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Title: Stand Up, Ye Dead
Author: Maclean, Norman, 1869-1952
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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STAND UP, YE DEAD


BY

NORMAN MACLEAN



HODDER AND STOUGHTON

LONDON -- NEW YORK -- TORONTO

MCMXVI



_BY THE SAME AUTHOR_


  DWELLERS IN THE MIST
  HILLS OF HOME
  CAN THE WORLD BE WON FOR CHRIST?
  THE BURNT-OFFERING
  AFRICA IN TRANSFORMATION
  THE GREAT DISCOVERY



{v}

PREFACE

Two years ago the writer published a book called _The Great Discovery_.
It seemed to him in those days, when the nation chose the ordeal of
battle rather than dishonour, that the people, as if waking from sleep,
discovered God once more.  But, now, after an agony unparalleled in the
history of the world, the vision of God has faded, and men are left
groping in the darkness of a great bewilderment.  The cause may not be
far to seek.  For every vision of God summons men to the girding of
themselves that they may bring their lives more into conformity with
His holy will.  And when men decline the venture to which the vision
beckons, then the vision fades.

It is there that we have failed.  We were called to put an end to
social evils {vi} which are sapping our strength and enfeebling our arm
in battle, but we refused.  We wanted victory over the enemy, but we
deemed the price of moral surgery too great even for victory.  In the
rush and crowding of world-shaking cataclysms, memory is short.  We
have already almost forgotten the moral tragedy of April 1915.  It was
then that the White Paper was issued by the Government, and the nation
was informed of startling facts which our statesmen knew all the time.
At last the nation was told that our armies were wellnigh paralysed for
lack of munitions, while thousands of men were daily away from their
work because of drunkenness; that the repairing of ships was delayed
and transports unable to put to sea because of drunkenness; that goods,
vital to the State, could not be delivered because of drunkenness; that
Admiral Jellicoe had warned the Government that the efficiency of the
Fleet was threatened because of drunkenness; and that shipbuilders and
munition manufacturers had made a strong {vii} appeal to our rulers to
put an end to drunkenness.  It was then that the King, by his example,
called upon the people to renounce alcohol, and the nation waited for
its deliverance.  But the Government refused to follow the King.  There
is but one law for nations, as for individuals, if they would save
their souls: 'If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off.'  But our
statesmen could not brace themselves to an act of surgery; they devised
a scheme for putting the offending member into splints.  And, since
then, it looks as if the wheels of the chariot of victory were stuck in
the bog of the national drunkenness.  The vision of God has faded
before the eyes of a nation that refused its beckoning.

This book deals, therefore, with those evils which now hide the face of
God from us.  If drunkenness be the greatest of these evils, there are
others closely allied to it.  Two Commissions have recently issued
Reports, the one on 'The Declining Birthrate,' and the other on 'The
Social Evil,' {viii} which reveal the perilous condition of
degeneration into which the nation is falling.  It is difficult for
people, engrossed in the labours and anxieties of these days, to grasp
the meaning of the facts as presented in these Reports.  In these pages
an effort is made to look the facts in the face and to make the danger
clear, so that he who runs may read.  And the writer has had but one
purpose: to show that there is but one remedy for all our grievous
ills, even a return to God.

As we think of the millions who have taken all that makes life dear and
laid it down that we might live; who have gone down to an earthly hell
that we might not lose our heaven; who have wrestled with the powers of
destruction on sea and land that these isles might continue to be the
sanctuary of freedom and the home of righteousness; who in the midst of
their torment never flinched; and of the fathers, mothers, and wives
who have laid on the altar the sacrifice of all their love and
hope--the question arises, how can {ix} we show our love and our
gratitude to those who have redeemed us?  We can only prove our
gratitude by making a new world for those who have saved us--a world in
which men and women shall no longer be doomed to live lives of
sordidness and misery.  When we shall set ourselves to that task,
seeking to meet the sacrifice of heroism by the sacrifice of our
service, deeming no labour too great and no effort too arduous, then
the vision of God will again arise upon us and will abide.

N. M.

_October_ 7, 1916.



{xi}

CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

THE EMPTY CRADLE


CHAPTER II

THE ROOTS OF THE EVIL


CHAPTER III

THE EMPTY COUNTRYSIDE


CHAPTER IV

THE MAN IN THE SLUM


CHAPTER V

THE LORD OF THE SLUM


CHAPTER VI

THE GREAT REFUSAL


{xii}

CHAPTER VII

THE SLUM IN THE MAN


CHAPTER VIII

BEHIND YOU IS GOD



{1}

CHAPTER I

THE EMPTY CRADLE

The greatest disaster of these days has befallen in the streets and
lanes of our cities at home, and, because it has happened in our own
midst, we are blind to it.  And, also, it has come upon us so gradually
and so surreptitiously that, though we are overwhelmed by it, we know
not that we are overwhelmed.  Our capital cities are leading the nation
in the march to the graveyard.  In London the birthrate has fallen in
Hampstead from 30 to 17.55, and in the City itself to 17.4; in
Edinburgh it has fallen in some districts to 10.  In many places there
are already more coffins than cradles.  What would the city of
Edinburgh say or do if suddenly one half of its children were slain in
a night?  What a cry of horror would rise to heaven!  {2} Yet, that is
exactly the calamity which has overtaken the city.  In the year 1871
there were 34 children born in Edinburgh for every thousand of the
population; in the year 1915 the number of births per thousand of the
population was 17.  Edinburgh has, compared to forty-four years ago,
sacrificed half its children.  And because this calamity is the slowly
ripening fruit of forty years, and did not occur with dramatic
swiftness in a night, there is no sound of lamentation in the streets.


I

What has happened in London and Edinburgh is only what has happened
over all the British Empire, with this difference--that these cities
are leading the van in the process of desiccating the fountain of the
national life.  While the birthrate for the whole of Scotland is 23.9,
that of Edinburgh is 17.8.  For the nation as a whole the policy of
racial suicide has become a national policy.  The marriage-rate
increases, but the {3} birth-rate decreases.  A birthrate of 35.6 per
thousand in 1874 decreased to 33.7 in 1880, 32.9 in 1886, 30.4 in 1890,
and to 23.8 in 1912.  If the city of Edinburgh is sacrificing at the
fountain-head half of its possible population, the rest of the
English-speaking race is following hard in its wake.  The facts which
to-day confront us spell doom.  In the year 1911 the legitimate births
in England and Wales numbered 843,505, but if the birthrate had
remained as it was in the years 1876-80, the number would have been
1,273,698.  'That is to say, there was a potential loss to the nation
of 430,000 in that one year 1911.'[1]  In the year 1914 the loss is
even greater, for it amounted to 467,837.  The nation as a whole is now
sacrificing every year a third of its possible population.  This is
surely a terrible fact.  The ravages of war, awful though these ravages
have been, are nothing to the ravages which have been self-inflicted.
In the years that are past, the race recovered from the {4} greatest
calamities of war and pestilence because there was a power mightier
than these--that of the child.  The abounding birthrate rapidly
replaced the wastage of war.  Through the greatest calamities the
nation ever marched forward on the feet of little children.  One
generation might be overwhelmed, but

  'Away down the river,
  A hundred miles or more,
  Other little children
  Shall bring our boats ashore.'

But alas! when the greatest of all calamities has overtaken the race;
when the young, the noble, and the brave have lain down in death that
the nation might live, the feet of the little children, on which
erstwhile the race marched forward, are not there.  We have offered
them up a sacrifice to Moloch.


II

The nation must be wakened to the dire peril in which the steadily
falling birthrate has placed the race.  Militarism {5} slays its
thousands; this has strangled its hundreds of thousands.  But no
warning note has been sounded by our statesmen.  They were doubtless
waiting to see!

The might of every nation depends on the reservoir of its vitality.
Let that desiccate and the nation desiccates.  Of this France is the
proof.  That France which, a hundred years ago, overran Europe, fifty
years later lay prostrate under the feet of Germany.  Twenty years
before that national humiliation, France began to sacrifice her
children.  Lord Acton pointed out the inevitable result; the wise of
their own number warned them--but France went on its way down the slope
of moral degeneration.  Its birthrate fell from 30.8 in 1821 to 26.2 in
1851, 25.4 in 1871, 22.1 in 1891, 20.6 in 1901, and to 19 in 1914.  The
result was inevitable.  In the race of empire France fell slowly back.
The alien had to be imported to cultivate her own fair fields.  She
annexed territories, but she could {6} not colonise them.  The prophets
who prophesied doom have been abundantly justified.  To-day France,
risen from the dead, is wrestling for her life; she is impotent to
drive back the foe without the help of Britain and Russia--she who
dominated Europe a century ago!  When we read of a Russian army, after
a journey round half the world, landing at Marseilles to take their
place in the trenches that Paris may be saved from the devastators of
Belgium and Poland, we see the fields ripe for the harvest of that
policy which sacrificed the race to the individual.  The hope for
France is that she will rise from the grave of her degeneration,
new-born.

What has happened in France is what happened in Rome long before.  It
was not because of the inrush of barbaric hosts that Rome perished, but
because Rome sacrificed its children.  In its golden age, when luxury
clouded the heart, Rome began to avoid the responsibilities of family
life, and so sounded the death-knell of its empire.  Here is ever the
source of human {7} decay.  The most perfect intellectual and æsthetic
civilisation ever developed on earth was that of the ancient Greeks.
'We know and may guess something more of the reason why this
marvellously gifted race declined,' says Francis Galton.  'Social
morality grew exceedingly lax, marriage became unfashionable and was
avoided; many of the more ambitious and accomplished women were avowed
courtesans and consequently infertile, and the mothers of the incoming
population were of a heterogeneous class.'  And the misery which lay so
heavily on the heart of Hosea was that Israel was rushing to
destruction because children ceased to be born.  National
licentiousness produced a diminishing population.  'And there are no
more births,' cries the prophet beholding the coming doom.  Over us the
skies are darkening with the portents of the same doom.  For we also
have given ourselves to the same degeneration.  To Puritanic Scotland,
a generation ago, France was oft quoted as a solemn {8} warning of the
depths to which atheism and materialism bring a nation.  To-day
Scotland as a whole is only four points behind France in the matter of
this degeneration, and the city of Edinburgh has outstripped even
France.  And though this policy of the silent nursery and the empty
cradle is a policy of racial doom, the land of the Covenanters and the
capital of Presbyterianism have made it their own.  They have
out-Heroded Herod.


III

It is only when this disease, which is threatening the life of the
body-politic, is probed, that the full extent of its ravages is
manifest.  For it is the educated, the cultured, and the rich who are
eluding the responsibility of parentage, while the poor and the
diseased are still continuing to multiply.  In inverse ratio to the
income and the size of house is the number of the children.  It is the
same sad story in every city.  In London, the birthrate of Hampstead, a
suburb mainly inhabited {9} by the rich, fell from 30.01 in 1881 to
17.55 in 1911, while that of Shoreditch, a working-class district, only
fell in the same period from 31.32 to 30.16.  In his evidence before
the Birthrate Commission, Dr. Chalmers, the Medical Officer of Health
for the city of Glasgow, contrasted the birthrate in two of the poor
districts of the city with that in two of the best districts.  In the
two worst wards the birthrate was equal to 161 per thousand married
women between the ages of 15 and 45 years, whereas in the two
well-to-do wards it was only 34.[2]  In the city of Aberdeen, the
birthrate in the poor and congested district of Greyfriars is almost
double that of Rubislaw which includes the best housing in the city.
In no city is this grim contrast more marked than in the city of
Edinburgh.

When the different districts of Edinburgh are considered, it is
apparent that in the poor districts the birthrate maintains still some
vitality, but among the {10} well-to-do and the rich it is rapidly
diminishing.  In the Canongate district there is a birthrate per
thousand of 24; in Gorgie, 23.9; in St. Leonard's, 22.4; in Merchiston,
12.6; in Haymarket, 11.5; and in Morningside, 10.9.  In the three
districts of Edinburgh where the wealthy, the cultured, and the
well-to-do abound, there the birthrate is but half of those districts
where the poor, the miserable, and the criminal are congregated in
noisome slums.  In Morningside and Haymarket the birthrate is only a
third of what it was in Scotland in 1871.  These districts of the city
have sacrificed two-thirds of their children to their ease.  It is
among the terraces and squares of the West Ends of great cities, and
among the gardened villas of suburbs that this degeneration has evinced
the fulness of its power.  Where children could grow in health and
happiness, thence selfishness has banished them; where, amid squalor,
filth, and vice they are almost doomed from birth, there they are
multiplied.  Degeneration always {11} begins at the top, and works
downward.  At the top only one-fourth are left; at the bottom,
two-thirds are still left.  But the dry-rot is creeping downward.  The
lower middle class is following its betters; and the artisan is
following hard after.  Only in the Canongate is the shouting of
children at play still to be heard, and there the State surrounds the
last survivors of the race with every temptation to evil and ruin.

This is a grim fact when the future of the race is considered; and of
its grimness there can be no doubt.  The vital statistics do not lie,
and they are the proof.  There are other proofs.  The statistics of
baptisms are steadily falling.  In many West End congregations the
sacrament of baptism has become a rarity!  Sunday schools are getting
smaller and smaller.  The records of seven years (1908-14) showed the
appalling fact that fourteen of the chief Free Church denominations of
Britain have lost 257,952 scholars.  The materials out of which the
Church {12} was formerly built are crumbling away.  Empty cradles mean
empty Sunday schools, empty classes, and, ere long, empty pews.  The
strangest thing is that in face of the forces that threaten destruction
the Churches are silent--as if mesmerised!  In these last years even
the church-going population of this country was rapidly reverting to
the base conditions in which Christianity found humanity, and from
which the Cross in a measure rescued it.  And the Church has lost the
power of sounding the trumpet and warning the people of coming judgment.


IV

When we inquire into the causes of this parlous state to which the race
has been brought, we find that the greatest is self-deception.  If men
and women realised what they were doing, they would be horrified.  But
they don't realise it.  They are acting on noble principles!  They can
provide for and educate two children {13} better than six; therefore,
in the interests of the race, they will only have two!  One parent
wrote to the Press recently that he could only give a public-school
education to one boy, and therefore he had no more!  They have the idea
that by coddling the few they will usher in the super-race.  In short,
they murder the race, but they do it on noble principles, in conformity
with the sanctions of religion, and in the name of the most high God!
Their lives are a direct reversal of the elementary canons of morality;
but they themselves imagine that they are the most perfect products of
evolution, and that they are, by a process of racial suicide, bringing
the race to its perfection--ushering in the super-race and the
super-man.

What a false education must that be to which the race is thus
sacrificed.  Education is not a matter of money or accomplishments, but
of wonder, reverence, imagination, and awe.  Heaven and earth are
waiting, without money or price, to {14} thrill the young heart with
glory and loveliness; but the poor soul must not be born because he
cannot go to Eton.  And the great wide world is calling for men;
provinces added yearly to the Empire demand men; great plains wait the
spade and the plough; the realms of King George have as yet only their
fringes occupied, and the race must produce the men who will go in and
possess, or other races, not yet tired of life, will enter in.  And
yet, in the name of the race, the race is being sacrificed.

The real root of the evil is selfishness.  A generation that sought
only its own pleasure refused the burden of parentage.  They nursed
lap-dogs and preferred bridge to babies.  They could not have the
luxuries they craved and also nurseries ringing with the joyous voices
of children; and they made their choice.  There were found those who
called them fashionable; but nobody will ever call them blessed.  And
because of that choice families whose names were great in the land are
to-day {15} extinct.  Names which in other days raised those who bore
them into the fellowship of high ideals and noble service, have
disappeared for ever, because a generation which knew no altar at which
to worship save the altar of self, sacrificed even the generations to
come at that altar.  But there is found some saving grace among them.
Having silenced the voices of children in their own houses, they
organise societies to care for the children in the slums, and preserve
their precarious lives.  'In communities like Letchworth or the
Hampstead Garden Suburb, families of more than two children are rare
among the educated classes, but nearly every one is giving time,
energy, and money to the reform movements which they believe to be
urgently needed in the interests of the community.'[3]  They themselves
decline to bear the burden of parentage, but they are ready to teach
the poor the best way of bearing the burden.  Unconscious that they
themselves, the victims of {16} race-weariness and of selfishness, are
in direst need of some mission among them that would quicken them to
life, they organise missions to quicken others.  The dead in the valley
of the Dry Bones organise to reform Jerusalem!  Not all the earth can
present a stranger spectacle than this--the citizens of the West Ends,
who have sacrificed the race to their own ease, solicitous over keeping
alive the children of the miserable in the slums!  Their own gardens
and nurseries are empty; but they would keep the children alive in
airless, foetid closes.  Thus would they condone.  But it is no boon to
the race to keep alive the children of the diseased and of the unfit;
nor is it a kindness to these children to ensure that they shall grow
into the consciousness of the misery into which they are born.  The
generations of the healthy and the clean have been sacrificed on the
altar of selfishness, and no service at any other altar can ever atone.


{17}

V

But it might have been worse with the race than it is even to-day, for
this obsession of racial suicide might have possessed the nation sooner
than it did; and if it had, then we would truly have been poor indeed.
For Sir Walter Scott was the seventh child of his parents; and it is as
certain as most human surmisings, that if the ideal of life which
to-day dominates the professional classes in Scotland, had, in the year
1771, found sway in the College Wynd of Edinburgh, Walter Scott would
never have been born.  John Wesley was one of nineteen children:
fortunately for the race, the gospel of the salvation of men through
racial limitation had not yet gained devotees in that vicarage where
the children were taught to cry quietly!  Alfred Tennyson was the third
of seven sons, and if yesterday were as to-day, then 'In Memoriam'
would never have been written.  But now, alas! the door {18} is shut
against the Walter Scotts and Wesleys of the future.

It is unnecessary to multiply instances.  Any one can see how
impoverished the race would have been, and how different the history of
the world, if the door by which mighty souls become incarnate had been
shut by the generations of the past.  One has but to think of the world
with Luther, Knox, Carlyle, and the prophets shut out.  In France
to-day Napoleon would never have been born!  We can already trace the
tracks of the withering blight that has seared humanity.  In Germany
idealism is dead, and there is no prophet either of Christian love or
of self-sacrifice.  France trampled upon the Church because the Church
fought resolutely against the policy of racial suicide and used all its
power to save the womanhood of France from submitting to degeneration.
Because the Church persisted, France 'extinguished the light of
heaven,' and no man was found who could rouse the nation to realise its
sin and to repent.  {19} The prophet who could have done so was
doubtless shut out.  And among ourselves we can mark the slow ebbing of
vision, of genius, and of prophetic might.  Two generations ago one
voice could rouse the whole nation and kindle the fire of fierce
indignation against the tale of Balkan atrocities.  In our day we
beheld the Armenians massacred again and again; but there was no voice
to rouse the nation to indignation or to action.  We could not send the
fleet to the mountains of Ararat, declared our statesmen, and we
acquiesced.  One by one the great leaders, the poets, the writers
passed into the silence, and the day of the politician and the
time-server had come.  Did a prophet arise, we no longer stoned him; we
only meted out to him contumely and neglect.  In vain did Lord Roberts
summon a nation sinking on its lees to arise and quit themselves like
men.  When the judgment throne of God blazed forth in the heavens, and
our startled eyes beheld the sword emerge from the mists that hid
heaven {20} from our eyes, we were engaged in preparations for civil
war, and listening to the low murmur of the toiling masses who
threatened social chaos.  And there was no man found equal to the task
of saving us from ourselves.  The men who could have saved us were,
doubtless, shut out.  It is manifest that the richest elements must be
lost to any race that limits its own growth.  If the sixth and seventh
children in a family be the healthiest, as has been established by
investigation,[4] then there is no place for the strongest in a family
limited to two!  Thus it comes that we are left to-day without a Wesley
who could kindle the passion of righteousness in the nation's soul;
without a Scott who could glorify our patriotism; and without a
Tennyson who could set the hearts athrob.  We have as yet produced
neither a Pitt nor a Wellington.  They have been shut out.  That is our
impoverishment.  For great souls will no longer come aboard a world
such as this.


{21}

VI

And yet there were those who would have given all they had if to them
there were given what these others spurned.  They knew that the only
abiding joy of life is the joy of little children.  But that was denied
them.  They had boundless capacities of love and of sacrifice, but the
opportunity of development came not to them.  Few cries can pull at the
heartstrings like the cry of the old maid:

  'All day long I sit by the window and wait,
    While the spring winds fling their roses everywhere,
  And I hear the voice of my husband cry at the gate,
    And the feet of my children tremulous on the stair.

  'Hour by hour I dream at the window here,
    While footsteps trip and falter adown the street,
  And I hear my children murmuring, "Mother, dear!"
    And the voice of my husband crying, "Sweet, oh sweet!"'


{22}

But they who had the opportunity went out pursuing the mirage of
pleasure, and they wanted no voices crying 'Mother, mother.'  And these
others were left with their hunger--left to 'clasp air and kiss the
wind for ever.'  For the modest never attained in the days when the
vulgar and the blatant received the incense and the crown.  It was
because the pure were disregarded that the cult of the empty cradle
cast the glamour of its degeneration over the land.


VII

In the so-called dark ages the mother and the child were an object of
veneration if not of worship.  Men thrilled with the sense of the
sacredness of life because they feared God--the source of life.  What
the race needs is to go on pilgrimage back to the Manger--back to the
Child.  But, alas! the spiritually dead cannot go on pilgrimage.  First
the dead must be quickened.  What we need most of all is to cleanse
these self-filled, soiled hearts in the {23} fountain of
self-sacrifice.  The soul of the race, if the race is to be saved, must
go on pilgrimage back to the Manger--back to the Mother and the Child.

  'And he who gives a child a home
  Builds palaces in kingdom come.
  And she who gives a baby birth
  Brings Saviour Christ again to earth.'


When, last winter, the enemy poured into a trench, and almost all the
defenders were killed, a French sergeant, grievously wounded, grasped a
rifle and began to shoot, crying out to his semi-conscious comrades,
'Stand up, ye dead.'  At the wild cry the wounded arose, and the
half-dead began to shoot with unsteady hands.  By a resurrection from
the dead the trench was saved.  To a race that has set its face towards
decay, there ringeth from heaven the cry, 'Stand up, ye dead.'  It is
not yet too late to save the race, the empire, and the world.



[1] _The Declining Birthrate_, p. 247.

[2] _The Declining Birthrate_, p. 343.

[3] _The Declining Birthrate_, p. 93.

[4] _The Declining Birthrate_, p. 126.



{24}

CHAPTER II

THE ROOTS OF THE EVIL

If a disease is to be combated the first thing to be done is to
diagnose it.  It is only when the destructive powers of an enemy are
realised that the full power of a nation is mobilised; and the moral
forces of a nation will only be mobilised for its own salvation when it
realises the full sweep of the forces of degeneration which are united
for its ethical destruction.  Hitherto the attitude of society towards
the evils which threaten its very existence has been one of assumed
ignorance.  Ostrich-like it buried its head in conventions and was
determined not to see.  The result has been that the evils grew in an
atmosphere of artificial darkness and ignorance, until to-day the
fountains of the national life are at one and {25} the same time going
through a process of desiccation and of pollution.  The elements in
society which have in them a promise of strength are limiting their own
existence; the elements which have in them the least promise of
vitality are passing on the stream of life diseased alike by
inheritance and by infection.  It is a disagreeable and distasteful
duty to contemplate the foul diseases which prey on the body-politic,
but we must face the duty.  We must remove the blinkers which have too
long hid from us the sweep of those forces which will inevitably work
destruction unless the nation be roused to its peril.


I

It is a startling fact that in the very days when the flower of the
manhood of the race is perishing by the hundred thousand on land and
sea, a campaign is being conducted in London with the express purpose
of preventing the wastage of life being replaced by the advent of life.
It is almost incredible that such a {26} thing could be, but those who
carry on the propaganda are not even conscious that they are doing
wrong.  In this very unconsciousness of evil we see the depths to which
the nation is falling.  In his evidence submitted to the National
Birthrate Commission, the secretary of the Malthusian League, with a
frankness which showed that he was thoroughly convinced of the
righteousness of the policy he propounded, gave detailed information
regarding the propaganda now being carried on by his society:


In the early days of the movement strenuous and, at first, successful
attempts were made to interest the poorer classes directly.  But the
opposition which quickly arose rendered the continuance of this policy
impracticable, and it was only at the commencement of 1913 that it was
deemed possible to start an open-air campaign in one of the poorest
districts of South London.  The response was so gratifying and the
demand for practical advice so persistent, that the League {27}
determined at an early date thereafter to issue gratuitously a leaflet
describing the most hygienic methods of limiting families, subject to a
declaration by applicants that they were over twenty-one years of age,
married or about to be married, that they were convinced of the
justification of family limitation, and that they held themselves
responsible for keeping the leaflet out of the hands of unmarried
people under twenty-one years of age....  The applications received
show unmistakably that the poor and the debilitated are most anxious to
adopt family limitation, and are deeply grateful for the necessary
information....'[1]


The Commission naturally asked for a copy of this leaflet.


'I have some of these practical leaflets here,' answered the witness,
'but I have one thing to say about them.  That sort of thing has to be
done with precautions.  It has only been recently issued, and only
those can take it who will sign a {28} declaration that they are either
married or about to be married, and that they consider the artificial
limitation of families justifiable.  If any of the members here come
within that category--that is prejudging the case--they can have it,
otherwise I am afraid I cannot give it.'


This is the only touch of comedy in the greatest tragedy of our day.
The Commission of grave and reverend seigneurs were not to be trusted
with a leaflet which was circulating gratuitously in East London.  It
is manifest that no declaration signed to the contrary will prevent
these leaflets passing from hand to hand, or the information they
convey from man to man and woman to woman.  There is no limit to the
evil wrought by even one such leaflet.  Down the streets, by word of
mouth, the secret goes.  And wherever it goes, death begins to reign.
And the nation disregards the undermining of its existence.  It is not
enough that bomb and shell and gas should be laying its manhood low in
swathes; it suffers a campaign {29} in its streets and alleys that
wages war on the life that is struggling to be born.  If the hands that
sway the destiny of the race were not paralysed such a propaganda would
not be suffered for a day.

The secretary of the Malthusian League made it clear in his evidence
that he had a grievance against the educated and leisured classes in
this country.  It was not the intention of the League that its teaching
should result in the impoverishment of what is good in humanity.  The
teaching of eugenics aims at the improvement of the soul of the race by
developing the force of heredity and by improving environment.  The
effect of the Neo-Malthusian propaganda has been hitherto to discourage
worthy parentage, and to limit the birth of children among the class
who would transmit a worthy heredity and could supply a good
environment.  Thus the result has been the very reverse of that aimed
at by eugenics.  But the Malthusian League is not repentant.
'Notwithstanding the fact that, in spite {30} of its efforts, the
limitation of families has up to the present been on dysgenic lines,
the Malthusian League cannot profess regret that the limitation has
occurred'--thus its secretary.  It did not intend that result, but it
does not regret it.  It desired to direct its teaching to the poor and
enable them to restrict their children, but the well-to-do classes
prevented them.  'All we could do was continually to direct all our
movement to convincing the educated classes of the necessity of so
extending it; but they allowed it to stop at themselves and did not let
it go any further....[2]  I think it would have been far better had
they realised that the restriction should have been conveyed to the
quarters where it was most needed.'  The position seems to be this: The
upper classes who already had established a monopoly of the good things
of this world, when the teaching of race-limitation came their way,
added this also to their monopoly.  Having assimilated it, they kept it
to {31} themselves.  This was the last fine fruit of their selfishness!
But, now, the opposition has weakened in a world of greater
enlightenment, and the Malthusian League is determined to resist that
selfishness which would keep the good things of this world as the
preserve of certain classes.  Therefore it starts its new campaign in
South London.  'We know that the want of restriction among the poorest
grade is enormously due to ignorance,' says its secretary.  'It is
clear, therefore, that if such knowledge is available to them it will
conduce to more restriction in those quarters than at present.'  Having
achieved what it did not intend--having silenced the voices of children
in Park Lane and Belgravia--the Malthusian League is now determined to
achieve what it intended--silence the voices of children in Lambeth and
Poplar!


II

When the arguments on which the Malthusian League base their propaganda
{32} are considered, they are at once revealed to be the fruit of false
reasoning and of ignorance.  Neo-Malthusianism is based on the
principle that poverty, disease, and premature death can only be
eliminated by restricting the increase of the population.  As disease
and premature death are largely due to poverty, the problem is how to
eliminate poverty.  It is, however, manifest to any one who considers
the sources of the world's food supply that these sources could provide
food for a population many times greater than that at present
inhabiting this planet.  The vast territories of the British Empire are
at present only occupied along their fringes.  The most fertile
regions--the vast spaces of Africa watered by noble rivers--cry out for
the spade and the plough.  Canada is doubling its wheat supply every
few years.  Counties at home, lying derelict, are waiting for intensive
cultivation.  The remedy for poverty is a right distribution of the
world's food, and a right direction of the energies of men towards the
production {33} of food.  When life is directed to its primary object,
the production of food, then the greater the wealth of life the greater
will be the food supply.  The true wealth of a nation is therefore its
life.

But the Neo-Malthusians are incapable of regarding life with anything
but a jaundiced eye.  If anywhere life should be desired it should
surely be in Australia, where a population only equal to that of
Scotland inhabit a continent.  But even there the Neo-Malthusians will
have nothing but restriction.  The birthrate in Australia has descended
to 10 per thousand, but the Neo-Malthusians regard that with
satisfaction.  'What I am absolutely certain of is that no country can,
from year to year, increase the amount which it produces by enough to
hold all the people that can be born, and Australia apparently has just
got to the point; its birthrate has just descended to 10 per thousand,
but there has been a correlation between the birthrate and
deathrate....  I do admit that, at the present moment, it {34} has just
got to the point of balance.'  The hollowness of an argument such as
that is apparent when it is remembered that the wheat crop of Canada in
1915 was more than 50 per cent. higher than that of 1911.  Canada in
five years increased its food supply by half; it is impossible in five
years for the birthrate to increase the population by half.  Canada has
done even more, for since 1901 it has increased its wheat supply by 125
per cent., and its population is only two per square mile.  Yet in the
vast empty territories of Australia and Canada the Neo-Malthusian would
spread his propaganda!

What is manifest is that if teaching such as that of the
Neo-Malthusians be the ideal adopted by the people of this Empire and
the Dominions beyond the sea, then the Empire is doomed.  Australia has
laid it down as an unalterable policy that the continent shall be a
white-man country.  How can that policy hold in Australia with a
birthrate of 10 and in New Zealand with a birthrate of 9 {35} per
thousand?  The abounding birthrate of Japan and China demands an
outlet.  If the men of British race succumb to race-weariness and
adhere to the policy of racial suicide, they must give place to those
that are not yet weary of life.  It will be impossible for any race in
the future to hold territories which they cannot occupy, and lands
which they cannot replenish or cultivate.  And, yet, in the region of
empty spaces, the Neo-Malthusian regards racial limitation with
satisfaction.  'When the birthrate stood at that level [19 to 20 per
thousand] in Ontario, was that a desirable level for Ontario ... being
a young country with plenty of room for expansion?' was one of the
questions addressed to the secretary of the Malthusian League.  'I am
quite decided Ontario should at present have only that birthrate,' was
the answer.  Surely human folly has seldom transcended this.

But the Neo-Malthusian has another argument to support his delusions.
It is {36} that the lowering of the birthrate leads to the lowering of
the deathrate, and thus that there is no decrease in the population.
It was on this ground that the secretary of the Malthusian League
justified the restriction of births even in Ontario.  'When Ontario did
increase its birthrate, its deathrate increased; it gained no increase
of population thereby, so I am absolutely definite in that case.'  But
the Superintendent of Statistics, Dr. Stevenson, promptly pricked that
bubble.  The alleged increase of the deathrate in Ontario was due to a
miscalculation.  The increase in 1911 of the population was
underestimated.  The population in Ontario increased in 1911 to
2,523,000; the birthrate went up from 21.10 to 24.7, and the deathrate
came down 14.0 to 12.6.  So far from the increased birthrate in Ontario
producing an increased deathrate, it brought with it a diminished
deathrate.  At the touch of reality the edifice of the Neo-Malthusian
crumbles into sand.  He is not deficient in patriotism; for he says so.
{37} 'We probably should get more colonising and more efficient
colonisers if we had a smaller birthrate,' declared the secretary of
the Malthusian League.  Empty cradles are going to populate the Empire!
There is surely no limit to the faculty of human self-deception.


III

Though the arguments of the Neo-Malthusians be fallacious, and the
basis of their teaching illusionary, yet they have gained the
allegiance of a vast portion of the population of the Empire.  A
birthrate lowered by half in some cities, and by a third over the whole
of the nation, testifies to the withering blight which has passed over
the race.  In a little while Britain will be as France--its population
stationary.  We have yet a little way to go ere we have reduced the
birthrate to the level of Australia, 10 per thousand; but we are on the
way to it.  When that day draws near there will be no more emigrants
available for the territories that we hold; {38} and the door of
Australia must open to the yellow races.  A race that chooses death can
no longer shape or mould the issues of life.

The statistics which abound in the Report are as the ringing of a
passing bell.  But far more alarming than the mere statement that the
race is now sacrificing a third of its children is the fact that this
limitation has not yet come to its full development.  The stage which
is now attained is that a vast majority of the educated classes
sacrifice the race to their self-indulgence.  The figures given in a
booklet entitled _The Small Family System_ show that 'in the Fabian
Society in about 90 per cent. of the more recent marriages they have
voluntarily restricted.'  The super-intelligent of the Socialists have
set their faces towards the drying up of life's sources.  The evidence
amply proves that everywhere 'the size of the family tends to vary
inversely as the social status of the parents.'  The figures provided
by the Registrar-General for {39} England and Wales showing the births
classified according to the occupation of the father, are as follows:

                                  Births per 1000
                                  married males aged
                                  under 55 years,
          Social Class            including retired.

  1.  Upper and middle class . . . . .  119
  2.  Intermediate . . . . . . . . . .  132
  3.  Skilled workmen  . . . . . . . .  153
  4.  Intermediate class . . . . . . .  158
  5.  Unskilled workmen  . . . . . . .  213

The race is now being carried on mainly by the poorest classes of the
population.  But, when the Neo-Malthusians have carried out to the full
that campaign on which they have now entered; when the faith in life
which the poor have not yet lost, shall at last be undermined; when it
will be true of Poplar as of Belgravia, and of the Canongate as of the
West End, that having a family is no longer a British ideal--what then
is to become of the race and the Empire?  What we must realise is that
this process of racial destruction will steadily go on working down the
social {40} scale until the race is doomed--unless the conscience of
the race be roused and the forces of degeneration routed.  Nobody has
studied the whole problem with more thoroughness than Dr. J. W.
Ballantyne of Edinburgh.  'If this voluntary restriction has begun in
one group of society,' says Dr. Ballantyne, 'it has not expended itself
yet upon the other groups ... it is working its way, one might almost
say, as a leaven, it has not yet reached the larger groups of people,
and therefore I expect the fall in the birthrate to go on.'  In the
present miasma which has fallen on the race, when women have become
'less scrupulous,' and doctors advise with greater and greater
frequency the restriction of birth, Dr. Ballantyne can only summon us
to 'bring up the reserves and strengthen the recruits.'  Life has
ceased to be desired; its continuance is no longer 'convenient.'  It is
inevitable that, unless a change comes in the spirit of our day, the
process of decay will go steadily on.


{41}

IV

It is a repulsive picture this which grows before our eyes; but there
are blacker shades still--so black that one can only indicate them and
pass on.  So far we have only considered the restricted birthrate as
the result of the teaching of Neo-Malthusianism; but there is a further
restriction which even the Neo-Malthusian condemns--the destruction of
the unborn life.

The best way to indicate this, the blackest of all the signs of moral
decay, is to quote here and there from the Report.


_Witness_--The LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK.

_Question_--It is your general experience, my lord, that there is among
the working-classes, so far as you can judge, a larger amount of
abortion than the use of anti-conceptions?

_Answer_.--That is what I should say.

_Dr. Scharlieb_.--They say that there are five abortions to every one
live birth.


{42}

The Lord Bishop of Southwark did not hesitate to declare that the
destruction of unborn life in South London 'betrays instincts which are
worse than the savage.'


_Witness_--Sir THOMAS OLIVER, M.D., LL.D., B.Sc., of
Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

_Witness_.--The waste of infant life was enormous owing to the
expectant mother miscarrying....  For twopence a woman might purchase
sufficient ... to cause her to miscarry, while she at the same time
might imperil her own life....

_Witness_--Dr. AMAND ROUTH, M.D.

_Witness_.--My main contention was in regard to the enormous antenatal
mortality....  The number of abortions is about four times as great as
the still-birth....  Assuming that the still-births are 3 per cent.,
and the abortions 12 per cent., the two together are 15 per cent.


Of the mass of evidence regarding this terrible aspect of the national
life, these quotations must suffice.  The public conscience has, in
this last generation, become so deadened on the part of masses of the
{43} people that life is no longer sacred.  'It is always a great
comfort to me,' says Dr. Amand Routh, 'that it is criminal as well as
wrong--that one can show that the law considers it to be murder.'  To
escape from inconvenience, to secure freedom from responsibility, to
attain untrammelled devotion to pleasure--the weapon of murder is
freely used.  One of the witnesses, Mrs. Burgwin, told the Commission
an experience.  'When I went to Moscow,' says Mrs. Burgwin, 'I went to
see the great Foundling Hospital ... and I felt very ashamed when I
came away, because I said to a Russian doctor there, "You know this is
very serious; you have got a couple of thousand illegitimate children,
and by bringing them into a place like this you are only encouraging
illegitimacy!"  And he said to me, "Well, Mrs. Burgwin, is not that
better than what you do in England?  There, even your married people
murder the children."'


{44}

V

There is another cause of the falling birthrate which I will only
indicate.  However necessary it may be to look facts in the face, there
are facts so ugly that they do not bear even contemplation.  One great
cause of the fall in the birthrate is the social disease.  One or two
quotations must suffice.

'I hold,' says Dr. Ballantyne, 'that in a given family, if syphilis
enters it, it is the most deadly thing for the future of that family.'

'Have you any idea about the proportion of antenatal deaths which are
due to syphilis?'  'Of course, one's idea is,' answered Dr. Amand
Routh, 'that it is an enormous proportion--perhaps one-fourth....'

'Dr. Willey was of opinion that probably 32.8 per cent. of the total
still-births were due to syphilis.'

'I would hold the view that it is a considerable proportion,' says Dr.
Ballantyne, {45} 'founding upon Fournier's evidence in France, where he
speaks broadly of families being swept out of existence before birth by
syphilis.'

'We have been recently told that there are 500,000 fresh cases of
syphilis yearly in this country and three times that number of cases of
gonorrhea.'

It is the opinion of Sir William Osler that of all the killing diseases
syphilis comes third or fourth.[3]  'While we have been unable,' says
the Commission on the subject, 'to arrive at any positive figures, the
evidence we have received leads us to the conclusion that the number of
persons who have been infected with syphilis, acquired or congenital,
cannot fall below 10 per cent. of the whole population in the large
cities, and the percentage affected with gonorrhea must greatly exceed
this proportion.'  Regarding all that, one can only re-echo the words
of Sir Thomas Barlow: 'I think it is terrible.'[4]

{46}

It is only when the after-effects of these diseases are considered that
the full measure of the peril which they create is realised.  They not
only lead to an enormous loss of child life, but they also undermine
the health of those on whom they have fastened their fangs,
transmitting the misery even to the third generation.  The evidence
shows that more than half the cases of blindness among children are the
result of these diseases in the parents.  Out of 1100 children in the
London County Council Blind Schools at least 55.6 per cent. were
clearly attributable to this cause.  In adult life this evil is
responsible for diseases which often manifest themselves after many
years, such as general paralysis, affections of the brain and spinal
cord, and epilepsy.  It is because the people have been left in
ignorance as to the terrible consequences not only to themselves but to
their children, that the welfare and happiness of life are thus
sacrificed to sin.

'It is one of the few diseases which {47} are hereditary,' writes Sir
Malcolm Morris, 'and in the hereditary form its effects are even more
disastrous than in the acquired variety....  Many of its innocent
victims die in the first few months of life from meningitis,
hydrocephalus, convulsions, and other affections; if they survive they
are liable to recrudescences of the disease up to the twentieth year or
even later.  Growth is checked, vitality depressed, intelligence
stunted; hideous deformities may be produced, sight and hearing may be
destroyed, and the central nervous system may be involved, with results
similar to those which supervene in adults.  What a story of mutilation
and massacre of the innocents!'[5]

When these results are considered, there comes a feeling of amazement
that a nation should suffer such plagues to afflict its vitality
without putting forth every effort to stamp them out.  The nation which
has become thus afflicted by its own vices must have sunk to a depth
which {48} may well fill the observer with consternation.  And the
remedies which are proposed will only deliver the people from the
consequences of their acts--they will not cure the disease itself.  The
only salvation lies in the ideal of the pure heart once more shining
forth before the eyes of man.  The law of God decrees that sin be
punished; and deliverance for humanity from punishment can only come by
conformity to the law of God.  But this is not how we now regard it.
We have set ourselves to combat the social disease not because vice is
hateful but that in the future vice may become safe.  When we shall
have attained our end the shadows shall have gathered in deeper
blackness.  The few remaining stars shall be blotted out.


VI

Such, in bold outline, are the forces which threaten the continuance
and the well-being of the race.  On the altar of degeneration England
and Wales offered {49} up in the year 1914 over 600,000 children.[6]
Who can compute the laughter and joyousness, the happiness and the
riches thus consumed at the shrine of our self-indulgence?  And every
sign points to this vast sacrifice of life increasing with the years.
For we are emancipated; and we smile at any restraint emanating
from--God!  Science has delivered us from that.  We know it now--the
voice of law is only the echo of outworn superstitions.  And science,
which has broken the chain of restraint, and which has provided the
means for gratifying desire without incurring responsibility, has
blessed us also with the high-explosive shell.  This great
deliverer--science--has put into our hands the power of pruning life at
both ends.  If the world is to find salvation through the absence of
life--then, salvation is at the gate.  In other days it gave {50} our
fathers a shudder to read of the moral depravity of Home ere the
scourge of God fell on it.  The old Romans can, alas! cause us to
shudder no longer.  We have improved upon them.  Science has helped us
greatly, and with its aid we can sound depths of depravity the Roman
never reached.  The triumphs of science have in our hands become
instruments of an immorality which would have made even heathen Rome
shudder.  And as yet we are only at the top of the declivity.  The
momentum of our descent is gathering force with the years.

It may be asserted that this view is alarmist, and that, however bad
our state, we are better than Germany.  No thought of an enemy from
without need, therefore, mar our satisfaction in our swift declension
into the morass of vice.  That comparison may be granted: we are better
than Germany, though Germany has not yet sacrificed her children in
such hecatombs as we have done.  But what we have to consider is not
the birthrate in {51} relation to that of Germany but in relation to
the extent of the earth surface which owns our sway.  The end of the
war will find Germany confined within narrow borders with all her
colonies gone.  The Germany of to-morrow will have no room for racial
expansion.  But we own the fourth of the world's surface.  That vast
territory calls to us for men.  And if we individually choose our own
selfish ease, and sacrifice the generations to come, we shall have
failed in our imperial calling.  We may win an empire on the
battlefield; we will inevitably lose it in the silent nursery.

Not in relation to this or that earthly factor has this question to be
considered.  It is in relation to the Moral Order of the universe that
we must face it.  The unseen Power that reigns is a Moral Power.
Somewhere in this universe, Righteousness is throned.  Whatever race in
the past surrendered to evil and made degeneracy its god--upon that
race the judgment of the consuming sword fell.  Though the {52}
judgment often tarried, it always fell.  As one considers the moral
condition to which we have come, the worse condition to which we are
hastening, the destruction which befell those of old in whose footsteps
we are now treading, the dust accumulated on buried cities and vanished
races who made their pleasure their god, and the flaming of the sword
wherewith God removed in all ages the cankerous growth from the body of
humanity,--the question leaps forth: How can we escape the righteous
judgment of God?  Will there be found a place of repentance for us who
have sacrificed the child of flesh and blood to the calf of gold[7] and
have surrendered ourselves to the sensuous delights of worshipping at
our chosen idol's shrine?  Unless the nation finds the place of
repentance, it needs no prophet to foretell the end.  For we have been
living for more than a generation a life 'such as God has never
suffered man to lead on earth long, which He has always {53} crushed
out by calamity or revolution.'  And the startling fact is this--that
when the judgment of God befell, it was on men unconscious that they
were being judged.  They came to the Great White Throne and never
discerned it; they reached the end and never knew it to be the end.
Thus they perished--Babylon and Rome alike.  And we are as they.  The
judgment-seat is visible in the heavens, but our eyes never turn to it;
amid the crash of the world's civilisation we hear no voice calling to
repentance.



[1] _The Declining Birthrate_, p. 90.

[2] P. 125.

[3] _Report of Royal Commission on V. D._, p. 23.

[4] _Ibid._, p. 55.

[5] _The Nineteenth Century and After_, April 1916.

[6] _The Declining Birthrate_, p. 248:--

    Deaths in antenatal period . . . . . . . . . 138,249
    Fewer births owing to reduced birthrate  . . 467,837
                                                 -------
    Total loss for 1914  . . . . . . . . . . . . 606,086

[7] See pp. 85-88.



{54}

CHAPTER III

THE EMPTY COUNTRYSIDE

In the past the decay of civilisation has been heralded by the decay of
the country-side.  When the cities had sucked the life of the plains
and valleys dry, then came the end.  It was thus with Israel.  Out of
the villages and farms nestling in valleys the people were driven into
cities by the rapacity of men eager to be rich.  This was the burden
that weighed on the prophets, 'Woe unto them that join house to house,
that lay field to field till there be no room.'  When in the country
places there was no room for the common folk, then national decay
ensued in Israel.  It was so also in Rome.  The day came when one
magnate owned the 'territories of whole tribes' and left them 'to be
trampled under foot by herds or ravaged by wild beasts,' or garrisoned
them 'with slave {55} prisons or citizens held in bondage,' and Rome
sucked dry the rural life of Italy and of the lands washed by the
Mediterranean.  Therewith paralysis seized the greatest of the
world-empires.  In every age overgrown cities have proved themselves
the graveyards of civilisation.  And the primary cause of the evils
which now threaten us is that we have made the countryside waste.
Counties and parishes have been depleted of life that cities might grow
more and more.  It has been calculated that nine out of ten families in
England have migrated to the city in the last three generations.  In
and around Glasgow half of the population of Scotland is concentrated.
Three-fourths of the whole population of Scotland has been massed in
the industrial belt of country that lies between the Forth and Clyde
estuaries, and which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow and the towns round
which are centred the iron and coal industries.  We have driven our
manhood and womanhood out of the sunshine {56} and the clean air and
the silent spaces into the foetid, sunless closes of monstrous cities.
There the clanging of machinery leaves no place where the soul can be
still.  And upon us has fallen the woe declared against those who
devastate the quiet places, adding field to field, until there is no
room for the poor.


I

The greatest tragedy of our day is that the English race which has
conquered the fourth of the world's area has lost its own land.  In the
course of a hundred years the spoliation of well-nigh the whole nation
has been consummated.  The villages and rural parishes of England which
once teemed with life are left to decay.  The life and the wealth which
reared the parish churches of England--those monuments of vanished
piety and of forgotten arts--and which produced with skilled handicraft
the 'ornaments and church furniture, bells and candlesticks, crosses
and organs, and tapestry and banners,' have ebbed away, leaving behind
them only a {57} memory.  The world can nowhere show a desolation such
as has overtaken rural England.  Elsewhere, be it France or Germany,
Serbia or Bulgaria, the cottages are scattered over close-tilled land,
and the labour of man is rewarded by the earth yielding its increase.
But England presents the spectacle of decayed cottages, of vast spaces
'laid down to grass,' of stately houses with the silence of tree-shaded
parks round about them, and of a land which yields no longer food but
sport.  'As things go now,' writes an observer, 'we shall have empty
fields, except for a few shepherds and herdsmen in all the green of
England.'  In his book, _The Condition of England_, Mr. C. F. G.
Masterman has presented a picture of rural decay which is steeped in
tears.  'A peasantry, unique in Europe in its complete divorce from the
land, lacking ownership of cottage or tiniest plot of ground, finds no
longer any attraction in the cheerless toil of the agricultural
labourer upon scant weekly wages'--thus Mr. Masterman.  If {58} the
life-blood of a nation be derived from the clean countryside, then
'England is bleeding at the arteries, and it is her reddest blood which
is flowing away.'

It is to the Moloch of an industrial civilisation that this sacrifice
of life has been made.  The desolation was wrought because men, in
their haste to become rich, were blind to the true values of labour.
They forgot that the primary work of man is to produce food, and that
upon the production of food the whole structure of the commonwealth
depends.  Cities endure because, far beyond their ken, the land yields
wheat and fruit and supports wandering herds.  All other work is
parasitic; that work alone is essential.  But a perverted civilisation
sacrificed the primary to the parasitic, and poured its rewards into
the lap of the workers who added nothing to the world's true riches.
The road to success and honour lay only through the city.  Formerly the
gentleman was he who tilled the ground; in our day the man who ploughs
and reaps {59} is deemed a boor.  Clean hands and clean linen are now
the badges of a gentleman.  The sense of the dignity of making the soil
yield its riches has vanished from among us.  Everything is ordered
that the stream of life from the fields and the open sky into the
barracks of sooty, squalid cities may swell into an ever-increasing
river.  We had only one ideal and that was cheap food.  Other nations
carefully conserved the workers of the soil and protected them from a
competition that might deprive them of the reward of their labour.
During the last fifty years, while our population has rapidly
increased, our agricultural population has been diminished by a million
workers.  A hundred years ago we had 9,000,000 acres producing wheat,
to-day we have only 1,800,000 wheat-growing acres.  We have indeed
sacrificed our true life.  In the whole of the British Empire, covering
a quarter of the globe, the total white population living on the land
is only 13,000,000, whilst that of Germany alone, working the land and
{60} living by it, has risen to 20,000,000.  We had one watchword which
stirred our blood--the cheap loaf!  The meaning of the watchword was
hid from us.  For the cheap loaf meant cheap labour, and cheap labour
meant ever-increasing riches to the exploiters of toiling masses in the
lamp-lit cities.  But the 'cheap loaf' meant for the country places
which yielded it, that the husbandman could not live by his labour.
Floods of oratory were poured forth; under the guise of philanthropy
the ideal of cheap food was held up in palpitating periods by
capitalists who reaped their sure reward in labour correspondingly
cheap, and the fields of England were steadily laid down to 'twitch and
thistle.'  A generation wrought this desolation, unconscious of the
desolation that it wrought.  The agricultural labourer became at last
obsessed by the watchword which wrought his ruin.  Even Mr. Masterman
records with sympathy, if not with satisfaction, the attitude of the
farm labourer to the new 'fiscal reform.' {61} 'Oh dear!' is his
comment, 'we want no taxes on food.'  We destroyed him, but we did it
so skilfully, and with so splendidly assumed an air of philanthropy,
that the worker on the land did not even recognise the instrument
wherewith we destroyed him.  He has been the victim of political
factions--of politicians who have sacrificed the State to party.  The
Conservatives not unnaturally made the monopoly in land a tenet of
their faith, and resisted every claim on the part of the poor to call
any portion of England, however small, their own; the Liberals made the
policy of Free Trade an inviolable doctrine, and though that policy
mainly enriched the capitalist, they assumed in its support the
semblance of enthusiasm for humanity, if not of the passion of
religion.  But between the two, as between the upper and nether
millstone, the rural population of England has been ground to powder.
Not for the first time in history the desolation of a kingdom has been
wrought by time-serving politicians.

{62}

And with the devastation which our national policy thus wrought in the
countryside there passed away, slowly but steadily, the ancient
landowners.  These men had in their veins the life-blood of England;
they built up the Empire and sent forth their sons to be the
'frontiersmen of all the world.'  Innumerable ties bound them to the
people.  Squire and peasant were at one in love of the land, and each
knew that his welfare was bound up with that of the other.  But the
lands had to be sold, and the new-rich came from the cities and
replaced the aristocracy of the countryside.  They had no ties binding
them to the sons of the soil.  They knew not the traditions to which
the landlord and tenant were loyal.  They only sought to transplant a
bit of the city into the heart of the country.  It was then that the
country folk awoke to the insecurity of their lives.  At a word they
were sent forth homeless wanderers.  The hint of a right to be
vindicated brought down unemployment and eviction on the head of {63}
England's freedmen.  The cottager in the country could no longer call
his soul his own.  In the city he could at least call his thoughts his
own, and he could give them utterance in stumbling words without
incurring the risk of being made homeless.  No wonder the rural
labourer escaped for his life.  The nation, as usual, awoke too late to
the realisation of its ebbing life.  It began to make provision for the
people of England acquiring a moiety of the land of England.  But it is
easy to turn a smiling land into a wilderness; to convert the
wilderness back into a garden is the baffling problem.  'To-day,'
writes Mr. Masterman, 'land is being slowly and laboriously offered to
the people, a generation after the people who once hungered for that
offer have flung themselves into the cities or beyond the sea.'  Any
parvenu can sweep the population of a parish forth into Poplar and
Lambeth; it may well pass the wit of man to bring their children back
from Poplar and Lambeth to the land.


{64}

II

To-day four-fifths of the population of England is crowded in cities,
and there they are left 'to soak and blacken soul and sense in city
slime.'  In Scotland the same forces have been at work with the same
result.  Parishes of soil as fertile as is in the world are to be found
in the occupation of half a dozen farmers, some of whom hold two or
more farms.  Land which might hold hundreds of families, if the land
were available for the people as in France, is empty save for a handful
of farmers and their servants.  Though great markets are at the door
waiting the produce of intensive cultivation, the small holder is
crowded out.  Denmark pours into our cities the produce which the
monopoly in land prevents being supplied at home.  Holland feeds us in
time of peace and our enemies in time of war.  That the Danes and the
Dutch may have stores wherewith to feed our foes, the fields of England
are laid waste.  {65} The only life now left in the country is the ebb
and flow of the overflow from the cities.  Germany and Austria have
withstood a two years' blockade, because the land is there kept under
cultivation and yields the necessaries of life.  Our enemies have not
been blind to a nation's true riches.  Did we lose the command of the
sea for a few weeks, there would be no escape from destruction.  For we
have sacrificed our bread supply to the production of Brummagem wares.

But there has been in Scotland an additional element of tragedy in the
rural situation which has not been manifested in England, at least on
so large a scale.  Whole parishes have in the Highlands during the last
century been laid waste by wholesale ruthless evictions.  Behind the
processes which have made the glens and mountain slopes desolate of
men, and which have massed a million of human beings into a city of
restricted area such as Glasgow, piling them, family on the top of
family, in noisome tenements, there lies {66} perhaps the greatest
tragedy of the nineteenth century.  And that tragedy is all the more
poignant in that it has been wrought in silence, none paying it any
heed.  Glens filled with men have been transformed into desert places
filled with sheep or deer, and that at the will of one man, while
statesmen paid no heed and the world took no cognisance.[1]  For were
not these things done beyond the Grampians?  And what happened there
was of no consequence.

It is almost incredible that, during the last century, glens and
countrysides in Scotland were stripped bare of human beings by
wholesale eviction.  The thought of these poor thatched houses burning
{67} and the people driven away to find refuge where they could--in the
slums of Glasgow or across the seas--is to our minds so intolerable
that many will deny such crimes were ever perpetrated.  Yet they were
perpetrated.  The hearthstones on which the peat fires unceasingly
burned, which for generations had never grown cold, were left to the
rain and the snow.  Some parishes were laid wholly waste.  In one such
parish which I know, out of which sixty-one officers bearing their
King's commission went forth to fight in the Napoleonic wars, there has
gone forth hardly one officer to-day.  Where hundreds were found of old
in the day of need, a mere handful of ghillies or shepherds is found
to-day who can take up arms.  For that parish which gave Scotland the
greatest family of preachers and leaders in religious and social
movements was laid ruthlessly waste, and the parish minister, who held
all the honours which his Church and country could bestow on him, was
left in his manse solitary {68} amid the wilderness which greed
created, to die of a broken heart.  That most beautiful of islands--the
Isle of Skye--sent forth 21 generals, 48 colonels, 600 commissioned
officers, 10,000 soldiers to fight in the great wars for human freedom
against the Corsican; to-day the Isle of Skye can scarcely muster 1000
in the greatest crisis of human history.  One parish in the western
sea-board which sent 200 men to fight for freedom in the Napoleonic
wars to-day could only muster six; for the parish fell into the hands
of a man who wanted a deer forest for the passing of his leisure hours.
These figures are but representative of what has happened all over the
British Isles.  An old man, who was carried as a child in the corner of
a plaid out of his native glen when the cataclysm of eviction burst on
the unbelieving crofters and cottars, while cottage after cottage was
given to the flames, when asked what he remembered about it, answered:
'I can see yet the smoke rising to heaven; and I can hear {69} the
sound of weeping down the glen.'  In my boyhood's days I heard an old
man speaking of the townships of his youth being laid waste, and he
said: 'I remember it as one remembers things seen in a dream.'  There
are many books in which those who may desire can inform themselves of
the depths to which it is possible for greed and tyrannous power to
bring men who have no ideal but the gratification of their desires.
The cruelties and the wrongs perpetrated in the Scottish Highlands on a
loyal and law-abiding people can only be paralleled by the atrocities
of the slave traders in Africa.  They would be unbelievable were it not
that the State suffered the same processes in a gradual and less
dramatic form to accomplish the same ends in England.  The only
difference was that the Scottish evictor concentrated in one day of
sword and fire the desolating work which in England and in Lowland
Scotland was diffused over many years.  Whether the result be that of a
day or of {70} a hundred years, the folly and the guilt are the same.
The same fate as overtook rural England and Scotland has in even more
fateful degree overtaken Ireland.  The vast majority of the Irish are
now outwith their native isle.  In the Ireland of to-day only the
derelicts are left.  Throughout the length and breadth of the three
kingdoms, the country places in which strong men were reared have been
made desolate that cities in which men decay might extend and enlarge
their slums.


III

In this devastation of the country places the abnormal process of
eviction played but a small part compared with the normal processes
which worked steadily for the emptying of the country and for the
growth of the city.  A blinded legislature sacrificed everything to the
growth of an industrial civilisation.  What the ruling classes wanted
was the increased prosperity of Glasgow and Birmingham; it mattered
nothing though the {71} country-folk perished.  They had, however, some
consideration for the countrysides.  They caused schools to be built
everywhere at the expense of landlords and tenants.  But in these
schools they caused nothing to be taught but the dates of battles and
the names of rivers.  In them there was nothing taught of the wonder of
growing life, of the miracle of earth pouring food into the lap of men,
of the glory and beauty of the greening earth, or of the dignity of
breaking up the fallow ground.  I say, nothing of worth was taught in
these schools--nothing, except what roused an unhealthy craving for the
life that could be lived with unsoiled hands!  And for the support of
these schools one lady who owned a large estate in the west had to sell
her jewels that she might pay the school rate, and tenants parted with
their stock for the same end.  For the State had decreed that the
country places should pay for the support of those processes which were
to work their own desolation.  Landlords were {72} made bankrupt and
tenants ruined that bloated cities might grow more and more.

Every development of the great national machinery designed for the
intellectual illumination of the people has wrought more and more
desolation in the country places.  The last of these has been the
worst.  In Scotland the parish school since the days of Knox was the
centre of intellectual activity, and the parish schoolmasters were able
to send their scholars straight to the University.  But the pundits at
last decreed that this must cease.  Secondary education was banished
from the parish schools.  The teachers who formerly had scope for, and
joy in, the higher spheres of teaching were consigned one and all to
the withered fields of elementary education.  All the secondary
teaching was concentrated in the towns where central schools were
established, to which promising children who desired such training were
collected.

The result has been disastrous.  The light of higher education in each
rural {73} parish has been quenched.  The secondary education has been
concentrated in towns, and only a few parents could face the additional
burden of providing lodgings for their children.  The pundits made no
provision for the proper accommodation for boys and girls at the most
critical period of their lives.  No hostels were built for them.  In
insanitary villages they were left to whatever provision decayed houses
could provide for them.  In these schools religious and moral training
was banned.  After school hours boys and girls, removed from the
salutary influences of their homes, were left to the social joys of the
street corners.  The main industry of many of these towns was that of
the hotel and public-house.  The result has been that a large
proportion of boys and girls who in the shelter of their homes would
have grown into a worthy and useful citizenship have been utterly
ruined.  The system was devised that the few might be pushed up the
ladder into the region of the higher {74} knowledge, leaving all record
of God and moral duty behind with their elementary textbooks; and no
provision whatever was made to safeguard them, in the course of the
giddy ascent, from toppling over and falling into the mud.  And the
great system, instead of elevating, crashed them into the mire.  And
this devastating process still goes on.  The rising generation in the
country places in Scotland are made unfit for country life by a false
education, and, through its neglect of their higher needs, many of them
are ruined.  A nation that spends five millions a day on war would not
in its education system provide for the social and moral needs of its
sons and daughters.  It sacrificed everything to the brain.  And the
result has been desolation in many a family in Scotland in lonely glens
and by the sea.  Our education machinery has, in truth, been
Prussianised, and in the process the soul has been grievously wounded.
The class that provided the ministers of religion in wide stretches of
Scotland, provides {75} them no more.  A generation of boys left to the
moral influences of the street corners, undisciplined and disregarded,
can provide the nation with clerks and not with leaders in the sphere
of the soul.


IV

There is no sign that the nation is waking to the misery wrought by the
bureaucrats.  All the cry is for a further march along the same road.
The Government have in these last days appointed two Commissions on
Education, the one to 'inquire into the position occupied by natural
science,' and the other 'into the position occupied by the study of
modern languages,' in the educational system, and they are to consider
the matter, the one in relation to the 'interests of the trades,
industries, and professions' dependent on science, and the other in
relation to the 'interests of commerce and public service.'  In this
there is no hint that what the nation mostly needs is the development
of character, the re-enforcement of soul.  We are to investigate with
{76} our eye on commerce; the material gain is still our goal.  The
Germanised minds have won their first victory.  The future path of our
development is to be the path of the Teuton, and we are to tread it
like him, sacrificing our souls to Mammon.  For the sake of commerce we
must go on pushing our boys faster up the ladder, heedless of debris of
moral wreckage at its foot!

A still more depressing symptom is the policy already adumbrated by the
Government to mitigate the devastation wrought in the country places.
Our armies now number millions, but the Government introduces a bill to
settle a few hundred soldiers on the land!  Millions of acres lie
waste, but the Government proposes to deal with a few thousand acres
here and there.  The needs of the future require an exodus from the
Egypt of the slums and from the slavery of that industrialism which
adds nothing to the world's true riches, and the re-establishment of
the people in their true heritage, the land.  But the Government {77}
proposes to reinstate a handful.  There is no sign that the politician
has as yet realised that agriculture is the noblest of industries, a
nation's true wealth.  And there is no realisation of the only method
by which this can be done.  It is the magic of ownership that alone
will restore to the people the joy in the land.  The rent system is
doomed to failure.  In the words 'my own' there is a glamour which
turns even sand into gold.  When to the masses that have been despoiled
there is again restored the privilege of designating a little portion
of the land of their fathers, their own, then, and only then, will the
country places once more waken to life, and the desolation of
generations be at last removed.  A nation for which millions have been
found ready to die must surely provide for the living such social
conditions as will enable them to live joyous and clean lives.  In
kingdoms teeming with riches, no heart must be starved of beauty, no
life starved of bread, and no soul starved of God.



[1] A hundred years ago there were 5 deer forests in Scotland, now
there are 200.  Since 1891 the acreage in Scotland under deer and
devoted to sport increased from over 2 ½ millions of acres to over 3 ½
millions of acres.  This process of increasing the area devoted to
sport has gone on even since the war began.  This land, to the extent
of two millions of acres, can be reclaimed for human use.  Scotland has
talked of afforestation for a generation--and done nothing!  During the
last twenty-five years, while the politicians pursued their game, the
people of Scotland lost an additional million of acres so far as food
production is concerned!



{78}

CHAPTER IV

THE MAN IN THE SLUM

The countrysides have been laid waste, but what of the men and women
who were thus driven from the wide, wind-swept spaces to stony streets
and airless barracks?  What did it mean of happiness and well-being to
them?  Let us try to present the contrast to ourselves.


I

In no sphere is there such an opportunity of happiness as that of work
in the open air, when men have learned to love the sights and the
sounds of the wide sky.  The pleasantest sight in the world is to watch
a ploughman driving straight his long furrow, or resting at the furrow
end crooning to his {79} well-groomed team, while the fresh air fans
his face and the westering sun casts a mantle of loveliness around him.
He may be a lover of nature, this man.  He may watch the coming of the
birds and the first white flashing of the swallows' wings.  If he does
not own the land there is no reason why he should not 'own the
landscape.'  At the close of the day he goes home and is met by the
welcoming shout of his children, who, strong and sturdy, clamber on his
knees.

But it was decreed that he be driven into a slum; and see what has been
made of him!  Walk through the East End of Glasgow on a Saturday night
and mark the product of the 'highest civilisation' the world has ever
known.  Out of reeking public-houses men and women reel into the
streets.  Degradation and brutality have marked them for their own.
Their diseased bodies witness to their lives of sensuality.  They were
children of the fresh air, now 133,000 of them in {80} Glasgow live in
one-room houses with the very decencies of life denied them; and
486,000 live in one-room and kitchen houses--a total population of
619,000, in the one city, doomed to live under conditions which render
all privacy impossible.  Often a father and mother and three or four
children live in a single apartment.  When that single apartment is at
the top of the rookery, the pitiful spectacle is seen of little
children with bowed or bent legs climbing painfully up the squalid
stairs.  The mothers of the race can be seen toiling up weary flights
of stairs carrying a heavy basket on one arm and a child in the other.
Once streams of purest water from the hillsides flowed day and night,
singing to them, cleansing for them; now it is impossible to keep
clean, for in these rookeries the washhouse is only available once
every three weeks!  Out of a million of a population, 60 per cent. live
under conditions such as these.  The Medical Officer of Health (an
office that can be no {81} sinecure in such a city) has declared that
there are 10,000 houses in Glasgow absolutely unfit for human
habitation, and which it is impossible to make fit.  But a doomed
population must go on living in them because there is no other
accommodation to be found for them.  In these places the children
perish in the first year of life at a rate of 200 per thousand; but in
the West End only 50 children die per thousand.  Out of every thousand
babies born in those parts of the city in which the poor are massed,
150 at least are destroyed by the social conditions which the highest
modern civilisation has created.[1]  After a day of nerve-racking toil
the freeborn Scotsman comes home to his lair, the one-roomed house
which can command the use of a {82} wash-house once in three weeks, to
the foulness and the squalor, and what is he to do?  The State has
provided.  The whisky-shop is there, at the corner, with its brightness
and its allurements and its forgetfulness of woe.  The State says to
him, you can escape out of your intolerable surroundings through the
door of alcohol.  And he escapes.  There is no other course left for
him, and only the Pharisee can blame him.  Thus it comes that the
State-regulated alcoholic manufactories of paupers and criminals pass
the slum-dwellers through the mill, and they come forth moral refuse.
Children with the faces of old men and women cry to each other the
undertones of a babel of profanity.  For weeks they never see the sun,
moving under a pall of black smoke.  They rise to toil in the dark, and
all day they watch and feed clanking machinery, and they return home in
the dark.  The State has provided for them the narcotic of drunkenness.
Vigour dies low in them.  Out of every {83} three one is rejected as
physically unfit to bear arms.  When stringency is exercised one out of
two is rejected.  In the process of transplantation and disinheritance
the people have lost not only the land but their bodies.  For them
there has been yielded no profit.  They have lost the world, but they
have not gained their souls.

For the greatest of all their losses is this, that they have lost the
sense of God.  In the country they could not fall to those depths.
There they were face to face with the Unseen.

    'Who plants a seed beneath the sod
  And waits to see it push away the clod--
    He trusts in God.'

But in the East Ends of our cities no work of God is ever visible.  And
they were told by many wise men that God was superfluous.  Everything
could be explained without any God!  There was nothing but sensations!
Ah! who can blame him because he has sunk so low?  {84} They took the
earth from him; they took the sunlight from him; they took the air from
him; they darkened the moon and the stars for him--until at last they
took God Himself from him.  And it has all been so cunningly wrought
that he is all unconscious that he has been driven out of Paradise.
That is the essence of the grim tragedy.


II

In the countryside it was possible for men and women to live clean and
decent lives, and those who are left there continue to do so.  In proof
of that it may be cited that the north-west districts of Scotland can
still show a birthrate of 34.8.  Were it not for the 'Celtic Fringe'
and the country places, the birthrate of Scotland would be far lower
than it is.  For the country and the hillsides are the land of far
vistas and empty spaces, so that the apostle of racial limitation could
not there plead that there is no room for more.  And life is natural;
children, {85} so far from being an endless burden to their parents,
are looked upon as life's true riches, the helpers and the supporters
of their parents.  The crofter's house may be poor, but it rings with
the shouting of children at play, and love spreads its endless feast.
In these places, so unsophisticated and so 'uncivilised,' children are
not a burden, and, however large the family, there is room in the heart
for more.

But far different is it when the family is driven from the countryside
into the slum.  There the new civilisation decrees that men and women
must no longer live natural lives.  If they have children they must pay
the penalty, and the penalty is that landlords refuse to accept them as
tenants.  Long, long ago a Child was born in a stable 'because there
was no room for them in the inn.'  There was room for tax-gatherers and
soldiers and traders, but there was nobody found to make room for a
woman in the hour of her direst need.  The Child was shut {86} out.
But that was in a rude age and the door was shut by untutored men.  The
most startling of all the facts which leap to light as we consider the
social and moral condition of our generation is the fact that after
nineteen centuries of Christianity, in the heart of the most 'perfect'
development of civilisation, the same tragedy is perpetrated--the child
is shut out.  There is room for everything but not for innocence.
There is conclusive evidence to prove that the property owner in London
has set his face against tenants who happen to be the unhappy parents
of little children.[2] Childhood is {87} that which nobody now desires
except a few poor people whom the Malthusians have not yet instructed.
'A printer told me the other day,' says Monsignor Brown, '...he had
five children; when he went to an agent the other day, the agent bowed
him out and would not listen to him, though he wanted five rooms and
was prepared to pay the rent.'[1]  If a family exceeds four the
position becomes acute.  'If a family consist of four or five
children,' declared the Assistant Housing Manager of the London County
Council, 'they would have a difficulty in obtaining accommodation.[3]
All this is quite natural.  The property owner wants his rent, and he
wants it without his property suffering undue dilapidation.  And the
rent is more certain when there are not more than two or three
children.  He is not a philanthropist; he wants his money, the race
must look after itself.  Profits and not children--that is the rule of
{88} his life.  In every city it is the same.  The owner of house
property will not have children in his houses, even as the London
County Council will not have married women as teachers--for they might
have children!  This then is what we have done.  We have deprived
four-fifths of our population of their birthright in the air and the
sunshine and the land, and we have decreed that they must live
unnatural lives--otherwise we will allow them no place wherein to live!
We have built up a civilisation in the midst of which childhood is
anathema.


III

When we look beneath the surface and ask the reasons why the poor
cannot find houses in which they can live with comfort, we discover
that it is a matter of finance.  The extortionate prices of building
sites render it impossible to build on them any dwelling-houses except
tenements.  Here is an example: {89} 'Unless the land were given you,
you could not possibly build cottages,' says the Secretary of the
Guinness Trust.  'Our new site, which was supposed to be sold to us on
cheap terms, cost £11,000 an acre, so that you can see the landrent per
tenement will work out at about 2s. 6d. a week, and as I say, the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners professed to sell to us at a low rate,
having regard to our objects.  It is really not a stiff price for the
position.'  In this bare statement we touch bedrock.  The Guinness
Trust, founded with the philanthropic purpose of providing decent
housing for the poor, buys an acre for building purposes from the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who, from their very name, must be
interested in the poor, and they get it cheap at £11,000 an acre!  What
does it mean this fabulous cost of land in great cities?  A hundred
years ago that acre would be bought and sold at its agricultural value
of a few score pounds sterling.  Whence, then, this inflated price?
The {90} answer is that the people created that value.  We deprived
them of the land of England and drove them to the cities.  In the
cities they, by their labour, made the land valuable; and the value
which they themselves created we turn against them.  We exiled the
people from the soil; and in the cities, where we piled them, we turned
the values, which they created, into an instrument for their ultimate
destruction.  They have made the land so valuable that cottages can no
longer be built on it, and the man with four children searches in vain
for a house.  It is a staggering product of a perfect civilisation.
And still more staggering when one realises that the birthrate of these
poor people, for whom the Guinness Trust provides some measure of
comfort, is 36.95 per thousand, as compared to 17.53 in the west.  The
section of the population still willing to carry on the race must pay
£11,000 an acre for the sites of their teeming tenements.  Only after
that form can civilisation make room for the child.


{91}

IV

What guerdon has the State provided for the massed populations who have
the very riches they create thus turned into an instrument for their
impoverishment?  One looks for that guerdon in vain.  The vast majority
of them are consigned to a life of privation from birth to death.
Factories pour heavenward the smoke which lies over our cities as a
pall, and in the gloom men and women toil with bloodless faces
producing the goods which, elaborate and costly, or cheap and nasty,
crowd the markets of all the world.  But ten millions of the toilers go
shivering through life ever tottering on the verge of the precipice of
want.  Over one and a half millions of them were rated as paupers in
the years before the war.  In the old Roman world half the population
were slaves, but three-fourths of our population are virtually slaves.
For the man who marries and has children, who is forced into a slum,
and is {92} once chained to the chariot of modern machinery, there is
no escape.  'Man is born free,' declared Rousseau, 'and is everywhere
in chains.'  No chains of slavery were ever more degrading than those
forged in our day.  Systems of indoor sweating found for their antidote
the pauper system of outdoor relief.  England, that struck the shackles
off the African slaves, forged shackles for her own children.  The
conditions of the modern slaves are in a sense worse than that of the
Roman serf.  For the Roman slaves often laboured in noble toil,
building temples which have defied the corroding power of time and
which still inspire the heart with admiration and awe.  But these
slaves of to-day build nothing that endures.  The cities of their
labour might perish to-morrow, but in their perishing no beauty would
disappear from the earth.  The very efforts which the toilers have made
to improve their state have been movements of blindness and folly.
They have organised {93} far-reaching systems by which they seek
through the limitation of output to improve their condition.  The gate
through which they press towards deliverance is the gate of dishonesty.
That is the proof of the servitude not of body only, but of mind and
spirit, to which they have been brought.  'I do not hesitate to express
the opinion,' wrote Huxley in 1890, that if there is no hope of a large
improvement in the condition of the greater part of the human family;
if it is true that the increase of knowledge, the winning of a greater
dominion over nature which is its consequence, and the wealth which
follows upon that dominion, are to make no difference in the extent and
the intensity of want with its concomitant physical and moral
degradation amongst the masses of the people, I should hail the advent
of some kindly comet which would sweep the whole thing away as a
desirable consummation.'  Since then, wealth has enormously increased,
science has triumphed more and {94} more over nature, but the increase
of the one and the triumph of the other have only produced an increase
of physical and moral degradation on the part of masses of the people.
Whoever ponders the two Reports in which for the first time that
degeneration is fearlessly and mercilessly exposed, cannot any longer
be blind to that.  It is not, however, by means of a 'kindly comet'
that the arrest comes.  For God's judgments shut not the door against
hope.


V

In the days of old a prophet surveying the decay of Israel used a
phrase which grips the heart: 'They build up Zion with blood, and
Jerusalem with iniquity,'[4] and so has visualised our pitiful state
also.  It is not, however, quite the same.  For Zion was the temple,
and stood for the hunger of the soul.  We no longer build any temples.
We build factories and playhouses and endless miles of grey and
colourless {95} streets.  To-day the prophet would vary the words,
'They build up theatres and cinemas with blood and London with
iniquity.'  That is near the truth.  London has been built up by that
iniquity which has made the home-counties of England waste; and the
life-blood of islands and fair valleys and hill-sheltered glens has
been drained that Glasgow might grow and its slums be enlarged.  The
call to repentance which comes to our ears is a call summoning us to
right the wrong wrought by blinded politicians, to restore again to the
people the decencies of life and the possibilities of happiness.  The
call to national repentance is not a call to emotion but a call to
action.  Of old prophets summoned a race fast hurrying to decay to
return to God.  The way of return was the way of action.  They were
exhorted to people the waste places, to curb licentiousness, and to
walk in the path of righteousness.  And to-day the call of national
repentance is the same.  {96} It is the call to the realisation of an
ideal of life in which masses of the people will not be damned from
birth by a social organism in whose grip they are powerless.  All in
vain does a mission, appealing to the soul, feeble of help, wage
conflict in a slum with the forces of the State, wielded through a
dozen public-houses, that depress and enslave.  As things now are there
can be no escape and no salvation for the man in the slum.



[1] Dr. Chalmers has pointed out in the _Proceedings of the Royal
Society of Medicine_, 1913, vol. vi., that the mortality of infants
varied inversely with the number of rooms occupied up to four.

  Infant mortality in one-apartment houses, per thousand, 210
     "       "        two     "        "            "     164
     "       "        three   "        "            "     129
     "       "        four    "        "            "     103

[2] The following quotation from a newspaper of this summer is
illuminating:--

'A woman with six children, who sought advice at Acton, said that so as
to get a flat she told the landlord that she had only three.

'He accepted her deposit, and allowed her to enter the flat, but on
learning of the other three children, ordered her to leave, and would
not take her rent.  He described her as a trespasser, and threatened to
eject her unless she left.

'"If I had told him the truth," said the woman, "he would not have
taken me.  As soon as I say I have six children, people will not listen
any longer."

'The magistrate told applicant that she must make arrangements to
leave.'

[3] _The Declining Birthrate_, p. 202.

[4] Micah iii. 10.



{97}

CHAPTER V

THE LORD OF THE SLUM

He stood at the corner of a terrace that opens off the steep street
that leads from the heart of the high-perched city right down to the
sea.  With his right hand he gripped the paling, while he swayed gently
from side to side.  A big, burly, swarthy man with a close-cropped
black beard, he sawed the air with his left hand, while he glanced with
bleared eyes down the street.  From the bottom of the steep a car came
lumbering up, and a gleam of intelligence came into his eyes.  He let
go his hold on the paling, and made for the tram lines.  He plainly
wanted to board the car, but his feet moved in contrary directions, and
on the pavement he described an arc.  And he {98} lurched back on the
paling, gripping it this time with both hands, while the car with its
freight of passengers went clanking past up the steep.  There, with
helpless limbs, with his head bowed on his breast, he held on to the
paling, while the sunlight flooded the firth with molten silver--the
product of an ancient civilisation and a thousand years of
Christianity.  In that remote era which ended in August 1914 we would
have passed him there without so much as a feeling of surprise.  But
to-day we are as a man awakened from heavy slumber, stung by a sudden
dart to a new realisation.  And we saw not that one solitary man sunk
in his sodden degradation, but the multitude which he represents, that
multitude whose drunkenness means destruction to their brothers
wrestling in the trenches with an unbeaten and ruthless foe.  Two years
ago the call went ringing through the Empire, and from the far
North-West to the long wash of Australasian seas {99} an indomitable
race arose to war for the right.  Statesmen and preachers summoned them
to a holy war, and they came with transfigured eyes.  But, alas! a holy
war can only be waged by a holy nation.  And as the eyes gaze at that
figure swaying on the paling, and on the mind there flashes the
realisation of what lies behind him, the heart can but cry in deepest
awe: May God have mercy upon us!


I

There can come no moral resurrection for any except to those who
realise the evil of which they are partakers.  It is not in the spirit
of Pharisaic censoriousness that we must judge that brawny workman
swaying on the paling, and all that he represents.  For these men are
what we made them.  It is the nation in its corporate capacity that
shaped and moulded these lives after that pattern.  If we had set
ourselves expressly to produce this result, we could {100} not have
taken a surer way of attaining the end.  We drove the people into the
congested and foul tenements of narrow streets.  Let the well-to-do
classes try to realise the conditions of life to which men such as this
have been doomed.  Let them picture to themselves what life can be like
in a one-roomed or two-roomed house in a crowded barracks.  Imagine a
man and wife with an infant and two or more children, and often a
lodger, living in such a house.  For them there is no change of air
either day or night; their bodies cannot be cleaned nor their clothes
washed; they are denied cleanliness in their whole environment; it is
impossible to cook appetising food or to serve it in a pleasing manner;
there is no escape for them from noise and squalor; they have no
privacy either living or dying; and there is always the spectre of want
hovering near.[1]  What recompense has {101} the State provided for
them in their misery?  What provision has been made that men and women
may escape for a little to breathe a purer air and feel that they have
part in a life richer than this?  The State has not been wholly
unmindful of them.  It has provided for them the public-house, and,
with paternal care, has multiplied these places of {102} recreation and
happiness where the mass of human misery is greatest.  The State has
been lavish in its provision.  In the Cowgate of Edinburgh it has
provided one public-house for every 200 of the population, though in
the leisured and rich districts there is only one licence for every
1300 of the population;[2] in the Cowcaddens of Glasgow it has provided
at the rate of thirty public-houses to the half-mile.  It surrounds the
poor and the miserable with an atmosphere reeking with alcohol.  The
trade in alcohol enfeebles the will, saps the resisting power, and then
trades upon that enfeebled will.  {103} This is the door of escape from
misery which the State provides.  Who can blame the people for availing
themselves of this national remedy for their woe pressed upon them by
the State at every corner?  If the drunkenness of masses of the
population be a national weakness and a crying scandal, it is not their
fault.  It is the State that is responsible, and as citizens of the
State we have each to bear our share of the responsibility and of the
shame.  It is no use decrying publicans and brewers, for these are only
what we ourselves made them.  Let us take ourselves to task and condemn
our own folly and our own sin.

It was not enough that we provided the narcotic of drunkenness for the
man, but we set ourselves to alleviate also the lot of the woman.
There was a pressure of public opinion which prevented respectable
women from frequenting public-houses.  Provision had to be made for
them.  This provision was made in the legislation of Mr. Gladstone in
{104} 1860 and 1861 whereby grocers were licensed to sell alcohol.  It
is only fair to say that the purpose of the legislation was not to
encourage the consumption of alcohol.  In those days people were
obsessed with the idea that by multiplying the opportunities for
procuring alcohol, its consumption would decrease!  The grocer's
licence was to safeguard people from the public-house!  The result has
been the most disastrous of any legislation passed by sane statesmen.
It enabled women to obtain alcohol in a respectable manner, sanctioned
both by legislation and society, and to use it under conditions of
privacy, unhampered by any restraint.  The State enormously increased
the facilities for drunkenness and strengthened the forces of
temptation by the multiplying of tens of thousands of liquor-selling
establishments.  To these temptations the women in ever-increasing
numbers succumbed.  When war broke out, and the men mustered to the
defence of their country, the {105} women were left the comfort of
alcohol.  The result was an increase in the drunkenness of women, and a
corresponding increase in child mortality.

Who can blame these women?  With their husbands and sons summoned to
wrestle with death, what wonder that 'feelings of faintness' overtook
them, and that for those feelings they resorted to the only unfailing
remedy they knew--alcohol!  These women live their lives under
conditions which make it impossible for them ever to be well.  They
climb up and down weary stairs endlessly.  There is no escape from
hopeless toil.  The unhealthy conditions of life render them chronic
invalids.  In the grocer's shop the State provides for them the
panacea.  Here is exhilaration amid the worries of their drab
existence, and escape from the anxieties which oppressed them.  And in
a little while they are slaves to the national remedy provided for
them.  Their husbands often come back on leave to find {106} their
homes ruined--the larder empty, the fire dying for lack of fuel, the
children unkempt and ill-nourished.  In many districts the allowances
made by the State to the dependants of its fighting men were but a
further State-endowment of the publican.  It was for this that our
soldiers bared their breasts to the foe and looked death in the face.
This was the reward of their sacrifice, the guerdon of their wounds.
In their absence the State provided for their wives the solace and stay
of alcohol; but the State heeded not the fact that by so doing it
ruined the home and destroyed the children.  If there be condemnation,
let the State be condemned; and from that condemnation for us, as its
citizens, there can be no escape.


II

When we consider the results of the trade in alcohol, the wonder grows
how it is that this State-regulated monopoly {107} for the
manufacturing of paupers, lunatics, and criminals has been suffered to
continue so long.  To it most of the evils which afflict the
body-politic can be traced.  It nullifies all efforts at social
improvement.  Philanthropic movements have poured out money like water
to improve the condition of the people, but faster than slums can be
cleared away or emptied, new slums are created and filled by the
victims of alcohol.  The funds of Guardians and of Parish Councils are
mainly used to support those whom alcohol has impoverished.  There is
the authority of Mr. John Burns, the late President of the Local
Government Board, for the statement that out of 100,000 applicants for
poor relief at Wandsworth during a period of twenty years, only twelve
were abstainers....  It not only fills our workhouses, it also crowds
our jails.  According to the late Lord Alverstone nine-tenths of the
crime of this country was due to drink....  Insanity finds in it a
fruitful source.  {108} Twenty per cent. of all the men and ten per
cent. of all the women in a London County Council asylum--the Claybury
Asylum--have become insane through alcohol....  The social evil is
mainly due to alcohol.  Under its influence women descend to vice.
Half the infections of the social disease are traceable to the
weakening of the will power by drink....  Evil though it be in itself,
its evil goes far beyond itself, for it is the short-cut to all the
other vices....  It is one of the great causes of the decline of the
race in thus polluting the springs of life, poisoning and sterilising
them; but, far more, it is responsible for an enormous share of the
appalling infant mortality which destroys in many districts a fifth of
the child life in the first year....  It lowers the vitality and makes
the tissues more susceptible to attacks by the germs of disease, and
thus greatly increases the deathrate....  It multiplies coffins and
empties cradles....  Were this one monopoly abolished {109} and the
people delivered from the State-licensed temptations which are for ever
inviting them to their ruin, almost all workhouses and jails would be
closed and the nation delivered from the burden of pauperism and crime
which weighs so heavily upon it.  Yet the nation in the time of its
greatest peril spends £180,000,000 a year upon the drink-traffic.  This
is the price which it pays for the lowering of its own vitality and for
the weakening of its striking power.  A government which connives at
that cannot be a government that is waging war really in earnest.
Shipping, food, coals, the railways, roads, and a host of men are in
great measure sacrificed to a trade which weakens the nation in face of
the enemy.

The favourite argument in support of the liquor trade is the argument
that upholds the liberty of the subject.  In a free country people must
be free to destroy themselves if they so wish, that others may be free
to use alcohol {110} without abusing it.  If we are to aim at freedom,
let us have a freedom worth while.  At present the nation is not free
to control or eliminate the greatest peril in our midst.  We are
entrusted with the administration of our schools and roads and gas and
poor-rates, and we elect men who control these.  But we elect nobody
who controls alcohol.  We have as citizens no say as to whether the
grocer in the village will get a licence to corrupt our family life
with alcohol, or whether the poor places be crowded with public-houses.
That is in the hands of justices, and justices are created by a
mysterious power behind politics.  In a free country this power of
planting down places for the sale of alcohol independently of the will
of the people is an anachronism by which the poor are enslaved.  When
we speak of freedom let us consider this freedom--freedom for the
children of the poor to grow up untempted.  Let us remember that the
race has now to depend mainly upon {111} the poor for its continuation
and for its virility.  A nation that will doom the rising generation to
the atmosphere of gin and whisky round its cradles, seals its own doom.
The children brought up in its atmosphere will deem alcohol not only
inevitable but also desirable.  They will be 'happy in the mire because
they are not conscious of the slough.'  The true liberty of the subject
cannot mean racial destruction....  Recently a woman in a mean street
in London went to the public-house with a sick baby in her arms.
'While she was there it died, but she stayed on drinking and holding
the dead baby.'[3]  That dead baby in the arms of its alcoholic mother
in a public-house visualises the grim and terrible situation.  It is
the personification of all the millions of baby lives throttled to
death by alcohol--of a race sinking to decay in its grasp.


{112}

III

We must not, however, forget that the Government of this country, while
the manhood of the race was perishing abroad, were not wholly
indifferent to the welfare of childhood at home.  When they found that
ship-repairing and shipbuilding and the production of munitions were
hampered and delayed by drunkenness, they adopted restrictions of
various kinds.  But in most cases these restrictions were worse than
useless.  The Government surrendered its powers in the matter of the
greatest evil afflicting the nation, to a Board of Control.  That
authority meant well.  It sought to limit the consumption of alcohol by
limiting the hours of its sale.  This Board forgot that a man can in
five minutes buy enough whisky to keep him comfortably alcoholic for
five months.  To shut the public-house for certain hours meant for many
the laying in of a store of whisky when formerly a few {113} nips
sufficed.  But no regulations made by man since the day of the Bourbons
equalled in sheer fatuity the decree that a man who wanted a gill of
whisky could not get it unless he bought a quart?  With a wage that
passed his rosiest dreams, to secure the gill he of course bought the
quart.  No wonder the consumption of alcohol increased to £181,959,000
in 1915, as compared to £164,453,000 in 1914.  This was the fruit of a
policy which aimed at producing sobriety.

But there are some good results claimed by the Board of Control.  The
number of convictions for drunkenness decreased!  But what was the
price paid for this improvement in our streets?  It was the greater
corruption of the home.  The drinking was driven out of the
public-house into the house; the drunkard no longer offended the public
gaze in the street, he carried his vice and degradation into the bosom
of his family.  Formerly his drunkenness was limited by certain hours;
now his drunkenness was {114} continuous while his store lasted.  And
he took care it lasted.  If the streets were partially cleansed, the
children were impregnated as never before by the atmosphere of alcohol,
and the women were taught to share in the drunken orgy.  To-day the
claim is made that, at last, the consumption of alcohol is on the
decline.  When four millions of men are with the colours, fighting
across the seas, it would be indeed marvellous if there was not a
decline in the sale of alcohol at home!


IV

If some of the steps taken by the Central Control Board cannot commend
themselves to temperance reformers, there have been other policies
initiated by them which are undoubtedly in the right direction.  The
prohibition of the sale of ardent spirits within certain areas has
inaugurated a new and beneficial national policy.  The time may not be
yet come for a total prohibition of alcohol throughout the country.
{115} Those who know anything of the intolerable conditions under which
men and women live in the crowded, noisome tenements of our great
cities, realise that these people must have some way of escape from
their miserable environment.  Total prohibition is the ideal to be kept
steadily in view, but before that ideal can be realised the people must
be prepared for it.  The only way to prepare for the ideal is by a
reconstruction of the social order.  New and sanitary housing for the
poor must precede the policy of total prohibition.  But the time is
fully ripe for a prohibition of ardent spirits during the war and
during the period of demobilisation.  And it is on this policy that the
Board have launched forth.  In the district of Annan and in wide
stretches of the north of Scotland the sale of spirits is now
prohibited.  In a recent visit paid to the Hebrides, I found among the
people a spirit of thankfulness that they have at last been delivered
from a great evil.  Drunkenness has vanished among them.  {116} A new
era of prosperity has been inaugurated.

This policy, which has been made effective in the places where it has
been put in force, ought to be at once applied generally.  It is
grotesque to endeavour to promote sobriety in patches, shut in by
geographical boundaries.  It has not been applied in the places which
need it most.  In the common lodging-houses and farmed-out houses of
the Grassmarket and West Port of Edinburgh there were found, by a
recent census, a population of 1383 persons of whom 518 were engaged in
war-work, It is futile to expect that these workers, living in an
atmosphere reeking with alcohol, can render the State the best service
they are capable of.  And to these places come, every week-end, workers
from the naval base and soldiers on leave.  And these workers and these
soldiers pass their brief holiday in that alcoholic atmosphere.  The
result can only be deleterious to them and to the State.

There are more sailors and soldiers to be {117} found in the poor
places of Edinburgh and Glasgow than in all the villages of the West of
Scotland put together.  Why should the few be protected from the sale
of ardent spirits and the many left to be victims of temptation?  There
is only one remedy--the general application to the country of that
policy which is now restricted to favoured areas.  There must be equal
treatment for the whole country and an equal chance given to all who
are serving the State.

The time to make that policy effective is now.  While the nation is in
the midst of the great conflict for its existence, the people will
gladly welcome any restrictions which will strengthen the State in its
hour of need.  The heart of the nation is prepared for sacrifice.  But
when the danger is passed, the mood will change.  It will not be so
easy then to make drastic changes in the habits of the people.  And the
time when restrictions will be most necessary will be when the army is
demobilised.  If restrictions are not {118} imposed now, it will be
impossible to impose them then.

There is a growing feeling that the quickest road to the desired end
may be found in the nationalisation of the liquor trade.  Many would
shrink from this policy if they thought that the State would become a
permanent species of glorified publican.  But the end in view is the
transformation of the liquor trade.  Only the State can achieve that.
The State, with full control, can make the public-houses centres of
recreation, with the temptation of spirits removed.  And the way will
be clear for mending or ending, as experience will prove which is the
better policy.  The true reformer will care far more for the reform
than for the means by which it is to be achieved.  If the reform can
best be realised through State-ownership, then the sooner it comes the
better.

If the remedy for the evils wrought by drunkenness does not, and
cannot, lie along the road of supplying more {119} facilities for the
sale of alcohol, we must at the same time never forget that the craving
for alcohol is a craving for a fuller life--for life lit up by colour
and social joy.  Those who meet that hunger for a richer life with
nothing but a dreary 'don't,' with no remedy save that of the surgical
operation, expose themselves to jibes such as that bitter jibe of Lord
Macaulay: 'The Puritans objected to bear-baiting not because of cruelty
to the bear but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.'  The aim
of the social reformer must be the substitution of true joy and
happiness for what is spurious.  The State must make provision for the
social instincts of the masses.  'What are wanted,' writes Sir Thomas
P. Whittaker, a member of the Royal Commission on Licensing, 'are
places of the nature of free clubs, where men may sit and smoke and
talk and play games or read the papers.  They should be open to the
public free, with small charges for the use of cards and the {120}
billiard-tables....  People should be made to feel as much at their
ease in them as they are in our public parks.  The cost of maintaining
such places would not be great, and the social, material, and moral
advantages that would result would render them an excellent
investment....'  It is along this road deliverance must be sought.
There is no use sweeping out the house unless the house is to be
occupied by fairer and more wholesome tenants than those expelled.


V

There is one last serious aspect of this problem wherewith the
spiritual forces of the nation are faced, and that is the weakening of
the nation's soul which the new policy has entailed.  Whosoever
considers the manner in which religion has lost its grip on the masses,
the passing away of all discipline, the decay of idealism, and the slow
but steady emptying of the churches, cannot but feel that the greatest
need of to-day is a revival of {121} religion.  Unless the soul
controls the body, man atrophies and perishes.  The Church for many
centuries has striven to garrison the nation's soul, and to bring the
body under discipline.  But the Church no longer can bring its power
into play, for the churches are left deserted more or less.  The
proportion of the industrial population who never enter a church's door
is vastly greater than is commonly supposed.  Professor Cairns, a
careful and judicious observer, who would make no statement that could
not be verified, has declared that three out of five soldiers at the
front have had no connection with the Church.  The toilers of our
cities are rapidly relapsing into that paganism out of which
Christianity rescued the world at the first.  What the world needs is
God.  It is only when the face of God is unveiled to the awe-filled
eyes of men that they can realise the foulness of moral degradation.
In the light of that holiness which marshals all the forces in {122}
the universe to war against sin, and in that light alone, does the soul
realise the awfulness of sin.  When that realisation comes, then the
history of the world becomes mainly the history of sin--that dread
power which saps the vitality of nations, disintegrates empires, ruins
civilisations, and which brings upon proud capital cities the flaming
judgment of sword and fire.  The function of the prophet is to keep
clear before the eyes of men the moral issues which are laden with life
or death.  The mission of the Church is to replace the spurious and
fleeting joys of sin by the true and enduring joy of a life in unison
with God.

But the State renders the Church impotent and makes the revival of
religion in our day impossible.  That may seem exaggerated, but it is
true.  For the State has driven alcohol into the homes, and has
consigned not only the husband, but often the wife also, to the
degrading influence of alcohol not only on Saturday but on Sunday.  In
vain does the call {123} to return to God sound in the ears of a
population sunk in the torpor of alcohol.  No prophet can rouse such a
people.  'If a man, walking in a spirit of falsehood, do lie, saying,
"I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink, he shall even
be the prophet of this people."'[4]  The Church is powerless against
thirty public-houses to the half-mile!  Alcohol bars the door against
every movement for the social and spiritual uplift of the nation.  If
the nation is to be saved, the nation must act.  Arise, O Israel!

We must look at our population in a new light and see them not as
makers of munitions but as sons of God.  The horribly cynical attitude
of our rulers is that which regards men merely as munition-makers.
They survey them only from the low ground of self-interest.  It is not
in relation to the peril of the hour that this problem has to be faced,
but in relation to man's high calling as {124} the son of God.  These
men and women are our brothers and sisters, bearing the image of God,
and created to be heirs of an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled.
Can we go on working their ruin, damning them body and soul?  A race
that will not cleanse the fountains of its national life, that will not
remove from its midst the forces of degeneration, that shrinks from
that moral surgery which will alone save the body-politic--such a race
cannot hope to go on swaying the destinies of the world.  But this is
our confidence, that through the horrors of war the nation will waken
to the deep issues of life and death, and that the forces of moral and
social renewal will advance a hundred years in one day.  We can hear
the marshalling of the forces in our midst which will transform and
enrich the nation.  There is arising the cry of the coming victory:

  'The King shall follow Christ, and we the King.'



[1] In the _Record_, the official organ of the United Free Church of
Scotland, there appeared in the August number, 1916, a letter written
by a 'Special Constable' which gives a terrible word-picture of a slum
family:

'Let me give a personal experience of one of the multitude of family
tragedies directly due to drink which come under my notice.  A family
of eight persons--four of them adults--occupied a single room in a slum
area.

'The eldest son, aged twenty-one years, was in the last stage of
consumption, and occupied the only bed in the room.  On visiting the
house one morning, I found the lad lying on the floor, in a corner.  He
had required to vacate the bed for his mother, and during the night
there had been born into these surroundings another of those immortal
souls who, in the words of Kingsley, "are damned from their birth."

'The following day the mother was sitting at the fireside, and was
never back in bed till the son died some days later.  It is hardly
necessary to add that the mother, the infant, and another girl followed
him at short intervals.  On the day of the mother's funeral the husband
got drunk and had to be locked up--the twentieth-century method of
remedying evils of this kind.'

[2] The distribution of licences in our cities is a crying evil.  The
following are examples of the provision made in the wards of
Edinburgh:--

                                    Number of    Population to
  Ward.              Population.    Licences.    each Licence

  Morningside          24,320           18           1351
  Merchiston           24,436           21           1163
  St. Giles'           24,277          118            205
  St. Andrew's         11,166           87            128

In proportion to the poverty and misery of the population are the
licences increased.  In the Cowgate of Edinburgh there are 12 licences,
and in the Canongate, 19.  The same proportion applies to all our
cities.

[3] _The Drink Problem of To-day_, p. 182.

[4] Micah ii. 11.



{125}

CHAPTER VI

THE GREAT REFUSAL

For the historian of the future who may essay the task of elucidating
the moral progress or decay of the British Empire, one date will stand
forth as a landmark--April 20, 1915.  For it was on that day that the
House of Commons refused to follow 'the King's lead.'  On the 6th April
it was announced that 'By the King's command no wines, spirits, or beer
will be consumed in any of His Majesty's houses after to-day.'  No
announcement ever cheered the heart of a nation more than that.  It was
as if an electric current had suddenly passed through an inert mass,
galvanising it into life.  When Lord Kitchener and other leaders
loyally followed the King's example, the men who fought {126} a weary
battle for the emancipation of the nation from the yoke of alcohol, and
whose hearts were oft sickened by long-delayed hopes, felt that the day
of moral victory had dawned at last.  The nation, delivered from the
enemy within its gates, would bring its full power to bear upon the
enemy that threatened its destruction from without.  In house and mess
and restaurant alcohol was banished.  But all these fair hopes were
rudely shattered when the House of Commons at the end of fourteen days
refused to banish alcohol from the precincts of Westminster.  The dawn
of hope ended once more in gloom.


I

It is only as yet possible to surmise as to the forces which led to the
great refusal.  The nation, with the almost unanimous voice of its
wisest and best citizens, had called for the deliverance of the people
from alcohol by its total prohibition.  Employers of labour, who {127}
had no sympathy originally for the prohibition movement, were converted
to it by the spectacle of the nation's marshalling of its forces being
steadily hampered by drunkenness.  The leaders of all the Churches
pressed for it; the Press began to plead for it; Mr. Lloyd-George
openly declared that 'drink is doing us more damage than all the German
submarines put together'; and there is no doubt but that the King and
Lord Kitchener expected that their example would give an impetus which
would carry prohibition to victory.  But the House of Commons shattered
that hope.  The forces of reaction immediately began to raise their
head, and to the tables of the home and the mess alcohol slowly
returned to resume its fell sway.  The nation that had braced itself
for social surgery was presented with soothing medicine in the form of
the Central Control Board.

Though it is impossible to assign causes to these effects with
certitude, yet it is safe to say that this failure was the {128} fruit
of the party system.  We have seen how the play of political parties
one against the other devastated the countryside.  The party
politicians think primarily of votes, and anything that would cost them
votes is banned.  They knew in what peril the nation stood before the
war, but they did not summon the nation to prepare for war and endure
hardness.  That would have been unpopular--and would have cost votes.
They kept the nation in ignorance of its peril, and cowered before the
people whom they kept in the dark, terrified to use firmness lest the
firm hand on the reins should mean their unseating.  They went further:
when Lord Roberts warned the State in prophetic terms, they held him up
to derision.  The greatest calamity that ever befell the human race we
owe to the party politicians.

Behind the party politician there is the caucus, and behind the caucus
the party funds.  The power of money is proverbial, and behind the
party politician {129} is the exchequer supplied by his supporters.
That exchequer is replenished by the sale of honours.  When Oleander, a
Phrygian and erstwhile slave, was the minister of the Emperor Commodus,
Rome saw the woeful spectacle of the rank of Consul, of Patrician and
of Senator exposed to public sale.  We hold the decencies of life in
too high regard to do that.  Secretly and decorously our senatorships
and the ancient orders of our knighthood are assigned.  At one end of
the social scale national degeneracy makes the trader in alcohol a
plutocrat; at the other end the same national degeneracy makes him a
legislator and a pseudo-aristocrat.  The alcoholic trade was too wise
to be on terms of friendship with one party alone; it sought
relationship with all.  Nobody can object to the man who pays the piper
calling the tune.  In Ireland the publican is even a greater power in
politics than he is in England.  And the power behind the politicians
brought all its forces into play.  When, in 1887, Lord Iddesleigh,
{130} superseded at last, fell dead in Lord Salisbury's waiting-room,
the latter, writing to Lord Randolph Churchill, exclaimed, 'As I looked
upon the dead man before me I felt that politics was a cursed
profession.'  And Lord Salisbury knew.

The party politician, even in the maelstrom of a world's devastation,
pursued his familiar course.  Before the war he failed to warn the
nation and to prepare.  In the midst of the war he still strove to keep
the nation in the dark.  After months of calamities the nation was told
that all was going well, and the people were obsessed with the idea
that final victory was at hand.  If the people only knew their peril
they would have made any sacrifice for their country and their homes.
But they were not told.  And the party politician shrank from demanding
or enforcing a sacrifice which the nation did not realise to be
necessary because of its ignorance.  The policy of pusillanimity
pursued before the war was still regnant.  The politicians who shrank
{131} from demanding sacrifice in peace, shrank from demanding it in
war.  They did not know the heart of the nation.  There was no
sacrifice the nation would have shrunk from, if the demand were made.
The nation knew that it needed discipline, and it asked for discipline,
but asked in vain.  And to-day the same pusillanimous policy sacrifices
prohibition to the fear that the munition-workers might give trouble.
They knew not, and they know not, the heart of this nation.  But the
fact remains that to-day the nation is spending 180 millions or so a
year on alcohol, while the Government calls on the people to exercise
the greatest economy that the war may be waged to the end.  It is a sad
and strange spectacle.


II

It was fortunate for the cause of the world's freedom that there was
found in Europe a great nation which was not under the sway of party
politicians.  {132} The German Emperor is reported to have said that
the next great European war would be won by the most sober nation.
When the war began and the Tsar issued his great rescript abolishing
vodka the Emperor is said to have exclaimed, 'But who could have
foreseen this wonderful coup!'  Some day it will doubtless be the
accepted fact that the deliverance of the Russian nation from the
degenerating power of alcohol won the war.  For through that great act
of a statesman's prevision the Russian Empire experienced a
resurrection from the dead.

The statesmen of Russia knew the evil effects of alcohol.  It was to
vodka that they mainly owed the defeat and humiliation of the Japanese
war.  The manhood of Russia could not be rapidly mobilised owing to the
grip of alcohol on the race; and the operations were ever hampered by
its fell power.  When the Russian Empire was called upon to fight for
its life, the Emperor resolved that this time it would fight
unfettered.  {133} The sale of vodka was temporarily suspended, and the
armies were mobilised with rapidity and precision.  Misery and poverty
were banished from the villages.  The doss-houses and jails were
emptied.  A great nation resolved to fight with all its vigour.  Though
vodka constituted a State monopoly, and though Russia drew from it an
enormous revenue, yet that revenue was unhesitatingly sacrificed.  'We
cannot,' said the Tsar before the war, in a proclamation to his people,
'make our fiscal policy dependent upon the destruction of the spiritual
and economic powers of many of my subjects.'  On August 22, 1914, the
Tsar issued an order that all vodka and other spirit shops should be
closed till the end of the war.  When the beneficial results of this
policy were fully realised the Tsar made a final decision.  'I have
decided,' he announced, 'to abolish for ever the Government sale of
vodka in Russia.'  Russia was thus finally delivered from the greatest
of its enemies--the enemy {134} that destroyed its homes.  And Russia
has accepted its deliverance with a joyful heart.  At first M. Bark,
the Finance Minister, was 'staggered when prohibition was suggested.'
After six months' experience of its results he declared: 'If I proposed
to reopen the vodka shops there would be a revolution.'  Thus was
effected the greatest social reform in the history of the world.
'Since China proscribed opium,' was the verdict of a _Times_ editorial,
'the world has seen nothing like it.  We have been well reminded that
in sternly prohibiting the sale of spirituous liquors, Russia has
already vanquished a greater foe than Germany.'

And so it proved.  Through vanquishing alcohol Russia found a power
which is now vanquishing Germany.  On eyes cleared from the fumes of
vodka there rose the vision of God.  The Russian went forth tying his
knapsack on his back as one who took up the Cross.  They endured
defeats which might have {135} overwhelmed them, but they were
unconquerable.  Through hardships and privations undreamed of the
Russian soldier retained his health and fighting power.  Though he
often confronted the enemy with no weapon but his bare breast, he never
despaired.  Wounds which in other campaigns would have been inevitably
fatal, healed, and life conquered death.  Though oft deprived of
sufficient food, he endured fatiguing marches, and in the midst of the
nervous strain of defeat and retreat he remained cheerful, determined,
and confident of victory.  At last, with 'firm faith in the clemency of
God,' the Russian hosts turned at bay and stood fast.  When the clouds
were darkest, it was as if the sun broke forth when the news was
flashed through the world that the Russians had stormed Erzerum.
To-day Armenia is freed, and the great surge of the Russian hosts is
rolling west.  For the Russians knew that a holy war could not be waged
by a drunken nation; {136} and in the power of self-sacrifice they have
snatched victory from what seemed irretrievable defeat.  While Britain
continued to sacrifice its strength and its wealth at the shrine of
alcohol, while the wives and the children of the men who were fighting
and dying were left to the comforting of publicans, while the
munition-workers were hindered and marred by the lure of strong drink,
while the best of the manhood of the British race called in vain for
deliverance from the yoke of the national bondage, Russia in the might
of a great renunciation was gathering its forces and advancing to
victory.  Autocracy has delivered Russia from the bondage of centuries;
democracy has surrendered its power to the party politician, and the
party politician has kept Britain still enslaved.


III

It would be difficult to overestimate the evil consequences for the
future of {137} the race which will inevitably ensue from the great
refusal.  Let me endeavour to make clear one of these evil
consequences.  Had the House of Commons on April 20th of last year
resolved to follow the King's lead, instead of spurning it; had it made
that lead effective, what would have been the result?  One effect would
have been that to-day we would have had an army delivered from the bane
of alcohol.  The King's officers and the men who wear his uniform would
have followed the King's example.

It is the commonplace of much of the speaking from religious platforms
that we are to have a new era inaugurated when the men come back from
the war.  The religious life of the nation is going to be quickened;
its moral forces are to be vastly strengthened; there is to be a new
earth when the war is over--if not a new heaven.  These hopes are,
however, doomed to disappointment.  It is not the ranks of those who
are striving for temperance that will receive {138} reinforcement when
the great army comes home.

Let any one who thinks that we are on the verge of a great social or
religious revival consider the facts.  (The difficulty is that we fail
to face facts and delude ourselves with vain imaginings.)  The great
fact to which we blind ourselves is that the manhood of the nation, for
the first time in its history, has been brought into the atmosphere of
alcohol, and acclimatised to that atmosphere to the number of between
four and five millions.  In that remote period before August 1914, the
British army was a volunteer force mainly recruited from 'the
adventurous and the derelict.'  The recruiting area was largely the
congested wards of our great cities.  The men who enlisted did so, in
the great majority, after they had already acquired a taste for the
exhilaration of alcohol.  It was in the circumstances expedient that in
the canteen provision should be made, under military supervision, for
their being supplied {139} with a purer alcohol than the public-houses
provided.  The results were beneficial rather than otherwise.

The strange thing, however, is that the canteen system which was
necessary for the small voluntary army should have also been imposed by
the Army Authorities upon the full manhood of the nation when they
sprang to arms in defence of King and country.  Though no trainer would
ever allow the use of alcohol by those preparing for any athletic
sport, though the man who would excel at football or racing or boxing
or shooting, as a first step eschewed all alcohol, the Government of
this country provided alcohol as an integral part of every camp where
the heroic of the race set themselves to endure hardness.  'The greater
endurance of the non-alcoholic soldier or worker is now not a matter on
which there can be or is any difference of opinion.'[1]  For the youth
of the nation, {140} wearied with the hardness of unwonted exercise,
away from the influence of mothers and loved ones, warned by the
Secretary of State for War against alcohol, the Government provided the
narcotic of alcohol.  Millions came within the sphere of its baneful
influence who never would have been so exposed in days of peace.  And
not only so, but though it has been scientifically established that
alcohol lowers the vitality, a paternal Government, in the mud and
misery of the trenches in Flanders, provided for each soldier the
sustenance of rum, though from such a stimulus no benefit could accrue.
'Small doses of alcohol ... cause ... a distinct flushing of the skin
due to dilation of the cutaneous capillaries, the skin becoming first
warmer and the blood in the internal organs cooler than before the
alcohol was taken.  After a time the skin temperature falls, but there
is no corresponding increase of temperature of the blood in the
internal organs.  This means that the body has {141} lost heat by the
skin.  The evaporating moisture of wet putties and stockings carries
away a further amount of heat, whilst the contracting wet materials
exerting pressure on the lower limbs, after a time tend to compress
vessels in the skin, and especially to interfere with the return of
venous blood and lymph to the larger veins and lymph channels.  The
lowered temperature and the impaired nutrition due to this obstructed
circulation together are accountable for the "trench foot." ... A man
is not at his best, whether working or fighting against enemies or
diseases, if he is taking alcohol.  Lord Roberts knew this, and His
Majesty the King, Admiral Jellicoe, and Lord Kitchener appreciate it.
How soon will the nation realise it?'[2]

The Government supplied the soldiers in the camp and in the trench with
the means of decreasing their fighting efficiency.  To the 'tot of rum'
can be {142} traced a proportion of the cases of unstable nervous
equilibrium which the war has produced.  Men who were total abstainers,
pledged Rechabites, and others were swept by a paternal Government into
the ranks of those who derive from alcohol a false exhilaration.  'The
national conscience,' writes Lieut.-Colonel Woodhead, 'has not yet been
thoroughly aroused to the importance of the issues at stake--that in
peace or in war intemperance is the link in the chain of our national
life which gives greatest evidence of weakness and most cause for
anxiety.'  Against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain.  Though
every laboratory worker and every physiological chemist tells us, with
the cold precision of science, that alcohol is not a stimulant but a
depresser, that the elation it produces is simply that of a narcotic,
that it diminishes the energy and dulls the enthusiasm of man, that it
leaves the mind and body more exhausted than before--yet the stupidity
entrenched in high places cannot learn {143} the lesson.  It trains the
armies on alcohol; it seeks to sustain the embattled hosts with alcohol.


IV

The great refusal of April 20, 1915, meant that this national
organisation for the training of the manhood of the race in the use of
alcohol went on unhindered.  Of all the products of the great war this
is the most amazing.  Let any one consider the situation and judge.  In
every camp and barracks the visitor will find the State-established
monopoly of the canteen.  The canteen is set up by the State, and the
taxpayer provides the building, rent and rate and tax free, for the
contractor, who runs the canteen.  Abroad, the canteens are almost
exclusively in the hands of one co-operative society, whose board of
management is mainly composed of officers in the Service and some of
them recently heads of regimental institutes.  'Clearly there is a
great deal of "military" money invested in it.  {144} Surely it is not
a good thing that a society of this kind should have the privilege of
making a good deal of money out of supplies to the private soldier.'[3]
Whatever be the system of administering the canteen, whether by the
regimental officers or by contractors, the fact remains that behind the
canteen are the resources of the nation.  And the contractors of the
canteen supply in some cases amusements.  'I know of a camp where the
contractor supplied the singers, and not very desirable ones
either.'[4]  Recreation is thus used to encourage the consumption of
alcohol by the army.

While the taxpayer is thus behind and supporting the canteen, the
counteracting forces are left to the support of the charitable.  The
Y.M.C.A. or Church huts are there not by right but by favour, and
whatever attractions they provide are provided by means of voluntary
contributions.  The State provides the means {145} of degeneration; it
is left to the voluntary effort of private citizens to provide the
means of healthful recreation.  It is truly a strange world.

Do the parents of the youth of this country realise the situation?
Henceforth every boy when he reaches the age of eighteen is drafted
into a camp.  And there the State makes provision for acclimatising him
to the atmosphere of alcohol.  To frequent the canteen is manly, and
few will be able to resist.  It means that by the million the future
citizens of this country will acquire a liking for alcohol.  They find
there the door of escape from weariness and monotony, a false joy of
life and a meretricious colour lighting up drab and grey days.
Hitherto the youths of this country were protected by the slow
evolution of beneficial restrictions.  In Scotland the public-houses
were shut on Sundays.  The young men were protected on at least one day
in seven.  But when at the age of eighteen they put on the King's
uniform that protection ceases.  {146} The public-house is shut, but
the canteen is open on Sunday.  Not even on one day in seven is there
protection from temptation for the youths of this country now
conscripted.  The fathers and mothers who give their sons to their
country do not realise the provision a grateful country is making for
darkening their souls by the fumes of alcohol.  If they realised it,
there would arise a demand before which even those who refused to
follow their King would bow.  Without that national demand there will
be no escape from the consequences of the great refusal.  Those who
delude themselves with the hope that out of the great war will come a
moral and religious revival will have a rude awakening.  Out of the
social conditions now upheld by a beneficent Government there cannot
emerge any ethical revival.  The ranks of those who have learned the
narcotising benefit of alcohol and who will naturally turn to the same
comfort, will be greatly multiplied.


{147}

V

Let me conclude with a personal experience.  On a car in one of our
great cities in this last summer, a man sitting beside me began a
conversation.  Though he was a stranger to me, he began to speak out of
a heart sore distressed.  His son had been home on leave.  'Every night
he was at home he was under the influence of drink.  Before he enlisted
he did not know the taste of alcohol....  When he went away back, he
was drunk leaving the station....  A few days later word came that he
was killed....  The last we saw of him was his going away drunk....
His mother is in sore distress....  She is old-fashioned in her faith
and she cannot get out of her mind the words that drunkards cannot
enter the kingdom of God.  What do you say?'  Thus he spoke in
disjointed sentences, palpitating with emotion.  All I could say was
that hell was not for such as his son, in my {148} opinion; but that
hell was essential for the due disciplining of those who maintained the
conditions which made his son a drunkard.  But how many are there
to-day in this country like that poor father and mother?  They gave
their all: this is their reward.



[1] Lieut.-Colonel Woodhead, M.D., LL.D, _The Drink Problem_, p. 79.

[2] Lieut.-Colonel Woodhead, M.D., LL.D., _The Drink Problem_, p. 81.

[3] A correspondent in _The Times_, April 22, 1916.

[4] _Ibid._



{149}

CHAPTER VII

THE SLUM IN THE MAN

The misery which the slow evolution of urban and industrial
civilisation has wrought in the crowded areas of our cities is manifest
to the least observant eye.  The pitiful condition of the man in the
slum makes its clamorous appeal to the conscience of the race.  But
there is a condition even more pitiful.  It is that of many of the
dwellers in the spacious squares and terraces where the rich and the
leisured are segregated.  They are far removed from the slum where the
miserable are massed; but they have created a slum in their own souls.
And of the two, the condition of him whose soul is a slum is truly the
more grievous.


{150}

I

They have everything that life can desire of material good.  These
houses stretching for miles in their regular uniformity are replete
with appliances of luxury and comfort such as a Roman emperor might
have sighed for in vain; every desire of their heart they have the
power and the will to gratify;--and yet life is dreary.  The people
that ought to be supremely happy are on the whole miserable.  They have
reduced life to a series of sensations.  But the dread spectre of
satiety dogs the footsteps of the devotees of sense.  If they were mere
animals they would be perfectly happy.  Their misery is that they are
endowed with souls.  And the starved soul will not let them rest.

What has pauperised the rich is this--they have lost the sense of God.
Their fathers were saved from the tyranny of their senses by the fact
that they kept open the window towards the {151} Infinite.  But the
growth of knowledge and the triumphs of science gradually shut that
window, so that now scarce a glow of light penetrates to the dusty and
dark recesses of the soul.  The soul no longer thrills with the Divine;
all the thrill they can know is that of gratifying the body.  And that
way leads only to the self-loathing of repletion.  To escape from
themselves they rush in clouds of dust along the roads, demanding
'speed in the face of the Lord.'  But all in vain is a sated body
hurled from London to Brighton, for at the end it is sated still.

With the shutting of the window towards the Infinite, all restraint
vanished.  So long as there remained a sense of a moral order in the
universe which could only emanate from a Moral Governor, and so long as
the soul felt that the way of life lay in conformity to the will of the
Unseen Ruler, life was kept under control.  The will never wholly
relaxed its effort to keep the outgoings of life {152} in unison with
God.  But, then, there came the startling realisation that there was no
God, or, if there was, that He was a mere negligible factor.  The
processes by which things came to be as they are could be explained;
and because they could be explained, of course, God had nothing to do
with them!  God was steadily pushed further and further away.  Back
from a mythical Eden some five thousand years ago, He was pushed into
the recesses of æons that made the brain reel to contemplate; away from
a heaven which seemed quite near, He was removed far off into the
abysses of heavens which had become astronomical.  Everything could be
explained--it was only a question of time when life would yield its
secret.  As the universe grew wider and wider there was in it no place
for God.  In that world which once He was deemed to have created, now
He was superfluous.  And the restraints which the thought of Him
imposed were thrown to the winds.  {153} History once more repeated
itself.  'They treat it,' wrote Bishop Butler of religion in his day,
'as if ... nothing remained but to set it up as a principal subject of
mirth and ridicule, as it were, by way of reprisals for its having so
long interrupted the pleasures of the world.'  The dawn of the
twentieth century found a generation which far outstripped the
eighteenth.  By its headlong plunge into the vortex of pleasure it was
determined to avenge itself for the days when life was disciplined by
the thought of the judgment-seat of God.

Alongside of this emancipation from the restraints of religion there
was a singular development of interest in religious matters.  Never
were there so many books published regarding the sources of
Christianity and the authenticity of that various literature which
composes the Bible.  And votaries went on incessantly tunnelling the
great barrier which shuts us in from what lies beyond the visible, and
they even heard, {154} as it were, the tapping of those who drove a
tunnel to meet them.  But all that activity was wholly divorced from
that religion which is inherently spirit and life.  It was the interest
of the antiquarian in the earthen vessel which holds the treasure, not
the interest of the soul in the treasure itself.  The frame was the
object of endless discussion and speculation, but the eyes were blind
to the picture enclosed by the frame.  They thought that they were
engaged in the works of religion, while their work was as remote from
religion as the labour of one who would set himself to expound the
glory and wonder of art by explaining the texture of canvas and
analysing the chemical components of paint.  And, while the ancient
documents were studied more and more under the microscope, the image of
the Son of Man faded more and more before the eyes of men, and the
ideal of love of duty was left as lumber under accumulating dust:
religion had a place in the social {155} scheme, but the place was the
museum of antiquities.  It was no longer a power in life; it had become
a matter of mere historic interest.


II

The new atmosphere in which men lived made it impossible to present the
Christian appeal to them as that appeal came home to the heart of
humanity for nineteen centuries.  For the life-blood of religion was
ever the passion of love and gratitude evoked by the forgiveness of
sin.  But the sense of sin died in the heart, and a generation that
knew not sin could only wonder at the meaning of a gospel which
proclaimed the forgiveness of sin.  No golden age lay behind when man
was sinless; there was no 'fall' from a high estate, and consequently
no restoration was needed.  The spiritual tale of man's first sin was a
matter of mockery; and the teaching of prophet and saint regarding
iniquity was but 'an obsolete and fanatical {156} eccentricity.'  Walt
Whitman has given expression to man's new attitude:

  'I could turn and live with animals, they are so
        placid and self-contained,
  I stand and look at them long and long;
  They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
  They do not lie awake in the night and weep for their sins.'

Nothing was, in fact, further from the thought of the latter-day
generation than to lie awake weeping for their sins.  'As a matter of
fact,' writes Sir Oliver Lodge, 'the higher man of to-day is not
worrying about his sins at all, still less about their punishment; his
mission, if he be good for anything, is to be up and doing.'  That is
an absolutely correct diagnosis.  So little does the 'higher man of
to-day' worry about his sins that he sinks into the slough of animalism
undisturbed by any thought of wrong.  Having sacrificed every canon of
Christian morality, he goes forth out of his house where the peace is
unbroken by the clamorous voices of children, and {157} he pursues his
mission of being 'up and doing'--directing his energies in Whitechapel
to keeping alive the children of the diseased and the miserable.  This
is the fine fruit of our 'higher man': having destroyed in his home
that race whose product he is, unrepentant of his crime, he devotes
himself to saving the race in the slum.  His mission to be 'up and
doing' savours of the slime--but he knows it not.  His whole life is
the proof that he has forgotten the meaning of iniquity, and that he is
incapable of worrying about his sins.

In all the books wherein the life of to-day is portrayed there move men
and women whose consciences are no longer troubled by the thought of
any wrong.  With a photographic accuracy Arnold Bennett has set forth
the lives of men and women emerging from the gutter into ease and
riches, but the world to which they attain is a world where the thought
of God ceases to inspire or disturb.  He indeed pauses in a moment of
grim {158} satire to visualise a soul in the throes of realising sin.
The heroine of three books, Hilda Lessways, shuts her ears to the call
summoning her to her mother's bedside, only to find her dead when
selfishness suffers her to arrive.  From the house where her dead
mother lies she goes to the station to meet a relative and comes face
to face with a well-dressed epileptic.  She watches him, almost
shuddering.  He stares at her with his epileptic eyes ... and she
rushes home a nervous wreck.  'She knew profoundly and fatally,'
expounds Mr. Bennett, 'the evil principle which had conquered her so
completely that she had no power left with which to fight it.  This
evil principle was sin itself.  She was the sinner convicted and
self-convicted.  One of the last intelligent victims of a malady which
has now almost passed away from the civilised earth, she existed in the
chill and stricken desolation of incommutable doom.'  Our author knows
his world, and in that world only the sight of an epileptic {159}
convinces of sin.  And the realisation, as might be expected, only
throws the victim more surely into the grip of sin.  For that world
knows no longer any God who saves from sin.

There is no ground left on which religion can appeal to the conscience
of such a generation.  In the eighteenth century Wesley and Whitefield
sent through the decaying masses of England a vitalising breath as they
proclaimed the joyful gospel of deliverance from sin, and men arose
from the mire with lives transfigured.  In our day religion can find no
such approach and no such triumph.  For like the whispering of an idle
breeze is a proclamation of sin's forgiveness to those who know no sin.
For us it is but a childish malady which we have long outgrown.  The
passion of sin forgiven will no longer thrill our souls.


III

And this life which our modern writers describe is one of appalling
dreariness.  {160} As the new generation grow in knowledge every ideal
vanishes; as they move upward in the social scale they shut out God.
The Chapel loses its power; men wear Wesley's clothes but know not his
spirit.  Arnold Bennett makes us see the dying epoch.  He describes the
whole town assembled in the market-square to celebrate the centenary of
Sunday schools.  The vast crowd sing 'Rock of Ages' and 'There is a
Fountain filled with Blood.'  The volume of sound is overwhelming.
'Look at it,' says Edwin Clayhanger to Hilda Lessways; 'it only wants
the Ganges at the bottom of the square.'  'Even if we don't believe,'
she replies, 'we needn't make fun.'  And amid the singing crowd, mocked
at and jostled, struggles Mr. Shushions, the oldest Sunday-school
teacher in the Five Towns, who long ago had rescued the Clayhangers
from the workhouse, but now had 'lived too long' and 'survived his
dignity.'  'The impression given was that the flesh would be unpleasant
and uncanny to the touch.'  It is a grim {161} picture of an effete
life still moving, mummified and repulsive, among men.

The old ideal was dead; but there was no ideal new-born.  Life was
dreary, but happiness was still pursued.  When the family would move to
the new house where science surrounded them with all the appliances of
comfort and luxury, then Edwin Clayhanger was convinced he would find
happiness.  The day comes and they move to the new house.  But that
very morning there is a quarrel with his father.  He had been ingenuous
enough to believe that the new house somehow would mean the rebirth of
himself and his family.  'Strange delusion!  The bath-splashings and
the other things gave him no pleasure, because he was saying to himself
all the time, "There is going to be a row this morning.  There is going
to be a regular shindy this morning."'  They come to the new house but
they cannot sit down to dinner together.

'Father thinks I've been stealing his {162} damned money,' snaps out
the son in a barking voice, and refuses to meet him at table.  And the
father takes his dinner alone.  The end of the ghastly quarrel is that
the son gets an increase of half a crown to his weekly wage!  That is
the measure of the 'new birth' which he had so fondly anticipated.  He
does not realise that after being emptied from vessel to vessel,
however much larger and more beautiful the vessels become, filthy water
remains filthy water still.

What is there left to those for whom the vision of God thus fades?  The
fathers amassed money, and they had the joy of conflict, and a sense of
duty.  But the sons have not the joy of conflict.  They inherit houses
built for them, and money for which they have not toiled.  What are
they to do?  Their fathers found endless interest in Church and Chapel,
and they gave of their wealth.  The sons no longer believe in Church
and Chapel.  They have no traditions of social service.  They regard
the class from {163} which their fathers sprang with aversion and with
fear.  Their favourite topic of conversation is the shortcomings of the
working-classes.  One whole winter they denounced the iniquity of the
State making any provision, however pitifully small, for the decayed
veterans who fall out of the ranks of toil; another winter they
declaimed with bitterness against the crime of the State making
provision through insurance for the ill-health of their servants and
employees!  They have little taste for books, and money cannot buy the
sense by which beauty floods the heart.  There is nothing left them but
self-indulgence.  To that they sacrifice everything.  Food and clothes
and physical pleasure fill up the circuit of the days.  Then weariness
seizes them.  They become the captives of boredom.  They rush hither
and thither.  They carry to the Highlands a life which is intolerable
hi London; they bring back to London a life which is intolerable in the
Highlands.  They live lives isolated from the {164} joy and innocence
of childhood--for that is the ideal they have made their own.  They
rush after anything which will promise the 'easier and quicker passing
of the impracticable hours.'  They still maintain some connection with
the Church, but their attitude is that of patronage and not of
allegiance.  The preacher must be an echo of their voices or they will
have none of him.  There must be no preaching of stern duty or of
judgment to come--that is antiquated!  When they come to church there
must be the gospel of soothing rest--fulsomely administered in a
saccharine form!  Religion must be a narcotic; its end that they may
forget.  But even then it must be in the smallest doses and at long
intervals.  Thus their places in church are getting emptier and
emptier, and the day of worship saw their cars stand in serried rows by
wayside inns.  They have created for themselves a grey, dull world.
'If they do abolish God from their poor bewildered hearts, all or most
{165} of them,' wrote Carlyle, 'then will be seen for some length of
time, perhaps for some centuries, such a world as few are dreaming of.'
And that is what they were fast doing when the thunder of the guns
echoed doom.  They were without God and without hope in the world.

To some this may appear an exaggerated and distorted picture.  It may
in fact be pointed out that in these last years there was a greater
activity of social service directed towards the help of the poor and
miserable than ever before.  That is true.  But it is true also that it
was wholly ineffective.  It was the activity mainly of ignorance.  It
was the throwing of half-crowns to the starving; it was not the giving
of love.  They gave charity; they did not give themselves.  They
acquiesced with hardly a protest in the social organisation which
inevitably swelled the ranks of the poor and increased the burden of
their misery.  By that social organisation many of them profited.  They
gave doles; but it was {166} to pacify their poor consciences.  They
instituted 'charity organisation societies,' making charity as it were
a deal on the Stock Exchange.  If only they had thought of it they
would have instituted a 'Divine Spirit Organisation Society.'  The one
would not be more irreverent than the other; for charity is the fruit
of the Spirit.  They were to have charity without the Spirit--so they
adopted the methods of the market-place.  By means of ledgers and
visitors they were to separate the deserving poor from the undeserving.
Their charity was to be directed towards the deserving.  They forgot
that there could not be such a thing as charity for the deserving--only
justice!  There was the noise of much machinery, but the noise was made
by a handful.  The rest gave only of their lucre.  And all the time,
while they studied the social problem and organised charity, the
measure of human misery went on increasing.  The rich grew richer and
the poor grew poorer, amid the greatest activity of social {167}
reformers.  It was all futile because it was uninstructed.  It only
palliated the pain; it never sought to dry up the fountains of human
misery.  The professional charity organisers saw the human wrecks being
borne on the flood to doom, and from the banks, in security, they threw
them life-belts.  But they never thought of plunging themselves into
the wild waters and breasting the flood at the risk of their own lives
that they might save.  Man cannot save man without blood, and there was
only water in their veins.


IV

That life manifested the slum at its core in sundry unmistakable forms.
Its literature was largely the record of man wallowing in the mud; and
that Art which aforetime made humanity kneel at the shrine of the
Mother and the Child became the handmaid of vice.  In the name of Art
the new generation demanded freedom, but the freedom was a {168}
freedom divorced from modesty and reverence.  Only the play or the song
that evoked the unclean laugh now crowded the theatre.  But most
striking of all was the manner in which they sought to escape from the
ennui which afflicted their souls.  Weird and vulgar dances had their
day; grotesque attire claimed its devotees; but the chief way of escape
was that which led to the feet of charlatans.  A whole group of new
religions sprang up; mysteries from the Ganges vied with mysteries
imported from Chicago, and both found multitudes to seek after them.
The growth of centuries, the slow evolution of truth handed down by the
saintly and the wise--that was as nothing weighed against the dictum of
a woman in America or a Hindu in Benares!

On a grey winter afternoon, some three years ago, I happened to arrive
at one of our most beautiful cities--a city that justly prides itself
on its culture.  As I walked along the world's most beautiful street I
was struck by the sight of a long {169} line of motors that overflowed
up a roadway leading to the turreted hill.  I asked a motor-man what
was happening that day.  'There is a black prophet,' said he, pointing
his thumb over his shoulder, 'preaching in the Assembly Hall.'  I
needed no further explanation.  I know nothing about the said prophet
except that he isn't a Christian.  That was of course the secret of his
power.  Because he wasn't, the leisured and the cultured sat in serried
ranks at his feet.  Perhaps he would give them what they had
lost--peace!  And there came the memory of another civilisation sinking
into decay when the mysteries of the Nile and the Orontes established
themselves on the banks of the Tiber, and the weary citizens of Rome,
sated by a world's luxury, deemed no charlatan emerging from the East
too gross for acceptance or his mystery too incredible for belief.  In
the dawn of its decay Rome bestowed 'the freedom of the city on all the
gods of mankind.'  In {170} our day London and Edinburgh have followed
along the same road.  The God all-holy and loving, the All-Father--we
have cast Him off.  But no superstition is too mean for us to kneel at
its shrine.  History is truly a monotonous record.  Nations and empires
have all gone the same road to perdition.  And they never knew they
were treading it.


V

Such was the condition of the nation when the trumpet of judgment
sounded and civilisation went reeling into the furnace.  The
slum-dwellers and the slum-infected were alike shaking back into
paganism and the beast.  For the time we have emerged from the greater
horror of sin into the horror of war.  But what is to happen after?
Saved as by fire, are we to hug our slums again?

Surely it cannot be for the perpetuation on earth of life after this
order, that five millions of men have arisen {171} and faced death.  If
we are to be worthy of the price that has been paid for our
deliverance, by a resurrection from the dead we must cleanse our souls
and transform our slums.  It is not for us as we are, or for our cities
as they now are built, or for a State that denies to its children the
decencies of life, or for the continued reign of that plutocracy that
has darkened the windows of the soul--not for the continuance of these
have our brothers died right joyfully in the glory of their youth.  It
was for another England, another Scotland--the kingdom of the heart's
desire wherein shall be found no more either the slum-dweller or the
slum-lover--that they fought and died.  When we think of them we know
what the early Christians felt when they said one to the other, 'We are
bought with a price; we are no longer our own to do as we like; we are
His.'  And we--we are _theirs_.  We must be worthy of them.  We dare
not any longer leave their children in noisome slums; we dare not {172}
any longer suffer our own lungs to inhale the vapours of the spiritual
slum.  To show that we are in some little measure worthy of the price
paid for our life, paid for the Britain that shall be, we will arise
and straightway rebuild--until our cities shall be the cities of God,
and our straths and valleys shall be filled with the songs of happiness
and love and praise.  They will not then have died in vain!



{173}

CHAPTER VIII

BEHIND YOU IS GOD

The greatest need of our day is the reinforcement of the soul.  Our
mistake has been that we thought the supreme good was the development
of the brain.  We went on steadily increasing our power over the forces
of nature, but we neglected to develop the soul-power which could
control and direct the material power thus created.  The result has
been the greatest catastrophe in history.  The industrial civilisation
which we reared through the painful toil of a century, is passing in
the smoke of the howitzer shells.  And the end is not yet.  Unless man
becomes master of himself, it can bring nought but misery that he
should master nature.  The war of the future will be war in the air.
From the {174} experience of one or two air-craft raining destruction
on a city one can imagine that dread future when thousands of air-ships
and aeroplanes will rain bombs like hail on doomed cities.  The old
security of this sea-girt isle has vanished for ever.  In the air there
are no frontiers which can be fortified or guarded.  Every fresh
triumph of science will be only a new engine of destruction, a new
weapon of devilry.  Humanity will be driven underground, burrowing like
rats.  It is quite conceivable not only that civilisation should perish
but that the world itself might be destroyed.  The development of
power, without the development of soul to control it, means ruin to
mankind.  The amazing thing is that men should to-day declare with
passionate conviction that the future safety of England depends on the
increase of that knowledge which has given us the poison clouds of
chlorine gas, without ever a word to indicate that salvation can only
come through the {175} development of self-mastery and
self-control--even through the soul.  We have stood for two years in
the centre of the maelstrom of human history, and have heard the
hurricane of judgment sweeping through the world, but as yet we have
not heard the still, small voice of God.


I

The lesson we have to learn is that the power of the soul must be
enforced.  And that can only come by laying hold upon God.  The power
that ever lay behind human progress, that worked out law and order and
security, has in all ages been the power of religion--of God.  But
religion has been in our day a matter of contempt.  It was merely a
'grotesque, fungoid growth which clustered round the primeval thread of
ancestor worship,' more or less a 'pathological phenomenon closely
allied with neurosis and hysteria.'  There are few things more pitiful
in human weakness {176} than the contempt expressed by the scientist
and the learned for that power of the soul which created the
civilisation of which the contemners are the fine fruit!

Though religion has been contemned, yet it cannot be denied that those
forces which create abiding races and powerful empires are the very
forces which have never been found to exist apart from the sanctions of
religion.  The development of the Roman Empire was profoundly
influenced by its religion.  To religion virtue owed its power, and
from it patriotism drew its inspiration.  And that religion claimed a
supernatural origin--the source of its might was in the Unseen.  When
religion became a matter of public ridicule and the gods an 'object of
secret contempt among the polished and enlightened,' and the
philosophers 'concealed the sentiments of an atheist under their
sacerdotal robes,' then the restraints of morality were flung aside and
Rome went headlong to ruin.  It was the same in Greece; {177} the same
everywhere.  All religions have issued their commands: 'And God spake
all these words, saying...'  And so long as men felt the supernatural
behind the mandate, they trembled and obeyed; when behind the mandate
they discerned only superstition, they surrendered to their base
desires.  Morality can only be based on the Divine.  Its commands are
operative when these commands are recognised as those of the Moral
Governor of the universe.  If these commands do not affect issues
beyond the grave, if they have no sanction in the eternal order, then
there is no value in obeying them, and no crime in disregarding them.
Rather is there a merit in flouting them--the mere products of
ignorance and superstition.  To despise them and disregard them was the
mark of an emancipated and superior mind!  Thus it ever came that first
the supernatural vanished and afterwards morality vanished.  And thus
has it been also in our day.

The amazing thing is that men should {178} ever have been blind to
this--that, however much God may hide Himself at the end of other
avenues of approach, at the end of this He stands forth clear before
our eyes.  There is nothing predicated regarding God which we cannot
doubt and deny save this, that there is operative in the world a moral
order conformity to which means life and disobedience death.  It is
thus with individuals and thus with nations.  Let a man surrender to
evil, and instantly nature begins to marshal its forces against him and
digs for him the grave.  The road by which humanity has marched is
marked by the ruins of empires and civilisations upon which destruction
came through the very same laws that we see working to-day, if we
choose to look.  Whatever race or empire surrendered to the base,
sacrificed purity to sensuality, the good of the common weal to its own
selfish ends, made selfishness and pleasure its aim, upon that race or
empire, sooner or later, fell the consuming sword and the {179}
devouring flame.  There is no sentence in all literature more pregnant
than that which tells how the stars in their courses fought against
Sisera.  So it has been and ever will be.  The whole forces of the
universe are arrayed against evil, and carry on a ceaseless war against
it.  It is because of this divine surgery that humanity has been saved
from a corruption which would have entailed the world's destruction.
All history is the proof that there is a mandate which means life or
death for individuals and nations.  Along this road we can touch the
hand of God and see the sword of His divine justice.  Righteousness is
the law of the world, the will of the Supreme Ruler who orders the
universe that righteousness must at last prevail.  The source of
morality and all righteousness is--God.


II

It is manifest, then, that there is but one safety for individual or
race, and {180} that lies in getting into line with the Moral Order of
the world--with God.  But the startling thing is that though we have
come through a discipline such as no generation ever experienced
before, at the end of two years of it there is no sign that we have
learned our lesson.  The measure of our blindness is that politicians
summon the nation to cultivate its brains that it may be saved, without
ever a hint that salvation lies along the road of character and
morality--the road that leads to God.  (If salvation lay in the brain,
the Greeks would have saved the world, for theirs was the greatest
brain-power ever developed on the earth.)  And even the Church is
uncertain, and fails to summon the nation with clear and uncertain
sound back to God.  For it is manifest that there can be no penitence
where there is no consciousness of transgression.  There can be no
return except for those who realise that they have strayed.

The first step, then, back to God must spring from the soul wakened to
the {181} realisation that it has sinned and that God is fighting
against sin.  But so far from the nation realising its true state, the
amazing fact is that the nation is hypnotised with the sense of its own
righteousness.  It is only conscious of its own shining virtues.  It
has drawn the sword for freedom and in defence of little nations.  It
is waging a 'holy war.'  Self-blinded, unable to believe that virtues
such as shine on its face could suffer repulse, in days of humiliation
and of defeat it has shouted 'Victory.'  And from pulpit after pulpit
the doctrine is propounded that this war is not a judgment of our sins;
that to speak of war as a judgment of sin is 'antiquated.'  The Church
has thus cut itself adrift from the teaching of prophet and seer, and
the Bible, which is aflame with the judgments of God upon sin, is but
the antiquated record of unenlightened ages.  Thus the conscience of
the nation is narcotised.  And it is manifest that a nation whose
conscience is chloroformed can hear no {182} call summoning to
repentance.  When the Church is blind to the sword of God flaming in
the heavens, how can any expect the nation to behold it, and,
beholding, to repent?

This obsession that we are not living in a great day of divine judgment
is all the stranger when we consider that every day of our lives is a
day of divine judgment, and that we are ever standing at the bar of the
great assize.  No sooner does a man sin than judgment begins to
operate.  Let him surrender to intemperance, and the judgment of
disordered nerves and enfeebled frame is immediately declared.  And so
with every violation of the divine order.  And the judgment ever
operative against the individual is also ever operative against the
nation.  It requires but little thought to see how the national sins
brought on the nation the judgment of these dread days.

For what was it that brought down upon us the cataclysm of war?  It was
the degeneration into which the nation {183} had fallen.  Like all
empires we had risen from poverty, through hardship and discipline, to
riches, and in days of luxury we lost our soul.  We gave ourselves to
pleasure and self-indulgence.  We worshipped at one shrine--that of
Mammon.  We refused to bend the back to discipline or to exercise
ourselves in enduring hardship.  We annexed a fourth of the world's
surface, but we were determined that we would have the world without
paying the price.  With an army equal in size to that of Switzerland we
were holding against the rest of mankind an Empire which included most
of the world's riches.  Our rulers knew of our danger, but they dared
not summon the people to arms, because whoever did so would risk
office.  Those who were on the watch-towers saw the enemy mustering,
but they gave no warning, for the spoils of office were dear.  Prophets
arose to warn us, but we meted out contempt to them.  That was our
fashion of stoning them.  (We have, {184} however, improved upon the
chosen race, for the very men who stoned them are already rearing
statues in their honour!)  Crowds of thirty thousand would assemble to
shout and gamble over football matches, but the few days requisite for
the training of our Territorial forces were not to be endured!  We
ceased to produce the population that could possess the vast
territories we held.  We could think of nothing but the vapourings of
politicians who sacrificed the State to their faction.  When Europe was
an armed camp and Germany was piling up armaments, we were preparing
for civil war in Ireland.  Vision and genius were dying among us.  For
the devotees of Aphrodite and Mammon are blinded to the stars.  A
nation which sinks into degeneration, and which, holding the world's
wealth, refuses even to prepare to guard its riches, is loudly inviting
the robber.  Germany concluded that we were degenerate and a negligible
factor.  Does any one think that, if we had begun to prepare after
{185} Agadir, there would have been war?  If Germany had for one moment
thought that the British fleet would have been arrayed against it, and
that Britain would have marshalled five millions of men to fight to the
death, there never would have been a war.  It is not enough to say that
in that case the war would only have been postponed, for a war averted
is not necessarily a war postponed.  Pendjeh and Fashoda might at least
teach us that.

Do not let us blind ourselves to the facts.  One source of this war is
in ourselves.  We bewail the horrors of war; what we ought to bewail is
the horror of sin.  For war is only a symptom of the hidden disease, as
raving is the symptom of fever.  And one of the sources of the blood
and tears that overwhelm the earth is our sin.  The horror of the
battlefield pales before the horror of sin in our streets, sweeping
souls to death.  Our surrender to pleasure, our pursuit of vanity, our
sacrifice of the State to party, of the race to our ease, our refusal
to {186} make the sacrifice that would make the Empire secure--these
are the conditions which made war inevitable and which evoked it.  As
alcohol and the drunkard's palsied limbs are cause and effect, sin and
judgment; so the national sin and the horrors of war are cause and
effect, sin and judgment.  Only the self-blinded are unable to discern
that they are living in a great day of judgment: judgment on Germany
for its greed and lust and covetousness: judgment on Britain for
wasting at the shrine of self-indulgence that wealth committed to it
for the serving and the uplifting of the world.  And if the Church
cannot see the divine judgment, then it cannot call the nation to
repentance.  For the nation, unconscious of wrong, will but say along
with the Church: 'I am rich and increased in goods and have need of
nothing.'  After the war it will rush down the slope faster than ever
before.  The real fact is that the vision of God is hid from us by the
mists of our sin.  We cannot {187} imagine the sword of the divine
judgment unsheathed over the world, for a sword hanging from heaven
must be gripped by some hand.  And if there be no hand of God, how can
there be a sword of His justice?


III

The one way of salvation for the human race is that of conformity to
the righteous will of God.  On the side of those who seek to walk along
that road all the forces of nature fight; against those who resist the
will of God all the forces of the universe are marshalled.  Those who
would conquer must walk with God.  To return to God is the only hope.
Let us try and realise the truth of this.

The greatest danger threatening the race is, as we have seen, that of
racial suicide.  The mentally developed have made the devitalising of
life a code of conduct.  Unconscious of sin, they have made sin a
science.  For the race that sets its face towards this goal there
awaits {188} nought but ruin.  The problem is how to save the race from
the coffin.

A great many remedies have been proposed, but almost all of them are
not only futile but pernicious.  A system of bounties to parents for
each child would be no inducement to the classes which have already
surrendered to this degeneration.  Such a policy would only encourage
the further multiplying of the poor and the unfit.  And the remedy is
not to be found in the multiplication of agencies for the preservation
of child life.  The conservation of the child in the slum will not
compensate for the destruction of the child in the mansion-house.  A
policy which aims at the survival of the unfit cannot enrich the race.
Such methods are to be commended, but they are mere palliatives.  When
the bone needs to be scraped, it is futile to go on applying poultices.

The true remedy is in the realisation of God and in the return of the
nation to Him.  It is when the soul is awakened {189} to God that men
realise the heinousness of sacrificing life to selfishness.  For God is
the fountain of life; and it is not merely the physical life that is
atrophied by racial limitation.  The blow is in reality aimed not at
the race but at God.

For from God all life proceeds, and the whole universe is the process
of His self-realisation.  The glory of earth and sea and sky are the
glory of the outgoing of the divine energy.  But the highest of all the
processes of the divine self-realisation is in man.  In the world there
is nothing great but man; and the world is enriched for God by His
children.  There is no limit to His creative energy, no failure in His
imagination, for each new life is different, and each fresh and new.
In His children God realises Himself as love and tenderness.  They are
the only things that can love and laugh and cling.  The music of their
joyous merriment is God's best anthems.  Each new human life is a
temple of the Holy {190} Ghost.  Through them the divine life grows
more and more.  And to each is committed some separate element of the
divine treasure, for each is as different from others as if it alone
were created.  When men, then, set themselves to suppress human life,
they are setting themselves to suppress God.  It is the great tide of
the creative life that they set themselves to dam.  The joyousness of
the creative genius that ever creates but never repeats itself, they
bring to nought.  They deny to God on earth the temples for His
indwelling.  Only when the soul realises God thus brooding over the
face of the world, thus waiting for the fulness of the divine
enrichment, will men realise the heinousness of life-suppression.
Lives based on the code of morals which prefers coffins to cradles are
lives which fight against God, and as such are doomed to be ground to
powder by His judgment.  When God, the source of all life, is once
realised, then the soul of the life-destroyer must shrink back in
horror and dismay.  {191} 'Woe is me, for I am undone,' will be the cry
of his lips.  Men can conquer their fellows, but there is only the
devouring of hell for those who fight against God.  When God ceased to
be a reality, the destruction of life was but a natural sacrifice to
our ease.  There being nothing higher than ourselves, then to ourselves
let us sacrifice even life.  When God in His divine majesty will again
shine forth before the soul, and the eyes behold the Divine Life
everywhere waiting its realisation, then human life again shall become
precious and desired, and the race will measure its felicity by the
multitude of its children.  The silent terraces will again ring with
joyous voices.  The race, with its fountains of life overflowing, will
again go forth to vivify the earth.

If only the world were realised as of God, all our difficulties would
vanish.  Think what it would mean to the man who has devoted a whole
parish to his own recreation.  The green places where {192} little
children called to each other are covered with pheasant coops!  The
places where children could grow in health are given over to birds.
Let such a man once see that the world was created that love might
increase and be multiplied, that on it God might realise His creative
energy in the highest form, and he will be stricken with shame and
convicted of sin.  Childhood and innocence he has vanished from his
land that his ears might hear the whirr of the flying of grouse, and
that he might have the joy of killing.  When the vision of God arises
upon him he will abhor his selfishness and set himself to repair the
desolation that has been wrought.  He will have no rest until the green
places again are filled with the glory and the radiance of life.  The
slums will be emptied and the now silent places peopled anew, when the
nation realises again that God created the world to be the home of His
children.

In this return to God is the solution to be found of all our
difficulties.  For {193} in this return is the discovery of our common
sonship, and of the law of love.

We are at present divided into classes with warring interests waiting
for peace to begin the strife again.  The body-politic is fissiparous
and there is nothing to bind it together in the unity and consistency
of steel.  Here is the element through which the disintegrated elements
can be united into a weapon that can win victories.  At the feet of God
there comes the knowledge that all we are brethren, and that the one
law is love.  It is love that unites.  It is love that bridges chasms
and throws down dividing walls.  Love does not throw doles to the
perishing, it gives itself.  Love never says, 'You carry my burden,'
but rather, 'Let me carry your burden.'  To the eye of love, man is no
longer a mere crank in the great machinery of labour, a unit in the
vast mass designated the 'lower classes'--he is a brother.  And love
will not give a brother over to be the prey of vice, {194} or surrender
him as a victim to monopolies that destroy him.  Love will sacrifice
and fight for the brother's life.  The remedy for all our ills lies
here--in our return to God.


IV

To many the preaching of repentance is the dreariest of all things.  It
is but the voice summoning them to the impossible--to mourn for sins of
which they are unconscious.  They cry out for life--and they are
offered tears.

But far from being compact of all weariness and sorrow, repentance is
the most thrilling of all that the soul can experience.  It is the
essence of all romance.  For what is it but this--the turning back to
God.  And in turning to God comes the vision of the glory of life.  The
eyes are illumined with radiance when they behold no longer processes
and laws--but God.  Who can compute that enrichment when suddenly the
veil is rent and from some hill-top the eyes behold {195} no longer
meadow and moorland and the gleam of waters afar, but the Life behind
them all--God; and everything created, the green sward and the clouds
swimming in glory, the mist-caressed mountains and the great sea
heaving in all its waves, become but one vast transparency through
which God flashes His splendour on the enraptured soul.  And in this
return to God the soul is ever led on from glory to glory.  That is the
alluring power of Christianity.  The Shepherd of souls leads us ever on
until we come to the Cross and realise that the God of heaven and earth
is the God of sacrifice; that His love stoops to agony that He may
save.  And onward from the Cross He leads until on our enraptured
hearts there rises the vision of the Cross abiding still in the heart
of God, and our eyes behold over all the universe the sheen of that
love which still stoops to death that it may save.  As we tread the way
back, and go on ever nearer to the hidden fire, we feel the flame of
His love filling all our {196} being.  And beauties undreamed of leap
into light at each bend of the road.  To come to God is to journey from
death to life.  The world has nothing great comparable to this.


V

But to return to God means not only a transfigured soul in a
transfigured world, it means also a transfigured life.  To turn the
face Godward is to change one's ideal, and the change of ideal
eventuates in a change of life.  When the new light illumines the
secret places, the soul, quickened by the fellowship of God, sees the
unclean with new eyes, and sets itself to conquer whatsoever is
unworthy of God.  National repentance with us will realise itself in
peopling the waste places, in emptying the slums into the country, in
destroying the vested interests in the vice of the people, in making a
healthy and beautiful life the birthright of every citizen.  For the
Church that will give itself to the realisation of this {197}
repentance there will never be the stagnation of monotony.  Life will
be electric with conflict, triumphant at last with victory.

It is the thrill and romance of life--this experience of the soul to
which we are summoned.  It heralds every great day of God.  'Repent,
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,' is the herald of every dawn.  It
is a message to be preached with yearning and wonder and love, and not
with clenched fists.  It can be preached with fierceness, but that will
little avail.  The prophet can call to the people: 'Return, for the
precipice is in front of you and destruction yawneth at your
feet--return.'  But terror is feeble to move the heart.  Better far is
it to call to the people as Hosea called to Israel: 'Return, for God is
behind you; your own God who saved you again and again when there was
none to help, who bore you and carried you through the terrible
wilderness....  Return, God is waiting for you, just behind you.'  The
gospel of repentance is the gospel of the love of {198} God.  When the
soul realises the love and the tenderness and the glory of God waiting
to enrich and save--then the soul will return.  The greatest adventure
in life is just this: the way of repentance leading back to God.  If
only the Church would voyage forth anew on this enchanted sea, the day
of its power would again dawn.


VI

If there be, thus, the wonder of riches untold, the gleam of virgin
peaks summoning our feet to climb, a glimpse of the land afar, and the
clear shining of God's face in the call to repent, let us not forget
that there is also something very terrible bound up with it.  And the
terrible thing is that it is possible so to disregard it that at last
it becomes impossible to obey it.  In vain did the prophet call, 'O
Israel, return unto the Lord thy God,' for their paralysed wills had
become incapable of effort.  'Their deeds will not let them return,'
was at last the prophet's {199} mournful verdict.  To every nation
there comes, after long decline, the stage when recovery is impossible.
When the warnings of the wise have been flouted and disregarded; when
the prophets have not been stoned but treated with mere contempt; when
there is no discernment because there is no longer any consciousness of
sin; when no call of the divine is audible any longer even when God
speaks by terrible things and the heavens are shaken; when the hearts
steeped in self and surrendered to the flesh can see no longer the
beauty of purity,--then the call to repentance is heard as one hears
voices in sleep.  Their deeds will not let them return.

It is not very far away from us that last irrevocable stage when
national repentance becomes impossible.  A nation such as this, that
spends over half a million pounds sterling a day on alcohol when the
greatest crisis in the world's history requires all its strength and
all its resources; that turns grain into a {200} waste when food is so
dear that the poor can scarcely buy; that cries out for economy and
offers daily at the shrine of Bacchus the ransom of a province; that
suffers vice to wound and slay its children, narcotising its conscience
the while; that in God's terrible day empties its churches and crowds
its music-halls; that sacrifices its children to the Moloch of its
pleasure, or to the greed of its property exploiters; that suffers its
people to be massed in slums until the body-politic becomes a
gangrene,--for such a people the last stage, where no return is
possible, cannot be far removed.  Arise, O Israel, and return to the
Lord your God, ere the day of repentance sinks into night!



  Printed in Great Britain by T. and A. CONSTABLE,
  Printers to His Majesty
  at the Edinburgh University Press





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