sounds are the different rates of vibration in all things.
     As yet we know Sound as we know most other things, merely on
     the dense physical plane. The next great discoveries in
     higher phenomena will be made in the realm of Sound. The most
     marvellous powers are to be disenchanted from vibrations as
     yet inaudible. The present enthusiasm over _telepathy_ is
     merely the start of far greater phenomena to come.

     "It is my belief that over ninety per cent of the sounds we
     know and hear are injurious, lowering, disquieting and
     scattering to all higher thought, to intuition and all that
     is fine and of the spirit. There is not one human voice in a
     thousand that is of a quieting influence and friendly to
     higher aspirations. The voice is a filler, in lieu of
     shortages of intellect and intuition. More and more, among
     fine people explanations are out of order. A man is silent in
     proportion to what he knows of real fineness and aspiration.
     Outside of that speech which is absolutely a man's duty to
     give out, one can tell almost to the ampere, the voltage of
     his inner being, or its vacantness and slavery, by the depth
     of his listening silences, or the aimlessness of his filling
     chatter. It is only those few who have come _to know_,
     through some annealing sorrow, sickness, or suffering, and
     draw away from the crowds and noises into the Silence, that
     become gifted with all-knowing counsels.

     "There is a sound born from every thought, action, or
     aspiration of man, whether of a high or a low order, a sound
     not to be heard but felt, by any one fine and sensitive
     enough to receive the impression. From the collective,
     intuitive thoughts of attuned groups of men, thinking or
     working as one toward a high end, there arises a sound which
     is to be _felt_ as a fine singing tingle by all in the
     vicinity. The work here proves this. At times there is an
     exquisite singing in the air, not audible but plainly to be
     felt, and a kind of emanation of light in the Chapel. We all
     lean forward. The voice and thought of one has become the
     voice and thought of all; what is to be said is sensed and
     known before it is uttered; all minds are one.

     "... There are moments in the soft, changing, growing,
     conceiving hours of dawn and sunset when Mother Nature heaves
     a long deep sigh of perfect peace, content and harmony. It is
     something of this that the wild birds voice, as they greet
     the sun at dawn, and again as they give sweet and melancholy
     notes at his sinking in the quiet of evening. Birds are
     impressed from without. They are reasonless, ecstatic,
     spontaneous, giving voice as accurately and joyously as they
     can to the vibrations of peace and harmony--to the _Sounds_,
     which they feel from Nature. Animals and birds are conscious
     of forces and creatures, we cannot see.... Unless we decide
     that birds generate their songs within; that they reason and
     study their singing, we must grant that they hear and imitate
     from Nature, as human composers do. The process in any case
     has not to do with intellect and reason, but with
     sensitiveness and spirit. One does not need to acquire
     intellect and reasoning, to have inspiration, sensitiveness,
     and spirit. It is the childlike and spontaneous, the sinless
     and pure-of-heart that attain to psychic inspiration.

     "Have you ever seen at close range the rapt, listening,
     inspired look of the head of a wild bird in flight? Has
     anything fine and pure ever come to you from a deep look into
     the luminous eyes of a bird fresh from the free open?

     "... Study the very voices of spiritual men. They are
     low-pitched, seeming to issue from deep within the man; one
     strains to catch what is said, especially if he be used to
     the far-carrying, sharp, metallic, blatant speech of the
     West. Certain ancients were better versed in the potency of
     sounds than we are to-day. Study in occult writings the
     magic pronunciation of _Aum_, _Amitabha_, _Allah_, of certain
     chants and spirit-invoking incantations of old, and one draws
     a conception of the powers of friendly sounds and the
     injurious effects of discordant sounds, such as we are
     surrounded by....

     "Many of us in the West, who are so used to din and broken
     rhythm, would call the _Vina_, that Oriental harp-string of
     the soul, a relic of barbaric times. But _Vina's_ magic cry
     at evening brings the very elementals about the player. The
     voices of Nature, the lapping of water, bird-song, roll of
     thunder, the wind in the pines--these are sounds that bring
     one some slight whit of the grandeur and majestic harmony of
     the Universe. These are the voice of _kung_, 'the great tone'
     in Oriental music, corresponding somewhat to F, the middle
     note of the piano, supposed to be peace-invoking. In northern
     China the Buddhist priests sit out in evening, listening
     raptly to _kung_, the 'all-harmonious sound of the Hoang-ho
     rushing by.' One longs to be the intimate of such


THE DAKOTAN (_Continued_)

I first heard of the Dakotan[3] at a time when I was not quite so
interested in the younger generation. A woman friend out in his country
wrote me, and sent on some of his work. I was not thrilled especially,
though the work was good. She tried again, and I took the later
manuscript to bed with me, one night when I was "lifted out," as the
mason said. It did not work as designed. Instead of dropping off on the
first page, I tossed for hours, and a letter asking him to come to
Stonestudy was off in the first mail in the morning.

He is drawing entirely from his own centre of origins. That was
established at once, and has been held. The only guiding required, since
he is a natural writer, has been on the one point of preserving a
childlike directness and clarity of expression. It is not that he wants
the popular market; the quality of his _bent_ precludes that for the
present. Moreover, he can live here on what thousands of men in America
spend for cigars, but our ideal of writing has to do with the straight
line between the thought and the utterance.

A man's style has little or nothing to do with the words, or the
sentence, paragraph or even his native eccentricities of technique; a
man's style has to do with the manner of his thinking. As for words and
the implements of writing, the more nearly they are made to parallel the
run of thought, the better the work.

One does not learn the Dakotan's kind in a day or a year. There is a
continual changing and refining production about our truest friends--the
same thing in a woman that a man can love in the highest--that quickens
us always to higher vision and deeper humanity. The point is that we
must change and increase to be worthy of our truest relations. One must
always be restless and capacious. When our eyes rest on the horizon, and
do not yearn to tear it apart; when the throb of the Quest sinks low in
our breast--it is time to depart. You who in mid-life think you have
_arrived somewhere_--in profession, in trade, in world-standing--know
that death has already touched you, that the look of your face is

I have said to the Dakotan and to the others here: "It was good for you
to come--but the time may arrive, when it will be just as good for you
to go.... When you see me covering old fields; when you come here for
continual reviews of my little story; when your mind winces with the
thought of what I am to do and say next, because you know it well
already--arise and come no more, but in passing, say to me, 'To-day we
did not get out of the circle of yesterday....' I shall know what is
meant, and it shall be good for you to tell me, since one forgets. It
may be that there is still enough strength for another voyage--that I
may be constrained to leave Telemachus and go forth to the edge of the
land "where lights twinkle among the rocks and the deep moans round with
many voices."

Recently the Dakotan told me of a dream, and I asked him to write it. I
think he will draw nearer to you, if you read the story that he brought

     "This is the latest and most complete of many under-water
     dreams that have come to me. In their thrall as a child I
     learned the deeps of fear. I do not know why dreams of mine
     are so often associated with water, unless at some time, way
     back in the beginnings, the horror of a water-existence has
     been so stamped upon me that it has been retained in
     consciousness. As a child, water and strong winds drove me to
     tears. I can remember no other things that brought marked
     fear but these. One incident of wind, on a boat going to
     Block Island Light-house, off Newport, remains as vivid to
     this day as when it was enacted, and I was not yet five at
     the time. Every one wondered at these peculiar fears, but the
     explanation is plainer if one can look either back or beyond.

     "Knowledge is but a glimmering of past experience. We are the
     condensed sum of all our past activities. Normal mind and
     memory are only of the immediate present, only as old as our
     bodies, but once in a long time we fall by chance into
     certain peculiar conditions of body, mind, or
     soul--conditions that are invoking to great reaches of
     consciousness back into the past. Normally our shell is too
     thick; we are too dense and too conscious of our present
     physical being and vitality, for the ancient one within us to
     interpret to the brain. Even in sleep, the brain is usually
     embroiled or littered with daily life matters. The brain has
     not yet become a good listener, and the voice of the inner
     man is ever a hushed whisper.

     "The exceptionally low temperature of my body was the
     immediate cause of this dream. Here is a conviction that I
     brought up from it: I believe that any one by putting himself
     into a state of very low temperature and vibration, almost
     akin to hibernation, may be enabled to go back in
     consciousness toward the Beginnings. Evidently red blood is
     wholly of man, but in some way the white corpuscles of the
     blood seem to be related to the cold-blooded animals and
     hence to the past. Under conditions, such as sleeping on the
     ground or in a cold, damp place, these white corpuscles may
     be aided to gain ascendency over the heart, brain, and red
     corpuscles. This accomplished, the past may be brought back.

     "It was a cold, rainy Fall night that the dream came. A
     bleak east wind blowing along the lake-shore, probed every
     recess of the 'Pontchartrain,' the tiny open-work cottage I
     used. The place was flushed like a sieve with wind and rain.
     It leaked copiously and audibly, and there was no burrowing
     away from the storm. I sought the blankets early in a state
     of very low circulation. The last thing I was conscious of,
     as I drifted off, was the cold, the low sound of the wind,
     and the rain beating upon the roof....

     "There was a cohering line through this dream, every detail
     stamped upon my consciousness so deeply that the memory of it
     upon awaking was almost as vivid as when I was immersed....
     It began very slowly with a growing perception of a low
     monotonous lap and wash of water and a slight heaving,
     lifting sensation, as of my being swayed gently to and fro.
     It was very cold, not the biting cold we know, but a dank,
     lifeless, penetrating cold of water and darkness.... The
     manner of my own form was not clear to me; I was of too low a
     consciousness to be aware of many exterior particulars. I
     merely knew I belonged to darkness and deep water. In fact,
     during the dream I had hardly a sense of _being_, except
     through the outer stimuli of cold and danger. These were
     horribly plain. That I was a creature of the depths and dark,
     a bleached single-cell, was doubtless a mental conclusion
     from the waking contemplation afterward. In the dream, I
     seemed of vast size, and I believe all little creatures do,
     since they fill their scope as tightly as we. The spark of
     consciousness, or life within, seemed so faint that part of
     the time my body seemed a dead, immovable bulk. No sense of
     self or body in comparison to outer things, was existent,
     except when a larger form instilled me with fear.

     "My dream seemed a direct reversion back into the Beginnings,
     in form, consciousness, state of being, perception and
     instinct--everything--so that I actually lived, in infinitely
     dwindled consciousness, the terrible water-life.

     "All was blackness. I possessed some slight volition of life
     that contracted in the cold. I was not in any keen suffering;
     I seemed too low and numbed to sense to the full the
     unpleasantness of my condition.... Presently there came a
     dawning light which gradually grew stronger. I did not seem
     to have eyes, but was conscious of the ray seemingly through
     the walls of my body. Slowly it increased, to a sickly wan
     filter of grey. It was light shining through water, a light
     which would have been no light to a human being. To me it was
     intense and fearsome, seemed to reach centres of me that were
     sensitive beyond expression. Though I was a mere blob,
     boneless and quivering, the ray was foreign and I knew what
     it was to cringe.

     "And now I find the difficulty of interpreting the dream
     exactly from the point of the Cell. These things that I write
     I could not know then, except in smallest measure. As our
     greater forces are diminished by passing through the brain,
     these little affairs are increased by adjustment to man's
     waking faculties. From now, I shall give the picture as it
     appears to me from this distance:

     "As the light increased, I contracted and sank slowly into
     the depths. The bottom was not far. I descended in a flowing,
     undulating fashion and settled softly on the water-bed,
     beside a large, up-jutting fang of rock. It was black in the
     depths. The cold penetrated all. Torpid and prone, I lay
     there numbed into absolute quiescence. It seemed that a
     torpid inertia, doomed to be everlasting, had settled upon
     me. I knew no want, no desire, had not the slightest will to
     move, to rest, to sleep, to eat, even to exist, just the
     dimmest sense of watchfulness and fear. It was perfect
     hibernation. I had descended into too low a degree of
     temperature and vibration to feel the need even of
     nourishment. I was becoming dead to the cold; everything was
     a pulseless void. I should never have generated an impulse to
     move again had not extraneous influences affected me after
     seeming ages had passed.

     "The bottom on which I now lay was of soft, oozy silt; about
     me were rocks, slippery and covered with a coating of
     grey-green slime. Spots in the slime moved. I could hear it,
     or rather feel it--a sort of bubbling quake, mere beginnings
     of the life impulse. The tops and sides of the rocks were
     festooned with waving green fringes of growths, which trailed
     out into the water. Long, snakelike fronds and stems of
     whitish green, half-vegetable, half-animal, grew on the
     bottom. They were stationary at their bases, but were lithe
     and a-crawl with life in their stems, extending and
     contracting into the water at intervals, in a spiral, snakey
     manner. Their heads were like white-bleached flowers, with
     hairy lips, which contracted and opened constantly, engulfing
     the myriads of floating, microscopic forms.

     "Upon the heads of some of the creepers were ghostly
     phosphorescent lights, which winked on and off at intervals
     as the stems waved gently to and fro. I did not have an
     instinctive fear of these. They seemed friendly. They lit up
     the black depths. They and I seemed of a similar bent; they
     feared the forms that I feared and contracted tight to the
     bottom when these enemies approached. There were certain
     permanent spots about me that gave off other lights at
     intervals. The whole bottom was a dim, vast region of
     many-coloured lights, or more properly, dim lambent glows, of
     blue, green and yellow, which winked and nodded on and off in
     the blackness. They seemed to be the decoys of the feeders
     that possessed them. Each glow lit up a circle in the depths
     and seemed to attract food to the watcher who waved it. They
     were all cold lights, mere phosphorescent gleams without the
     searching, penetrating qualities of the light I had first
     felt, and they did not bother me.

     "... The ray was filtering down again. It was this that kept
     me alive. It increased until all above was a wan grey. One by
     one the many-coloured lights of the bottom winked off, the
     long feelers and contractile stems were drawn in, and the
     whole bottom became once more a motionless, dead-grey
     world.... Little sacks without eyes in that grey light, the
     gorging not begun, kept alive by the whip of fear. The low
     life would have gone on to death or dissemination had it not
     been for exterior forces which reached me in the shape of
     Fear. I shall never forget it--the Fear of the Black Bottoms.

     "There was a long, hideous suspense, as the Ray held me, and
     the thing that I feared was not the Ray, but belonged with
     it. In the midst of a kind of freezing paralysis, the
     struggle to flee arose within me. Yet I was without means of
     locomotion. Through sheer intensity of panic I expanded. Then
     there was a thrusting forward of the inner vital centre
     against the forward wall of the sack. It was the most vital
     part of me that was thrust forward, the heart of a rudiment,
     so to speak. That which remained, followed in a kind of flow.
     The movement was an undulation forward, brought about by the
     terror to escape.

     "Fear is always connected with Behind. With the approach of
     Danger I had started _forward_. There had been no forward nor
     backward before, nor any sides or top to me. Now a back, a
     dorsal aspect, came into being, and the vital centre was
     thrust forward within the cell, so as to be farthest away
     from the danger. It is in this way that the potential centre
     of an organism came to be in the front, in the head, looking
     forward and always pointed away from the danger--protected to
     the last.

     "As I flowed forward, the sticky fluid substance of my body
     sucked into the oozy bottom. I spatted myself as flat as
     possible, seeming to press the tenderest parts closest to the
     bottom. And it is in this way that the vital parts of
     organisms came to be underneath, on the ventral aspect,
     protected from above by the sides and back. As the Fear
     increased, I gained in strength and speed of locomotion, the
     same parts of my form protruding rhythmically, faster and
     easier, until I did not need to concentrate so intensely upon
     the moving-act. Doubtless I covered ages of evolution in the
     dream. It is in this way through the stimulus of Fear that
     the rudiments of organs of locomotion were begun. And they
     came in the Beginnings on the ventral side, because that side
     was pressed close to the earth. Every sense, volition,
     reasoning power--everything--was generated and fostered by
     Fear in the Beginnings. So Fear is really the Mother of our
     first overcoming of Inertia.

     "I do not recall being devoured by that creature of the Ray;
     and yet it seems as if half the life in the Bottoms was
     clutched in the torture of that danger. The other half was
     gorging.... Gorge, gorge, with unappeased appetite, body
     bulging to the bursting point, the Devourers all about me,
     the larger engulfing the smaller, not with mouths, but
     literally enclosing their prey with the walls of their
     bodies, so that the smaller flowed into the larger. And often
     the engulfed would be of greater length than the engulfer....

     "There was a sound made by the gorging, a distinct sound born
     of gluttony, not audible, but to be felt by my sensitive
     surfaces, a sort of emanation, not from the gorgers, but born
     from the engrossing intensity of the gorging act. I shall
     always remember it, a distinct 'ummmmmmm,' constant, and
     rising and falling at times to a trifle faster or lower

     "Always, as the Ray would cross above me, there would be a
     stoppage of the emanations from the gorgers, a sinking to the
     bottom, and a rising again. Also there were Shadows,
     sinister, flowing grey forms, that preyed about the rocky
     bottom. These were more felt by me than heard or seen, and
     instilled more deadly fear than the larger Shadows that
     passed above. The drama of the feeding seemed doomed to go on
     and on forever. Repletion would never have come to the
     Gorgers. Only Fear broke the spell.

     "I recall a last glimpse of that ghost-life of the depths.
     About the rocks, the long snakelike stems and feelers were
     extended, and the luring decoys waved and glowed again at the
     ends of the stalks. With the cessation of the feeding, began
     the vaster, unquenchable feeding of the engulfing plants. It
     was steady, monotonous, inexhaustible--the winking and waving
     of the blue-green glows, the clustering of the senseless
     prey, a sudden extinguishing of the light, devouring--then
     the nodding gleam again. No mercy, no feeling, no reason
     existed in this ghost-region of bleached and bloodless
     things. The law was the law of Fear and Gluttony. There was a
     thrall to the whole drama which I am powerless to express.

     "... The embryo in the womb eats and assimilates, all
     unconscious. With life there is movement. The first movement
     takes the form of sucking-in that which prolongs life. Then
     there is the driving forward by Fear from without. Low life
     is a vibration between Fear and Gluttony. In every movement
     is the gain of power to make another movement. That is the
     Law of life.

     "I opened my eyes. The wan grey light of morning was shining
     In my face. I felt weak and unrested. There were puddles of
     water on the foot of the bed. The blankets lay heavily about
     my limbs, and circulation was hardly sufficient to hold
     consciousness. The effects of the dream oppressed me the rest
     of that day and for long afterward."


[3] H. A. Sturtzel.



Our tendency is to return to the pioneers for inspiration.... I was
thinking this morning how in all our studies we had passed quickly over
the intellectualists, the simplifiers, the synthesisers and
explainers--back to the sources of philosophy and sanctity. It is there
that we find the flame. We linger and return to such men as Boehme,
Fichte, Romini-Serbati, Fröbel, Swedenborg. We delight in the few great
and isolated names of Greece and Rome that are above style. We turn
continually to the perpetual fountains of India, but seldom to Egypt.

We love the prophets of the Old Testament, but despise chosen peoples at
every appearance; we delight in the lineage of the Messiah; we are
stimulated by the Hebrew literature, by its symbolism, its songs and
precepts, the Oriental colour of it, the hierarchy of its saints, the
strange splendour of its women, but as a book of devotion its chief
significance is that of a huge vessel prepared for the coming of a

The New Testament is our first book. Manhandled and perverted as it has
been by early writers, who still wanted Moses and laboured under the
misconception that Jesus was expounding the doctrines of Moses afresh,
instead of refuting many of them--yet the New Testament stands highest
above all hands pointing heavenward.

In the case of the teacher here, it was not the so-called orthodoxy that
accomplished this allegiance to the New Testament. Modern churches drove
him forth into the Farther East. It was the return from Patanjali and
the Vedas and much of that excellent and ancient wisdom of the Earlier
Arrival, that gave him a fresh surface for understanding the pilgrimage
and the passion of Jesus.

Our own Tolstoi has done much to restore the Son of Mary to a sceptical
generation. To us Tolstoi's great work is not through the vehicle of the
novel. Though comparisons are everywhere questionable, it seems to us
that the Russian's task on the later Scriptures is as significant as
Luther's. Certainly he has prepared them to stand the more searching and
penetrative gaze of the coming generation. Many of the new voices rise
to declare that it is doubtful if there really was an historic Jesus.
Still the man matters less than his influence. His story is emphatically
in the world; the spirit of it lives above all dogma and vulgarity,
even above nationalism. It is the breath of Brotherhood and Compassion.
It is nearer to us and less complex than the story of the Buddha.

Every such coming heightens the voltage of spiritual power in the world.
The greatest stories of the world are the stories of such comings. Of
first importance in the education of children is the institution of an
ideal of the imminence of great helpers, the Compassionates. Children
become starry-eyed as they listen. I think if we could all shake
ourselves clear of the temporal and the unseemly, we should find deep in
our hearts, a strange expectancy. A woman said, as we talked of these

"I seem to have been expectant for centuries."

When such ideals are held in mind, an adjustment of conduct follows at
once. To be ready (I am not talking religiously) for a revered Guest,
one immediately begins to put one's house in order. Indeed, there's a
reproach in finding the need of rushed preparation, in the hastening to
clear corners and hide unseemly objects; and yet, this is well if the
reorganisation is more than a passing thought. To make the ordering of
one's house a life-habit is a very valid beginning in morality.

We talk continually of the greatest of men; sometimes our voices falter,
and sentences are not finished. We have found many things alike about
the Great Ones. First they had mothers who dreamed, and then they had
poverty to acquaint them with sorrow. They came up hard, and they were
always different from other children. They suffered more than the others
about them, because they were more sensitive.

They met invariably the stiffest foe of a fine child--misunderstanding;
often by that time, even the Mother had lost her vision. Because they
could not find understanding in men and women and children, they drew
apart. Such youths are always forced into the silence.... I often think
of the education of Hiawatha by old Nokomis, the endless and perfect
analogies of the forest and stream and field, by which a child with
vision can gain the story of life. Repeatedly we have discussed the
maiden who sustained France--her girlhood in the forests of Domremy. It
was a forest eighteen miles deep to the centre, and so full of fairies
that the priests had to come to the edge and give mass every little
while to keep them in any kind of subjection. That incomparable maiden
did not want the fairies in subjection. She was listening. From the
centres of the forest came to her the messages of power.... Once when
the Chapel group had left, I sat thinking about this maiden; and queerly
enough, my mind turned presently to something in St. Luke, about the
road to Emmaus--the Stranger who had walked with the disciples, and
finally made himself known. And they asked one to the other after He
had vanished: "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us
by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?"

... Returning from their silences, these torture-quickened youths found
work to do--work that people could not understand. The people invariably
thought there must be a trick about the giving--that the eager one
wanted hidden results for self.... Invariably, they were prodigious
workers, men of incredible energy. Thus they ground themselves fine; and
invariably, too, they were men of exalted personal conduct, though often
they had passed before the fact was truly appreciated.

First of all, they were honest--that was the hill-rock. Such men come to
make crooked paths straight, but first they straighten out themselves.
They stopped lying to other men, and what was greater still, they
stopped lying to themselves. Sooner or later men all came to understand
that they had something good to give--those closest to them, not always
seeing it first....

You couldn't buy them--that was first established; then they turned the
energies of their lives outward instead of in. The _something_ immortal
about them was the loss of the love of self. Losing that, they found
their particular _something_ to do. They found their work--the one thing
that tested their own inimitable powers--and that, of course, proved
the one thing that the world needed from them. As self-men they were not
memorable. Self-men try to gather in the results to themselves. The
world-man wants to give something to his people--the best he has from
his hand or brain or spirit. That's the transaction--the most important
in any life--to turn out instead of in.... Here I am repeating the old
formula for the making of men, as if in the thrill of the absolutely
new--the eternal verity of loving one's neighbour.

Each man of us has his own particular knack of expression. Nothing can
happen so important to a man as to find his particular thing to do. The
best thing one man can do for another is to help him find his work. The
man who has found his work gets from it, and through it, a working idea
of God and the world. The same hard preparation that makes him finally
valuable in his particular work, integrates the character that finally
realises _its own religion_. The greatest wrong that has been done us by
past generations is the detachment of work and religion--setting off the
Sabbath as the day for expressing the angel in us, and marking six days
for the progress of the animal.

All good work is happiness--ask any man who has found his work. He is at
peace when the task is on, at his best. He is free from envy and desire.
Even his physical organs are healthfully active. The only way to be
well is to give forth. When we give forth work that tests our full
powers, we are replenished by the power that drives the suns. Giving
forth, we automatically ward off the destructive thoughts. Our only safe
inbreathing physically, mentally, and spiritually is from the upper
source of things----not in the tainted atmospheres of the crowds. A
man's own work does not kill. It is stimulus, worry, ambition, the
tension and complication of wanting results for self, that kill.

Each man stands as a fuse between his race and the creative energy that
drives the whole scheme of life. If he doubles this fuse _in_ to self,
he becomes a non-connective. He cannot receive from the clean source,
nor can he give. What he gets is by a pure animal process of struggle
and snatch. He is a sick and immoral creature. Turning the fuse outward,
he gives his service to men, and dynamos of cosmic force throw their
energy through him to his people. He lives. According to the carrying
capacity of his fuse is he loved and remembered and idealised for the
work he does.

A jar of water that has no lower outlet can only be filled so full
before it spills, but open a lower vent and it can be filled according
to the size of the outpouring. Now there is a running stream in the
vessel. All life that does not run is stagnant.

There is a task for every man. We are born with different equipments,
but if we have a gift, be very sure it is not fortuitous. We have earned
it. It should make us the finer workman. But all work is good. The
handle of an axe is a poem.

We would never destroy the natural resources of the earth, if we, as
men, found our work. Rather we would perceive the way of old Mother
Earth who turns to her God for light and power, and from that pure
impregnation, brings forth her living things. We would shudder at all
destruction and greed, and perceive as good workmen the excellent values
of woods and coals and gases, and the finer forces of the soil. We would
perceive that they are to be cared for; that their relation to man is
service; that they have no relation to great individual fortunes. These
are the free gifts from our Mother. As good workmen we would realise
that greed and competition pulls upon, and tortures into activity, all
that is insane within us.

The thing that brings men together in real talk, that makes the hush in
Chapel or where talk is anywhere; the thing that clutches the throat,
and sometimes brings the smart to the eyes--is the quality of men who
have found their work, and who have lost the love of self. They are the
conservers. They see first what is good for us to do and be. We follow
their thoughts in action afterward, as water follows the curve of a
basin. They go after the deep-down men; they dream of the shorter
passages to India; they sense the new power in the world; their faces
are turned to the East for the rising of new stars. Often they die to
make us see, but others spring to finish their work. Our hearts burn
within us when we speak of their work.



Others have come; there are fresh wonders to me, but this book must
close.... The development of each young mind is like doing a book--each
a different book. Fascination attends the work. I assure you a teacher
gets more than he can give.... Every mill should be a school. Every
professional man should call for his own. A man's work in the world
should be judged by his constructive contacts with the young minds about
him. A man should learn the inspiration which comes in service for the
great Abstraction, the many, from which there is no answer; but he can
only become powerful and unerring by trying out the results of his
offerings face to face with his own group. It should be as natural for a
matured man to gather his mental and spiritual familiars about him as it
is for him to become the head of a domestic establishment.

There is chance for the tradesmen to turn a little from ledger and
margin, to the faces of the young about them--those who have come for
the wages of bread. Many philanthropists would carve their names on
stone, as great givers to the public. The public will not take these
things personally; the public laughs and lightly criticises. Men who
have nothing but money to give away cannot hope to receive other than
calculating looks and laughter that rings with derision.

The time will come when matters of trade in the large shall be conducted
nationally and municipally. The business of man is to produce something.
The man who produces nothing, but who sits in the midst of other men's
goods, offering them for sale at a price greater than he paid, such a
man moves in the midst of a badly-lit district of many pitfalls. It is
the same with a man at a desk, before whom pass many papers representing
transactions of merchandise and whose business it is to take a
proprietary bite out of each. He develops a perverted look at life, and
a bad bill of moral health. There is no exception to this, though he
conduct a weekly bible lesson for the young, even move his chair to a
church every seventh day.

The drama of the trade mind is yet to be written. It is a sordid story;
the figure at the last is in no way heroic. It would not be a popular
story if done well.

The time is not far off, except to those whose eyes are dim, when
countries will be Fatherlands in the true sense--in the sense of
realising that the real estate is not bounded land, vaulted gold, not
even electrified matter, but the youth of the land. Such is the treasure
of the Fatherland. The development of youth is the first work of man;
the highest ideal may be answered first hand. Also through the
development of the young, the father best puts on his own wisdom and

The ideal of education has already been reversed at the bottom. There is
pandemonium yet; there is colossal stupidity yet, but Order is coming
in. It would be well for all men meditatively to regard a kindergarten
in action. Here are children free in the midst of objects designed to
supply a great variety of attractions. There is that _hum_ in the room.
It is not dissonance. The child is encouraged to be himself and express
himself; never to impinge upon his neighbour's rights, but to lose
himself in the objects that draw him most deeply.

I have mentioned the man who caught the spiritual dream of all this, who
worked it out in life and books. One of his books was published nearly a
hundred years ago. It wasn't a book on kindergarten, but on the
education of man. I have not read this of Fröbel's work. I wanted to do
these studies my own way, but I know from what I have seen of
kindergartens, and what teachers of kindergartens have told me, that the
work is true--that "The Education of Man" is a true book. Nor would it
have lived a hundred years otherwise.

The child is now sent to kindergarten and for a year is truly taught.
The process is not a filling of brain, but an encouragement of the
deeper powers, their organisation and direction. At the end of the year,
the child is sent into the first grade, where the barbaric process of
competitive education and brain-cramming is carried on as sincerely as
it was in Fröbel's time.... A kindergarten teacher told me in that low
intense way, which speaks of many tears exhausted:

"I dare not look into the first-grade rooms. We have done so differently
by them through the first year. When the little ones leave us, they are
wide open and helpless. They are taken from a warm bath to a cold blast.
Their little faces change in a few days. Do you know the ones that stand
the change best? The commoner children, the clever and hard-headed
children. The little dreamers--the sensitive ones--are hurt and altered
for the worse. Their manner changes to me, when I see them outside. You
do not know how we have suffered."

Some of the greatest teachers in America to-day are the kindergarten
teachers; not that they are especially chosen for quality, but because
they have touched reality in teaching. They have seen, even in the very
little ones, that response which is deeper than brain. If the great
ideal that is carried out through their first year were continued
through seven years, the generation thus directed would meet life with
serenity and without greed. They would make over the world into a finer
place to be.

       *       *       *       *       *

I wonder if I may dare to say it once more?... It came this way in
Chapel just a few days ago. There was a pencil in my hand, and something
of man's ideal performance here below appeared more than ever clearly. I
am putting down the picture, much as it came then, for the straightest
way to write anything is as you would tell it:

"... This pencil is a man, any man. Above is spirit; below matter. The
world of spirit is finished. The plan is already thought out there, to
the utmost detail. This above is the Breath, the Conception, the
Emanation, the Dream, the Universal Energy--philosophers have called it
by many names, but they mean the God-Idea wrought of necessity in
Spirit, since God is spirit.

"The world of matter below is not finished. Certain parts are completed,
but not all, and the assembly of parts is just begun. The material world
is lost in the making of parts, forgetting that the plan is one--that
the parts of matter must be assembled into a whole--that a replica must
be made in matter of the one great spiritual Conception. So long as men
are identified with parts, there is dissonance from the shops of earth,
a pulling apart instead of together.

"The many are almost ready to grasp the great unifying conception. This
is the next step for the human family as a whole; this the present
planetary brooding. Much we have suffered from identifying ourselves
with parts. Rivalries, boundaries, jealousies, wars--all have to do with
the making of parts. Beauty, harmony, peace and brotherhood have to do
with the assembly of parts into one. That which is good for the many is
good for the one; and that which is good for the one is good for the
many--_the instant_ we leave the part and conceive the whole.

"All the high-range voices for hundreds of years have proclaimed that
the plan is one. The world to-day is roused with the Unifiers--voices of
men in every city and plain crying out that we are all one in aim and
meaning, that the instruments are tuned, the orchestra ready, the music
in place--but the players, alas, lost as yet in frenzy for their own
little parts. The baton of the leader is lifted, but they do not hear.
In their self-promulgation they have not yet turned as one to the
conductor's eyes. The dissonance is at its highest, yet the hour has
struck for the lift of harmony.

"Look again at the pencil that stands for man. Above is the spiritual
plan all finished. Every invention, every song and poem and heroism to
be, is there. One by one for ages, the aspiring intelligence of man has
touched and taken down the parts of this spiritual plan, forced the
parts into matter, making his dream come true. Thus have come into the
world our treasures. We preserve them--every gift from a spiritual
source. Often we preserve them (until they are fully understood) against
our will. The mere matter-models break down and are lost, for matter
changes endlessly until it is immortalised, as our bodies must be
through the refinement of spiritual union.

"Our pioneers, by suffering and labour, even by fasting and prayer, have
made themselves fine enough to contact some little part of that finished
plan. They have lowered it into matter for us to see--step by step--the
song into notes, the poem into words, the angel into paint or stone; and
the saints have touched dreams of great service, bringing down the
pictures of the dream somehow in matter--and their own bodies often to

"Below the pencil is the world of matter, at this hour of its highest
disorganisation. The very terror and chaos of the world is an
inspiration to every unifying voice. Here below are already many parts;
above, the plan as a whole and the missing parts. Man stands
between--the first creature to realise that there is an above, as well
as a below. All creatures beneath man are driven; they look down. Man
alone has looked up; man has raised himself erect and may take what he
will from the spiritual source to electrify his progress. Man becomes
significant the moment he realises that the plan is not for self, but
for the race; not for the part, but for the whole.

"I have written it in many different ways, and told it in many more.
There are endless analogies. Thousands before me have written and sung
and told the same. It is the great Story. We see it working out even in
these wrecking days. The plan is already in the souls of men.... And
what has this to do with education?

"Everything. The brain sees but the part. The development of brain will
never bring to child or man the conception of the spiritual plan. There
is a man to come for every missing part. Each man, as he develops, is
more and more a specialist. These missing parts shall be taken down from
spirit and put into matter by men whose intrinsic gifts are developed to
contact them. Thus have come the great poems and inventions so far, the
splendid sacrifices of men, and all renunciation for the healing of the

"I would first find the work for the child. The finer the child the
easier this part of the task. Then I would develop the child to turn to
a spiritual source for his inspiration--his expectation to a spiritual
source for every good and perfect thing. The dream is there; the other
half of the circle is to produce the dream in matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Education is thus religion--but not the man-idea of religion. It has
nothing to do with creeds or cults, with affirmations or observances. It
has to do with establishing connection with the sources of power, and
bringing the energy down into the performance of constructive work in
matter. Religion isn't a feeling of piety or devoutness; it is action.
Spirituality is intellect inspired.

"The mountain is broad at the base only. There are many paths upward.
These paths are far apart only at the base. On the shoulder of the
mountain we hear the voices of those who have taken the other paths.
Still higher, we meet. The Apex is a point; the plan is one.

"I would teach the young mind to find his own voice, his own part, his
own message. It is there above him. True training is the refinement, the
preparing of a surface fine enough to receive his part. That is the
inspiration. The out-breath--the right hand of the process--is action,
making a model in matter of the thing received.

"All training that does not encourage the child to look into the Unseen
for his power, not only holds, but draws him to the commonness of the

"... Many men to-day can believe in angels who cannot believe in
fairies; but the child who sees the changes of light in the lowliest
shadows, whose fancy is filled with little figures of the conservers and
colourers of nature, shall in good time see the angels--and one of that
host shall come forward (which is more important and to the point)
bringing a task for the child to do.

"I say to the children here: 'I do not see the things you do, and in
that I am your inferior. They shut the doors upon me when I was little,
not meaning to, but the world always does that. That fineness of seeing
went out from my eyes, but it is so good a thing that I do not want you
to lose it. And always I am ready to listen, when you tell me what you
have seen.'"




... A hint from the first-year's recognition of a book that was made to
remain in American literature:

_Boston Transcript_: If it be extravagance, let it be so, to say that
Comfort's account of his childhood has seldom been rivaled in
literature. It amounts to revelation. Really the only parallels that
will suggest themselves in our letters are the great ones that occur in
_Huckleberry Finn_.... This man Comfort's gamut is long and he has raced
its full length. One wonders whether the interest, the skill, the
general worth of it, the things it has to report of all life, as well as
the one life, do not entitle _Midstream_ to the very long life that is
enjoyed only by the very best of books.

_San Francisco Argonaut_: Read the book. It is autobiography in its
perfection. It shows more of the realities of the human being, more of
god and devil in conflict, than any book of its kind.

_Springfield Republican_: It is difficult to think of any other young
American who has so courageously reversed the process of writing for the
"market" and so flatly insisted upon being taken, if at all, on his own
terms of life and art. And now comes his frank and amazing revelation,
_Midstream_, in which he captures and carries the reader on to a story
of regeneration. He has come far; the question is, how much farther will
he go?

Mary Fanton Roberts in _The Craftsman_: Beside the stature of this book,
the ordinary novel and biography are curiously dwarfed. You read it with
a poignant interest and close it with wonder, reverence and gratitude.
There is something strangely touching about words so candid, and a
draught of philosophy that has been pressed from such wild and
bitter-sweet fruit. The message it contains is one to sink deep,
penetrating and enriching whatever receptive soul it touches. This man's
words are incandescent. Many of us feel that he is breathing into a
language, grown trite from hackneyed usage, the inspiration of a
quickened life.

Ida Gilbert Myers in _Washington Star_: Courage backs this revelation.
The gift of self-searching animates it. Honesty sustains it. And Mr.
Comfort's rare power to seize and deliver his vision inspires it. It is
a tremendous thing--the greatest thing that this writer has yet done.

George Soule in _The Little Review_: Here is a man's life laid
absolutely bare. A direct, big thing, so simple that almost no one has
done it before--this Mr. Comfort has dared. People who are made
uncomfortable by intimate grasp of anything, to whom reserve is more
important than truth--these will not read _Midstream_ through, but
others will emerge from the book with a sense of the absolute nobility
of Mr. Comfort's frankness.

Edwin Markham in _Hearst's Magazine_: Will Levington Comfort, a novelist
of distinction, has given us a book alive with human interest, with
passionate sincerity, and with all the power of his despotism over
words. He has been a wandering foot--familiar with many strands; he has
known shame and sorrow and striving; he has won to serene heights. He
tells it all without vaunt, relating his experience to the large
meanings of life for all men, to the mystic currents behind life, out of
which we come, to whose great deep we return.

 _12mo., Net, $1.25_

    | Transcriber's Note:                             |
    |                                                 |
    | Typographical errors corrected in the text:     |
    |                                                 |
    | Page  59  Ile changed to He                     |
    | Page  81  quiesence changed to quiescence       |
    | Page 132  blurr changed to blur                 |
    | Page 161  unforgetable changed to unforgettable |
    | Page 243  became changed to become              |
    | Page 261  spirtual changed to spiritual         |
    | Page 262  posessions changed to possessions     |
    | Page 285  apear changed to appear               |
    | Page 287  blossome changed to blossoms          |
    | Page 288  enviroment changed to environment     |

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