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Title: The Social Significance of the Modern Drama
Author: Goldman, Emma, 1869-1940
Language: English
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              OF THE MODERN

               EMMA GOLDMAN



    Copyright, 1914, by Richard G. Badger
            All Rights Reserved

[Illustration: EMMA GOLDMAN
Printed by permission of S. T. Kajiwara]


In order to understand the social and dynamic significance of modern
dramatic art it is necessary, I believe, to ascertain the difference
between the functions of art for art's sake and art as the mirror of

Art for art's sake presupposes an attitude of aloofness on the part of
the artist toward the complex struggle of life: he must rise above the
ebb and tide of life. He is to be merely an artistic conjurer of
beautiful forms, a creator of pure fancy.

That is not the attitude of modern art, which is preëminently the
reflex, the mirror of life. The artist being a part of life cannot
detach himself from the events and occurrences that pass panorama-like
before his eyes, impressing themselves upon his emotional and
intellectual vision.

The modern artist is, in the words of August Strindberg, "a lay preacher
popularizing the pressing questions of his time." Not necessarily
because his aim is to proselyte, but because he can best express himself
by being true to life.

Millet, Meunier, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Emerson, Walt Whitman, Tolstoy,
Ibsen, Strindberg, Hauptmann and a host of others mirror in their work
as much of the spiritual and social revolt as is expressed by the most
fiery speech of the propagandist. And more important still, they compel
far greater attention. Their creative genius, imbued with the spirit of
sincerity and truth, strikes root where the ordinary word often falls on
barren soil.

The reason that many radicals as well as conservatives fail to grasp the
powerful message of art is perhaps not far to seek. The average radical
is as hidebound by mere terms as the man devoid of all ideas. "Bloated
plutocrats," "economic determinism," "class consciousness," and similar
expressions sum up for him the symbols of revolt. But since art speaks a
language of its own, a language embracing the entire gamut of human
emotions, it often sounds meaningless to those whose hearing has been
dulled by the din of stereotyped phrases.

On the other hand, the conservative sees danger only in the advocacy of
the Red Flag. He has too long been fed on the historic legend that it is
only the "rabble" which makes revolutions, and not those who wield the
brush or pen. It is therefore legitimate to applaud the artist and hound
the rabble. Both radical and conservative have to learn that any mode of
creative work, which with true perception portrays social wrongs
earnestly and boldly, may be a greater menace to our social fabric and
a more powerful inspiration than the wildest harangue of the soapbox

Unfortunately, we in America have so far looked upon the theater as a
place of amusement only, exclusive of ideas and inspiration. Because the
modern drama of Europe has till recently been inaccessible in printed
form to the average theatergoer in this country, he had to content
himself with the interpretation, or rather misinterpretation, of our
dramatic critics. As a result the social significance of the Modern
Drama has well nigh been lost to the general public.

As to the native drama, America has so far produced very little worthy
to be considered in a social light. Lacking the cultural and
evolutionary tradition of the Old World, America has necessarily first
to prepare the soil out of which sprouts creative genius.

The hundred and one springs of local and sectional life must have time
to furrow their common channel into the seething sea of life at large,
and social questions and problems make themselves felt, if not
crystallized, before the throbbing pulse of the big national heart can
find its reflex in a great literature--and specifically in the drama--of
a social character. This evolution has been going on in this country for
a considerable time, shaping the widespread unrest that is now
beginning to assume more or less definite social form and expression.

Therefore, America could not so far produce its own social drama. But in
proportion as the crystallization progresses, and sectional and national
questions become clarified as fundamentally social problems, the drama
develops. Indeed, very commendable beginnings in this direction have
been made within recent years, among them "The Easiest Way," by Eugene
Walter, "Keeping Up Appearances," and other plays by Butler Davenport,
"Nowadays" and two others volumes of one-act plays, by George
Middleton,--attempts that hold out an encouraging promise for the

       *       *       *       *       *

The Modern Drama, as all modern literature, mirrors the complex struggle
of life,--the struggle which, whatever its individual or topical
expression, ever has its roots in the depth of human nature and social
environment, and hence is, to that extent, universal. Such literature,
such drama, is at once the reflex and the inspiration of mankind in its
eternal seeking for things higher and better. Perhaps those who learn
the great truths of the social travail in the school of life, do not
need the message of the drama. But there is another class whose number
is legion, for whom that message is indispensable. In countries where
political oppression affects all classes, the best intellectual element
have made common cause with the people, have become their teachers,
comrades, and spokesmen. But in America political pressure has so far
affected only the "common" people. It is they who are thrown into
prison; they who are persecuted and mobbed, tarred and deported.
Therefore another medium is needed to arouse the intellectuals of this
country, to make them realize their relation to the people, to the
social unrest permeating the atmosphere.

The medium which has the power to do that is the Modern Drama, because
it mirrors every phase of life and embraces every strata of
society,--the Modern Drama, showing each and all caught in the throes of
the tremendous changes going on, and forced either to become part of the
process or be left behind.

Ibsen, Strindberg, Hauptmann, Tolstoy, Shaw, Galsworthy and the other
dramatists contained in this volume represent the social iconoclasts of
our time. They know that society has gone beyond the stage of patching
up, and that man must throw off the dead weight of the past, with all
its ghosts and spooks, if he is to go foot free to meet the future.

This is the social significance which differentiates modern dramatic
art from art for art's sake. It is the dynamite which undermines
superstition, shakes the social pillars, and prepares men and women for
the reconstruction.

Emma Goldman

              TABLE OF CONTENTS

  _Foreword_                                  3

    _Henrik Ibsen_                           11
      The Pillars of Society                 13
      A Doll's House                         18
      Ghosts                                 25
      An Enemy of Society                    34
    _August Strindberg_                      43
      The Father                             45
      Countess Julie                         51
      Comrades                               61

    _Hermann Sudermann_                      69
      Magda                                  71
      The Fires of St. John                  80
    _Gerhart Hauptmann_                      87
      Lonely Lives                           87
      The Weavers                            98
      The Sunken Bell                       108
    _Frank Wedekind_                        118
      The Awakening of Spring               118

    _Maurice Maeterlinck_                   129
      Monna Vanna                           129
    _Edmond Rostand_                        138
      Chantecler                            138
    _Brieux_                                147
      Damaged Goods                         147
      Maternity                             161

    _George Bernard Shaw_                   175
      Mrs. Warren's Profession              176
      Major Barbara                         186
    _John Galsworthy_                       196
      Strife                                197
      Justice                               208
      The Pigeon                            215
    _Stanley Houghton_                      226
      Hindle Wakes                          226
    _Githa Sowerby_                         235
      Rutherford and Son                    235

    _William Butler Yeats_                  250
      Where There Is Nothing                252
    _Lenox Robinson_                        261
      Harvest                               261
    _T. G. Murray_                          267
      Maurice Harte                         267
    _Leo Tolstoy_                           275
      The Power of Darkness                 276
    _Anton Tchekhof_                        283
      The Seagull                           284
      The Cherry Orchard                    290
    _Maxim Gorki_                           294
      A Night's Lodging                     294
    _Leonid Andreyev_                       302
      King-Hunger                           302




In a letter to George Brandes, shortly after the Paris Commune, Henrik
Ibsen wrote concerning the State and political liberty:

"The State is the curse of the individual. How has the national strength
of Prussia been purchased? By the sinking of the individual in a
political and geographical formula.... The State must go! That will be a
revolution which will find me on its side. Undermine the idea of the
State, set up in its place spontaneous action, and the idea that
spiritual relationship is the only thing that makes for unity, and you
will start the elements of a liberty which will be something worth

The State was not the only _bête noire_ of Henrik Ibsen. Every other
institution which, like the State, rests upon a lie, was an iniquity to
him. Uncompromising demolisher of all false idols and dynamiter of all
social shams and hypocrisy, Ibsen consistently strove to uproot every
stone of our social structure. Above all did he thunder his fiery
indictment against the four cardinal sins of modern society: the Lie
inherent in our social arrangements; Sacrifice and Duty, the twin curses
that fetter the spirit of man; the narrow-mindedness and pettiness of
Provincialism, that stifles all growth; and the Lack of Joy and Purpose
in Work which turns life into a vale of misery and tears.

So strongly did Ibsen feel on these matters, that in none of his works
did he lose sight of them. Indeed, they recur again and again, like a
_Leitmotif_ in music, in everything he wrote. These issues form the
keynote to the revolutionary significance of his dramatic works, as well
as to the psychology of Henrik Ibsen himself.

It is, therefore, not a little surprising that most of the interpreters
and admirers of Ibsen so enthusiastically accept his art, and yet remain
utterly indifferent to, not to say ignorant of, the message contained in
it. That is mainly because they are, in the words of Mrs. Alving, "so
pitifully afraid of the light." Hence they go about seeking mysteries
and hunting symbols, and completely losing sight of the meaning that is
as clear as daylight in all of the works of Ibsen, and mainly in the
group of his social plays, "The Pillars of Society," "A Doll's House,"
"Ghosts," and "An Enemy of the People."


The disintegrating effect of the Social Lie, of Duty, as an imposition
and outrage, and of the spirit of Provincialism, as a stifling factor,
are brought out with dynamic force in "The Pillars of Society."

_Consul Bernick_, driven by the conception of his duty toward the House
of Bernick, begins his career with a terrible lie. He sells his love for
_Lona Hessel_ in return for the large dowry of her step-sister _Betty_,
whom he does not love. To forget his treachery, he enters into a
clandestine relationship with an actress of the town. When surprised in
her room by the drunken husband, young _Bernick_ jumps out of the
window, and then graciously accepts the offer of his bosom friend,
_Johan_, to let him take the blame.

_Johan_, together with his faithful sister _Lona_, leaves for America.
In return for his devotion, young _Bernick_ helps to rob his friend of
his good name, by acquiescing in the rumors circulating in the town that
_Johan_ had broken into the safe of the _Bernicks_ and stolen a large
sum of money.

In the opening scene of "The Pillars of Society," we find _Consul
Bernick_ at the height of his career. The richest, most powerful and
respected citizen of the community, he is held up as the model of an
ideal husband and devoted father. In short, a worthy pillar of society.

The best ladies of the town come together in the home of the Bernicks.
They represent the society for the "Lapsed and Lost," and they gather to
do a little charitable sewing and a lot of charitable gossip. It is
through them we learn that _Dina Dorf_, the ward of _Bernick_, is the
issue of the supposed escapade of _Johan_ and the actress.

With them, giving unctuous spiritual advice and representing the purity
and morality of the community, is _Rector Rorlund_, hidebound,
self-righteous, and narrow-minded.

Into this deadening atmosphere of mental and social provincialism comes
_Lona Hessel_, refreshing and invigorating as the wind of the plains.
She has returned to her native town together with _Johan_.

The moment she enters the house of _Bernick_, the whole structure begins
to totter. For in _Lona's_ own words, "Fie, fie--this moral linen here
smells so tainted--just like a shroud. I am accustomed to the air of the
prairies now, I can tell you.... Wait a little, wait a little--we'll
soon rise from the sepulcher. We must have broad daylight here when my
boy comes."

Broad daylight is indeed needed in the community of _Consul Bernick_,
and above all in the life of the _Consul_ himself.

It seems to be the psychology of a lie that it can never stand alone.
_Consul Bernick_ is compelled to weave a network of lies to sustain his
foundation. In the disguise of a good husband, he upbraids, nags, and
tortures his wife on the slightest provocation. In the mask of a devoted
father, he tyrannizes and bullies his only child as only a despot used
to being obeyed can do. Under the cloak of a benevolent citizen he buys
up public land for his own profit. Posing as a true Christian, he even
goes so far as to jeopardize human life. Because of business
considerations he sends _The Indian Girl_, an unseaworthy, rotten
vessel, on a voyage, although he is assured by one of his most capable
and faithful workers that the ship cannot make the journey, that it is
sure to go down. But _Consul Bernick_ is a pillar of society; he needs
the respect and good will of his fellow citizens. He must go from
precipice to precipice, to keep up appearances.

_Lona_ alone sees the abyss facing him, and tells him: "What does it
matter whether such a society is supported or not? What is it that
passes current here? Lies and shams--nothing else. Here are you, the
first man in the town, living in wealth and pride, in power and honor,
you, who have set the brand of crime upon an innocent man." She might
have added, _many_ innocent men, for _Johan_ was not the only one at
whose expense _Karsten Bernick_ built up his career.

The end is inevitable. In the words of _Lona_: "All this eminence, and
you yourself along with it, stand on a trembling quicksand; a moment may
come, a word may be spoken, and, if you do not save yourself in time,
you and your whole grandeur go to the bottom."

But for _Lona_, or, rather, what she symbolizes, _Bernick_--even as _The
Indian Girl_--would go to the bottom.

In the last act, the whole town is preparing to give the great
philanthropist and benefactor, the eminent pillar of society, an
ovation. There are fireworks, music, gifts and speeches in honor of
_Consul Bernick_. At that very moment, the only child of the _Consul_ is
hiding in _The Indian Girl_ to escape the tyranny of his home. _Johan_,
too, is supposed to sail on the same ship, and with him, _Dina_, who has
learned the whole truth and is eager to escape from her prison, to go to
a free atmosphere, to become independent, and then to unite with _Johan_
in love and freedom. As _Dina_ says: "Yes, I will be your wife. But
first I will work, and become something for myself, just as you are. I
will give myself, I will not be taken."

_Consul Bernick_, too, is beginning to realize himself. The strain of
events and the final shock that he had exposed his own child to such
peril, act like a stroke of lightning on the _Consul_. It makes him see
that a house built on lies, shams, and crime must eventually sink by its
own weight. Surrounded by those who truly love and therefore understand
him, _Consul Bernick_, no longer the pillar of society, but the man
becomes conscious of his better self.

"Where have I been?" he exclaims. "You will be horrified when you know.
Now, I feel as if I had just recovered my senses after being poisoned.
But I feel--I feel that I _can_ be young and strong again. Oh, come
nearer--closer around me. Come, Betty! Come, Olaf! Come, Martha! Oh,
Martha, it seems as though I had never seen you in all these years. And
we--we have a long, earnest day of work before us; I most of all. But
let it come; gather close around me, you true and faithful women. I have
learned this, in these days: it is you women who are the Pillars of

_Lona:_ "Thee you have learned a poor wisdom, brother-in-law. No, no;
the spirit of Truth and of Freedom--these are the Pillars of Society."

The spirit of truth and freedom is the socio-revolutionary significance
of "The Pillars of Society." Those, who, like _Consul Bernick_, fail to
realize this all-important fact, go on patching up _The Indian Girl_,
which is Ibsen's symbol for our society. But they, too, must learn that
society is rotten to the core; that patching up or reforming one sore
spot merely drives the social poison deeper into the system, and that
all must go to the bottom unless the spirit of Truth and Freedom
revolutionize the world.


In "A Doll's House" Ibsen returns to the subject so vital to him,--the
Social Lie and Duty,--this time as manifesting themselves in the sacred
institution of the home and in the position of woman in her gilded cage.

_Nora_ is the beloved, adored wife of _Torvald Helmer_. He is an
admirable man, rigidly honest, of high moral ideals, and passionately
devoted to his wife and children. In short, a good man and an enviable
husband. Almost every mother would be proud of such a match for her
daughter, and the latter would consider herself fortunate to become the
wife of such a man.

_Nora_, too, considers herself fortunate. Indeed, she worships her
husband, believes in him implicitly, and is sure that if ever her safety
should be menaced, _Torvald_, her idol, her god, would perform the

When a woman loves as _Nora_ does, nothing else matters; least of all,
social, legal or moral considerations. Therefore, when her husband's
life is threatened, it is no effort, it is joy for _Nora_ to forge her
father's name to a note and borrow 800 cronen on it, in order to take
her sick husband to Italy.

In her eagerness to serve her husband, and in perfect innocence of the
legal aspect of her act, she does not give the matter much thought,
except for her anxiety to shield him from any emergency that may call
upon him to perform the miracle in her behalf. She works hard, and saves
every penny of her pin-money to pay back the amount she borrowed on the
forged check.

_Nora_ is light-hearted and gay, apparently without depth. Who, indeed,
would expect depth of a doll, a "squirrel," a song-bird? Her purpose in
life is to be happy for her husband's sake, for the sake of the
children; to sing, dance, and play with them. Besides, is she not
shielded, protected, and cared for? Who, then, would suspect _Nora_ of
depth? But already in the opening scene, when _Torvald_ inquires what
his precious "squirrel" wants for a Christmas present, _Nora_ quickly
asks him for money. Is it to buy macaroons or finery? In her talk with
_Mrs. Linden_, _Nora_ reveals her inner self, and forecasts the
inevitable debacle of her doll's house.

After telling her friend how she had saved her husband, _Nora_ says:
"When Torvald gave me money for clothes and so on, I never used more
than half of it; I always bought the simplest things.... Torvald never
noticed anything. But it was often very hard, Christina dear. For it's
nice to be beautifully dressed. Now, isn't it?... Well, and besides
that, I made money in other ways. Last winter I was so lucky--I got a
heap of copying to do. I shut myself up every evening and wrote far into
the night. Oh, sometimes I was so tired, so tired. And yet it was
splendid to work in that way and earn money. I almost felt as if I was a

Down deep in the consciousness of _Nora_ there evidently slumbers
personality and character, which could come into full bloom only through
a great miracle--not the kind _Nora_ hopes for, but a miracle just the

_Nora_ had borrowed the money from _Nils Krogstad_, a man with a shady
past in the eyes of the community and of the righteous moralist,
_Torvald Helmer_. So long as _Krogstad_ is allowed the little breathing
space a Christian people grants to him who has once broken its laws, he
is reasonably human. He does not molest _Nora_. But when _Helmer_
becomes director of the bank in which _Krogstad_ is employed, and
threatens the man with dismissal, _Krogstad_ naturally fights back. For
as he says to _Nora_: "If need be, I shall fight as though for my life
to keep my little place in the bank.... It's not only for the money:
that matters least to me. It's something else. Well, I'd better make a
clean breast of it. Of course you know, like every one else, that some
years ago I--got into trouble.... The matter never came into court; but
from that moment all paths were barred to me. Then I took up the
business you know about. I was obliged to grasp at something; and I
don't think I've been one of the worst. But now I must clear out of it
all. My sons are growing up; for their sake I must try to win back as
much respectability as I can. This place in the bank was the first step,
and now your husband wants to kick me off the ladder, back into the
mire. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently have no clear idea what you have really
done. But I can assure you that it was nothing more and nothing worse
that made me an outcast from society.... But this I may tell you, that
If I'm flung into the gutter a second time, you shall keep me company."

Even when _Nora_ is confronted with this awful threat, she does not fear
for herself, only for _Torvald_,--so good, so true, who has such an
aversion to debts, but who loves her so devotedly that for her sake he
would take the blame upon himself. But this must never be. _Nora_, too,
begins a fight for life, for her husband's life and that of her
children. Did not _Helmer_ tell her that the very presence of a criminal
like _Krogstad_ poisons the children? And is she not a criminal?

_Torvald Helmer_ assures her, in his male conceit, that "early
corruption generally comes from the mother's side, but of course the
father's influence may act in the same way. And this Krogstad has been
poisoning his own children for years past by a life of lies and
hypocrisy--that's why I call him morally ruined."

Poor _Nora_, who cannot understand why a daughter has no right to spare
her dying father anxiety, or why a wife has no right to save her
husband's life, is surely not aware of the true character of her idol.
But gradually the veil is lifted. At first, when in reply to her
desperate pleading for _Krogstad_, her husband discloses the true reason
for wanting to get rid of him: "The fact is, he was a college chum of
mine--there was one of those rash friendships between us that one so
often repents later. I don't mind confessing it--he calls me by my
Christian name; and he insists on doing it even when others are present.
He delights in putting on airs of familiarity--Torvald here, Torvald
there! I assure you it's most painful to me. He would make my position
at the bank perfectly unendurable."

And then again when the final blow comes. For forty-eight hours _Nora_
battles for her ideal, never doubting _Torvald_ for a moment. Indeed,
so absolutely sure is she of her strong oak, her lord, her god, that she
would rather kill herself than have him take the blame for her act. The
end comes, and with it the doll's house tumbles down, and _Nora_
discards her doll's dress--she sheds her skin, as it were. _Torvald
Helmer_ proves himself a petty Philistine, a bully and a coward, as so
many good husbands when they throw off their respectable cloak.

_Helmer's_ rage over _Nora's_ crime subsides the moment the danger of
publicity is averted--proving that _Helmer_, like many a moralist, is
not so much incensed at _Nora's_ offense as by the fear of being found
out. Not so _Nora_. Finding out is her salvation. It is then that she
realizes how much she has been wronged, that she is only a plaything, a
doll to _Helmer_. In her disillusionment she says, "You have never loved
me. You only thought it amusing to be in love with me."

  _Helmer._ Why, Nora, what a thing to say!

  _Nora._ Yes, it is so, Torvald. While I was at home with father he
  used to tell me all his opinions and I held the same opinions. If I
  had others I concealed them, because he would not have liked it. He
  used to call me his doll child, and play with me as I played with my
  dolls. Then I came to live in your house---- ... I mean I passed
  from father's hands into yours. You settled everything according to
  your taste; and I got the same tastes as you; or I pretended to--I
  don't know which--both ways perhaps. When I look back on it now, I
  seem to have been living here like a beggar, from hand to mouth. I
  lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it
  so. You and father have done me a great wrong. It's your fault that
  my life has been wasted....

  _Helmer._ It's exasperating! Can you forsake your holiest duties in
  this way?

  _Nora._ What do you call my holiest duties?

  _Helmer._ Do you ask me that? Your duties to your husband and your

  _Nora._ I have other duties equally sacred.

  _Helmer._ Impossible! What duties do you mean?

  _Nora._ My duties toward myself.

  _Helmer._ Before all else you are a wife and a mother.

  _Nora._ That I no longer believe. I think that before all else I am
  a human being, just as much as you are--or, at least, I will try to
  become one. I know that most people agree with you, Torvald, and
  that they say so in books. But henceforth I can't be satisfied with
  what most people say, and what is in books. I must think things out
  for myself and try to get clear about them.... I had been living
  here these eight years with a strange man, and had borne him three
  children--Oh! I can't bear to think of it--I could tear myself to
  pieces!... I can't spend the night in a strange man's house.

Is there anything more degrading to woman than to live with a stranger,
and bear him children? Yet, the lie of the marriage institution decrees
that she shall continue to do so, and the social conception of duty
insists that for the sake of that lie she need be nothing else than a
plaything, a doll, a nonentity.

When _Nora_ closes behind her the door of her doll's house, she opens
wide the gate of life for woman, and proclaims the revolutionary message
that only perfect freedom and communion make a true bond between man and
woman, meeting in the open, without lies, without shame, free from the
bondage of duty.


The social and revolutionary significance of Henrik Ibsen is brought
out with even greater force in "Ghosts" than in his preceding works.

Not only does this pioneer of modern dramatic art undermine in "Ghosts"
the Social Lie and the paralyzing effect of Duty, but the uselessness
and evil of Sacrifice, the dreary Lack of Joy and of Purpose in Work are
brought to light as most pernicious and destructive elements in life.

_Mrs. Alving_, having made what her family called a most admirable
match, discovers shortly after her marriage that her husband is a
drunkard and a _roué_. In her despair she flees to her young friend, the
divinity student _Manders_. But he, preparing to save souls, even though
they be encased in rotten bodies, sends _Mrs. Alving_ back to her
husband and her duties toward her home.

_Helen Alving_ is young and immature. Besides, she loves young
_Manders_; his command is law to her. She returns home, and for
twenty-five years suffers all the misery and torture of the damned. That
she survives is due mainly to her passionate love for the child born of
that horrible relationship--her boy _Oswald_, her all in life. He must
be saved at any cost. To do that, she had sacrificed her great yearning
for him and sent him away from the poisonous atmosphere of her home.

And now he has returned, fine and free, much to the disgust of _Pastor
Manders_, whose limited vision cannot conceive that out in the large
world free men and women can live a decent and creative life.

  _Manders._ But how is it possible that a--a young man or young woman
  with any decent principles can endure to live in that way?--in the
  eyes of all the world!

  _Oswald._ What are they to do? A poor young artist--a poor girl. It
  costs a lot of money to get married. What are they to do?

  _Manders._ What are they to do? Let me tell you, Mr. Alving, what
  they ought to do. They ought to exercise self-restraint from the
  first; that's what they ought to do.

  _Oswald._ Such talk as that won't go far with warm-blooded young
  people, over head and ears in love.

  _Mrs. Alving._ No, it wouldn't go far.

  _Manders._ How can the authorities tolerate such things? Allow it to
  go on in the light of day? (_To Mrs. Alving._) Had I not cause to be
  deeply concerned about your son? In circles where open immorality
  prevails, and has even a sort of prestige----!

  _Oswald._ Let me tell you, sir, that I have been a constant
  Sunday-guest in one or two such irregular homes----

  _Manders._ On Sunday of all days!

  _Oswald._ Isn't that the day to enjoy one's self? Well, never have I
  heard an offensive word, and still less have I ever witnessed
  anything that could be called immoral. No; do you know when and
  where I have found immorality in artistic circles?

  _Manders._ No! Thank heaven, I don't!

  _Oswald._ Well, then, allow me to inform you. I have met with it
  when one or other of our pattern husbands and fathers has come to
  Paris to have a look around on his own account, and has done the
  artists the honor of visiting their humble haunts. _They_ knew what
  was what. These gentlemen could tell us all about places and things
  we had never dreamt of.

  _Manders._ What? Do you mean to say that respectable men from home
  here would----?

  _Oswald._ Have you never heard these respectable men, when they got
  home again, talking about the way in which immorality was running
  rampant abroad?

  _Manders_. Yes, of course.

  _Mrs. Alving._ I have, too.

  _Oswald._ Well, you may take their word for it. They know what they
  are talking about! Oh! that that great, free, glorious life out
  there should be defiled in such a way!

_Pastor Manders_ is outraged, and when _Oswald_ leaves, he delivers
himself of a tirade against _Mrs. Alving_ for her "irresponsible
proclivities to shirk her duty."

  _Manders._ It is only the spirit of rebellion that craves for
  happiness in this life. What right have we human beings to
  happiness? No, we have to do our duty! And your duty was to hold
  firmly to the man you had once chosen and to whom you were bound by
  a holy tie.... It was your duty to bear with humility the cross
  which a Higher Power had, for your own good, laid upon you. But
  instead of that you rebelliously cast away the cross.... I was but a
  poor instrument in a Higher Hand. And what a blessing has it not
  been to you all the days of your life, that I got you to resume the
  yoke of duty and obedience!

The price _Mrs. Alving_ had to pay for her yoke, her duty and obedience,
staggers even _Dr. Manders_, when she reveals to him the martyrdom she
had endured those long years.

  _Mrs. Alving._ You have now spoken out, Pastor Manders; and
  to-morrow you are to speak publicly in memory of my husband. I
  shall not speak to-morrow. But now I will speak out a little to you,
  as you have spoken to me.... I want you to know that after nineteen
  years of marriage my husband remained as dissolute in his desires as
  he was when you married us. After Oswald's birth, I thought Alving
  seemed to be a little better. But it did not last long. And then I
  had to struggle twice as hard, fighting for life or death, so that
  nobody should know what sort of a man my child's father was. I had
  my little son to bear it for. But when the last insult was added;
  when my own servant-maid---- Then I swore to myself: This shall come
  to an end. And so I took the upper hand in the house--the whole
  control over him and over everything else. For now I had a weapon
  against him, you see; he dared not oppose me. It was then that
  Oswald was sent from home. He was in his seventh year, and was
  beginning to observe and ask questions, as children do. That I could
  not bear. I thought the child must get poisoned by merely breathing
  the air in this polluted home. That was why I placed him out. And
  now you can see, too, why he was never allowed to set foot inside
  his home so long as his father lived. No one knows what it has cost
  me.... From the day after to-morrow it shall be for me as though he
  who is dead had never lived in this house. No one shall be here but
  my boy and his mother. (_From within the dining-room comes the noise
  of a chair overturned, and at the same moment is heard:_)

  _Regina (sharply, but whispering)._ Oswald! take care! are you mad?
  let me go!

  _Mrs. Alving (starts in terror)._ Ah! (_She stares wildly toward
  the half-opened door. Oswald is heard coughing and humming inside.)_

  _Manders (excited)._ What in the world is the matter? What is it,
  Mrs. Alving?

  _Mrs. Alving (hoarsely)._ Ghosts! The couple from the conservatory
  has risen again!

Ghosts, indeed! _Mrs. Alving_ sees this but too clearly when she
discovers that though she did not want _Oswald_ to inherit a single
penny from the purchase money _Captain Alving_ had paid for her, all her
sacrifice did not save _Oswald_ from the poisoned heritage of his
father. She learns soon enough that her beloved boy had inherited a
terrible disease from his father, as a result of which he will never
again be able to work. She also finds out that, for all her freedom, she
has remained in the clutches of Ghosts, and that she has fostered in
_Oswald's_ mind an ideal of his father, the more terrible because of her
own loathing for the man. Too late she realizes her fatal mistake:

  _Mrs. Alving._ I ought never to have concealed the facts of Alving's
  life. But ... in my superstitious awe for Duty and Decency I lied to
  my boy, year after year. Oh! what a coward, what a coward I have
  been!... Ghosts! When I heard Regina and Oswald in there, it was as
  though I saw the Ghosts before me. But I almost think we are all of
  us Ghosts, Pastor Manders. It is not only what we have inherited
  from our father and mother that "walks" in us. It is all sorts of
  dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no
  vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can't get rid of
  them.... There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the
  sand of the sea. And then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid
  of the light.... When you forced me under the yoke you called Duty
  and Obligation; when you praised as right and proper what my whole
  soul rebelled against, as something loathsome. It was then that I
  began to look into the seams of your doctrine. I only wished to pick
  at a single knot; but when I had got that undone, the whole thing
  ravelled out. And then I understood that it was all machine-sewn....
  It was a crime against us both.

Indeed, a crime on which the sacred institution is built, and for which
thousands of innocent children must pay with their happiness and life,
while their mothers continue to the very end without ever learning how
hideously criminal their life is.

Not so _Mrs. Alving_ who, though at a terrible price, works herself out
to the truth; aye, even to the height of understanding the dissolute
life of the father of her child, who had lived in cramped provincial
surroundings, and could find no purpose in life, no outlet for his
exuberance. It is through her child, through _Oswald_, that all this
becomes illumed to her.

  _Oswald._ Ah, the joy of life, mother; that's a thing you don't know
  much about in these parts. I have never felt it here.... And then,
  too, the joy of work. At bottom, it's the same thing. But that too
  you know nothing about.... Here people are brought up to believe
  that work is a curse and a punishment for sin, and that life is
  something miserable, something we want to be done with, the sooner
  the better.... Have you noticed that everything I have painted has
  turned upon the joy of life? always, always upon the joy of
  life?--light and sunshine and glorious air, and faces radiant with
  happiness? That is why I am afraid of remaining at home with you.

  _Mrs. Alving._ Oswald, you spoke of the joy of life; and at that
  word a new light burst for me over my life and all it has
  contained.... You ought to have known your father when he was a
  young lieutenant. He was brimming over with the joy of life!... He
  had no object in life, but only an official position. He had no work
  into which he could throw himself heart and soul; he had only
  business. He had not a single comrade that knew what the joy of life
  meant--only loafers and boon companions----.... So that happened
  which was sure to happen.... Oswald, my dear boy; has it shaken you
  very much?

  _Oswald._ Of course it came upon me as a great surprise, but, after
  all, it can't matter much to me.

  _Mrs. Alving._ Can't matter! That your father was so infinitely

  _Oswald._ Of course I can pity him as I would anybody else; but----

  _Mrs. Alving._ Nothing more? Your own father!

  _Oswald._ Oh, there! "Father," "father"! I never knew anything of
  father. I don't remember anything about him except--that he once
  made me sick.

  _Mrs. Alving._ That's a terrible way to speak! Should not a son love
  his father, all the same?

  _Oswald._ When a son has nothing to thank his father for? has never
  known him? Do you really cling to the old superstition?--you who are
  so enlightened in other ways?

  _Mrs. Alving._ Is that only a superstition?

In truth, a superstition--one that is kept like the sword of Damocles
over the child who does not ask to be given life, and is yet tied with a
thousand chains to those who bring him into a cheerless, joyless, and
wretched world.

       *       *       *       *       *

The voice of Henrik Ibsen in "Ghosts" sounds like the trumpets before
the walls of Jericho. Into the remotest nooks and corners reaches his
voice, with its thundering indictment of our moral cancers, our social
poisons, our hideous crimes against unborn and born victims. Verily a
more revolutionary condemnation has never been uttered in dramatic form
before or since the great Henrik Ibsen.

We need, therefore, not be surprised at the vile abuse and denunciation
heaped upon Ibsen's head by the Church, the State, and other moral
eunuchs. But the spirit of Henrik Ibsen could not be daunted. It
asserted itself with even greater defiance in "An Enemy of Society,"--a
powerful arraignment of the political and economic Lie,--Ibsen's own
confession of faith.


Dr. Thomas Stockmann is called to the position of medical adviser to the
management of the "Baths," the main resource of his native town.

A sincere man of high ideals, _Dr. Stockmann_ returns home after an
absence of many years, full of the spirit of enterprise and progressive
innovation. For as he says to his brother _Peter_, the town
_Burgomaster_, "I am so glad and content. I feel so unspeakably happy in
the midst of all this growing, germinating life. After all, what a
glorious time we do live in. It is as if a new world were springing up
around us."

  _Burgomaster._ Do you really think so?

  _Dr. Stockmann._ Well, of course, you can't see this as clearly as I
  do. You've spent all your life in this place, and so your
  perceptions have been dulled. But I, who had to live up there in
  that small hole in the north all those years, hardly ever seeing a
  soul to speak a stimulating word to me--all this affects me as if I
  were carried to the midst of a crowded city--I know well enough that
  the conditions of life are small compared with many other towns. But
  here is life, growth, an infinity of things to work for and to
  strive for; and that is the main point.

In this spirit _Dr. Stockmann_ sets to his task. After two years of
careful investigation, he finds that the Baths are built on a swamp,
full of poisonous germs, and that people who come there for their health
will be infected with fever.

_Thomas Stockmann_ is a conscientious physician. He loves his native
town, but he loves his fellow-men more. He considers it his duty to
communicate his discovery to the highest authority of the town, the
_Burgomaster_, his brother _Peter Stockmann_.

_Dr. Stockmann_ is indeed an idealist; else he would know that the man
is often lost in the official. Besides, _Peter Stockmann_ is also the
president of the board of directors and one of the heaviest stockholders
of the Baths. Sufficient reason to upbraid his reckless medical brother
as a dangerous man:

  _Burgomaster._ Anyhow, you've an ingrained propensity for going your
  own way. And that in a well-ordered community is almost as
  dangerous. The individual must submit himself to the whole
  community, or, to speak more correctly, bow to the authority that
  watches over the welfare of all.

But the _Doctor_ is not disconcerted: _Peter_ is an official; he is not
concerned with ideals. But there is the press,--that is the medium for
his purpose! The staff of the _People's Messenger_--_Hovstad_,
_Billings_, and _Aslaksen_, are deeply impressed by the _Doctor's_
discovery. With one eye to good copy and the other to the political
chances, they immediately put the _People's Messenger_ at the disposal
of _Thomas Stockmann_. _Hovstad_ sees great possibilities for a thorough
radical reform of the whole life of the community.

  _Hovstad._ To you, as a doctor and a man of science, this business
  of the water-works is an isolated affair. I fancy it hasn't occurred
  to you that a good many other things are connected with it.... The
  swamp our whole municipal life stands and rots in.... I think a
  journalist assumes an immense responsibility when he neglects an
  opportunity of aiding the masses, the poor, the oppressed. I know
  well enough that the upper classes will call this stirring up the
  people, and so forth, but they can do as they please, if only my
  conscience is clear.

_Aslaksen_, printer of the _People's Messenger_, chairman of the
Householders' Association, and agent for the Moderation Society, has,
like _Hovstad_, a keen eye to business. He assures the _Doctor_ of his
whole-hearted coöperation, especially emphasizing that, "It might do you
no harm to have us middle-class men at your back. We now form a compact
majority in the town--when we really make up our minds to. And it's
always as well, Doctor, to have the majority with you.... And so I think
it wouldn't be amiss if we made some sort of a demonstration.... Of
course with great moderation, Doctor. I am always in favor of
moderation; for moderation is a citizen's first virtue--at least those
are my sentiments."

Truly, _Dr. Stockmann_ is an idealist; else he would not place so much
faith in the staff of the _People's Messenger_, who love the people so
well that they constantly feed them with high-sounding phrases of
democratic principles and of the noble function of the press, while they
pilfer their pockets.

That is expressed in _Hovstad's_ own words, when _Petra_, the daughter
of _Dr. Stockmann_, returns a sentimental novel she was to translate for
the _People's Messenger_: "This can't possibly go into the _Messenger_,"
she tells _Hovstad_; "it is in direct contradiction to your own

  _Hovstad._ Well, but for the sake of the cause--

  _Petra._ You don't understand me yet. It is all about a supernatural
  power that looks after the so-called good people here on earth, and
  turns all things to their advantage at last, and all the bad people
  are punished.

  _Hovstad._ Yes, but that's very fine. It's the very thing the public

  _Petra._ And would you supply the public with such stuff? Why, you
  don't believe one word of it yourself. You know well enough that
  things don't really happen like that.

  _Hovstad._ You're right there; but an editor can't always do as he
  likes. He often has to yield to public opinion in small matters.
  After all, politics is the chief thing in life--at any rate for a
  newspaper; and if I want the people to follow me along the path of
  emancipation and progress, I mustn't scare them away. If they find
  such a moral story down in the cellar, they're much more willing to
  stand what is printed above it--they feel themselves safer.

Editors of the stamp of _Hovstad_ seldom dare to express their real
opinions. They cannot afford to "scare away" their readers. They
generally yield to the most ignorant and vulgar public opinion; they do
not set themselves up against constituted authority. Therefore the
_People's Messenger_ drops the "greatest man" in town when it learns
that the _Burgomaster_ and the influential citizens are determined that
the truth shall be silenced. The _Burgomaster_ soundly denounces his
brother's "rebellion."

  _Burgomaster._ The public doesn't need new ideas. The public is best
  served by the good old recognized ideas that they have already....
  As an official, you've no right to have any individual conviction.

  _Dr. Stockmann._ The source is poisoned, man! Are you mad? We live
  by trafficking in filth and garbage. The whole of our developing
  social life is rooted in a lie!

  _Burgomaster._ Idle fancies--or something worse. The man who makes
  such offensive insinuations against his own native place must be an
  enemy of society.

  _Dr. Stockmann._ And I must bear such treatment! In my own house.
  Katrine! What do you think of it?

  _Mrs. Stockmann._ Indeed, it is a shame and an insult,
  Thomas----.... But, after all, your brother has the power----

  _Dr. Stockmann._ Yes, but I have the right!

  _Mrs. Stockmann._ Ah, yes, right, right! What is the good of being
  right when you haven't any might?

  _Dr. Stockmann._ What! No good in a free society to have right on
  your side? You are absurd, Katrine. And besides, haven't I the free
  and independent press with me? The compact majority behind me?
  That's might enough, I should think!

_Katrine Stockmann_ is wiser than her husband. For he who has no might
need hope for no right. The good _Doctor_ has to drink the bitter cup to
the last drop before he realizes the wisdom of his wife.

Threatened by the authorities and repudiated by the _People's
Messenger_, _Dr. Stockmann_ attempts to secure a hall wherein to hold a
public meeting. A free-born citizen, he believes in the Constitution and
its guarantees; he is determined to maintain his right of free
expression. But like so many others, even most advanced liberals blinded
by the spook of constitutional rights and free speech, _Dr. Stockmann_
inevitably has to pay the penalty of his credulity. He finds every hall
in town closed against him. Only one solitary citizen has the courage to
open his doors to the persecuted Doctor,--his old friend _Horster_. But
the mob follows him even there and howls him down as an enemy of
society. _Thomas Stockmann_ makes the discovery in his battle with
ignorance, stupidity, and vested interests that "the most dangerous
enemies of truth and freedom in our midst are the compact majority, the
damned compact liberal majority." His experiences lead him to the
conclusion that "the majority is never right.... That is one of those
conventional lies against which a free, thoughtful man must rebel....
The majority has might unhappily--but right it has not."

  _Hovstad._ The man who would ruin a whole community must be an enemy
  of society!

  _Dr. Stockmann._ It doesn't matter if a lying community is
  ruined!... You'll poison the whole country in time; you will bring
  it to such a pass that the whole country will deserve to perish. And
  should it come to this, I say, from the bottom of my heart: Perish
  the country! Perish all its people!

Driven out of the place, hooted and jeered by the mob, _Dr. Stockmann_
barely escapes with his life, and seeks safety in his home, only to
find everything demolished there. In due time he is repudiated by the
grocer, the baker, and the candlestick maker. The landlord, of course,
is very sorry for him. The Stockmanns have always paid their rent
regularly, but it would injure his reputation to have such an avowed
rebel for a tenant. The grocer is sorry, and the butcher, too; but they
can not jeopardize their business. Finally the board of education sends
expressions of regret: _Petra_ is an excellent teacher and the boys of
Stockmann splendid pupils, but it would contaminate the other children
were the Stockmanns allowed to remain at school. And again _Dr.
Stockmann_ learns a vital lesson. But he will not submit; he will be

  _Dr. Stockmann._ Should I let myself be beaten off the field by
  public opinion, and the compact majority, and such deviltry? No,
  thanks. Besides, what I want is so simple, so clear and
  straightforward. I only want to drive into the heads of these curs
  that the Liberals are the worst foes of free men; that
  party-programmes wring the necks of all young living truths; that
  considerations of expediency turn morality and righteousness upside
  down, until life is simply hideous.... I don't see any man free and
  brave enough to dare the Truth.... The strongest man is he who
  stands most alone.

A confession of faith, indeed, because Henrik Ibsen, although recognized
as a great dramatic artist, remained alone in his stand as a

His dramatic art, without his glorious rebellion against every
authoritative institution, against every social and moral lie, against
every vestige of bondage, were inconceivable. Just as his art would lose
human significance, were his love of truth and freedom lacking. Already
in "Brand," Henrik Ibsen demanded all or nothing, no weak-kneed
moderation,--no compromise of any sort in the struggle for the ideal.
His proud defiance, his enthusiastic daring, his utter indifference to
consequences, are Henrik Ibsen's bugle call, heralding a new dawn and
the birth of a new race.


"The reproach was levelled against my tragedy, 'The Father,' that it was
so sad, as though one wanted merry tragedies. People clamour for the joy
of life, and the theatrical managers order farces, as though the joy of
life consisted in being foolish, and in describing people as if they
were each and all afflicted with St. Vitus's dance or idiocy. I find the
joy of life in the powerful, cruel struggle of life, and my enjoyment in
discovering something, in learning something."

The passionate desire to discover something, to learn something, has
made of August Strindberg a keen dissector of souls. Above all, of his
own soul.

Surely there is no figure in contemporary literature, outside of
Tolstoy, that laid bare the most secret nooks and corners of his own
soul with the sincerity of August Strindberg. One so relentlessly honest
with himself, could be no less with others.

That explains the bitter opposition and hatred of his critics. They did
not object so much to Strindberg's self-torture; but that he should
have dared to torture _them_, to hold up his searching mirror to
_their_ sore spots, that they could not forgive.

Especially is this true of woman. For centuries she has been lulled into
a trance by the songs of the troubadours who paid homage to her
goodness, her sweetness, her selflessness and, above all, her noble
motherhood. And though she is beginning to appreciate that all this
incense has befogged her mind and paralyzed her soul, she hates to give
up the tribute laid at her feet by sentimental moonshiners of the past.

To be sure, it is rude to turn on the full searchlight upon a painted
face. But how is one to know what is back of the paint and artifice?
August Strindberg hated artifice with all the passion of his being;
hence his severe criticism of woman. Perhaps it was his tragedy to see
her as she really is, and not as she appears in her trance. To love with
open eyes is, indeed, a tragedy, and Strindberg loved woman. All his
life long he yearned for her love, as mother, as wife, as companion. But
his longing for, and his need of her, were the crucible of Strindberg,
as they have been the crucible of every man, even of the mightiest

Why it is so is best expressed in the words of the old nurse, _Margret_,
in "The Father": "Because all you men, great and small, are woman's
children, every man of you."

The child in man--- and the greater the man the more dominant the child
in him--has ever succumbed to the Earth Spirit, Woman, and as long as
that is her only drawing power, Man, with all his strength and genius,
will ever be at her feet.

The Earth Spirit is motherhood carrying the race in its womb; the flame
of life luring the moth, often against its will, to destruction.

In all of Strindberg's plays we see the flame of life at work, ravishing
man's brain, consuming man's faith, rousing man's passion. Always,
always the flame of life is drawing its victims with irresistible force.
August Strindberg's arraignment of that force is at the same time a
confession of faith. He, too, was the child of woman, and utterly
helpless before her.


"The Father" portrays the tragedy of a man and a woman struggling for
the possession of their child. The father, a cavalry captain, is
intellectual, a freethinker, a man of ideas. His wife is narrow,
selfish, and unscrupulous in her methods when her antagonism is wakened.

Other members of the family are the wife's mother, a Spiritualist, and
the _Captain's_ old nurse, _Margret_, ignorant and superstitious. The
father feels that the child would be poisoned in such an atmosphere:

  _The Captain._ This house is full of women who all want to have
  their say about my child. My mother-in-law wants to make a
  Spiritualist of her. Laura wants her to be an artist; the governess
  wants her to be a Methodist, old Margret a Baptist, and the
  servant-girls want her to join the Salvation Army! It won't do to
  try to make a soul in patches like that. I, who have the chief right
  to try to form her character, am constantly opposed in my efforts.
  And that's why I have decided to send her away from home.

But it is not only because the _Captain_ does not believe in "making a
soul in patches," that he wants to rescue the child from the hot-house
environment, nor because he plans to make her an image of himself. It is
rather because he wants her to grow up with a healthy outlook on life.

  _The Captain._ I don't want to be a procurer for my daughter and
  educate her exclusively for matrimony, for then if she were left
  unmarried she might have bitter days. On the other hand, I don't
  want to influence her toward a career that requires a long course of
  training which would be entirely thrown away if she should marry. I
  want her to be a teacher. If she remains unmarried she will be able
  to support herself, and at any rate she wouldn't be any worse off
  than the poor schoolmasters who have to share their salaries with a
  family. If she marries she can use her knowledge in the education
  of her children.

While the father's love is concerned with the development of the child,
that of the mother is interested mainly in the possession of the child.
Therefore she fights the man with every means at her command, even to
the point of instilling the poison of doubt into his mind, by hints that
he is not the father of the child. Not only does she seek to drive her
husband mad, but through skillful intrigue she leads every one,
including the Doctor, to believe that he is actually insane. Finally
even the old nurse is induced to betray him: she slips the straitjacket
over him, adding the last touch to the treachery. Robbed of his faith,
broken in spirit and subdued, the _Captain_ dies a victim of the Earth
Spirit--of motherhood, which slays the man for the sake of the child.
Laura herself will have it so when she tells her husband, "You have
fulfilled your function as an unfortunately necessary father and
breadwinner. You are not needed any longer, and you must go."

       *       *       *       *       *

Critics have pronounced "The Father" an aberration of Strindberg's mind,
utterly false and distorted. But that is because they hate to face the
truth. In Strindberg, however, the truth is his most revolutionary

"The Father" contains two basic truths. Motherhood, much praised,
poetized, and hailed as a wonderful thing, is in reality very often the
greatest deterrent influence in the life of the child. Because it is not
primarily concerned with the potentialities of character and growth of
the child; on the contrary, it is interested chiefly in the
birthgiver,--that is, the mother. Therefore, the mother is the most
subjective, self-centered and conservative obstacle. She binds the child
to herself with a thousand threads which never grant sufficient freedom
for mental and spiritual expansion. It is not necessary to be as bitter
as Strindberg to realize this. There are of course exceptional mothers
who continue to grow with the child. But the average mother is like the
hen with her brood, forever fretting about her chicks if they venture a
step away from the coop. The mother enslaves with kindness,--a bondage
harder to bear and more difficult to escape than the brutal fist of the

Strindberg himself experienced it, and nearly every one who has ever
attempted to outgrow the soul strings of the mother.

In portraying motherhood, as it really is, August Strindberg is
conveying a vital and revolutionary message, namely, that true
motherhood, even as fatherhood, does not consist in molding the child
according to one's image, or in imposing upon it one's own ideas and
notions, but in allowing the child freedom and opportunity to grow
harmoniously according to its own potentialities, unhampered and

The child was August Strindberg's religion,--perhaps because of his own
very tragic childhood and youth. He was like Father Time in "Jude the
Obscure," a giant child, and as he has _Laura_ say of the _Captain_ in
"The Father," "he had either come too early into the world, or perhaps
was not wanted at all."

"Yes, that's how it was," the _Captain_ replies, "my father's and my
mother's will was against my coming into the world, and consequently I
was born without a will."

The horror of having been brought into the world undesired and unloved,
stamped its indelible mark on August Strindberg. It never left him. Nor
did fear and hunger--the two terrible phantoms of his childhood.

Indeed, the child was Strindberg's religion, his faith, his passion. Is
it then surprising that he should have resented woman's attitude towards
the man as a mere means to the child; or, in the words of _Laura_, as
"the function of father and breadwinner"? That this is the attitude of
woman, is of course denied. But it is nevertheless true. It holds good
not only of the average, unthinking woman, but even of many feminists
of to-day; and, no doubt, they were even more antagonistic to the male
in Strindberg's time.

It is only too true that woman is paying back what she has endured for
centuries--humiliation, subjection, and bondage. But making oneself free
through the enslavement of another, is by no means a step toward
advancement. Woman must grow to understand that the father is as vital a
factor in the life of the child as is the mother. Such a realization
would help very much to minimize the conflict between the sexes.

Of course, that is not the only cause of the conflict. There is another,
as expressed by _Laura_: "Do you remember when I first came into your
life, I was like a second mother?... I loved you as my child. But ...
when the nature of your feelings changed and you appeared as my lover, I
blushed, and your embraces were joy that was followed by remorseful
conscience as if my blood were ashamed."

The vile thought instilled into woman by the Church and Puritanism that
sex expression without the purpose of procreation is immoral, has been a
most degrading influence. It has poisoned the life of thousands of women
who similarly suffer "remorseful conscience"; therefore their disgust
and hatred of the man; therefore also the conflict.

Must it always be thus? Even Strindberg does not think so. Else he would
not plead in behalf of "divorce between man and wife, so that lovers
may be born." He felt that until man and woman cease to have "remorseful
consciences" because of the most elemental expression of the joy of
life, they cannot realize the purity and beauty of sex, nor appreciate
its ecstasy, as the source of full understanding and creative harmony
between male and female. Till then man and woman must remain in
conflict, and the child pay the penalty.

August Strindberg, as one of the numberless innocent victims of this
terrible conflict, cries out bitterly against it, with the artistic
genius and strength that compel attention to the significance of his


In his masterly preface to this play, August Strindberg writes: "The
fact that my tragedy makes a sad impression on many is the fault of the
many. When we become strong, as were the first French revolutionaries,
it will make an exclusively pleasant and cheerful impression to see the
royal parks cleared of rotting, superannuated trees which have too long
stood in the way of others with equal right to vegetate their full
lifetime; it will make a good impression in the same sense as does the
sight of the death of an incurable."

What a wealth of revolutionary thought,--were we to realize that those
who will clear society of the rotting, superannuated trees that have so
long been standing in the way of others entitled to an equal share in
life, must be as strong as the great revolutionists of the past!

Indeed, Strindberg is no trimmer, no cheap reformer, no patchworker;
therefore his inability to remain fixed, or to content himself with
accepted truths. Therefore also, his great versatility, his deep grasp
of the subtlest phases of life. Was he not forever the seeker, the
restless spirit roaming the earth, ever in the death-throes of the Old,
to give birth to the New? How, then, could he be other than relentless
and grim and brutally frank.

"Countess Julie," a one-act tragedy, is no doubt a brutally frank
portrayal of the most intimate thoughts of man and of the age-long
antagonism between classes. Brutally frank, because August Strindberg
strips both of their glitter, their sham and pretense, that we may see
that "at bottom there's not so much difference between people

Who in modern dramatic art is there to teach us that lesson with the
insight of an August Strindberg? He who had been tossed about all his
life between the decadent traditions of his aristocratic father and the
grim, sordid reality of the class of his mother. He who had been
begotten through the physical mastery of his father and the physical
subserviency of his mother. Verily, Strindberg knew whereof he
spoke--for he spoke with his soul, a language whose significance is
illuminating, compelling.

_Countess Julie_ inherited the primitive, intense passion of her mother
and the neurotic aristocratic tendencies of her father. Added to this
heritage is the call of the wild, the "intense summer heat when the
blood turns to fire, and when all are in a holiday spirit, full of
gladness, and rank is flung aside." _Countess Julie_ feels, when too
late, that the barrier of rank reared through the ages, by wealth and
power, is not flung aside with impunity. Therein the vicious brutality,
the boundless injustice of rank.

The people on the estate of _Julie's_ father are celebrating St. John's
Eve with dance, song and revelry. The Count is absent, and _Julie_
graciously mingles with the servants. But once having tasted the simple
abandon of the people, once having thrown off the artifice and
superficiality of her aristocratic decorum, her suppressed passions leap
into full flame, and _Julie_ throws herself into the arms of her
father's valet, _Jean_--not because of love for the man, nor yet openly
and freely, but as persons of her station may do when carried away by
the moment.

The woman in _Julie_ pursues the male, follows him into the kitchen,
plays with him as with a pet dog, and then feigns indignation when
_Jean_, aroused, makes advances. How dare he, the servant, the lackey,
even insinuate that she would have him! "I, the lady of the house! I
honor the people with my presence. I, in love with my coachman? I, who
step down."

How well Strindberg knows the psychology of the upper classes! How well
he understands that their graciousness, their charity, their interest in
the "common people" is, after all, nothing but arrogance, blind conceit
of their own importance and ignorance of the character of the people.

Even though _Jean_ is a servant, he has his pride, he has his dreams. "I
was not hired to be your plaything," he says to _Julie_; "I think too
much of myself for that."

Strange, is it not, that those who serve and drudge for others, should
think so much of themselves as to refuse to be played with? Stranger
still that they should indulge in dreams. _Jean_ says:

  Do you know how people in high life look from the under-world?...
  They look like hawks and eagles whose backs one seldom sees, for
  they soar up above. I lived in a hovel provided by the State, with
  seven brothers and sisters and a pig; out on a barren stretch where
  nothing grew, not even a tree, but from the window I could see the
  Count's park walls with apple trees rising above them. That was the
  garden of paradise; and there stood many angry angels with flaming
  swords protecting it; but for all that I and other boys found the
  way to the tree of life--now you despise me.... I thought if it is
  true that the thief on the cross could enter heaven and dwell among
  the angels it was strange that a pauper child on God's earth could
  not go into the castle park and play with the Countess' daughter....
  What I wanted--I don't know. You were unattainable, but through the
  vision of you I was made to realize how hopeless it was to rise
  above the conditions of my birth.

What rich food for thought in the above for all of us, and for the
Jeans, the people who do not know what they want, yet feel the cruelty
of a world that keeps the pauper's child out of the castle of his
dreams, away from joy and play and beauty! The injustice and the
bitterness of it all, that places the stigma of birth as an impassable
obstacle, a fatal imperative excluding one from the table of life, with
the result of producing such terrible effects on the Julies and the
Jeans. The one unnerved, made helpless and useless by affluence, ease
and idleness; the other enslaved and bound by service and dependence.
Even when _Jean_ wants to, he cannot rise above his condition. When
_Julie_ asks him to embrace her, to love her, he replies:

  I can't as long as we are in this house.... There is the Count, your
  father.... I need only to see his gloves lying in a chair to feel
  my own insignificance. I have only to hear his bell, to start like a
  nervous horse.... And now that I see his boots standing there so
  stiff and proper, I feel like bowing and scraping.... I can't
  account for it but--but ah, it is that damned servant in my back--I
  believe if the Count came here now, and told me to cut my throat, I
  would do it on the spot.... Superstition and prejudice taught in
  childhood can't be uprooted in a moment.

No, superstition and prejudice cannot be uprooted in a moment; nor in
years. The awe of authority, servility before station and wealth--these
are the curse of the Jean class that makes such cringing slaves of them.
Cringing before those who are above them, tyrannical and overbearing
toward those who are below them. For _Jean_ has the potentiality of the
master in him as much as that of the slave. Yet degrading as "the damned
servant" reacts upon _Jean_, it is much more terrible in its effect upon
_Kristin_, the cook, the dull, dumb animal who has so little left of the
spirit of independence that she has lost even the ambition to rise above
her condition. Thus when _Kristin_, the betrothed of Jean, discovers
that her mistress _Julie_ had given herself to him, she is indignant
that her lady should have so much forgotten her station as to stoop to
her father's valet.

  _Kristin._ I don't want to be here in this house any longer where
  one cannot respect one's betters.

  _Jean._ Why should one respect them?

  _Kristin._ Yes, you can say that, you are so smart. But I don't want
  to serve people who behave so. It reflects on oneself, I think.

  _Jean._ Yes, but it's a comfort that they're not a bit better than

  _Kristin._ No, I don't think so, for if they are not better there's
  no use in our trying to better ourselves in this world. And to think
  of the Count! Think of him who has had so much sorrow all his days.
  No, I don't want to stay in this house any longer! And to think of
  it being with such as you! If it had been the Lieutenant-- ... I
  have never lowered my position. Let any one say, if they can, that
  the Count's cook has had anything to do with the riding master or
  the swineherd. Let them come and say it!

Such dignity and morality are indeed pathetic, because they indicate how
completely serfdom may annihilate even the longing for something higher
and better in the breast of a human being. The Kristins represent the
greatest obstacle to social growth, the deadlock in the conflict between
the classes. On the other hand, the Jeans, with all their longing for
higher possibilities, often become brutalized in the hard school of
life; though in the conflict with _Julie_, _Jean_ shows brutality only
at the critical moment, when it becomes a question of life and death, a
moment that means discovery and consequent ruin, or safety for both.

_Jean_, though the male is aroused in him, pleads with _Julie_ not to
play with fire, begs her to return to her room, and not to give the
servants a chance for gossip. And when later _Jean_ suggests his room
for a hiding place that _Julie_ may escape the approaching merry-makers,
it is to save her from their songs full of insinuation and ribaldry.
Finally when the inevitable happens, when as a result of their closeness
in _Jean's_ room, of their overwrought nerves, their intense passion,
the avalanche of sex sweeps them off their feet, forgetful of station,
birth and conventions, and they return to the kitchen, it is again
_Jean_ who is willing to bear his share of the responsibility. "I don't
care to shirk my share of the blame," he tells _Julie_, "but do you
think any one of my position would have dared to raise his eyes to you
if you had not invited it?"

There is more truth in this statement than the Julies can grasp, namely,
that even servants have their passions and feelings that cannot long be
trifled with, with impunity. The Jeans know "that it is the glitter of
brass, not gold, that dazzles us from below, and that the eagle's back
is gray like the rest of him." For _Jean_ says, "I'm sorry to have to
realize that all that I have looked up to is not worth while, and it
pains me to see you fallen lower than your cook, as it pains me to see
autumn blossoms whipped to pieces by the cold rain and transformed

       *       *       *       *       *

It is this force that helps to transform the blossom into dirt that
August Strindberg emphasizes in "The Father." For the child born against
the will of its parents must also be without will, and too weak to bear
the stress and storm of life. In "Countess Julie" this idea recurs with
even more tragic effect. _Julie_, too, had been brought into the world
against her mother's wishes. Indeed, so much did her mother dread the
thought of a child that she "was always ill, she often had cramps and
acted queerly, often hiding in the orchard or the attic." Added to this
horror was the conflict, the relentless war of traditions between
_Julie's_ aristocratic father and her mother descended from the people.
This was the heritage of the innocent victim, _Julie_--an autumn blossom
blown into fragments by lack of stability, lack of love and lack of
harmony. In other words, while _Julie_ is broken and weakened by her
inheritance and environment, _Jean_ is hardened by his.

When _Jean_ kills the bird which _Julie_ wants to rescue from the ruins
of her life, it is not so much out of real cruelty, as it is because the
character of _Jean_ was molded in the relentless school of necessity,
in which only those survive who have the determination to act in time of
danger. For as _Jean_ says, "Miss Julie, I see that you are unhappy, I
know that you are suffering, but I cannot understand you. Among my kind
there is no nonsense of this sort. We love as we play--when work gives
us time. We haven't the whole day and night for it as you."

Here we have the key to the psychology of the utter helplessness and
weakness of the Julie type, and of the brutality of the Jeans. The one,
the result of an empty life, of parasitic leisure, of a useless,
purposeless existence. The other, the effect of too little time for
development, for maturity and depth; of too much toil to permit the
growth of the finer traits in the human soul.

August Strindberg, himself the result of the class conflict between his
parents, never felt at home with either of them. All his life he was
galled by the irreconcilability of the classes; and though he was no
sermonizer in the sense of offering a definite panacea for individual or
social ills, yet with master touch he painted the degrading effects of
class distinction and its tragic antagonisms. In "Countess Julie" he
popularized one of the most vital problems of our age, and gave to the
world a work powerful in its grasp of elemental emotions, laying bare
the human soul behind the mask of social tradition and class culture.


Although "Comrades" was written in 1888, it is in a measure the most
up-to-date play of Strindberg,--so thoroughly modern that one at all
conversant with the _milieu_ that inspired "Comrades" could easily point
out the type of character portrayed in the play.

It is a four-act comedy of marriage--the kind of marriage that lacks
social and legal security in the form of a ceremony, but retains all the
petty conventions of the marriage institution. The results of such an
anomaly are indeed ludicrous when viewed from a distance, but very
tragic for those who play a part in it.

_Axel Alberg_ and his wife _Bertha_ are Swedish artists residing in
Paris. They are both painters. Of course they share the same living
quarters, and although each has a separate room, the arrangement does
not hinder them from trying to regulate each other's movements. Thus
when _Bertha_ does not arrive on time to keep her engagement with her
model, _Axel_ is provoked; and when he takes the liberty to chide her
for her tardiness, his wife is indignant at the "invasiveness" of her
husband, because women of the type of _Bertha_ are as sensitive to fair
criticism as their ultra-conservative sisters. Nor is _Bertha_ different
in her concept of love, which is expressed in the following dialogue:

  _Bertha._ Will you be very good, very, very good?

  _Axel._ I always want to be good to you, my friend.

_Bertha_, who has sent her painting to the exhibition, wants to make use
of _Axel's_ "goodness" to secure the grace of one of the art jurors.

  _Bertha._ You would not make a sacrifice for your wife, would you?

  _Axel._ Go begging? No, I don't want to do that.

_Bertha_ immediately concludes that he does not love her and that,
moreover, he is jealous of her art. There is a scene.

_Bertha_ soon recovers. But bent on gaining her purpose, she changes her

  _Bertha._ Axel, let's be friends! And hear me a moment. Do you think
  that my position in your house--for it is yours--is agreeable to me?
  You support me, you pay for my studying at Julian's, while you
  yourself cannot afford instruction. Don't you think I see how you
  sit and wear out yourself and your talent on these pot-boiling
  drawings, and are able to paint only in leisure moments? You haven't
  been able to afford models for yourself, while you pay mine five
  hard-earned francs an hour. You don't know how good--how noble--how
  sacrificing you are, and also you don't know how I suffer to see you
  toil so for me. Oh, Axel, you can't know how I feel my position.
  What am I to you? Of what use am I in your house? Oh, I blush when
  I think about it!

  _Axel._ What talk! Isn't a man to support his wife?

  _Bertha._ I don't want it. And you, Axel, you must help me. I'm not
  your equal when it's like that, but I could be if you would humble
  yourself once, just once! Don't think that you are alone in going to
  one of the jury to say a good word for another. If it were for
  yourself, it would be another matter, but for me--Forgive me! Now I
  beg of you as nicely as I know how. Lift me from my humiliating
  position to your side, and I'll be so grateful I shall never trouble
  you again with reminding you of my position. Never, Axel!

Yet though _Bertha_ gracefully accepts everything _Axel_ does for her,
with as little compunction as the ordinary wife, she does not give as
much in return as the latter. On the contrary, she exploits _Axel_ in a
thousand ways, squanders his hard-earned money, and lives the life of
the typical wifely parasite.

August Strindberg could not help attacking with much bitterness such a
farce and outrage parading in the disguise of radicalism. For _Bertha_
is not an exceptional, isolated case. To-day, as when Strindberg
satirized the all-too-feminine, the majority of so-called emancipated
women are willing to accept, like _Bertha_, everything from the man, and
yet feel highly indignant if he asks in return the simple comforts of
married life. The ordinary wife, at least, does not pretend to play an
important rôle in the life of her husband. But the Berthas deceive
themselves and others with the notion that the "emancipated" wife is a
great moral force, an inspiration to the man. Whereas in reality she is
often a cold-blooded exploiter of the work and ideas of the man, a heavy
handicap to his life-purpose, retarding his growth as effectively as did
her grandmothers in the long ago. _Bertha_ takes advantage of _Axel's_
affection to further her own artistic ambitions, just as the Church and
State married woman uses her husband's love to advance her social
ambitions. It never occurs to _Bertha_ that she is no less despicable
than her legally married sister. She cannot understand _Axel's_
opposition to an art that clamors only for approval, distinction and

However, _Axel_ can not resist _Bertha's_ pleadings. He visits the
patron saint of the salon, who, by the way, is not M. Roubey, but Mme.
Roubey; for she is the "President of the Woman-Painter Protective
Society." What chance would _Bertha_ have with one of her own sex in
authority? Hence her husband must be victimized. During _Axel's_ absence
_Bertha_ learns that his picture has been refused by the salon, while
hers is accepted. She is not in the least disturbed, nor at all
concerned over the effect of the news on _Axel_. On the contrary, she is
rather pleased because "so many women are refused that a man might put
up with it, and be made to feel it once."

In her triumph _Bertha's_ attitude to _Axel_ becomes overbearing; she
humiliates him, belittles his art, and even plans to humble him before
the guests invited to celebrate _Bertha's_ artistic success.

But _Axel_ is tearing himself free from the meshes of his decaying love.
He begins to see _Bertha_ as she is: her unscrupulousness in money
matters, her ceaseless effort to emasculate him. In a terrible word
tussle he tells her: "I had once been free, but you clipped the hair of
my strength while my tired head lay in your lap. During sleep you stole
my best blood."

In the last act _Bertha_ discovers that _Axel_ had generously changed
the numbers on the paintings in order to give her a better chance. It
was _his_ picture that was chosen as _her_ work. She feels ashamed and
humiliated; but it is too late. _Axel_ leaves her with the exclamation,
"I want to meet my comrades in the café, but at home I want a wife."

A characteristic sidelight in the play is given by the conversation of
_Mrs. Hall_, the divorced wife of _Doctor Ostermark_. She comes to
Bertha with a bitter tirade against the Doctor because he gives her
insufficient alimony.

  _Mrs. Hall._ And now that the girls are grown up and about to start
  in life, now he writes us that he is bankrupt and that he can't send
  us more than half the allowance. Isn't that nice, just now when the
  girls are grown up and are going out into life?

  _Bertha._ We must look into this. He'll be here in a few days. Do
  you know that you have the law on your side and that the courts can
  force him to pay? And he shall be forced to do so. Do you
  understand? So, he can bring children into the world and then leave
  them empty-handed with the poor deserted mother.

_Bertha_, who believes in woman's equality with man, and in her economic
independence, yet delivers herself of the old sentimental gush in behalf
of "the poor deserted mother," who has been supported by her husband for
years, though their relations had ceased long before.

       *       *       *       *       *

A distorted picture, some feminists will say. Not at all. It is as
typical to-day as it was twenty-six years ago. Even to-day some
"emancipated" women claim the right to be self-supporting, yet demand
their husband's support. In fact, many leaders in the American suffrage
movement assure us that when women will make laws, they will force men
to support their wives. From the leaders down to the simplest devotee,
the same attitude prevails, namely, that man is a _blagueur_, and that
but for him the Berthas would have long ago become Michelangelos,
Beethovens, or Shakespeares; they claim that the Berthas represent the
most virtuous half of the race, and that they have made up their minds
to make man as virtuous as they are.

That such ridiculous extravagance should be resented by the Axels is not
at all surprising. It is resented even by the more intelligent of
_Bertha's_ own sex. Not because they are opposed to the emancipation of
woman, but because they do not believe that her emancipation can ever be
achieved by such absurd and hysterical notions. They repudiate the idea
that people who retain the substance of their slavery and merely escape
the shadow, can possibly be free, live free, or act free.

The radicals, no less than the feminists, must realize that a mere
external change in their economic and political status, cannot alter the
inherent or acquired prejudices and superstitions which underlie their
slavery and dependence, and which are the main causes of the antagonism
between the sexes.

The transition period is indeed a most difficult and perilous stage for
the woman as well as for the man. It requires a powerful light to guide
us past the dangerous reefs and rocks in the ocean of life. August
Strindberg is such a light. Sometimes glaring, ofttimes scorching, but
always beneficially illuminating the path for those who walk in
darkness, for the blind ones who would rather deceive and be deceived
than look into the recesses of their being. Therefore August Strindberg
is not only "the spiritual conscience of Sweden," as he has been called,
but the spiritual conscience of the whole human family, and, as such, a
most vital revolutionary factor.



It has been said that military conquest generally goes hand in hand with
the decline of creative genius, with the retrogression of culture. I
believe this is not a mere assertion. The history of the human race
repeatedly demonstrates that whenever a nation achieved great military
success, it invariably involved the decline of art, of literature, of
the drama; in short, of culture in the deepest and finest sense. This
has been particularly borne out by Germany after its military triumph in
the Franco-Prussian War.

For almost twenty years after that war, the country of poets and
thinkers remained, intellectually, a veritable desert, barren of ideas.
Young Germany had to go for its intellectual food to France,--Daudet,
Maupassant, and Zola; or to Russia--Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Dostoyevski;
finally also to Ibsen and Strindberg. Nothing thrived in Germany during
that period, except a sickening patriotism and sentimental romanticism,
perniciously misleading the people and giving them no adequate outlook
upon life and the social struggle. Perhaps that accounts for the popular
vogue of Hermann Sudermann: it may explain why he was received by the
young generation with open arms and acclaimed a great artist.

It is not my intention to discuss Hermann Sudermann as an artist or to
consider him from the point of view of the technic of the drama. I
intend to deal with him as the first German dramatist to treat social
topics and discuss the pressing questions of the day. From this point of
view Hermann Sudermann may be regarded as the pioneer of a new era in
the German drama. Primarily is this true of the three plays "Honor,"
"Magda," and "The Fires of St. John." In these dramas Hermann Sudermann,
while not delving deeply into the causes of the social conflicts,
nevertheless touches upon many vital subjects.

In "Honor" the author demolishes the superficial, sentimental conception
of "honor" that is a purely external manifestation, having no roots in
the life, the habits, or the customs of the people. He exposes the
stupidity of the notion that because a man looks askance at you, or
fails to pay respect to your uniform, you must challenge him to a duel
and shoot him dead. In this play Sudermann shows that the conception of
honor is nothing fixed or permanent, but that it varies with economic
and social status, different races, peoples and times holding different
ideas of it. With "Honor" Sudermann succeeded in undermining to a
considerable extent the stupid and ridiculous notion of the Germans
ruled by the rod and the Kaiser's coat.

But I particularly wish to consider "Magda," because, of all the plays
written by Hermann Sudermann, it is the most revolutionary and the least
national. It deals with a universal subject,--the awakening of woman. It
is revolutionary, not because Sudermann was the first to treat this
subject, for Ibsen had preceded him, but because in "Magda" he was the
first to raise the question of woman's right to motherhood with or
without the sanction of State and Church.


Lieutenant Colonel Schwartze, _Magda's_ father, represents all the
conventional and conservative notions of society.

  _Schwartze._ Modern ideas! Oh, pshaw! I know them. But come into the
  quiet homes where are bred brave soldiers and virtuous wives. There
  you'll hear no talk about heredity, no arguments about
  individuality, no scandalous gossip. There modern ideas have no
  foothold, for it is there that the life and strength of the
  Fatherland abide. Look at this home! There is no luxury,--hardly
  even what you call good taste,--faded rugs, birchen chairs, old
  pictures; and yet when you see the beams of the western sun pour
  through the white curtains and lie with such a loving touch on the
  old room, does not something say to you, "Here dwells true

The _Colonel_ is a rigid military man. He is utterly blind to the modern
conception of woman's place in life. He rules his family as the Kaiser
rules the nation, with severe discipline, with terrorism and despotism.
He chooses the man whom _Magda_ is to marry, and when she refuses to
accept his choice, he drives her out of the house.

At the age of eighteen _Magda_ goes out into the world yearning for
development; she longs for artistic expression and economic
independence. Seventeen years later she returns to her native town, a
celebrated singer. As _Madelene dell'Orto_ she is invited to sing at the
town's charity bazaar, and is acclaimed, after the performance, one of
the greatest stars of the country.

_Magda_ has not forgotten her home; especially does she long to see her
father whom she loves passionately, and her sister, whom she had left a
little child of eight. After the concert _Magda_, the renowned artist,
steals away from her admirers, with their flowers and presents, and goes
out into the darkness of the night to catch a glimpse, through the
window at least, of her father and her little sister.

_Magda's_ father is scandalized at her mode of life: what will people
say if the daughter of the distinguished officer stops at a hotel,
associates with men without a chaperon, and is wined and dined away from
her home? _Magda_ is finally prevailed upon to remain with her parents.
She consents on condition that they should not pry into her life, that
they should not soil and besmirch her innermost being. But that is
expecting the impossible from a provincial environment. It is not that
her people really question; but they insinuate, they speak with looks
and nods; burning curiosity to unearth _Magda's_ life is in the very

  _Schwartze._ I implore you--Come here, my child--nearer--so--I
  implore you--let me be happy in my dying hour. Tell me that you have
  remained pure in body and soul, and then go with my blessing on your

  _Magda._ I have remained--true to myself, dear father.

  _Schwartze._ How? In good or in ill?

  _Magda._ In what--for me--was good.

  _Schwartze._ I love you with my whole heart, because I have sorrowed
  for you--so long. But I must know who you are.

Among the townspeople who come to pay homage to _Magda_ is _Councillor
von Keller_. In his student days he belonged to the bohemian set and was
full of advanced ideas. At that period he met _Magda_, young,
beautiful, and inexperienced. A love affair developed. But when _Von
Keller_ finished his studies, he went home to the fold of his family,
and forgot his sweetheart _Magda_. In due course he became an important
pillar of society, a very influential citizen, admired, respected, and
feared in the community.

When _Magda_ returns home, _Von Keller_ comes to pay her his respects.
But she is no longer the insignificant little girl he had known; she is
now a celebrity. What pillar of society is averse to basking in the glow
of celebrities? _Von Keller_ offers flowers and admiration. But _Magda_
discovers in him the man who had robbed her of her faith and trust,--the
father of her child.

_Magda_ has become purified by her bitter struggle. It made her finer
and bigger. She does not even reproach the man, because--

  _Magda._ I've painted this meeting to myself a thousand times, and
  have been prepared for it for years. Something warned me, too, when
  I undertook this journey home--though I must say I hardly expected
  just here to--Yes, how is it that, after what has passed between us,
  you came into this house? It seems to me a little-- ... I can see it
  all. The effort to keep worthy of respect under such difficulties,
  with a bad conscience, is awkward. You look down from the height of
  your pure atmosphere on your sinful youth,--for you are called a
  pillar, my dear friend.

  _Von Keller._ Well, I felt myself called to higher things. I
  thought--Why should I undervalue my position? I have become
  Councillor, and that comparatively young. An ordinary ambition might
  take satisfaction in that. But one sits and waits at home, while
  others are called to the ministry. And this environment,
  conventionality, and narrowness, all is so gray,--gray! And the
  ladies here--for one who cares at all about elegance--I assure you
  something rejoiced within me when I read this morning that you were
  the famous singer,--you to whom I was tied by so many dear memories

  _Magda._ And then you thought whether it might not be possible with
  the help of these dear memories to bring a little color into the
  gray background?

  _Von Keller._ Oh, pray don't--

  _Magda._ Well, between old friends--

  _Von Keller._ Really, are we that, really?

  _Magda._ Certainly, _sans rancune_. Oh, if I took it from the other
  standpoint, I should have to range the whole gamut,--liar, coward,
  traitor! But as I look at it, I owe you nothing but thanks, my

  _Von Keller._ This is a view which--

  _Magda._ Which is very convenient for you. But why should I not make
  it convenient for you? In the manner in which we met, you had no
  obligations towards me. I had left my home; I was young and
  innocent, hot-blooded and careless, and I lived as I saw others
  live. I gave myself to you because I loved you. I might perhaps have
  loved anyone who came in my way. That--that seemed to be all over.
  And we were so happy,--weren't we?... Yes, we were a merry set; and
  when the fun had lasted half a year, one day my lover vanished.

  _Von Keller._ An unlucky chance, I swear to you. My father was ill.
  I had to travel. I wrote everything to you.

  _Magda._ H'm! I didn't reproach you. And now I will tell you why I
  owe you thanks. I was a stupid, unsuspecting thing, enjoying freedom
  like a runaway monkey. Through you I became a woman. For whatever I
  have done in my art, for whatever I have become in myself, I have
  you to thank. My soul was like--yes, down below there, there used to
  be an Æolian harp which was left moldering because my father could
  not bear it. Such a silent harp was my soul; and through you it was
  given to the storm. And it sounded almost to breaking,--the whole
  scale of passions which bring us women to maturity,--love and hate
  and revenge and ambition, and need, need, need,--three times
  need--and the highest, the strongest, the holiest of all, the
  mother's love!--All I owe to you!

  _Von Keller._ My child!

  _Magda._ Your child? Who calls it so? Yours? Ha, ha! Dare to claim
  portion in him and I'll kill you with these hands. Who are you?
  You're a strange man who gratified his lust and passed on with a
  laugh. But I have a child,--my son, my God, my all! For him I lived
  and starved and froze and walked the streets; for him I sang and
  danced in concert-halls,--for my child who was crying for his

  _Von Keller._ For Heaven's sake, hush! someone's coming.

  _Magda._ Let them come! Let them all come! I don't care, I don't
  care! To their faces I'll say what I think of you,--of you and your
  respectable society. Why should I be worse than you, that I must
  prolong my existence among you by a lie! Why should this gold upon
  my body, and the lustre which surrounds my name, only increase my
  infamy? Have I not worked early and late for ten long years? Have I
  not woven this dress with sleepless nights? Have I not built up my
  career step by step, like thousands of my kind? Why should I blush
  before anyone? I am myself, and through myself I have become what I

_Magda's_ father learns about the affair and immediately demands that
the _Councillor_ marry his daughter, or fight a duel. _Magda_ resents
the preposterous idea. _Von Keller_ is indeed glad to offer _Magda_ his
hand in marriage: she is so beautiful and fascinating; she will prove a
great asset to his ambitions. But he stipulates that she give up her
profession of singer, and that the existence of the child be kept
secret. He tells _Magda_ that later on, when they are happily married
and firmly established in the world, they will bring their child to
their home and adopt it; but for the present respectability must not
know that it is theirs, born out of wedlock, without the sanction of the
Church and the State.

That is more than _Magda_ can endure. She is outraged that she, the
mother, who had given up everything for the sake of her child, who had
slaved, struggled and drudged in order to win a career and economic
independence--all for the sake of the child--that she should forswear
her right to motherhood, her right to be true to herself!

  _Magda._ What--what do you say?

  _Von Keller._ Why, it would ruin us. No, no, it is absurd to think
  of it. But we can make a little journey every year to wherever it is
  being educated. One can register under a false name; that is not
  unusual in foreign parts, and is hardly criminal. And when we are
  fifty years old, and other regular conditions have been fulfilled,
  that can be arranged, can't it? Then we can, under some pretext,
  adopt it, can't we?

  _Magda._ I have humbled myself, I have surrendered my judgment, I
  have let myself be carried like a lamb to the slaughter. But my
  child I will not leave. Give up my child to save his career!

_Magda_ orders _Von Keller_ out of the house. But the old _Colonel_ is
unbending. He insists that his daughter become an honorable woman by
marrying the man who had seduced her. Her refusal fires his wrath to
wild rage.

  _Schwartze._ Either you swear to me now ... that you will become the
  honorable wife of your child's father, or--neither of us two shall
  go out of this room alive.... You think ... because you are free
  and a great artist, that you can set at naught--

  _Magda._ Leave art out of the question. Consider me nothing more
  than the seamstress or the servant-maid who seeks, among strangers,
  the little food and the little love she needs. See how much the
  family with its morality demand from us! It throws us on our own
  resources, it gives us neither shelter nor happiness, and yet, in
  our loneliness, we must live according to the laws which it has
  planned for itself alone. We must still crouch in the corner, and
  there wait patiently until a respectful wooer happens to come. Yes,
  wait. And meanwhile the war for existence of body and soul is
  consuming us. Ahead we see nothing but sorrow and despair, and yet
  shall we not once dare to give what we have of youth and strength to
  the man for whom our whole being cries? Gag us, stupefy us, shut us
  up in harems or in cloisters--and that perhaps would be best. But if
  you give us our freedom, do not wonder if we take advantage of it.

But morality and the family never understand the Magdas. Least of all
does the old Colonel understand his daughter. Rigid in his false notions
and superstitions, wrought up with distress, he is about to carry out
his threat, when a stroke of apoplexy overtakes him.

In "Magda," Hermann Sudermann has given to the world a new picture of
modern womanhood, a type of free motherhood. As such the play is of
great revolutionary significance, not alone to Germany, but to the
universal spirit of a newer day.


In "The Fires of St. John," Sudermann does not go as far as in "Magda."
Nevertheless the play deals with important truths. Life does not always
draw the same conclusions; life is not always logical, not always
consistent. The function of the artist is to portray Life--only thus can
he be true both to art and to life.

In this drama we witness the bondage of gratitude,--one of the most
enslaving and paralyzing factors. _Mr. Brauer_, a landed proprietor, has
a child, _Gertrude_, a beautiful girl, who has always lived the
sheltered life of a hot-house plant. The Brauers also have an adopted
daughter, _Marie_, whom they had picked up on the road, while traveling
on a stormy night. They called her "the calamity child," because a great
misfortune had befallen them shortly before. _Mr. Brauer's_ younger
brother, confronted with heavy losses, had shot himself, leaving behind
his son _George_ and a heavily mortgaged estate. The finding of the
baby, under these circumstances, was considered by the Brauers an omen.
They adopted it and brought it up as their own.

This involved the forcible separation of _Marie_ from her gypsy mother,
who was a pariah, an outcast beggar. She drank and stole in order to
subsist. But with it all, her mother instinct was strong and it always
drove her back to the place where her child lived. _Marie_ had her first
shock when, on her way home from confirmation, the ragged and brutalized
woman threw herself before the young girl, crying, "Mamie, my child, my
Mamie!" It was then that _Marie_ realized her origin. Out of gratitude
she consecrated her life to the Brauers.

_Marie_ never forgot for a moment that she owed everything--her
education, her support and happiness--to her adopted parents. She
wrapped herself around them with all the intensity and passion of her
nature. She became the very spirit of the house. She looked after the
estate, and devoted herself to little _Gertrude_, as to her own sister.

_Gertrude_ is engaged to marry her cousin _George_, and everything is
beautiful and joyous in the household. No one suspects that _Marie_ has
been in love with the young man ever since her childhood. However,
because of her gratitude to her benefactors, she stifles her nature,
hardens her heart, and locks her feelings behind closed doors, as it
were. And when _Gertrude_ is about to marry _George_, _Marie_ throws
herself into the work of fixing up a home for the young people, to
surround them with sunshine and joy in their new love life.

Accidentally _Marie_ discovers a manuscript written by _George_, wherein
he discloses his deep love for her. She learns that he, even as she, has
no other thought, no other purpose in life than his love for her. But he
also is bound by gratitude for his uncle _Brauer_ who had saved the
honor of his father and had rescued him from poverty. He feels it
dishonorable to refuse to marry _Gertrude_.

  _George._ All these years I have struggled and deprived myself with
  only one thing in view--to be free--free--and yet I must bow--I must
  bow. If it were not for the sake of this beautiful child, who is
  innocent of it all, I would be tempted to--But the die is cast, the
  yoke is ready--and so am I!... I, too, am a child of misery, a
  calamity child; but I am a subject of charity. I accept all they
  have to give.... Was I not picked up from the street, as my uncle so
  kindly informed me for the second time--like yourself? Do I not
  belong to this house, and am I not smothered with the damnable
  charity of my benefactors, like yourself?

It is St. John's night. The entire family is gathered on the estate of
the Brauers, while the peasants are making merry with song and dance at
the lighted bonfires.

It is a glorious, dreamy night, suggestive of symbolic meaning.
According to the servant _Katie_, it is written that "whoever shall give
or receive their first kiss on St. John's eve, their love is sealed and
they will be faithful unto death."

In the opinion of the _Pastor_, St. John's night represents a religious
phase, too holy for flippant pagan joy.

  _Pastor._ On such a dreamy night, different emotions are aroused
  within us. We seem to be able to look into the future, and imagine
  ourselves able to fathom, all mystery and heal all wounds. The
  common becomes elevated, our wishes become fate; and now we ask
  ourselves: What is it that causes all this within us--all these
  desires and wishes? It is _love_, brotherly love, that has been
  planted in our souls, that fills our lives: and, it is life itself.
  Am I not right? And now, with one bound, I will come to the point.
  In the revelation you will find: "God is love." Yes, God is love;
  and that is the most beautiful trait of our religion--that the best,
  the most beautiful within us, has been granted us by Him above. Then
  how could I, this very evening, so overcome with feeling for my
  fellow-man--how could I pass Him by? Therefore, Mr. Brauer, no
  matter, whether pastor or layman, I must confess my inability to
  grant your wish, and decline to give you a genuine pagan toast--

But Christian symbolism having mostly descended from primitive pagan
custom, _George's_ view is perhaps the most significant.

  _George._ Since the Pastor has so eloquently withdrawn, I will give
  you a toast. For, you see, my dear Pastor, something of the old
  pagan, a spark of heathenism, is still glowing somewhere within us
  all. It has outlived century after century, from the time of the old
  Teutons. Once every year that spark is fanned into flame--it flames
  up high, and then it is called "The Fires of St. John." Once every
  year we have "free night." Then the witches ride upon their
  brooms--the same brooms with which their witchcraft was once driven
  out of them--with scornful laughter the wild hordes sweep across the
  tree-tops, up, up, high upon the Blocksberg! Then it is, when in our
  hearts awake those wild desires which our fates could not
  fulfill--and, understand me well, dared not fulfill--then, no matter
  what may be the name of the law that governs the world on that day,
  in order that one single wish may become a reality, by whose grace
  we prolong our miserable existence, thousand others must miserably
  perish, part because they were never attainable; but the others,
  yes, the others, because we allowed them to escape us like wild
  birds, which, though already in our hands, but too listless to
  profit by opportunity, we failed to grasp at the right moment. But
  no matter. Once every year we have "free night." And yonder tongues
  of fire shooting up towards the heavens--do you know what they are?
  They are the spirits of our dead perished wishes! That is the red
  plumage of our birds of paradise we might have petted and nursed
  through our entire lives, but have escaped us! That is the old
  chaos, the heathenism within us; and though we be happy in sunshine
  and according to law, to-night is St. John's night. To its ancient
  pagan fires I empty this glass. To-night they shall burn and flame
  up high--high and again high!

_George_ and _Marie_ meet. They, too, have had their instinct locked
away even from their own consciousness. And on this night they break
loose with tremendous, primitive force. They are driven into each
other's arms because they feel that they belong to each other; they know
that if they had the strength they could take each other by the hand,
face their benefactor and tell him the truth: tell him that it would be
an unpardonable crime for _George_ to marry _Gertrude_ when he loves
another woman.

Now they all but find courage and strength for it, when the pitiful
plaint reaches them, "Oh, mine Mamie, mine daughter, mine child." And
_Marie_ is cast down from the sublime height of her love and passion,
down to the realization that she also, like her pariah mother, must go
out into the world to struggle, to fight, to become free from the
bondage of gratitude, of charity and dependence.

Not so _George_. He goes to the altar, like many another man, with a lie
upon his lips. He goes to swear that all his life long he will love,
protect and shelter the woman who is to be his wife.

This play is rich in thought and revolutionary significance. For is it
not true that we are all bound by gratitude, tied and fettered by what
we think we owe to others? Are we not thus turned into weaklings and
cowards, and do we not enter into new relationships with lies upon our
lips? Do we not become a lie to ourselves and a lie to those we
associate with? And whether we have the strength to be true to the
dominant spirit, warmed into being by the fires of St. John; whether we
have the courage to live up to it always or whether it manifests itself
only on occasion, it is nevertheless true that there is the potentiality
of freedom in the soul of every man and every woman; that there is the
possibility of greatness and fineness in all beings, were they not bound
and gagged by gratitude, by duty and shams,--a vicious network that
enmeshes body and soul.



Gerhart Hauptmann is the dramatist of whom it may be justly said that he
revolutionized the spirit of dramatic art in Germany: the last Mohican
of a group of four--Ibsen, Strindberg, Tolstoy, and Hauptmann--who
illumined the horizon of the nineteenth century. Of these Hauptmann,
undoubtedly the most human, is also the most universal.

It is unnecessary to make comparisons between great artists: life is
sufficiently complex to give each his place in the great scheme of
things. If, then, I consider Hauptmann more human, it is because of his
deep kinship with every stratum of life. While Ibsen deals exclusively
with _one_ attitude, Hauptmann embraces all, understands all, and
portrays all, because nothing human is alien to him.

Whether it be the struggle of the transition stage in "Lonely Lives," or
the conflict between the Ideal and the Real in "The Sunken Bell," or
the brutal background of poverty in "The Weavers," Hauptmann is never
aloof as the iconoclast Ibsen, never as bitter as the soul dissector
Strindberg, nor yet as set as the crusader Tolstoy. And that because of
his humanity, his boundless love, his oneness with the disinherited of
the earth, and his sympathy with the struggles and the travail, the hope
and the despair of every human soul. That accounts for the bitter
opposition which met Gerhart Hauptmann when he made his first appearance
as a dramatist; but it also accounts for the love and devotion of those
to whom he was a battle cry, a clarion call against all iniquity,
injustice and wrong.

In "Lonely Lives" we see the wonderful sympathy, the tenderness of
Hauptmann permeating every figure of the drama.

_Dr. Vockerat_ is not a fighter, not a propagandist or a soapbox orator;
he is a dreamer, a poet, and above all a searcher for truth; a
scientist, a man who lives in the realm of thought and ideas, and is out
of touch with reality and his immediate surroundings.

His parents are simple folk, religious and devoted. To them the world is
a book with seven seals. Having lived all their life on a farm,
everything with them is regulated and classified into simple ideas--good
or bad, great or small, strong or weak. How can they know the infinite
shades between strong and weak, how could they grasp the endless
variations between the good and the bad? To them life is a daily routine
of work and prayer. God has arranged everything, and God manages
everything. Why bother your head? Why spend sleepless nights? "Leave it
all to God." What pathos in this childish simplicity!

They love their son _John_, they worship him, and they consecrate their
lives to their only boy; and because of their love for him, also to his
wife and the newly born baby. They have but one sorrow: their son has
turned away from religion. Still greater their grief that _John_ is an
admirer of Darwin, Spencer and Haeckel and other such men,--sinners,
heathens all, who will burn in purgatory and hell. To protect their
beloved son from the punishment of God, the old folks continuously pray,
and give still more devotion and love to their erring child.

_Kitty_, _Dr. Vockerat's_ wife, is a beautiful type of the Gretchen,
reared without any ideas about life, without any consciousness of her
position in the world, a tender, helpless flower. She loves _John_; he
is her ideal; he is her all. But she cannot understand him. She does not
live in his sphere, nor speak his language. She has never dreamed his
thoughts,--not because she is not willing or not eager to give the man
all that he needs, but because she does not understand and does not
know how.

Into this atmosphere comes _Anna Mahr_ like a breeze from the plains.
_Anna_ is a Russian girl, a woman so far produced in Russia only,
perhaps because the conditions, the life struggles of that country have
been such as to develop a different type of woman. _Anna Mahr_ has spent
most of her life on the firing line. She has no conception of the
personal: she is universal in her feelings and thoughts, with deep
sympathies going out in abundance to all mankind.

When she comes to the Vockerats, their whole life is disturbed,
especially that of _John Vockerat_, to whom she is like a balmy spring
to the parched wanderer in the desert. She understands him, for has she
not dreamed such thoughts as his, associated with men and women who, for
the sake of the ideal, sacrificed their lives, went to Siberia, and
suffered in the underground dungeons? How then could she fail a
Vockerat? It is quite natural that _John_ should find in _Anna_ what his
own little world could not give him,--understanding, comradeship, deep
spiritual kinship.

The Anna Mahrs give the same to any one, be it man, woman or child. For
theirs is not a feeling of sex, of the personal; it is the selfless, the
human, the all-embracing fellowship.

In the invigorating presence of _Anna Mahr_, _John Vockerat_ begins to
live, to dream and work. Another phase of him, as it were, comes into
being; larger vistas open before his eyes, and his life is filled with
new aspiration for creative work in behalf of a liberating purpose.

Alas, the inevitability that the ideal should be besmirched and
desecrated when it comes in contact with sordid reality! This tragic
fate befalls _Anna Mahr_ and _John Vockerat_.

Old _Mother Vockerat_, who, in her simplicity of soul cannot conceive of
an intimate friendship between a man and a woman, unless they be husband
and wife, begins first to suspect and insinuate, then to nag and
interfere. Of course, it is her love for _John_, and even more so her
love for her son's wife, who is suffering in silence and wearing out her
soul in her realization of how little she can mean to her husband.

_Mother Vockerat_ interprets _Kitty's_ grief in a different manner:
jealousy, and antagonism to the successful rival is her most convenient
explanation for the loneliness, the heart-hunger of love. But as a
matter of fact, it is something deeper and more vital that is born in
_Kitty's_ soul. It is the awakening of her own womanhood, of her

  _Kitty._ I agree with Miss Mahr on many points. She was saying
  lately that we women live in a condition of degradation. I think she
  is quite right there. It is what I feel very often.... It's as
  clear as daylight that she is right. We are really and truly a
  despised and ill-used sex. Only think that there is still a law--so
  she told me yesterday--which allows the husband to inflict a
  moderate amount of corporal punishment on his wife.

And yet, corporal punishment is not half as terrible as the punishment
society inflicts on the Kittys by rearing them as dependent and useless
beings, as hot-house flowers, ornaments for a fine house, but of no
substance to the husband and certainly of less to her children.

And _Mother Vockerat_, without any viciousness, instills poison into the
innocent soul of _Kitty_ and embitters the life of her loved son.
Ignorantly, _Mother Vockerat_ meddles, interferes, and tramples upon the
most sacred feelings, the innocent joys of true comradeship.

And all the time _John_ and _Anna_ are quite unaware of the pain and
tragedy they are the cause of: they are far removed from the
commonplace, petty world about them. They walk and discuss, read and
argue about the wonders of life, the needs of humanity, the beauty of
the ideal. They have both been famished so long: _John_ for spiritual
communion, _Anna_ for warmth of home that she had known so little
before, and which in her simplicity she has accepted at the hand of
_Mother Vockerat_ and _Kitty_, oblivious of the fact that nothing is so
enslaving as hospitality prompted by a sense of duty.

  _Miss Mahr._ It is a great age that we live in. That which has so
  weighed upon people's minds and darkened their lives seems to me to
  be gradually disappearing. Do you not think so, Dr. Vockerat?

  _John._ How do you mean?

  _Miss Mahr._ On the one hand we were oppressed by a sense of
  uncertainty, of apprehension, on the other by gloomy fanaticism.
  This exaggerated tension is calming down, is yielding to the
  influence of something like a current of fresh air, that is blowing
  in upon us from--let us say from the twentieth century.

  _John._ But I don't find it possible to arrive at any real joy in
  life yet. I don't know....

  _Miss Mahr._ It has no connection with our individual fates--our
  little fates, Dr. Vockerat!... I have something to say to you--but
  you are not to get angry; you are to be quite quiet and good.... Dr.
  Vockerat! we also are falling into the error of weak natures. We
  must look at things more impersonally. We must learn to take
  ourselves less seriously.

  _John._ But we'll not talk about that at present.... And is one
  really to sacrifice everything that one has gained to this cursed
  conventionality? Are people incapable of understanding that there
  can be no crime in a situation which only tends to make both parties
  better and nobler? Do parents lose by their son becoming a better,
  wiser man? Does a wife lose by the spiritual growth of her husband?

  _Miss Mahr._ You are both right and wrong.... Your parents have a
  different standard from you. Kitty's again, differs from theirs. It
  seems to me that in this we cannot judge for them.

  _John._ Yes, but you have always said yourself that one should not
  allow one's self to be ruled by the opinion of others--that one
  ought to be independent?

  _Miss Mahr._ You have often said to me that you foresee a new, a
  nobler state of fellowship between man and woman.

  _John._ Yes, I feel that it will come some time--a relationship in
  which the human will preponderate over the animal tie. Animal will
  no longer be united to animal, but one human being to another.
  Friendship is the foundation on which this love will rise,
  beautiful, unchangeable, a miraculous structure. And I foresee more
  than this--something nobler, richer, freer still.

  _Miss Mahr._ But will you get anyone, except me, to believe this?
  Will this prevent Kitty's grieving herself to death?... Don't let us
  speak of ourselves at all. Let us suppose, quite generally, the
  feeling of a new, more perfect relationship between two people to
  exist, as it were prophetically. It is only a feeling, a young and
  all too tender plant which must be carefully watched and guarded.
  Don't you think so, Dr. Vockerat? That this plant should come to
  perfection during our lifetime is not to be expected. We shall not
  see or taste its fruits. But we may help to propagate it for future
  generations. I could imagine a person accepting this as a life-task.

  _John._ And hence you conclude that we must part.

  _Miss Mahr._ I did not mean to speak of ourselves. But it is as you
  say ... we must part. Another idea ... had sometimes suggested
  itself to me too ... momentarily. But I could not entertain it now.
  I too have felt as if it were the presentiment of better things. And
  since then the old aim seems to me too poor a one for us--too
  common, to tell the truth. It is like coming down from the
  mountain-top with its wide, free view, and feeling the narrowness,
  the nearness of everything in the valley.

Those who feel the narrow, stifling atmosphere must either die or leave.
_Anna Mahr_ is not made for the valley. She must live on the heights.
But _John Vockerat_, harassed and whipped on by those who love him most,
is unmanned, broken and crushed. He clings to _Anna Mahr_ as one
condemned to death.

  _John._ Help me, Miss Anna! There is no manliness, no pride left in
  me. I am quite changed. At this moment I am not even the man I was
  before you came to us. The one feeling left in me is disgust and
  weariness of life. Everything has lost its worth to me, is soiled,
  polluted, desecrated, dragged through the mire. When I think what
  you, your presence, your words made me, I feel that if I cannot be
  that again, then--then all the rest no longer means anything to me.
  I draw a line through it all and--_close my account_.

  _Miss Mahr._ It grieves me terribly, Dr. Vockerat, to see you like
  this. I hardly know how I am to help you. But one thing you ought to
  remember--that we foresaw this. We knew that we must be prepared for
  this sooner or later.

  _John._ Our prophetic feeling of a new, a free existence, a far-off
  state of blessedness--that feeling we will keep. It shall never be
  forgotten, though it may never be realized. It shall be my guiding
  light; when this light is extinguished, my life will be extinguished

  _Miss Mahr._ John! one word more! This ring--was taken from the
  finger of a dead woman, who had followed her--her husband to
  Siberia--and faithfully shared his suffering to the end. Just the
  opposite to our case.... It is the only ring I have ever worn. Its
  story is a thing to think of when one feels weak. And when you look
  at it--in hours of weakness--then--think of her--who, far
  away--lonely like yourself--is fighting the same secret

But John lacks the strength for the fight. Life to him is too lonely,
too empty, too unbearably desolate. He has to die--a suicide.

       *       *       *       *       *

What wonderful grasp of the deepest and most hidden tones of the human
soul! What significance in the bitter truth that those who struggle for
an ideal, those who attempt to cut themselves loose from the old, from
the thousand fetters that hold them down, are doomed to lonely lives!

Gerhart Hauptmann has dedicated this play "to those who have lived this
life." And there are many, oh, so many who must live this life, torn out
root and all from the soil of their birth, of their surroundings and
past. The ideal they see only in the distance--sometimes quite near,
again in the far-off distance. These are the lonely lives.

This drama also emphasizes the important point that not only the parents
and the wife of _John Vockerat_ fail to understand him, but even his own
comrade, one of his own world, the painter _Braun_,--the type of
fanatical revolutionist who scorns human weaknesses and ridicules those
who make concessions and compromises. But not even this
arch-revolutionist can grasp the needs of _John_. Referring to his
chum's friendship with _Anna_, _Braun_ upbraids him. He charges _John_
with causing his wife's unhappiness and hurting the feelings of his
parents. This very man who, as a propagandist, demands that every one
live up to his ideal, is quick to condemn his friend when the latter,
for the first time in his life, tries to be consistent, to be true to
his own innermost being.

The revolutionary, the social and human significance of "Lonely Lives"
consists in the lesson that the real revolutionist,--the dreamer, the
creative artist, the iconoclast in whatever line,--is fated to be
misunderstood, not only by his own kin, but often by his own comrades.
That is the doom of all great spirits: they are detached from their
environment. Theirs is a lonely life--the life of the transition stage,
the hardest and the most difficult period for the individual as well as
for a people.


When "The Weavers" first saw the light, pandemonium broke out in the
"land of thinkers and poets." "What!" cried Philistia, "workingmen,
dirty, emaciated and starved, to be placed on the stage! Poverty, in all
its ugliness, to be presented as an after-dinner amusement? That is too

Indeed it is too much for the self-satisfied bourgeoisie to be brought
face to face with the horrors of the weaver's existence. It is too much,
because of the truth and reality that thunders in the placid ears of
society a terrific _J'accuse_!

       *       *       *       *       *

Gerhart Hauptmann is a child of the people; his grandfather was a
weaver, and the only way his father could escape the fate of his parents
was by leaving his trade and opening an inn. Little Gerhart's vivid and
impressionable mind must have received many pictures from the stories
told about the life of the weavers. Who knows but that the social
panorama which Hauptmann subsequently gave to the world, had not
slumbered in the soul of the child, gaining form and substance as he
grew to manhood. At any rate "The Weavers," like the canvases of Millet
and the heroic figures of Meunier, represent the epic of the age-long
misery of labor, a profoundly stirring picture.

The background of "The Weavers" is the weaving district in Silesia,
during the period of home industry--a gruesome sight of human phantoms,
dragging on their emaciated existence almost by superhuman effort. Life
is a tenacious force that clings desperately even to the most meager
chance in an endeavor to assert itself. But what is mirrored in "The
Weavers" is so appalling, so dismally hopeless that it stamps the
damning brand upon our civilization.

One man and his hirelings thrive on the sinew and bone, on the very
blood, of an entire community. The manufacturer _Dreissiger_ spends more
for cigars in a day than an entire family earns in a week. Yet so
brutalizing, so terrible is the effect of wealth that neither pale
hunger nor black despair can move the master.

There is nothing in literature to equal the cruel reality of the scene
in the office of _Dreissiger_, when the weavers bring the finished
cloth. For hours they are kept waiting in the stuffy place, waiting the
pleasure of the rich employer after they had walked miles on an empty
stomach and little sleep. For as one of the men says, "What's to hinder
a weaver waitin' for an hour, or for a day? What else is he there for?"

Indeed what else, except to be always waiting in humility, to be
exploited and degraded, always at the mercy of the few pence thrown to
them after an endless wait.

Necessity knows no law. Neither does it know pride. The weavers, driven
by the whip of hunger, bend their backs, beg and cringe before their

  _Weaver's wife._ No one can't call me idle, but I am not fit now for
  what I once was. I've twice had a miscarriage. As to John, he's but
  a poor creature. He's been to the shepherd at Zerlau, but he
  couldn't do him no good, and ... you can't do more than you've
  strength for.... We works as hard as ever we can. This many a week
  I've been at it till far into the night. An' we'll keep our heads
  above water right enough if I can just get a bit o' strength into
  me. But you must have pity on us, Mr. Pfeifer, sir. You'll please be
  so very kind as to let me have a few pence on the next job, sir?
  Only a few pence, to buy bread with. We can't get no more credit.
  We've a lot o' little ones.

"Suffer little children to come unto me." Christ loves the children of
the poor. The more the better. Why, then, care if they starve? Why care
if they faint away with hunger, like the little boy in _Dreissiger's_
office? For "little Philip is one of nine and the tenth's coming, and
the rain comes through their roof--and the mother hasn't two shirts
among the nine."

Who is to blame? Ask the Dreissigers. They will tell you, "The poor have
too many children." Besides--

  _Dreissiger._ It was nothing serious. The boy is all right again.
  But all the same it's a disgrace. The child's so weak that a puff of
  wind would blow him over. How people, how any parents can be so
  thoughtless is what passes my comprehension. Loading him with two
  heavy pieces of fustian to carry six good miles! No one would
  believe it that hadn't seen it. It simply means that I shall have to
  make a rule that no goods brought by children will be taken ever. I
  sincerely trust that such things will not occur again.--Who gets all
  the blame for it? Why, of course the manufacturer. It's entirely our
  fault. If some poor little fellow sticks in the snow in winter and
  goes to sleep, a special correspondent arrives post-haste, and in
  two days we have a blood-curdling story served up in all the papers.
  Is any blame laid on the father, the parents, that send such a
  child?--Not a bit of it. How should they be to blame? It's all the
  manufacturer's fault--he's made the scapegoat. They flatter the
  weaver, and give the manufacturer nothing but abuse--he's a cruel
  man, with a heart like a stone, a dangerous fellow, at whose calves
  every cur of a journalist may take a bite. He lives on the fat of
  the land, and pays the poor weavers starvation wages. In the flow of
  his eloquence the writer forgets to mention that such a man has his
  cares too and his sleepless nights; that he runs risks of which the
  workman never dreams; that he is often driven distracted by all the
  calculations he has to make, and all the different things he has to
  take into account; that he has to struggle for his very life against
  competition; and that no day passes without some annoyance or some
  loss. And think of the manufacturer's responsibilities, think of the
  numbers that depend on him, that look to him for their daily bread.
  No, No! none of you need wish yourselves in my shoes--you would soon
  have enough of it. You all saw how that fellow, that scoundrel
  Becker, behaved. Now he'll go and spread about all sorts of tales of
  my hardheartedness, of how my weavers are turned off for a mere
  trifle, without a moment's notice. Is that true? Am I so very

The weavers are too starved, too subdued, too terror-stricken not to
accept _Dreissiger's_ plea in his own behalf. What would become of these
living corpses were it not for the rebels like _Becker_, to put fire,
spirit, and hope in them? Verily the Beckers are dangerous.

Appalling as the scene in the office of _Dreissiger_ is, the life in the
home of the old weaver _Baumert_ is even more terrible. His decrepit old
wife, his idiotic son _August_, who still has to wind spools, his two
daughters weaving their youth and bloom into the cloth, and _Ansorge_,
the broken remnant of a heroic type of man, bent over his baskets, all
live in cramped quarters lit up only by two small windows. They are
waiting anxiously for the few pence old _Baumert_ is to bring, that they
may indulge in a long-missed meal. "What ... what ... what is to become
of us if he don't come home?" laments _Mother Baumert_. "There is not so
much as a handful o' salt in the house--not a bite o' bread, nor a bit
o' wood for the fire."

But old _Baumert_ has not forgotten his family. He brings them a repast,
the first "good meal" they have had in two years. It is the meat of
their faithful little dog, whom _Baumert_ could not kill himself because
he loved him so. But hunger knows no choice; _Baumert_ had his beloved
dog killed, because "a nice little bit o' meat like that does you a lot
o' good."

It did not do old _Baumert_ much good. His stomach, tortured and abused
so long, rebelled, and the old man had to "give up the precious dog."
And all this wretchedness, all this horror almost within sight of the
palatial home of _Dreissiger_, whose dogs are better fed than his human

Man's endurance is almost limitless. Almost, yet not quite. For there
comes a time when the _Baumerts_, even like their stomachs, rise in
rebellion, when they hurl themselves, even though in blind fury, against
the pillars of their prison house. Such a moment comes to the weavers,
the most patient, docile and subdued of humanity, when stirred to
action by the powerful poem read to them by the _Jaeger_.

    The justice to us weavers dealt
      Is bloody, cruel, and hateful;
    Our life's one torture, long drawn out:
      For Lynch law we'd be grateful.

    Stretched on the rack day after day,
      Heart sick and bodies aching,
    Our heavy sighs their witness bear
      To spirit slowly breaking.

    The Dreissigers true hangmen are,
      Servants no whit behind them;
    Masters and men with one accord
      Set on the poor to grind them.

    You villains all, you brood of hell ...
      You fiends in fashion human,
    A curse will fall on all like you,
      Who prey on man and woman.

    The suppliant knows he asks in vain,
      Vain every word that's spoken.
    "If not content, then go and starve--
      Our rules cannot be broken."

    Then think of all our woe and want,
      O ye, who hear this ditty!
    Our struggle vain for daily bread
      Hard hearts would move to pity.

    But pity's what you've never known,--
      You'd take both skin and clothing,
    You cannibals, whose cruel deeds
      Fill all good men with loathing.

The _Dreissigers_, however, will take no heed. Arrogant and secure in
the possession of their stolen wealth, supported by the mouthpieces of
the Church and the State, they feel safe from the wrath of the
people--till it is too late. But when the storm breaks, they show the
yellow streak and cravenly run to cover.

The weavers, roused at last by the poet's description of their
condition, urged on by the inspiring enthusiasm of the _Beckers_ and the
_Jaegers_, become indifferent to the threats of the law and ignore the
soft tongue of the dispenser of the pure word of God,--"the God who
provides shelter and food for the birds and clothes the lilies of the
field." Too long they had believed in Him. No wonder _Pastor Kittelhaus_
is now at a loss to understand the weavers, heretofore "so patient, so
humble, so easily led." The _Pastor_ has to pay the price for his
stupidity: the weavers have outgrown even him.

The spirit of revolt sweeps their souls. It gives them courage and
strength to attack the rotten structure, to drive the thieves out of the
temple, aye, even to rout the soldiers who come to save the sacred
institution of capitalism. The women, too, are imbued with the spirit
of revolt and become an avenging force. Not even the devout faith of
_Old Hilse_, who attempts to stem the tide with his blind belief in his
Saviour, can stay them.

  _Old Hilse._ O Lord, we know not how to be thankful enough to Thee,
  for that Thou hast spared us this night again in Thy goodness ...
  an' hast had pity on us ... an' hast suffered us to take no harm.
  Thou art the All-merciful, an' we are poor, sinful children of
  men--that bad that we are not worthy to be trampled under Thy feet.
  Yet Thou art our loving Father, an' Thou wilt look upon us an'
  accept us for the sake of Thy dear Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus
  Christ. "Jesus' blood and righteousness, Our covering is and
  glorious dress." An' if we're sometimes too sore cast down under Thy
  chastening--when the fire of Thy purification burns too ragin'
  hot--oh, lay it not to our charge; forgive us our sin. Give us
  patience, heavenly Father, that after all these sufferin's we may be
  made partakers of Thy eternal blessedness. Amen.

The tide is rushing on. _Luise_, _Old Hilse's_ own daughter-in-law, is
part of the tide.

  _Luise._ You an' your piety an' religion--did they serve to keep the
  life in my poor children? In rags an' dirt they lay, all the
  four--it didn't as much as keep 'em dry. Yes! I sets up to be a
  mother, that's what I do--an' if you'd like to know it, that's why
  I'd send all the manufacturers to hell--because I am a mother!--Not
  one of the four could I keep in life! It was cryin' more than
  breathin' with me from the time each poor little thing came into the
  world till death took pity on it. The devil a bit you cared! You sat
  there prayin' and singin', and let me run about till my feet bled,
  tryin' to get one little drop o' skim milk. How many hundred nights
  has I lain an' racked my head to think what I could do to cheat the
  churchyard of my little one? What harm has a baby like that done
  that it must come to such a miserable end--eh? An' over there at
  Dittrich's they're bathed in wine an' washed in milk. No! you may
  talk as you like, but if they begins here, ten horses won't hold me
  back. An' what's more--if there's a rush on Dittrich's, you will see
  me in the forefront of it--an' pity the man as tries to prevent
  me--I've stood it long enough, so now you know it.

Thus the tide sweeps over _Old Hilse_, as it must sweep over every
obstacle, every hindrance, once labor awakens to the consciousness of
its solidaric power.

An epic of misery and revolt never before painted with such terrific
force, such inclusive artistry. Hence its wide human appeal, its
incontrovertible indictment and its ultra-revolutionary significance,
not merely to Silesia or Germany, but to our whole pseudo-civilization
built on the misery and exploitation of the wealth producers, of Labor.
None greater, none more universal than this stirring, all-embracing
message of the most humanly creative genius of our time--Gerhart


The great versatility of Gerhart Hauptmann is perhaps nowhere so
apparent as in "The Sunken Bell," the poetic fairy tale of the tragedy
of Man, a tragedy as rich in symbolism as it is realistically true--a
tragedy as old as mankind, as elemental as man's ceaseless struggle to
cut loose from the rock of ages.

_Heinrich_, the master bell founder, is an idealist consumed by the fire
of a great purpose. He has already set a hundred bells ringing in a
hundred different towns, all singing his praises. But his restless
spirit is not appeased. Ever it soars to loftier heights, always
yearning to reach the sun.

Now once more he has tried his powers, and the new bell, the great
Master Bell, is raised aloft,--only to sink into the mere, carrying its
maker with it.

His old ideals are broken, and _Heinrich_ is lost in the wilderness of

Weak and faint with long groping in the dark woods, and bleeding,
_Heinrich_ reaches the mountain top and there beholds _Rautendelein_,
the spirit of freedom, that has allured him on in the work which he
strove--"in one grand Bell, to weld the silver music of thy voice with
the warm gold of a Sun-holiday. It should have been a master-work! I
failed, then wept I tears of blood." _Heinrich_ returns to his faithful
wife _Magda_, his children, and his village friends--to die. The bell
that sank into the mere was not made for the heights--it was not fit to
wake the answering echoes of the peaks!


       *       *       *       *       *

    'Twas for the valley--not the mountain-top!
    I choose to die. The service of the valleys
    Charms me no longer, ... since on the peak I stood.
    Youth--a new youth--I'd need, if I should live:
    Out of some rare and magic mountain flower
    Marvelous juices I should need to press--
    Heart-health, and strength, and the mad lust of triumph,
    Steeling my hand to work none yet have dreamed of!

_Rautendelein_, the symbol of youth and freedom, the vision of new
strength and expression, wakes _Heinrich_ from his troubled sleep,
kisses him back to life, and inspires him with faith and courage to work
toward greater heights.

_Heinrich_ leaves his wife, his hearth, his native place, and rises to
the summit of his ideal, there to create, to fashion a marvel bell whose
iron throat shall send forth

    The first waking peal
    Shall shake the skies--when, from the somber clouds
    That weighed upon us through the winter night,
    Rivers of jewels shall go rushing down
    Into a million hands outstretched to clutch!
    Then all who drooped, with sudden power inflamed,
    Shall bear their treasure homeward to their huts,
    There to unfurl, at last, the silken banners,
    Waiting--so long, so long--to be upraised,

       *       *       *       *       *

    And now the wondrous chime again rings out,
    Filling the air with such sweet, passionate sound
    As makes each breast to sob with rapturous pain.
    It sings a song, long lost and long forgotten,
    A song of home--a childlike song of Love,
    Born in the waters of some fairy well--
    Known to all mortals, and yet heard of none!

       *       *       *       *       *

    And as it rises, softly first, and low,
    The nightingale and dove seem singing, too;
    And all the ice in every human breast
    Is melted, and the hate, and pain, and woe,
    Stream out in tears.

Indeed a wondrous bell, as only those can forge who have reached the
mountain top,--they who can soar upon the wings of their imagination
high above the valley of the commonplace, above the dismal gray of petty
consideration, beyond the reach of the cold, stifling grip of
reality,--higher, ever higher, to kiss the sun-lit sky.

_Heinrich_ spreads his wings. Inspired by the divine fire of
_Rautendelein_, he all but reaches the pinnacle. But there is the
_Vicar_, ready to wrestle with the devil for a poor human soul; to buy
it free, if need be, to drag it back to its cage that it may never rise
again in rebellion to the will of God.

      _The Vicar._

    You shun the church, take refuge in the mountains;
    This many a month you have not seen the home
    Where your poor wife sits sighing, while, each day,
    Your children drink their lonely mother's tears!

       *       *       *       *       *

    For this there is no name but madness,
    And wicked madness. Yes. I speak the truth.
    Here stand I, Master, overcome with horror
    At the relentless cruelty of your heart.
    Now Satan, aping God, hath dealt a blow--
    Yes, I must speak my mind--a blow so dread
    That even he must marvel at his triumph.
                               ... Now--I have done.
    Too deep, yea to the neck, you are sunk in sin!
    Your Hell, decked out in beauty as high Heaven,
    Shall hold you fast. I will not waste more words.
    Yet mark this, Master: witches make good fuel,
    Even as heretics, for funeral-pyres.
                                     ... Your ill deeds,
    Heathen, and secret once, are now laid bare.
    Horror they wake, and soon there shall come hate.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Then, go your way! Farewell! My task is done.
    The hemlock of your sin no man may hope
    To rid your soul of. May God pity you!
    But this remember! There's a word named rue!
    And some day, some day, as your dreams you dream,
    A sudden arrow, shot from out the blue,
    Shall pierce your breast! And yet you shall not die,
    Nor shall you live. In that dread day you'll curse
    All you now cherish--God, the world, your work,
    Your wretched self you'll curse. Then ... think of me!
    That bell shall ring again! Then think of me!

Barely does _Heinrich_ escape the deadly clutch of outlined creeds,
superstitions, and conventions embodied in the _Vicar_, than he is in
the throes of other foes who conspire his doom.

Nature herself has decreed the death of _Heinrich_. For has not man
turned his back upon her, has he not cast her off, scorned her
beneficial offerings, robbed her of her beauty, devastated her charms
and betrayed her trust--all for the ephemeral glow of artifice and sham?
Hence Nature, too, is _Heinrich's_ foe. Thus the Spirit of the Earth,
with all its passions and lusts, symbolized in the Wood Sprite, and
gross materialism in the person of the _Nickelmann_, drive the intruder

      _The Wood Sprite._

    He crowds us from our hills. He hacks and hews,
    Digs up our metals, sweats, and smelts, and brews.
    The earth-man and the water-sprite he takes
    To drag his burdens, and, to harness, breaks.

       *       *       *       *       *

    She steals my cherished flowers, my red-brown ores,
    My gold, my precious stones, my resinous stores.
    She serves him like a slave, by night and day.
    'Tis he she kisses--us she keeps at bay.
    Naught stands against him. Ancient trees he fells.
    The earth quakes at his tread, and all the dells
    Ring with the echo of his thunderous blows.
    His crimson smithy furnace glows and shines
    Into the depths of my most secret mines.
    What he is up to, only Satan knows!

      _The Nickelmann._

    Brekekekex! Hadst thou the creature slain,
    A-rotting in the mere long since he had lain--
    The maker of the bell, beside the bell.
    And so when next I had wished to throw the stones,
    The bell had been my box--the dice, his bones!

But even they are powerless to stem the tide of the Ideal: they are
helpless In the face of _Heinrich's_ new-born faith, of his burning
passion to complete his task, and give voice to the thousand-throated
golden peal.

_Heinrich_ works and toils, and when doubt casts its black shadow
athwart his path, _Rautendelein_ charms back hope. She alone has
boundless faith in her Balder,--god of the joy of Life--for he is part
of her, of the great glowing force her spirit breathed into the
Heinrichs since Time was born--Liberty, redeemer of man.


    I am thy Balder?
    Make me believe it--make me know it, child!
    Give my faint soul the rapturous joy it needs,
    To nerve it to its task. For, as the hand,
    Toiling with tong and hammer, on and on,
    To hew the marble and to guide the chisel,
    Now bungles here, now there, yet may not halt.
                           ... But--enough of this,
    Still straight and steady doth the smoke ascend
    From my poor human sacrifice to heaven.
    Should now a Hand on high reject my gift,
    Why, it may do so. Then the priestly robe
    Falls from my shoulder--by no act of mine;
    While I, who erst upon the heights was set,
    Must look my last on Horeb, and be dumb!
    But now bring torches! Lights! And show thine Art!
    Enchantress! Fill the wine-cup! We will drink!
    Ay, like the common herd of mortal men,
    With resolute hands our fleeting joy we'll grip!
    Our unsought leisure we will fill with life,
    Not waste it, as the herd, in indolence.
    We will have music!

While _Heinrich_ and _Rautendelein_ are in the ecstasy of their love and
work, the spirits weave their treacherous web--they threaten, they
plead, they cling,--spirits whose pain and grief are harder to bear
than the enmity or menace of a thousand foes. Spirits that entwine one's
heartstrings with tender touch, yet are heavier fetters, more oppressive
than leaden weights. _Heinrich's_ children, symbolizing regret that
paralyzes one's creative powers, bring their mother's tears and with
them a thousand hands to pull _Heinrich_ down from his heights, back to
the valley.

"The bell! The bell!" The old, long buried bell again ringing and
tolling. Is it not the echo from the past? The superstitions instilled
from birth, the prejudices that cling to man with cruel persistence, the
conventions which fetter the wings of the idealist: the Old wrestling
with the New for the control of man.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Sunken Bell" is a fairy tale in its poetic beauty and glow of
radiant color. But stripped of the legendary and symbolic, it is the
life story of every seeker for truth, of the restless spirit of
rebellion ever striving onward, ever reaching out toward the sun-tipped
mountain, ever yearning for a new-born light.

Too long had _Heinrich_ lived in the valley. It has sapped his strength,
has clipped his wings. "Too late! Thy heavy burdens weigh thee down; thy
dead ones are too mighty for thee." _Heinrich_ has to die. "He who has
flown so high into the very Light, as thou hast flown, must perish, if
he once fall back to earth."

Thus speak the worldly wise. As if death could still the burning thirst
for light; as if the hunger for the ideal could ever be appeased by the
thought of destruction! The worldly wise never feel the irresistible
urge to dare the cruel fates. With the adder in Maxim Gorki's "Song of
the Falcon" they sneer, "What is the sky? An empty place.... Why disturb
the soul with the desire to soar into the sky?... Queer birds," they
laugh at the falcons. "Not knowing the earth and grieving on it, they
yearn for the sky, seeking for light in the sultry desert. For it is
only a desert, with no food and no supporting place for a living body."

The Heinrichs are the social falcons, and though they perish when they
fall to earth, they die in the triumphant glory of having beheld the
sun, of having braved the storm, defied the clouds and mastered the air.

The sea sparkles in the glowing light, the waves dash against the shore.
In their lion-like roar a song resounds about the proud falcons: "O
daring Falcon, in the battle with sinister forces you lose your life.
But the time will come when your precious blood will illumine, like the
burning torch of truth, the dark horizon of man; when your blood shall
inflame many brave hearts with a burning desire for freedom."

The time when the peals of Heinrich's Bell will call the strong and
daring to battle for light and joy. "Hark!... 'Tis the music of the
Sun-bells' song! The Sun ... the Sun ... draws near!" ... and though
"the night is long," dawn breaks, its first rays falling on the dying



Frank Wedekind is perhaps the most daring dramatic spirit in Germany.
Coming to the fore much later than Sudermann and Hauptmann, he did not
follow in their path, but set out in quest of new truths. More boldly
than any other dramatist Frank Wedekind has laid bare the shams of
morality in reference to sex, especially attacking the ignorance
surrounding the sex life of the child and its resultant tragedies.

Wedekind became widely known through his great drama "The Awakening of
Spring," which he called a tragedy of childhood, dedicating the work to
parents and teachers. Verily an appropriate dedication, because parents
and teachers are, in relation to the child's needs, the most ignorant
and mentally indolent class. Needless to say, this element entirely
failed to grasp the social significance of Wedekind's work. On the
contrary, they saw in it an invasion of their traditional authority and
an outrage on the sacred rights of parenthood.

The critics also could see naught in Wedekind, except a base, perverted,
almost diabolic nature bereft of all finer feeling. But professional
critics seldom see below the surface; else they would discover beneath
the grin and satire of Frank Wedekind a sensitive soul, deeply stirred
by the heart-rending tragedies about him. Stirred and grieved especially
by the misery and torture of the child,--the helpless victim unable to
explain the forces germinating in its nature, often crushed and
destroyed by mock modesty, sham decencies, and the complacent morality
that greet its blind gropings.

Never was a more powerful indictment hurled against society, which out
of sheer hypocrisy and cowardice persists that boys and girls must grow
up in ignorance of their sex functions, that they must be sacrificed
on the altar of stupidity and convention which taboo the enlightenment
of the child in questions of such elemental importance to health and

The most criminal phase of the indictment, however, is that it is
generally the most promising children who are sacrificed to sex
ignorance and to the total lack of appreciation on the part of teachers
of the latent qualities and tendencies in the child: the one slaying the
body and soul, the other paralyzing the function of the brain; and both
conspiring to give to the world mental and physical mediocrities.

"The Awakening of Spring" is laid in three acts and fourteen scenes,
consisting almost entirely of dialogues among the children. So close is
Wedekind to the soul of the child that he succeeds in unveiling before
our eyes, with a most gripping touch, its joys and sorrows, its hopes
and despair, its struggles and tragedies.

The play deals with a group of school children just entering the age of
puberty,--imaginative beings speculating about the mysteries of life.
_Wendla_, sent to her grave by her loving but prudish mother, is an
exquisite, lovable child; _Melchior_, the innocent father of _Wendla's_
unborn baby, is a gifted boy whose thirst for knowledge leads him to
inquire into the riddle of life, and to share his observations with his
school chums,--a youth who, in a free and intelligent atmosphere, might
have developed into an original thinker. That such a boy should be
punished as a moral pervert, only goes to prove the utter unfitness of
our educators and parents. _Moritz_, _Melchior's_ playfellow, is driven
to suicide because he cannot pass his examinations, thanks to our stupid
and criminal system of education which consists in cramming the mind to
the bursting point.

Wedekind has been accused of exaggerating his types, but any one
familiar with child life knows that every word in "The Awakening of
Spring" is vividly true. The conversation between _Melchior_ and
_Moritz_, for instance, is typical of all boys not mentally inert.

  _Melchior._ I'd like to know why we really are on earth!

  _Moritz._ I'd rather be a cab-horse than go to school!--Why do we go
  to school?--We go to school so that somebody can examine us!--And
  why do they examine us?--In order that we may fail. Seven must fail,
  because the upper classroom will hold only sixty.--I feel so queer
  since Christmas.--The devil take me, if it were not for Papa, I'd
  pack my bundle and go to Altoona, to-day!

  _Moritz._ Do you believe, Melchior, that the feeling of shame in man
  is only a product of his education?

  _Melchior._ I was thinking over that for the first time the day
  before yesterday. It seems to me deeply rooted in human nature. Only
  think, you must appear entirely clothed before your best friend. You
  wouldn't do so if he didn't do the same thing.--Therefore, it's more
  or less of a fashion.

  _Moritz._ Have you experienced it yet?

  _Melchior._ What?

  _Moritz._ How do you say it?

  _Melchior._ Manhood's emotion?

  _Moritz._ M--'hm.

  _Melchior._ Certainly.

  _Moritz._ I also ...

  _Melchior._ I've known that for a long while!--Almost for a year.

  _Moritz._ I was startled as if by lightning.

  _Melchior._ Did you dream?

  _Moritz._ Only for a little while--of legs in light blue tights,
  that strode over the cathedral--to be correct, I thought they wanted
  to go over it. I only saw them for an instant.

  _Melchior._ George Zirschnitz dreamed of his mother.

  _Moritz._ Did he tell you that?... I thought I was incurable. I
  believed I was suffering from an inward hurt.--Finally I became calm
  enough to begin to jot down the recollections of my life. Yes, yes,
  dear Melchior, the last three weeks have been a Gethsemane for
  me.... Truly they play a remarkable game with us. And we're expected
  to give thanks for it. I don't remember to have had any longing for
  this kind of excitement. Why didn't they let me sleep peacefully
  until all was still again. My dear parents might have had a hundred
  better children. I came here, I don't know how, and must be
  responsible myself for not staying away.--Haven't you often
  wondered, Melchior, by what means we were brought into this whirl?

  _Melchior._ Don't you know that yet either, Moritz?

  _Moritz._ How should I know it? I see how the hens lay eggs, and
  hear that Mamma had to carry me under her heart. But is that
  enough?... I have gone through Meyer's "Little Encyclopedia" from A
  to Z. Words--nothing but words and words! Not a single plain
  explanation. Oh, this feeling of shame!--What good to me is an
  encyclopedia that won't answer me concerning the most important
  question in life?

Yes, of what good is an encyclopedia or the other wise books to the
quivering, restless spirit of the child? No answer anywhere, least of
all from your own mother, as _Wendla_ and many another like her have
found out.

The girl, learning that her sister has a new baby, rushes to her mother
to find out how it came into the world.

  _Wendla._ I have a sister who has been married for two and a half
  years, I myself have been made an aunt for the third time, and I
  haven't the least idea how it all comes about--Don't be cross,
  Mother dear, don't be cross! Whom in the world should I ask but you!
  Please tell me, dear Mother! Tell me, dear Mother! I am ashamed for
  myself. Please, Mother, speak! Don't scold me for asking you about
  it. Give me an answer--How does it happen?--How does it all come
  about?--You cannot really deceive yourself that I, who am fourteen
  years old, still believe in the stork.

  _Frau Bergmann._ Good Lord, child, but you are peculiar!--What ideas
  you have!--I really can't do that!

  _Wendla._ But why not, Mother?--Why not?--It can't be anything ugly
  if everybody is delighted over it!

  _Fran Bergmann._ O--O God, protect me!--I deserve--Go get dressed,
  child, go get dressed.

  _Wendla._ I'll go--And suppose your child went out and asked the
  chimney sweep?

  _Fran Bergmann._ But that would be madness!--Come here, child, come
  here, I'll tell you! I'll tell you everything-- ... In order to have
  a child--one must love--the man--to whom one is married--love him, I
  tell you--as one can only love a man! One must love him so much with
  one's whole heart, so--so that one can't describe it! One must love
  him, Wendla, as you at your age are still unable to love--Now you
  know it!

How much _Wendla_ knew, her mother found out when too late.

_Wendla_ and _Melchior_, overtaken by a storm, seek shelter in a
haystack, and are drawn by what _Melchior_ calls the "first emotion of
manhood" and curiosity into each other's arms. Six months later
_Wendla's_ mother discovers that her child is to become a mother. To
save the family honor, the girl is promptly placed in the hands of a
quack who treats her for chlorosis.

  _Wendla._ No, Mother, no! I know it. I feel it. I haven't chlorosis.
  I have dropsy--I won't get better. I have the dropsy, I must die,
  Mother--O, Mother, I must die!

  _Frau Bergmann._ You must not die, child! You must not die--Great
  heavens, you must not die!

  _Wendla._ But why do you weep so frightfully, then?

  _Frau Bergmann._ You must not die, child! You haven't the dropsy,
  you have a child, girl! You have a child! Oh, why did you do that to

  _Wendla._ I haven't done anything to you.

  _Frau Bergmann._ Oh, don't deny it any more, Wendla!--I know
  everything. See, I didn't want to say a word to you.--Wendla, my

  _Wendla._ But it's not possible, Mother.... I have loved nobody in
  the world as I do you, Mother.

The pathos of it, that such a loving mother should be responsible for
the death of her own child! Yet _Frau Bergmann_ is but one of the many
good, pious mothers who lay their children to "rest in God," with the
inscription on the tombstone: "Wendla Bergmann, born May 5th, 1878, died
from chlorosis, Oct. 27, 1892. Blessed are the pure of heart."

_Melchior_, like _Wendla_, was also "pure of heart"; yet how was he
"blessed"? Surely not by his teachers who, discovering his essay on the
mystery of life, expel the boy from school. Only Wedekind could inject
such grim humor into the farce of education--the smug importance of the
faculty of the High School sitting under the portraits of Rousseau and
Pestalozzi, and pronouncing judgment on their "immoral" pupil

  _Rector Sonnenstich._ Gentlemen: We cannot help moving the expulsion
  of our guilty pupil before the National Board of Education; there
  are the strongest reasons why we cannot: we cannot, because we must
  expiate the misfortune which has fallen upon us already; we cannot,
  because of our need to protect ourselves from similar blows in the
  future; we cannot, because we must chastise our guilty pupil for the
  demoralizing influence he exerted upon his classmates; we cannot,
  above all, because we must hinder him from exerting the same
  influence upon his remaining classmates. We cannot ignore the
  charge--and this, gentlemen, is possibly the weightiest of all--on
  any pretext concerning a ruined career, because it is our duty to
  protect ourselves from an epidemic of suicide similar to that which
  has broken out recently in various grammar schools, and which until
  to-day has mocked all attempts of the teachers to shackle it by any
  means known to advanced education.... We see ourselves under the
  necessity of judging the guilt-laden that we may not be judged
  guilty ourselves.... Are you the author of this obscene manuscript?

  _Melchior._ Yes--I request you, sir, to show me anything obscene in

  _Sonnenstich._ You have as little respect for the dignity of your
  assembled teachers as you have a proper appreciation of mankind's
  innate sense of shame which belongs to a moral world.

_Melchior's_ mother, a modern type, has greater faith in her child than
in school education. But even she cannot hold out against the pressure
of public opinion; still less against the father of _Melchior_, a firm
believer in authority and discipline.

  _Herr Gabor._ Anyone who can write what Melchior wrote must be
  rotten to the core of his being. The mark is plain. A half-healthy
  nature wouldn't do such a thing. None of us are saints. Each of us
  wanders from the straight path. His writing, on the contrary,
  tramples on principles. His writing is no evidence of a chance slip
  in the usual way; it sets forth with dreadful plainness and a
  frankly definite purpose that natural longing, that propensity for
  immorality, because it is immorality. His writing manifests that
  exceptional state of spiritual corruption which we jurists classify
  under the term "moral imbecility."

Between the parents and the educators, _Melchior_ is martyred even as
_Wendla_. He is sent to the House of Correction; but being of sturdier
stock than the girl, he survives.

Not so his chum _Moritz_. Harassed by the impelling forces of his
awakened nature, and unable to grapple with the torturous tasks demanded
by his "educators" at the most critical period of his life, _Moritz_
fails in the examinations. He cannot face his parents: they have placed
all their hope in him, and have lashed him, by the subtle cruelty of
gratitude, to the grindstone till his brain reeled. _Moritz_ is the
third victim in the tragedy, the most convenient explanation of which is
given by _Pastor Kahlbauch_ in the funeral sermon.

  _Pastor Kahlbauch._ He who rejects the grace with which the
  Everlasting Father has blessed those born in sin, he shall die a
  spiritual death!--He, however, who in willful carnal abnegation of
  God's proper honor, lives for and serves evil, shall die the death
  of the body!--Who, however, wickedly throws away from him the cross
  which the All Merciful has laid upon him for his sins, verily,
  verily, I say unto you, he shall die the everlasting death! Let us,
  however, praise the All Gracious Lord and thank Him for His
  inscrutable grace in order that we may travel the thorny path more
  and more surely. For as truly as this one died a triple death, as
  truly will the Lord God conduct the righteous unto happiness and
  everlasting life....

It is hardly necessary to point out the revolutionary significance of
this extraordinary play. It speaks powerfully for itself. One need only
add that "The Awakening of Spring" has done much to dispel the mist
enveloping the paramount issue of sex in the education of the child.
To-day it is conceded even by conservative elements that the conspiracy
of silence has been a fatal mistake. And while sponsors of the Church
and of moral fixity still clamor for the good old methods, the message
of Wedekind is making itself felt throughout the world, breaking down
the barriers.

The child is the unit of the race, and only through its unhampered
unfoldment can humanity come into its heritage. "The Awakening of
Spring" is one of the great forces of modern times that is paving the
way for the birth of a free race.



To those who are conversant with the works of Maeterlinck it may seem
rather far-fetched to discuss him from the point of view of
revolutionary and social significance. Above all, Maeterlinck is the
portrayer of the remote, the poet of symbols: therefore it may seem out
of place to bring him down to earth, to simplify him, or to interpret
his revolutionary spirit. To some extent these objections have
considerable weight; but on the other hand, if one keeps in mind that
only those who go to the remote are capable of understanding the
obvious, one will readily see how very significant Maeterlinck is as a
revolutionizing factor. Besides, we have Maeterlinck's own conception of
the significance of the revolutionary spirit. In a very masterly article
called "The Social Revolution," he discusses the objection on the part
of the conservative section of society to the introduction of
revolutionary methods. He says that they would like us to "go slow";
that they object to the use of violence and the forcible overthrow of
the evils of society. And Maeterlinck answers in these significant

"We are too ready to forget that the headsmen of misery are less noisy,
less theatrical, but infinitely more numerous, more cruel and active
than those of the most terrible revolutions."

Maeterlinck realizes that there are certain grievances in society,
iniquitous conditions which demand immediate solution, and that if we do
not solve them with the readiest and quickest methods at our command,
they will react upon society and upon life a great deal more terribly
than even the most terrible revolutions. No wonder, then, that his works
were put under the ban by the Catholic Church which forever sees danger
in light and emancipation. Surely if Maeterlinck were not primarily the
spokesman of truth, he would be embraced by the Catholic Church.

In "Monna Vanna" Maeterlinck gives a wonderful picture of the new
woman--not the new woman as portrayed in the newspapers, but the new
woman as a reborn, regenerated spirit; the woman who has emancipated
herself from her narrow outlook upon life, and detached herself from the
confines of the home; the woman, in short, who has become race-conscious
and therefore understands that she is a unit in the great ocean of
life, and that she must take her place as an independent factor in order
to rebuild and remold life. In proportion as she learns to become
race-conscious, does she become a factor in the reconstruction of
society, valuable to herself, to her children, and to the race.

       *       *       *       *       *

Pisa is subdued by the forces of Florence; it is beaten and conquered.
The city is in danger of being destroyed, and the people exposed to
famine and annihilation. There is only one way of saving Pisa. _Marco
Colonna_, the father of the Commander of Pisa, brings the ultimatum of
the enemy:

  _Marco._ Know, then, that I saw Prinzivalle and spoke with him.... I
  thought to find some barbarian, arrogant and heavy, always covered
  with blood or plunged in drunken stupor; at best, the madman they
  have told us of, whose spirit was lit up at times, upon the
  battlefield, by dazzling flashes of brilliance, coming no man knows
  whence. I thought to meet the demon of combat, blind, unreasoning,
  vain and cruel, faithless and dissolute.... I found a man who bowed
  before me as a loving disciple bows before the master. He is
  lettered, eager for knowledge, and obedient to the voice of
  wisdom.... He loves not war; his smile speaks of understanding and
  gentle humanity. He seeks the reason of passions and events. He
  looks into his own heart; he is endowed with conscience and
  sincerity, and it is against his will that he serves a faithless
  State.... I have told you that Prinzivalle seems wise, that he is
  humane and reasonable. But where is the wise man that hath not his
  private madness, the good man to whom no monstrous idea has ever
  come? On one side is reason and pity and justice; on the other--ah!
  _there_ is desire and passion and what you will--the insanity into
  which we all fall at times. I have fallen into it myself, and shall,
  belike, again--so have you. Man is made in that fashion. A grief
  which should not be within the experience of man is on the point of
  touching you.... Hearken: this great convoy, the victuals that I
  have seen, wagons running over with corn, others full of wine and
  fruit; flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, enough to feed a city
  for months; all these tuns of powder and bars of lead, with which
  you may vanquish Florence and make Pisa lift her head--all this will
  enter the city to-night, ... if you send in exchange, to give her up
  to Prinzivalle until to-morrow's dawn, ... for he will send her back
  when the first faint gray shows in the sky, ... only, he exacts
  that, in sign of victory and submission, she shall come alone, and
  her cloak for all her covering....

  _Guido._ Who? Who shall thus come?

  _Marco._ Giovanna.

  _Guido._ My wife? Vanna?

  _Marco._ Ay, your Vanna.

_Guido Colonna_, in the consciousness that the woman belongs to him,
that no man may even look, with desire, upon her dazzling beauty,
resents this mortal insult. He is willing that all the other women
should face danger, that the little children of Pisa should be exposed
to hunger and destruction, rather than that he give up his possession.
But _Monna Vanna_ does not hesitate. When she is before the issue of
saving her people, she does not stop to consider. She goes into the
enemy's tent, as a child might go, without consciousness of self, imbued
solely with the impulse to save her people.

The meeting of _Monna Vanna_ and _Prinzivalle_ is an exquisite
interpretation of love--the sweetness, purity, and fragrance of
_Prinzivalle's_ love for the woman of his dream--the one he had known
when she was but a child, and who remained an inspiring vision all
through his career. He knows he cannot reach her; he also knows that he
will be destroyed by the political intriguers of Florence, and he stakes
his all on this one step to satisfy the dream of his life to see _Vanna_
and in return to save Pisa.

  _Prinzivalle._ Had there come ten thousand of you into my tent, all
  clad alike, all equally fair, ten thousand sisters whom even their
  mother would not know apart, I should have risen, should have taken
  your hand, and said, "This is she!" Is it not strange that a beloved
  image can live thus in a man's heart? For yours lived so in mine
  that each day it changed as in real life--the image of to-day
  replaced that of yesterday--it blossomed out, it became always
  fairer; and the years adorned it with all that they add to a child
  that grows in grace and beauty. But when I saw you again, it seemed
  to me at first that my eyes deceived me. My memories were so fair
  and so fond--but they had been too slow and too timid--they had not
  dared to give you all the splendor which appeared so suddenly to
  dazzle me. I was as a man that recalled to mind a flower he had but
  seen in passing through a garden on a gray day, and should be
  suddenly confronted with a hundred thousand as fair in a field
  bathed with sunshine. I saw once more your hair, your brow, your
  eyes, and I found all the soul of the face I had adored--but how its
  beauty shames that which I had treasured in silence through endless
  days, through years whose only light was a memory that had taken too
  long a road and found itself outshone by the reality!... Ah! I knew
  not too well what I meant to do. I felt that I was lost--and I
  desired to drag with me all I could.... And I hated you, because of
  the love.... Yes, I should have gone to the end had it not been
  _you_.... Yet any other would have seemed odious to me--you yourself
  would have had to be other than you are.... I lose my reason when I
  think of it.... One word would have been enough that was different
  from your words--one gesture that was not yours--the slightest thing
  would have inflamed my hate and let loose the monster. But when I
  saw you, I saw in that same moment that it was impossible.

  _Vanna._ I felt a change, too.... I marveled that I could speak to
  you as I have spoken since the first moment.... I am silent by
  nature--I have never spoken thus to any man, unless it be to Marco,
  Guido's father.... And even with him it is not the same. He has a
  thousand dreams that take up all his mind, ... and we have talked
  but a few times. The others have always a desire in their eyes that
  will not suffer one to tell them that one loves them and would fain
  know what they have in their hearts. In your eyes, too, a longing
  burns; but it is not the same--it does not affright me nor fill me
  with loathing. I felt at once that I knew you before I remembered
  that I had ever seen you....

_Vanna_, awed by the character and personality of this despised and
hated outlaw, pleads with him to come with her to Pisa under the
protection of herself and her husband. She is sure that he will be safe
with them, and that he will be hailed as the redeemer of the people of
Pisa. Like innocent children they walk to their doom.

_Vanna_ is honored by the people whom she has saved, but scorned by her
husband who, like the true male, does not credit her story.

  _Vanna._ Hear me, I say! I have never lied--but to-day, above all
  days, I tell the deepest truth, the truth that can be told but once
  and brings life or death.... Hearken, Guido, then--and look upon me,
  if you have never known me until this hour, the first and only hour
  when you have it in your power to love me as I would be loved. I
  speak in the name of our life, of all that I am, of all that you are
  to me.... Be strong enough to believe that which is incredible. This
  man has spared my honor.... He had all power--I was given over to
  him. Yet he has not touched me--I have issued from his tent as I
  might from my brother's house.... I gave him one only kiss upon the
  brow--and he gave it me again.

  _Guido._ Ah, that was what you were to tell us--that was the
  miracle! Ay, already, at the first words, I divined something
  beneath them that I understood not.... It passed me like a flash--I
  took no heed of it.... But I see now that I must look more closely.
  So, when he had you in his tent, alone, with a cloak for all your
  covering, all night long, you say he spared you?... Am I a man to
  believe that the stars are fragments of hellebore, or that one may
  drop something into a well and put out the moon?... What! a man
  desires you so utterly that he will betray his country, stake all
  that he has for one single night, ruin himself forever, and do it
  basely, do such a deed as no man ever thought to do before him, and
  make the world uninhabitable to himself forever! And this man has
  you there in his tent, alone and defenseless, and he has but this
  single night that he has bought at such a price--and he contents
  himself with a kiss upon the brow, and comes even hither to make us
  give him credence! No, let us reason fairly and not too long mock at
  misfortune. If he asked but that, what need was there that he should
  plunge a whole people into sadness, sink me in an abyss of misery
  such that I have come from it crushed and older by ten years? Ah!
  Had he craved but a kiss upon the brow, he might have saved us
  without torturing us so! He had but to come like a god to our
  rescue.... But a kiss upon the brow is not demanded and prepared for
  after his fashion.... The truth is found in our cries of anguish
  and despair....

It is only at this psychological moment, a moment that sometimes changes
all our conceptions, all our thoughts, our very life, that _Monna Vanna_
feels the new love for _Prinzivalle_ stirring in her soul, a love that
knows no doubt. The conception of such a love is revolutionary in the
scope of its possibilities--a love that is pregnant with the spirit of
daring, of freedom, that lifts woman out of the ordinary and inspires
her with the strength and joy of molding a new and free race.



In view of the progress the modern drama has made as an interpreter of
social ideas and portrayer of the human struggle against internal and
external barriers, it is difficult to say what the future may bring in
the way of great dramatic achievement. So far, however, there is hardly
anything to compare with "Chantecler" in philosophic depth and poetic

_Chantecler_ is the intense idealist, whose mission is light and truth.
His soul is aglow with deep human sympathies, and his great purpose in
life is to dispel the night. He keeps aloof from mediocrity; indeed, he
has little knowledge of his immediate surroundings. Like all great
visionaries, _Chantecler_ is human, "all too human"; therefore subject
to agonizing soul depressions and doubts. Always, however, he regains
confidence and strength when he is close to the soil; when he feels the
precious sap of the earth surging through his being. At such times he
feels the mysterious power that gives him strength to proclaim the
truth, to call forth the golden glory of the day.

The _pheasant hen_ is the eternal female, bewitchingly beautiful, but
self-centered and vain. True to her destiny, she must possess the man
and is jealous of everything that stands between her and him she loves.
She therefore employs every device to kill _Chantecler's_ faith in
himself, for, as she tells him, "You can be all in all to me, but
nothing to the dawn."

The _blackbird_ is the modernist who has become blasé, mentally and
spiritually empty. He is a cynic and scoffer; without principle or
sincerity himself, he sees only small and petty intentions in everybody

_Patou_, true and stanch, is the symbol of honest conviction and
simplicity of soul. He loathes the blackbird because he sees in him the
embodiment of a shallow, superficial modernity, a modernity barren of
all poetic vision, which aims only at material success and tinseled
display, without regard for worth, harmony or peace.

The _peacock_ is the overbearing, conceited, intellectual charlatan; the
spokesman of our present-day culture; the idle prater of "art for art's
sake." As such he sets the style and pace for the idle pursuits of an
idle class.

The _guinea hen_ is none other than our most illustrious society lady.
Sterile of mind and empty of soul, she flits from one social function
to another, taking up every fad, clinging to the coattails of every
newcomer, provided he represent station and prestige. She is the slave
of fashion, the imitator of ideas, the silly hunter after effect--in
short, the parasite upon the labor and efforts of others.

The _night birds_ are the ignorant, stupid maintainers of the old. They
detest the light because it exposes their mediocrity and stagnation.
They hate _Chantecler_ because, as the old owl remarks, "Simple torture
it is to hear a brazen throat forever reminding you of what you know to
be only too true!" This is a crime mediocrity never forgives, and it
conspires to kill _Chantecler_.

The _woodpecker_ is our very learned college professor. Dignified and
important, he loudly proclaims the predigested food of his college as
the sole source of all wisdom.

The _toads_ represent the cringing, slimy hangers-on, the flunkies and
lickspittles who toady for the sake of personal gain.

"Chantecler," then, is a scathing arraignment of the emptiness of our
so-called wise and cultured, of the meanness of our conventional lies,
the petty jealousies of the human breed in relation to each other. At
the same time "Chantecler" characterizes the lack of understanding for,
and appreciation of, the ideal and the idealists--the mob spirit,
whether on top or at the bottom, using the most cruel and contemptible
methods to drag the idealist down; to revile and persecute him--aye,
even to kill him--for the unpardonable sin of proclaiming the ideal.
They cannot forgive _Chantecler_ for worshiping the sun:

    Blaze forth in glory!...
    O thou that driest the tears of the meanest among weeds
    And dost of a dead flower make a living butterfly--
    Thy miracle, wherever almond-trees
    Shower down the wind their scented shreds,
    Dead petals dancing in a living swarm--
    I worship thee, O Sun! whose ample light,
    Blessing every forehead, ripening every fruit,
    Entering every flower and every hovel,
    Pours itself forth and yet is never less,
    Still spending and unspent--like mother's love!

    I sing of thee, and will be thy high priest,
    Who disdainest not to glass thy shining face
    In the humble basin of blue suds,
    Or see the lightning of thy last farewell
    Reflected in an humble cottage pane!


    Glory to thee in the vineyards! Glory to thee in the fields!
    Glory among the grass and on the roofs,
    In eyes of lizards and on wings of swans,--
    Artist who making splendid the great things
    Forgets not to make exquisite the small!
    'Tis thou that, cutting out a silhouette,
    To all thou beamest on dost fasten this dark twin,
    Doubling the number of delightful shapes,
    Appointing to each thing its shadow,
    More charming often than itself.

    I praise thee, Sun! Thou sheddest roses on the air,
    Diamonds on the stream, enchantment on the hill;
    A poor dull tree thou takest and turnest to green rapture,
    O Sun, without whose golden magic--things
    Would be no more than what they are!

In the atmosphere of persecution and hatred _Chantecler_ continues to
hope and to work for his sublime mission of bringing the golden day. But
his passion for the _pheasant hen_ proves his Waterloo. It is through
her that he grows weak, disclosing his secret. Because of her he attends
the silly five o'clock function at the _guinea hen's_, and is involved
in a prize fight. His passion teaches him to understand life and the
frailties of his fellow creatures. He learns the greatest of all
truths,--that "it is the struggle for, rather than the attainment of,
the ideal, which must forever inspire the sincere, honest idealist."
Indeed, it is life which teaches _Chantecler_ that if he cannot wake the
dawn, he must rouse mankind to greet the sun.

_Chantecler_ finds himself in a trying situation when he comes into the
gathering at the _guinea hen's_ five o'clock tea, to meet the pompous,
overbearing cocks representing the various governments. When he arrives
in the midst of these distinguished society people, he is plied with the
query, "How do you sing? Do you sing the Italian school or the French
school or the German school?" Poor _Chantecler_, in the simplicity of
his idealism, replies, "I don't know how I sing, but I know why I sing."
Why need the chanteclers know how they sing? They represent the truth,
which needs no stylish clothes or expensive feathers. That is the
difference between truth and falsehood. Falsehood must deck herself out
beyond all semblance of nature and reality.

  _Chantecler._ I say ... that these resplendent gentlemen are
  manufactured wares, the work of merchants with highly complex
  brains, who to fashion a ridiculous chicken have taken a wing from
  that one, a topknot from this. I say that in such Cocks nothing
  remains of the true Cock. They are Cocks of shreds and patches, idle
  bric-a-brac, fit to figure in a catalogue, not in a barnyard with
  its decent dunghill and its dog. I say that those befrizzled,
  beruffled, bedeviled Cocks were never stroked and cherished by
  Nature's maternal hand.... And I add that the whole duty of a Cock
  is to be an embodied crimson cry! And when a Cock is not that, it
  matters little that his comb be shaped like a toadstool, or his
  quills twisted like a screw, he will soon vanish and be heard of no
  more, having been nothing but a variety of a variety!

The _Game Cock_ appears. He greets _Chantecler_ with the announcement
that he is the Champion fighter, that he has killed so and so many Cocks
in one day and an equal number on other occasions. _Chantecler_ replies
simply, "I have never killed anything. But as I have at different times
succored, defended, protected this one and that, I might perhaps be
called, in my fashion, brave."

The fight begins. _Chantecler_ is wounded and about to succumb, when
suddenly all the guests present rush to _Chantecler_ for protection: the
common enemy, the _Hawk_ is seen to approach. _Chantecler_ mistakes the
cowardice of those who come to seek his aid, for friendship; but the
moment the danger is over, the crowd again circles around the fighters,
inciting the _Game Cock_ to kill _Chantecler_. But at the critical
moment the _Game Cock_ mortally wounds himself with his own spurs, and
is jeered and driven off the scene by the same mob that formerly cheered
him on. _Chantecler_, weak and exhausted from loss of blood,
disillusioned and stung to the very soul, follows the _pheasant hen_ to
the Forest.

Soon he finds himself a henpecked husband: he may not crow to his
heart's content any more, he may not wake the sun, for his lady love is
jealous. The only time he can crow is when her eyes are closed in sleep.

But leave it to the _pheasant hen_ to ferret out a secret. Overhearing
_Chantecler's_ conversation with the _woodpecker_, she is furious. "I
will not let the sun defraud me of my love," she cries. But _Chantecler_
replies, "There is no great love outside of the shadow of the ideal."
She makes use of her beauty and charm to win him from the sun. She
embraces him and pleads, "Come to my soft bosom. Why need you bother
about the sun?"

_Chantecler_ hears the nightingale and, like all great artists, he
recognizes her wonderful voice, her inspiring powers compared with which
his own must seem hard and crude. Suddenly a shot is heard, and the
little bird falls dead to the ground. _Chantecler_ is heart-broken. And
as he mourns the sweet singer, the dawn begins to break. The _pheasant
hen_ covers him with her wing, to keep him from seeing the sun rise, and
then mocks him because the sun has risen without his crowing. The shock
is terrible to poor _Chantecler_, yet in his desperation he gives one
tremendous cock-a-doodle-do.

"Why are you crowing?" the hen asks.

"As a warning to myself, for thrice have I denied the thing I love."

_Chantecler_ is in despair. But now he hears another Nightingale, more
silvery and beautiful than the first. "Learn, comrade, this sorrowful
and reassuring fact, that no one, Cock of the morning or evening
nightingale, has quite the song of his dreams."

A wonderful message, for there must always be "in the soul a faith so
faithful that it comes back even after it has been slain." It Is vital
to understand that it is rather the consciousness that though we cannot
wake the dawn, we must prepare the people to greet the rising sun.



In the preface to the English edition of "Damaged Goods," George Bernard
Shaw relates a story concerning Lord Melbourne, in the early days of
Queen Victoria. When the cabinet meeting threatened to break up in
confusion, Lord Melbourne put his back to the door and said: "Gentlemen,
we can tell the house the truth or we can tell it a lie. I don't give a
damn which it is. All I insist on is that we shall all tell the same
lie, and you shall not leave the room until you have settled what it is
to be."

This seems to characterize the position of our middle-class morality
to-day. Whether a thing be right or wrong, we are all to express the
same opinion on the subject. All must agree on the same lie, and the lie
upon which all agree, more than on any other, is the lie of purity,
which must be kept up at all costs.

How slow our moralists move is best proved by the fact that although the
great scientist Neisser had discovered, as far back as 1879, that
supposedly insignificant venereal afflictions are due to a malignant
micro-organism often disastrous not only to the immediate victim, but
also to those who come in touch with him, the subject is still largely
tabooed and must not be discussed.

To be sure, there is a small contingent of men and women who realize the
necessity of a frank discussion of the very important matter of venereal
disease. But unfortunately they are attempting to drive out the devil
with fire. They are enlightening the public as to the gravity of
gonorrhea and syphilis, but are implanting an evil by no means less
harmful, namely, the element of fear. The result often is that the
victims who contract an infection are as little capable of taking care
of themselves now as in the past when they knew little about the

Brieux is among the few who treats the question in a frank manner,
showing that the most dangerous phase of venereal disease is ignorance
and fear, and that if treated openly and intelligently, it is perfectly
curable. Brieux also emphasizes the importance of kindness and
consideration for those who contract the affliction, since it has
nothing to do with what is commonly called evil, immorality, or

Therein lies the superiority of "Damaged Goods" to most scientific
treatises. Without lacking logic and clarity, it has greater humanity
and warmth.

But "Damaged Goods" contains more than an exposé of venereal disease. It
touches upon the whole of our social life. It points out the
cold-blooded indifference of the rich toward those who do not belong to
their class, to the poor, the workers, the disinherited whom they
sacrifice without the slightest compunction on the altar of their own
comforts. Moreover, the play also treats of the contemptible attitude
towards love not backed by property or legal sanction. In short, it
uncovers and exposes not only sexual disease but that which is even more
terrible--our social disease, our social syphilis.

       *       *       *       *       *

_George Dupont_, the son of wealthy people is informed by a specialist
that he has contracted a venereal disease of a most serious nature; but
that with patience and time he will be cured. _Dupont_ is crushed by the
news, and decides to blow out his brains. His only regret is that he
cannot in the least account for his trouble.

  _George._ I'm not a rake, Doctor. My life might be held up as an
  example to all young men. I assure you, no one could possibly be
  more prudent, no one. See here; supposing I told you that in all my
  life I have only had two mistresses, what would you say to that?

  _Doctor._ That would have been enough to bring you here.

  _George._ No, Doctor. Not one of those two. No one in the world has
  dreaded this so much as I have; no one has taken such infinite
  precautions to avoid it. My first mistress was the wife of my best
  friend. I chose her on account of him; and him, not because I cared
  most for him, but because I knew he was a man of the most rigid
  morals, who watched his wife jealously and didn't let her go about
  forming imprudent connections. As for her, I kept her in absolute
  terror of this disease. I told her that almost all men were taken
  with it, so that she mightn't dream of being false to me. My friend
  died in my arms. That was the only thing that could have separated
  me from her. Then I took up with a young seamstress.... Well, this
  was a decent girl with a family in needy circumstances to support.
  Her grandmother was an invalid, and there was an ailing father and
  three little brothers. It was by my means that they all lived.... I
  told her and I let the others know that if she played me false I
  should leave her at once. So then they all watched her for me. It
  became a regular thing that I should spend Sunday with them, and in
  that sort of way I was able to give her a lift up. Church-going was
  a respectable kind of outing for her. I rented a pew for them and
  her mother used to go with her to church; they liked seeing their
  name engraved on the card. She never left the house alone. Three
  months ago, when the question of my marriage came up, I had to leave

  _Doctor._ You were very happy, why did you want to change?

  _George._ I wanted to settle down. My father was a notary, and
  before his death he expressed a wish that I should marry my cousin.
  It was a good match; her dowry will help to get me a practice.
  Besides, I simply adore her. She's fond of me, too. I had everything
  one could want to make my life happy. And then a lot of idiots must
  give me a farewell dinner and make me gad about with them. See what
  has come of it! I haven't any luck, I've never had any luck! I know
  fellows who lead the most racketty life: nothing happens to them,
  the beasts! But I--for a wretched lark--what is there left for a
  leper like me? My future is ruined, my whole life poisoned. Well
  then, isn't it better for me to clear out of it? Anyway, I shan't
  suffer any more. You see now, no one could be more wretched than I

The doctor explains to him that there is no need for despair, but that
he must postpone his marriage if he does not wish to ruin his wife and
possibly make her sterile for life. It is imperative especially because
of the offspring, which is certain to be syphilitic.

  _Doctor._ Twenty cases identical with yours have been carefully
  observed--from the beginning to the end. Nineteen times--you hear,
  nineteen times in twenty--the woman was contaminated by her husband.
  You think that the danger is negligible: you think you have the
  right to let your wife take her chance, as you said, of being one of
  the exceptions for which we can do nothing! Very well then; then you
  shall know what you are doing. You shall know what sort of a disease
  it is that your wife will have five chances per cent. of contracting
  without so much as having her leave asked. ... But there is not
  only your wife,--there are her children, your children, whom you may
  contaminate, too. It is in the name of those innocent little ones
  that I appeal to you; it is the future of the race that I am

But _George Dupont_ will not postpone the marriage for several years. He
would have to give an explanation, break his word, and lose his
inheritance,--things infinitely more important than any consideration
for the girl he "adores" or for their children, should they have any. In
short, he is actuated by the morality of the bourgeoisie: the silly
conception of honor, the dread of public opinion and, above all, the
greed for property.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second act is laid at the home of _George Dupont_. _George_ and his
wife _Henriette_ are childishly happy, except for the regret that their
marriage could not have taken place six months earlier because poor
George had been declared consumptive. How stupid of doctors to suspect
the healthy strong _George Dupont_ of consumption! But, then, "all
doctors are stupid." But now that they are together, nothing shall part
them in their great happiness, and especially in their great love for
their baby. True, a little cloud obscures their sunny horizon. The baby
is not very strong; but with the care and devotion of the grandmother,
out in the country air, it is sure to recover.

The grandmother unexpectedly arrives, announcing that she has brought
the baby back to town: it is very ill and she has consulted a specialist
who has promised to come at once to examine the child. Presently the
doctor arrives. He insists that the wet nurse be dismissed immediately,
as the child would infect her and she in return would infect her own
husband and baby. _Madame Dupont_ is scandalized. What, leave her
precious grandchild! Rob him of the milk he needs!

  _Mme. Dupont._ If there is one way to save its life, it is to give
  it every possible attention, and you want me to treat it in a way
  that you doctors condemn even for healthy children. You think I will
  let her die like that! Oh, I shall take good care she does not!
  Neglect the one single thing that can save her! It would be
  criminal! As for the nurse, we will indemnify her. We will do
  everything in our power, everything but that.

  _Doctor._ This is not the first time I have found myself in this
  situation, and I must begin by telling you that parents who have
  refused to be guided by my advice have invariably repented of it
  most bitterly.... You propose to profit by her ignorance and her
  poverty. Besides, she could obtain the assistance of the court....
  You can convince yourself. In one or two cases the parents have been
  ordered to pay a yearly pension to the nurse; in the others sums of
  money varying from three to eight thousand francs.

  _Mme. Dupont._ If we had to fight an action, we should retain the
  very best lawyer on our side. Thank heaven we are rich enough. No
  doubt he would make it appear doubtful whether the child hadn't
  caught this disease from the nurse, rather than the nurse from the

Indeed, what matters a peasant woman! They are so numerous. In vain the
doctor tries to convince _Mme. Dupont_ that it is not a question of
money. It is a question of humanity, of decency; he would not and could
not be a party to such a crime.

After the doctor leaves to examine the child, _Mme. Dupont_ and her
worthy son clinch the bargain with the unsuspecting and ignorant
servant. They tell her that the baby has a cold which it might
communicate to her. The poor peasant girl had lived in the cold all her
life, and as she justly says: "We of the country are not as delicate as
the Parisian ladies." She realizes that a thousand francs would mean a
great fortune to her, and that it would help her people to pay the
mortgage and become independent. She consents to stay and signs away her

The doctor returns with the dreaded news that the child has congenital
syphilis. He informs them that with care and patience the child might be
cured, but that it will have to be put on bottle milk, because otherwise
it would be disastrous to the nurse. When he is told that the nurse has
consented to remain, he grows indignant, declaring:

  "You must not ask me to sacrifice the health of a young and strong
  woman to that of a sickly infant. I will be no party to giving this
  woman a disease that would embitter the lives of her whole family,
  and almost certainly render her sterile. Besides, I cannot even do
  it from a legal standpoint.... _If you do not consent to have the
  child fed by hand, I shall either speak to the nurse or give up the

But there is no need for the doctor to interfere. Fortunately for the
servant, she discovers the miserable transaction. She learns from the
butler the real condition of the child, and announces to the Duponts
that she must refuse to stay. "I know your brat isn't going to live. I
know it's rotten through and through because its father's got a beastly
disease that he caught from some woman of the streets."

At this terrible moment the unsuspecting, light-headed and light-hearted
mother, _Henriette_, arrives. She overhears the horrible news and falls
screaming to the floor.

The last act takes place in the hospital--the refuge of the unfortunate
victims of poverty, ignorance and false morality. _M. Loche_, the
Deputy, is announced. The doctor is overjoyed because he believes that
the representative of the people comes to inform himself of the causes
of the widespread misery. But he is mistaken. _M. Loche_ is the
father-in-law of _George Dupont_. He wants to secure the signature of
the doctor as evidence in the divorce sought by his daughter.

  _Doctor._ I regret that I am unable to furnish you with such a
  certificate.... The rule of professional secrecy is absolute. And I
  may add that even were I free, I should refuse your request. I
  should regret having helped you to obtain a divorce. It would be in
  your daughter's own interest that I should refuse. You ask me for a
  certificate in order to prove to the court that your son-in-law has
  contracted syphilis? You do not consider that in doing so you will
  publicly acknowledge that your daughter has been exposed to the
  infection. Do you suppose that after that your daughter is likely to
  find a second husband?... Do you think that this poor little thing
  has not been unlucky enough in her start in life? She has been
  blighted physically. You wish besides indelibly to stamp her with
  the legal proof of congenital syphilis.

  _Loche._ Then what am I to do?

  _Doctor._ Forgive.... When the marriage was proposed you doubtless
  made inquiries concerning your future son-in-law's income; you
  investigated his securities; you satisfied yourself as to his
  character. You only omitted one point, but it was the most important
  of all: you made no inquiries concerning his health.

  _Loche._ No, I did not do that. It is not the custom.... I think a
  law should be passed.

  _Doctor._ No, no! We want no new laws. There are too many already.
  All that is needed is for people to understand the nature of this
  disease rather better. It would soon become the custom for a man who
  proposed for a girl's hand to add to the other things for which he
  is asked a medical statement of bodily fitness, which would make it
  certain that he did not bring this plague into the family with
  him.... Well, there is one last argument which, since I must, I will
  put to you. Are you yourself without sin, that you are so relentless
  to others?

  _Loche._ I have never had any shameful disease, sir.

  _Doctor._ I was not asking you that. I was asking you if you had
  never exposed yourself to catching one. Ah, you see! Then it is not
  virtue that has saved you; it is luck. Few things exasperate me more
  than that term "shameful disease," which you used just now. This
  disease is like all other diseases: it is one of our afflictions.
  There is no shame in being wretched--even if one deserves to be so.
  Come, come, let us have a little plain speaking! I should like to
  know how many of these rigid moralists, who are so shocked with
  their middle-class prudery, that they dare not mention the name
  syphilis, or when they bring themselves to speak of it do so with
  expressions of every sort of disgust, and treat its victims as
  criminals, have never run the risk of contracting it themselves? It
  is those alone who have the right to talk. How many do you think
  there are? Four out of a thousand? Well, leave those four aside:
  between all the rest and those who catch the disease there is no
  difference but chance, and by heavens, those who escape won't get
  much sympathy from me: the others at least have paid their fine of
  suffering and remorse, while they have gone scot free! Let's have
  done, if you please, once for all with this sort of hypocrisy.

The doctor, who is not only a sincere scientist but also a humanitarian,
realizes that as things are to-day no one is exempt from the possibility
of contracting an infection; that those who are responsible for the
spread of the disease are they who constantly excuse themselves with the
inane "I did not know," as if ignorance were not the crime of all
crimes. The doctor demonstrates to _M. Loche_ a number of cases under
his observation, all of them the result of ignorance and of poverty.

There is, for instance, the woman whose husband died of the disease. He
"didn't know"; so he infected her. She, on the other hand, is poor and
cannot afford the treatment she needs. A private physician is beyond her
means, and she has too much pride to stand the indignities heaped upon
the poor who are at the mercy of dispensaries and charity. Therefore she
neglects her disease and perhaps is unconsciously instrumental in
infecting others.

Then there is the man whose young son has contracted the disease. His
father "didn't know," and therefore he did not inform his son, as a
result of which the boy became half paralyzed.

  _Man._ We are small trades-people; we have regularly bled ourselves
  in order to send him to college, and now--I only wish the same thing
  mayn't happen to others. It was at the very college gates that my
  poor boy was got hold of by one of these women. Is it right, sir,
  that that should be allowed? Aren't there enough police to prevent
  children of fifteen from being seduced like that? I ask, is it

The poor man, in his ignorance, did not know that "these women" are the
most victimized, as demonstrated by the doctor himself in the case of
the poor girl of the street. She was both ignorant and innocent when she
found a place as domestic servant and was seduced by her master. Then
she was kicked out into the street, and in her endless search for work
found every door closed in her face. She was compelled to stifle her
feeling of motherhood, to send her baby to a foundling asylum, and
finally, in order to exist, become a street-walker. If in return she
infected the men who came to her, including her erstwhile seducer, she
was only paying back in a small measure what society had done to
her,--the injury, the bitterness, the misery and tears heaped upon her
by a cruel and self-satisfied world.

It is to be expected that a political representative of the people like
_Loche_ should suggest the same stereotyped measures as his
predecessors: legal enactments, prosecution, imprisonment. But the
doctor, a real social student, knows that "the true remedy lies in a
change of our ways."

  _Doctor._ Syphilis must cease to be treated like a mysterious evil,
  the very name of which cannot be pronounced.... People ought to be
  taught that there is nothing immoral in the act that reproduces life
  by means of love. But for the benefit of our children we organize
  round about it a gigantic conspiracy of silence. A respectable man
  will take his son and daughter to one of these grand music halls,
  where they will hear things of the most loathsome description; but
  he won't let them hear a word spoken seriously on the subject of the
  great act of love. The mystery and humbug in which physical facts
  are enveloped ought to be swept away and young men be given some
  pride in the creative power with which each one of us is endowed.

In other words, what we need is more general enlightenment, greater
frankness and, above all, different social and economic conditions. The
revolutionary significance of "Damaged Goods" consists in the lesson
that not syphilis but the causes that lead to it are the terrible curse
of society. Those who rant against syphilis and clamor for more laws,
for marriage certificates, for registration and segregation, do not
touch even the surface of the evil. Brieux is among the very few modern
dramatists who go to the bottom of this question by insisting on a
complete social and economic change, which alone can free us from the
scourge of syphilis and other social plagues.


Motherhood to-day is on the lips of every penny-a-liner, every social
patchworker and political climber. It is so much prated about that one
is led to believe that motherhood, in its present condition, is a force
for good. It therefore required a free spirit combined with great
dramatic power to tear the mask off the lying face of motherhood, that
we may see that, whatever its possibilities in a free future, motherhood
is to-day a sickly tree setting forth diseased branches. For its sake
thousands of women are being sacrificed and children sent into a cold
and barren world without the slightest provision for their physical and
mental needs. It was left to Brieux to inscribe with letters of fire the
crying shame of the motherhood of to-day.

_Brignac_, a provincial lawyer and an unscrupulous climber for political
success, represents the typical pillar of society. He believes
implicitly in the supremacy of God over the destiny of man. He swears by
the State and the army, and cringes before the power of money. Naturally
he is the champion of large families as essential to the welfare of
society, and of motherhood, as the most sacred and sole function of

He is the father of three children, all of whom are in a precarious
condition. He resents the idea that society ought to take care of the
children already in existence, rather than continue indiscriminately
breeding more. _Brignac_ himself wants more children. In vain his wife
_Lucie_, weakened by repeated pregnancies, pleads with him for a

  _Lucie._ Listen, Julien, since we are talking about this, I wanted
  to tell you--I haven't had much leisure since our marriage. We have
  not been able to take advantage of a single one of your holidays. I
  really have a right to a little rest.... Consider, we have not had
  any time to know one another, or to love one another. Besides,
  remember that we already have to find dowries for three girls.

  _Brignac._ I tell you this is going to be a boy.

  _Lucie._ A boy is expensive.

  _Brignac._ We are going to be rich!

  _Lucie._ How?

  _Brignac._ Luck may come in several ways. I may stay in the civil
  service and get promoted quickly. I may go back to the bar.... I am
  certain we shall be rich. After all, it's not much good your saying
  so, if I say yes.

  _Lucie._ Evidently. My consent was asked for before I was given a
  husband, but my consent is not asked for before I am given a
  child.... This is slavery--yes, _slavery_. After all you are
  disposing of my health, my sufferings, my life--of a year of my
  existence, calmly, without consulting me.

  _Brignac._ Do I do it out of selfishness? Do you suppose I am not a
  most unhappy husband all the time I have a future mother at my side
  instead of a loving wife?... A father is a man all the same.

  _Lucie._ Rubbish! You evidently take me for a fool. I know what you
  do at those times.... Don't deny it. You must see that I know all
  about it.... Do you want me to tell you the name of the person you
  go to see over at Villeneuve, while I am nursing or "a future
  mother," as you call it? We had better say no more about it.

_Brignac_ goes off to his political meeting to proclaim to his
constituency the sacredness of motherhood,--the deepest and highest
function of woman.

_Lucie_ has a younger sister, _Annette_, a girl of eighteen. Their
parents being dead, _Lucie_ takes the place of the mother. She is
passionately fond of her little sister and makes it her purpose to keep
the girl sheltered and protected from the outside world. _Annette_
arrives and announces with great enthusiasm that the son of the wealthy
Bernins has declared his love and asked her to marry him, and that his
mother, _Mme. Bernin_, is coming to talk the matter over with _Lucie_.

_Mme. Bernin_ does arrive, but not for the purpose poor _Annette_ had
hoped. Rather is it to tell _Lucie_ that her son cannot marry the girl.
Oh, not because she isn't beautiful, pure or attractive. Indeed not!
_Mme. Bernin_ herself says that her son could not wish for a more
suitable match. But, then, she has no money, and her son must succeed
in the world. He must acquire social standing and position; that cannot
be had without money. When _Lucie_ pleads with her that after all the
Bernins themselves had begun at the bottom, and that it did not prevent
their being happy, _Mme. Bernin_ replies:

  No, no; we are not happy, because we have worn ourselves out hunting
  after happiness. We wanted to "get on," and we got on. But what a
  price we paid for it! First, when we were both earning wages, our
  life was one long drudgery of petty economy and meanness. When we
  set up on our own account, we lived in an atmosphere of trickery, of
  enmity, of lying; flattering the customers, and always in terror of
  bankruptcy. Oh, I know the road to fortune! It means tears, lies,
  envy, hate; one suffers--and one makes other people suffer. I have
  had to go through it: my children shan't. We've only had two
  children: we meant only to have one. Having two we had to be doubly
  hard upon ourselves. Instead of a husband and wife helping one
  another, we have been partners spying upon one another; calling one
  another to account for every little expenditure or stupidity; and on
  our very pillows disputing about our business. That's how we got
  rich; and now we can't enjoy our money because we don't know how to
  use it; and we aren't happy because our old age is made bitter by
  the memories and the rancor left by the old bad days; because we
  have suffered too much and hated too much. My children shall not go
  through this. I endured it that they might be spared.

Learning the price _Mme. Bernin_ has paid for her wealth, we need not
blame her for turning a deaf ear to the entreaties of _Lucie_ in behalf
of her sister. Neither can _Lucie_ be held responsible for her stupidity
in keeping her sister in ignorance until she was incapable of protecting
herself when the occasion demanded. Poor _Annette_, one of the many
offered up to the insatiable monster of ignorance and social convention!

When _Annette_ is informed of the result of _Mme. Bernin's_ visit, the
girl grows hysterical, and _Lucie_ learns that her little sister is
about to become a mother. Under the pretext of love and marriage young,
pampered _Jaques Bernin_ has taken advantage of the girl's inexperience
and innocence. In her despair _Annette_ rushes out in search of her
lover, only to be repelled by him in a vulgar and cruel manner. She then
attempts suicide by trying to throw herself under the train which is to
carry off her worthless seducer. She is rescued by the faithful nurse
_Catherine_, and brought back to her anxious sister _Lucie_. _Annette_,
in great excitement, relates:

  _Annette._ You'll never guess what he said. He got angry, and he
  began to abuse me. He said he guessed what I was up to; that I
  wanted to make a scandal to force him to marry me--oh, he spared me
  nothing--to force him to marry me because he was rich. And when that
  made me furious, he threatened to call the police! I ought to have
  left him, run away, come home, oughtn't I? But I couldn't believe it
  of him all at once, like that! And I couldn't go away while I had
  any hope.... As long as I was holding to his arm it was as if I was
  engaged. When he was gone I should only be a miserable ruined girl,
  like dozens of others.... My life was at stake: and to save myself I
  went down into the very lowest depths of vileness and cowardice. I
  cried, I implored. I lost all shame.... What he said then I cannot
  tell you--not even you--it was too much--too much--I did not
  understand at first. It was only afterwards, coming back, going over
  all his words, that I made out what he meant.... Then he rushed to
  the train, and jumped into a carriage, and almost crushed my fingers
  in the door; and he went and hid behind his mother, and she
  threatened, too, to have me arrested.... I wish I was dead! Lucie,
  dear, I don't want to go through all that's coming--I am too
  little--I am too weak, I'm too young to bear it. Really, I haven't
  the strength.

But _Lucie_ has faith in her husband. In all the years of their married
life she has heard him proclaim from the very housetops that motherhood
is the most sacred function of woman; that the State needs large
numbers; that commerce and the army require an increase of the
population, and "the government commands you to further this end to the
best of your ability, each one of you in his own commune." She has heard
her husband repeat, over and over again, that the woman who refuses to
abide by the command of God and the laws to become a mother is immoral,
is criminal. Surely he would understand the tragedy of _Annette_, who
had been placed in this condition not through her own fault but because
she had been confiding and trusting in the promise of the man. Surely
_Brignac_ would come to the rescue of _Annette_; would help and comfort
her in her trying and difficult moment. But _Lucie_, like many wives,
does not know her husband; she does not know that a man who is so
hidebound by statutes and codes cannot have human compassion, and that
he will not stand by the little girl who has committed the "unpardonable
sin." _Lucie_ does not know, but she is soon to learn the truth.

  _Lucie._ I tell you Annette is the victim of this wretch. If you are
  going to do nothing but insult her, we had better stop discussing
  the matter.

  _Brignac._ I am in a nice fix now! There is nothing left for us but
  to pack our trunks and be off. I am done for. Ruined! Smashed! I
  tell you if she was caught red handed stealing, the wreck wouldn't
  be more complete.... We must make some excuse. We will invent an
  aunt or cousin who has invited her to stay. I will find a decent
  house for her in Paris to go to. She'll be all right there. When the
  time comes she can put the child out to nurse in the country, and
  come back to us.

  _Lucie._ You seriously propose to send that poor child to Paris,
  where she doesn't know a soul?

  _Brignac._ What do you mean by that? I will go to Paris myself, if
  necessary. There are special boarding houses; very respectable
  ones. I'll inquire: of course without letting out that it is for
  anyone I know. And I'll pay what is necessary. What more can you

  _Lucie._ Just when the child is most in need of every care, you
  propose to send her off alone; alone, do you understand, alone! To
  tear her away from here, put her into a train, and send her off to
  Paris, like a sick animal you want to get rid of. If I consented to
  that I should feel that I was as bad as the man who seduced her. Be
  honest, Julien: remember it is in our interest you propose to
  sacrifice her. We shall gain peace and quiet at the price of her
  loneliness and despair. To save ourselves--serious troubles, I
  admit--we are to abandon this child to strangers ... away from all
  love and care and comfort, without a friend to put kind arms around
  her and let her sob her grief away. I implore you, Julien, I entreat
  you, for our children's sake, don't keep me from her, don't ask me
  to do this shameful thing.

  _Brignac._ There would have been no question of misery if she had
  behaved herself.

  _Lucie._ She is this man's victim! But she won't go. You'll have to
  drive her out as you drove out the servant.... And then--after
  that--she is to let her child go; to stifle her strongest instinct;
  to silence the cry of love that consoles us all for the tortures we
  have to go through; to turn away her eyes and say, "Take him away, I
  don't want him." And at that price she is to be forgiven for another
  person's crime.... Then that is Society's welcome to the new born

  _Brignac._ To the child born outside of marriage, yes. If it wasn't
  for that, there would soon be nothing but illegitimate births. It
  is to preserve the family that society condemns the natural child.

  _Lucie._ You say you want a larger number of births, and at the same
  time you say to women: "No motherhood without marriage, and no
  marriage without money." As long as you've not changed that, all
  your circulars will be met with shouts of derision--half from hate,
  half from pity.... If you drive Annette out, I shall go with her.

_Lucie_ and _Annette_ go out into the world. As middle-class girls they
have been taught a little of everything and not much of anything. They
try all kinds of work to enable them to make a living, but though they
toil hard and long hours, they barely earn enough for a meager
existence. As long as _Annette's_ condition is not noticeable, life is
bearable; but soon everybody remarks her state. She and _Lucie_ are
driven from place to place. In her despair _Annette_ does what many
girls in her position have done before her and will do after her so long
as the Brignacs and their morality are dominant. She visits a midwife,
and one more victim is added to the large number slaughtered upon the
altar of morality.

The last act is in the court room. _Mme. Thomas_, the midwife, is on
trial for criminal abortion. With her are a number of women whose names
have been found on her register.

Bit by bit we learn the whole tragedy of each of the defendants; we see
all the sordidness of poverty, the inability to procure the bare
necessities of life, and the dread of the unwelcome child.

A schoolmistress, although earning a few hundred francs, and living with
her husband, is compelled to have an abortion performed because another
child would mean hunger for all of them.

  _Schoolmistress._ We just managed to get along by being most
  careful; and several times we cut down expenses it did not seem
  possible to cut down. A third child coming upset everything. We
  couldn't have lived. We should have all starved. Besides, the
  inspectors and directresses don't like us to have many children,
  especially if we nurse them ourselves. They told me to hide myself
  when I was suckling the last one. I only had ten minutes to do it
  in, at the recreation, at ten o'clock and at two o'clock; and when
  my mother brought baby to me I had to shut myself up with him in a
  dark closet.

The couple _Tupin_ stand before the bar to defend themselves against the
charge of criminal abortion. _Tupin_ has been out of work for a long
time and is driven by misery to drink. He is known to the police as a
disreputable character. One of his sons is serving a sentence for theft,
and a daughter is a woman of the streets. But _Tupin_ is a thinking man.
He proves that his earnings at best are not enough to supply the needs
of an already large family. The daily nourishment of five children
consists of a four-pound loaf, soup of vegetables and dripping, and a
stew which costs 90 centimes. Total, 3f. 75c. This is the expenditure of
the father: Return ticket for tram, 30c. Tobacco, 15c. Dinner, 1f. 25c.
The rent, 300f. Clothing for the whole family, and boots: 16 pairs of
boots for the children at 4f. 50c. each, 4 for the parents at 8f., total
again 300f. Total for the year, 2,600f. _Tupin_, who is an exceptional
workman, earns 160f. a month, that is to say, 2,100f. a year. There is
therefore an annual deficit of 500f., provided _Tupin_ keeps at work all
the time, which never happens in the life of a workingman. Under such
circumstances no one need be surprised that one of his children is
imprisoned for theft, and the other is walking the streets, while
_Tupin_ himself is driven to drink.

  _Tupin._ When we began to get short in the house, my wife and I
  started to quarrel. Every time a child came we were mad at making it
  worse for the others. And so ... I ended up in the saloon. It's warm
  there, and you can't hear the children crying nor the mother
  complaining. And besides, when you have drink in you, you forget....
  And that's how we got poorer and poorer. My fault, if you like....
  Our last child was a cripple. He was born in starvation, and his
  mother was worn out. And they nursed him, and they nursed him, and
  they nursed him. They did not leave him a minute. They made him live
  in spite of himself. And they let the other children--the strong
  ones--go to the bad. With half the money and the fuss they wasted on
  the cripple, they could have made fine fellows of all the others.

  _Mme. Tupin._ I have to add that all this is not my fault. My
  husband and I worked like beasts; we did without every kind of
  pleasure to try and bring up our children. If we had wanted to slave
  more, I declare to you we couldn't have done it. And now that we
  have given our lives for them, the oldest is in hospital, ruined and
  done for because he worked in "a dangerous trade" as they call
  it.... There are too many people in the world.... My little girl had
  to choose between starvation and the street.... I'm only a poor
  woman, and I know what it means to have nothing to eat, so I forgave

Thus _Mme. Tupin_ also understands that it is a crime to add one more
victim to those who are born ill and for whom society has no place.

Then _Lucie_ faces the court,--_Lucie_ who loved her sister too well,
and who, driven by the same conditions that killed _Annette_, has also
been compelled to undergo an abortion rather than have a fourth child by
the man she did not love any more. Like the _Schoolmistress_ and the
_Tupins_, she is dragged before the bar of justice to explain her crime,
while her husband, who had forced both _Annette_ and _Lucie_ out of the
house, has meanwhile risen to a high position as a supporter of the
State with his favorite slogan, "Motherhood is the highest function of

Finally the midwife _Thomas_ is called upon for her defense.

  _Thomas._ A girl came to me one day; she was a servant. She had been
  seduced by her master. I refused to do what she asked me to do: she
  went and drowned herself. Another I refused to help was brought up
  before you here for infanticide. Then when the others came, I said,
  "Yes." I have prevented many a suicide and many a crime.

It is not likely that the venerable judge, the State's attorney or the
gentlemen of the jury can see in _Mme. Thomas_ a greater benefactress to
society than they; any more than they can grasp the deep importance of
the concluding words of the counsel for the defense in this great social

  _Counsel for the Defense._ Their crime is not an individual crime;
  it is a social crime.... It is _not_ a crime against nature. It is a
  revolt against nature. And with all the warmth of a heart melted by
  pity, with all the indignation of my outraged reason, I look for
  that glorious hour of liberation when some master mind shall
  discover for us the means of having only the children we need and
  desire, release forever from the prison of hypocrisy and absolve us
  from the profanation of love. That would indeed be a conquest of
  nature--savage nature--which pours out life with culpable
  profusion, and sees it disappear with indifference.

Surely there can be no doubt as to the revolutionary significance of
"Maternity": the demand that woman must be given means to prevent
conception of undesired and unloved children; that she must become free
and strong to choose the father of her child and to decide the number of
children she is to bring into the world, and under what conditions. That
is the only kind of motherhood which can endure.



"I am not an ordinary playwright in general practice. I am a specialist
in immoral and heretical plays. My reputation has been gained by my
persistent struggle to force the public to reconsider its morals. In
particular, I regard much current morality as to economic and sexual
relations as disastrously wrong; and I regard certain doctrines of the
Christian religion as understood in England to-day with abhorrence. I
write plays with the deliberate object of converting the nation to my
opinions in these matters."

This confession of faith should leave no doubt as to the place of George
Bernard Shaw in modern dramatic art. Yet, strange to say, he is among
the most doubted of his time. That is partly due to the fact that humor
generally serves merely to amuse, touching only the lighter side of
life. But there is a kind of humor that fills laughter with tears, a
humor that eats into the soul like acid, leaving marks often deeper than
those made by the tragic form.

There is another reason why Shaw's sincerity is regarded lightly: it is
to be found in the difference of his scope as propagandist and as
artist. As the propagandist Shaw is limited, dogmatic, and set. Indeed,
the most zealous Puritan could not be more antagonistic to social
theories differing from his own. But the artist, if he is sincere at
all, must go to life as the source of his inspiration, and life is
beyond dogmas, beyond the House of Commons, beyond even the "eternal and
irrevocable law" of the materialistic conception of history. If, then,
the Socialist propagandist Shaw is often lost in the artist Shaw, it is
not because he lacks sincerity, but because life will not be curtailed.

It may be contended that Shaw is much more the propagandist than the
artist because he paints in loud colors. But that is rather because of
the indolence of the human mind, especially of the Anglo-Saxon mind,
which has settled down snugly to the self-satisfied notion of its
purity, justice, and charity, so that naught but the strongest current
of light will make it wince. In "Mrs. Warren's Profession" and "Major
Barbara," George Bernard Shaw has accomplished even more. He has pulled
off the mask of purity and Christian kindness that we may see their
hidden viciousness at work.


Mrs. Warren is engaged in a profession which has existed through all the
ages. It was at home in Egypt, played an important rôle in Greece and
Rome, formed one of the influential guilds in the Middle Ages, and has
been one of the main sources of income for the Christian Church.

But it was left to modern times to make of Mrs. Warren's profession a
tremendous social factor, ministering to the needs of man in every
station of life, from the brownstone mansion to the hovel, from the
highest official to the poorest drag.

Time was when the Mrs. Warrens were looked upon as possessed by the
devil,--lewd, depraved creatures who would not, even if they had the
choice, engage in any other profession, because they are vicious at
heart, and should therefore be held up to condemnation and obloquy. And
while we continue to drive them from pillar to post, while we still
punish them as criminals and deny them the simplest humanities one gives
even to the dumb beast, the light turned on this subject by men like
George Bernard Shaw has helped to expose the lie of inherent evil
tendencies and natural depravity. Instead we learn:

  _Mrs. Warren._ Do you think I did what I did because I liked it, or
  thought it right, or wouldn't rather have gone to college and been a
  lady if I'd had the chance?... Oh, it's easy to talk, very easy,
  isn't it? Here!--Would you like to know what my circumstances were?
  D'you know what your gran'mother was? No, you don't. I do. She
  called herself a widow and had a fried-fish shop down by the Mint,
  and kept herself and four daughters out of it. Two of us were
  sisters: that was me and Liz; and we were both good looking and well
  made. I suppose our father was a well fed man: mother pretended he
  was a gentleman; but I don't know. The other two were only half
  sisters--undersized, ugly, starved, hard working, honest poor
  creatures: Liz and I would have half murdered them if mother hadn't
  half murdered us to keep our hands off them. They were the
  respectable ones. Well, what did they get by their respectability?
  I'll tell you. One of them worked in a whitelead factory twelve
  hours a day for nine shillings a week until she died of lead
  poisoning. She only expected to get her hands a little paralyzed;
  but she died. The other was always held up to us as a model because
  she married a Government laborer in the Deptford victualling yard,
  and kept his room and the three children neat and tidy on eighteen
  shillings a week--until he took to drink. That was worth being
  respectable for, wasn't it?

  _Vivie._ Did you and your sister think so?

  _Mrs. Warren._ Liz didn't, I can tell you; she had more spirit. We
  both went to a Church School--that was part of the lady-like airs we
  gave ourselves to be superior to the children that knew nothing and
  went nowhere--and we stayed there until Liz went out one night and
  never came back. I knew the schoolmistress thought I'd soon follow
  her example; for the clergyman was always warning me that Lizzie 'd
  end by jumping off Waterloo Bridge. Poor fool: that was all that he
  knew about it! But I was more afraid of the whitelead factory than
  I was of the river; and so would you have been in my place. That
  clergyman got me a situation as a scullery maid in a temperance
  restaurant where they sent out for anything you liked. Then I was
  waitress; and then I went to the bar at Waterloo Station--fourteen
  hours a day serving drinks and washing glasses for four shillings a
  week and my board. That was considered a great promotion for me.
  Well, one cold, wretched night, when I was so tired I could hardly
  keep myself awake, who should come up for a half of Scotch but
  Lizzie, in a long fur cloak, elegant and comfortable, with a lot of
  sovereigns in her purse.

  _Vivie._ My aunt Lizzie?

  _Mrs. Warren._ Yes.... She's living down at Winchester, now, close
  to the cathedral, one of the most respectable ladies
  there--chaperones girls at the country ball, if you please. No river
  for Liz, thank you! You remind me of Liz a little: she was a
  first-rate business woman--saved money from the beginning--never let
  herself look too like what she was--never lost her head or threw
  away a chance. When she saw I'd grown up good-looking she said to me
  across the bar: "What are you doing there, you little fool? Wearing
  out your health and your appearance for other people's profit!" Liz
  was saving money then to take a house for herself in Brussels: and
  she thought we two could save faster than one. So she lent me some
  money and gave me a start; and I saved steadily and first paid her
  back, and then went into business with her as her partner. Why
  shouldn't I have done it? The house in Brussels was real high
  class--a much better place for a woman to be in than the factory
  where Anne Jane got poisoned. None of our girls were ever treated as
  I was treated in the scullery of that temperance place, or at the
  Waterloo bar, or at home. Would you have had me stay in them and
  become a worn-out old drudge before I was forty?... Yes, saving
  money. But where can a woman get the money to save in any other
  business? Could you save out of four shillings a week and keep
  yourself dressed as well? Not you. Of course, if you're a plain
  woman and can't earn anything more: or if you have a turn for music,
  or the stage, or newspaper writing: that's different. But neither
  Liz nor I had any turn for such things: all we had was our
  appearance and our turn for pleasing men. Do you think we were such
  fools as to let other people trade in our good looks by employing us
  as shop-girls, or barmaids, or waitresses, when we could trade in
  them ourselves and get all the profits instead of starvation wages?
  Not likely.... Everybody dislikes having to work and make money; but
  they have to do it all the same. I'm sure I've often pitied a poor
  girl, tired out and in low spirits, having to try to please some man
  that she doesn't care two straws for--some half-drunken fool that
  thinks he's making himself agreeable when he's teasing and worrying
  and disgusting a woman so that hardly any money could pay her for
  putting up with it. But she has to bear with disagreeables and take
  the rough with the smooth, just like a nurse in a hospital or anyone
  else. It's not work that any woman would do for pleasure, goodness
  knows; though to hear the pious people talk you would suppose it was
  a bed of roses. Of course it's worth while to a poor girl, if she
  can resist temptation and is good looking and well-conducted and
  sensible. It's far better than any other employment open to her. I
  always thought that oughtn't to be. It can't be right, Vivie, that
  there shouldn't be better opportunities for women. I stick to that:
  It's wrong. But it's so, right or wrong; and a girl must make the
  best of it. But, of course, it's not worth while for a lady. If you
  took to it you'd be a fool; but I should have been a fool if I'd
  taken to anything else.... Why am I independent and able to give my
  daughter a first-rate education, when other women that had just as
  good opportunities are in the gutter? Because I always knew how to
  respect myself and control myself. Why is Liz looked up to in a
  cathedral town? The same reason. Where would we be now if we'd
  minded the clergyman's foolishness? Scrubbing floors for one and
  sixpence a day and nothing to look forward to but the workhouse
  infirmary. Don't you be led astray by people who don't know the
  world, my girl. The only way for a woman to provide for herself
  decently is for her to be good to some man that can afford to be
  good to her. If she's in his own station of life, let her make him
  marry her; but if she's far beneath him, she can't expect it--why
  should she? It wouldn't be for her own happiness. Ask any lady in
  London society that has daughters; and she'll tell you the same,
  except that I tell you straight and she'll tell you crooked. That's
  all the difference.... It's only good manners to be ashamed of it;
  it's expected from a woman. Women have to pretend a great deal that
  they don't feel. Liz used to be angry with me for plumping out the
  truth about it. She used to say that when every woman would learn
  enough from what was going on in the world before her eyes, there
  was no need to talk about it to her. But then Liz was such a perfect
  lady! She had the true instinct of it; while I was always a bit of a
  vulgarian. I used to be so pleased when you sent me your photographs
  to see that you were growing up like Liz; you've just her lady-like
  determined way. But I can't stand saying one thing when everyone
  knows I mean another. What's the use in such hypocrisy? If people
  arrange the world that way for women, there's no use pretending that
  it's arranged the other way. I never was a bit ashamed really. I
  consider that I had a right to be proud that we managed everything
  so respectably, and never had a word against us, and that the girls
  were so well taken care of. Some of them did very well: one of them
  married an ambassador. But of course now I daren't talk about such
  things: whatever would they think of us.

No, it is not respectable to talk about these things, because
respectability cannot face the truth. Yet everybody knows that the
majority of women, "if they wish to provide for themselves decently must
be good to some man that can afford to be good to them." The only
difference then between _Sister Liz_, the respectable girl, and _Mrs.
Warren_, is hypocrisy and legal sanction. _Sister Liz_ uses her money to
buy back her reputation from the Church and Society. The respectable
girl uses the sanction of the Church to buy a decent income
legitimately, and _Mrs. Warren_ plays her game without the sanction of
either. Hence she is the greatest criminal in the eyes of the world. Yet
_Mrs. Warren_ is no less human than most other women. In fact, as far as
her love for her daughter _Vivian_ is concerned, she is a superior sort
of mother. That her daughter may not have to face the same alternative
as she,--slave in a scullery for four shillings a week--_Mrs. Warren_
surrounds the girl with comfort and ease, gives her an education, and
thereby establishes between her child and herself an abyss which nothing
can bridge. Few respectable mothers would do as much for their
daughters. However, _Mrs. Warren_ remains the outcast, while all those
who benefit by her profession, including even her daughter _Vivian_,
move in the best circles.

_Sir John Crofts_, _Mrs. Warren's_ business partner, who has invested
40,000 pounds in _Mrs. Warren's_ house, drawing an income of 35 per
cent. out of it in the worst years, is a recognized pillar of society
and an honored member of his class. Why not!

  _Crofts._ The fact is, it's not what would be considered exactly a
  high-class business in my set--the county set, you know.... Not that
  there is any mystery about it: don't think that. Of course you know
  by your mother's being in it that it's perfectly straight and
  honest. I've known her for many years; and I can say of her that
  she'd cut off her hands sooner than touch anything that was not what
  it ought to be.... But you see you can't mention such things in
  society. Once let out the word hotel and everybody says you keep a
  public-house. You wouldn't like people to say that of your mother,
  would you? That's why we're so reserved about it.... Don't turn up
  your nose at business, Miss Vivie: where would your Newnhams and
  Girtons be without it?... You wouldn't refuse the acquaintance of my
  mother's cousin, the Duke of Belgravia, because some of the rents he
  gets are earned in queer ways. You wouldn't cut the Archbishop of
  Canterbury, I suppose, because the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have
  a few publicans and sinners among their tenants? Do you remember
  your Crofts scholarship at Newnham? Well, that was founded by my
  brother the M.P. He gets his 22 per cent. out of a factory with 600
  girls in it, and not one of them getting wages enough to live on.
  How d' ye suppose most of them manage? Ask your mother. And do you
  expect me to turn my back on 35 per cent. when all the rest are
  pocketing what they can, like sensible men? No such fool! If you're
  going to pick and choose your acquaintances on moral principles,
  you'd better clear out of this country, unless you want to cut
  yourself out of all decent society.... The world isn't such a bad
  place as the croakers make out. So long as you don't fly openly in
  the face of society, society doesn't ask any inconvenient questions;
  and it makes precious short work of the cads who do. There are no
  secrets better kept than the secrets that everybody guesses. In the
  society I can introduce you to, no lady or gentleman would so far
  forget themselves as to discuss my business affairs or your

Indeed, no lady or gentleman would discuss the profession of _Mrs.
Warren_ and her confrères. But they partake of the dividends. When the
evil becomes too crying, they engage in vice crusades, and call down the
wrath of the Lord and the brutality of the police upon the Mrs. Warrens
and her victims. While the victimizers, the Crofts, the Canterburys,
Rev. Gardner--_Vivian's_ own father and pious mouthpiece of the
Church--and the other patrons of _Mrs. Warren's_ houses parade as the
protectors of woman, the home and the family.

To-day no one of the least intelligence denies the cruelty, the
injustice, the outrage of such a state of affairs, any more than it is
being denied that the training of woman as a sex commodity has left her
any other source of income except to sell herself to one man within
marriage or to many men outside of marriage. Only bigots and
inexperienced girls like _Vivian_ can say that "everybody has some
choice. The poorest girl alive may not be able to choose between being
Queen of England or Principal of Newnham; but she can choose between
rag-picking and flower-selling, according to her taste."

It is astonishing how little education and college degrees teach people.
Had _Vivian_ been compelled to shift for herself, she would have
discovered that neither rag-picking nor flower-selling brings enough to
satisfy one's "taste." It is not a question of choice, but of necessity,
which is the determining factor in most people's lives.

When Shaw flung _Mrs. Warren_ into the smug midst of society, even the
educated Vivians knew little of the compelling force which whips
thousands of women into prostitution. As to the ignorant, their minds
are a mental and spiritual desert. Naturally the play caused
consternation. It still continues to serve as the red rag to the social
bull. "Mrs. Warren's Profession" infuriates because it goes to the
bottom of our evils; because it places the accusing finger upon the
sorest and most damnable spot in our social fabric--sex as woman's only
commodity in the competitive market of life. "An immoral and heretical
play," indeed, of very deep social significance.


"Major Barbara" is of still greater social importance, inasmuch as it
points to the fact that while charity and religion are supposed to
minister to the poor, both institutions derive their main revenue from
the poor by the perpetuation of the evils both pretend to fight.

_Major Barbara_, the daughter of the world renowned cannon manufacturer
_Undershaft_, has joined the Salvation Army. The latter lays claim to
being the most humane religious institution, because--unlike other soul
savers--it does not entirely forget the needs of the body. It also
teaches that the greater the sinner the more glorious the saving. But as
no one is quite as black as he is painted, it becomes necessary for
those who want to be saved, and incidentally to profit by the Salvation
Army, to invent sins--the blacker the better.

  _Rummy._ What am I to do? I can't starve. Them Salvation lasses is
  dear girls; but the better you are the worse they likes to think you
  were before they rescued you. Why shouldn't they 'av' a bit o'
  credit, poor loves? They're worn to rags by their work. And where
  would they get the money to rescue us if we was to let on we're no
  worse than other people? You know what ladies and gentlemen are.

  _Price._ Thievin' swine!... We're companions in misfortune,

  _Rummy._ Who saved you, Mr. Price? Was it Major Barbara?

  _Price._ No: I come here on my own. I'm goin' to be Bronterre
  O'Brien Price, the converted painter. I know wot they like. I'll
  tell 'em how I blasphemed and gambled and wopped my poor old

  _Rummy._ Used you to beat your mother?

  _Price._ Not likely. She used to beat me. No matter: you come and
  listen to the converted painter, and you'll hear how she was a pious
  woman that taught me me prayers at 'er knee, an' how I used to come
  home drunk and drag her out o' bed be 'er snow-white 'airs, and lam
  into 'er with the poker.

  _Rummy._ That's what's so unfair to us women. Your confessions is
  just as big lies as ours: you don't tell what you really done no
  more than us; but you men can tell your lies right out at the
  meetin's and be made much of for it; while the sort o' confessions
  we az to make 'as to be whispered to one lady at a time. It ain't
  right, spite of all their piety.

  _Price._ Right! Do you suppose the Army'd be allowed if it went and
  did right? Not much. It combs our 'air and makes us good little
  blokes to be robbed and put upon. But I'll play the game as good as
  any of 'em. I'll see somebody struck by lightnin', or hear a voice
  sayin', "Snobby Price: where will you spend eternity?" I'll 'ave a
  time of it, I tell you.

It is inevitable that the Salvation Army, like all other religious and
charitable institutions, should by its very character foster cowardice
and hypocrisy as a premium securing entry into heaven.

_Major Barbara_, being a novice, is as ignorant of this as she is
unaware of the source of the money which sustains her and the work of
the Salvation Army. She consistently refuses to accept the "conscience
sovereign" of _Bill Walker_ for beating up a Salvation lassie. Not so
_Mrs. Baines_, the Army Commissioner. She is dyed in the wool in the
profession of begging and will take money from the devil himself "for
the Glory of God,"--the Glory of God which consists in "taking out the
anger and bitterness against the rich from the hearts of the poor," a
service "gratifying and convenient for all large employers." No wonder
the whisky distiller _Bodger_ makes the generous contribution of 5000
pounds and _Undershaft_ adds his own little mite of another 5000.

_Barbara_ is indeed ignorant or she would not protest against a fact so

  _Barbara._ Do you know what my father is? Have you forgotten that
  Lord Saxmundham is Bodger the whisky man? Do you remember how we
  implored the County Council to stop him from writing Bodger's Whisky
  in letters of fire against the sky; so that the poor drink-ruined
  creatures on the embankment could not wake up from their snatches of
  sleep without being reminded of their deadly thirst by that wicked
  sky sign? Do you know that the worst thing that I have had to fight
  here is not the devil, but Bodger, Bodger, Bodger with his whisky,
  his distilleries, and his tied houses? Are you going to make our
  shelter another tied house for him, and ask me to keep it?

  _Undershaft._ My dear Barbara: alcohol is a very necessary article.
  It heals the sick-- ... It assists the doctor: that is perhaps a
  less questionable way of putting it. It makes life bearable to
  millions of people who could not endure their existence if they were
  quite sober. It enables Parliament to do things at eleven at night
  that no sane person would do at eleven in the morning.

  _Mrs. Baines._ Barbara: Lord Saxmundham gives us the money to stop
  drinking--to take his own business from him.

  _Undershaft._ I also, Mrs. Baines, may claim a little
  disinterestedness. Think of my business! think of the widows and
  orphans! the men and lads torn to pieces with shrapnel and poisoned
  with lyddite! the oceans of blood, not one drop of which is shed in
  a really just cause! the ravaged crops! the peaceful peasants
  forced, women and men, to till their fields under the fire of
  opposing armies on pain of starvation! the bad blood of the fierce
  cowards at home who egg on others to fight for the gratification of
  national vanity! All this makes money for me: I am never richer,
  never busier than when the papers are full of it. Well, it is your
  work to preach peace on earth and good will to men. Every convert
  you make is a vote against war. Yet I give you this money to hasten
  my own commercial ruin.

  _Barbara._ Drunkenness and Murder! My God, why hast thou forsaked

However, _Barbara's_ indignation does not last very long, any more than
that of her aristocratic mother, _Lady Britomart_, who has no use for
her plebeian husband except when she needs his money. Similarly
_Stephen_, her son, has become converted, like _Barbara_, not to the
Glory Hallelujah of the Salvation Army but to the power of money and
cannon. Likewise the rest of the family, including the Greek Scholar
_Cusins_, _Barbara's_ suitor.

During the visit to their father's factory the Undershaft family makes
several discoveries. They learn that the best modern method of
accumulating a large fortune consists in organizing industries in such a
manner as to make the workers content with their slavery. It's a model

  _Undershaft._ It is a spotlessly clean and beautiful hillside town.
  There are two chapels: a Primitive one and a sophisticated one.
  There's even an ethical society; but it is not much patronized, as
  my men are all strongly religious. In the high explosives sheds they
  object to the presence of agnostics as unsafe.

The family further learns that it is not high moral precepts, patriotic
love of country, or similar sentiments that are the backbone of the life
of the nation. It is _Undershaft_ again who enlightens them of the power
of money and its rôle in dictating governmental policies, making war or
peace, and shaping the destinies of man.

  _Undershaft._ The government of your country. I am the government of
  your country: I, and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and a half a
  dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble
  shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend: you will do
  what pays us. You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace
  when it doesn't. You will find out that trade requires certain
  measures when we have decided on those measures. When I want
  anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is
  a national need. When either people want something to keep my
  dividends down, you will call out the police and military. And in
  return you shall have the support and applause of my newspapers, and
  the delight of imagining that you are a great statesman. Government
  of your country! Be off with you, my boy, and play with your
  caucuses and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders
  and burning questions and the rest of your toys. I am going back to
  my counting house to pay the piper and call the tune.... To give
  arms to all men who offer an honest price for them, without respect
  of persons or principles: to Aristocrat and Republican, to Nihilist
  and Tsar, to Capitalist and Socialist, to Protestant and Catholic,
  to burglar and policeman, to black man, white man, and yellow man,
  to all sorts and conditions, all nationalities, all faiths, all
  follies, all causes and all crimes.... I will take an order from a
  good man as cheerfully as from a bad one. If you good people prefer
  preaching and shirking to buying my weapons and fighting the
  rascals, don't blame me. I can make cannons: I cannot make courage
  and conviction.

That is just it. The Undershafts cannot make conviction and courage; yet
both are indispensable if one is to see that, in the words of

  "Cleanliness and respectability do not need justification: they
  justify themselves. There are millions of poor people, abject
  people, dirty people, ill fed, ill clothed people. They poison us
  morally and physically: they kill the happiness of society: they
  force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural
  cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down into
  their abyss. Only fools fear crime: we all fear poverty. I had
  rather be a thief than a pauper. I had rather be a murderer than a
  slave, I don't want to be either; but if you force the alternative
  on me, then, by Heaven, I'll choose the braver and more moral one. I
  hate poverty and slavery worse than any other crimes whatsoever."

_Cusins_, the scientist, realizes the force of _Undershaft's_ argument.
Long enough have the people been preached at, and intellectual power
used to enslave them.

  _Cusins._ As a teacher of Greek I gave the intellectual man weapons
  against the common man. I now want to give the common man weapons
  against the intellectual man. I love the common people. I want to
  arm them against the lawyer, the doctor, the priest, the literary
  man, the professor, the artist, and the politician, who, once in
  authority, are the most dangerous, disastrous, and tyrannical of all
  the fools, rascals, and impostors.

This thought is perhaps the most revolutionary sentiment in the whole
play, in view of the fact that the people everywhere are enslaved by the
awe of the lawyer, the professor, and the politician, even more than by
the club and gun. It is the lawyer and the politician who poison the
people with "the germ of briefs and politics," thereby unfitting them
for the only effective course in the great social struggle--action,
resultant from the realization that poverty and inequality never have
been, never can be, preached or voted out of existence.

  _Undershaft._ Poverty and slavery have stood up for centuries to
  your sermons and leading articles: they will not stand up to my
  machine guns. Don't preach at them; don't reason with them. Kill

  _Barbara._ Killing. Is that your remedy for everything?

  _Undershaft._ It is the final test of conviction, the only lever
  strong enough to overturn a social system, the only way of saying
  Must. Let six hundred and seventy fools loose in the street; and
  three policemen can scatter them. But huddle them together in a
  certain house in Westminster; and let them go through certain
  ceremonies and call themselves certain names until at last they get
  the courage to kill; and your six hundred and seventy fools become a
  government. Your pious mob fills up ballot papers and imagines it is
  governing its masters; but the ballot paper that really governs is
  the paper that has a bullet wrapped up in it.... Vote! Bah! When you
  vote you only change the names of the cabinet. When you shoot, you
  pull down governments, inaugurate new epochs, abolish old orders and
  set up new. Is that historically true, Mr. Learned Man, or is it

  _Cusins._ It is historically true. I loathe having to admit it. I
  repudiate your sentiments. I abhor your nature. I defy you in every
  possible way. Still, it is true. But it ought not to be true.

  _Undershaft._ Ought, ought, ought, ought, ought! Are you going to
  spend your life saying ought, like the rest of our moralists? Turn
  your oughts into shells, man. Come and make explosives with me. The
  history of the world is the history of those who had the courage to
  embrace this truth.

"Major Barbara" is one of the most revolutionary plays. In any other but
dramatic form the sentiments uttered therein would have condemned the
author to long imprisonment for inciting to sedition and violence.

Shaw the Fabian would be the first to repudiate such utterances as rank
Anarchy, "impractical, brain cracked and criminal." But Shaw the
dramatist is closer to life--closer to reality, closer to the historic
truth that the people wrest only as much liberty as they have the
intelligence to want and the courage to take.


The power of the modern drama as an interpreter of the pressing
questions of our time is perhaps nowhere evident as clearly as it is in
England to-day.

Indeed, while other countries have come almost to a standstill in
dramatic art, England is the most productive at the present time. Nor
can it be said that quantity has been achieved at the expense of
quality, which is only too often the case.

The most prolific English dramatist, John Galsworthy, is at the same
time a great artist whose dramatic quality can be compared with that of
only one other living writer, namely, Gerhart Hauptmann. Galsworthy,
even as Hauptmann, is neither a propagandist nor a moralist. His
background is life, "that palpitating life," which is the root of all
sorrow and joy.

His attitude toward dramatic art is given in the following words:

"I look upon the stage as the great beacon light of civilization, but
the drama should lead the social thought of the time and not direct or
dictate it.

"The great duty of the dramatist is to present life as it really is. A
true story, if told sincerely, is the strongest moral argument that can
be put on the stage. It is the business of the dramatist so to present
the characters in his picture of life that the inherent moral is brought
to light without any lecturing on his part.

"Moral codes in themselves are, after all, not lasting, but a true
picture of life is. A man may preach a strong lesson in a play which may
exist for a day, but if he succeeds in presenting real life itself in
such a manner as to carry with it a certain moral inspiration, the force
of the message need never be lost, for a new interpretation to fit the
spirit of the time can renew its vigor and power."

John Galsworthy has undoubtedly succeeded in presenting real life. It is
this that makes him so thoroughly human and universal.


Not since Hauptmann's "Weavers" was placed before the thoughtful public,
has there appeared anything more stirring than "Strife."

Its theme is a strike in the Trenartha Tin Plate Works, on the borders
of England and Wales. The play largely centers about the two dominant
figures: _John Anthony_, the President of the Company, rigid, autocratic
and uncompromising; he is unwilling to make the slightest concession,
although the men have been out for six months and are in a condition of
semi-starvation. On the other hand there is _David Roberts_, an
uncompromising revolutionist, whose devotion to the workers and the
cause of freedom is at red-white heat. Between them are the strikers,
worn and weary with the terrible struggle, driven and tortured by the
awful sight of poverty at home.

At a directors' meeting, attended by the Company's representatives from
London, _Edgar Anthony_, the President's son and a man of kindly
feeling, pleads in behalf of the strikers.

  _Edgar._ I don't see how we can get over it that to go on like this
  means starvation to the men's wives and families ... It won't kill
  the shareholders to miss a dividend or two; I don't see that
  _that's_ reason enough for knuckling under.

  _Wilder._ H'm! Shouldn't be a bit surprised if that brute Roberts
  hadn't got us down here with the very same idea. I hate a man with a

  _Edgar._ We didn't pay him enough for his discovery. I always said
  that at the time.

  _Wilder._ We paid him five hundred and a bonus of two hundred three
  years later. If that's not enough! What does he want, for goodness'

  _Tench._ Company made a hundred thousand out of his brains, and paid
  him seven hundred--that's the way he goes on, sir.

  _Wilder._ The man's a rank agitator! Look here, I hate the Unions.
  But now we've got Harness here let's get him to settle the whole

_Harness_, the trade union official, speaks in favor of compromise. In
the beginning of the strike the union had withdrawn its support, because
the workers had used their own judgment in deciding to strike.

  _Harness._ I'm quite frank with you. We were forced to withhold our
  support from your men because some of their demands are in excess of
  current rates. I expect to make them withdraw those demands
  to-day.... Now, I want to see something fixed upon before I go back
  tonight. Can't we have done with this old-fashioned tug-of-war
  business? What good's it doing you? Why don't you recognize once for
  all that these people are men like yourselves, and want what's good
  for them just as you want what's good for you.... There's just one
  very simple question I'd like to put to you. Will you pay your men
  one penny more than they force you to pay them?

Of course not. With trade unionism lacking in true solidarity, and the
workers not conscious of their power, why should the Company pay one
penny more? _David Roberts_ is the only one who fully understands the

  _Roberts._ Justice from London? What are you talking about, Henry
  Thomas? Have you gone silly? We know very well what we
  are--discontented dogs--never satisfied. What did the Chairman tell
  me up in London? That I didn't know what I was talking about. I was
  a foolish, uneducated man, that knew nothing of the wants of the
  men I spoke for.... I have this to say--and first as to their
  condition.... Ye can't squeeze them any more. Every man of us is
  well nigh starving. Ye wonder why I tell ye that? Every man of us is
  going short. We can't be no worse off than we've been these weeks
  past. Ye needn't think that by waiting ye'll drive us to come in.
  We'll die first, the whole lot of us. The men have sent for ye to
  know, once and for all, whether ye are going to grant them their
  demands.... Ye know best whether ye can afford your tyranny--but
  this I tell ye: If ye think the men will give way the least part of
  an inch, ye're making the worst mistake ye ever made. Ye think
  because the Union is not supporting us--more shame to it!--that
  we'll be coming on our knees to you one fine morning. Ye think
  because the men have got their wives an' families to think of--that
  it's just a question of a week or two--

The appalling state of the strikers is demonstrated by the women: _Anna
Roberts_, sick with heart trouble and slowly dying for want of warmth
and nourishment; _Mrs. Rous_, so accustomed to privation that her
present poverty seems easy compared with the misery of her whole life.

Into this dismal environment comes _Enid_, the President's daughter,
with delicacies and jams for _Annie_. Like many women of her station she
imagines that a little sympathy will bridge the chasm between the
classes, or as her father says, "You think with your gloved hands you
can cure the troubles of the century."

_Enid_ does not know the life of _Annie Roberts'_ class: that it is all
a gamble from the "time 'e's born to the time 'e dies."

  _Mrs. Roberts._ Roberts says workin' folk have always lived from
  hand to mouth. Sixpence to-day is worth more than a shillin'
  to-morrow, that's what they say.... He says that when a working
  man's baby is born, it's a toss-up from breath to breath whether it
  ever draws another, and so on all 'is life; an' when he comes to be
  old, it's the workhouse or the grave. He says that without a man is
  very near, and pinches and stints 'imself and 'is children to save,
  there can be neither surplus nor security. That's why he wouldn't
  have no children, not though I wanted them.

The strikers' meeting is a masterly study of mass psychology,--the men
swayed hither and thither by the different speakers and not knowing
whither to go. It is the smooth-tongued _Harness_ who first weakens
their determination to hold out.

  _Harness._ Cut your demands to the right pattern, and we'll see you
  through; refuse, and don't expect me to waste my time coming down
  here again. I'm not the sort that speaks at random, as you ought to
  know by this time. If you're the sound men I take you for--no matter
  who advises you against it--you'll make up your minds to come in,
  and trust to us to get your terms. Which is it to be? Hands
  together, and victory--or--the starvation you've got now?

Then _Old Thomas_ appeals to their religious sentiments:

  _Thomas._ It iss not London; it iss not the Union--it iss Nature. It
  iss no disgrace whateffer to a potty to give in to Nature. For this
  Nature iss a fery pig thing; it is pigger than what a man is. There
  is more years to my hett than to the hett of anyone here. It is a
  man's pisness to pe pure, honest, just, and merciful. That's what
  Chapel tells you.... We're going the roat to tamnation. An' so I say
  to all of you. If ye co against Chapel I will not pe with you, nor
  will any other Got-fearing man.

At last _Roberts_ makes his plea, _Roberts_ who has given his
all--brain, heart and blood--aye, sacrificed even his wife to the cause.
By sheer force of eloquence and sincerity he stays his fickle comrades
long enough at least to listen to him, though they are too broken to
rise to his great dignity and courage.

  _Roberts._ You don't want to hear me then? You'll listen to Rous and
  to that old man, but not to me. You'll listen to Sim Harness of the
  Union that's treated you so _fair_; maybe you'll listen to those men
  from London.... You love their feet on your necks, don't you?... Am
  I a liar, a coward, a traitor? If only I were, ye'd listen to me,
  I'm sure. Is there a man of you here who has less to gain by
  striking? Is there a man of you that had more to lose? Is there a
  man among you who has given up eight hundred pounds since this
  trouble began? Come, now, is there? How much has Thomas given
  up--ten pounds or five or what? You listened to him, and what had he
  to say? "None can pretend," he said, "that I'm not a believer in
  principle--but when Nature says: 'No further,' 'tes going against
  Nature!" I tell you if a man cannot say to Nature: "Budge me from
  this if ye can!"--his principles are but his belly. "Oh, but,"
  Thomas says, "a man can be pure and honest, just and merciful, and
  take off his hat to Nature." I tell you Nature's neither pure nor
  honest, just nor merciful. You chaps that live over the hill, an' go
  home dead beat in the dark on a snowy night--don't ye fight your way
  every inch of it? Do ye go lyin' down an' trustin' to the tender
  mercies of this merciful Nature? Try it and you'll soon know with
  what ye've got to deal. 'Tes only by that (_he strikes a blow with
  his clenched fist_) in Nature's face that a man can be a man. "Give
  in," says Thomas; "go down on your knees; throw up your foolish
  fight, an' perhaps," he said, "perhaps your enemy will chuck you
  down a crust." ... And what did he say about Chapel? "Chapel's
  against it," he said. "She's against it." Well, if Chapel and Nature
  go hand in hand, it's the first I've ever heard of it.
  Surrendering's the work of cowards and traitors.... You've felt the
  pinch o't in your bellies. You've forgotten what that fight 'as
  been; many times I have told you; I will tell you now this once
  again. The fight o' the country's body and blood against a
  blood-sucker. The fight of those that spend themselves with every
  blow they strike and every breath they draw, against a thing that
  fattens on them, and grows and grows by the law of _merciful_
  Nature. That thing is Capital! A thing that buys the sweat o' men's
  brows, and the tortures o' their brains, at its own price. Don't I
  know that? Wasn't the work o' my brains bought for seven hundred
  pounds, and hasn't one hundred thousand pounds been gained them by
  that seven hundred without the stirring of a finger. It is a thing
  that will take as much and give you as little as it can. That's
  Capital! A thing that will say--"I'm very sorry for you, poor
  fellows--you have a cruel time of it, I know," but will not give one
  sixpence of its dividends to help you have a better time. That's
  Capital! Tell me, for all their talk, is there one of them that will
  consent to another penny on the Income Tax to help the poor? That's
  Capital! A white-faced, stony-hearted monster! Ye have got it on its
  knees; are ye to give up at the last minute to save your miserable
  bodies pain? When I went this morning to those old men from London,
  I looked into their very 'earts. One of them was sitting there--Mr.
  Scantlebury, a mass of flesh nourished on us: sittin' there for all
  the world like the shareholders in this Company, that sit not moving
  tongue nor finger, takin' dividends--a great dumb ox that can only
  be roused when its food is threatened. I looked into his eyes and I
  saw _he was afraid_--afraid for himself and his dividends, afraid
  for his fees, afraid of the very shareholders he stands for; and all
  but one of them's afraid--like children that get into a wood at
  night, and start at every rustle of the leaves. I ask you, men--give
  me a free hand to tell them: "Go you back to London. The men have
  nothing for you!" Give, me that, and I swear to you, within a week
  you shall have from London all you want. 'Tis not for this little
  moment of time we're fighting, not for _ourselves_, our own little
  bodies, and their wants, 'tis for all those that come after
  throughout all time. Oh! men--for the love o' them, don't roll up
  another stone upon their heads, don't help to blacken the sky, an'
  let the bitter sea in over them. They're welcome to the worst that
  can happen to me, to the worst that can happen to us all, aren't
  they--aren't they? If we can shake the white-faced monster with the
  bloody lips, that has sucked the life out of ourselves, our wives,
  and children, since the world began. If we have not the hearts of
  men to stand against it breast to breast, and eye to eye, and force
  it backward till it cry for mercy, it will go on sucking life; and
  we shall stay forever what we are, less than the very dogs.

Consistency is the greatest crime of our commercial age. No matter how
intense the spirit or how important the man, the moment he will not
allow himself to be used or sell his principles, he is thrown on the
dust heap. Such is the fate of _Anthony_, the President of the Company,
and of _David Roberts_. To be sure they represent opposite poles--poles
antagonistic to each other, poles divided by a terrible gap that can
never be bridged over. Yet they share a common fate. _Anthony_ is the
embodiment of conservatism, of old ideas, of iron methods:

  _Anthony._ I have been Chairman of this Company since its inception
  two and thirty years ago.... I have had to do with "men" for fifty
  years; I've always stood up to them; I have never been beaten yet. I
  have fought the men of this Company four times, and four times I
  have beaten them.... The men have been treated justly, they have had
  fair wages, we have always been ready to listen to complaints. It
  has been said that times have changed; if they have, I have not
  changed with them. Neither will I. It has been said that masters and
  men are equal! Cant! There can only be one master in a house! Where
  two men meet the better man will rule. It has been said that Capital
  and Labor have the same interests. Cant! Their interests are as wide
  asunder as the poles. It has been said that the Board is only part
  of a machine. Cant! We _are_ the machine; its brains and sinews; it
  is for us to lead and to determine what is to be done; and to do it
  without fear or favor. Fear of the men! Fear of the shareholders!
  Fear of our own shadows! Before I am like that, I hope to die. There
  is only one way of treating "men"--with the iron hand. This
  half-and-half business, the half-and-half manners of this
  generation, has brought all this upon us. Sentiments and softness
  and what this young man, no doubt, would call his social policy. You
  can't eat cake and have it! This middle-class sentiment, or
  socialism, or whatever it may be, is rotten. Masters are masters,
  men are men! Yield one demand, and they will make it six. They are
  like Oliver Twist, asking for more. If I were in _their_ place I
  should be the same. But I am not in their place.... I have been
  accused of being a domineering tyrant, thinking only of my pride--I
  am thinking of the future of this country, threatened with the black
  waters of confusion, threatened with mob government, threatened with
  what I cannot say. If by any conduct of mine I help to bring this on
  us, I shall be ashamed to look my fellows in the face. Before I put
  this amendment to the Board, I have one more word to say. If it is
  carried, it means that we shall fail in what we set ourselves to do.
  It means that we shall fail in the duty that we owe to all Capital.
  It means that we shall fail in the duty that we owe ourselves.

We may not like this adherence to old, reactionary notions, and yet
there is something admirable in the courage and consistency of this man;
nor is he half as dangerous to the interests of the oppressed as our
sentimental and soft reformers who rob with nine fingers, and give
libraries with the tenth; who grind human beings and spend millions of
dollars in social research work. _Anthony_ is a worthy foe; to fight
such a foe, one must learn to meet him in open battle.

_David Roberts_ has all the mental and moral attributes of his
adversary, coupled with the spirit of revolt and the inspiration of
modern ideas. He, too, is consistent: he wants nothing for his class
short of complete victory.

It is inevitable that compromise and petty interest should triumph until
the masses become imbued with the spirit of a _David Roberts_. Will
they ever? Prophecy is not the vocation of the dramatist, yet the moral
lesson is evident. One cannot help realizing that the workingmen will
have to use methods hitherto unfamiliar to them; that they will have to
discard the elements in their midst that are forever seeking to
reconcile the irreconcilable--Capital and Labor. They will have to learn
that men like _David Roberts_ are the very forces that have
revolutionized the world and thus paved the way for emancipation out of
the clutches of the "white-faced monster with bloody lips," toward a
brighter horizon, a freer life, and a truer recognition of human values.


No subject of equal social import has received such thoughtful
consideration in recent years as the question of Crime and Punishment. A
number of books by able writers, both in Europe and this
country--preëminently among them "Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist," by
Alexander Berkman--discuss this topic from the historic, psychologic,
and social standpoint, the consensus of opinion being that present penal
institutions and our methods of coping with crime have in every respect
proved inadequate as well as wasteful. This new attitude toward one of
the gravest social wrongs has now also found dramatic interpretation in
Galsworthy's "Justice."

The play opens in the office of _James How & Sons_, solicitors. The
senior clerk, _Robert Cokeson_, discovers that a check he had issued for
nine pounds has been forged to ninety. By elimination, suspicion falls
upon _William Falder_, the junior office clerk. The latter is in love
with a married woman, the abused and ill-treated wife of a brutal
drunkard. Pressed by his employer, a severe yet not unkindly man,
_Falder_ confesses the forgery, pleading the dire necessity of his
sweetheart, _Ruth Honeywill_, with whom he had planned to escape to save
her from the unbearable brutality of her husband.

  _Falder._ Oh! sir, look over it! I'll pay the money back--I will, I

Notwithstanding the entreaties of young _Walter How_, who holds modern
ideas, his father, a moral and law-respecting citizen, turns _Falder_
over to the police.

The second act, in the court room, shows Justice in the very process of
manufacture. The scene equals in dramatic power and psychologic verity
the great court scene in "Resurrection." Young _Falder_, a nervous and
rather weakly youth of twenty-three, stands before the bar. _Ruth_, his
faithful sweetheart, full of love and devotion, burns with anxiety to
save the young man, whose affection for her has brought about his
present predicament. _Falder_ is defended by _Lawyer Frome_, whose
speech to the jury is a masterpiece of social philosophy. He does not
attempt to dispute the mere fact that his client had altered the check;
and though he pleads temporary aberration in his defense, the argument
is based on a social consciousness as fundamental and all-embracing as
the roots of our social ills--"the background of life, that palpitating
life which always lies behind the commission of a crime." He shows
_Falder_ to have faced the alternative of seeing the beloved woman
murdered by her brutal husband whom she cannot divorce, or of taking the
law into his own hands. He pleads with the jury not to turn the weak
young man into a criminal by condemning him to prison.

  _Frome._ Men like the prisoner are destroyed daily under our law for
  want of that human insight which sees them as they are, patients,
  and not criminals.... Justice is a machine that, when someone has
  given it a starting push, rolls on of itself.... Is this young man
  to be ground to pieces under this machine for an act which, at the
  worst, was one of weakness? Is he to become a member of the luckless
  crews that man those dark, ill-starred ships called prisons?... I
  urge you, gentlemen, do not ruin this young man. For as a result of
  those four minutes, ruin, utter and irretrievable, stares him in
  the face.... The rolling of the chariot wheels of Justice over this
  boy began when it was decided to prosecute him.

But the chariot of Justice rolls mercilessly on, for--as the learned
Judge says--

  "Your counsel has made an attempt to trace your offense back to what
  he seems to suggest is a defect in the marriage law; he has made an
  attempt also to show that to punish you with further imprisonment
  would be unjust. I do not follow him in these flights. _The Law is
  what it is_--a majestic edifice, sheltering all of us, each stone of
  which rests on another. I am concerned only with its administration.
  The crime you have committed is a very serious one. I cannot feel it
  in accordance with my duty to Society to exercise the powers I have
  in your favor. You will go to penal servitude for three years."

In prison the young, inexperienced convict soon finds himself the victim
of the terrible "system." The authorities admit that young _Falder_ is
mentally and physically "in bad shape," but nothing can be done in the
matter: many others are in a similar position, and "the quarters are

The third scene of the third act is heart-gripping in its silent force.
The whole scene is a pantomime, taking place in _Falder's_ prison cell.

"In fast-falling daylight, _Falder_, in his stockings, is seen standing
motionless, with his head inclined towards the door, listening. He
moves a little closer to the door, his stockinged feet making no noise.
He stops at the door. He is trying harder and harder to hear something,
any little thing that is going on outside. He springs suddenly
upright--as if at a sound--and remains perfectly motionless. Then, with
a heavy sigh, he moves to his work, and stands looking at it, with his
head down; he does a stitch or two, having the air of a man so lost in
sadness that each stitch is, as it were, a coming to life. Then, turning
abruptly, he begins pacing his cell, moving his head, like an animal
pacing its cage. He stops again at the door, listens, and, placing the
palms of his hands against it, with his fingers spread out, leans his
forehead against the iron. Turning from it, presently, he moves slowly
back towards the window, tracing his way with his finger along the top
line of the distemper that runs round the wall. He stops under the
window, and, picking up the lid of one of the tins, peers into it. It
has grown very nearly dark. Suddenly the lid falls out of his hand with
a clatter--the only sound that has broken the silence--and he stands
staring intently at the wall where the stuff of the shirt is hanging
rather white in the darkness--he seems to be seeing somebody or
something there. There is a sharp tap and click; the cell light behind
the glass screen has been turned up. The cell is brightly lighted.
_Falder_ is seen gasping for breath.

"A sound from far away, as of distant, dull beating on thick metal, is
suddenly audible. _Falder_ shrinks back, not able to bear this sudden
clamor. But the sound grows, as though some great tumbril were rolling
towards the cell. And gradually it seems to hypnotize him. He begins
creeping inch by inch nearer to the door. The banging sound, travelling
from cell to cell, draws closer and closer; _Falder's_ hands are seen
moving as if his spirit had already joined in this beating; and the
sound swells until it seems to have entered the very cell. He suddenly
raises his clenched fists.

"Panting violently, he flings himself at his door, and beats on it."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Falder_ leaves the prison, a broken ticket-of-leave man, the stamp of
the convict upon his brow, the iron of misery in his soul.

  _Falder._ I seem to be struggling against a thing that's all round
  me. I can't explain it: it's as if I was in a net; as fast as I cut
  it here, it grows up there. I didn't act as I ought to have, about
  references; but what are you to do? You must have them. And that
  made me afraid, and I left. In fact, I'm--I'm afraid all the time

Thanks to _Ruth's_ pleading, the firm of _James How & Son_ is willing to
take _Falder_ back in their employ, on condition that he give up
_Ruth_. _Falder_ resents this:

  _Falder._ I couldn't give her up. I couldn't! Oh, sir! I'm all she's
  got to look to. And I'm sure she's all I've got.

It is then that _Falder_ learns the awful news that the woman he loves
had been driven by the chariot wheel of Justice to sell herself.

  _Ruth._ I tried making skirts ... cheap things. It was the best I
  could get, but I never made more than ten shillings a week, buying
  my own cotton and working all day; I hardly ever got to bed till
  past twelve. I kept at it for nine months.... It was starvation for
  the children.... And then ... my employer happened--he's happened
  ever since.

At this terrible psychologic moment the police appear to drag _Falder_
back to prison for failing to report to the authorities as
ticket-of-leave man.

Completely overcome by the inexorability of his fate, _Falder_ throws
himself down the stairs, breaking his neck.

The socio-revolutionary significance of "Justice" consists not only in
the portrayal of the inhuman system which grinds the Falders and
Honeywills, but even more so in the utter helplessness of society as
expressed in the words of the Senior Clerk, _Cokeson_, "No one'll touch
him now! Never again! He's safe with gentle Jesus!"


John Galsworthy calls this play a fantasy. To me it seems cruelly real:
it demonstrates that the best human material is crushed in the fatal
mechanism of our life. "The Pigeon" also discloses to us the inadequacy
of charity, individual and organized, to cope with poverty, as well as
the absurdity of reformers and experimenters who attempt to patch up
effects while they ignore the causes.

_Christopher Wellwyn_, an artist, a man deeply in sympathy with all
human sorrow and failings, generously shares his meager means with
everyone who applies to him for help.

His daughter _Ann_ is of a more practical turn of mind. She cannot
understand that giving is as natural and necessary to her father as
light and air; indeed, the greatest joy in life.

Perhaps _Ann_ is actuated by anxiety for her father who is so utterly
"hopeless" that he would give away his "last pair of trousers." From her
point of view "people who beg are rotters": decent folk would not stoop
to begging. But _Christopher Wellwyn's_ heart is too full of humanity to
admit of such a straight-laced attitude. "We're not all the same....
One likes to be friendly. What's the use of being alive if one isn't?"

Unfortunately most people are not alive to the tragedies around them.
They are often unthinking mechanisms, mere tabulating machines, like
_Alfred Calway_, the Professor, who believes that "we're to give the
State all we can spare, to make the undeserving deserving." Or as _Sir
Hoxton_, the Justice of the Peace, who insists that "we ought to support
private organizations for helping the deserving, and damn the
undeserving." Finally there is the _Canon_ who religiously seeks the
middle road and "wants a little of both."

When _Ann_ concludes that her father is the despair of all social
reformers, she is but expressing a great truism; namely, that social
reform is a cold and bloodless thing that can find no place in the
glowing humanity of _Christopher Wellwyn_.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is Christmas Eve, the birth of Him who came to proclaim "Peace on
earth, good will to all." _Christopher Wellwyn_ is about to retire when
he is disturbed by a knock on the door.

The snow-covered, frost-pinched figure of _Guinevere Megan_ appears. She
is a flower-seller to whom _Wellwyn_ had once given his card that she
might find him in case of need. She comes to him when the rest of the
world has passed her by, forlorn and almost as dead as her violets
which no one cares to buy.

At sight of her misery _Wellwyn_ forgets his daughter's practical
admonition and his promise to her not to be "a fool." He treats the
flower-seller tenderly, makes her warm and comfortable. He has barely
time to show _Guinevere_ into his model's room, when another knock is
heard. This time it is _Ferrand_, "an alien," a globe trotter without
means,--a tramp whom _Wellwyn_ had once met in the Champs-Elysées.
Without food for days and unable to endure the cold, _Ferrand_ too comes
to the artist.

  _Ferrand._ If I had not found you, Monsieur--I would have been a
  little hole in the river to-night--I was so discouraged.... And to
  think that in a few minutes He will be born!... The world would
  reproach you for your goodness to me. Monsieur, if He himself were
  on earth now, there would be a little heap of gentlemen writing to
  the journals every day to call him sloppee sentimentalist! And what
  is veree funny, these gentlemen they would all be most strong
  Christians. But that will not trouble you. Monsieur; I saw well from
  the first that you are no Christian. You have so kind a face.

_Ferrand_ has deeper insight into the character of _Christopher Wellwyn_
than his daughter. He knows that the artist would not judge nor could
he refuse one whom misery stares in the face. Even the third visitor of
_Wellwyn_, the old cabman _Timson_, with more whisky than bread in his
stomach, receives the same generous reception as the other two.

The next day _Ann_ calls a council of war. The learned Professor,
_Alfred Calway_; the wise judge, _Sir Thomas Hoxton_; and the
professional Christian, _Edward Bertley_--the Canon--are summoned to
decide the fate of the three outcasts.

There are few scenes in dramatic literature so rich in satire, so deep
in the power of analysis as the one in which these eminent gentlemen
discuss human destiny. _Canon Bertley_ is emphatic that it is necessary
to "remove the temptation and reform the husband of the flower-seller."

  _Bertley._ Now, what is to be done?

  _Mrs. Megan._ I could get an unfurnished room, if I'd the money to
  furnish it.

  _Bertley._ Never mind the money. What I want to find in you is

Those who are engaged in saving souls cannot be interested in such
trifles as money matters, nor to understand the simple truth that if the
Megans did not have to bother with making a "livin'," repentance would
take care of itself.

The other two gentlemen are more worldly, since law and science cannot
experiment with such elusive things as the soul. _Professor Calway_
opines that _Timson_ is a congenital case, to be put under observation,
while _Judge Hoxton_ decides that he must be sent to prison.

  _Calway._ Is it, do you think, chronic unemployment with a vagrant
  tendency? Or would it be nearer the mark to say: Vagrancy-- ...
  Dipsomaniac?... By the look of his face, as far as one can see it, I
  should say there was a leaning towards mania. I know the treatment.

  _Hoxton._ Hundreds of these fellows before me in my time. The only
  thing is a sharp lesson!

  _Calway._ I disagree. I've seen the man; what he requires is steady
  control, and the Dobbins treatment.

  _Hoxton._ Not a bit of it! He wants one for his knob! Bracing him
  up! It's the only thing!

  _Calway._ You're moving backwards, Sir Thomas. I've told you before,
  convinced reactionaryism, in these days--The merest sense of
  continuity--a simple instinct for order--

  _Hoxton._ The only way to get order, sir, is to bring the disorderly
  up with a round turn. You people without practical experience--

  _Calway._ The question is a much wider one, Sir Thomas.

  _Hoxton._ No, sir, I repeat, if the country once commits itself to
  your views of reform, it's as good as doomed.

  _Calway._ I seem to have heard that before, Sir Thomas. And let me
  say at once that your hitty-missy cart-load of bricks régime--

  _Hoxton._ Is a deuced sight better, sir, than your grandmotherly
  methods. What the old fellow wants is a shock! With all this
  socialistic molly-coddling, you're losing sight of the individual.

  _Calway._ You, sir, with your "devil take the hindmost," have never
  seen him.

The farce ends by each one insisting on the superiority of his own pet
theory, while misery continues to stalk white-faced through the streets.

Three months later _Ann_ determines to rescue her father from his
disreputable proclivities by removing with him to a part of the city
where their address will remain unknown to his beggar friends and

While their belongings are being removed, _Canon Bertley_ relates the
trouble he had with _Mrs. Megan_.

  _Bertley._ I consulted with Calway and he advised me to try a
  certain institution. We got her safely in--excellent place; but,
  d'you know, she broke out three weeks ago. And since--I've
  heard--hopeless, I'm afraid--quite!... I'm sometimes tempted to
  believe there's nothing for some of these poor folk but to pray for

  _Wellwyn._ The Professor said he felt there was nothing for some of
  these poor devils but a lethal chamber.

What is science for if not to advise a lethal chamber? It's the easiest
way to dispose of "the unfit" and to supply learned professors with the
means of comfortable livelihood.

Yet there is _Ferrand_, the vagabond, the social outcast who has never
seen the inside of a university, propounding a philosophy which very few
professors even dream of:

  _Ferrand._ While I was on the road this time I fell ill of a fever.
  It seemed to me in my illness that I saw the truth--how I was
  wasting in this world--I would never be good for anyone--nor anyone
  for me--all would go by, and I never of it--fame, and fortune, and
  peace, even the necessities of life, ever mocking me. And I saw, so
  plain, that I should be vagabond all my days, and my days short; I
  dying in the end the death of a dog. I saw it all in my fever--clear
  as that flame--there was nothing for us others, but the herb of
  death. And so I wished to die. I told no one of my fever. I lay out
  on the ground--it was verree cold. But they would not let me die on
  the roads of their parishes--They took me to an Institution. I
  looked in their eyes while I lay there, and I saw more clear than
  the blue heaven that they thought it best that I should die,
  although they would not let me. Then naturally my spirit rose, and I
  said: "So much the worse for you. I will live a little more." One is
  made like that! Life is sweet. That little girl you had here,
  Monsieur--in her too there is something of wild savage. She must
  have joy of life. I have seen her since I came back. She has
  embraced the life of joy. It is not quite the same thing. She is
  lost, Monsieur, as a stone that sinks in water. I can see, if she
  cannot.... For the great part of mankind, to see anything--is fatal.
  No, Monsieur. To be so near to death has done me good; I shall not
  lack courage any more till the wind blows on my grave. Since I saw
  you, Monsieur, I have been in three Institutions. They are
  palaces.... One little thing they lack--those palaces. It is
  understanding of the 'uman heart. In them tame birds pluck wild
  birds naked. Ah! Monsieur, I am loafer, waster--what you like--for
  all that, poverty is my only crime. If I were rich, should I not be
  simply verree original, 'ighly respected, with soul above commerce,
  traveling to see the world? And that young girl, would she not be
  "that charming ladee," "veree chic, you know!" And the old
  Tims--good old-fashioned gentleman--drinking his liquor well. Eh!
  bien--what are we now? Dark beasts, despised by all. That is life,
  Monsieur. Monsieur, it is just that. You understand. When we are
  with you we feel something--here--[he touches his heart] If I had
  one prayer to make, it would be, "Good God, give me to understand!"
  Those sirs, with their theories, they can clean our skins and chain
  our 'abits--that soothes for them the æsthetic sense; it gives them
  too their good little importance. But our spirits they cannot touch,
  for they nevare understand. Without that, Monsieur, all is dry as a
  parched skin of orange. Monsieur, of their industry I say nothing.
  They do a good work while they attend with their theories to the
  sick and the tame old, and the good unfortunate deserving. Above all
  to the little children. But, Monsieur, when all is done, there are
  always us hopeless ones. What can they do with me, Monsieur, with
  that girl, or with that old man? Ah! Monsieur, we too, 'ave our
  qualities, we others--it wants you courage to undertake a career
  like mine, or like that young girl's. We wild ones--we know a
  thousand times more of life than ever will those sirs. They waste
  their time trying to make rooks white. Be kind to us if you will, or
  let us alone like Mees Ann, but do not try to change our skins.
  Leave us to live, or leave us to die when we like in the free air.
  If you do not wish of us, you have but to shut your pockets and your
  doors--we shall die the faster.... If you cannot, how is it our
  fault? The harm we do to others--is it so much? If I am criminal,
  dangerous--shut me up! I would not pity myself--nevare. But we in
  whom something moves--like that flame, Monsieur, that cannot keep
  still--we others--we are not many--that must have motion in our
  lives, do not let them make us prisoners, with their theories,
  because we are not like them--it is life itself they would
  enclose!... The good God made me so that I would rather walk a whole
  month of nights, hungry, with the stars, than sit one single day
  making round business on an office stool! It is not to my advantage.
  I cannot help it that I am a vagabond. What would you have? It is
  stronger than me. Monsieur, I say to you things I have never said.
  Monsieur! Are you really English? The English are so civilized.

Truly the English are highly "civilized"; else it would be impossible to
explain why of all the nations on earth, the Anglo-Saxons should be the
only ones to punish attempts at suicide.

Society makes no provision whatever for the Timsons, the Ferrands and
Mrs. Megans. It has closed the door in their face, denying them a seat
at the table of life. Yet when _Guinevere Megan_ attempts to drown
herself, a benevolent constable drags her out and a Christian Judge
sends her to the workhouse.

  _Constable._ Well, sir, we can't get over the facts, can we?... You
  know what soocide amounts to--it's an awkward job.

  _Wellwyn._ But look here, Constable, as a reasonable man--This poor
  wretched little girl--_you_ know what that life means better than
  anyone! Why! It's to her credit to try and jump out of it!

  _Constable._ Can't neglect me duty, sir; that's impossible.

  _Wellwyn._ Of all the d----d topsy-turvy--! Not a soul in the world
  wants her alive--and now she is to be prosecuted for trying to go
  where everyone wishes her.

Is it necessary to dwell on the revolutionary significance of this cruel
reality? It is so all-embracing in its sweep, so penetrating of the
topsy-turviness of our civilization, with all its cant and artifice, so
powerful in its condemnation of our cheap theories and cold
institutionalism which freezes the soul and destroys the best and finest
in our being. The Wellwyns, Ferrands, and Megans are the stuff out of
which a real humanity might be fashioned. They feel the needs of their
fellows, and whatever is in their power to give, they give as nature
does, unreservedly. But the Hoxtons, Calways and Bertleys have turned
the world into a dismal prison and mankind into monotonous, gray, dull

The professors, judges, and preachers cannot meet the situation. Neither
can _Wellwyn_, to be sure. And yet his very understanding of the
differentiation of human nature, and his sympathy with the inevitable
reaction of conditions upon it, bring the Wellwyns much closer to the
solution of our evils than all the Hoxtons, Calways and Bertleys put
together. This deep conception of social factors is in itself perhaps
the most significant lesson taught in "The Pigeon."



In Stanley Houghton, who died last year, the drama lost a talented and
brave artist. Brave, because he had the courage to touch one of the most
sensitive spots of Puritanism--woman's virtue. Whatever else one may
criticise or attack, the sacredness of virtue must remain untouched. It
is the last fetich which even so-called liberal-minded people refuse to

To be sure, the attitude towards this holy of holies has of late years
undergone a considerable change. It is beginning to be felt in
ever-growing circles that love is its own justification, requiring no
sanction of either religion or law. The revolutionary idea, however,
that woman may, even as man, follow the urge of her nature, has never
before been so sincerely and radically expressed.

The message of "Hindle Wakes" is therefore of inestimable value,
inasmuch as it dispels the fog of the silly sentimentalism and
disgusting bombast that declares woman a thing apart from nature--one
who neither does nor must crave the joys of life permissible to man.

Hindle is a small weaving town, symbolically representing the
wakefulness of every small community to the shortcomings of its

_Christopher Hawthorne_ and _Nathaniel Jeffcote_ had begun life together
as lads in the cotton mill. But while _Christopher_ was always a timid
and shrinking boy, _Nathaniel_ was aggressive and ambitious. When the
play opens, _Christopher_, though an old man, is still a poor weaver;
_Nathaniel_, on the contrary, has reached the top of financial and
social success. He is the owner of the biggest mill; is wealthy,
influential, and withal a man of power. For _Nathaniel Jeffcote_ always
loved power and social approval. Speaking of the motor he bought for his
only son _Alan_, he tells his wife:

  _Jeffcote._ Why did I buy a motor-car? Not because I wanted to go
  motoring. I hate it. I bought it so that people could see Alan
  driving about in it, and say, "There's Jeffcote's lad in his new
  car. It cost five hundred quid."

However, _Nathaniel_ is a "square man," and when facing an emergency,
not chary with justice and always quick to decide in its favor.

The _Jeffcotes_ center all their hopes on _Alan_, their only child, who
is to inherit their fortune and business. _Alan_ is engaged to
_Beatrice_, the lovely, sweet daughter of _Sir Timothy Farrar_, and all
is joyous at the Jeffcotes'.

Down in the valley of Hindle live the _Hawthornes_, humble and content,
as behooves God-fearing workers. They too have ambitions in behalf of
their daughter _Fanny_, strong, willful and self-reliant,--qualities
molded in the hard grind of _Jeffcote's_ mill, where she had begun work
as a tot.

During the "bank holiday" _Fanny_ with her chum _Mary_ goes to a
neighboring town for an outing. There they meet two young men, _Alan
Jeffcote_ and his friend. _Fanny_ departs with _Alan_, and they spend a
glorious time together. On the way home _Mary_ is drowned. As a result
of the accident the _Hawthornes_ learn that their daughter had not spent
her vacation with _Mary_. When _Fanny_ returns, they question her, and
though she at first refuses to give an account of herself, they soon
discover that the girl had passed the time with a man,--young _Alan
Jeffcote_. Her parents are naturally horrified, and decide to force the
_Jeffcotes_ to have _Alan_ marry _Fanny_.

In the old mother of _Fanny_ the author has succeeded in giving a most
splendid characterization of the born drudge, hardened by her long
struggle with poverty, and grown shrewd in the ways of the world. She
knows her daughter so little, however, that she believes _Fanny_ had
schemed the affair with _Alan_ in the hope that she might force him to
marry her. In her imagination the old woman already sees _Fanny_ as the
mistress of the Jeffcote estate. She persuades her husband to go
immediately to the _Jeffcotes_, and though it is very late at night, the
old man is forced to start out on his disagreeable errand.

_Jeffcote_, a man of integrity, is much shocked at the news brought to
him by old _Hawthorne_. Nevertheless he will not countenance the wrong.

  _Jeffcote._ I'll see you're treated right. Do you hear?

  _Christopher._ I can't ask for more than that.

  _Jeffcote._ I'll see you're treated right.

Young _Alan_ had never known responsibility. Why should he, with so much
wealth awaiting him? When confronted by his father and told that he must
marry _Fanny_, he fights hard against it. It may be said, in justice to
_Alan_, that he really loves his betrothed, _Beatrice_, though such a
circumstance has never deterred the Alans from having a lark with
another girl.

The young man resents his father's command to marry the mill girl. But
when even _Beatrice_ insists that he belongs to _Fanny_, _Alan_
unwillingly consents. _Beatrice_, a devout Christian, believes in

  _Beatrice._ I do need you, Alan. So much that nothing on earth could
  make me break off our engagement, if I felt that it was at all
  possible to let it go on. But it isn't. It's impossible.

  _Alan._ And you want me to marry Fanny?

  _Beatrice._ Yes. Oh, Alan! can't you see what a splendid sacrifice
  you have it in your power to make? Not only to do the right thing,
  but to give up so much in order to do it.

The _Jeffcotes_ and the _Hawthornes_ gather to arrange the marriage of
their children. It does not occur to them to consult _Fanny_ in the
matter. Much to their consternation, _Fanny_ refuses to abide by the
decision of the family council.

  _Fanny._ It's very good of you. You'll hire the parson and get the
  license and make all the arrangements on your own without consulting
  me, and I shall have nothing to do save turn up meek as a lamb at
  the church or registry office or whatever it is.... That's just
  where you make the mistake. I don't want to marry Alan.... I mean
  what I say, and I'll trouble you to talk to me without swearing at
  me. I'm not one of the family yet.

The dismayed parents, and even _Alan_, plead with her and threaten. But
_Fanny_ is obdurate. At last _Alan_ asks to be left alone with her,
confident that he can persuade the girl.

  _Alan._ Look here, Fanny, what's all this nonsense about?... Why
  won't you marry me?

  _Fanny._ You can't understand a girl not jumping at you when she
  gets the chance, can you?... How is it that you aren't going to
  marry Beatrice Farrar? Weren't you fond of her?

  _Alan._ Very.... I gave her up because my father made me.

  _Fanny._ Made you? Good Lord, a chap of your age!

  _Alan._ My father's a man who will have his own way.... He can keep
  me short of brass.

  _Fanny._ Earn some brass.

  _Alan._ I can earn some brass, but it will mean hard work and it'll
  take time. And, after all, I shan't earn anything like what I get

  _Fanny._ Then all you want to wed me for is what you'll get with me?
  I'm to be given away with a pound of tea, as it were?

  _Alan._ I know why you won't marry me.... You're doing it for my

  _Fanny._ Don't you kid yourself, my lad! It isn't because I'm afraid
  of spoiling your life that I'm refusing you, but because I'm afraid
  of spoiling mine! That didn't occur to you?

  _Alan._ Look here, Fanny, I promise you I'll treat you fair all the
  time. You don't need to fear that folk'll look down on you. We shall
  have too much money for that.

  _Fanny._ I can manage all right on twenty-five bob a week.

  _Alan._ I'm going to fall between two stools. It's all up with
  Beatrice, of course. And if you won't have me I shall have parted
  from her to no purpose; besides getting kicked out of the house by
  my father, more than likely! You said you were fond of me once, but
  it hasn't taken you long to alter.

  _Fanny._ All women aren't built alike. Beatrice is religious.
  She'll be sorry for you. I was fond of you in a way.

  _Alan._ But you didn't ever really love me?

  _Fanny._ Love you? Good heavens, of course not! Why on earth should
  I love you? You were just someone to have a bit of fun with. You
  were an amusement--a lark. How much more did you care for me?

  _Alan._ But it's not the same. I'm a man.

  _Fanny._ You're a man, and I was your little fancy. Well, I'm a
  woman, and you were my little fancy. You wouldn't prevent a woman
  enjoying herself as well as a man, if she takes it into her head?

  _Alan._ But do you mean to say that you didn't care any more for me
  than a fellow cares for any girl he happens to pick up?

  _Fanny._ Yes. Are you shocked?

  _Alan._ It's a bit thick; it is really!

  _Fanny._ You're a beauty to talk!

  _Alan._ It sounds so jolly immoral. I never thought of a girl
  looking on a chap just like that! I made sure you wanted to marry me
  if you got the chance.

  _Fanny._ No fear! You're not good enough for me. The chap Fanny
  Hawthorn weds has got to be made of different stuff from you, my
  lad. _My_ husband, if ever I have one, will be a man, not a fellow
  who'll throw over his girl at his father's bidding! Strikes me the
  sons of these rich manufacturers are all much alike. They seem a bit
  weak in the upper story. It's their father's brass that's too much
  for them, happen!... You've no call to be afraid. I'm not going to
  disgrace you. But so long as I've to live my own life I don't see
  why I shouldn't choose what it's to be.

Unheard of, is it not, that a Fanny should refuse to be made a "good
woman," and that she should dare demand the right to live in her own
way? It has always been considered the most wonderful event in the life
of a girl if a young man of wealth, of position, of station came into
her life and said, "I will take you as my wife until death do us part."

But a new type of girlhood is in the making. We are developing the
Fannies who learn in the school of life, the hardest, the crudest and at
the same time the most vital and instructive school. Why should _Fanny_
marry a young man in order to become "good," any more than that he
should marry her in order to become good? Is it not because we have gone
on for centuries believing that woman's value, her integrity and
position in society center about her sex and consist only in her virtue,
and that all other usefulness weighs naught in the balance against her
"purity"? If she dare express her sex as the Fannies do, we deny her
individual and social worth, and stamp her fallen.

The past of a man is never questioned: no one inquires how many Fannies
have been in his life. Yet man has the impudence to expect the Fannies
to abstain till he is ready to bestow on them his name.

"Hindle Wakes" is a much needed and important social lesson,--not
because it necessarily involves the idea that every girl must have sex
experience before she meets the man she loves, but rather that she has
the right to satisfy, if she so chooses, her emotional and sex demands
like any other need of her mind and body. When the Fannies become
conscious of that right, the relation of the sexes will lose the shallow
romanticism and artificial exaggeration that mystery has surrounded it
with, and assume a wholesome, natural, and therefore healthy and normal



The women's rights women who claim for their sex the most wonderful
things in the way of creative achievement, will find it difficult to
explain the fact that until the author of "Rutherford and Son" made her
appearance, no country had produced a single woman dramatist of note.

That is the more remarkable because woman has since time immemorial been
a leading figure in histrionic art. Rachel, Sarah Bernhardt, Eleanore
Duse, and scores of others have had few male peers.

It can hardly be that woman is merely a reproducer and not a creator. We
have but to recall such creative artists as Charlotte and Emily Bronté,
George Sand, George Eliot, Mary Wollstonecraft, Marie Bashkirtshev, Rosa
Bonheur, Sophia Kovalevskaya and a host of others, to appreciate that
woman has been a creative factor in literature, art and science. Not so
in the drama, so far the stronghold exclusively of men.

It is therefore an event for a woman to come to the fore who possesses
such dramatic power, realistic grasp and artistic penetration as
evidenced by Githa Sowerby.

The circumstance is the more remarkable because Githa Sowerby is,
according to her publishers, barely out of her teens; and though she be
a genius, her exceptional maturity is a phenomenon rarely observed.
Generally maturity comes only with experience and suffering. No one who
has not felt the crushing weight of the Rutherford atmosphere could have
painted such a vivid and life-like picture.

The basic theme in "Rutherford and Son" is not novel. Turgenev, Ibsen
and such lesser artists as Sudermann and Stanley Houghton have dealt
with it: the chasm between the old and the young,--the tragic struggle
of parents against their children, the one frantically holding on, the
other recklessly letting go. But "Rutherford and Son" is more than that.
It is a picture of the paralyzing effect of tradition and
institutionalism on all human life, growth, and change.

_John Rutherford_, the owner of the firm "Rutherford and Son," is
possessed by the phantom of the past--the thing handed down to him by
his father and which he must pass on to his son with undiminished
luster; the thing that has turned his soul to iron and his heart to
stone; the thing for the sake of which he has never known joy and
because of which no one else must know joy,--"Rutherford and Son."

The crushing weight of this inexorable monster on Rutherford and his
children is significantly summed up by young John:

  _John._ Have you ever heard of Moloch? No.... Well, Moloch was a
  sort of a God ... some time ago, you know, before Dick and his kind
  came along. They built his image with an ugly head ten times the
  size of a real head, with great wheels instead of legs, and set him
  up in the middle of a great dirty town. And they thought him a very
  important person indeed, and made sacrifices to him ... human
  sacrifices ... to keep him going, you know. Out of every family they
  set aside one child to be an offering to him when it was big enough,
  and at last it became a sort of honor to be dedicated in this way,
  so much so, that the victims came themselves gladly to be crushed
  out of life under the great wheels. That was Moloch.

  _Janet._ Dedicated--we are dedicated--all of us--to Rutherfords'.

Not only the Rutherford children, their withered _Aunt Ann_, and old
_Rutherford_ himself, but even _Martin_, the faithful servant in the
employ of the Rutherfords for twenty-five years, is "dedicated," and
when he ceases to be of use to their Moloch, he is turned into a thief
and then cast off, even as _Janet_ and _John_.

Not love for _John_, his oldest son, or sympathy with the latter's wife
and child induces old _Rutherford_ to forgive his son's marriage with a
mere shop-girl, but because he needs _John_ to serve the house of
Rutherford. The one inexorable purpose, always and ever!

His second son _Richard_, who is in the ministry, and "of no use" to old
_Rutherford's_ God of stone, receives the loving assurance: "You were no
good for my purpose, and there's the end; for the matter o' that, you
might just as well never ha' been born."

For that matter, his daughter _Janet_ might also never have been born,
except that she was "good enough" to look after her father's house,
serve him, even helping take off his boots, and submitting without a
murmur to the loveless, dismal life in the Rutherford home. Her father
has sternly kept every suitor away, "because no one in Grantley's good
enough for us." _Janet_ has become faded, sour and miserable with
yearning for love, for sunshine and warmth, and when she at last dares
to partake of it secretly with her father's trusted man _Martin_, old
_Rutherford_ sets his iron heel upon her love, and drags it through the
mud till it lies dead.

Again, when he faces the spirit of rebellion in his son _John_,
_Rutherford_ crushes it without the slightest hesitation in behalf of
his one obsession, his one God--the House of Rutherford.

_John_ has made an invention which holds great possibilities. By means
of it he hopes to shake of the deadly grip of the Rutherfords'. He wants
to become a free man and mold a new life for himself, for his wife and
child. He knows his father will not credit the value of his invention.
He dare not approach him: the Rutherford children have been held in
dread of their parent too long.

_John_ turns to _Martin_, the faithful servant, the only one in the
confidence of _Rutherford_. _John_ feels himself safe with _Martin_. But
he does not know that _Martin_, too, is dedicated to Moloch, broken by
his twenty-five years of service, left without will, without purpose
outside of the Rutherfords'.

_Martin_ tries to enlist _Rutherford's_ interest in behalf of _John_.
But the old man decides that _John_ must turn over his invention to the
House of Rutherford.

  _Rutherford._ What's your receipt?

  _John._ I want to know where I stand.... I want my price.

  _Rutherford._ Your price--your price? Damn your impudence, sir....
  So that's your line, is it?... This is what I get for all I've done
  for you.... This is the result of the schooling I gave you. I've
  toiled and sweated to give you a name you'd be proud to own--worked
  early and late, toiled like a dog when other men were taking their
  ease--plotted and planned to get my chance, taken it and held it
  when it come till I could ha' burst with the struggle. Sell! You
  talk o' selling to me, when everything you'll ever make couldn't pay
  back the life I've given to you!

  _John._ Oh, I know, I know. I've been both for five years. Only I've
  had no salary.

  _Rutherford._ You've been put to learn your business like any other
  young fellow. I began at the bottom--you've got to do the same....
  Your father has lived here, and your grandfather before you. It's
  your inheritance--can't you realize that?--what you've got to come
  to when I'm under ground. We've made it for you, stone by stone,
  penny by penny, fighting through thick and thin for close on a
  hundred years.... It's what you've got to do--or starve. You're my
  son--you've got to come after me.

_Janet_ knows her father better than _John_; she knows that "no one ever
stands out against father for long--or else they get so knocked about,
they don't matter any more." _Janet_ knows, and when the moment arrives
that brings her father's blow upon her head, it does not come as a
surprise to her. When old _Rutherford_ discovers her relation with
_Martin_, his indignation is as characteristic of the man as everything
else in his life. It is not outraged morality or a father's love. It is
always and forever the House of Rutherford. Moreover, the discovery of
the affair between his daughter and his workman comes at a psychologic
moment: _Rutherford_ is determined to get hold of _John's_
invention--for the Rutherfords, of course--and now that _Martin_ has
broken faith with his master, his offense serves an easy pretext for
_Rutherford_ to break faith with _Martin_. He calls the old servant to
his office and demands the receipt of _John's_ invention, entrusted to
_Martin_. On the latter's refusal to betray _John_, the master plays on
the man's loyalty to the Rutherfords.

  _Rutherford._ Rutherfords' is going down--down. I got to pull her
  up, somehow. There's one way out.... Mr. John's made this metal--a
  thing, I take your word for it, that's worth a fortune. And we're
  going to sit by and watch him fooling it away--selling it for a song
  to Miles or Jarvis, that we could break to-morrow if we had half a
  chance.... You've got but to put your hand in your pocket to save
  the place and you don't do it. You're with them--you're with the
  money-grubbing little souls that can't see beyond the next shilling
  they put in their pockets.... When men steal, Martin, they do it to
  gain something. If I steal this, what'll I gain by it? If I make
  money, what'll I buy with it? Pleasure, maybe? Children to come
  after me--glad o' what I done? Tell me anything in the wide world
  that'd bring me joy, and I'll swear to you never to touch it.... If
  you give it to me what'll you gain by it? Not a farthing shall you
  ever have from me--no more than I get myself.

  _Martin._ And what will Mr. John get for it?

  _Rutherford._ Rutherfords'--when I'm gone. He'll thank you in ten
  years--he'll come to laugh at himself--him and his price. He'll see
  the Big Thing one day, mebbe, like what I've done. He'll see that it
  was no more his than 'twas yours to give nor mine to take.... It's
  Rutherfords'.... Will you give it to me?

  _Martin._ I take shame to be doing it now.... He worked it out along
  o' me. Every time it changed he come running to show me like a bairn
  wi' a new toy.

  _Rutherford._ It's for Rutherfords'....

Rutherfords' ruthlessly marches on. If the Rutherford purpose does not
shrink from corrupting its most trusted servant, it surely will not bend
before a daughter who has dared, even once in her life, to assert

  _Rutherford._ How far's it gone?

  _Janet._ Right at first--I made up my mind that if you ever found
  out, I'd go right away, to put things straight. He wanted to tell
  you at the first. But I knew that it would be no use.... It was _I_
  said not to tell you.

  _Rutherford._ Martin ... that I trusted as I trust myself.

  _Janet._ You haven't turned him away--you couldn't do that!

  _Rutherford._ That's my business.

  _Janet._ You couldn't do that ... not Martin....

  _Rutherford._ Leave it--leave it ... Martin's my servant, that I pay
  wages to. I made a name for my children--a name respected in all the
  countryside--and you go with a workingman.... To-morrow you leave
  my house. D'ye understand? I'll have no light ways under my roof. No
  one shall say I winked at it. You can bide the night. To-morrow when
  I come in I'm to find ye gone.... Your name shan't be spoken in my
  house ... never again.

  _Janet._ Oh, you've no pity.... I was thirty-six. Gone sour.
  Nobody'd ever come after me. Not even when I was young. You took
  care o' that. Half of my life was gone, well-nigh all of it that
  mattered.... Martin loves me honest. Don't you come near! Don't you
  touch that!... You think that I'm sorry you've found out--you think
  you've done for me when you use shameful words on me and turn me out
  o' your house. You've let me out o' jail! Whatever happens to me
  now, I shan't go on living as I lived here. Whatever Martin's done,
  he's taken me from you. You've ruined my life, you with your getting
  on. I've loved in wretchedness, all the joy I ever had made wicked
  by the fear o' you.... Who are you? Who are you? A man--a man that
  takes power to himself, power to gather people to him and use them
  as he wills--- a man that'd take the blood of life itself and put it
  into the Works--into Rutherfords'. And what ha' you got by it--what?
  You've got Dick, that you've bullied till he's a fool--John, that's
  waiting for the time when he can sell what you've done--and you got
  me--me to take your boots off at night--to well-nigh wish you dead
  when I had to touch you.... Now!... Now you know it!

But for the great love in her heart, _Janet_ could not have found
courage to face her father as she did. But love gives strength; it
instills hope and faith, and kindles anew the fires of life. Why, then,
should it not be strong enough to break the fetters of even
Rutherfords'? Such a love only those famished for affection and warmth
can feel, and _Janet_ was famished for life.

  _Janet._ I had a dream--a dream that I was in a place wi' flowers,
  in the summer-time, white and thick like they never grow on the
  moor--but it was the moor--a place near Martin's cottage. And I
  dreamt that he came to me with the look he had when I was a little
  lass, with his head up and the lie gone out of his eyes. All the
  time I knew I was on my bed in my room here--but it was as if
  sweetness poured into me, spreading and covering me like the water
  in the tarn when the rains are heavy in the fells.... That's why I
  dreamt of him so last night. It was as if all that was best in me
  was in that dream--what I was as a bairn and what I'm going to be.
  He couldn't help but love me. It was a message--I couldn't have
  thought of it by myself. It's something that's come to me--here
  (_putting her hands on her breast_). Part of me!

All that lay dormant in _Janet_ now turns into glowing fire at the touch
of Spring. But in _Martin_ life has been marred, strangled by the iron
hand of Rutherfords'.

  _Martin._ Turned away I am, sure enough. Twenty-five years. And in a
  minute it's broke. Wi' two words.

  _Janet._ You say that now because your heart's cold with the
  trouble. But it'll warm again--it'll warm again. I'll warm it out of
  my own heart, Martin--my heart that can't be made cold.

  _Martin._ I'd rather ha' died than he turn me away. I'd ha' lost
  everything in the world to know that I was true to 'm, like I was
  till you looked at me wi' the love in your face. It was a great love
  ye gave me--you in your grand hoose wi' your delicate ways. But it's
  broke me.

  _Janet._ But--it's just the same with us. Just the same as ever it

  _Martin._ Aye. But there's no mending, wi' the likes o' him.

  _Janet._ What's there to mend? What's there to mend except what's
  bound you like a slave all the years? You're free--free for the
  first time since you were a lad mebbe. We'll begin again. We'll be
  happy--happy. You and me, free in the world! All the time that's
  been 'll be just like a dream that's past, a waiting time afore we
  found each other--the long winter afore the flowers come out white
  and thick on the moors--

  _Martin._ Twenty-five years ago he took me.... It's too long to
  change.... I'll never do his work no more; but it's like as if he'd
  be my master just the same--till I die--

  _Janet._ Listen, Martin. Listen to me. You've worked all your life
  for him, ever since you were a little lad. Early and late you've
  been at the Works--working--working--for him.

  _Martin._ Gladly!

  _Janet._ Now and then he give you a kind word--when you were wearied
  out mebbe--and your thoughts might ha' turned to what other men's
  lives were, wi' time for rest and pleasure. You didn't see through
  him, you wi' your big heart, Martin. You were too near to see, like
  I was till Mary came. You worked gladly maybe--but all the time your
  life was going into Rutherfords'--your manhood into the place he's
  built. He's had you, Martin,--like he's had me, and all of us. We
  used to say he was hard and ill-tempered. Bad to do with in the
  house--we fell silent when he came in--we couldn't see for the
  little things,--we couldn't see the years passing because of the
  days. And all the time it was our lives he was taking bit by
  bit--our lives that we'll never get back.... Now's our chance at
  last! He's turned us both away, me as well as you. We two he's sent
  out into the world together. Free. He's done it himself of his own
  will. It's ours to take, Martin--our happiness. We'll get it in
  spite of him. He'd kill it if he could.

The cruelty of it, that the Rutherfords never kill with one blow: never
so merciful are they. In their ruthless march they strangle inch by
inch, shed the blood of life drop by drop, until they have broken the
very spirit of man and made him as helpless and pitiful as _Martin_,--a
trembling leaf tossed about by the winds.

A picture of such stirring social and human importance that no one,
except he who has reached the stage of _Martin_, can escape its effect.
Yet even more significant is the inevitability of the doom of the
Rutherfords as embodied in the wisdom of _Mary_, _John's_ wife.

When her husband steals his father's money--a very small part indeed
compared with what the father had stolen from him--he leaves the hateful
place and _Mary_ remains to face the master. For the sake of her child
she strikes a bargain with _Rutherford_.

  _Mary._ A bargain is where one person has something to sell that
  another wants to buy. There's no love in it--only money--money that
  pays for life. I've got something to sell that you want to buy.

  _Rutherford._ What's that?

  _Mary._ My son. You've lost everything you've had in the world.
  John's gone--and Richard--and Janet. They won't come back. You're
  alone now and getting old, with no one to come after you. When you
  die Rutherfords' will be sold--somebody'll buy it and give it a new
  name perhaps, and no one will even remember that you made it.
  That'll be the end of all your work. Just--nothing. You've thought
  of that.... It's for my boy. I want--a chance of life for him--his
  place in the world. John can't give him that, because he's made so.
  If I went to London and worked my hardest I'd get twenty-five
  shillings a week. We've failed. From you I can get when I want for
  my boy. I want--all the good common things: a good house, good
  food, warmth. He's a delicate little thing now, but he'll grow
  strong like other children.... Give me what I ask, and in return
  I'll give you--him. On one condition. I'm to stay on here. I won't
  trouble you--you needn't speak to me or see me unless you want to.
  For ten years he's to be absolutely mine, to do what I like with.
  You mustn't interfere--you mustn't tell him to do things or frighten
  him. He's mine for ten years more.

  _Rutherford._ And after that?

  _Mary._ He'll be yours.

  _Rutherford._ To train up. For Rutherfords'?

  _Mary._ Yes.

  _Rutherford._ After all? After Dick, that I've bullied till he's a
  fool? John, that's wished me dead?

  _Mary._ In ten years you'll be an old man; you won't be able to make
  people afraid of you any more.

When I saw the masterly presentation of the play on the stage, _Mary's_
bargain looked unreal and incongruous. It seemed impossible to me that a
mother who really loves her child should want it to be in any way
connected with the Rutherfords'. But after repeatedly rereading the
play, I was convinced by _Mary's_ simple statement: "In ten years you'll
be an old man; you won't be able to make people afraid of you any more."
Most deeply true. The Rutherfords are bound by time, by the eternal
forces of change. Their influence on human life is indeed terrible.
Notwithstanding it all, however, they are fighting a losing game. They
are growing old, already too old to make anyone afraid. Change and
innovation are marching on, and the Rutherfords must make place for the
young generation knocking at the gates.



Most Americans know about the Irish people only that they are not averse
to drink, and that they make brutal policemen and corrupt politicians.
But those who are familiar with the revolutionary movements of the past
are aware of the fortitude and courage, aye, of the heroism of the
Irish, manifested during their uprisings, and especially in the Fenian
movement--the people's revolt against political despotism and land

And though for years Ireland has contributed to the very worst features
of American life, those interested in the fate of its people did not
despair; they knew that the spirit of unrest in Ireland was not
appeased, and that it would make itself felt again in no uncertain form.

The cultural and rebellious awakening in that country within the last
twenty-five years once more proves that neither God nor King can for
long suppress the manifestation of the latent possibilities of a people.
The possibilities of the Irish must indeed be great if they could
inspire the rich humor of a Lady Gregory, the deep symbolism of a Yeats,
the poetic fancy of a Synge, and the rebellion of a Robinson and Murray.

Only a people unspoiled by the dulling hand of civilization and free
from artifice can retain such simplicity of faith and remain so
imaginative, so full of fancy and dreams, wild and fiery, which have
kindled the creative spark in the Irish dramatists of our time. It is
true that the work of only the younger element among them is of social
significance, yet all of them have rendered their people and the rest of
the world a cultural service of no mean value. William Butler Yeats is
among the latter, together with Synge and Lady Gregory; his art, though
deep in human appeal, has no bearing on the pressing questions of our
time. Mr. Yeats himself would repudiate any implication of a social
character, as he considers such dramas too "topical" and therefore "half
bad" plays. In view of this attitude, it is difficult to reconcile his
standard of true art with the repertoire of the Abbey Theater, which
consists mainly of social dramas. Still more difficult is it to account
for his work, "Where There is Nothing," which is no less social in its
philosophy and tendency than Ibsen's "Brand."


"Where There Is Nothing" is as true an interpretation of the philosophy
of Anarchism as could be given by its best exponents. I say this not out
of any wish to tag Mr. Yeats, but because the ideal of _Paul Ruttledge_,
the hero of the play, is nothing less than Anarchism applied to everyday

_Paul Ruttledge_, a man of wealth, comes to the conclusion, after a long
process of development and growth, that riches are wrong, and that the
life of the propertied is artificial, useless and inane.

  _Paul Ruttledge._ When I hear these people talking I always hear
  some organized or vested interest chirp or quack, as it does in the
  newspapers. I would like to have great iron claws, and to put them
  about the pillars, and to pull and pull till everything fell into
  pieces.... Sometimes I dream I am pulling down my own house, and
  sometimes it is the whole world that I am pulling down.... When
  everything was pulled down we would have more room to get drunk in,
  to drink contentedly out of the cup of life, out of the drunken cup
  of life.

He decides to give up his position and wealth and cast his lot in with
the tinkers--an element we in America know as "hoboes," men who tramp
the highways making their living as they go about, mending kettles and
pots, earning an honest penny without obligation or responsibility to
anyone. _Paul Ruttledge_ longs for the freedom of the road,--to sleep
under the open sky, to count the stars, to be free. He throws off all
artificial restraint and is received with open arms by the tinkers. To
identify himself more closely with their life, he marries a tinker's
daughter--not according to the rites of State or Church, but in true
tinker fashion--in freedom--bound only by the promise to be faithful and
"not hurt each other."

In honor of the occasion, _Paul_ tenders to his comrades and the people
of the neighborhood a grand feast, full of the spirit of life's joy,--an
outpouring of gladness that lasts a whole week.

_Paul's_ brother, his friends, and the authorities are incensed over the
carousal. They demand that he terminate the "drunken orgy."

  _Mr. Joyce._ This is a disgraceful business, Paul; the whole
  countryside is demoralized. There is not a man who has come to
  sensible years who is not drunk.

  _Mr. Dowler._ This is a flagrant violation of all propriety. Society
  is shaken to its roots. My own servants have been led astray by the
  free drinks that are being given in the village. My butler, who has
  been with me for seven years, has not been seen for the last two

  _Mr. Algie._ I endorse his sentiments completely. There has not been
  a stroke of work done for the last week. The hay is lying in ridges
  where it has been cut, there is not a man to be found to water the
  cattle. It is impossible to get as much as a horse shod in the

  _Paul Ruttledge._ I think _you_ have something to say, Colonel

  _Colonel Lawley._ I have undoubtedly. I want to know when law and
  order are to be reëstablished. The police have been quite unable to
  cope with the disorder. Some of them have themselves got drunk. If
  my advice had been taken the military would have been called in.

  _Mr. Green._ The military are not indispensable on occasions like
  the present. There are plenty of police coming now. We have wired to
  Dublin for them, they will be here by the four o'clock train.

  _Paul Ruttledge._ But you have not told me what you have come here
  for. Is there anything I can do for you?

  _Mr. Green._ We have come to request you to go to the public-houses,
  to stop the free drinks, to send the people back to their work. As
  for those tinkers, the law will deal with them when the police

  _Paul Ruttledge._ I wanted to give a little pleasure to my

  _Mr. Dowler._ This seems rather a low form of pleasure.

  _Paul Ruttledge._ I daresay it seems to you a little violent. But
  the poor have very few hours in which to enjoy themselves; they must
  take their pleasure raw; they haven't the time to cook it. Have we
  not tried sobriety? Do you like it? I found it very dull.... Think
  what it is to them to have their imagination like a blazing
  tar-barrel for a whole week. Work could never bring them such
  blessedness as that.

  _Mr. Dowler._ Everyone knows there is no more valuable blessing than

_Paul Ruttledge_ decides to put his visitors "on trial," to let them see
themselves as they are in all their hypocrisy, all their corruption.

He charges the military man, _Colonel Lawley_, with calling himself a
Christian, yet following the business of man-killing. The Colonel is
forced to admit that he had ordered his men to fight in a war, of the
justice of which they knew nothing, or did not believe in, and yet it is
"the doctrine of your Christian church, of your Catholic church, that he
who fights in an unjust war, knowing it to be unjust, loses his own
soul." Of the rich man _Dowler_, _Paul Ruttledge_ demands whether he
could pass through the inside of a finger ring, and on _Paul's_
attention being called by one of the tinkers to the fine coat of _Mr.
Dowler_, he tells him to help himself to it. Threatened by _Mr. Green_,
the spokesman of the law, with encouraging robbery, _Ruttledge_
admonishes him.

  _Ruttledge._ Remember the commandment, "Give to him that asketh
  thee"; and the hard commandment goes even farther, "Him that taketh
  thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also."

But the worst indictment _Ruttledge_ hurls against _Mr. Green_. The
other professed Christians kill, murder, do not love their enemies, and
do not give to any man that asks of them. But the Greens, _Rutledge_
says, are the worst of all. For the others break the law of Christ for
their own pleasure, but "you take pay for breaking it; when their goods
are taken away you condemn the taker; when they are smitten on one cheek
you punish the smiter. You encourage them in their breaking of the Law
of Christ."

For several years _Ruttledge_ lives the life of the tinkers. But of weak
physique, he finds himself unable to withstand the rigors of the road.
His health breaks down, and his faithful comrades carry him to his
native town and bring him to a monastery where _Paul_ is cared for by
the priests. While there he begins to preach a wonderful gospel, a
gospel strange to the friars and the superior,--so rebellious and
terrible that he is declared a dissenter, a heathen and a dangerous

  _Paul Ruttledge._ Now I can give you the message that has come to
  me.... Lay down your palm branches before this altar; you have
  brought them as a sign that the walls are beginning to be broken up,
  that we are going back to the joy of the green earth.... For a long
  time after their making men and women wandered here and there, half
  blind from the drunkenness of Eternity; they had not yet forgotten
  that the green Earth was the Love of God, and that all Life was the
  Will of God, and so they wept and laughed and hated according to
  the impulse of their hearts. They gathered the great Earth to their
  breasts and their lips, ... in what they believed would be an
  eternal kiss. It was then that the temptation began. The men and
  women listened to them, and because when they had lived ... in
  mother wit and natural kindness, they sometimes did one another an
  injury, they thought that it would be better to be safe than to be
  blessed, they made the Laws. The Laws were the first sin. They were
  the first mouthful of the apple; the moment man had made them he
  began to die; we must put out the Laws as I put out this candle. And
  when they had lived amidst the green Earth that is the Love of God,
  they were sometimes wetted by the rain, and sometimes cold and
  hungry, and sometimes alone from one another; they thought it would
  be better to be comfortable than to be blessed. They began to build
  big houses and big towns. They grew wealthy and they sat chattering
  at their doors; and the embrace that was to have been eternal
  ended.... We must put out the towns as I put out this candle. But
  that is not all, for man created a worse thing.... Man built up the
  Church. We must destroy the Church, we must put it out as I put out
  this candle.... We must destroy everything that has Law and Number.

The rebel is driven from the monastery. He is followed by only two
faithful friars, his disciples, who go among the people to disseminate
the new gospel. But the people fail to understand them. Immersed in
darkness and superstition, they look upon these strange men as
evildoers. They accuse them of casting an evil spell on their cattle and
disturbing the people's peace. The path of the crusader is thorny, and
_Colman_, the friar disciple of _Paul_, though faithful for a time,
become discouraged in the face of opposition and persecution. He

  _Colman._ It's no use stopping waiting for the wind; if we have
  anything to say that's worth the people listening to, we must bring
  them to hear it one way or another. Now, it is what I was saying to
  Aloysius, we must begin teaching them to make things, they never had
  the chance of any instruction of this sort here. Those and other
  things, we got a good training in the old days. And we'll get a
  grant from the Technical Board. The Board pays up to four hundred
  pounds to some of its instructors.

  _Paul Ruttledge._ Oh, I understand; you will sell them. And what
  about the dividing of the money? You will need to make laws about
  that. Oh, we will grow quite rich in time.

  _Colman._ We'll build workshops and houses for those who come to
  work from a distance, good houses, slated, not thatched.... They
  will think so much more of our teaching when we have got them under
  our influence by other things. Of course we will teach them their
  meditations, and give them a regular religious life. We must settle
  out some little place for them to pray in--there's a high gable over
  there where we could hang a bell--

  _Paul Ruttledge._ Oh, yes, I understand. You would weave them
  together like this, you would add one thing to another, laws and
  money and church and bells, till you had got everything back again
  that you have escaped from. But it is my business to tear things

  _Aloysius._ Brother Paul, it is what I am thinking; now the tinkers
  have come back to you, you could begin to gather a sort of an army;
  you can't fight your battle without an army. They would call to the
  other tinkers, and the tramps and the beggars, and the sieve-makers
  and all the wandering people. It would be a great army.

  _Paul Ruttledge._ Yes, that would be a great army, a great wandering

  _Aloysius._ The people would be afraid to refuse us then; we would
  march on--

  _Paul Ruttledge._ We could march on. We could march on the towns,
  and we could break up all settled order; we could bring back the old
  joyful, dangerous, individual life. We would have banners. We will
  have one great banner that will go in front, it will take two men to
  carry it, and on it we will have Laughter--

  _Aloysius._ That will be the banner for the front. We will have
  different troops, we will have captains to organize them, to give
  them orders.

  _Paul Ruttledge._ To organize? That is to bring in law and number.
  Organize--organize--that is how all the mischief has been done. I
  was forgetting,--we cannot destroy the world with armies; it is
  inside our minds that it must be destroyed.

Deserted, _Paul Ruttledge_ stands alone in his crusade, like most
iconoclasts. Misunderstood and persecuted, he finally meets his death at
the hands of the infuriated mob.

"Where There Is Nothing" is of great social significance, deeply
revolutionary in the sense that it carries the message of the
destruction of every institution--State, Property, and Church--that
enslaves humanity. _For where there is nothing, there man begins._

A certain critic characterized this play as a "statement of revolt
against the despotism of facts." Is there a despotism more compelling
and destructive than that of the facts of property, of the State and
Church? But "Where There Is Nothing" is not merely a "statement" of
revolt. It embodies the spirit of revolt itself, of that most
constructive revolt which begins with the destruction of every obstacle
in the path of the new life that is to grow on the débris of the old,
when the paralyzing yoke of institutionalism shall have been broken, and
man left free to enjoy Life and Laughter.



_Timothy Hurley_, an old farmer, slaves all his life and mortgages his
farm in order to enable his children to lead an idle, parasitic life.

Started on this road toward so-called culture by the school-master,
_William Lordan_, _Hurley's_ children leave their father's farm and in
due time establish themselves in society as priest, lawyer, secretary
and chemist, respectively.

The secretary son is ashamed of his lowly origin and denies it. The
lawyer son is much more concerned with his motor car than with the
condition of the farm that has helped him on his feet. The priest has
departed for America, there to collect funds for Church work. Only
_Maurice_, the youngest son of _Timothy Hurley_, remains at home as the
farm drudge, the typical man with the hoe.

_Jack Hurley_, the chemist, and _Timothy's_ only daughter _Mary_, retain
some loyalty to the old place, but when they return after an absence of
years, they find themselves out of touch with farm life, and they too
turn their back on their native heath. _Jack Hurley's_ notion of the
country is that of most city people: nature is beautiful, the scenery
lovely, so long as it is someone else who has to labor in the scorching
sun, to plow and toil in the sweat of his brow.

_Jack_ and his wife _Mildred_ are both extremely romantic about the

  _Jack._ It stands to reason farming must pay enormously. Take a
  field of oats, for instance; every grain that's sown gives a huge
  percentage in return.... I don't know exactly how many grains a
  stalk carries, but several hundred I'm sure ... why, there's no
  investment in the world would give you a return like that.

But soon they discover that every grain of corn does not yield hundreds
of dollars.

  _Maurice._ You can't have a solicitor, and a priest, and a chemist
  in a family without spending money, and for the last ten years
  you've been all drawing money out of the farm ... there's no more to
  drain now.... Oh, I suppose you think I'm a bloody fool not to be
  able to make it pay; but sure what chance have I and I never taught
  how to farm? There was money and education wanted to make priests
  and doctors and gentlemen of you all, and wasn't there money and
  education wanted to make a farmer of me? No; nothing taught me only
  what I picked up from my father and the men, and never a bit of
  fresh money to put into the farm only it all kept to make a
  solicitor of Bob and a chemist of you.

During _Jack's_ visit to the farm a fire breaks out and several
buildings on the place are destroyed. Much to the horror of the
well-bred _Jack_, he learns that his father himself had lit the match in
order to get "compensation." He sternly upbraids the old farmer.

  _Jack._ Didn't you see yourself how dishonest it was?

  _Timothy._ Maybe I did, but I saw something more, and that was that
  I was on the way to being put out of the farm.

_Jack_ is outraged; he threatens to inform on his own people and offers
to stay on the farm to help with the work. But two weeks' experience in
the field beneath the burning sun is more than delicate _Jack_ can
stand. He suffers fainting spells, and is in the end prevailed upon by
his wife to leave.

_Mary_, old _Hurley's_ daughter, also returns to the farm for rest and
quiet. But she finds no peace there, for the city is too much in her
blood. There is, moreover, another lure she cannot escape.

  _Mary._ I was too well educated to be a servant, and I was never
  happy as one, so to better myself I learned typing.... It's a hard
  life, Jack, and I soon found out how hard it was, and I was as
  dissatisfied as ever. Then there only seemed one way out of it ...
  and he ... my employer, I mean.... I went into it deliberately with
  my eyes open. You see, a woman I knew chucked typing and went in for
  this ... and I saw what a splendid time she had, and how happy she
  was--and I was so miserably unhappy--and how she had everything she
  wanted and I had nothing, and ... and.... But this life made me
  unhappy, too, and so in desperation I came home; but I've grown too
  far away from it all, and now I'm going back. Don't you see, Jack,
  I'm not happy here. I thought if I could get home to the farm and
  the old simple life it would be all right, but it isn't. Everything
  jars on me, the roughness and the hard living and the coarse
  food--oh, it seems ridiculous--but they make me physically ill. I
  always thought, if I could get away home to Knockmalgloss I could
  start fair again.... So I came home, and everything is the same, and
  everyone thinks that I'm as pure and innocent as when I went away,
  but ... but ... But, Jack, the dreadful thing is I want to go
  back.... I'm longing for that life, and its excitement and splendor
  and color.

In her misery and struggle a great faith sustains _Mary_ and keeps her
from ruin. It is the thought of her father, in whom she believes
implicitly as her ideal of honesty, strength and incorruptibility. The
shock is terrible when she learns that her father, even her father, has
fallen a victim to the cruel struggle of life,--that her father himself
set fire to the buildings.

  _Mary._ And I thought he was so simple, so innocent, so
  unspoiled!... Father, the simple, honest peasant, the only decent
  one of us. I cried all last night at the contrast! His
  unselfishness, his simplicity.... Why, we're all equally bad now--he
  and I--we both sell ourselves, he for the price of those old houses
  and I for a few years of splendor and happiness....

The only one whom life seems to teach nothing is _Schoolmaster Lordan_.
Oblivious of the stress and storm of reality, he continues to be
enraptured with education, with culture, with the opportunities offered
by the large cities. He is particularly proud of the Hurley children.

  _Lordan._ The way you've all got on! I tell you what, if every boy
  and girl I ever taught had turned out a failure I'd feel content and
  satisfied when I looked at all of you and saw what I've made of you.

  _Mary._ What you've made of us? I wonder do you really know what
  you've made of us?

  _Lordan._ Isn't it easily seen? One with a motor car, no less.... It
  was good, sound seed I sowed long ago in the little schoolhouse and
  it's to-day you're all reaping the harvest.

"Harvest" is a grim picture of civilization in its especially
demoralizing effects upon the people who spring from the soil. The mock
culture and shallow education which inspire peasant folk with awe, which
lure the children away from home, only to crush the vitality out of them
or to turn them into cowards and compromisers. The tragedy of a
civilization that dooms the tillers of the soil to a dreary monotony of
hard toil with little return, or charms them to destruction with the
false glow of city culture and ease! Greater still this tragedy in a
country like Ireland, its people taxed to the very marrow and exploited
to the verge of starvation, leaving the young generation no opening, no
opportunity in life.

It is inevitable that the sons and daughters of Ireland, robust in body
and spirit, yearning for things better and bigger, should desert her.
For as _Mary_ says, "When the sun sets here, it's all so dark and cold
and dreary." But the young need light and warmth--and these are not in
the valley of ever-present misery and want.

"Harvest" is an expressive picture of the social background of the Irish
people, a background somber and unpromising but for the streak of dawn
that pierces that country's dark horizon in the form of the inherent and
irrepressible fighting spirit of the true Irishman, the spirit of the
Fenian revolt whose fires often slumber but are never put out, all the
ravages of our false civilization notwithstanding.



"Maurice Harte" portrays the most sinister force which holds the Irish
people in awe--that heaviest of all bondage, priestcraft.

_Michael Harte_, his wife _Ellen_, and their son _Owen_ are bent on one
purpose; to make a priest of their youngest child _Maurice_. The mother
especially has no other ambition in life than to see her son "priested."
No higher ideal to most Catholic mothers than to consecrate their
favorite son to the glory of God.

What it has cost the Hartes to attain their ambition and hope is
revealed by _Ellen Harte_ in the conversation with her sister and later
with her husband, when he informs her that he cannot borrow any more
money to continue the boy in the seminary.

  _Mrs. Harte._ If Michael and myself have our son nearly a priest
  this day, 'tis no small price at all we have paid for it.... Isn't
  it the terrible thing, every time you look through that window, to
  have the fear in your heart that 'tis the process-server you'll see
  and he coming up the boreen?

_Old Harte_ impoverishes himself to enable his son to finish his
studies. He has borrowed right and left, till his resources are now
entirety exhausted. But he is compelled to try another loan.

  _Michael._ He made out 'twas as good as insulting him making such a
  small payment, and the money that's on us to be so heavy. "If you
  don't wish to sign that note," says he, "you needn't. It don't
  matter at all to me one way or the other, for before the next
  Quarter Sessions 'tis Andy Driscoll, the process-server, will be
  marching up to your door." So what could I do but sign? Why, 'twas
  how he turned on me in a red passion. "And isn't it a scandal,
  Michael Harte," says he, "for the like o' you, with your name on
  them books there for a hundred and fifty pounds, and you with only
  the grass of nine or ten cows, to be making your son a priest? The
  like of it," says he, "was never heard of before."

  _Mrs. Harte._ What business was it of his, I'd like to know? Jealous
  of us! There's no fear any of his sons will ever be anything much!

  _Michael._ I was thinking it might do Maurice some harm with the
  Bishop if it came out on the papers that we were up before the judge
  for a civil bill.

  _Mrs. Harte._ ... 'Tisn't once or twice I told you that I had my
  heart set on hearing Maurice say the marriage words over his own

_Maurice_ comes home for the summer vacation, looking pale and
emaciated. His mother ascribes his condition to the bad city air and
hard study at school. But _Maurice_ suffers from a different cause. His
is a mental struggle: the maddening struggle of doubt, the realization
that he has lost his faith, that he has no vocation, and that he must
give up his divinity studies. He knows how fanatically bent his people
are on having him ordained, and he is tortured by the grief his decision
will cause his parents. His heart is breaking as he at last determines
to inform them.

He reasons and pleads with his parents and implores them not to drive
him back to college. But they cannot understand. They remain deaf to his
arguments; pitifully they beg him not to fail them, not to disappoint
the hope of a lifetime. When it all proves of no avail, they finally
disclose to _Maurice_ their gnawing secret: the farm has been mortgaged
and many debts incurred for the sake of enabling him to attain to the

  _Michael._ Maurice, would you break our hearts?

  _Maurice._ Father, would you have your son live a life of sacrilege?
  Would you, Father? Would you?

  _Mrs. Harte._ That's only foolish talk. Aren't you every bit as good
  as the next?

  _Maurice._ I may be, but I haven't a vocation.... My mind is finally
  made up.

  _Mrs. Harte._ Maurice, listen to me--listen to me! ... If it went
  out about you this day, isn't it destroyed forever we'd be? Look!
  The story wouldn't be east in Macroom when we'd have the bailiffs
  walking in that door. The whole world knows he is to be priested
  next June, and only for the great respect they have for us through
  the means o' that, 'tisn't James McCarthy alone, but every other one
  o' them would come down on us straight for their money. In one week
  there wouldn't be a cow left by us, nor a horse, nor a lamb, nor
  anything at all!... Look at them books. 'Tis about time you should
  know how we stand here.... God knows, I wouldn't be hard on you at
  all, but look at the great load o' money that's on us this day, and
  mostly all on your account.

  _Maurice._ Mother, don't make my cross harder to bear.

  _Mrs. Harte._ An' would you be seeing a heavier cross put on them
  that did all that mortal man and woman could do for you?

  _Maurice._ Look! I'll wear the flesh off my bones, but in pity spare

  _Mrs. Harte._ And will you have no pity at all on us and on Owen
  here, that have slaved for you all our lives?

  _Maurice._ Mother! Mother!

  _Mrs. Harte._ You'll go back? 'Tis only a mistake?

  _Maurice._ Great God of Heaven!...you'll kill me.

  _Michael._ You'll go back, Maurice? The vocation will come to you in
  time with the help of God. It will, surely.

  _Maurice._ Don't ask me! Don't ask me!

  _Mrs. Harte._ If you don't how can I ever face outside this door or
  lift my head again?... How could I listen to the neighbors making
  pity for me, and many a one o' them only glad in their hearts? How
  could I ever face again into town o' Macroom?

  _Maurice._ Oh, don't.

  _Mrs. Harte._ I tell you, Maurice, I'd rather be lying dead a
  thousand times in the graveyard over Killnamartyra--

  _Maurice._ Stop, Mother, stop! I'll--I'll go back--as--as you all
  wish it.

Nine months later there is general rejoicing at the Hartes': _Maurice_
has passed his examinations with flying colors; he is about to be
ordained, and he is to officiate at the wedding of his brother _Owen_
and his wealthy bride.

_Ellen Harte_ plans to give her son a royal welcome. Great preparations
are on foot to greet the return of _Maurice_. He comes back--not in the
glory and triumph expected by his people, but a driveling idiot. His
mental struggle, the agony of whipping himself to the hated task, proved
too much for him, and _Maurice_ is sacrificed on the altar of
superstition and submission to paternal authority.

In the whole range of the Irish drama "Maurice Harte" is the most Irish,
because nowhere does Catholicism demand so many victims as in that
unfortunate land. But in a deeper sense the play is of that social
importance that knows no limit of race or creed.

There is no boundary of land or time to the resistance of the human mind
to coercion; it is worldwide. Equally so is the rebellion of youth
against the tyranny of parents. But above all does this play mirror the
self-centered, narrow, ambitious love of the mother, so disastrous to
the happiness and peace of her child. For it is _Ellen Harte_, rather
than the father, who forces _Maurice_ back to his studies. From whatever
viewpoint, however, "Maurice Harte" be considered, it carries a
dramatically powerful message of wide social significance.


People outside of Russia, especially Anglo-Saxons, have one great
objection to the Russian drama: it is too sad, too gloomy. It is often
asked, "Why is the Russian drama so pessimistic?" The answer is: the
Russian drama, like all Russian culture, has been conceived in the
sorrow of the people; it was born in their woe and struggle. Anything
thus conceived cannot be very joyous or amusing.

It is no exaggeration to say that in no other country are the creative
artists so interwoven, so much at one with the people. This is not only
true of men like Turgenev, Tolstoy and the dramatists of modern times.
It applies also to Gogol, who in "The Inspector" and "Dead Souls" spoke
in behalf of the people, appealing to the conscience of Russia. The same
is true of Dostoyevsky, of the poets Nekrassov, Nadson, and others. In
fact, all the great Russian artists have gone to the people for their
inspiration, as to the source of all life. That explains the depth and
the humanity of Russian literature.

The modern drama naturally suggests Henrik Ibsen as its pioneer. But
prior to him, Gogol utilized the drama as a vehicle for popularizing the
social issues of his time. In "The Inspector," (_Revizor_) he portrays
the corruption, graft and extortion rampant in the governmental
departments. If we were to Anglicize the names of the characters in "The
Inspector," and forget for a moment that it was a Russian who wrote the
play, the criticism contained therein would apply with similar force to
present-day America, and to every other modern country. Gogol touched
the deepest sores of social magnitude and marked the beginning of the
realistic drama in Russia.

However, it is not within the scope of this work to discuss the drama of
Gogol's era. I shall begin with Tolstoy, because he is closer to our own
generation, and voices more definitely the social significance of the
modern drama.


When Leo Tolstoy died, the representatives of the Church proclaimed him
as their own. "He was with us," they said. It reminds one of the Russian
fable about the fly and the ox. The fly was lazily resting on the horn
of the ox while he plowed the field, but when the ox returned home
exhausted with toil, the fly bragged, "_We_ have been plowing." The
spokesmen of the Church are, in relation to Tolstoy, in the same
position. It is true that Tolstoy based his conception of human
relationships on a new interpretation of the Gospels. But he was as far
removed from present-day Christianity as Jesus was alien to the
institutional religion of his time.

Tolstoy was the last true Christian, and as such he undermined the
stronghold of the Church with all its pernicious power of darkness, with
all its injustice and cruelty.

For this he was persecuted by the Holy Synod and excommunicated from the
Church; for this he was feared by the Tsar and his henchmen; for this
his works have been condemned and prohibited.

The only reason Tolstoy himself escaped the fate of other great Russians
was that he was mightier than the Church, mightier than the ducal
clique, mightier even than the Tsar. He was the powerful conscience of
Russia exposing her crimes and evils before the civilized world.

How deeply Tolstoy felt the grave problems of his time, how closely
related he was to the people, he demonstrated in various works, but in
none so strikingly as in "The Power of Darkness."


"The Power of Darkness" is the tragedy of sordid misery and dense
ignorance. It deals with a group of peasants steeped in poverty and
utter darkness. This appalling condition, especially in relation to the
women folk, is expressed by one of the characters in the play:

  _Mitrich._ There are millions of you women and girls, but you are
  all like the beasts of the forest. Just as one has been born, so she
  dies. She has neither seen or heard anything. A man will learn
  something; if nowhere else, at least in the inn, or by some chance,
  in prison, or in the army, as I have. But what about a woman? She
  does not know a thing about God,--nay, she does not know one day
  from another. They creep about like blind pups, and stick their
  heads into the manure.

_Peter_, a rich peasant, is in a dying condition. Yet he clings to his
money and slave-drives his young wife, _Anisya_, his two daughters by a
first marriage, and his peasant servant _Nikita_. He will not allow them
any rest from their toil, for the greed of money is in his blood and the
fear of death in his bones. _Anisya_ hates her husband: he forces her to
drudge, and he is old and ill. She loves _Nikita_. The latter, young and
irresponsible, cannot resist women, who are his main weakness and final
undoing. Before he came to old _Peter's_ farm, he had wronged an orphan
girl. When she becomes pregnant, she appeals to _Nikita's_ father,
_Akim_, a simple and honest peasant. He urges his son to marry the girl,
because "it is a sin to wrong an orphan. Look out, Nikita! A tear of
offense does not flow past, but upon a man's head. Look out, or the same
will happen with you."

_Akim's_ kindness and simplicity are opposed by the viciousness and
greed of his wife _Matrena_. _Nikita_ remains on the farm, and _Anisya_,
urged and influenced by his mother, poisons old _Peter_ and steals his

When her husband dies, _Anisya_ marries _Nikita_ and turns the money
over to him. _Nikita_ becomes the head of the house, and soon proves
himself a rake and a tyrant. Idleness and affluence undermine whatever
good is latent in him. Money, the destroyer of souls, together with the
consciousness that he has been indirectly a party to _Anisya's_ crime,
turn _Nikita's_ love for the woman into bitter hatred. He takes for his
mistress _Akulina_, _Peter's_ oldest daughter, a girl of sixteen, deaf
and silly, and forces _Anisya_ to serve them. She had strength to resist
her old husband, but her love for _Nikita_ has made her weak. "The
moment I see him my heart softens. I have no courage against him."

Old _Akim_ comes to ask for a little money from his newly rich son. He
quickly senses the swamp of corruption and vice into which _Nikita_ has
sunk. He tries to save him, to bring him back to himself, to arouse the
better side of his nature. But he fails.

The ways of life are too evil for _Akim_. He leaves, refusing even the
money he needs so badly to purchase a horse.

  _Akim._ One sin holds on to another and pulls you along. Nikita, you
  are stuck in sins. You are stuck, I see, in sins. You are stuck
  fast, so to speak. I have heard that nowadays they pull fathers'
  beards, so to speak,--but this leads only to ruin, to ruin, so to
  speak.... There is your money. I will go and beg, so to speak, but I
  will not, so to speak, take the money.... Let me go! I will not
  stay! I would rather sleep near the fence than in your nastiness.

The type of _Akim_ is most vividly characterized by Tolstoy in the talk
between the old peasant and the new help on the farm.

  _Mitrich._ Let us suppose, for example, you have money, and I, for
  example, have my land lying fallow; it is spring, and I have no
  seed; or I have to pay the taxes. So I come to you, and say: "Akim,
  give me ten roubles! I will have the harvest in by St. Mary's
  Intercession and then I will give it back to you, with a tithe for
  the accommodation." You, for example, see that I can be flayed,
  having a horse or a cow, so you say: "Give me two or three roubles
  for the accommodation." The noose is around my neck, and I cannot
  get along without it. "Very well," says I, "I will take the ten
  roubles." In the fall I sell some things, and I bring you the money,
  and you skin me in addition for three roubles.

  _Akim._ But this is, so to speak, a wrong done to a peasant. If one
  forgets God, so to speak, it is not good.

  _Mitrich._ Wait a minute! So remember what you have done: you have
  fleeced me, so to speak, and Anisya, for example, has some money
  which is lying idle. She has no place to put it in and, being a
  woman, does not know what to do with it. So she comes to you: "Can't
  I," says she, "make some use of my money?" "Yes, you can," you say.
  And so you wait. Next summer I come to you once more. "Give me
  another ten roubles," says I, "and I will pay you for the
  accommodation." So you watch me to see whether my hide has not been
  turned yet, whether I can be flayed again, and if I can, you give
  me Anisya's money. But if I have not a blessed thing, and nothing to
  eat, you make your calculations, seeing that I cannot be skinned,
  and you say: "God be with you, my brother!" and you look out for
  another man to whom to give Anisya's money, and whom you can flay.
  Now this is called a bank. So it keeps going around. It is a very
  clever thing, my friend.

  _Akim._ What is this? This is a nastiness, so to speak. If a
  peasant, so to speak, were to do it, the peasants would regard it as
  a sin, so to speak. This is not according to the Law, not according
  to the Law, so to speak. It is bad. How can the learned men, so to
  speak-- ... As I look at it, so to speak, there is trouble without
  money, so to speak, and with money the trouble is double, so to
  speak. God has commanded to work. But you put the money in the bank,
  so to speak, and lie down to sleep, and the money will feed you, so
  to speak, while you are lying. This is bad,--not according to the
  Law, so to speak.

  _Mitrich._ Not according to the Law? The Law does not trouble people
  nowadays, my friend. All they think about is how to clean out a
  fellow. That's what!

As long as _Akulina's_ condition is not noticeable, the relation of
_Nikita_ with his dead master's daughter remains hidden from the
neighbors. But the time comes when she is to give birth to a child. It
is then that _Anisya_ becomes mistress of the situation again. Her
hatred for _Akulina_, her outraged love for _Nikita_ and the evil spirit
of _Nikita's_ mother all combine to turn her into a fiend. _Akulina_ is
driven to the barn, where her terrible labor pains are stifled by the
dread of her stepmother. When the innocent victim is born, _Nikita's_
vicious mother and _Anisya_ persuade him that the child is dead and
force him to bury it in the cellar.

While _Nikita_ is digging the grave, he discovers the deception. The
child is alive! The terrible shock unnerves the man, and in temporary
madness he presses a board over the little body till its bones crunch.
Superstition, horror and the perfidy of the women drive _Nikita_ to
drink in an attempt to drown the baby's cries constantly ringing in his

The last act deals with _Akulina's_ wedding to the son of a neighbor.
She is forced into the marriage because of her misfortune. The peasants
all gather for the occasion, but _Nikita_ is missing: he roams the place
haunted by the horrible phantom of his murdered child. He attempts to
hang himself but fails, and finally decides to go before the entire
assembly to confess his crimes.

  _Nikita._ Father, listen to me! First of all, Marina, look at me! I
  am guilty toward you: I had promised to marry you, and I seduced
  you. I deceived you and abandoned you; forgive me for Christ's sake!

  _Matrena._ Oh, oh, he is bewitched. What is the matter with him? He
  has the evil eye upon him. Get up and stop talking nonsense!

  _Nikita._ I killed your father, and I, dog, have ruined his
  daughter. I had the power over her, and I killed also her baby....
  Father dear! Forgive me, sinful man! You told me, when I first
  started on this life of debauch: "When the claw is caught, the whole
  bird is lost." But, I, dog, did not pay any attention to you, and so
  everything turned out as you said. Forgive me, for Christ's sake.

The "Power of Darkness" is a terrible picture of poverty, ignorance and
superstition. To write such a work it is not sufficient to be a creative
artist: it requires a deeply sympathetic human soul. Tolstoy possessed
both. He understood that the tragedy of the peasants' life is due not to
any inherent viciousness but to the power of darkness which permeates
their existence from the cradle to the grave. Something heavy is
oppressing them--in the words of _Anisya_--weighing them down, something
that saps all humanity out of them and drives them into the depths.

"The Power of Darkness" is a social picture at once appalling and


When Anton Tchekhof first came to the fore, no less an authority than
Tolstoy said: "Russia has given birth to another Turgenev." The estimate
was not overdrawn. Tchekhof was indeed a modern Turgenev. Perhaps not as
universal, because Turgenev, having lived in western Europe, in close
contact with conditions outside of Russia, dealt with more variegated
aspects of life. But as a creative artist Tchekhof is fitted to take his
place with Turgenev.

Tchekhof is preëminently the master of short stories. Within the limits
of a few pages he paints the drama of human life with its manifold
tragic and comic colors, in its most intimate reflex upon the characters
who pass through the panorama. He has been called a pessimist. As if one
could miss the sun without feeling the torture of utter darkness!

Tchekhof wrote during the gloomiest period of Russian life, at a time
when the reaction had drowned the revolution in the blood of the young
generation,--when the Tsar had choked the very breath out of young
Russia. The intellectuals were deprived of every outlet: all the social
channels were closed to them, and they found themselves without hope or
faith, not having yet learned to make common cause with the people.

Tchekhof could not escape the atmosphere which darkened the horizon of
almost the whole of Russia. It was because he so intensely felt its
oppressive weight that he longed for air, for light, for new and vital
ideas. To awaken the same yearning and faith in others, he had to
picture life as it was, in all its wretchedness and horror.

This he did in "The Seagull," while in "The Cherry Orchard" he holds out
the hope of a new and brighter day.


In "The Seagull" the young artist, _Constantine Treplef_, seeks new
forms, new modes of expression. He is tired of the old academic ways,
the beaten track; he is disgusted with the endless imitative methods, no
one apparently capable of an original thought.

_Constantine_ has written a play; the principal part is to be acted by
_Nina_, a beautiful girl with whom _Constantine_ is in love. He arranges
the first performance to take place on the occasion of his mother's
vacation in the country.

She herself--known as _Mme. Arcadina_--is a famous actress of the old
school. She knows how to show off her charms to advantage, to parade her
beautiful gowns, to faint and die gracefully before the footlights; but
she does not know how to live her part on the stage. _Mme. Arcadina_ is
the type of artist who lacks all conception of the relation between art
and life. Barren of vision and empty of heart, her only criterion is
public approval and material success. Needless to say, she cannot
understand her son. She considers him decadent, a foolish rebel who
wants to undermine the settled canons of dramatic art. _Constantine_
sums up his mother's personality in the following manner:

  _Treplef._ She is a psychological curiosity, is my mother. A clever
  and gifted woman, who can cry over a novel, will reel you off all
  Nekrassov's poems by heart, and is the perfection of a sick nurse;
  but venture to praise Eleonora Duse before her! Oho! ho! You must
  praise nobody but her, write about her, shout about her, and go into
  ecstasies over her wonderful performance in _La Dame aux Camélias_,
  or _The Fumes of Life_; but as she cannot have these intoxicating
  pleasures down here in the country, she's bored and gets
  spiteful.... She loves the stage; she thinks that she is advancing
  the cause of humanity and her sacred art; but I regard the stage of
  to-day as mere routine and prejudice. When the curtain goes up and
  the gifted beings, the high priests of the sacred art, appear by
  electric light, in a room with three sides to it, representing how
  people eat, drink, love, walk and wear their jackets; when they
  strive to squeeze out a moral from the flat, vulgar pictures and the
  flat, vulgar phrases, a little tiny moral, easy to comprehend and
  handy for home consumption, when in a thousand variations they offer
  me always the same thing over and over and over again--then I take
  to my heels and run, as Maupassant ran from the Eiffel Tower, which
  crushed his brain by its overwhelming vulgarity.... We must have new
  formulæ. That's what we want. And if there are none, then it's
  better to have nothing at all.

With _Mme. Arcadina_ is her lover, _Trigorin_, a successful writer. When
he began his literary career, he possessed originality and strength. But
gradually writing became a habit: the publishers constantly demand new
books, and he supplies them.

Oh, the slavery of being an "arrived" artist, forging new chains for
oneself with every "best seller"! Such is the position of _Trigorin_: he
hates his work as the worst drudgery. Exhausted of ideas, all life and
human relations serve him only as material for copy.

_Nina_, innocent of the ways of the world and saturated with the false
romanticism of _Trigorin's_ works, does not see the man but the
celebrated artist. She is carried away by his fame and stirred by his
presence; an infatuation with him quickly replaces her affection for
_Constantine_. To her _Trigorin_ embodies her dream of a brilliant and
interesting life.

  _Nina._ How I envy you, if you but knew it! How different are the
  lots of different people! Some can hardly drag on their tedious,
  insignificant existence; they are all alike, all miserable; others,
  like you, for instance--you are one in a million--are blessed with a
  brilliant, interesting life, all full of meaning.... You are
  happy.... What a delightful life yours is!

  _Trigorin._ What is there so fine about it? Day and night I am
  obsessed by the same persistent thought; I must write, I must write,
  I must write.... No sooner have I finished one story than I am
  somehow compelled to write another, then a third, and after the
  third a fourth.... I have no rest for myself; I feel that I am
  devouring my own life.... I've never satisfied _myself_.... I have
  the feeling for nature; it wakes a passion in me, an irresistible
  desire to write. But I am something more than a landscape painter;
  I'm a citizen as well; I love my country, I love the people; I feel
  that if I am a writer I am bound to speak of the people, of its
  suffering, of its future, to speak of science, of the rights of man,
  etc., etc.; and I speak about it all, volubly, and am attacked
  angrily in return by everyone; I dart from side to side like a fox
  run down by hounds; I see that life and science fly farther and
  farther ahead of me, and I fall farther and farther behind, like the
  countryman running after the train; and in the end I feel that the
  only thing I can write of is the landscape, and in everything else I
  am untrue to life, false to the very marrow of my bones.

_Constantine_ realizes that _Nina_ is slipping away from him. The
situation is aggravated by the constant friction with his mother and his
despair at the lack of encouragement for his art. In a fit of
despondency he attempts suicide, but without success. His mother,
although nursing him back to health, is infuriated at her son's
"foolishness," his inability to adapt himself to conditions, his
impractical ideas. She decides to leave, accompanied by _Trigorin_. On
the day of their departure _Nina_ and _Trigorin_ meet once more. The
girl tells him of her ambition to become an actress, and, encouraged by
him, follows him to the city.

Two years later _Mme. Arcadina_, still full of her idle triumphs,
returns to her estate. _Trigorin_ is again with her still haunted by the
need of copy.

_Constantine_ has in the interim matured considerably. Although he has
made himself heard as a writer, he nevertheless feels that life to-day
has no place for such as he: that sincerity in art is not wanted. His
mother is with him, but she only serves to emphasize the flatness of his
surroundings. He loves her, but her ways jar him and drive him into

_Nina_, too, has returned to her native place, broken in body and
spirit. Partly because of the memory of her past affection for
_Constantine_, and mainly because she learns of _Trigorin's_ presence,
she is drawn to the place where two years before she had dreamed of the
beauty of an artistic career. The cruel struggle for recognition, the
bitter disappointment in her relation with _Trigorin_, the care of a
child and poor health have combined to change the romantic child into a
sad woman.

_Constantine_ still loves her. He pleads with her to go away with him,
to begin a new life. But it is too late. The lure of the footlights is
beckoning to _Nina_; she returns to the stage. _Constantine_, unable to
stand the loneliness of his life and the mercenary demands upon his art,
kills himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the Anglo-Saxon mind such an ending is pessimism,--defeat. Often,
however, apparent defeat is in reality the truest success. For is not
success, as commonly understood, but too frequently bought at the
expense of character and idealism?

"The Seagull" is not defeat. As long as there is still such material in
society as the Constantines--men and women who would rather die than
compromise with the sordidness of life--there is hope for humanity. If
the Constantines perish, it is the social fault,--our indifference to,
and lack of appreciation of, the real values that alone advance the
fuller and more complete life of the race.


"The Cherry Orchard" is Tchekhof's prophetic song. In this play he
depicts three stages of social development and their reflex in

_Mme. Ranevsky_, the owner of the cherry orchard, an estate celebrated
far and wide for its beauty and historic traditions, is deeply attached
to the family place. She loves it for its romanticism: nightingales sing
in the orchard, accompanying the wooing of lovers. She is devoted to it
because of the memory of her ancestors and because of the many tender
ties which bind her to the orchard. The same feeling and reverence is
entertained by her brother _Leonid Gayef_. They are expressed in the
_Ode to an Old Family Cupboard_:

  _Gayef._ Beloved and venerable cupboard; honor and glory to your
  existence, which for more than a hundred years has been directed to
  the noble ideals of justice and virtue. Your silent summons to
  profitable labor has never weakened in all these hundred years. You
  have upheld the courage of succeeding generations of human kind; you
  have upheld faith in a better future and cherished in us ideals of
  goodness and social consciousness.

But the social consciousness of _Gayef_ and of his sister is of a
paternal nature: the attitude of the aristocracy toward its serfs. It is
a paternalism that takes no account of the freedom and happiness of the
people,--the romanticism of a dying class.

_Mme. Ranevsky_ is impoverished. The cherry orchard is heavily mortgaged
and as romance and sentiment cannot liquidate debts, the beautiful
estate falls into the cruel hands of commercialism.

The merchant _Yermolai Lopakhin_ buys the place. He is in ecstasy over
his newly acquired possession. He the owner--he who had risen from the
serfs of the former master of the orchard!

  _Lopakhin._ Just think of it! The cherry orchard is mine! Mine! Tell
  me that I'm drunk; tell me that I'm off my head; tell me that it's
  all a dream!... If only my father and my grandfather could rise from
  their graces and see the whole affair, how their Yermolai, their
  flogged and ignorant Yermolai, who used to run about barefooted in
  the winter, how this same Yermolai had bought a property that hasn't
  its equal for beauty anywhere in the whole world! I have bought the
  property where my father and grandfather were slaves, where they
  weren't even allowed into the kitchen.

A new epoch begins in the cherry orchard. On the ruins of romanticism
and aristocratic ease there rises commercialism, its iron hand yoking
nature, devastating her beauty, and robbing her of all radiance.

With the greed of rich returns, _Lopakhin_ cries, "Lay the ax to the
cherry orchard, come and see the trees fall down! We'll fill the place
with villas."

Materialism reigns supreme; it lords the orchard with mighty hand, and
in the frenzy of its triumph believes itself in control of the bodies
and souls of men. But in the madness of conquest it has discounted a
stubborn obstacle--the spirit of idealism. It is symbolized in _Peter
Trophimof_, "the perpetual student," and _Anya_, the young daughter of
_Mme. Ranevsky_. The "wonderful achievements" of the materialistic age
do not enthuse them; they have emancipated themselves from the Lopakhin
idol as well as from their aristocratic traditions.

  _Anya._ Why is it that I no longer love the cherry orchard as I did?
  I used to love it so tenderly; I thought there was no better place
  on earth than our garden.

  _Trophimof._ All Russia is our garden. The earth is great and
  beautiful; it is full of wonderful places. Think, Anya, your
  grandfather, your great-grandfather and all your ancestors were
  serf-owners, owners of living souls. Do not human spirits look out
  at you from every tree in the orchard, from every leaf and every
  stem? Do you not hear human voices?... Oh! it is terrible. Your
  orchard frightens me. When I walk through it in the evening or at
  night, the rugged bark on the trees glows with a dim light, and the
  cherry trees seem to see all that happened a hundred and two hundred
  years ago in painful and oppressive dreams. Well, well, we have
  fallen at least two hundred years beyond the times. We have achieved
  nothing at all as yet; we have not made up our minds how we stand
  with the past; we only philosophize, complain of boredom, or drink
  vodka. It is so plain that, before we can live in the present, we
  must first redeem the past, and have done with it.

  _Anya._ The house we live in has long since ceased to be our house;
  I shall go away.

  _Trophimof._ If you have the household keys, throw them in the well
  and go away. Be free, be free as the wind.... I am hungry as the
  winter; I am sick, anxious, poor as a beggar. Fate has tossed me
  hither and thither; I have been everywhere, everywhere. But
  everywhere I have been, every minute, day and night, my soul has
  been full of mysterious anticipations. I feel the approach of
  happiness, Anya; I see it coming ... it is coming towards us, nearer
  and nearer; I can hear the sound of its footsteps.... And if we do
  not see it, if we do not know it, what does it matter? Others will
  see it.

The new generation, on the threshold of the new epoch, hears the
approaching footsteps of the Future. And even if the Anyas and
Trophimofs of to-day will not see it, others will.

It was not given to Anton Tchekhof to see it with his bodily eyes. But
his prophetic vision beheld the coming of the New Day, and with powerful
pen he proclaimed it, that others might see it. Far from being a
pessimist, as charged by unintelligent critics, his faith was strong in
the possibilities of liberty.

This is the inspiring message of "The Cherry Orchard."



We in America are conversant with tramp literature. A number of writers
of considerable note have described what is commonly called the
underworld, among them Josiah Flynt and Jack London, who have ably
interpreted the life and psychology of the outcast. But with all due
respect for their ability, it must be said that, after all, they wrote
only as onlookers, as observers. They were not tramps themselves, in the
real sense of the word. In "The Children of the Abyss" Jack London
relates that when he stood in the breadline, he had money, a room in a
good hotel, and a change of linen at hand. He was therefore not an
integral part of the underworld, of the homeless and hopeless.

Never before has anyone given such a true, realistic picture of the
social depths as Maxim Gorki, himself a denizen of the underworld from
his early childhood. At the age of eight he ran away from his
poverty-stricken, dismal home, and for many years thereafter he lived
the life of the _bosyaki_. He tramped through the length and breadth of
Russia; he lived with the peasant, the factory worker and the outcast.
He knew them intimately; he understood their psychology, for he was not
only with them, but of them. Therefore Gorki has been able to present
such a vivid picture of the underworld.

"A Night's Lodging" portrays a lodging house, hideous and foul, where
gather the social derelicts,--the thief, the gambler, the ex-artist, the
ex-aristocrat, the prostitute. All of them had at one time an ambition,
a goal, but because of their lack of will and the injustice and cruelty
of the world, they were forced into the depths and cast back whenever
they attempted to rise. They are the superfluous ones, dehumanized and

In this poisonous air, where everything withers and dies, we
nevertheless find character. _Natasha_, a young girl, still retains her
wholesome instincts. She had never known love or sympathy, had gone
hungry all her days, and had tasted nothing but abuse from her brutal
sister, on whom she was dependent. _Vaska Pepel_, the young thief, a
lodger in the house, strikes a responsive chord in her the moment he
makes her feel that he cares for her and that she might be of spiritual
and moral help to him. _Vaska_, like _Natasha_, is a product of his
social environment.

  _Vaska._ From childhood, I have been--only a thief.... Always I was
  called Vaska the pickpocket, Vaska the son of a thief! See, it was
  of no consequence to me, as long as they would have it so ... so
  they would have it.... I was a thief, perhaps, only out of spite ...
  because nobody came along to call me anything--thief.... You call me
  something else, Natasha.... It is no easy life that I
  lead--friendless; pursued like a wolf.... I sink like a man in a
  swamp ... whatever I touch is slimy and rotten ... nothing is firm
  ... but you are like a young fir-tree; you are prickly, but you give

There is another humane figure illuminating the dark picture in "A
Night's Lodging",--_Luka_. He is the type of an old pilgrim, a man whom
the experiences of life have taught wisdom. He has tramped through
Russia and Siberia, and consorted with all sorts of people; but
disappointment and grief have not robbed him of his faith in beauty, in
idealism. He believes that every man, however low, degraded, or
demoralized can yet be reached, if we but know how to touch his soul.
_Luka_ inspires courage and hope in everyone he meets, urging each to
begin life anew. To the former actor, now steeped in drink, he says:

  _Luka._ The drunkard, I have heard, can now be cured, without
  charge. They realize now, you see, that the drunkard is also a man.
  You must begin to make ready. Begin a new life!

_Luka_ tries also to imbue _Natasha_ and _Vaska_ with new faith. They
marvel at his goodness. In simplicity of heart _Luka_ gives his
philosophy of life.

  _Luka._ I am good, you say. But you see, there must be some one to
  be good.... We must have pity on mankind.... Have pity while there
  is still time, believe me, it is very good. I was once, for example,
  employed as a watchman, at a country place which belonged to an
  engineer, not far from the city of Tomsk, in Siberia. The house
  stood in the middle of the forest, an out-of-the-way location ...
  and it was winter and I was all alone in the country house. It was
  beautiful there ... magnificent! And once ... I heard them
  scrambling up!...

  _Natasha._ Thieves!

  _Luka._ Yes. They crept higher and I took my rifle and went outside.
  I looked up: two men ... as they were opening a window and so busy
  that they did not see anything of me at all. I cried to them: "Heh
  there ... get out of that" ... and would you think it, they fell on
  me with a hand ax.... I warned them--"Halt," I cried, "or else I
  fire" ... then I aimed first at one and then at the other. They fell
  on their knees, saying, "Pardon us." I was pretty hot ... on account
  of the hand ax, you remember. "You devils," I cried, "I told you to
  clear out and you didn't ... and now," I said, "one of you go into
  the brash and get a switch." It was done. "And now," I commanded,
  "one of you stretch out on the ground, and the other thrash him"
  ... and so they whipped each other at my command. And when they had
  each had a sound beating, they said to me: "Grandfather," said they,
  "for the sake of Christ give us a piece of bread. We haven't a bite
  in our bodies." They were the thieves, who had fallen upon me with
  the hand ax. Yes ... they were a pair of splendid fellows.... I said
  to them, "If you had asked for bread." Then they answered: "We had
  gotten past that.... We had asked and asked and nobody would give us
  anything ... endurance was worn out," ... and so they remained with
  me the whole winter. One of them, Stephen by name, liked to take the
  rifle and go into the woods ... and the other, Jakoff, was
  constantly ill, always coughing ... the three of us watched the
  place, and when spring came, they said, "Farewell, grandfather," and
  went away--to Russia....

  _Natasha._ Were they convicts, escaping?

  _Luka._ They were ... fugitives ... they had left their colony ... a
  pair of splendid fellows.... If I had not had pity on them--who
  knows what would have happened. They might have killed me.... Then
  they would be taken to court again, put in prison, sent back to
  Siberia.... Why all that? You learn nothing good in prison, nor in
  Siberia ... but a man, what can he not learn. Man may teach his
  fellowman something good ... very simply.

Impressed and strengthened by _Luka's_ wonderful faith and vision, the
unfortunates make an attempt to rise from the social swamp. But he has
come too late into their lives. They have been robbed of energy and
will; and conditions always conspire to thrust them back into the
depths. When _Natasha_ and _Vaska_ are about to start out on the road to
a new life, fate overtakes them. The girl, during a scene with her
heartless sister, is terribly scalded by the latter, and _Vaska_,
rushing to the defense of his sweetheart, encounters her brutal
brother-in-law, whom he accidentally kills. Thus these "superfluous
ones" go down in the struggle. Not because of their vicious or degrading
tendencies; on the contrary, it is their better instincts that cause
them to be swept back into the abyss. But though they perish, the
inspiration of _Luka_ is not entirely lost. It is epitomized in the
words of one of the victims.

  _Sahtin._ The old man--he lived from within.... He saw everything
  with his own eyes.... I asked him once: "Grandfather, why do men
  really live?" ... "Man lives ever to give birth to strength. There
  live, for example, the carpenters, noisy, miserable people ... and
  suddenly in their midst is a carpenter born ... such a carpenter as
  the world has never seen: he is above all, no other carpenter can be
  compared to him. He gives a new face to the whole trade ... his own
  face, so to speak ... and with that simple impulse it has advanced
  twenty years ... and so the others live ... the locksmiths and the
  shoemakers, and all the rest of the working people ... and the same
  is true of other classes--all to give birth to strength. Everyone
  thinks that he for himself takes up room in the world, but it turns
  out that he is here for another's benefit--for someone better ... a
  hundred years ... or perhaps longer ... if we live so long ... for
  the sake of genius.... All, my children, all, live only to give
  birth to strength. For that reason we must respect everybody. We
  cannot know who he is, for what purpose born, or what he may yet
  fulfill ... perhaps he has been born for our good fortune ... or
  great benefit."

No stronger indictment than "A Night's Lodging" is to be found in
contemporary literature of our perverse civilization that condemns
thousands--often the very best men and women--to the fate of the Vaskas
and Anyas, doomed as superfluous and unnecessary in society. And yet
they are necessary, aye, they are vital, could we but see beneath the
veil of cold indifference and stupidity to discover the deep humanity,
the latent possibilities in these lowliest of the low. If within our
social conditions they are useless material, often vicious and
detrimental to the general good, it is because they have been denied
opportunity and forced into conditions that kill their faith in
themselves and all that is best in their natures.

The so-called depravity and crimes of these derelicts are fundamentally
the depravity and criminal anti-social attitude of Society itself that
first creates the underworld and, having created it, wastes much energy
and effort in suppressing and destroying the menacing phantom of its own
making,--forgetful of the elemental brotherhood of man, blind to the
value of the individual, and ignorant of the beautiful possibilities
inherent in even the most despised children of the depths.



Leonid Andreyev is the youngest and at the present time the most
powerful dramatist of Russia. Like Tchekhof and Gorki, he is very
versatile: his sketches and stories possess as fine a literary quality
and stirring social appeal as his plays.

No one who has read his terrible picture of war, "The Red Laugh," or his
unsurpassed arraignment of capital punishment, "The Seven Who Were
Hanged," can erase from memory the effect of Leonid Andreyev's forceful

The drama "King-Hunger" deals with most powerful king on
earth,--_King-Hunger_. In the presence of _Time_ and _Death_ he pleads
with _Time_ to ring the alarm, to call the people to rebellion, because
the earth is replete with suffering: cities, shops, mines, factories and
fields resound with the moans and groans of the people. Their agony is

  _King-Hunger._ Strike the bell, old man; rend to ears its copper
  mouth. Let no one slumber!

But _Time_ has no faith in _King-Hunger_. He knows that _Hunger_ had
deceived the people on many occasions: "You will deceive again,
King-Hunger. You have many a time deluded your children and me." Yet
_Time_ is weary with waiting. He consents to strike the bell.

_King-Hunger_ calls upon the workingmen to rebel. The scene is in a
machine shop; the place is filled with deafening noises as of men's
groans. Every machine, every tool, every screw, holds its human forms
fettered to it and all keep pace with the maddening speed of their
tormentors. And through the thunder and clatter of iron there rises the
terrible plaint of the toilers.

  ---- We are starving.

  ---- We are crushed by machines.

  ---- Their weight smothers us.

  ---- The iron crushes.

  ---- The steel oppresses.

  ---- Oh, what a furious weight! As a mountain upon me!

  ---- The whole earth is upon me.

  ---- The iron hammer flattens me. It crushes the blood out of my
  veins, it fractures my bones, it makes me flat as sheet iron.

  ---- Through the rollers my body is pressed and drawn thin as wire.
  Where is my body? Where is my blood? Where is my soul?

  ---- The wheel is twirling me.

  ---- Day and night screaks the saw cutting steel. Day and night in
  my ears the screeching of the saw cutting steel. All the dreams that
  I see, all the sounds and songs that I hear, is the screeching of
  the saw cutting steel. What is the earth? It is the screeching of
  the saw. What is the sky? it is the screeching of the saw cutting
  steel. Day and night.

  ---- Day and night.

  ---- We are crushed by the machines.

  ---- We ourselves are parts of the machines.

  ---- Brothers! We forge our own chains!

The crushed call upon _King-Hunger_ to help them, to save them from the
horror of their life. Is he not the most powerful king on earth?

_King-Hunger_ comes and exhorts them to rebel. All follow his call
except three. One of these is huge of body, of Herculean built, large of
muscle but with small, flat head upon his massive shoulders. The second
workingman is young, but with the mark of death already upon his brow.
He is constantly coughing and the hectic flush on his cheeks betrays the
wasting disease of his class. The third workingman is a worn-out old
man. Everything about him, even his voice, is deathlike, colorless, as
if in his person a thousand lives had been robbed of their bloom.

  _First Workingman._ I am as old as the earth. I have performed all
  the twelve labors, cleansed stables, cut off the hydra's heads, dug
  and vexed the earth, built cities, and have so altered its face,
  that the Creator himself would not readily recognize her. But I
  can't say why I did all this. Whose will did I shape? To what end
  did I aspire? My head is dull. I am dead tired. My strength
  oppresses me. Explain it to me, O King! Or I'll clutch this hammer
  and crack the earth as a hollow nut.

  _King-Hunger._ Patience, my son! Save your powers for the last great
  revolt. Then you'll know all.

  _First Workingman._ I shall wait.

  _Second Workingman._ He cannot comprehend it, O King. He thinks that
  we must crack the earth. It is a gross falsehood, O King! The earth
  is fair as the garden of God. We must guard and caress her as a
  little girl. Many that stand there in the darkness say, there is no
  sky, no sun, as if eternal night is upon the earth. Just think:
  eternal night!

  _King-Hunger._ Why, coughing blood, do you smile and gaze to heaven?

  _Second Workingman._ Because flowers will blossom on my blood, and I
  see them now. On the breast of a beautiful rich lady I saw a red
  rose--she didn't know it was my blood.

  _King-Hunger._ You are a poet, my son. I suppose you write verses,
  as they do.

  _Second Workingman._ King, O King, sneer not at me. In darkness I
  learned to worship fire. Dying I understood that life is enchanting.
  Oh, how enchanting! King, it shall become a great garden, and there
  shall walk in peace, unmolested, men and animals. Dare not ruffle
  the animals! Wrong not any man! Let them play, embrace, caress one
  another--let them! But where is the path? Where is the path?
  Explain, King-Hunger.

  _King-Hunger._ Revolt.

  _Second Workingman._ Through violence to freedom? Through blood to
  love and kisses?

  _King-Hunger._ There is no other way.

  _Third Workingman._ You lie, King-Hunger. Then you have killed my
  father and grandfather and great-grandfather, and would'st thou kill
  us? Where do you lead us, unarmed? Don't you see how ignorant we
  are, how blind and impotent. You are a traitor. Only here you are a
  king, but there you lackey upon their tables. Only here you wear a
  crown, but there you walk about with a napkin.

_King-Hunger_ will not listen to their protest. He gives them the
alternative of rebellion or starvation for themselves and their
children. They decide to rebel, for _King-Hunger_ is the most powerful
king on earth.

The subjects of _King-Hunger_, the people of the underworld, gather to
devise ways and means of rebellion. A gruesome assembly this, held in
the cellar. Above is the palace ringing with music and laughter, the
fine ladies in gorgeous splendor, bedecked with flowers and costly
jewels, the tables laden with rich food and delicious wines. Everything
is most exquisite there, joyous and happy. And underneath, in the
cellar, the underworld is gathered, all the dregs of society: the robber
and the murderer, the thief and the prostitute, the gambler and the
drunkard. They have come to consult with each other how poverty is to
rebel, how to throw off the yoke, and what to do with the rich.

Various suggestions are made. One advises poisoning the supply of water.
But this is condemned on the ground that the people also have to drink
from the same source.

Another suggests that all books should be burned for they teach the rich
how to oppress. But the motion fails. What is the use of burning the
books? The wealthy have money; they will buy writers, poets and
scientists to make new books.

A third proposes that the children of the rich be killed. From the
darkest, most dismal corner of the cellar comes the protest of an old
woman: "Oh, not the children. Don't touch the children. I have buried
many of them myself. I know the pain of the mother. Besides, the
children are not to blame for the crimes of their parents. Don't touch
the children! The child is pure and sacred. Don't hurt the child!"

A little girl rises, a child of twelve with the face of the aged. She
announces that for the last four years she has given her body for money.
She had been sold by her mother because they needed bread for the
smaller children. During the four years of her terrible life, she has
consorted with all kinds of men, influential men, rich men, pious men.
They infected her. Therefore she proposes that the rich should be

The underworld plans and plots, and the gruesome meeting is closed with
a frenzied dance between _King-Hunger_ and _Death_, to the music of the
dance above.

       *       *       *       *       *

_King-Hunger_ is at the trial of the _Starving_. He is the most powerful
king on earth: he is at home everywhere, but nowhere more so than at the
trial of the _Starving_. On high chairs sit the judges, in all their
bloated importance. The courtroom is filled with curiosity seekers, idle
ladies dressed as if for a ball; college professors and students looking
for object lessons in criminal depravity; rich young girls are there, to
satisfy a perverted craving for excitement.

The first starveling is brought in muzzled.

  _King-Hunger._ What is your offense, starveling?

  _Old Man._ I stole a five-pound loaf, but it was wrested from me. I
  had only time to bite a small piece of it. Forgive me, I will never

He is condemned in the name of the _Law_ and _King-Hunger_, the most
powerful king on earth.

Another starveling is brought before the bar of justice. It is a woman,
young and beautiful, but pale and sad. She is charged with killing her

  _Young Woman._ One night my baby and I crossed the long bridge over
  the river. And since I had long before decided, so then approaching
  the middle, where the river is deep and swift, I said: "Look, baby
  dear, how the water is a-roaring below." She said, "I can't reach,
  mamma, the railing is so high." I said, "Come, let me lift you, baby
  dear." And when she was gazing down into the black deep, I threw her
  over. That's all.

The _Law_ and _King-Hunger_ condemn the woman to "blackest hell," there
to be "tormented and burned in everlasting, slackless fires."

The heavy responsibility of meting out justice has fatigued the judges.
The excitement of the trial has sharpened the appetite of the
spectators. _King-Hunger_, at home with all people, proposes that the
court adjourn for luncheon.

The scene in the restaurant represents Hunger devouring like a wild
beast the produce of toil, ravenous, famished, the victim of his own
gluttonous greed.

The monster fed, his hunger and thirst appeased, he now returns to sit
in self-satisfied judgment over the _Starving_. The judges are more
bloated than before, the ladies more eager to bask in the misery of
their fellows. The college professors and students, mentally heavy with
food, are still anxious to add data to the study of human criminality.

A lean boy is brought in, muzzled; he is followed by a ragged woman.

  _Woman._ Have mercy! He stole an apple for me, your Honor. I was
  sick, thought he. "Let me bring her a little apple." Pity him! Tell
  them that you won't any more. Well! Speak!

  _Starveling._ I won't any more.

  _Woman._ I've already punished him myself. Pity his youth, cut not at
  the root his bright little days!

  _Voices._ Indeed, pity one and then the next. Cut the evil at its

  ---- One needs courage to be ruthless.

  ---- It is better for them.

  ---- Now he is only a boy, but when he grows up--

  _King-Hunger._ Starveling, you are condemned.

A starveling, heavily muzzled, is dragged in. He is big and strong. He
protests to the court: he has always been a faithful slave. But
_King-Hunger_ announces that the man is dangerous, because the faithful
slave, being strong and honest, is "obnoxious to people of refined
culture and less brawny." The slave is faithful to-day, _King-Hunger_
warns the judges, but "who can trust the to-morrow? Then in his strength
and integrity we will encounter a violent and dangerous enemy."

In the name of justice the faithful slave is condemned. Finally the last
starveling appears. He looks half human, half beast.

  _King-Hunger._ Who are you, starveling? Answer. Do you understand
  human speech?

  _Starveling._ We are the peasants.

  _King-Hunger._ What's your offense?

  _Starveling._ We killed the devil.

  _King-Hunger._ It was a man whom you burnt.

  _Starveling._ No, it was the devil. The priest told us so, and then we
burnt him.

The peasant is condemned. The session of the Court closes with a brief
speech by _King-Hunger_:

  _King-Hunger._ To-day you witnessed a highly instructive spectacle.
  Divine, eternal justice has found in us, as judges and your
  retainers, its brilliant reflection on earth. Subject only to the
  laws of immortal equity, unknown to culpable compassion, indifferent
  to cursing and entreating prayers, obeying the voice of our
  conscience alone--we illumed this earth with the light of human
  wisdom and sublime, sacred truth. Not for a single moment forgetting
  that justice is the foundation of life, we have crucified the Christ
  in days gone by and since, to this very day, we cease not to grace
  Golgotha with new crosses. But, certainly, only ruffians, only
  ruffians are hanged. We showed no mercy to God himself, in the name
  of the laws of immortal justice--would we be now disconcerted by the
  howling of this impotent, starving rabble, by their cursing and
  raging? Let them curse! Life herself blesses us, the great sacred
  truth will screen us with her veil, and the very decree of history
  will not be more just than our own. What have they gained by
  cursing? What? They are there, we're here. They are in dungeons, in
  galleys, on crosses, but we will go to the theater. They perish, but
  we will devour them--devour--devour.

The court has fulfilled its mission. _King-Hunger_ is the most powerful
king on earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The starvelings break out in revolt. The bells peal with deafening
thunder; all is confusion and chaos. The city is immersed in the
blackness of despair, and all is dark. Now and then gusts of fire sweep
the sky illuminating the scene of battle. The air is filled with cries
and groans; there is the thud of falling bodies, and still the fight
goes on.

In a secluded part of the town stands the castle. In its most
magnificent ballroom the rich and their lackeys--scientists, teachers
and artists--are gathered. They tremble with fear at the ominous sounds
outside. To silence the loud beat of their terror they command the
musicians to strike up the liveliest tunes, and the guests whirl about
in a mad dance.

From time to time the door is forced open and someone drops exhausted to
the floor. An artist rushes in, crying out that the art gallery is in

"Murillo is burning! Velasquez is burning! Giorgione is burning!"

He is not in the least concerned with living values; he dwells in the
past and he wildly bewails the dead weight of the past.

One after another men rush in to report the burning of libraries, the
breaking of statues, and the destruction of monuments. No one among the
wealthy mob regrets the slaughter of human life.

Panic-stricken the mighty fall from their thrones. The Starving,
infuriated and vengeful, are marching on the masters! They must not see
the craven fear of the huddled figures in the mansions,--the lights are
turned off. But darkness is even more terrible to the frightened palace
mob. In the madness of terror they begin to accuse and denounce each
other. They feel as helpless as children before the approaching
avalanche of vengeance.

At this critical moment a man appears. He is small, dirty, and unwashed;
he smells of cheap whisky and bad tobacco; he blows his nose with a red
handkerchief and his manners are disgusting. He is the engineer. He
looks calmly about him, presses a button, and the place is flooded with
light. He brings the comforting news that the revolt is crushed.

  _Engineer._ On Sunny Hill we planted a line of immense machine guns
  of enormous power.... A few projectiles of a specially destructive
  power ... A public square filled with people ... Enough one or two
  such shells.... And should the revolt still continue, we'll shower
  the city.

The revolt is over. All is quiet--the peace of death. The ground is
strewn with bodies, the streets are soaked with blood. Fine ladies flit
about. They lift their children and bid them kiss the mouth of the
cannon, for the cannon have saved the rich from destruction. Prayers and
hymns are offered up to the cannon, for they have saved the masters and
punished the starvelings. And all is quiet, with the stillness of the
graveyard where sleep the dead.

_King-Hunger_, with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes, makes a desperate
last appeal to his children.

  _King-Hunger._ Oh, my son, my son! You clamored so loud--why are you
  mute? Oh, my daughter, my daughter, you hated so profoundly, so
  intensely, you most miserable on earth--arise. Arise from the dust!
  Rend the shadowy bonds of death! Arise! I conjure you in the name of
  Life! You're silent?

For a brief moment all remains silent and immovable. Suddenly a sound is
heard, distant at first, then nearer and nearer, till a
thousand-throated roar breaks forth like thunder:

  ---- We shall yet come!

  ---- We shall yet come!

  ---- Woe unto the victorious!

The Victors pale at the ghostly cry. Seized with terror, they run,
wildly howling:

  ---- The dead arise!

  ---- The dead arise!

"We shall yet come!" cry the dead. For they who died for an ideal never
die in vain. They must come back, they shall come back. And then--woe be
to the victorious! _King-Hunger_ is indeed the most terrible king on
earth, but only for those who are driven by blind forces alone.

But they who can turn on the light, know the power of the things they
have created. They will come, and take possession,--no longer the
wretched scum, but the masters of the world.

A message revolutionary, deeply social in its scope, illumining with
glorious hope the dismal horizon of the disinherited of the earth.

       *       *       *       *       *


Including a biographic SKETCH of the author's interesting career, a
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This book expresses the most advanced ideas on social
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  The Selected Works of
  Voltairine de Cleyre

This volume of America's foremost literary rebel and Anarchist
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last twenty years.


  Biographical sketch by HIPPOLYTE HAVEL

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  God and the State              Michael Bakunin        .25
  Psychology of Political Violence  Emma Goldman        .10
  Anarchism: What It Really Stands for
                                    Emma Goldman        .10
  Syndicalism: The Modern Menace to Capitalism
                                    Emma Goldman        .05
  Marriage and Love                 Emma Goldman        .10
  Patriotism                        Emma Goldman        .05
  Victims of Morality and the Failure of Christianity
                                    Emma Goldman        .10

  Mother Earth Publishing Association
  74 West 119th Street, New York

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                                                 Price  Mail
  The Pillars of Society                         $ .25 $ .30
  A Doll's House                                   .25   .30
  Ghosts                                           .25   .30
  An Enemy of Society                              .25   .30

  The Father; Countess Julia                      1.50  1.62
  Plays: Comrades; Facing Death; Pariah; Easter   1.50  1.62
  The Dream Play; The Link; The Dance of Death    1.50  1.62

  Magda                                            .50   .55
  The Fires of St. John                           1.25  1.35

  Volume III--Domestic Dramas
  The Reconciliation; Lonely Lives; Colleague
    Crampton; Michael Kramer                      1.50  1.65
  The Weavers                                     1.00  1.10
  The Sunken Bell                                 1.25  1.35

  The Awakening of Spring                         1.25  1.35

  Joyzelle, and Monna Vanna (Plays)               1.25  1.35

  Chantecler                                      1.25  1.35

  Three Plays, containing: Maternity; Damaged
    Goods; The Three Daughters of Mons. Dupont    1.50  1.65

  Mrs. Warren's Profession                         .40   .45
  Major Barbara                                    .40   .45

  Silver Box, Joy, Strife                         1.35  1.50
  The Pigeon                                       .60   .65
  Justice                                          .60   .65
  The Eldest Son                                   .60   .65
  The Fugitive                                     .60   .65

  Hindle Wakes                                     .75   .80

  Rutherford and Son                              1.00  1.10

  Harvest                                         1.00  1.10

  Maurice Harte                                    .60   .65

  The Power of Darkness                           1.25  1.30

  I Vol: The Seagull; The Cherry Orchard          1.25  1.30

  The Lower Depths                                1.50  1.65
  The Smug Citizen                                1.50  1.65

  King Hunger                                     1.50  1.65

  74 West 119th Street, New York

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  _An Important Human Document_



The whole truth about prisons has never before been told as this book
tells it. The MEMOIRS deal frankly and intimately with prison life in
its various phases.

  $1.25 By mail $1.40

       *       *       *       *       *

  The Only Anarchist Monthly in America


A revolutionary literary magazine devoted to Anarchist thought in
sociology, economics, education, and life.

  Ten Cents a Copy. One Dollar a Year

  EMMA GOLDMAN        _Publisher_

  Bound Volumes 1906-1914, Two Dollars per Volume.

  Order Through Your Book Dealer or Send to
  Mother Earth Publishing Association
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