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Title: Six Major Prophets
Author: Slosson, Edwin E. (Edwin Emery)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Six Major Prophets" ***

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Whoever dies without recognizing the prophet of his time dies the death
of a pagan.

Mohammedan proverb.






[Illustration: G. B. Shaw]


A few years ago it occurred to me that there were living on the same
planet and at the same time as myself some interesting people whom I
had never seen and did not know so much about as I should. Since they
or I might die at any moment, I determined not to delay longer. So I
prepared a list of twelve men who seemed to me most worth knowing, and
then I set out to see them; not with the hope of becoming personally
acquainted with them or even with the object of interviewing them,
but chiefly to satisfy myself that they really existed. One does
not go to Switzerland to find out how high the Alps are or how they
look. The traveler can get their altitude from Baedeker and their
appearance from photographs, but if he is to talk about them with any
sense of self-confidence he must have come within hailing distance of
the mountains themselves. It is sufficient to say that I got close
enough to the Alps I had chosen to be able to vouch for their actuality.

The men I selected for study were those who, whether they called
themselves philosophers or not, seemed to me to have a definite
philosophy of life, those who had a message for their own times of
sufficient importance and distinctiveness to merit public attention.
It is my purpose in these sketches to show the trend and importance
of these diverse theories, so that a reader who had not had the
opportunity to range over the complete works of a dozen authors
might find which of them was best adapted to serve him as "guide,
philosopher, and friend." In a word, my part is merely to act as
the host at a reception who introduces his guests and then leaves
them to follow up such acquaintanceships as seem profitable. My aim
is exposition rather than criticism. Although I have not thought it
necessary absolutely to suppress my own opinions, I trust this has
not prevented me from giving a fair and sufficiently sympathetic
presentation of each man's views in turn.

My list of the "Twelve Major Prophets of Today" consisted of the
following names: Maurice Maeterlinck, Henri Bergson, Henri Poincaré,
Elie Metchnikoff, Wilhelm Ostwald, Ernst Haeckel, George Bernard
Shaw, Herbert George Wells, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, F. C. S.
Schiller, John Dewey, and Rudolf Eucken. I had not taken nationality
into consideration, but I found that I had chosen four from England,
three from Germany, two from France, and one each from Belgium, Russia,
and the United States of America. Four of the twelve were professors
of philosophy; four were men of science, one of these a mathematician,
one a physician, one a zoologist, one a chemist; and four were men of
letters, authors of novels, dramas, or essays. The twelve sketches
appeared in _The Independent_ during the last few years, but they have
been considerably extended for book publication. The first six named
above were published in the volume "Major Prophets of To-day." The
other six are given in the following pages.




    I George Bernard Shaw
   II H. G. Wells
  III G. K. Chesterton
   IV F. C. S. Schiller
    V John Dewey
   VI Rudolf Eucken


    George Bernard Shaw
    H. G. Wells
    G. K. Chesterton
    F. C. S. Schiller
    John Dewey
    Rudolf Eucken

    To write a book about a man who has written books about
    himself is an impertinence which only an irresistible charm
    of manner can carry off. The unpardonable way of doing it,
    and the commonest, is to undertake to tell the public what a
    writer has already told them himself, and tell it worse or
    tell it wrong.

    G. B. SHAW.




Dramatic Critic of Life

    I am a journalist, proud of it, deliberately cutting out of
    my works all that is not journalism, convinced that nothing
    that is not journalism will live long as literature, or be
    of any use whilst it does live. I deal with all periods, but
    I never study any period but the present; and as a dramatist
    I have no clue to any historical or other personage save
    that part of him which is also myself.... The man who writes
    about himself and his own time is the only man who writes
    about all people and about all time.--G. B. S., in "The
    Sanity of Art."

August 4, 1914, cuts time in two like a knife. The continuity of human
progress in science, arts, letters, commerce, philosophy, everything,
was broken off at that point--to be taken up again, who knows when?
Nothing in the world can remain quite the same as before. Everything
is seen in a new light. All our old ideas, even the most ancient
and most reverenced, will have to be taken out and looked over to see
how many of them remain intact and useful, just as after an earthquake
one overhauls the china closet. "The transvaluation of all values",
which Nietzsche looked for, has come to pass sooner than he expected,
although the results of this reëstimation are not likely to be what
he anticipated. It is not merely that the geographies will have to be
revised and the histories rewritten, but all books will be classified
as antebellum or postbellum literature. It will, however, not be
necessary to mark them A. B. or P. B., for they will by their style
of thought and language bear an indelible though invisible date with
reference to this line of demarcation.

We are already beginning to look back upon the antebellum days as a
closed period, and those who were conspicuous in it are being seen in
an historical perspective such as the lapse of a generation of ordinary
times is needed to produce. Some reputations are shrinking, others
are rising, as mountains seem from a departing train to rearrange
themselves according to their true height. The true prophets are
becoming distinguishable from the false.

Among those who have taken the test and stand higher than before is
George Bernard Shaw. Whether he will write better plays than before
remains to be seen. Perhaps he will write no more of any kind. But
those he has written will be regarded with more respect because we can
see their essential truth, whereas before we feared lest we might be
merely fascinated by their glitter. Warnings which the world took for
jokes because of their fantastic guise now turn out too terribly real,
and advice which the world ignored would better have been heeded.

Few writers have as little to take back on account of the war as Shaw,
although few have expressed such decided opinions in such extreme
language on so many topics. For instance, Kipling's "The Bear that
Walks Like a Man" makes queer reading now that England is fighting to
give Russia what then she was ready to fight to prevent her getting.
But the full significance of Shaw's fable farce of "Androcles and the
Lion" is now for the first time being realized. The philosophy of
this, his most frivolous and serious play, is summed up by Ferrovius,
a converted giant of the Ursus type, who finds it impossible to keep
to his Christian principle of nonresistance when brought into the
arena. The natural man rises in him and he slays six gladiators
single-handed. This delights the emperor, who thereupon offers him a
post in the Pretorian Guards which he had formerly refused. The fallen
and victorious Ferrovius accepts, saying:

    In my youth I worshiped Mars, the god of war. I turned from
    him to serve the Christian God; but to-day the Christian God
    forsook me; and Mars overcame me and took back his own. The
    Christian God is not yet. He will come when Mars and I are
    dust; but meanwhile I must serve the gods that are, not the
    God that will be. Until then I accept service in the Guard,

The great cataclysm does not seem to have changed Shaw's opinions one
iota, but all England is changed, and so he appears in a different
light. More of his countrymen agree with what he used to preach to them
than ever before, yet he was never so disliked as he is to-day--which
is saying a great deal. The British press has boycotted him. His
letters, once so sought after by the most dignified journals, now no
longer appear except in _The New Statesman_. His speeches, be they
never so witty and timely, are not reported or even announced.

Consequently those who wish to hear him have to resort to the
advertising expedients of the era before printing. A friend of mine
just back from London tells me that he saw chalked on the side-walk
a notice of a meeting to be addressed by Shaw in some out-of-the-way
hall. Going there, he found it packed with an enthusiastic crowd
gathered to hear Shaw discuss the questions of the day. The
anti-Shavian press said that he had to keep to his house, that he was
afraid to stir abroad for fear of a mob, that his career was over, that
he was exploded, repudiated, disgraced, boycotted, dead and done for.
At the very time when we were reading things like this, he was, as we
since have learned, addressing weekly meetings in one of the largest
halls in London. Reporters who were sent to see him hounded off the
platform witnessed an ovation instead. The audience at his invitation
asked him many questions, but not of a hostile character.

Shaw thrives on unpopularity or at least on public disapproval, which
is not quite the same thing. It is not only that Shaw would rather be
right than Prime Minister; he would rather be leader of the Opposition
than Prime Minister. He would be "in the right with two or three"; in
fact, if his followers increased much beyond the poet's minimum, he
would begin to feel uneasy and suspect that he was wrong.

When Shaw sees a lonely mistreated kitten or a lonely mistreated
theory, his tender heart yearns over it. For instance, when all
his set started sneering at "natural rights" as eighteenth-century
pedantry, he appeared as their champion, and, practically alone among
modern radicals and art lovers, he has dared to commend the Puritans.
The iconoclastic views which he expressed as dramatic and musical
critic in the nineties have been vindicated by events, and now when a
young reader opens for the first time "The Quintessence of Ibsenism",
"The Perfect Wagnerite", and the collection of "Dramatic Opinions and
Essays", he wonders only why Shaw should get so excited about such
conventional and undisputed things. It is no wonder Shaw is "the most
hated man in England." Nothing is more irritating than to say "I told
you so", and he can--and does--ay it oftener than anybody else, unless
it is Doctor Dillon.

Shaw's brain secretes automatically the particular antitoxin needed
to counteract whatever disease may be epidemic in the community at
the time. This injected with some vigor into the veins of thought
may not effect a cure, but always excites a feverish state in the
organism. It is his habit of seeing that there is another side to a
question and calling attention to it at inconvenient times that makes
him so irritating to the public. His opponents tried to intern him
in Coventry as a pro-German on account of his pamphlet, "Commonsense
about the War." But this is almost the only thing produced in England
during the first weeks of the war that reads well now. Compare it with
its numerous replies and see which seems absurd. Doubtless it was not
tactful, it might have been called treasonable, but it certainly was
sensible. Shaw kept his head level when others lost theirs. That was
because he had thought out things in advance and so did not have to
make up his mind in a hurry with the great probability of making it up
wrong. In that pamphlet he presented the case for the Allies in a way
much more convincing to the American mind than many that came to us in
the early days of the war, and his arguments have been strengthened
by the course of events, while others advanced at that time have been
weakened. Shaw was arguing before a neutral and international jury, and
so he did not rest his case on the specious and patriotic pleas that
passed muster at that time with the British public.

As for the charge of pro-Germanism, that may best be met by quoting
from a letter written by him to a friend in Vienna early in 1915. The
language is evidently not pure Shavian. It has been translated into
Austrian-German and thence retranslated into British journalese.

    As regards myself, I am not what is called a pro-German. The
    Germans would not respect me, were I at such a time as this,
    when all thoughts of culture have vanished, not to stand by
    my people. But also, I am not an anti-German. The war brings
    us all on to the same plane of savagery. Every London coster
    can stick his bayonet deeper into the stomach of Richard
    Strauss than Richard Strauss would care to do to him.

    Militarism has just now compelled me to pay a thousand
    pounds war taxation in order that some "brave little
    Servian" may be facilitated in cutting your throat or, that
    a Russian mujik may cleave your skull in twain, although I
    would gladly pay twice that sum to save your life, or to buy
    some beautiful picture in Vienna for our National Gallery.

Shaw has always condemned militarism because of the type of mind
it engenders in officers and men. But he has never been opposed to
preparedness or to the use of force. In the London _Daily News_ of
January 1, 1914,--note the date,--he said:

    I like courage (like most constitutionally timid civilians)
    and the active use of strength for the salvation of the
    world. It is good to have a giant's strength and it is not
    at all tyrannous to use it like a giant provided you are
    a decent sort of giant. What on earth is strength for but
    to be used and will any reasonable man tell me that we are
    using our strength now to any purpose?

    Let us get the value of our money in strength and influence
    instead of casting every new cannon in an ecstasy of terror
    and then being afraid to aim it at anybody.

At that time, seven months before the storm burst, he not only
anticipated the war, but said that it might be averted,

    By politely announcing that war between France and Germany
    would be so inconvenient to England that the latter country
    is prepared to pledge herself to defend either country if
    attacked by the other.

    If we are asked how we are to decide which nation is really
    the aggressor we can reply that we shall take our choice, or
    when the problem is unsolvable we shall toss up, but that we
    will take a hand in the war anyhow.

    International warfare is an unmitigated nuisance. Have as
    much character-building civil war as you like, but there
    must be no sowing of dragon's teeth like the Franco-Prussian
    War. England can put a stop to such a crime single-handed
    easily enough if she can keep her knees from knocking
    together in her present militarist fashion.

Of course Shaw may have been wrong in supposing that an open
announcement of Great Britain's determination to enter the war would
have deterred Germany, but as we now know from the White Paper this
same opinion was held by the governments of both France and Russia.
On July 30 the President of France said to the British Ambassador at
Paris that

    If His Majesty's Government announced that England would
    come to the aid of France in the event of a conflict between
    France and Germany as a result of the present differences
    between Austria and Servia, there would be no war, for
    Germany would at once modify her attitude.

And on July 25, M. Sazonof, the Russian Foreign Minister, said to the
British Ambassador at Petrograd that

    He did not believe that Germany really wanted war, but her
    attitude was decided by ours. If we took our stand firmly
    with France and Russia, there would be no war. If we failed
    her now, rivers of blood would flow, and we would in the end
    be dragged into war.

Shaw now gives the same advice to the United States that he gave to
his own country before the war, that is, to increase its armament
and not be afraid to use it. In a recent letter to the American
_Intercollegiate Socialist_ he said:

    I should strenuously recommend the United States to build
    thirty-two new dreadnoughts instead of sixteen, and to spend
    two billion dollars on its armament program instead of one.
    This would cost only a fraction of the money you are wasting
    every year in demoralizing luxury, a good deal of it having
    been in the past scattered over the continental countries
    which are now using what they saved out of it to slaughter
    one another.

    If the United States wishes to stop war as an institution,
    that is, to undertake the policing of the world, it will
    need a very big club for the purpose.

    If I were an American statesman I should tell the country
    flatly that it should maintain a Pacific navy capable of
    resisting an attack from Japan and an Atlantic navy capable
    of resisting an attack from England, with Zeppelins on the
    same scale, a proportionate land equipment of siege guns,
    and so forth. And until the nations see the suicidal folly
    of staking everything in the last instance on the ordeal of
    battle, no other advice will be honest advice.

In "Major Barbara" Cusins abandons the teaching of Greek to take up
the manufacture of munitions because he has the courage "to make war
on war." It is in this play that is expounded the theory on which
President Wilson based his policy. Lady Britomart tells Cusins: "You
must simply sell cannons and weapons to people whose cause is right and
just, and refuse them to foreigners and criminals." But Undershaft,
the munition-maker, replies: "No; none of that. You must keep the true
faith of an Armorer, or you don't come in here." And when Cusins asks:
"What on earth is the true faith of an Armorer?" he answers:

    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 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.

In this same conversation Shaw also gives a hint of his theology,
when Cusins says to Undershaft: "You have no power. You do not drive
this place; it drives you. And what drives this place?" Undershaft
answers, enigmatically, "A will of which I am a part." This doctrine
of an immanent God working through nature and man to higher things
was developed more definitely in an address which Mr. Shaw delivered
some years ago in the City Temple at the invitation of the Reverend R.
J. Campbell. Here he argued that God created human beings to be "his
helpers and servers, not his sycophants and apologists." Shaw continues:

    If my actions are God's nobody can fairly hold me
    responsible for them; my conscience is mere lunacy.... But
    if I am a part of God, if my eyes are God's eyes, my hands
    God's hands, and my conscience God's conscience then also I
    share his responsibility for the world; and wo is me if the
    world goes wrong!

This position enables him to explain evil on evolutionary principles as
"the Method of Trial and Error." When Blake asks of the tiger, "Did he
who made the lamb make thee?" Shaw conceives the Life-Force as replying:

    Yes, it was the best I could devise at the time; but now
    that I have evolved something better, part of the work
    of that something better, Man, to wit, is to kill out my
    earlier attempt. And in due time I hope to evolve Superman,
    who will in his turn kill out and supersede Man, whose
    abominable cruelties, stupidities and follies have utterly
    disappointed me.

In the unactable third act of his "Man and Superman",[1] this theology
is put into the mouths of two most unpromising preachers, Don Juan and
the Devil. Here is found one of the most eloquent arraignments of war
in all literature. It is, remember, the Devil who is speaking:

    I tell you that in the arts of life Man invests nothing;
    but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and
    produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of
    plague, pestilence and famine. The peasant I tempt to-day
    eats and drinks what was eaten and drunk by the peasants
    of ten thousand years ago; and the house he lives in has
    not altered as much in a thousand centuries as the fashion
    of a lady's bonnet in a score of weeks. But when he goes
    out to slay, he carries a marvel of mechanism that lets
    loose at the touch of his finger all the hidden molecular
    energies, and leaves the javelin, the arrow, the blowpipe
    of his fathers far behind. In the arts of peace Man is a
    bungler. I have seen his cotton factories and the like, with
    machinery that a greedy dog could have invented if it had
    wanted money instead of food. I know his clumsy typewriters
    and bungling locomotives and tedious bicycles; they are
    toys compared to the Maxim gun, the submarine torpedo boat.
    There is nothing in Man's industrial machinery but his greed
    and sloth. His heart is in his weapons.... Man measures his
    force by his destructiveness.... In the old chronicles you
    read of earthquakes and pestilences, and are told that these
    showed the power and majesty of God and the littleness of
    Man. Nowadays the chronicles describe battles. In a battle
    two bodies of men shoot at one another with bullets and
    explosive shells until one body runs away, when the others
    chase the fugitives on horseback and cut them to pieces
    as they fly. And this, the chronicle concludes, shows the
    greatness and majesty of empires, and the littleness of
    the vanquished. Over such battles the people run about the
    streets yelling with delight, and egg their Governments on
    to spend hundreds of millions of money in the slaughter,
    whilst the strongest ministers dare not spend an extra penny
    in the pound against the poverty and pestilence in which
    they themselves daily walk.... The plague, the famine, the
    earthquake, the tempest were too spasmodic in their action;
    the tiger and the crocodile were too easily satiated and not
    cruel enough; something more constantly, more ruthlessly,
    more ingeniously destructive was needed; and that something
    was Man, the inventor of the rack, the stake, the gallows
    and the executioner; of the sword and gun; above all,
    of justice, duty, patriotism, and all the other isms by
    which even those clever enough to be humanely disposed are
    persuaded to become the most destructive of all destroyers.

Three years before the war Shaw wrote a little satirical skit, "Press
Cuttings",[2] which was deemed so dangerous to both Britain and Germany
that the censors of both countries agreed in prohibiting its production
on the stage. Since the British censor seemed to fear that the
principal characters, "Balsquith" and "Mitchener", might be taken by
the public as referring to certain well-known statesmen, Shaw offered
to change the names to "Bones" and "Johnson." But even that concession
would not satisfy the censor's scruples, so the play was never publicly
put on the stage, though, since there was then no censorship of
literature, it was published as a book. Here is a bit of the dialogue:

    _Balsquith_--The Germans have laid down four more

    _Mitchener_--Then you must lay down twelve.

    _Balsquith_--Oh, yes; it's easy to say that; but think of
    what they'll cost.

    _Mitchener_--Think of what it would cost to be invaded by
    Germany and forced to pay an indemnity of five hundred

    _Balsquith_--After all, why should the Germans invade us?

    _Mitchener_--Why shouldn't they? What else have their army
    to do? What else are they building a navy for?

    _Balsquith_--Well, we never think of invading Germany.

    _Mitchener_--Yes, we do. I have thought of nothing else
    for the last ten years. Say what you will, Balsquith, the
    Germans have never recognized, and until they get a stern
    lesson, they never _will_ recognize, the plain fact that the
    interests of the British Empire are paramount, and that the
    command of the sea belongs by nature to England.

    _Balsquith_--But if they wont recognize it, what can I do?

    _Mitchener_--Shoot them down.

    _Balsquith_--I cant shoot them down.

    _Mitchener_--Yes, you can. You dont realize it; but if you
    fire a rifle into a German he drops just as surely as a
    rabbit does.

    _Balsquith_--But dash it all, man, a rabbit hasn't got a
    rifle and a German has. Suppose he shoots you down.

    _Mitchener_--Excuse me, Balsquith; but that consideration is
    what we call cowardice in the army. A soldier always assumes
    that he is going to shoot, not to be shot.

    _Balsquith_--Oh, come! I like to hear you military people
    talking of cowardice. Why, you spend your lives in an
    ecstasy of terror of imaginary invasions. I don't believe
    you ever go to bed without looking under it for a burglar.

    _Mitchener_--A very sensible precaution,

    _Balsquith._ I always take it. And in consequence I've never
    been burgled.

    _Balsquith_--Neither have I. Anyhow dont you taunt me with
    cowardice. I never look under my bed for a burglar. I'm not
    always looking under the nation's bed for an invader. And
    if it comes to fighting, Im quite willing to fight without
    being three to one.

    _Mitchener_--These are the romantic ravings of a Jingo
    civilian, Balsquith. At least you'll not deny that the
    absolute command of the sea is essential to our security.

    _Balsquith_--The absolute command of the sea is essential to
    the security of the principality of Monaco. But Monaco isn't
    going to get it.

    _Mitchener_--And consequently Monaco enjoys no security.
    What a frightful thing! How do the inhabitants sleep with
    the possibility of invasion, of bombardment, continually
    present to their minds? Would you have our English slumbers
    broken in this way? Are we also to live without security?

    _Balsquith_--Yes. Theres no such thing as security in the
    world; and there never can be as long as men are mortal.
    England will be secure when England is dead, just as the
    streets of London will be safe when there is no longer a man
    in her streets to be run over, or a vehicle to run over him.
    When you military chaps ask for security you are crying for
    the moon.

    _Mitchener_--Let me tell you, Balsquith, that in these days
    of aeroplanes and Zeppelin airships, the question of the
    moon is becoming one of the greatest importance. It will be
    reached at no very distant date. Can you as an Englishman
    tamely contemplate the possibility of having to live
    under a German moon? The British flag must be planted there
    at all hazards.

The play ends with the establishment of universal military training
and equal suffrage, thus doing away with a militarism that was both
timorous and tyrannical, snobbish and inefficient, and at the same
time making the nation truly democratic. It is characteristic of
Shaw that recently, when the papers were discussing what sort of a
monument should commemorate Edith Cavell, he interjected the unwelcome
suggestion that the country could honor her best by enfranchising her

There is ever something in Bernard Shaw that suggests the eighteenth
century, the age of Swift and Voltaire and Doctor Johnson. On the
credit side we must reckon lucidity, incisive wit, cleareyed logic,
unashamed common sense, love of discussion and openness to new ideas,
freedom from prejudice of race or class, humanitarian aspiration
--in a word the _Aufklärung_. On the debit side some items must
unhappily be listed also: doctrinaire intellectualism, inability to
see either the limits of one's own doctrines or the point in other
people's, inadequate appreciation of historic institutions and popular
sentiments, contempt for romance, intolerance for science, and
incapacity for poetry.

Shaw seems to have inherited the famous _saeva indignatio_ of his
great countryman, Swift. For all his simple diet he is not so eupeptic
as Chesterton. Chesterton is most closely akin to Dickens, as may be
seen from his sympathetic appreciations of Dickens's works. If I may
be permitted to express the relationship of the four in a mathematical
formula, I should put it:

Shaw: Chesterton = Swift: Dickens.

The mordant wit of the two Irishmen is a very different thing from
the genial humor of the two Englishmen. Chesterton as usual makes a
theological issue out of it. He says of Shaw:

    He is not a humorist, but a great wit, almost as great
    as Voltaire. Humor is akin to agnosticism, which is only
    the negative side of mysticism. But pure wit is akin to
    Puritanism; to the perfect and painful consciousness of the
    final fact in the universe. Very briefly, the man who sees
    consistency in things is a wit--and a Calvinist. The man who
    sees inconsistency in things is a humorist--and a Catholic.
    However this may be, Bernard Shaw exhibits all that is
    purest in the Puritan; the desire to see truth face to face
    even if it slay us, the high impatience with irrelevant
    sentiment or obstructive symbol; the constant effort to keep
    the soul at its highest pressure and speed. His instincts
    upon all social customs and questions are Puritan. His
    favorite author is Bunyan. But along with what was inspiring
    and direct in Puritanism, Bernard Shaw has inherited also
    some of the things that were cumbersome and traditional. If
    ever Shaw exhibits a prejudice it is a Puritan prejudice.

When Shaw in the preface of his "Plays for Puritans" declared himself
"a Puritan in art" it was regarded as one of his jokes. So it was,
but, as the world has found out since, his jokes are not nonsense. The
main reason why the assumption and ascription of the term "Puritan"
to Shaw was thought absurd was because of the prevalent misconception
of what sort of people the Puritans were. The word in its common
acceptance implies orthodoxy, conventionality, prudishness, asceticism.
Now the real Puritan was a revolutionary of the most radical type. Of
all the socialists, anarchists, and extremists of various views with
whom I am acquainted, there is not one who lives in antagonism to his
conventional contemporaries on so many points as did the Puritan in
his day. Milton's pamphlets in favor of republicanism, free speech,
divorce, and new theology were as scandalous to the seventeenth century
as Shaw's "Revolutionist's Handbook" to the nineteenth. The Puritans
insisted that marriage was a purely civil contract to be made and
annulled by the State, and they even forbade ministers to perform
the ceremony, while Catholics, Roman and Anglican, hold the contrary
theory, that marriage is a religious rite, only performed by priests
and indissoluble. The Pilgrim Fathers who had a dozen children and two
or three wives apiece--consecutive, of course--are not to be classed
as ascetics; and if any one thinks them prudish, he has not read their

Of course Shaw's opinions are different from those of the Puritans,
indeed quite the opposite on some points. The Puritans, for
example, were not averse to blood, either in their food, their
politics, or their theology, while Shaw is almost Buddhistic in his
tender-heartedness. Androcles is his caricature of himself. But still
we may say that Shaw is puritanical in his type of mind, his attitude
toward the established institutions and moral codes of his time, and
even in his faults.

Consider for instance his intolerance. No, I do not mean dogmatism.
That he comes to emphatic conclusions is much to his credit and
differentiates him from the colloidal-minded mass of modern writers
who hold no convictions to have the courage of. But he does not,
for instance, content himself with the attitude: "For the life of
me I can't see what you find to admire in that absurd, romantic,
weak-minded, sentimental, butcherly Scott." He would be quite justified
in expressing his opinion thus-wise. He must add: "There's nothing
to him and if you say there is, you are deceiving me or--what is
wickeder--yourself. In either case you are an Idealist, which in my
unique vocabulary means liar." To which we might return an answer of
the Quaker sort: "Friend, thee has two eyes and the usual number of
brains and so a right to thine opinion. But it need not follow that
because thee sees not a merit in a writer that it does in nowise
exist." Every one of Shaw's early heroes and heroines, from the
Unsocial Socialist and the daughter of Mrs. Warren to Undershaft and
Larry Doyle, admires himself or herself immensely for saying to every
upholder of supposedly current morality: "Bah! Humbug! Hypocrite!" To
which again the gentle reply should come: "Friend, I be not an Humbug,
nor yet an Hypocrite, nor even a Bah. A man may differ from thee and
yet be sincere in his views, although this fact be dreamed not in thy
philosophy. I may be right or I may be wrong, but if thee call me an
Idealist yet again, lo, I will lift this brick and cast it at thee."

Wells and Shaw are quite commonly bracketed like Scylla and
Charybdis, Dickens and Thackeray, Tennyson and Browning, and the
Royal Bloodsweating Chesterbelloc of Holy Writ. These couplings are
often absurd but rarely arbitrary. Some likeness of thought or mood
or some contrast of viewpoint usually accounts for if not justifies
such literary _mésalliances_. Wells and Shaw are both socialists, but
this is not the tie, for, as the English aristocrat said: "We are all
socialists now." The real likeness is that each is an intellectual
anarchist, although a political Socialist. Shaw is an isolated, not
to say eccentric, figure even for a Socialist. Wells has gone further
yet in his self-isolation by leaving the Fabian movement. But the
unlikeness between the two men lies in the motive driving them to
their respective hermitages. Shaw may often change his point of view,
but at any given moment it is almost brutally clear and detailed, and
he insists upon the fullest conformity on the part of his would-be
followers. If they fall a step short of his iron boundary they are
mere Philistines and bourgeois, if they go a step beyond they are
inefficient and contemptible sentimental revolutionists. Shaw always
has "doots o' Jamie's orthodoxy." But Wells seeks a Socialism without
boundaries. Marxian Socialism, Fabian Socialism, State Socialism are
all too narrow and dogmatic for his taste as he has said time and time
again. Finding no true all-inclusive, universe-wide Socialism he erects
his own banner for the nations to rally to and as a result suffers the
universal fate of those who try to found Churches of Humanity and World
Languages, that is, merely succeeding in founding a new sect and a new

Shaw has two defects which militate against his popularity; first, he
is too conventional, and, second, his conventions are peculiarly his
own. "There is," says his Undershaft, "only one true morality for every
man, but not every man has the same morality." Shaw is easily shocked,
but never by the same things that shock other people.

He himself ascribes his inability to see the same as others to his
sight being abnormally normal. The oculist who examined them said they
were the only pair of absolutely correct eyes he had ever come across.

Of course this illusion of possessing perfect mental vision is common
to everybody. All the opinions I hold at this moment are, I believe,
absolutely correct; otherwise I should change them instanter, though I
must admit, seeing how often I have erred in the past, that _a priori_
the chances are against my being altogether right now. But what
Shaw means by his normality of vision is not merely common confidence
in one's own orthodoxy, but has reference to his fanatical efforts to
tear away all the illusions of life and see things as they are. I do
not think that he often succeeds. Isis has many veils, and those who
have torn away the first and the second are all the more likely to be
deceived in mistaking the third for the naked truth.

There is no doubting Shaw's intent to undeceive the world or his
willingness to undeceive himself. "My way of joking is to tell the
truth," says his Father Keegan in "John Bull's Other Island." But
when he strains his eyes to see something clearly he sees only that
one thing. By following consistently one line of logic--instead of
several as he should--he gets tangled up in illogicalities. His mode of
reasoning is often the _reductio ad absurdum_ of his own theories, and
this is not a persuasive way of argumentation.

By temperament Shaw is a mystic, but his conscience compels him to
assume the method of cold intellectualism. He is an artist in the
disguise of a scientist, not an uncommon thing to see in this so-called
age of science.

Probably Shaw is not more inconsistent than any man of agile mind
who is capable of seeing in succession different sides of a thing, but
he is franker in expressing the point of view he holds at the time.
Consequently he has many admirers but few followers. They can't keep
up. The only possible Shavian is Shaw.

As somebody has remarked there are two ways of saying a thing; there
are writers who provoke thought and writers who provoke thinkers.
Shaw does both. This is intentional, and he defends it on the ground
that; "If you don't say a thing in an irritating way, you may just as
well not say it at all--since nobody will trouble themselves about
anything that does not trouble them." In short Shaw first got the ear
of the public by pulling it, and he does not know how to let go. Shaw's
argument is a wedge, but it is driven in blunt end first. A startling
statement, some monstrous paradox, is presented to the reader and
rouses his antagonism, then it is gradually qualified and whittled
down, or wittily diverted, so that it seems, in contrast to its first
form, quite innocuous and acceptable, and the reader is so relieved at
not having to swallow the dose first presented to him that he willingly
takes more than he otherwise would. Shaw has not the judicial mind and
does not want to have. "The way to get at the merits of a case," he
says "is not to listen to a fool who imagines himself impartial, but
to get it argued with reckless bias for and against." Put this on your
bookmark when you read Shaw.

George Bernard Shaw's collection of opinions is unique. Perhaps no
single view of his is quite original, but the combination certainly
is. He belongs to no type and has founded no school. This makes Shaw
an exasperating person for some people to read and causes them to
set him down as frivolous or inconsistent. They find, for instance,
from "The Revolutionist's Handbook" that Shaw believes in eugenics
and the importance of natural science. "Good!" people say, "now we
can classify him." They read "The Doctor's Dilemma" and find him a
rabid antivivisectionist and filled with a profound contempt for
modern medicine in general. Or they find out that he is a vegetarian,
a teetotaler, and a Puritan, and classify him as some nonconformist
minister of a pallid and overconscientious type. When they read what
he actually has to say about marriage in "Misalliance", about popular
religion and salvation by money and gunpowder in "Major Barbara",
they rush to the opposite conclusion that he is constitutionally an
unconstitutional rebel with a fondness for aimless violence such
as appears in "Fanny's First Play." Reading "The Conversion of Blanco
Bosnet" they discover that he is a devout Theist. Reading the preface
to "Androcles" they find him a higher critic. As a Fabian pamphleteer
he is in favor of abolishing all individual property of a productive
sort and has no use for _laissez faire_. But when it comes to children
(see "Misalliance") there cannot be too much _laissez faire_. He
appears as an ultramodernist, a universal cynic, a disillusioned
Ibsenite, and a disbeliever in the very existence of progress.
(Preface to "Man and Superman".) He offended half the radicals by his
"Impossibilities of Anarchism" and the other half by his "Illusions of
Socialism", and the conservatives by both.

But those who will take the trouble to compare these apparent
antinomies will find that the contradictions are not so great as they
seem from their paradoxical and partisan form, and that Shaw has
preserved his intellectual consistency to a remarkable degree.

When Shaw first burst into London, a young, red-haired Irishman, he
announced himself as an atheist, an anarchist, and a vegetarian, these
heresies being arranged in crescendo fashion, putting last what was
most calculated to shock the British public. Now when we look back
over his career we find that he has not been any more successful in
sticking to his youthful heresy than others are in sticking to their
youthful orthodoxy. Whether he has ever violated his vegetarian faith
by eating a beefsteak on the sly I do not know, but he has drifted far
from orthodox anarchism, for Socialism is, in theory at least, at the
opposite pole from anarchy. Once when Shaw was talking Socialism in
Hyde Park, he was much annoyed by the anarchists who circulated through
the crowd, selling copies of an early pamphlet of his on "The Illusions
of Socialism." As for his atheism he seems to have left that still
farther behind, for his present theological views, if expressed in less
provocative language, would pass muster in many a pulpit to-day. In
fact, they have as it is.

In a recent letter to me, Mr. Shaw refers to the cordial reception he
always received when Reverend Reginald Campbell invited him to occupy
the pulpit of City Temple,[3] and adds:

    My greatest and surest successes as a public speaker have
    been on religious subjects to religious audiences; but
    this is the common experience of all speakers. People are
    still more concerned about religion than anything else,
    and any reasonably good preacher can easily leave the best
    political spellbinder behind.

Shaw as a Socialist differs from others who bear that name. He is too
intense an individualist to be a good party man. He puts no faith in
Marx as the prophet of the millennium, and he has no Utopian vision of
his own. But what chiefly distinguishes him as a reformer is his power
of penetrating through shams to fundamental realities and his ability
to do original constructive thinking.[4] All of us can find fault with
the existing order of things, and most of us do. But to point out
just "what's wrong with the world" and to suggest a practical line of
improvement is not so easy. The Fabian Society has done more than set
off fireworks and stir up mud. The Minority Report on the reform of the
Poor Law is a fine piece of constructive statesmanship. This Minority
Report was largely the work of the Fabian Society, though how much Shaw
had to do with it personally I do not know. We now know, however, that
he was the author of Fabian Tract Number 2 of 1884 that startled
the conservative classes of England, including the orthodox Marxians.
Here are a few of the "Opinions Held by the Fabians" set forth in this
famous tract:

    That since competition among producers admittedly secures to
    the public the most satisfactory products, the state should
    compete with all its might in every department of production.

    That no branch of industry should be carried on at a profit
    by the central administration.

    That men no longer need special political privileges to
    protect them against women, and that the sexes should
    henceforth enjoy equal political rights.

    That the established government has no more right to call
    itself the State than the smoke of London has to call itself
    the weather.

Shaw also wrote Fabian Tract Number 45 on "The Impossibilities of
Anarchism", in which he pointed out what was not so clear in 1888 as it
is to-day, that society was rapidly becoming communistic through the
efforts of those who were most opposed to communism as a theory:

    Most people will tell you that communism is known in this
    country only as a visionary project advocated by a handful
    of amiable cranks. Then they will stroll across a common
    bridge, along the common embankment, by the light of the
    common street lamp shining alike on the just and the unjust,
    up the common street and into the common Trafalgar Square
    where on the smallest hint that communism is to be tolerated
    for an instant in a civilized country, they will be handily
    bludgeoned by a common policeman and hauled off to the
    common gaol.

Shaw's latest contribution to Fabian literature, the appendix to
Pease's "History of the Fabian Society", seems to me one of the most
important, for in the final paragraphs he points out clearly a defect
in our democracy that is rarely recognized and altogether unremedied:

    Another subject which has hardly yet been touched, and which
    also must begin with deductive treatment, is what may be
    called the democratization of democracy, and its extension
    from mere negative and very uncertain check on tyranny to a
    positive organizing force. No experienced Fabian believes
    that society can be reconstructed (or rather constructed,
    for the difficulty is that society is as yet only half
    removed from chaos) by men of the type produced by popular
    election under existing circumstances likely to be achieved
    before the reconstruction. The fact that a hawker cannot
    ply his trade without a license whilst a man may sit in
    Parliament without any relevant qualifications is a typical
    and significant anomaly which will certainly not be removed
    by allowing everybody to be a hawker at will. Sooner or
    later, unless democracy is to be discarded in a reaction
    of disgust such as killed it in ancient Athens, democracy
    will demand that only such men should be presented to its
    choice as have proved themselves qualified for more
    serious and disinterested work than "stoking up" election
    meetings to momentary and foolish excitement. Without
    qualified rulers a Socialist State is impossible; and it
    must not be forgotten (though the reminder is as old as
    Plato) that the qualified men may be very reluctant men
    instead of very ambitious ones.

It is this doubt, more or less clearly felt, lest a genuinely
democratic society will fail to secure able and qualified leaders, that
lies at the bottom of the prevalent distrust of popular government and
causes many persons to cling to antiquated and irrational institutions
like aristocracy and even monarchy.

I sent Mr. Shaw a copy of an editorial entitled, "And There Shall Be No
More Kings", in _The Independent_ of March 22, 1915, and the following,
penned on the margin of the clipping in his careful handwriting, is his
comment on what he calls "a wise and timely article."

    This war raises in an acute form the whole question of
    republicanism versus German dynasticism. After the mischief
    done by Franz Josef's second childhood as displayed in
    his launching the forty-eight-hour ultimatum to Serbia
    before the Kaiser could return from Stockholm, the world
    has the right--indeed the duty--to demand that monarchies
    shall at least be subject to superannuation as well as to
    constitutional limitation.

    All recent historical research has shown that the position
    of a king, even in a jealously limited monarchy like the
    British, makes him so strong that George III, who was
    childish when he was not under restraint as an admitted
    lunatic, was uncontrollable by the strongest body of
    statesmen the eighteenth century produced. It is undoubtedly
    inconvenient that the head of the state should be selected
    at short intervals; but it does not follow that he (or she)
    should be an unqualified person or hold office for life or
    be a member of a dynasty.

    I may add that if the policy of dismembering the Central
    Empires by making separate national states of Bohemia,
    Poland and Hungary, and making Serbia include Bosnia and
    Herzegovina, is seriously put forward, it would involve
    making them republics; for if they were kingdoms their
    thrones would be occupied by cousins of the Hohenzollerns,
    Hapsburgs and Romanoffs, strengthening the German hegemony
    instead of restraining it.

Perhaps the reader will think that I am rather too presumptuous in
professing to know just what Shaw means and believes, when most people
are puzzled by him. So I should explain that I have the advantage of
a personal acquaintance with Shaw. I may say without boasting--or at
least without lying--that at one period of his life I was nearer to him
than any other human being. The distance between us was in fact the
diameter of one of those round tables in the A. B. C. restaurants, and
the period was confined to the time it took to consume a penny bun
and a cup of tea, both being paid for by him. I resorted to thorough
Fletchering for the purpose of prolonging the interview, and I wished
that either he or I had been a smoker. But although a vegetarian, he
eschews the weed, and smoking did not seem to be in accordance with
Fabian tactics.

The occasion was a recess in a Fabian Society conference. I did not
suppose that anything could shut off Socialists in the midst of debate.
The theme of discussion was the House of Lords, which the Fabians
unanimously agreed ought to be abolished, though no two of them agreed
on the substitute. But while they were iconoclasts as to one British
institution, they rendered homage to another by stopping to take tea in
the midst of a lovely scrap.

The Fabian Society was indirectly the fruit of one of the seeds which
Thomas Davidson scattered in many lands. You can track this peripatetic
philosopher through life, as you can Johnny Appleseed, by the societies
that sprung up along his pathway. In the Adirondacks he founded the
Glenmore School of Philosophy. In the Jewish quarter of New York City
another of his schools still thrives and is enthused with something of
his zeal for learning. The circle of earnest young men and women
whom he gathered about him in London were the founders of the Society
for Psychical Research, the Fellowship of the New Life, and the
Fabian Society. Yet Davidson himself was neither a spiritualist nor a

At the Fabian Society one sees Shaw in his element. Every creature,
says Browning, like the moon,

Boasts two soul-sides, one to face the world with,
One to show a woman when he loves her.

The Fabian Society is Shaw's own true love, and to her he turns a
different face than to the outside world. As I watched him during
the afternoon--preceding and following the brief period of personal
contact of which I have been bragging--I was struck by the tact and
kindliness which he showed in the course of the discussion. There
was in his occasional remarks no trace of the caustic and dogmatic
tone which one gets from his writings. He has been not so much the
"shining light" or "presiding genius" of the society, as one of the
"wheel horses", and devoted himself diligently to the detailed and
inconspicuous work of the organization. He had for twenty-seven years
served on the Executive Committee of the society when in 1911 he
resigned to make way for the younger generation.

The question under discussion was, as I have said, that of the
reconstruction of the House of Lords. This was shortly before the war,
when such questions were regarded as important. Various plans were
proposed in order to secure the election of the fittest, when Shaw took
the floor in defense of genuine democracy. His argument ran like this,
as I remember it:

    Our idea is that any 670 people is as good as any other for
    governing, just as any twelve chosen by chance on the jury
    have our lives and property in their hands.

    Now if I and Mr. Sydney Webb here were sent to the House
    of Commons it should be with unlimited opportunity to talk
    but not to vote. To give us a vote would be to permit the
    violation of the fundamental principle of democracy that
    people should never be governed better than they want to
    be. If you had a government of saints and philosophers the
    people would be miserable. For instance, I would want to
    stop all smoking and meat-eating and liquor drinking, but
    like all superior persons now I have to convince other
    people because I cannot compel them.

    No elected body can possibly be representative, because
    no man is elected as a normal man, but as an exceptional
    one. The House of Lords is more representative than the
    House of Commons, because a man in the House of Commons
    is there because he has uncommon abilities, high or low.
    Representatives ought to be, like jurymen, samples of the
    commonalty picked at random and compelled to serve. Their
    function is to explain where the shoe pinches. But the shoe
    must be made by skilled legislators and statesmen, and these
    should be eligible only when they have satisfied a very high
    standard of qualification, and should sit without votes
    though with unlimited powers of explanation and criticism.

These remarks, delivered in a musical and sympathetic voice with
frequent flashes of a broad row of white teeth, sounded very different
from the way they read in cold type. I do hope the phonograph will be
perfected before Shaw dies or his voice goes cracked, so posterity
can have a vocal version of his plays and prefaces. Otherwise his
personality stands little chance of being understood.

Shaw is tall and uses his eyeglasses for gesticulating as an orchestra
leader uses a baton. His hair was once a fiery red, but is now tempered
into gray. His eyes are light blue. Between his brows there are three
perpendicular wrinkles, but not of the cross and fretful type. His face
is long and pointed, but he looks not in the least Mephistophelian
as the caricaturists represent him. In short, Shaw is not so black
as he is painted by himself and others.

It is not necessary in this chapter, as it was in the case of some
of my "Twelve Major Prophets of To-day", for me to give biographical
details at any length, for these are easily accessible. Shaw has not
been reticent in talking about himself in various books and prefaces,
and he is fortunate in having in Professor Henderson of the University
of North Carolina a biographer of the Boswell kind--probably the best
kind there is. His big volume contains as much about Shaw's life and
words up to the time it was published, 1911, as any one needs to know.
Chesterton's book on Shaw is an impressionistic sketch rather than a
portrait, giving the author an opportunity of saying "what's wrong with
the world", including Shaw. Other lives of Shaw are mentioned in the
appendix of this chapter.

George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, July 25, 1856. His father
was an Irish gentleman, Protestant, improvident and respectable, a
wholesale dealer in corn, with a profound contempt for all retail
tradesmen. His mother was a musician, and it was to her that Mr. Shaw
owed his own moderate talent and remarkable knowledge of music. When
he went to London at the age of twenty, with artistic, musical
and literary ambitions, his mother practically supported the family
by teaching music there. As Shaw says in one of his autobiographical

    I did not throw myself into the struggle for life. I threw
    my mother into it. I was not a staff to my father's old
    age. I hung on to his coat tails. His reward was to live
    just long enough to read a review of one of these silly
    novels written in an obscure journal by a personal friend
    of my own, prefiguring me to some extent as a considerable
    author. I think, myself, that this is a handsome reward, far
    better worth having than a nice pension from a dutiful son
    struggling slavishly for his parents' bread in some sordid

His only schooling was at Dublin, where he says he learned little,
and this is confirmed by the school records which place him near the
bottom of his class. His opinion of the sort of education he got he has
expressed in several places, especially in the preface to "Misalliance."

    My school made only the thinnest pretence of teaching
    anything but Greek and Latin.... To this day, though I
    can still decline a Latin noun and repeat some of the old
    paradigms in the old meaningless way, because their rhythm
    sticks to me, I have never yet seen a Latin inscription on
    a tomb that I could translate throughout. Of Greek I can
    decipher perhaps the greater part of the Greek alphabet.
    In short I am, as to classical education, another
    Shakespeare. I can read French as easily as English; and
    under pressure of necessity, I can turn to account some
    scraps of German and a little operatic Italian; but these
    three were never taught at school. Instead, I was taught
    lying, dishonorable submission to tyranny, dirty stories, a
    blasphemous habit of treating love and maternity as obscene
    jokes, hopelessness, evasion, derision, cowardice, and all
    the blackguard's shifts by which the coward intimidates
    other cowards.

Why is it that British authors give us such horrible pictures of their
school days? They usually look back upon them as a most unpleasant and
unprofitable period of their lives, and when they attempt to eulogize
it they make it all the more shocking. Kipling in "Stalky and Company"
reveals an even more detestable state of affairs than Dickens does of
"Dotheboys Hall." Shaw takes the American view of it and condemns with
horror the "flagellomania" of the British schoolmaster. It is curious
to observe that in Great Britain the schoolmasters have weapons, and
the policemen have none. In America clubs have been given to the
police, and the canes taken away from the teachers. The New York
school-teachers are not allowed to deliver even a casual box on the ear
or a friendly shaking, yet they are making very decent citizens out of
most unpromising material, and the policemen's clubs are mostly used
on the immigrants who have been trained in the flagellant schools of

It is doubtless a good thing that Shaw did not go through Oxford, but
he should have had a course in biology under Huxley such as Wells had.
This would have given him an acquaintance with the aims and methods of
modern science and freed him from such prejudice as he displayed, for
instance, in "The Doctor's Dilemma" and "The Philanderer."

Shaw's early efforts at authorship did not meet with encouragement.
If we may take his word for it, he earned six pounds in nine years
by his pen, and five of those came from writing a patent medicine
advertisement. He wrote five novels in five years, all at first
rejected by the book publishers. Four of them, "The Unsocial
Socialist", "The Irrational Knot", "Cashel Byron's Profession", and
"Love Among the Artists" have since been reprinted from the short-lived
Socialist periodicals in which they originally appeared. The first
novel he wrote, "Immaturity", has never been printed.

William Archer sent these novels to Robert Louis Stevenson, then trying
to recover his health at Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. Stevenson's
letters refer to them as "blooming gaseous folly", "horrid fun", "a
fever dream of the most feverish",

"I say, Archer, my God, what women!" "If Mr. Shaw is below five and
twenty, let him go his path; if he is thirty, he had best be told that
he is a romantic and pursue romance with his eyes opened; perhaps he
knows it; God knows!--my brain is softened."

A plan to relieve struggling authors and secure the earlier recognition
of genius by means of an endowment fund and a system of substantial
prizes was once proposed by Upton Sinclair, author of "The Jungle",
who wrote to a number of authors, asking their opinion of the scheme.
Among those who responded were Wells, Bennett, De Morgan, Philpotts,
Galsworthy, London, and Shaw.[6] I quote part of what Shaw said about
it because of its biographical interest:

    There is only one serious and effective way of helping young
    men of the kind in view, and that is by providing everybody
    with enough leisure in the intervals of well-paid and not
    excessive work to enable them to write books in their spare
    time and pay for the printing of them. Nothing else seems to
    me to be really hopeful. I myself seem an example of a man
    who achieved literary eminence without assistance; but as
    a matter of fact certain remnants of family property made
    all the difference. For fully nine years I had to sponge
    shamelessly on my father and mother; but even at that
    we only squeezed through because my mother's grandfather
    had been a rich man. In fact, I was just the man for whom
    Upton wants to establish his fund. Yet for the life of me I
    cannot see how any committee in the world could have given
    me a farthing. All I had to show was five big novels which
    nobody would publish, and as the publishers' readers by
    whose advice they were rejected included Lord Morley and
    George Meredith, it cannot be said that I was in any worse
    hands than those of any committee likely to be appointed. Of
    course Sinclair may say to this that if Morley and Meredith,
    instead of having to advise a publisher as to the prospects
    of a business speculation, had only had to consider how to
    help a struggling talent without reference to commercial
    consideration, they might have come to my rescue.
    Unfortunately, I have seen both their verdicts; and I can
    assure Sinclair that I produced on both of them exactly
    the impression that is inevitably produced in every such
    case: that is, that I was a young man with more cleverness
    than was good for me and that what I needed was snubbing
    and not encouraging. No doubt there are talents which are
    not aggressive and do not smell of brimstone; but these
    are precisely the talents which are marketable, except, of
    course, in the case of the highest poetry, which, however,
    is out of the question anyhow as a means of livelihood.
    William Morris, when he was at the height of his fame as a
    poet, long after the publication of his popular poem, "The
    Earthly Paradise", told me that his income from his poems
    was about a hundred a year; and I happen to know that Robert
    Browning threatened to leave the country because the
    Income Tax Commissioners assessed him with a modest but
    wholly imaginary income on the strength of his reputation.
    Poetry is thus frankly a matter of endowment, but for the
    rest I think a writer's chance of being helped by the fund
    would be in inverse ratio to his qualifications as conceived
    by Upton Sinclair.

Shaw's first essays in the field where he was to attain his greatest
success were as discouraging as his efforts at novel writing. His first
play, "Widower's Houses", dealing with tainted money, shocked but did
not attract the public. His "The Philanderer" was published before a
theater would accept it. His third play, "Mrs. Warren's Profession",
was prohibited by the censor. Of the seven that followed only one could
be called a decided success on its first presentation in London. But in
book form, with attractively written stage directions and argumentative
prefaces, they found a host of readers who wanted to see them in the
theater. "Candida" was not presented in London till 1904, nearly ten
years after it was written. It was with "Candida" that Arnold Daly
introduced Shaw to the theater-going public of America, and for the
last few years there have often been three Shaw plays running at the
same time in New York.

Shaw's plays were popular in America when they were tabooed or
pooh-poohed in England. His "Pygmalion" had its _première_ in the
Hofburg-theater in Vienna instead of London. I saw it, or rather heard
it, since it is a phonetic instead of a spectacular play, at the
Deutsches Theater of Irving Place, New York, in March, 1914, six months
before Mrs. Patrick Campbell gave it here in English. In spite of the
fact that the play depends upon variations in English dialects, it was
given better in the German than in the English.

Shaw is in fact an internationalist, much more honored in America,
Russia, Germany, France, Scandinavia, and Japan than in his own
country, that is, Ireland. It must be interesting to see "You Never Can
Tell" or "Man and Superman" on the Tokyo stage. The _Kobe Herald_ says:
"He appeals to the Japanese of progressive ideas because he prefers
potatoes, cabbages and beans to porter-house steak and lamb chops."

The reason why Shaw's prefaces read so well and his plays go better
on the stage than would be anticipated is because they are composed
by ear. Since reading aloud has gone out of fashion, there has arisen
a generation of young writers who do not realize that language is
intended to be spoken. Consequently one has to read them by eye
only, switching off for the time the internal auditory apparatus
so as to avoid their discords and dull rhythm. A little girl who was
trying to read to herself a story by one of our pyrotechnic authors
suddenly threw down the magazine with the cry: "I can't read this any
more! It dazzles my ears."

Shaw is a musician, and he writes musical prose. He uses shorthand in
composing, which is the next best thing to dictating to a phonograph.
Naturally he resents the established spelling of English which
preserves the form of words while allowing the words themselves to
decay, thus sacrificing speech to print. He has often argued for
phonetic spelling,[7] and has used as much of it in his works as his
publisher would permit. The point he makes in the following passage is
undeniably proving true:

    All that the conventional spelling has done is to conceal
    the one change that a phonetic spelling might have checked;
    namely, the changes in pronunciation, including the waves
    of debasement that produced the half-rural cockney of Sam
    Weller and the modern metropolitan cockney of Drinkwater
    in "Captain Brassbound's Conversion."... Refuse to teach
    the Board School legions your pronunciation, and they will
    force theirs on you by mere force of numbers. And serve you

Shaw's treatment of the Salvation Army in "Major Barbara" showed that
he knew more about religion than some of his churchly critics. So,
too, his defense of the Salvation Army music in the London Standard
in 1905 proved that he knew more about music than those who sneered
at the Army bands. The Germans, who are now fond of analyzing the
English character, have discussed at length the question of why such an
unmusical people should have good music in the Salvation Army.[8]

The 125-page preface to "Androcles and the Lion" is devoted to a
rereading of the Gospels and a rewriting of the life of Christ. Shaw
interprets the New Testament like a higher critic but applies it
like an early Christian. He rejects the resurrection but accepts the
communism. He believes in the Life Force and Its Superman as others
do in God and His Messiah. Shaw's Superman obviously belongs to
another genus from Nietzsche's Uebermensch. He says in the preface to

    The precise formula for the Superman, _ci-devant_ The Just
    Made Perfect, has not yet been discovered. Until it is,
    every birth is an experiment in a Great Research which
    is being conducted by the Life Force to discover that

This eugenical and well meaning, but far from omnipotent creator,
bears a strong resemblance to Bergson's _Elan vital_, but Shaw was
writing about the Life Force long before Bergson wrote his "Creative
Evolution." If there was any borrowing about it, both borrowed from
Schopenhauer. But Shaw and Bergson, being kindly men and no pessimists,
have put a kind heart into Schopenhauer's ruthless Will.

If I were to sum up Shaw in two words it would be that his
distinguishing characteristics are courage and kind-heartedness. The
sight of suffering and injustice drives him mad, and then he runs
amuck, slashing right and left, without much regard to whom he hits
and no regard at all as to who hits him. He is, like Swift, a cruel
satirist through excess of sympathy. If Ibsen is right, that "the
strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone", then George
Bernard Shaw is not to be ignored.


It does not matter much which of Shaw's books you read first, for after
reading it, whichever it is, you will probably read all the others that
you can get your hands on. If I must be more specific in recommending
a book to begin on, I would suggest that "Major Barbara", "Man and
Superman", and "Androcles and the Lion" will give you an idea of
what Shaw is like; then, if you are interested, you can pick out others
from the following chronological list in which I have indicated by a
few words the theme, scene, or argument of the play and its preface.
All Shaw's works are published by Brentano's, New York, three plays in
one volume, or separately.

"Widowers' Houses", 1892 (tainted money).
"The Philanderer", 1893 (Ibsenites and esthetes).
"Mrs. Warren's Profession", 1893 (prostitution).
"Arms and the Man", 1894 (Serbian and Bulgarian war; anti-militarism).
"Candida", 1894 (triangle).
"You Never Can Tell", 1895 (farce comedy; the most popular of Shaw's
    plays on the stage).
"The Man of Destiny", 1895 (one act, Napoleon in an unconventional
"The Devil's Disciple", 1896 (American revolution).
"Caesar and Cleopatra", 1898 (Egypt Anglicized).
"Captain Brassbound's Conversion", 1899 (Morocco; Raisuli, Perdicaris,
    _et al._)
"The Admirable Bashville or Constancy Unrewarded", 1902 (His novel:
    "Cashel Byron's
Profession" put into blank verse "because it is easier to write than
"Man and Superman", 1903 (romance topsy-turvey; marriage by conquest
    on the part of the woman; containing "The Revolutionist's
Handbook" and interlude on heaven and hell).
"John Bull's Other Island", 1904 (Irish and English temperament
    contrasted, Home Rule question).
"Passion, Poison and Petrification", 1905 (burlesque extravaganza).
"Major Barbara", 1905 (Salvation Army and munition manufacture; problem
    of poverty).
"How He Lied to her Husband", 1905 (parody on "Candida").
"The Doctor's Dilemma", 1906 (satire on medical professor and attack on
"Getting Married", 1908 (absurdities of marriage laws).
"The Showing-up of Blanco Bosnet", 1909 (Wild West; psychology of
    conversion; prohibited by censor).
"Press Cuttings", 1909 (anti-militarism).
"Misalliance", 1909 ("a debate in one sitting"; preface on parents and
"The Dark Lady of the Sonnets", 1910 (showing how Shakespeare got his
"Fanny's First Play", 1911 (satire of dramatic critics and middle-class
"Androcles and the Lion", 1911 (early Christians; lion from Oz;
    disquisition on the canon of the
New Testament and the possibility of living Christianity).
"Overruled", 1912 (philandering again).
"Pygmalion", 1913 (phonetics and class prejudice, with a postscript
    proving that you never can tell how a Shaw play will come out).
"Great Catherine", 1913 (boisterous farce of Catherine II; contrast of
    Russian and British temperament).
"The Music Cure", 1914 (Marconi scandal; used as curtain raiser for
    Chesterton's "Magic", unpublished).
"Three Plays by Brieux", (Brentano's, 1911; contain "Damaged Goods"
    and other plays in which the French playwright attacks social
    evils as vigorously and outspokenly though not so wittily as Shaw.
    They are translated by Mrs. Bernard Shaw, and Mr. Shaw provides
    a preface).
Two farcical plays of the war, "The Inca of Perusalem" and "Augustus
    does his Bit", produced by the London Stage Society and the former
    also in New York, are ascribed to Shaw though unacknowledged by him.

Of Shaw's critical work we have in book form "The Perfect Wagnerite",
1895, and "The Quintessence of Ibsen", 1890, which championed two
unpopular causes; "The Sanity of Art", 1908, attacking Nordau's theory
of the degeneracy of artists; and two volumes of "Dramatic Opinions
and Essays", which, although reviews of current plays of the nineties,
retain a permanent value. Shaw's four early novels "Cashel Byron's
Profession", "An Unsocial Socialist", "Love Among the Artists", and
"The Irrational Knot" are of less interest than his plays.

His socialism has found expression in "The Common Sense of Municipal
Trading" and "Fabian Essays in Socialism", and numerous other tracts
and articles as well as most of his plays and prefaces.

Shaw's fugitive contributions to journalism are too numerous and
scattered to be cited here, but I will mention a few of them that are
of special interest: "The Case Against Chesterton" (_Metropolitan_,
1916); "The Case for Equality" (_Metropolitan_, 1913); "The German Case
Against Germany" (_New York Times_, April 16, 1916).

More has been written about Shaw's personality than about all the rest
of my "Twelve Major Prophets" put together. The chief and authorized
biography is "George Bernard Shaw: His Life and Work" by Professor
Archibald Henderson of the University of North Carolina. (Cincinnati:
Stewart and Kidd, 1911.) It contains a full bibliography up to its date
and some twenty portraits as well as much inaccessible and unpublished
material. Besides this we have:

"George Bernard Shaw: A Critical Study" by Joseph McCabe (London: Paul,
French, Trubner, 1914); "Bernard Shaw: A Critical Study" by Percival
P. Howe (Dodd, Mead, 1915); "George Bernard Shaw" by G. K. Chesterton
(John Lane, 1909); "Bernard Shaw as Artist-Philosopher", an exposition
of Shavianism, by Renée M. Deacon (John Lane, 1910); "George Bernard
Shaw: His Plays" by H. L. Mencken (Luce, 1909); "Bernard Shaw" by
Holbrook Jackson (Jacobs, 1907); and "The Innocence of Bernard Shaw" by
D. Scott (Doran, 1914).

Latest of all is "Bernard Shaw: The Man and the Mask" by Richard
Burton, a study of his plays in chronological order by the ex-president
of the Drama League of America (Henry Holt, November, 1916).

"Bernard Shaw: An Epitaph" by John Palmer (London: Richards, 1915),
"Harlequin or Patriot" (Century). Mr. Palmer comes to bury Shaw, not to
praise him, yet gives him more credit than many of his admirers.

Biographical data and criticism are also to be found in Archibald
Henderson's "European Dramatists" (Stewart and Kidd) and his
"Interpreters of Life and the Modern Spirit" (Kennerley); Ford Madox
Hueffer's "Memories and Impressions"; R. A. Scott-James's "Personality
in Literature" which also contains sketches of Wells and Chesterton
(London: Seeker, 1913); E. E. Hale's "Dramatists of To-day" (Holt,
1911); J. G. Huneker's "Iconoclasts" (Scribner, 1905); Cyril Maude's
"The Haymarket Theater"; Edward Pease's "History of the Fabian Society"
(London, 1916); Herman Bernstein's "With Master Minds" (Universal
Series Co., New York, 1913); and "Bernard Shaw et son oeuvre" by
Professor Cestre of the University of Bordeaux (Mercure de France,

Augustine F. Hamon, who has translated many of Shaw's plays into
French, has published the lectures he gave on them at the Sorbonne in
the volume "Le Molière du XXe siècle" (Paris: Figuière, 1913) which has
been translated "The Twentieth Century Molière" (Stokes, 1915), and
a separate chapter of it as "The Technique of Bernard Shaw's Plays"
(London: Daniel, 1912).

The following articles on Shaw are noteworthy for one reason or another:

"Shaw Contra Mundum" by C. B. Chilton in _The Independent_, March 8,
1906, with a sharp retort by Shaw; Personal reminiscences by Frank
Harris in _Pearson's_, 1916; Controversies of Shaw with Hilaire
Belloc and G. K. Chesterton in _The New Witness_, 1916; "Bernard
Shaw, Musician" by Florence Boylston Pelo in _The Bookman_, March,
1916; "Shaw in Portrait and Caricature" by H. Jackson in _The Idler_,
1908; "Shavian Religion" by the Rev. P. Gavan Duffy in _The Century_,
vol. 87, p. 908; "Mr. Bernard Shaw's Philosophy" by A. K. Rogers
in _Hibbert Journal_, 1910; "George Bernard Shaw" by D. A. Lord in
_Catholic World_, March and April, 1916; "Bernard Shaw et la guerre"
by Christabel Pankhurst in _La Revue_, 1915; "The Philosophy of Shaw"
by Archibald Henderson in _Atlantic_, vol. 103, p. 227; "Die
Quintessenz des Shawismus" by Helene Richter (Leipzig, 1913); "Bernard
Shaw" by Julius Bab (Berlin: Fischer).

The ingenious Allen Upward has written a futuristic satire on Shaw
in the form of a play: "Paradise Found or the Superman Found Out"
(Houghton Mifflin, 1915). In Act I The Sleeper Wakes, à la Wells, two
hundred years hence, finding himself in the Shaw Memorial Hall in the
custody of the Most Noble Order of Hereditary Fabians, chief of whom
are the Lady Wells and the Lord Keir-Hardie. The second act is set in
the Headquarters of the Anti-Shavian League, which the awakened and
disillusionized Shaw joins. The third act is in the Cabinet of H. V. M.
Maharajah Sri Singh Bahadar, for of course India outvoted England as
soon as universal suffrage was introduced into the British Empire.

[1] Published by Brentano's, 1904.

[2] Published by Brentano's, 1909.

[3] Mr. McCabe, in his life of Shaw, gives an interesting account of
one of these addresses, that on "Christian Economics" at the City
Temple in 1913. But Shaw is too much of a Christian still to suit

[4] See for instance Shaw's book on "The Common Sense of Municipal
Trading", based upon his experience as Vestryman and Borough Councillor.

[5] Pease, in his "History of the Fabian Society", gives an interesting
account of these diverse movements which in their inception were
closely allied. See also Knight's "Memorials of Thomas Davidson: the
Wandering Scholar" and James' delightful sketch, "The Knight-Errant
of the Intellectual Life", in his posthumous volume of "Memories and

[6] Printed in The Independent, July 28, 1910.

[7] For Shaw's opinions on phonetics see "Pygmalion", "Captain
Brassbound's Conversion", and Henderson's biography, p. 326.

[8] Von unmusikalischen England und seiner musikalischen Heilsarmee.
Deutscher Wille, February, 1916.



Scientific Futurist

    We are in the beginning of the greatest change that humanity
    has ever undergone. There is no shock, no epoch-making
    incident--but then there is no shock at a cloudy daybreak.
    At no point can we say, "Here it commences, now; last minute
    was night and this is morning." But insensibly we are in the
    day. If we care to look, we can foresee growing knowledge,
    growing order, and presently a deliberate improvement of
    the blood and character of the race. And what we can see
    and imagine gives us a measure and gives us faith for what
    surpasses the imagination.

    It is possible to believe that all the past is but the
    beginning of a beginning, and that all that is and has been
    is but the twilight of the dawn. It is possible to believe
    that all that the human mind has ever accomplished is but
    the dream before the awakening. We cannot see, there is
    no need for us to see, what this world will be like when
    the day has fully come. We are creatures of the twilight.
    But it is out of our race and lineage that minds will
    spring that will reach back to us in our littleness to
    know us better than we know ourselves, and that will reach
    forward fearlessly to comprehend this future that defeats
    our eyes. All this world is heavy with the promise of
    greater things, and a day will come, one day in the unending
    succession of days, when beings, beings who are now latent
    in our thoughts and hidden in our loins, shall stand upon
    this earth as one stands upon a footstool, and shall laugh
    and reach out their hands amid the stars.--"The Discovery of
    the Future" (1902).

Is Wells also among the prophets? Surely, and none with better right,
even though we use the word "prophet" in its narrowest and most
ordinary sense as one who foretells the future. He has foretold many
futures for us, some utterly abhorrent, others more or less attractive.
If we shudder at the thought of humanity on a freezing world fighting
a losing battle with gigantic crustaceans as in "The Time Machine",
or being suffocated on a blazing world as in "The Star", or being
crushed under the tyranny of an omnipotent trust as in "When the
Sleeper Wakes"--if none of these please us, then we have the option
of a businesslike and efficient organization of society under the
domination of the engineer as in "Anticipations", or a socialistic
state under the beneficent sway of the Samurai as in "A Modern Utopia,"
or an instantaneous amelioration of human nature as "In the Days of the
Comet." In thus presenting various solutions to the world problem Wells
is not inconsistent. Every complicated equation has several roots,
some of them imaginary. In solving a physical problem the scientist
begins by disentangling the forces involved and then, taking them one
at a time, calculates what would be the effect if the other forces did
not act. So Wells is applying the scientific method to sociology when
he attempts to isolate social forces and deal with them singly. If
nothing intervenes to divert it, says the hydraulic engineer, the water
of this mountain stream will develop such a momentum on reaching the
valley. If no limitations are placed upon the consolidation of capital,
says Mr. Wells, we may have a handful of directors ruling the world, as
depicted in "When the Sleeper Wakes."

In its power to forecast the future science finds both its validation
and justification. By this alone it tests its conclusions and
demonstrates its usefulness. In fact, the sole object of science
is prophecy, as Ostwald and Poincaré make plain. The mind of the
scientific man is directed forward and he has no use for history except
as it gives him data by which to draw a curve that he may project
into the future. It is, therefore, not a chance direction of his
fancy that so many of Wells's books, both romances and studies, deal
with the future. It is the natural result of his scientific training,
which not only led him to a rich unworked field of fictional
motives, but made him consider the problems of life from a novel and
very illuminative point of view. He gave definite expression to this
philosophy in a remarkable address on "The Discovery of the Future",
delivered at the Royal Institution of London, January 24, 1902. Here
he shows that there is a growing tendency in modern times to shift the
center of gravity from the past to the future and to determine the
moral value of an act by its consequences rather than by its relation
to some precedent. The justification of a war, for instance, may either
be by reference to the past or to the future; that is, it may be based
either upon some supposititious claim and violated treaty, or upon the
assumed advantage to one or both parties. This idea, that in the moral
evaluation of an act its results should be taken into consideration,
has been popularly ascribed to the Jesuits, but since they have
repeatedly and indignantly denied that it ever formed part of their
teaching, it is questionable whether they could claim it now when it
is becoming fashionable. At any rate, it is interesting to note that
Wells gave very clear expression to this pragmatic principle five years
before the publication of "Pragmatism" by James.

I hope that Mr. Wells will work out in detail his theory of prevision
as a motive for morality. We cannot have too many such motives, and it
is quite possible that this factor has not been fully recognized in
our ethical systems, though I have no doubt that, as is usually the
case with discoveries, especially in ethics, the theory is not quite so
novel as it seems to him. In the meantime, I would call his attention
to two weak points in argument, as he has sketched it in this lecture.
He gives as an example of the two ways of looking at a problem the old
question of whether a bad promise is better broken or kept. The "legal
mind" would regard the promise as inviolable; the "creative mind" would
say that in view of future consequences it should be disregarded. But
I would suggest that, if morality is, as he defines it, "an overriding
of immediate and personal considerations out of regard to something to
be attained in the future", the one who viewed the act most clearly
in the light of the future would keep the promise even at the cost of
some suffering to himself and others rather than bring the lack of
confidence which results from a violated oath.

I would also point out that the followers of dogma are not to be
classed so positively with those who look only on the past.
Certainly those whose morality is based on the hope of heaven and the
fear of hell--and this is too numerous a class to be ignored--are as
truly guided by their ideas of the future as are those who are working
for the prosperity of the "Beyond-Man" some thousand years hence.
Jonathan Edwards's first resolution was typical. It reads:

    I. Resolved, That _I will do whatsoever_ I think to be most
    to God's glory and my own good, profit and pleasure, on THE
    WHOLE; without any consideration of the time, whether now,
    or never so many myriads of ages hence; to do whatever I
    think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of
    mankind in general--whatever _difficulties_ I meet with, how
    many and how great soever.

The highest morality is attained, in my opinion, by the class which Mr.
Wells despises--namely, those who disregard neither causes nor effects,
but consider every act in the light of both the past and the future.
For this reason we are grateful to Mr. Wells for the light he is giving
us on the future by his efforts in scientific prophecy.

Wells defines two divergent types of mind by the relative importance
they attach to things past or things to come. The former type he calls
the legal or submissive mind, "because the business, the practice
and the training of a lawyer dispose him toward it; he of all men
must most constantly refer to the law made, the right established,
the precedent set, and most consistently ignore or condemn the thing
that is only seeking to establish itself." In opposition to this is
"the legislative, creative, organizing, masterful type", which is
perpetually attacking and altering the established order of things; it
is constructive and "interprets the present and gives value to this or
that entirely in relation to things designed or foreseen." The use of
the term "legislative" for this latter type is confusing, at least to
an American, because unfortunately most of our legislators are lawyers
and have minds of the legal or conventional type. "Scientific" would be
a better term than "legislative", because most of our real revolutions
in thought and industry originate in the laboratory.

In his "Modern Utopia" Wells introduces a more complete classification
of mankind into (1) the Poietic, that is, the creative and original
genius, often erratic or abnormal; (2) the Kinetic, that is, the
efficient, energetic, "business man" type; (3) the Dull, "the people
who never seem to learn thoroughly or hear distinctly or think
clearly", and (4) the Base, those deficient in moral sense.
The first two categories of Wells, the Poietic and Kinetic,
correspond roughly to Ostwald's Romanticist and Classicist types of
scientific men.[1] I have laid stress upon Wells's point of view and
classification of temperaments because it seems to me that it gives the
clue to his literary work. This is voluminous and remarkably varied,
yet through all its forms can be traced certain simple leading motives.
Indeed I am unable to resist the temptation to formulate his favorite
theme as: _The reaction of society against a disturbing force._

This certainly is the basic idea of much of his work and most of the
best of it. He hit upon it early and he has repeated it in endless
variations since. The disturbing force may be an individual of the
creative or poietic type, an overpowering passion, a new idea, a social
organization or a material change in the conditions of life. Whatever
it may be, the natural inertia of society causes it to resist the
foreign influence, to enforce compliance upon the aberrant individual,
or to meet the new conditions by as little readjustment as possible.
Usually the social organism is successful in overpowering the intruder
or rebel, and on the whole we must admit that this is advantageous,
even though it sometimes does involve the sacrifice of genius and
the retardation of progress. Certainly no one is good enough or wise
enough to be trusted with irresponsible power.

This is the lesson of "The Invisible Man." We all have been struck,
probably, by a thought of the advantages which personal invisibility
would confer. It is one of the most valued of fairy gifts. But perhaps
only Wells has thought of the disadvantages of invisibility, how
demoralizing such a condition would be to the individual, and yet how
powerless he would be against the mass of ordinary people. Assuming
that a man had discovered a way to become invisible by altering the
refractive power of his body, as broken glass becomes invisible in
water, in what situation would he be? He would be naked, of course,
and he could not carry anything in his hands or eat in public. If it
were winter he would leave tracks and would catch cold and sneeze. So
the invisible man who starts to rob and murder at his own sweet will
is soon run down by boys, dogs, and villagers as ignominiously as any
common thief.

A more artistic expression to the same theme is given in "The Country
of the Blind." A young man tumbled into an isolated valley of the
Andes where lived a community which had through some hereditary
disease lost many generations ago the power of sight. The stranger
first thought of the proverb, "In the country of the blind the one-eyed
man is king", but when he tried to demonstrate his superiority he found
it impossible. His talk about "seeing" the natives held to be the
ravings of a madman and his clumsiness in their dark houses as proof
of defective senses. He was as much at a disadvantage in a community
where everything is adapted to the sightless as a blind man is in ours.
He falls in love with a girl, but before he is allowed to marry her he
must be cured of his hallucinations; a simple surgical operation, the
removal of the two irritable bodies protuberant from his brain, will
restore him to normality, say the blind surgeons, and make a sane and
useful citizen of him. The entreaties of his lady love are added to the
coercion of public opinion to induce him to consent. The exceptional
man is beaten, he must either conform to the community or leave it.
No matter how the story ends. The true novelist and dramatist, like
the true mathematician, finds his satisfaction in correctly stating a
problem, not in working it out.

The theme of these parables, the comparative powerlessness of the
individual, however exceptionally endowed, against the coercive force
of environment, Wells has developed at length in his novels; in "The
New Machiavelli", for instance, where a statesman at the height of his
public usefulness is overthrown and banished because he had succumbed
to selfish passion and violated the moral code. Parnell is popularly
supposed to be the model for this character rather more than the
original Machiavelli, but it is, unfortunately, a type not rare either
in history or fiction. Indeed this may be called the common plot of
tragedy from the time when it began to be written, the vulnerable
heel of Achilles, the little defect of character or ability that
precipitates the catastrophe.

In Wells's hands this motive takes most fantastic forms. There was,
for example, "The Man Who Could Work Miracles"; "his name was George
McWhirter Fotheringay--not the sort of name by any means to lead to
any expectation of miracles--and he was clerk at Gomshott's"; "he
was a little man and had eyes of a hot brown, very erect red hair,
a mustache with ends he twisted up, and freckles." This unpromising
looking individual, and he was a blatant skeptic, too, becomes suddenly
possessed of the power to make anything happen that he wills, but
he finds the use of this mysterious gift by no means to his advantage.
It brings him and others into all sorts of trouble, and only his
renunciation of it saves the world from destruction. Mr. Fotheringay
lived in Church Row, and since Mr. Wells lives in the same street he
perhaps knew him personally.

In "The War of Worlds" the earth is invaded by Martians, who are not
in the least like those of Du Maurier or Professor Flournoy, but
octopus-like creatures as far above mankind in intellect and command
of machinery as we are above the animals, supermen surpassing the
imagination of Nietzsche. They stride over the earth in machines of
impregnable armor and devastate town and country with searchlights
projecting rays more destructive than those of radium and much like
Bulwer-Lytton's "vril." They feed on human blood and, if humanity is
not to perish or become as sheep to these invaders, men and women must
take to sewers and such like hiding places and wage incessant warfare
against overwhelming odds.

In a passage that is to me the most gripping of anything Wells has
written, a few unconquerable spirits plan the life that mankind must
lead under these terrible conditions, but they are relieved from
the necessity of putting it into execution by the interposition of
an unexpected ally in the form of the most minute of creatures, the
microbe. The men from Mars, not being immune to terrestrial diseases,
are annihilated by one of them.

The formula remains the same although conditions are reversed in "The
First Men in the Moon", for men, being naturally larger than the lunar
people, might be supposed to dominate them, but, on the contrary, the
ant-like inhabitants of the moon conquer the earthly invaders.

In "The Wonderful Visit" a curate goes out hunting for rare birds and
shoots an angel on the wing. But the heavenly visitant does not play
the rôle of the angel in Jerome's "The Passing of the Third Floor Back"
and transform the character of all he meets. Wells's angel does not fit
into the parish life, and everybody is relieved when he disappears. The
same idea, the reaction of conventional society toward the unusual,
is illustrated by "The Sea-Lady", where, instead of an angel from the
sky, we have a mermaid from the ocean brought into the circle of a
summer resort. Mr. Wells has said that by the sea-lady he meant to
symbolize "love as a disturbing passion", the same theme as "The New
Machiavelli." It may be taken to mean that, of course, or half a
dozen other things as well. We are at liberty to disregard Mr. Wells's
interpretation if we like. It is not an author's business to explain
what his works mean. In fact it seems a bit officious and impertinent
for him to attempt it. How little would there be left of the great
literature of the world if it were reduced to what the author literally
and consciously had in mind when he wrote. The value of any work of art
depends upon what may be got out of it, not what was put into it.

"The Food of the Gods" is a case in point. These children who are
fed on "boom-food" (presumably an extract from the pituitary body of
the brain) and grow to gianthood may be taken to represent any new
transforming force. If the story was conceived in Wells's earlier
days he may have meant by it the power of science. If in the days of
"Anticipations" he more likely had in mind efficiency or "scientific
management." If when he was a member of the Fabian Society it doubtless
stood for Socialism. Such questions may well be left to the future
biographer who will take an interest in tracing out the genesis of
his thought. Really it makes no difference to the reader, for the
essential thing is to note that the reaction of society toward any
unprecedented factor is the same. That in various parts of the country
a new and gigantic race was growing up aroused at first a certain
sensational interest, but this soon died down. People became accustomed
to seeing the giant boys and girls and even set them at work. Later as
it was realized that the giants could not be adapted to the existing
social structure, but meant its overthrow, the government attempted
to segregate and limit them, and at length, finding no compromise
possible, determined to exterminate them. This brings about a duel to
the death between the little race and the big, and there could be no
doubt as to the issue.

Chesterton says[2]:

    "The Food of the Gods" is the tale of "Jack the
    Giant-Killer" told from the point of view of the giant. This
    has not, I think, been done before in literature; but I have
    little doubt that the psychological substance of it existed
    in fact. I have little doubt that the giant whom Jack killed
    did regard himself as the Superman. It is likely enough that
    he considered Jack a narrow and parochial person who wished
    to frustrate a great forward movement of the life-force.
    If (as not infrequently was the case) he happened to have
    two heads, he would point out the elementary maxim which
    declares them to be better than one. He would enlarge on the
    subtle modernity of such an equipment, enabling a giant
    to look at a subject from two points of view, or to correct
    himself with promptitude. But Jack was the champion of the
    enduring human standards, of the principle of one man one
    head, and one man one conscience, of the single head and the
    single heart and the single eye. Jack was quite unimpressed
    by the question of whether the giant was a particularly
    gigantic giant. All he wished to know was whether he was a
    good giant--that is, a giant who was any good to us. What
    were the giant's religious views; what his views on politics
    and the duties of the citizen? Was he fond of children--or
    fond of them only in a dark and sinister sense? To use a
    fine phrase for emotional sanity, was his heart in the right
    place? Jack had sometimes to cut him up with a sword in
    order to find out.

Nothing could better illustrate the difference in standpoint between
Chesterton and Wells than this. The sympathies of Wells are undoubtedly
with the giants, with the new forces that aim to transform the world,
though he is not always confident of their ultimate triumph. Being a
man of scientific training, he is a determinist but not a fatalist.
All his prophecies are conditional. If the gulf between industrial
and parasitic classes keeps on widening there will eventually be two
races, and the former will be master; this is the lesson of "The Time
Machine." If the engineer and business manager get control we shall
have the well ordered prosperity of "Anticipations." If Socialism
prevails we shall have the Great State. His stories of the future are
about equally divided between optimistic and pessimistic prophecy,
between allurements and warnings.

"In the Days of the Comet"[3] he uses again the mechanism of the most
artistic of his earlier short stories, "The Star", which is a little
gem in its way without a superfluous word or a false tone. But those
were the days when Mr. Wells was writing for pleasure; now he writes
for a purpose, so the two stories resemble each other only in their
common theme, the swishing across the earth of a comet's tail. In
the former tale the event was viewed by a man in Mars who reported
to his fellow scientists that the earth was little damaged, for the
destruction of all life on it was too insignificant an event to be
noticed at that distance. In the present book the earth was decidedly
benefited, and the history is told by a man more foreign to us than
the Martian, for he is a citizen of the new civilization that followed
the "Great Change." A wonderful transformation had been effected in
our atmosphere by its mingling with the cometary gases. The inert
nitrogen of the air had been changed to some life-giving, clarifying,
and stimulating gas; it would be unfair to the author to infer that
this was nitrous oxid, more familiarly known as "laughing gas." Under
its influence the inhabitants of the earth perceive the evils of our
present régime and realize that they are mostly avoidable if everybody
had good intentions and good sense. As an argument for Socialism it
is a very weak one, for it gives away the case by conceding, at the
outset, the main objection of the conservative, that you will have
to change human nature before Socialism becomes possible. Of course,
if all men were well-meaning and wise Socialism would be practical.
It would also be unnecessary, because any social machinery, or,
indeed, none at all, would work well enough under these conditions.
The difficulty is to devise any changes that will make it work better
with people as they are. That better people than we would be able
to make for themselves better ways of living, nobody denies. That
social, institutions influence the character of individuals, and that
individuals influence the character of institutions, are correlative
truths, but it is difficult for most people to keep them both in
mind. Mr. Wells's collectivist conversion by a "green gas" is much
the same thing as individualist conversion by religious influence,
but we know of instances of the latter, while the former is purely

But, of course, the object of the book is not to show how Socialism can
come about, but to assist in making it come about by acting on readers
as a dose of the "green gas" and opening our eyes to the vulgarity,
silliness, squalor, and wastefulness of our daily life. Mr. Wells is
an artist by nature and a scientist by training, and ugliness and
stupidity worry him more than wickedness and injustice. In fact, he
would probably class all the evils of civilization under stupidity.
But long ago it was said that against stupidity even the gods fight in
vain, and it remains to be seen whether Socialists will succeed better.

The most attractive pages of the book to me are those that describe
"the festival of the rubbish burnings", though Wells does not improve
upon Washington Irving's treatment of the same theme. There are several
things owned by our neighbors, even by relatives, which we should like
to cast upon the flames. But we are afraid to light the bonfire lest
the neighbors should burn up some of our treasures. That war is also
an example of human stupidity, we agree, but just how to prevent
it altogether until the rest of the world comes to our opinion, we do
not understand. It takes two to stop a quarrel. The fleets of England
and Germany were engaged in bombarding each other when the renovating
comet struck the earth, but as soon as the eyes of the combatants and
the "statesmen" who had instigated it were opened, and their anger
quenched, it seemed incredible to them that they should have sought
to kill each other for such trivial and remote causes. Jules Verne
has a similar scene in "Dr. Ox's Experiment", but in that case the
gas acts in the opposite way to excite the sluggish inhabitants of a
peaceful Flemish village to make war against the neighboring village,
and as soon as they are out of the contaminated atmosphere they look in
bewilderment at the deadly weapons in their hands. Eight years later
Wells's worst forebodings came to pass, but no "green gas" came to
clear the air of hate.

But the particular passion that Wells would sweep away by the breath
of his comet is one which, in the opinion of most people, is necessary
to the maintenance of morality, that is, jealousy. The young English
workingman who tells the story is infuriated against the young
aristocrat who had seduced his sweetheart and is pursuing them
with a revolver when the "Great Change" comes. Then he is content
to share her affections with his former rival, and they all lived
together happily ever after. In his works on Socialism Wells gives
his reasons for thinking that, whether we wish it or not, the family
is disintegrating, and that only under Socialism, which will insure a
support sufficient for independence to both men and women, can better
relations be established.

We might have known that as soon as science discovered the new world
inside the atom the story-writer would follow close behind. We might
also have known that H. G. Wells would be the first to exploit this new
territory annexed to human knowledge, for he has always kept an eye on
scientific progress even while seemingly engrossed in British politics
and marriage problems. So he wrote a romance of the atom, "The World
Set Free", describing the Great War months before it happened.

Our sleepy earth has been caught napping by every great change that
has thus far reached humanity, and probably Mr. Wells is quite right
in supposing that a sudden release of the vast stores of energy hidden
in the atom would find civilization as unprepared for the social,
economic, political, and intellectual results of the new energies in
industry as it was for the effects of the great industrial revolution
which followed the introduction of steam power not much more than a
century ago.

But Mr. Wells has the alertest literary imagination of any modern
writer; the significance of the new physics has not escaped him as it
has the common run of novelists intently searching for good plots and
neglecting entirely the rich ore awaiting any writer who happened to
have an elementary knowledge of modern science. Many short stories and
one or two novels have introduced more or less accurate accounts of
radium as a side-show to a love story or an incident in a detective
tale. But it required the boldness of Mr. Wells to throw overboard
entirely the conventional novel plot and make a hero of the cosmic
energies. "The World Set Free" resembles "The War in the Air" in its
vivid account of world-wide war, nations armed with novel weapons and
forces, appalling power for destruction and attack in the hands of
every nation, together with complete incapacity for defense by any
nation, the resulting collapse of credit, panic, starvation, anarchy
and a general social _débâcle_. But while the "war in the air" meant
the end of civilization, the war with "atomic bombs" in the present
book results in a general treaty of peace, the foundation of a world
state under a provisional government, and a successful reorganization
of society in which the forces which had been used by nations and
empires to conquer each other are directed to the task of subduing
nature to human aims.

Like the reconstructed world of "In the Days of the Comet" the future
state is very faintly depicted, hinted at rather than described, in
"The World Set Free." It differs from the numerous other Utopias of
Mr. Wells in that, whereas the world states of "Anticipations", "A
Modern Utopia", "In the Days of the Comet", etc., could be brought
about by nothing more than taking the author's advice on politics,
law, economics, and social customs, "The World Set Free" depends
upon scientific discovery. A new hypothesis, in short, has given the
inhabitants of this Utopia an advantage over all previous Utopias. They
have energy at their command almost as freely accessible as water or
air, and so the labor question is annihilated, the whole world becomes
a leisure class, and everybody is free to devote his life to gardening,
artistic decoration, and scientific research. Country life becomes a
constant delight. The agriculturist shrinks to less than one per cent
of the population. The lawyer follows the warrior into extinction.
"Contentious professions cease to be an honorable employment for men."

The Parliament of the World, which came into existence after the atomic
explosions of 1950, was simple and sensible; fifty new representatives
elected every five years; proportional representation; every man and
woman with an equal vote; election for life subject to recall; each
voter putting on his ballot the names of those he wishes elected and
those he wishes recalled; a representative recallable by as many votes
as the quota that elected him. But political machinery does not count
for much in this most modern of Utopias. A scrap of the conversation
between the President of the United States and King Egbert, "the young
king of the most venerable kingdom in Europe", will illustrate the
point of view:

    "Science," the King cried presently, "is the new king of the

    "Our view," said the President, "is that sovereignty resides
    with the people."

    "No," said the King, "the sovereign is a being more subtle
    than that, and less arithmetical; neither my family nor your
    emancipated people. It is something that floats about us
    and above us and through us. It is that common impersonal
    will and sense of necessity of which science is the best
    understood and most typical aspect. It is the mind of the
    race. It is that which has brought us here, which has bowed
    us all to its demands."

The agency which effects this transformation is the discovery of how
to release the internal energy of the atom, which we now know exists,
although we do not know how to get at it. Since wealth is essentially
nothing but energy this means that we have within reach enough to
make multi-millionaires of all of us; a tantalizing thought. The new
disintegrating element, according to Mr. Wells, is carolinum, an
element that Professor Baskerville also discovered on paper a few years
ago. This exhaustless supply of energy being utilized in machinery sets
free the laborer and swells the army of the unemployed; and since,
incidentally, one of the by-products of its decomposition is gold, the
financial systems of the world go to smash. But naturally carolinum
finds speedy employment in war. A bomb of it buried in the soil becomes
a perpetual volcano, half of it exploding every seventeen days. A few
bombs of this radioactive element dropped from aeroplanes demolish
Paris and Berlin and throw the world into a chaos of confusion,
which Wells's characteristic style, with its flashlight visions, its
tumultuous phrases, and its shifting points of view, its alternations
of generalization and detail, is particularly adapted to depict.

The value of this romance, aside from its interest, lies in the
emphatic way in which it teaches the lesson that civilization is
primarily a matter of the utilization of natural energy and is
measurable in horse power. Unfortunately we have to depend upon the
sunshine, either that of the present or of the carboniferous era; we
have no key to the treasure-house of the atom. Radium gives out its
energy without haste or rest, just as fast at the temperature of liquid
air as at the temperature of liquid iron, always keeping itself a
little hotter than its surroundings, however hot these may be. If only
we could get at this source of exhaustless energy--but let Wells say
what that would mean:

    Not only should we have a source of power so potent that a
    man might carry in his hand the energy to light a city for
    a year, fight a fleet of battleships or drive one of our
    giant liners across the Atlantic; but we should also have
    a clue that would enable us at last to quicken the process
    of disintegration in all the other elements, where decay
    is still so slow as to escape our finest measurements.
    Every scrap of solid matter in the world would become an
    available reservoir of concentrated force.

    It would mean a change in human conditions that I can only
    compare to the discovery of fire, that first discovery
    that lifted man above the brute. We stand to-day toward
    radio-activity exactly as our ancestor stood toward fire
    before he had learnt to make it. He knew it then only as a
    strange thing utterly beyond his control, a flare on the
    crest of the volcano, a red destruction that poured through
    the forest. So it is that we know radio-activity to-day.
    This--this is the dawn of a new day in human living. At
    the climax of that civilization which had its beginning in
    the hammered flint and the fire-stick of the savage, just
    when it is becoming apparent that our ever-increasing needs
    cannot be borne indefinitely by our present sources of
    energy, we discover suddenly the possibility of an entirely
    new civilization. The energy we need for our very existence,
    and with which Nature supplies us still so grudgingly, is in
    reality locked up in inconceivable quantities all about us.
    We cannot pick that lock at present, but....

    Then that perpetual struggle for existence, that perpetual
    struggle to live on the bare surplus of Nature's energies
    will cease to be the lot of Man. Man will step from the
    pinnacle of this civilization to the beginning of the

Wells is a futurist in the true sense of the word, appraising all
things by what shall come out of them. This led him to a realization of
the importance of eugenics long before the fad came in. In "Mankind
in the Making" he formulated his test of civilization in these words:

    Any collective human enterprise, institution, party, or
    state, is to be judged as a whole and completely, as it
    conduces more or less to wholesome and hopeful births and
    according to the qualitative and quantitative advance due to
    its influence toward a higher and ampler standard of life.

But when it comes to practical measures for securing these advantages,
Wells shows a characteristic timidity. He condemns certain obvious
dysgenic measures, such as the action of school boards in imposing
celibacy upon women teachers, but in several respects legislation
in America has already gone beyond what he ten years ago considered
possible. So, too, in his "Anticipations" he suggested as future
possibilities inventions and practices that were then familiar to us
in this country. It is hard for a man nowadays to be a prophet. If he
doesn't look sharp he will find himself an historian instead.

When H. G. Wells in 1902 essayed the rôle of prophet and in his volume
entitled "Anticipations" tried to forecast the future of the world
on scientific principles, he excited the same popular interest that
any guess at coming events arouses, but there were few who took
him seriously. Now, however, "Anticipations" makes very interesting
reading. Much of it has already come to pass, and we see that Wells's
chief mistake lay in putting his forecast too far ahead; for instance,
when he says that he is "inclined to believe.... that very probably
before 1950 a successful aeroplane will have soared and come home safe
and sound."

The chapter on war in "Anticipations" shows astonishing power of
prescience in what he says of the use of the submarine and armored
automobile, the development of trench warfare, the substitution of the
machine gun for the rifle, and the abolition of the distinction between
military and civilian parts of a nation. His discussion of the new
forms of warfare and the inadequacy of the old methods of management
and training is full of warnings which it were well for his country to
have heeded. This is shown if we compare that feeling passage in which
he describes a future British army setting out to meet a scientifically
organized foe with an actual battle on the Artois field as seen from
the German side. The first column is quoted from "Anticipations",
published fifteen years ago. The second column is taken from
Kellermann's picture of the battle of Loos, September 22, 1915,
published in the _Continental Times_ of Berlin. Bernard Kellermann, one
of the most brilliant of the younger writers of Germany, is well known
in America through his novel, "The Tunnel", dealing with a submarine
passage to Europe.

    THE PROPHECY, 1902

    I seem to see, almost as if he were symbolic, the gray old
    general--the general who learned his art of war away in the
    vanished nineteenth century, the altogether too elderly
    general with his epaulettes and decorations, his uniform
    that has still its historical value, his spurs and his
    sword--riding along on his obsolete horse, by the side of
    his doomed column. Above all things he is a gentleman. And
    the column looks at him lovingly with its countless boys'
    faces, and the boys' eyes are infinitely trustful, for he
    has won battles in the old time. They will believe in him
    to the end. They have been brought up in their schools to
    believe in him and his class, their mothers have mingled
    respect for the gentlefolk with the simple doctrines of
    their faith, their first lesson on entering the army was
    the salute. The "smart" helmets His Majesty, or some such
    unqualified person, chose for them lie hotly on their young
    brows, and over their shoulders slope their obsolete,
    carelessly-sighted guns. Tramp, tramp, they march, doing
    what they have been told to do, incapable of doing anything
    they have not been told to do, trustful and pitiful,
    marching to wounds and disease, hunger, hardship, and death.
    They know nothing of what they are going to meet, nothing of
    what they will have to do; religion and the rate-payer and
    the rights of the parent working through the instrumentality
    of the best club in the world have kept their souls and
    minds, if not untainted, at least only harmlessly veneered
    with the thinnest sham of training or knowledge. Tramp,
    tramp, they go, boys who will never be men, rejoicing
    patriotically in the nation that has thus sent them forth,
    badly armed, badly clothed, badly led, to be killed in
    some avoidable quarrel by men unseen. And beside them, an
    absolute stranger to them, a stranger even in habits of
    speech and thought, and at any rate to be shot with them
    fairly and squarely, marches the sub­altern--the son of the
    school-burking, share-holding class--a slightly taller sort
    of boy, as ill-taught as they are in all that concerns the
    realities of life, ignorant of how to get food, how to get
    water, how to keep fever down and strength up, ignorant of
    his practical equality with the men beside him, carefully
    trained under a clerical head­master to use a crib, play
    cricket rather nicely, look all right whatever happens,
    believe in his gentility, and avoid talking "shop."

    So the gentlemanly old general--the polished drover to the
    shambles--rides, and his doomed column march by, in this
    vision that haunts my mind.

    I cannot foresee what such a force will even attempt to do
    against modern weapons. Nothing can happen but the needless
    and most wasteful and pitiful killing of these poor lads,
    who make up the infantry battalions, the main mass of all
    the European armies of to-day, whenever they come against a
    sanely organized army. There is nowhere they can come in;
    there is nothing they can do.

    The scattered, invisible marks­men with their supporting
    guns will shatter their masses, pick them off individually,
    cover their line of retreat and force them into wholesale
    surrenders. It will be more like herding sheep than actual
    fighting. Yet the bitterest and crudest things will have to
    happen, thousands and thousands of poor boys will be smashed
    in all sorts of dreadful ways and given over to every
    conceivable form of avoidable hardship and painful disease
    before the obvious fact that war is no longer a business for
    half-trained lads in uniform, led by parson-bred sixth-form
    boys and men of pleasure and old men, but an exhaustive
    demand upon very carefully educated adults for the most
    strenuous best that is in them, will get its practical


    They made the essay with absolutely new, absolutely
    antiquated tactics--tactics which are no longer recognized
    in this war. It was something really un­heard of! Our staff
    officers stood and regarded it--their mouths open in
    astonishment. It was observed, shortly before noon, that
    the English were advancing toward our positions in dense
    masses, eight lines deep in echelon--from Loos. A hail of
    shells that churned up the ground was supposed to smooth
    the way for the storming columns. At the same time, to the
    east of Loos (there is a bit of rising ground there scarcely
    noticeable as you drive over it in a wagon, called Hill 70),
    we saw English artillery come riding up--quite open--in the
    broad of day--under the naked heavens! These batteries
    carried bridge materials with them for the crossing of
    trenches and natural obstacles. The English general we
    caught describes this action as one that was especially
    "sporting." There can be no doubt about its dashing
    quality. But there was more to come. In the distance, on
    the level plain, one or two English cavalry regiments
    were visible--Dragoons of the Guard. Eight lines of
    infantry? Artillery driving across the open? Cavalry in the
    background? It was really unbelievable! It was the plan of a
    veritable pitched battle from a forgotten age, the masterly
    idea of a senile brain, which had come limping along fifty
    years behind the times! Generals in our day grow obsolete as
    rapidly as inventions and sciences. The war has taught us
    that the blood of nations, the incalculably precious blood,
    is to be entrusted only to the freshest, the most elastic,
    the most gifted of military spirits, the very cream of the
    crop. Those old celebrities of theirs, staggering under
    their orders, should have been consigned to relay stations
    by the English. The English troops carried out their attack
    with a splendid gesture, with admirable bravoure. They
    were young and they bore no orders on their uniforms. They
    carried out the commands of their celebrated and senile
    authorities, carried them out with a blind courage--in this
    day of mortars, telephones and machine-guns. As magnificent
    as was their bearing, even so pitiful was the collapse of
    their onslaught. Before the eightfold storming columns had
    been able to make ten steps, they came under our combined
    fire-rifles, machine-guns, cannon. The batteries were lying
    in wait and they obeyed the telephone. The English knights
    and baronets had not reckoned with this. Fresh reserves
    came running up and were mown down in the cross-fire of our
    machine-guns. Those riding batteries came to a miserable
    end. They too came within the zone of the machine-guns,
    and our heavy mortars, notified by telephone, got hold of
    them so swiftly and so thoroughly, that they were not even
    given time to unlimber. The regiments of cavalry that were
    waiting in the background, ready to come dashing through,
    got salvoes of the heaviest shells full in their faces, and
    drew back without having drawn a blade from the scabbard.
    That finished the pitched battle. And the attack broke to
    pieces in front of our wire entanglements. A prodigious
    number of their dead lay before our trenches. We had made
    800 prisoners, among them a colonel, four majors, and
    fifteen officers. At a conservative estimate, the losses
    of the English in this single section of the division, may
    be fixed in dead and wounded as at least 20,000. It was
    clear that, apart from a small local success, it had been a
    disastrous job for the Britishers. Never before has it been
    so clearly proved that war is not a sport for a dozen or two
    of privileged dilettantes.[6]

Wells made his first hit with "The Time Machine", written under high
pressure of the idea within a fortnight by keeping at his desk almost
continuously from nine in the morning to eleven at night. It is based
upon the theory that time is a fourth dimension of space,[7] and by
a suitable invention one may travel back and forth along that
line. Having once got his seat in his time-machine Wells has never
abandoned it. He uses it still in his novels, in "Tono-Bungay," "The
New Machiavelli", and "The Passionate Friends", telling the story
partly in retrospect, partly in prospect, flying back and forth in the
most mystifying manner, producing thereby a remarkable effect of the
perpetual contemporaneity of existence, though some readers are dizzied
by it.

The charm of a masked ball is that it enables people to do and say what
they please, in short to reveal themselves because their faces are
concealed. Anonymity has the same effect, as many a name from "Currer
Bell" to "Fiona McLeod" attests. So it is not surprising that the
book[8] which purports to have been written by one "George Boon" and
compiled by one "Reginald Bliss" shows Wellsian characteristics more
pronounced than any of the volumes of which H. G. Wells owns authorship.

For one thing Wells obviously likes to start things better than to
finish them. He is apt to run out of breath before he comes to the end
of a novel, and if he gets his second wind it is likely to be some
other kind of wind. In most of his books except the short stories the
reader feels that the author is saying to himself, "I wish I had this
thing off my hands so I could get at that new idea of mine."

Then, too, Wells is fond of putting a story inside of a story, like the
Arabian Nights, and it often happens that the "flash-backs", to borrow
a cinema phrase, are confusing. The framework of "The Modern Utopia" is
an instance of this. It is sometimes hard to tell in this where we are
or who is speaking.

Wells is inimitable in his ability to sketch a character in a few swift
strokes, but he does not care much for the character afterward. He
delights in taking such snapshots, but he hates to develop them. His
mind is quick to change. He is liable to be disconcerted by a sudden
vision of an opposing view. Sometimes in the middle of a sentence he
will be seized with a doubt of what he is saying, and being an
honest man, he leaves it in air rather than finish it after he has lost
confidence. He may double on his track like a hunted fox within the
compass of a single volume.

Finally, Wells is fond of satirizing his contemporaries, including his
best friends and his former selves. He is given to mixing realistic
description with recondite symbolism, desultory argumentation with
extraneous personalities, and other incongruous combinations of style
and thought.

Now all these peculiarities, call them faults or merits as you like,
are to be found intensified in "Boon" _Etc._ First Mr. Wells introduces
Mr. Bliss, who then introduces Mr. Boon, a famous author deceased, and
tells how they together invented Mr. Hallery, who introduces a host
of living writers, big and little, known and unknown, at the World
Conference on the Mind of the Race. He has given me the honor of a
seat on a special committee of Section S, devoted to Poiometry, the
scientific measurement of literary greatness.

The volume is illustrated by the author--whoever he may be--but the
best caricatures are not the graphic but the verbal ones with their
amusing parodies of style. Perhaps the best of these is an imaginary
conversation between Henry James and George Moore, in which both
gentlemen pursue entirely independent trains of thought.

Here's the sketch of "Dodd." We recognize him, although we do not know
who Dodd is:

    Dodd is a leading member of the Rationalist Press
    Association, a militant agnostic, and a dear compact
    man, one of those Middle Victorians who go about with a
    preoccupied, caulking air, as though, having been at great
    cost and pains to banish God from the Universe, they were
    resolved not to permit Him back on any terms whatever. He
    has constituted himself a sort of alert customs officer of a
    materialistic age, saying suspiciously: "Here, now, what's
    this rapping under the table here?" and examining every
    proposition to see that the Creator wasn't being smuggled
    back under some specious new generalization. Boon used to
    declare that every night Dodd looked under his bed for the
    Deity, and slept with a large revolver under his pillow for
    fear of a revelation.

One advantage of anonymity is that Wells can contradict himself with
even more freedom than usual. For instance, he expresses great contempt
for Bergson and his "Pragmatism for Ladies." But not long ago, in
"Marriage", he was contemptuous of "Doctor Quiller [Schiller] of
Oxford," for "ignoring Bergson and fulminating a preposterous insular

Much of the volume was manifestly written in the calm days before
the war, but the fragment entitled "The Wild Asses of the Devil"
expresses in fantastic guise his--and the world's--confusion and
despair at the catastrophe which has overwhelmed the human race. "It is
like a dying man strangling a robber in his death grip. We shall beat
them, but we shall be dead beat in doing it," says Boon, and he rejects
all suggestions that it may be a good thing in the end:

    No! War is just the killing of things and the smashing of
    things. And when it is all over, then civilization will have
    to begin all over again. They will have to begin lower down
    and against a heavier load and the days of our jesting are
    done. The Wild Asses of the Devil are loose and there is no
    restraining them. What is the good of pretending that the
    Wild Asses are the instruments of Providence kicking better
    than we know? It is all evil. Evil.

There are many different Wellses. Probably nobody likes all of them.
He does not like all of himselves. In writing a preface or otherwise
referring to an earlier work he is, after the manner of Maeterlinck,
almost apologetic, and looks back upon the author with a curious wonder
as to how he came to hold such opinions and express them in such a
way. Those of us who have grown up with him, so to speak, and followed
his mind through all its metamorphoses in their natural order can
understand him better, I believe, than those of the younger generation
who begin with the current serial and read his works backward. Mr.
Wells is just about my age. We were in the laboratory together and
breathed the same atmosphere, although five thousand miles apart. When
he began to write I was ready to read and to admire the skill with
which he utilized for literary purposes the wealth of material to be
found in the laboratory. Jules Verne had worked the same rich vein,
clumsily but with great success. Poe had done marvels in the short
story with such scanty science as he had at his command. But Wells,
trained under Huxley in biology at the University of London, had all
this new knowledge to draw upon. He could handle technicalities with
a far defter touch than Verne and almost rivaled Poe in the evocation
of emotions of horror and mystery. Besides this he possessed what
both these authors lacked, a sense of humor, a keen appreciation of
the whimsicalities of human nature. So he was enabled to throw off in
the early nineties a swift succession of short stories astonishingly
varied in style and theme. As he became more experienced in the art of
writing, or rather of marketing manuscripts, he seems to have regretted
this youthful prodigality of bright ideas. Many of them he later
worked over on a more extensive scale as the metallurgist goes back
to a mine and with an improved process extracts more gold from the
tailings and dump than the miner got out of the ore originally.

"The Star" was the first of these I came across, clipping it for my
scrap book from _Harper's Weekly_, I believe. First loves in literature
make an indelible impression, so I will always hold that nothing Wells
has done since can equal it. Certainly it was not improved by expanding
it to "In the Days of the Comet." The germ of that creepy tale of
advanced vivisection, "The Island of Dr. Moreau", appeared first in the
_Saturday Review_, January, 1895, as a brief sketch, "Doctor Moreau
Explains." "The Dream of Armageddon", vivid and swift as a landscape
under a flash of lightning, served in large part for two later volumes,
"When the Sleeper Wakes" and "The New Machiavelli."

It was, as I have said, "The Star" that first attracted me to Wells.
It was "The Sea-Lady" who introduced me to him personally. It was
in the back room of a little Italian restaurant in New York, one of
those sixty-cent table d'hôtes where rich soup and huge haystacks of
spaghetti serve to conceal the meagerness of the other five courses.
Here foregathered for years a group of Socialists, near-Socialists, and
others of less definable types, alike in holding the belief that the
world could be moved and ought to be, but disagreeing agreeably as to
where the fulcrum could be placed and what power should move the lever.
We called ourselves the "X Club", partly because the outcome of such a
combination of diverse factors was highly problematical, partly perhaps
in emulation of the celebrated London X. One evening some ten years
ago, as I came late to the dinner, I noticed that the members were not
all talking at once, as usual, but concentrated their attention upon a
guest, a quiet, unassuming individual, rather short, with a sunbrowned
face, tired eyes, and a pessimistic mustache--a Londoner, I judged
from his accent. Then I was introduced to him as "The man who knows all
your works by heart, Mr. Wells." This disconcerting introduction was
their revenge for my too frequent quotation in debate. The reason, I
suppose, for the old saying, "Beware the man of one book", is because
he is such a bore.

Mr. Wells appeared to take the introduction literally and began to
examine me on the subject. "Did you ever read 'The Sea-Lady'?" I
happily was able to say I had, and was let off from any further
questions, for he said that he had never met but two persons before
who admitted having read the book. I am glad he did not ask me what it
meant, for while I had an opinion on the subject, it might not have
agreed with his.

Then we turned the tables on Mr. Wells and for the rest of the evening
asked him questions and criticized his views; all of which he took
very good-naturedly and was apparently not displeased thereby, since
in the book about his trip, "The Future in America", he expressed
disappointment at not finding in Washington any "such mentally vigorous
discussion centers as the New York X Club."

Five years later I had another glimpse of Mr. Wells, this time a jolly
evening at his home, where he kept his guests, a dozen young men and
women, entertained, first by playing on the pianola, which he bought
at the suggestion of Mr. Shaw; afterward by improvising a drama for
the occasion, the star rôle being taken by his wife, whom I had seen a
few days before marching in the great London suffrage procession. Mr.
Wells's home differs from most London houses in having a view and a
park. The back windows look over all the sea of houses, the shipping
in the Thames, and, smoke permitting, the Surrey hills beyond. On the
other side of the house five minutes' walk uphill brings one to
Hampstead Heath, the largest of London's public places, which serves
Mr. Wells for his long walks.

Mr. Wells perhaps got his love of outdoor life from his father, Joseph
Wells, who was a professional cricketer and the son of the head
gardener of Lord de Lisle at Penhurst Castle, in Kent. His mother was
the daughter of an innkeeper at Midhurst. Herbert George Wells was born
in Bromley, Kent, September 21, 1866, and his childhood impressions of
his mother's kitchen and his father's garden and shop he has described
in "First and Last Things" and in "Tono-Bungay." In this novel, the
first, perhaps, to be devoted to that conspicuous feature of modern
life, the patent medicine, he has utilized his brief experience as
a chemist's apprentice, or, as we would say, a drug clerk. Next an
unsuccessful attempt was made to train him as a draper's assistant--a
dry goods clerk, in our language, though we have fortunately nothing
that exactly corresponds. The hardships and humiliations of this
experience seem to have cut deep into his soul, for he recurs to
it again and again, always with bitterness, as in "Mr. Polly",
"Kipps", and "The Wheels of Chance", for example. But to untangle
the autobiographical threads from the purely fictional in Wells's
novels would be to cheat some future candidate for a Ph. D. in English
literature of his thesis.

[Illustration: H. G. Wells]

The interesting point to observe is that temperament and training
have combined to give him on the one hand a hatred of this muddled,
blind, and inefficient state of society in which we live, and on the
other a distrust of the orderly, logical, and perfected civilization
usually suggested as a possible substitute. He detests chaos, but
is skeptical of cosmos. Set between these antipathetic poles, he
vibrates continually like an electrified pith ball. He has a horror
of waste, war, dirt, cruelty, cowardice, incompetency, vagueness of
mind, dissipation of energy, inconvenience of households, and all
friction, mental or physical. But yet his ineradicable realization of
the concrete will not allow him to escape from these disagreeables
by taking refuge in such artificial paradises as Fourier's phalanx
or Morris' idyllic anarchism. Wells is a Socialist, yet he finds
not merely the Marxians, but even the Fabians, too dogmatic and
strait-laced for him. His "Modern Utopia" is, I think, the first to
mar the perfection of its picture by admitting a rebel, a permanently
irreconcilable, antagonistic individuality, a spirit that continually
denies. Yet we know that if a utopia is to come on earth it must
have room for such.

Wells would never make a leader in any popular movement. He has the
zeal of the reformer, but he has his doubts, and, what's worse, he
admits them. In the midst of his most eloquent passages he stops,
shakes his head, runs in a row of dots, and adds a few words, hinting
at another point of view. He has what James defined as the scientific
temperament, an intense desire to prove himself right coupled with an
equally intense fear lest he may be wrong.

Your true party man must be quite color blind. He must see the world
in black and white; must ignore tints and intermediate shades. Wells
as Socialist could not help seeing--and saying--that there were many
likable things about the Liberals. As a Liberal he must admit that the
Tories have the advantage in several respects. He professes to view
religion rationalistically, yet there are outbursts of true mysticism
to be found in his books, passages which prove that he has experienced
the emotion of personal religion more clearly than many a church member.

He has the courage of his convictions, but it does not extend much
beyond putting them into print. I doubt whether, if he were given
autocratic power, he would inaugurate his "Modern Utopia" or any other
of his visions. At least he has hitherto resisted all efforts to induce
him to carry them into effect.

For instance, one of the most original and interesting features of
his "Modern Utopia" was the Samurai, the ruling caste, an order of
voluntary noblemen; submitting to a peculiar discipline; wearing a
distinctive dress; having a bible of their own selected from the
inspiring literature of all ages; spending at least a week of every
year in absolute solitude in the wilderness as a sort of spiritual
retreat and restorative of self-reliance. A curious conception it was,
a combination of Puritanism and Bushido, of Fourier and St. Francis, of
Bacon's Salomon's House, Plato's philosophers ruling the republic, and
Cecil Rhodes's secret order of millionaires ruling the world.

One day a group of ardent young men and women, inspired by this ideal,
came to Wells and announced that they had established the order,
they had become Samurai, and expected him to become their leader,
or at least to give them his blessing; instead of which Wells gave
them a lecture on the sin of priggishness and sent them about their
business. I have no doubt he was right about it, nor does his
disapproval of this premature attempt to incorporate the Samurai in
London prove that there was not something worth while in the idea. But
it shows that Wells knew what his work was in the world and proposed
to stick to it, differing therein from other Utopians: Edward Bellamy,
who because his fantastic romance, "Looking Backward", happened to
strike fire, spent the rest of his life in trying to bring about the
coöperative commonwealth by means of clubs, papers, and parties; Dr.
Hertzka, who wasted his substance in efforts to found a real Freeland
on the steppes of Kilimanjaro, Africa.

Perhaps the matter with Wells is simply that he cannot find his proper
pigeon-hole. Perhaps I can find it. Wells has little sympathy with any
political grouping or ideal regnant to-day. The orthodox Tory is in
his view simply a man without imagination. The orthodox Liberal is a
mere sentimentalist substituting democratic phrases for science and
discipline. The Imperialist, though touching Wells at some points,
repels him by his mania for military expenditure and his ignorant race
prejudice. The Socialist or Labor Party man is appallingly narrow and
totally unimpressed with the need for intelligence to rule the State.
In "The New Machiavelli" the hero hovers distressfully over the
entire field of modern politics, finding as little rest for his soul as
Noah's dove on the first trip from the ark found for its feet. Once and
once only has Wells's ideal found even partial embodiment, and that was
in the best days of the Roman Empire.

There was the Great State (in the familiar capital letters); a world
state so far as the world was known and civilized. There was a
universal language, exact and lucid. There was freedom and security
of travel, at least as great as in those same countries to-day. True,
Wells would have disapproved of slavery. But so did the Stoics of the
Empire disapprove of slavery, at least in theory. Their ideal was a
universal citizenship. In the later Empire every freeman in the Roman
Empire was called a citizen. There was tolerance, not only of religion
but of manners, such as the narrow and parochial States of Western
Europe which succeeded its fall have never known till within a hundred
years. Statecraft was a science; devotion to the State a cult. There
were the legions, examples of duty and discipline and scientific
warfare, and yet a few thousands of troops sufficed to police and guard
a whole civilized, wealthy, complex world state.

But most important of all was the Roman Law. Based on logical
principles; divested of superstitious accessories and irrational
taboos; universal and in the main equitable; raised above the Empire
and the muddy immediacies of politics till it seemed the voice of
nature itself; flexible and changing, but by growth rather than whim,
it was the intellectual fabric of the Empire. It so happened that a
despotic Emperor wielded the power of state, but still it was the State
and not the mere person of the Emperor that was really reverenced. It
was certainly not the man or the artist that was divine in Nero, but
the office. Even in its decadent and Byzantine days traces of the old
ideal remained, and it was not "Charles Richard Henry Etcetera, by
the Grace of God King of Anyland, Duke of Somewherelse, Knight of the
Golden Spur, Most Reverend Lord of the Free Cities of Lower Ruritania"
in the silly medieval (and modern) style, but "Senatus Populusque
Romani" and "Res Publica." The medieval Papacy was as universal in
structure, but was obscurantist in basis, and left behind it as a
legacy the memory of the crusades and the monasteries and great
cathedrals as its monuments. The Roman Empire was rationalist in basis,
and left behind it laws, straight roads, aqueducts, baths, theaters,
libraries, and municipal organizations. Chesterton is a romantic and
rather likes than otherwise the whimsical eccentricities of modern
national institutions. But Wells, though he loves to play with science,
takes statecraft as seriously as Marcus Aurelius, and, like him, he is
a citizen of the Great State, the Cosmopolis. The "Modern Utopia" might
have grown out of the actual Roman Empire had the right turnings been
taken from that time to this; no other state or civilization would have
formed its basis.

The significance of Wells's advocacy of Socialism lies in the fact that
it is addressed to the middle classes. He might be called "The Apostle
to the Genteels." He took part for a time in the aggressive socialistic
campaign led by the Fabian Society on lines distinct from but parallel
to the Marxian working class propaganda. The orthodox Marxian has
little use for middle-class people. He expects them to become extinct
so shortly that it is no use trying to convert them. He takes no more
interest in them than missionaries do in the Tasmanians. They will be
ground fine between the upper and nether millstones of the trusts and
the unions. Such individuals who survive will be able to do so only by
becoming retainers of the capitalists, and as such will be engulfed
with them in the revolutionary cataclysm which will end the present era.

With a firm faith in this theory, it is no wonder that he often
manifests annoyance at the slowness of the bourgeoisie in carrying out
the part assigned them in the Marxian program. They do not disappear
fast enough, nor do they show any eagerness to take sides either with
the proletariat or with the capitalists. On the contrary, they view
both with a certain distrust and antipathy, and maintain a curious
confidence in their ability to manage both factions in the future as
they have in the past. In short, they are not a negligible quantity,
but hold the balance of power, at least for the present, and can retard
or accelerate the progress of Socialism to a considerable though an
indefinite extent.

Obviously, if the middle class as a whole is to be converted to
Socialism, it must be by different arguments than those found effective
with the proletariat. The Manifesto does not appeal to them, because
they have more to lose than their "chains." There must be something
more alluring than a universal competency and a steady job to arouse
them to the need of radical changes.

The sight of capitalists excites emulation and ambition rather than
hatred and despair. A man is not inclined to vote millionaires out
of existence so long as he cherishes a secret hope of becoming one.
They do not see the proletarian papers and would be repelled by them if
they did.

Wells's outline of the form that middle-class propaganda should take
presents several novel and interesting points, but the most conspicuous
is his discussion of the effect of Socialism on family relations. His
frankness and honesty in bringing that question into the open is in
commendable contrast with the tendency of most advocates of Socialism
to conceal or minimize the fact that any such profound rearrangement
of economic relations as is involved in Socialism must inevitably
affect the family, because the economic factor in this institution is
undeniably great, although how great is a matter of dispute.

Wells boldly attempts to convert a prejudice into an argument by
appealing to the very classes which, it is generally supposed, would be
repelled by the bare mention of the subject, to save the family from
its impending disintegration by adopting Socialism.

That Wells is right in thinking that the problem of the family is a
serious one at the present time is clearly shown by the statistics
collected by Sidney Webb for the Fabian Society. He proves:

    That the decline in the birthrate which is depriving England
    and Wales of at least one-fifth of every year's normal crop
    of babies is not accounted for by any alteration in the age,
    sex or marital condition of the population, by any refusal
    or postponement of marriage, or by any of the effects of
    "urbanization" or physical deterioration of sections of
    the community. The statistical evidence points, in fact,
    unmistakably to the existence of a volitional regulation
    of the marriage state that is now ubiquitous throughout
    England and Wales, among, apparently, a large majority of
    the population.

So much other statisticians have deduced, but Mr. Webb went farther and
obtained a direct proof of his conclusion by the circulation of several
hundred question blanks among middle-class families. The results are
startling. Out of a total of one hundred and twenty families reporting
in one category, there were only seven in which the number of children
was not intentionally limited. The average number of children in such
limited families is one and a half, which is only one third what it
was twenty-five years ago. In about sixty per cent of the cases "the
poverty of the parents in relation to their standard of comfort" was a
cause in the limitation of the family.

This shows how important a factor the increased expense of raising
children has become in well-to-do families, and unless the
population of the future is to be recruited very largely by the
improvident, ignorant, and debased, it points toward some form of state
encouragement of the production of well-born children. Wells suggested
a differential income tax. Doctor Galton advocated the endowment of
gifted parents. The war has brought this question out of the realm of
speculative controversy into that of practical necessity. Some of the
remedies proposed now make the measures suggested by Wells ten years
before seem timid and conservative.

His early training in dynamical physics and evolutionary biology
furnished him with the modern scientific point of view when he entered
upon the old battlegrounds of sociology and metaphysics. He therefore
never could believe in a static state, socialistic or other, and he
saw clearly that much of what passes for sound philosophical reasoning
is fallacious, because the world cannot be divided up into distinct
things of convenient size for handling, each done up in a neat package
and plainly labeled as formal logic requires. Here he is extremely
radical, going quite as far as Bergson in his anti-intellectualism
though attacking the subject in a very different way. He denies
the categories, the possibility of number, definition, and
classification.[9] He brings three charges against our Instrument of
Knowledge: first, that it can work only by disregarding individuality
and treating uniques as identically similar objects in this respect or
that; and, second, that it can only deal freely with negative terms by
treating them as though they were positive; and, third, that the sort
of reasoning which is valid for one level of human thought may not work
at another. No two things are exactly alike, and when we try to define
a class of varied objects we get a term which represents none of them
exactly and may therefore lead to an erroneous conclusion when brought
back again to a concrete case. Or, as Wells puts it in his laboratory
language: "The forceps of our minds are clumsy forceps and crush the
truth a little in taking hold of it." "Of everything we need to say
this is true, but it is not quite true."

What the artist long ago taught us, that there are no lines in nature,
the scientist has come to believe, and perhaps in time the logicians
will come to see it too. At present, however, they are, as Wells says,
in that stage of infantile intelligence that cannot count above two.
This is amusingly illustrated in a defense of logic by Mr. Jourdain in
which he says:[10]

    To these strictures of Mr. Wells on logic we may reply, it
    seems to me, that either they are psychological--in which
    case they are irrelevant to logic--or they are false. Thus
    the principle that "no truth is quite true", implying as it
    does that itself is quite true, implies its own falsehood,
    and is therefore false.

This sort of thing might have passed as a good joke in the days of
Epimenides, the Cretan, when logic was a novelty, and people amused
themselves, like boys learning to lasso, in tripping each other up with
it. But it is funny to see this ancient weapon of scholasticism brought
out to ward off the attacks of modernism, such attacks from without the
ramparts as Wells's essay and from within as F. C. S. Schiller's big
volume, "Formal Logic."

Wells has not only the sense of continuity in space, but, what is
rarer, the sense of continuity in time. "The race flows through us,
the race is the drama and we are the incidents. This is not any
sort of poetical statement: it is a statement of fact." "We are
episodes in an experience greater than ourselves." There is a desperate
sincerity about the man that I like. He seems always to be struggling
to express himself with more exactness than language allows, to say
neither more nor less than he really believes at the time. I do not
think that he takes delight in shocking the bourgeoisie as Shaw does.
Wells would rather, I believe, agree with other people than disagree.
He is not a congenital and inveterate nonconformist. But he insists
always on "painting the thing as he sees it." His later novels have
come under the ban of the British public libraries because, conceiving
sex as a disturbing element in life, he put it into his novels as a
disturbing element, thus offending both sides, those of puritanical
temperament who wanted it left out altogether and those of profligate
temperament who wanted to read of amorous adventure with no unpleasant
facts obtruded. His sociological works, in which, while insisting on
permanent monogamy as the ideal, he prophesied that the future would
show greater toleration toward other forms of marital relationship,
aroused less criticism than the frank portrayal of existing conditions
in his novels.

All his longer novels are largely concerned with the problem of
marital life but the only one of them that comes near to a solution
is that entitled "Marriage." The couple in this case, the Traffords,
are exceptionally decent people for characters in a modern novel,
and if their marriage is not a success it is not on account of any
interference from a third party, but rather because of the cares and
complications that come from family life and financial prosperity. The
heroine is a charming specimen of the modern young woman, educated at
"Oxbridge", whose chief fault is a constitutional inability to keep her
accounts straight. She spends money with excellent taste, but without
regard to her husband's bank balance. Consequently Trafford has to lay
aside his researches in molecular physics to work out a successful
process for synthetic rubber--easy to a man of his ability.

Mr. Wells apparently adopts the theory formulated by Professor Devine,
of Columbia, as to the normal division of labor between husband and
wife, that men should be experts in the art of getting money and women
experts in the art of spending it. Where both parties fail is in
regarding these duties as ends in themselves, the men getting absorbed
in business and the women buying things that they do not want, that
nobody needs, just for the sake of buying. Apparently Mr. Wells has
hope of curing the men, but none of curing the women.

Premature attempts at realization, the demand for immediate results,
the disregard of purely scientific research, the swamping of life by
restless activity and futile efforts at reform, these are the ailments
of the modern world, according to our author. His satire spares neither
conservatives nor radicals. The following passage would apply to New
York as well as London:

    London, of course, is always full of Movements. Essentially
    they are absorbents of superfluous feminine energy. They
    have a common flavor of progress and revolutionary purpose,
    and common features in abundant meetings, officials,
    and organization generally. Few are expensive and still
    fewer produce any tangible results in the world. They
    direct themselves at the most various ends: the poor,
    that favorite butt, either as a whole or in such typical
    sections as the indigent invalid or the indigent aged, the
    young, public health, the woman's cause, the prevention of
    animal food, anti-vivisection, the gratuitous advertisement
    of Shakespeare (that neglected poet), novel but genteel
    modifications of medical or religious practice, dress
    reform, the politer aspects of socialism, the encouragement
    of aeronautics, universal military service, garden suburbs,
    domestic arts, proportional representation, duodecimal
    arithmetic, and the liberation of the drama. They range
    in size and importance from campaigns on a Plessingtonian
    scale to sober little intellectual Beckingham things
    that arrange to meet half yearly and die quietly before
    the second assembly. If Heaven by some miracle suddenly
    gave every Movement in London all it professed to want, our
    world would be standing on its head and everything would
    be extremely unfamiliar and disconcerting. But, as Mr.
    Roosevelt once remarked, the justifying thing about life
    is the effort and not the goal, and few Movements involve
    any real and impassioned struggle to get to the ostensible
    object. They exist as an occupation; they exercise the
    intellectual and moral activities without undue disturbance
    of the normal routines of life. In the days when everybody
    was bicycling an ingenious mechanism called Hacker's home
    bicycle used to be advertised. Hacker's home bicycle was a
    stand bearing small rubber wheels, upon which one placed
    one's bicycle (properly equipped with a cyclometer) in
    such a way that it could be mounted and ridden without any
    sensible forward movement whatever. In bad weather, or when
    the state of the roads made cycling abroad disagreeable,
    Hacker's home bicycle could be placed in front of an open
    window and ridden furiously for any length of time. Whenever
    the rider tired, he could descend--comfortably at home
    again--and examine the cyclometer to see how far he had
    been. In exactly the same way the ordinary London Movement
    gives scope for the restless and progressive impulse in
    human nature without the risk of personal entanglements or
    any inconvenient disturbance of the milieu.[11]

To accomplish a cure, or at least to obtain a diagnosis of the evil,
Mr. Wells resorts to a curious expedient which he suggested first in
his "Modern Utopia", where he laid down as one of the rules of his new
order of Samurai that a man who aspired to be a leader of men should
for a week every year go off into the desert and live absolutely alone,
without books or other distractions to keep him from thinking. But in
"Marriage" Mr. Wells improves upon this plan, for Trafford and his wife
go into the wilds of Labrador together. "How sweet is solitude," as the
Irishman said, "when you have your sweetheart with you." So, indeed,
they found it, and in their fight with cold, starvation, and wild
beasts they learned how to found their love upon mutual comprehension
and respect, and made of their marriage a true union. The change
of heart which Trafford experiences is not altogether unlike what
Christians call conversion. His line of argument, or, more properly
speaking, development of thought, finds expression in fragmentary
sentences muttered in the delirium of fever, a Freudian emergence of
fundamental feelings, as in the following passage:

    "Of course," he said, "I said it--or somebody said it--about
    this collective mind being mixed with other things. It's
    something arising out of life--not the common stuff of life.
    An exhalation. ... It's like the little tongues of fire
    that came at Pentecost.... Queer how one comes drifting back
    to these images. Perhaps I shall die a Christian yet....
    The other Christians won't like me if I do. What was I
    saying?... It's what I reach up to, what I desire shall
    pervade me, not what I am. Just as far as I give myself
    purely to knowledge, to making feeling and thought clear
    in my mind and words, to the understanding and expression
    of the realities and relations of life, just so far do I
    achieve salvation.... Salvation!...

    "I wonder is salvation the same for every one? Perhaps for
    one man salvation is research and thought, and for another
    expression in art, and for another nursing lepers. Provided
    he does it in the spirit. He has to do it in the spirit....

    "This flame that arises out of life, that redeems life from
    purposeless triviality, _isn't_ life. Let me get hold of
    that. That's a point. That's a very important point."

This passage from "Marriage" showed that in 1912 Wells's thought was
entering upon a new phase, considerably in advance of that revealed in
his "First and Last Things." He seemed to be working toward some sort
of belief in God, a Bergsonian God, struggling upward in spite of and
by means of inert matter and recalcitrant humanity. It would indeed
be queer to find Wells not only among the prophets, but among the
Christian prophets, and, as he intimates, some of the other Christians
would not like it.

Wells's catholicity of sympathy recognizes no limitations of race.
He has an abhorrence for race prejudice of every kind. The greatest
blot he found upon American civilization was our ill treatment of the

In his article on "Race Prejudice" he puts it foremost among the evils
of the age but even his "anticipations" could not conceive of such an
insensate revival of racial animosity between civilized nations as the
Great War has, brought about:

    Knight errantry is as much a part of a wholesome human being
    as falling in love or self-assertion, and therein lies
    one's hope for mankind. Nearly every one, I believe--I've
    detected the tendency in old cheats even and disreputable
    people of all sorts--is ready to put in a little time
    and effort in dragon-slaying now and then, and if any one
    wants a creditable dragon to write against, talk against,
    study against, subscribe against, work against, I am
    convinced they can find no better one--that is to say, no
    worse one--than Race Prejudice. I am convinced myself that
    there is no more evil thing in this present world than
    Race Prejudice; none at all. I write deliberately--it is
    the worst single thing in life now. It justifies and holds
    together more baseness, cruelty and abomination than any
    other sort of error in the world. Through its body runs
    the black blood of coarse lust, suspicion, jealousy and
    persecution and all the darkest poisons of the human soul.
    It is this much like the dragons of old, that it devours
    youth, spoils life, holds beautiful people in shame and
    servitude, and desolates wide regions. It is a monster
    begotten of natural instincts and intellectual confusion, to
    be fought against by all men of good intent, each in our own
    dispersed modern manner doing his fragmentary, inestimable

The abolition of hatred between castes and classes and countries, the
growth of toleration and extension of coöperation, the improvement of
education, and the advancement of science, are what will lead toward
his ideal. And his ideal is that of an evolutionist, the opportunity
for continuous growth. He has exp rest it best, perhaps, in "The
Food of the Gods," in the speech of one of the new race of giants,
of supermen, to his fellows as they are about to give battle to the
community of ordinary people determined to destroy them:

    It is not that we would oust the little people from the
    world in order that we, who are no more than one step upward
    from their littleness, may hold their world forever. It is
    the step we fight for and not ourselves.... We are here,
    Brothers, to what end? To serve the spirit and the purpose
    that has been breathed into our lives. We fight not for
    ourselves--for we are but the momentary hands and eyes
    of the Life of the World. Through us and through the
    little folk the Spirit looks and learns. From us by word
    and birth and act it must pass--to still greater lives.
    This earth is no resting place; this earth is no playing
    place, else indeed we might put our throats to the little
    people's knife, having no greater right to live than they.
    And they in their turn might yield to the ants and vermin.
    We fight not for ourselves but for growth, growth that
    goes on forever. To-morrow, whether we live or die, growth
    will conquer through us. That is the law of the spirit
    forevermore. To grow according to the will of God! To grow
    out of these cracks and crannies, out of these shadows and
    darknesses, into greatness and the light! Greater, he said,
    speaking with slow deliberation, greater, my Brothers! And
    then--still greater. To grow and again--to grow. To grow at
    last into the fellowship and understanding of God.

The Great War has inspired or at least instigated many works of fiction
already, but the best of these, in my opinion, is Wells's "Mr. Britling
Sees It Through." It does not deal much with the fighting at the front.
The author is chiefly concerned with another aspect of the war, its
effect upon the psychology of the Englishman. The book is divided into
two parts; the first half is light, carefree and amusing after the
manner of Wells's earlier romances; the other half is darkened by the
war cloud and is written with more emotional power than he has hitherto

Knowing Wells's habit of introducing autobiographical details into
his romances, we inevitably surmise that Mr. Britling is himself.
Mr. Britling is a writer whom "lots of people found interesting and
stimulating, and a few found seriously exasperating." "He had ideas
in the utmost profusion about races and empires and social order and
political institutions and gardens and automobiles and the future of
India and China and esthetics and America and the education of mankind
in general.... And all that sort of thing."

This certainly reads like Wells's repertory of ideas. And to make
the resemblance closer Mr. Britling writes a pamphlet, "And Now War
Ends", shortly after the war began--just as Mr. Wells wrote "The War
That Will End War." Several of the characters are recognizable as Mr.
Wells' neighbors. At any rate we may be sure that the book reveals the
changing moods not only of the author but of every thinking Englishman
as the enormity, the awfulness, the all-pervasiveness of the war became
slowly realized in the course of many months.

As a contrast to his typical Englishman Mr. Wells brings in an
American, handled with more skill than British writers usually show in
dealing with American psychology. The delight of his Mr. Direck at
the recognition of the scenes and customs he had known from history and
novels is well presented:

    The Thames, when he sallied out to see it, had been too
    good to be true, the smallest thing in rivers he had ever
    seen, and he had had to restrain himself from affecting a
    marked accent and accosting some passerby with the question,
    "Say! But is this little wet ditch here the Historical River
    Thames?" In America, it must be explained, Mr. Direck spoke
    a very good and careful English indeed, but he now found
    the utmost difficulty in controlling his impulse to use a
    high-pitched nasal drone and indulge in dry Americanisms and
    poker metaphors upon all occasions. When people asked him
    questions he wanted to say "Yep" or "Sure", words he would
    no more have used in America than he could have used a bowie
    knife. But he had a sense of rôle. He wanted to be just
    exactly what he supposed an Englishman would expect him to

Every American tourist in England has felt this temptation. He also has
the experience ascribed by Mr. Wells to his American of finding that
England on closer acquaintance is not so antiquated as she looks. When
asked what his impression of England is Mr. Direck answers:

    That it looks and feels more like the traditional Old
    England than any one could possibly have believed, and
    that in reality it is less like the traditional Old England
    than any one would ever possibly have imagined. I thought
    when I looked out of the train this morning that I had come
    to the England of Washington Irving. I find that it is not
    even the England of Mrs. Humphry Ward.

To complete this study of national psychology there is also a German
in the family circle at first, a tutor whose hobbies are Ido and
internationalism and a universal index, traits drawn from Professor
Ostwald apparently. He is not caricatured but we suspect that like Mr.
Direck, the American, Herr Heinrich is affected by British expectations
and appears more German than he is.

The book reëchoes all the passions of the war,--love, hatred, courage,
despair, meanness, sacrifice, heroism, selfishness, stoicism and mad
wrath,--but ends upon a clear religious tone such as has been heard
but faintly in any work of Mr. Wells before. What Mr. Britling sees
through is not the war, for nobody can yet see so far as that, but he
sees through the doubt and turmoil of his own mind and finds internal
peace in the midst of warfare. When he sits down to write a letter to
the parents of Heinrich, who like his own son had fallen in France, his
mind is torn by conflicting emotions, but finally these are resolved
into one common chord and he writes:

    Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until
    a man has found God and been found by God, he begins at no
    beginning, he works to no end. He may have his friendships,
    his partial loyalties, his scraps of honor. But all these
    things fall into place and life falls into place only with
    God. Only with God. God, who fights through men against
    Blind Force and Night and Non-Existence; who is the end,
    who is the meaning. He is the only King.... Of course I
    must write about Him. I must tell all my world of Him. And
    before the coming of the true King, the inevitable King,
    the King who is present whenever just men foregather, this
    bloodstained rubbish of the ancient world, these puny kings
    and tawdry emperors, these wily politicians and artful
    lawyers, these men who claim and grab and trick and compel,
    these war makers and oppressors, will presently shrivel and
    pass--like paper thrust into a flame. Our sons have shown us


The curious thing about H. G. Wells is his diversity. For a person of
any intellectual consistency it is impossible thoroughly to appreciate
him in certain moods without disliking him in others. He is the stern
moralist of "The Sleeper Awakes", the detached and exquisite artist
of "Thirty Strange Stories" and "Tales of Space and Time", the genial
and conciliatory sociologist of "New Worlds for Old", the intolerant
Imperialist of "Anticipations", the subtle anti-moralist of "The New
Machiavelli" and "Ann Veronica", the sympathetic if somewhat cynical
portrayer of the shop-keeping classes of "Mr. Polly" and "The Wheels
of Chance", the vague philosopher at large of "First and Last Things",
the imaginative rationalist of "A Modern Utopia", the Jules-Vernish
romancer of "The War of Worlds" and "The First Men in the Moon", the
scientific transcendentalist of "The Food of the Gods", and in addition
he seriously chronicles "Floor Games" with his boys and takes interest
in fugitive essays on modern warfare and "The Misery of Boots." Unless
one is alien to everything human (and superhuman), it is impossible to
escape being interested in at least some of these.

Wells's philosophy is, as I have said, expressed symbolically in many
of his stories. It is most fully explained in "First and Last Things:
A Confession of Faith and a Rule of Life" (Putnam), and in the two
essays previously referred to, "Scepticism of the Instrument" (in "A
Modern Utopia") and "The Discovery of the Future", first published
in _Nature_, February 6, 1902, and in the "Report of the Smithsonian
Institution", 1902, and later in book form (Huebsch, New York, 1913).

His sociological studies comprise the following volumes:
"Anticipations" (1901, Harper), "Mankind in the Making" (1903,
Scribner), "A Modern Utopia" (1904, Scribner), "The Future in America"
(1906, Harper), "New Worlds for Old" (1908, Macmillan), "Socialism and
the Great State", with the collaboration of fourteen other authors
(1911, Harper), "Social Forces in England and America" (1914, Harper),
published in England under the title "An Englishman Looks at the World"
(Cassell), "The War That Will End War" (1915), "What Is Coming?" (1916,
Macmillan), "Italy, France and Britain at War" (1917, Macmillan),
and "God the Invisible King" (1917, Macmillan).

His short stories have been collected in several different volumes, in
part overlapping: "Thirty Strange Stories" (1898, Harper), "Tales of
Time and Space" (1899, Doubleday), "Twelve Stories and a Dream" (1903,
Scribner), "The Plattner Story and Others" (1897, Macmillan), "The
Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents" (1895, Macmillan).

Eight of the best of his short stories (including "The Star",
"Armageddon" and "The Country of the Blind") are published in a
sumptuous edition with Coburn's photographic illustrations by Mitchell
Kennerley ("The Door in the Wall and Other Stories", 1911).

His romances include: "The Time Machine" (1895, Holt), "The Wonderful
Visit" (1895), "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1896, Duffield), "The War
of the Worlds" (1898, Harper), "The Invisible Man" (1897, Harper),
"The Sea-Lady" (1902) "The First Men in the Moon" (1901), "When the
Sleeper Wakes" (1899, Harper), rewritten (1911) as "The Sleeper Awakes"
(Nelson, London), "In the Days of the Comet" (1906, Century), "The Food
of the Gods" (1904, Scribner), "The War in the Air" (1908, Macmillan),
"The World Set Free" (1914, Macmillan).

His novels fall naturally into two classes: first those of a lighter
and humorous character: "The Wheels of Chance" (1896, Macmillan),
"Love and Mr. Lewisham" (1900, Stokes), "Kipps" (1906, Scribner), "The
History of Mr. Polly" (1910, Duffield), "Bealby" (1915, Macmillan),
"Boon" etc. (1915, Doran).

His longer and more serious novels are: "Ann Veronica" (1909,
Harper), "The New Machiavelli" (1910, Duffield), "Tono-Bungay" (1908,
Duffield), "Marriage" (Duffield), "The Passionate Friends" (1913,
Harper), "The Wife of Sir Isaac Harmon" (1914, Macmillan), "The
Research Magnificent" (1915, Macmillan), "Mr. Britling Sees It Through"
(1916, Macmillan).

To these we must add some early works: a "Textbook on Biology" in two
volumes (1892) and two volumes of essays, "Select Conversations with
an Uncle" (1895, Saalfield) and "Certain Personal Matters" (1897). He
has, like Stevenson, devoted much attention to devising floor games for
children and has published two books upon it: "Floor Games" and "Little
Wars" (Small, Maynard).

Wells still awaits his Boswell, but we have "The World of H. G. Wells"
by Van Wyck-Brooks (1915, Kennerley), a lively and appreciative
critique, and "H. G. Wells, A Biography and a Critical Estimate of
his Work" by J. D. Beresford (1915, Holt), still briefer, equally
interesting, and containing a list of his writings to date. An
autobiographical sketch was written for the Russian edition of his
works (1909) and published in T. P.'s Magazine (1912).

Of magazine articles and critiques the following have for one reason or
another special interest:

"Les Idées de Wells sur l'Humanité future" by Charles Duguet in _Revue
des Idées_, 1908.

"Wells" by Chesterton in _American Magazine_, vol. 71, p. 32 (1910).

"Wells and his Point of View" in _Catholic World_, vol. 91 (four
articles, 1910).

"Wells and Bergson" by P. E. B. Jourdain in _Hibbert Journal_, vol. 10,
p. 835, July, 1912. "H. G. Wells et la Pensée contemporaine" by René
Leguy in _Mercure de France_ (1912).

The contributions of Mr. Wells to current magazines and newspapers
are too numerous to enumerate, but I must not omit the two articles
on Socialism which he contributed to _The Independent_, October 25
and November 3, 1906, and an article on "The Nature of Love" (_The
Independent_, August 13, 1908).

[1] See "Major Prophets of To-day", p. 232.

[2] "Heretics", by G. K. Chesterton, p. 85.

[3] "In the Days of the Comet", by H. G. Wells. New York: The Century

[4] The World Set Free.

[5] From Wells's "Anticipations."

[6] From Kellermann's account of the Battle of Loos.

[7] It would be interesting to learn where Wells happened to get hold
of the idea that time is the fourth dimension of reality and how much
he knew then of the history of the conception. He could not, at any
rate, for all his prophetic powers, have foreseen the important part
it was to play in scientific thought and metaphysical speculation in
the coming century. Lorentz, Einstein and Minkowski have incorporated
it into their new theory of relativity which threatens to abolish the
ether and to make mass a variable, dependent on velocity. Our ordinary
Euclidean or three dimensional space would thus be a cross-section at
a certain time. (See "The Time-Space Manifold of Relativity", by Edwin
B. Wilson and G. N. Lewis, in _Proceedings of the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences_, November, 1912.) Heinrich Czolbe in 1875 brought
forward the theory (see Müller, _Archiv für systematische Philosophie_,
XVII, p. 106), and Lotze discusses it in his "Microcosmos." Bergson's
philosophy is based upon the distinction he draws between psychological
duration and the physical treatment of time as a kind of space.
Professor Pitkin of Columbia criticizes Wells's time-machine from
the metaphysical standpoint in "Time and Pure Activity" (_Journal
Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods_, Vol. ii, No. 19).

[8] "Boon, The Mind of the Race, The Wild Asses of the Devil, and The
Last Trump. Being a First Selection from the Literary Remains of George
Boon, Appropriate to the Times. Prepared for Publication by Reginald
Bliss, with an Ambiguous Introduction by H. G. Wells." (Doran, 1915.)

[9] He has given three statements of his views on this point: First,
in an article, "Rediscovery of the Unique", in Fortnightly Review,
July, 1891; second, in a paper read to the Oxford Philosophical Society
and published in Mind, XIII, No. 51, and as an appendix to "A Modern
Utopia"; and, third, in Book I of "First and Last Things."

[10] "Logic, M. Bergson and Mr. H. G. Wells", by Philip E. B. Jourdain
in _Hibbert Journal_, X, p. 835.

[11] "Marriage," Duffield and Company, 1912.

[12] See "The Tragedy of Color", chapter xii of "The Future in
America", and his article on "Race Prejudice", in _The Independent_ of
February 14, 1907.



Knight Errant of Orthodoxy

    The central truth to be uttered about Mr. Chesterton is that
    he is the greatest prophet of our generation. He is as great
    as Tolstoy or Ibsen. It may seem rash to set him beside
    these great prophets, but time will ratify my rashness. A
    prophet is a man of genius with a spiritual message for his

    The spiritual message delivered by Mr. Chesterton is
    mightier than any other sounding in our ears. He is a bigger
    man than Maeterlinck or Bergson, though we know it not.
    As a prophet he is larger in every way than Mr. Shaw or
    Mr. Wells or Mr. Arnold Bennett, because he deals with the
    soul, whereas they deal with the soul's environment. They
    deal with man as a social animal. He deals with man as a
    spiritual being.

    Our failure to salute the prophet is complete, and it
    is emphasized by our failure to perceive that he is the
    authentic voice of that English soul which is now wrestling
    with the Teutonic soul for the soul of the world. _He is the
    soul of England_.--James Douglas in the _Observer_, 1916.

Can a journalist have a philosophy of life, and if so would it be
worth talking about? In answer to the first question I shall quote
Chesterton to the effect that everybody has a philosophy, even generals
and journalists. To prove the affirmative of the second I shall
present, as Exhibit B, the whole body of Chesterton's works. Perhaps
the most heretical passage of his book on "Heretics" was that which

    But there are some people, nevertheless--and I am one of
    them--who think that the most practical and important thing
    about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that
    for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know
    his income, but still more important to know his philosophy.
    We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it
    is important to know the enemy's numbers, but still more
    important to know the enemy's philosophy. We think the
    question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects
    matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects

Like many other things in Chesterton's works this does not sound so
heretical now as when it was written, about the time when the weary old
world had finished Chapter XIX of the second volume of his history and
had turned over the page in hopes of finding something new and exciting
in Chapter XX--and found it. Chesterton's countrymen then were keeping
careful count of Germany's soldiers and ships, but they were
contentedly ignorant of German philosophy. But as soon as the war broke
out they began with feverish haste to translate and study Treitschke,
Nietzsche, Bernhardi, and any other books which might throw light upon
the German _Weltanschauung_, but which in the leisurely days of peace
they had no time to read.

It is convenient to compare Shaw and Chesterton because they are
antithetic in temperament and opinion and represent two opposite
currents of modern thought. Shaw stands for the earlier rationalistic,
socialistic revolt against the conventions of society. Chesterton
stands for the later conservative reaction to all this, for
ecclesiasticism, nationalism, and traditionalism. Shaw is a vegetarian
and teetotaler. Chesterton is quite the opposite; he champions the
public house as a good old English institution. Shaw is a suffragist;
Chesterton is dead set against anything of the kind. Shaw came from the
most pronounced Protestant stock, the Ulster kind, and, as we can see
from his introduction to "Androcles and the Lion", he has constructed
a sort of religion for himself, though he could hardly be accounted
orthodox. Chesterton is a Catholic, though of the Anglican rather than
the Roman variety, a champion of orthodoxy, and a defender of all
forms of ritualism and medievalism. Chesterton makes it his business to
find a logical basis for popular traditions, customs, and superstitions
which have always been regarded as purely irrational and arbitrary even
by those who liked them and defended them as poetic and conforming
to a deeper reality than that of reason. Shaw is always showing how
absurd and illogical are the soundest axioms and the most unquestioned
platitudes, whether of orthodox conservative or orthodox revolutionary
thought. Chesterton discovers new reasons in things; Shaw discovers new
unreasons in things.

Chesterton appears in the capacity of permanent minority leader. But
this is in respect to that really small minority of professional
writers, speakers, and agitators who set the fashions for the
Zeitgeist. Actually he has the backing of the great inarticulate
immobile mass of the people.

Chesterton has discovered how to be witty though orthodox. But his
orthodoxy is so extreme that it seems heterodoxy to most of us. Perhaps
that accounts for his success in making it sound paradoxical. As Wesley
determined that the devil had no right to all the pretty music, so
Chesterton determined that the iconoclasts should not monopolize
all the cleverness. His originality consists in his genius for turning
platitudes into epigrams. He can put the most unquestioned axiom in a
way to shock the world. If he is right in what he says in his books on
Watts that "there is only one thing that requires real courage to say
and that is a truism", Chesterton must be the bravest man alive. But
even he finds it necessary to promulgate his truisms in the disguise of
sensational novelties.

Chesterton's ideal is a complete democracy, not merely democracy in
politics but democracy in science, religion, literature, sport, and
art. If you say this is impracticable he doubtless would retort that it
was the essence of an ideal to be impracticable, otherwise it would be
confounded with dull reality. He always champions the opinion of the
many against that of the few, the laymen against the expert.

    Once men sang together round a table in chorus; now one
    man sings alone, for the absurd reason that he can sing
    better. If scientific civilization goes on (which is most
    improbable) only one man will laugh because he can laugh
    better than the rest.--"Heretics."

    It was absurd to say that Waterloo was won on Eton cricket
    fields. But it might have fairly been said that Waterloo was
    won on the village green, where clumsy boys played a very
    clumsy cricket.

    ... It is a good sign in a nation when such things are done
    badly. It shows that all the people are doing them. And it
    is a bad sign in a nation when such things are done very
    well, for it shows that only a few experts and eccentrics
    are doing them and that the nation is merely looking
    on.--"All Things Considered."

On this ground he hated Germany even before the war, as a nation ruled
by experts. He denounced its workingmen's insurance, its governmental
efficiency, its higher criticism, and the like. "I am all for German
fantasy, but I will resist German earnestness till I die. I am all for
Grimm's Fairy Tales; but if there is such a thing as Grimm's Law, I
would break it if I knew what it was."[1]

It is on the basis of democracy that he defends religion:

    That Christianity is identical with democracy is the hardest
    of gospels: there is nothing that so strikes men with fear
    as that they are all sons of God.--"Twelve Types."

    It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended
    through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human
    voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record. The
    man who quotes some German historian against the tradition
    of the Catholic Church, for instance, is strictly appealing
    to aristocracy. He is appealing to the superiority of one
    expert against the awful authority of a mob. It is quite
    easy to see why a legend is treated and ought to be treated
    more respectfully than a book of history. The legend is
    generally made by the majority of people in a village, who
    are sane. The book is generally written by the one man in
    the village who is mad.... If we attach great importance
    to the opinion of ordinary men in great unanimity when
    dealing with daily matters, there is no reason why we should
    disregard it when we are dealing with history or fable.
    Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise.
    Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all
    classes--our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead....
    Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even
    if he is our groom: tradition asks us not to neglect a good
    man's opinion, even if he is our father.--"Orthodoxy."

I expect some time to find Chesterton defending the Trinity on the
ground that it is more democratic than Mohammedan monotheism, a sort of
commission government extended to the universe.

Chesterton has the true artist's love for the individual and the
concrete. He delights in clear outlines and bright colors. He thinks
in pictures. I have never seen any of his painting, but he must have
the color sense strongly developed. He will halt in a stern chase or in
the height of an argument to describe a sunset with the most chromatic
language at his command. He studied art at the Slade School in
London, and although he was soon switched off into journalism he still
reverts to the pencil on occasion. He has supplied the illustrations to
three of Belloc's books; "The Great Enquiry", "The Green Overcoat", and
"Emmanuel Burden."[2] The last, a satire on imperialistic financiering,
is one of the cleverest pieces of irony to be found in all literature,
but it raises the question of whether the ironical tone can be
sustained through a whole volume without a decline of interest. When
the question of illustration arose Chesterton sent out for a bundle
of wrapping paper, and in the course of one evening drew all of the
portraits in the book as well as a lot that were not used.

For the understanding of Chesterton's romances it is necessary to
remember that the more non-sensical they seem, the more sense they have
in them. This is because when he gets blinded by a big idea he sees
men as concepts walking. He is too much of a Platonist to be a good
novelist. He admires Dickens but never imitates him, for Chesterton's
stories are singularly devoid of individuals. All the little variations
and accidental peculiarities that make a type into a person in the
great novels of the world are lacking. In "The Ball and the Cross"
Mac Ian is simply the archetype of the Catholic Romanticist and
Turnbull of the Revolutionary Rationalist. Neither of them ever does
anything out of character, but then neither of them has any character
outside of the Idea that made them what they are. Each falls in love
with a girl of the opposite type, drawn to scale. This is carried
farther yet by the introduction of an incredibly consistent Tolstoyan
and a Nietzschean beside whom Nietzsche would seem all too human. Thus
the whole book is balanced and matched like old-fashioned wall paper or
an Italian garden.

Manalive comes closer to being real. He certainly is alive, but he is
not a man; he is an ideal, Chesterton's superman. "All habits are bad
habits" is the text of G. K. Chesterton's "Manalive", which proved
as delightful to his admirers and distasteful to his antipathists as
any of his former productions. In his essays Mr. Chesterton's method
is first to set down something that sounds like a wild absurdity and
then to argue the reader into the admission--cheerful or indignant,
according to his temperament--that it is a very sensible thing after
all. In his romances his method is essentially the same. Nobody could
act crazier than Mr. Innocent Smith in the first chapters of this
volume, but in the end he is proved, by a long legal process, to be
the only really sane man of the lot. He is accused of about as many
crimes as the hero of Jokai's tale, "The Death's Head", confessed
to, but he turns out to be quite as guiltless. Charges of murder,
burglary, bigamy, and kidnaping, amply certificated, slip off him
like water off a duck's back. Neither prison nor asylum can hold
Manalive. Smith's theory is that if you keep the commandments, you
may violate the conventions; which, being the reverse of the ordinary
rule of procedure, gets him into all sorts of misunderstandings. He
had evidently read Schopenhauer's theory that the only happiness
is the pursuit of happiness, and, what is more, he acts upon it by
letting go what he most delights in that he may recapture it. He goes
round the world in search of his own home, and his series of amorous
adventures are conducted in strict accord with monogamous morality.
By getting outside of himself he can gain the joy of coveting his own
possessions. The economic law of diminishing returns applies to all our
habitual pleasures, and to escape it we must be continually seeking new

So Manalive is distinguished from ordinary men in that he has legs
that he uses. He is not rooted. He breaks out and runs around and
discovers the most novel and wonderful things in the most commonplace

Mr. Chesterton is as fond of a chase as a fox hunter or a kinetoscope
man. We have it in "Manalive" as we have it in "The Man Who Was
Thursday" and "The Ball and the Cross." As usual he stops every little
while and paints a cloudscape to rest our eyes; and all along he
enlivens the way by epigrams and inverted proverbs. Here are a few:

    When men are weary they fall into anarchy; but when they are
    gay and vigorous they invariably make rules. We are never
    free until some institution frees us; and liberty cannot
    exist until it is declared by authority.

    For she was one of those women who at bottom regard all
    men as equally mad, wild animals of some utterly separate

    Though she never spoke she always looked as if she might
    speak any minute. Perhaps this is the very definition of a

    All that the parsons say is unproved. All that the doctors
    say is disproved. That's the only difference between science
    and religion there's ever been or ever will be.

    The academic mind reflects infinity, and is full of light by
    the simple process of being shallow and standing still.

    With our weak spirits we should grow old in eternity, if
    we were not kept young by death. Providence has to cut
    immortality into lengths for us, as nurses cut the bread and
    butter into fingers.

The most fantastic and therefore characteristic of Chesterton's
romances is "The Man Who Was Thursday" which the French are able
more concisely to entitle _Nommé Jeudi_. The author calls it "A
Nightmare", and it is. The only books to compare with it are George
Macdonald's "Lilith", Strindberg's "Dream Plays", and Andreyev's
"Masked Ball"; but for wild imagining, grotesquerie, farcicality, and
swift transformations it cannot be matched. It is a detective story,
a motion-picture chase, and a system of theology, all in one. Like
all dreams, according to Freud, it is symbolic, but the symbolism
is not to be interpreted in the usual Freudian way, for Chesterton
is clean-minded. The clue to it is to be found in his earliest book
of essays, "The Defendant", when he argues for the moral value of
the detective story in the following fashion: "By dealing with the
unsleeping sentinels who guard the outposts of society, it tends to
remind us that we live in an armed camp, making war upon a chaotic
world, and that the criminals, the children of chaos, are nothing but
traitors within our gates."

The detective, he says, who stands alone and fearless amid
the knives and fists of a thieves' kitchen, is the original and
poetic figure, and the criminals surrounding him represent cosmic
conservatism. But in "The Man Who Was Thursday" each one of the
six detectives, separately commissioned by the mysterious head of
the secret police to enter the inner circle of seven anarchists,
believes himself to be fighting single-handed for law and order
against a criminal conspiracy to destroy civilization. The seven
pseudo-anarchists go through all sorts of perilous and absurd
adventures in the course of which they are metamorphosed successively
into the seven days of the week, the seven days of creation, the seven
orders of created things, and the seven angels of heaven. Finally
seated upon seven thrones, robed in state, blazoned--of course, since
it is Chesterton--with heraldic devices, they recognize one another
as friends and allies through all their strange strife. It reminds
one of Emerson's Brahma: "If the red slayer thinks he slays." But
Chesterton is too much of a Manichean to let it go at that. One of the
anarchists turns out to be genuine, the only real one in the world,
the irreconcilable rebel, the Eternal Anarchist, the spirit that
continually denies, the leader of His Majesty's Opposition. In some
ways Chesterton's conception of the devil reminds one of Andreyev's
"Anathema" or perhaps rather of the Satan whom Dostoievsky introduces
into his "Brothers Karamazarov." Chesterton's mind seems to have
a curious affinity to the Russian, though so far as I remember his
writings show no evidence of being influenced by Russian literature.

"The Man Who Was Thursday" affects readers variously. To some it seems
ridiculous; to others blasphemous. Julius West, usually sympathetic,
dismisses it in his biography of Chesterton as incomprehensible
and tiresome. Yet three people I know--a man, a woman, and a
child--consider it one of the most wonderful books in the world, and
know it almost by heart.

My own opinion is that it shows that Chesterton has not yet found the
true medium for the expression of his genius. Drawing and writing
are too slow and cold to give scope to his pictorial imagination. He
should, like D'Annunzio, take to the screen. "The Man Who Was Thursday"
would make a magnificent scenario as it stands, and Chesterton could
then add all of the things he thought of or saw while composing it but
could not put into words.

Blake, too, was a man who would have done wonders with the
cinematograph if it had only been invented sooner. Chesterton, in
his sketch of Blake, explains his difficulties of expression by word
and picture:

    How shall we manage to state in an obvious and alphabetical
    manner the ultimate query, the primordial pivot on which
    the whole modern problem turns? It cannot be done in long
    rationalistic words: they convey by their very sound the
    suggestion of something subtle. One must try to think of
    something in the way of a plain street metaphor or an
    obvious analogy. For the thing is not too hard for human
    speech: it is actually too obvious for human speech.

Chesterton's theory of the use of symbolism, even absurd symbolism, is
given in his "Defense of Nonsense".

    Every great literature has always been
    allegorical--allegorical of some view of the whole universe.
    The Iliad is only great because all life is a battle, the
    Odyssey because all life is a journey, the Book of Job
    because all life is a riddle....

    Nonsense and faith (strange as the conjunction may seem)
    are the two supreme symbolic assertions of the truth that
    to draw out the soul of things with a syllogism is as
    impossible as to draw out Leviathan with a hook.

Chesterton at the beginning of his career wrote "A Defense of Detective
Stories"[3] and he has since shown that he knows how to write them,
in the collections entitled "The Club of Queer Trades", "The
Innocence of Father Brown", and "The Wisdom of Father Brown." But
they are different from ordinary detective stories not merely because
a mild-mannered priest takes the place of Sherlock Holmes but more
because they frequently have nothing to do with crime and all parties
turn out, as in "Thursday", to have the best of intentions, whatever
their actions. Chesterton's method in these stories is much the
same as he employs in his essays; that is, he piles up paradoxical
impossibilities, and then by some simple expedient resolves them into
apparent reasonableness. The author's obvious enjoyment of his own
ingenuity adds to the reader's delight. It would be interesting to
know whether he has in mind the solution when he lays out the plot or
whether he is not playing a game with himself like jackstraws, pitting
his skill as a disentangler against a muddle of his own making.

As an artist Chesterton has always been attracted by the Orient, with
its mystical fanaticisms, its cruel colors, and its unfamiliar habits
of thought. But while Turkey is all very well at a distance, Turkey
in Europe is to him a distinct and horrible menace. In "The Flying
Inn" we have a story of Mohammedan influence not only in Europe but
in England itself. This novel is an allegory of the war between the
sacred symbol of the cross and the sacred symbol of the crescent, as
Chesterton has similarly related the struggle of the Ball and the Cross
in his book of that name.

The champions of the crescent are Misysra Ammon, the Prophet of the
Moon, and Lord Ivywood, an eccentric nobleman, a fanatic against
the liquor traffic as the embodiment of Christian custom as opposed
to Moslem. Misysra, who is as fertile with impossible theories as
with plausible arguments to support them, maintains that England is
Mohammedan at heart and proves it in a hundred ways from the contempt
with which the pig is popularly spoken of to the absence of any
"idolatrous" animal or vegetable forms in modern cubist painting. Lord
Ivywood's persecution of the inn-keepers sends one of them adrift
throughout the country carrying his inn-sign with him and accompanied
by Captain Dalroy, an athletic Irishman who champions the cause of the

So far we have a straight Chesterton novel, a symbolic theme variegated
by satires on modern life. But Chesterton really seems uncertain that
he aimed to write a prose novel at all, for the book is plentifully
interspersed with verses, serious, comic, ironical, militant, in
good meter and in bad, till the novel takes on the not unpleasant
appearance of a Chesterton anthology of songs.

Everybody who likes G. K. Chesterton has wished that he might be
induced to follow the example of Charles Dickens and write a Child's
History of England. When a literary man of wayward genius undertakes
to interpret and record the story of his country the result is almost
always worth while. We do not get the white sunlight of impartiality,
but we get a beautiful rainbow of prejudices, personal opinions,
and mystical insight. Chesterton has still to write us a complete
English history, but he has dealt faithfully with about a century
and a half of it in "The Crimes of England." It is due to him to
say that the unhistorical character of the work is caused rather by
partisan emphasis than by any inaccuracy of detail. Rarely if ever
has Chesterton written with such care for his facts, and, as for his
transcendental interpretation of them, he has as much warrant to
philosophize as Carlyle or Taine or any other literary historian.
But one does tend to get the impression from the book that only
Prussians had ever incurred the scriptural curse on him who removes his
neighbor's landmark.

For the "crimes of England" are really the crimes of Prussia, and
England's guilt is summed up in the phrase that English politics
has been devoted ever since the time of Frederick the Great to "the
belittlement of France and the gross exaggeration of Germany."
Chesterton denounces the part played by his country in the wars of
Frederick the Great, in the Napoleonic struggles, in the repression
of Ireland, in tolerating Bismarck's schemes of aggrandizement, only
to bring into darker relief the wickedness of the state which used
England throughout all these years as a catspaw. Yet the indictment
of England as Prussia's accomplice is delivered in very sharp terms;
so far as Chesterton shows bias it is pro-French or pro-Irish rather
than pro-British. He really believes that the war is an epic struggle
between the old soul of Christendom, most clearly incarnated in
the Catholic nations, and a blast of sinister materialism from the
wastes and forests of Brandenburg. In this belief he writes not only
seriously, but soberly, as befits the great hour, and concludes his
book with a vivid and moving description of the Battle of the Marne
which has in it a world of eloquence and no "cleverness" at all.

The large volume of "Criticisms and Appreciations of Dickens" is
composed of his prefaces to the separate books of Dickens. Although
not so important a piece of work as Chesterton's biography of Dickens,
they are well worth bringing together in this way, because they form
not only a brilliant piece of literary interpretation, but because
they show that it is possible to write prefaces to the classics which
will increase the desire to read the book instead of dampening one's
ardor at the start with a mass of dry and trivial details of the
author's life and environment. Chesterton has the first requisite
of a good introducer, an enthusiasm for his subject and a belief in
the importance of his message for the times in which we live. His
comparison of Dickens and Thackeray, if not quite fair, has at least
sufficient point to suggest thought.

    Thackeray has become classical; but Dickens has done
    more; he has remained modern. There was a painful moment
    (somewhere about the eighties) when we watched anxiously
    to see whether Dickens was fading from the modern world.
    We have watched a little longer, and with great relief
    we begin to realize that it is the modern world that is
    fading. All that universe of ranks and respectabilities in
    comparison with which Dickens was called a caricaturist,
    all that Victorian universe in which he seemed vulgar--all
    that is itself--breaking up like a cloud-land. And only the
    caricatures of Dickens remain like things carved in stone.

But whether his medium is fiction, criticism, or editorial, Chesterton
is always a moralist, differing, however, from most moralists in that
he is never prosy and never directs his preachments at obsolete evils
and deceased sinners.

Prose and poetry are such widely sundered fields that a reputation made
in one does not carry over into the other. When Scott dropped poetry to
take up novel writing he found it expedient to leave his name behind.
When Kipling passed in the reverse direction from prose to poetry he
had to cultivate a new _clientèle_. It is very amusing to hear two
lovers of Hardy or of Meredith sing peans of praise to their favorite
author in strophe and antistrophe until on descending from the general
to the particular they discover that one was extolling the poet and
the other the novelist and that each had never read, or but lightly
esteemed what the other most admired.

So while the essays and romances of Gilbert Keith Chesterton reach
thousands of readers week by week through the journals, and are bought
with avidity in volume form, his poems are but little known to readers
of his prose, although they have, I fancy, a circle of their own. Yet
no one can understand Chesterton fully who ignores his verse, for his
thought, expressed through this medium, is seen from another angle
and so gains solidity to the view.

Chesterton, like Tennyson, has taken one of England's legendary
heroes as the theme of an epic by which to express his philosophy of
life and his message to his age. The stories of Alfred he accepts as
uncritically and handles as freely as Tennyson did those of Arthur, but
the poems resultant show not merely the difference between the authors,
but also, in a way, the difference between the past century and the
present one, the contrast between a faintly hopeful agnosticism and a
robustious affirmation of faith.

In his "Alarms and Discursions" he has told us in prose of the
impressions made upon him by his visit to the Vale of the White Horse
and Ethandune. These he transmutes into poetry in "The Ballad of the
White Horse."[4] In the beautiful dedication to his wife he gives her
credit for having opened his eyes to the Christian significance of the
wars of Alfred against the Danes. Miss Frances Blogg, whom he married
in 1900, was described by one who knew her then as "a conservative
rebel against the conventions of the unconventional." We may assume
that it was largely through her influence that he was converted from
youthful atheism to extremest orthodoxy. I can quote only a few stanzas
from this dedication although such fragments are distressing to those
who know the whole and aggravating to those who do not.

    Lady, by one light only
      We look from Alfred's eyes,
    We know he saw athwart the wreck
    The sign that hangs about your neck,
    Where One more than Melchizedek
      Is dead and never dies.

    Therefore I bring these rimes to you,
      Who brought the cross to me,
    Since on you flaming without flaw
    I saw the sign that Guthrum saw
    When he let break his ships of awe,
      And laid peace upon the sea.

    Do you remember when we went
      Under a dragon moon,
      And 'mid volcanic tints of night
    Walked where they fought the unknown fight
    And saw black trees on the battle-height,
      Black thorn on Ethandune?

    And I thought "I will go with you,
      As man with God has gone,
    And wander with a wandering star,
    The wandering heart of things that are,
    The fiery cross of love and war
      That like your self goes on."

    O go you onward, where you are
    Shall honor and laughter be,
    Past purpled forest and pearled foam,
    God's winged pavilion free to roam,
    Your face, that is a wandering home,
    A flying home to me.

     *       *       *       *       *
    Up through an empty house of stars
      Being what heart you are,
    Up the inhuman steeps of space
    As on a staircase go in grace,
    Carrying the firelight on your face
      Beyond the loneliest star.

It is hard to carry the ballad meter through a whole volume without
its growing monotonous. Chesterton's poetry, like his prose, should be
taken in small doses. "The Ballad of the White Horse" contains some
wearisome stretches, particularly in the most exciting parts, the
fights. When I want real zest in blood letting and the enjoyment of
hand to hand combat I should turn to Percy's Reliques, or to Homer.
My volume of the "Ballad" opens easiest, as it has opened oftenest,
at three passages. The first is that where King Alfred as a fugitive
in the forest is set to mind the cakes and gets to musing, not, as we
children used to be told, about how to beat the Danes, but, according
to the Chestertonian version, about the Christian view of the labor
question. As the old, bent woman leaves the hut Alfred wonders what
shall become of such as she.

    And well may God with the serving-folk
      Cast in His dreadful lot:
    Is not He too a servant
      And is not He forgot?

    For was not God my gardener
      And silent like a slave:
    That opened oaks on the uplands
      Or thicket in graveyard grave?

    And was not God my armorer,
      All patient and unpaid,
    That sealed my skull as a helmet
      And ribs for hauberk made?

     *       *       *       *       *

    For God is a great servant
      And rose before the day,
    From some primordial slumber torn;
    But all things living later born
    Sleep on, and rise after the morn,
      And the Lord has gone away.

    On things half sprung from sleeping,
      All sleepy suns have shone;
    They stretch stiff arms, the yawning trees,
    The beasts blink upon hands and knees,
    Man is awake and does and sees--
      But Heaven has done and gone.

     *       *       *       *       *

    But some see God like Guthrum
      Crowned, with a great beard curled,
    But I see God like a good giant,
      That, laboring, lifts the world.

    Wherefore was God in Golgotha,
      Slain as a serf is slain:
    And hate He had of prince and peer,
    And love He had and made good cheer
    Of them that, like this woman here,
      Go powerfully in pain.

But whether Alfred pondered problems of war or labor the cakes got
burnt just the same.

Next I turn to the page where men come to Alfred on the island of
Athelney and beg him to become the ruler of all England. This gives
Chesterton a chance to expound his anti-imperialism.

    And Alfred in the orchard,
      Among apples green and red,
    With the little book in his bosom,
      Looked at green leaves and said:

    "When all philosophies shall fail,
      This word alone shall fit;
    That a sage feels too small for life,
      And a fool too large for it.

    "Asia and all imperial plains
      Are all too little for a fool:
    But for one man whose eyes can see,
    The little island of Athelney
      Is too large a land to rule.

     *       *       *       *       *

    "An island like a little book,
      Full of a hundred tales,
    Like the gilt page the good monks pen
    That is all smaller than a wren,
    Yet hath high towers, meteors and" men,
      And suns and spouting whales.

    "A land having a light in it,
      In a river dark and fast,
    An isle with utter, clearness lit,
    Because a saint has stood in it,
    Where flowers are flowers indeed and fit,
      And trees are trees at last."

As his men clear the weeds from the White Horse that had ages before
been cut upon the chalk bluff, Alfred has a vision of the day when the
ancient symbol shall be again overgrown and forgotten and when a new
and less manly kind of heathen than the Danes shall overrun England:

    I know that weeds shall grow in it
      Faster than man can burn:
    And though they scatter now and go,
    In some far century, sad and slow,
    I have a vision, and I know
      The heathen shall return.

    They shall not come with war-ships,
      They shall not waste with brands,
    But books be all their eating,
      And ink be on their hands.

     *       *       *       *       *

    The dear sun dwarfed of dreadful suns,
      Like fiercer flowers on stalk,
    Earth lost and little like a pea,
    In high heaven's towering forestry
    --These be the small weeds ye shall see
      Crawl, covering the chalk.

     *       *       *       *       *

    By terror and the cruel tales
      Of curse in bone and kin,
    By weird and weakness winning,
    Accursed from the beginning,
    By detail of the sinning,
      And denial of the sin:

    By thought a crawling ruin,
      By life a leaping mire,
    By a broken heart in the breast of the world,
      And the end of the world's desire:

    By God and man dishonored,
      By death and life made vain,
    Know ye the old barbarian,
      The barbarian come again.

    When is great talk of trend and tide,
      And wisdom and destiny,
    Hail that undying heathen
      That is sadder than the sea.

In this specification of "the marks of the Beast" we may recognize
Chesterton's antipathies; materialism, commercialism, Darwinism,
imperialism, cosmopolitanism, pacifism, and Socialism. He is haunted
by the same nightmare as Samuel Butler, that the day may come when
machines will master the world and men be merely their slaves. For
relief he looks to a revolution like the French Revolution, only
worse. Chesterton is like the Eton boys who, after a debate over woman
suffrage, passed a unanimous resolution disapproving of the aim of the
suffragettes but approving of their methods. The socialists say we
must have a revolution, peaceful if possible. Chesterton would say,
"we must have a revolution, bloody if possible." The guillotine, he
says somewhere, had many sins to answer for, but, at least, there was
nothing evolutionary about it. And he makes the English people say:

    It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose
        the first.
    Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath
        be the worst.

Like Hilaire Belloc and other Neo-Catholics, he manages somehow to
combine an admiration for the French Revolution with a devotion to
Catholicism. They are ardent advocates of democracy notwithstanding the
very explicit condemnations of popular government by the Popes. They
are more inclined toward syndicalism than Socialism and place their
hopes in the peasant proprietorship instead of in the nationalized
trust. It is an interesting novelty in the labor problem, for it cuts
across the old classifications, and I hope it will have a chance to
develop into something concrete. The similar movement in France, the
_Sillon_ of Marc Sangnier, was crushed out by a papal encyclical
in 1912. Chesterton might be called an English Sillonist, and in a
literal sense if we recall his essay on The Furrows in "Alarms and
Discursions." Chesterton sometimes praises the achievements of modern
science and industry, but always as ingenious toys. He is convinced
that mankind in the mass will never take the city seriously.

When the rest of the world was looking for the advent of
cosmopolitanism and the reign of peace, the earth lapped in universal
law and all the local idiosyncrasies ironed out, wherein all obstacles
to freedom of movement had been crushed out and one could buy a
tourist ticket to Timbuktu with the same accommodation all along
the route, Chesterton set his bugle to his lips and blew a fanfare
of audacious challenge to the spirit of the times in the form of a
nonsensical romance, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill." In this he carries
particularism to an extreme, breaking up London again into warring
wards, each with its own banner and livery, its gilds and folk ways.
The book is inscribed, as we might expect, to his friend, Hilaire
Belloc, and I quote part of the dedication as it sums up the message of
the volume and is strangely prophetic:

    For every tiny town or place
      God made the stars especially:
    Babies look up with owlish face
      And see them tangled in a tree;
    You saw a moon from Sussex Downs,
      A Sussex moon, untraveled still.
    I saw a moon that was the town's,
      The largest lamp on Campden Hill.

    Yes, Heaven is everywhere at home,
      The big blue cap that always fits,
    And so it is (be calm; they come
      To goal at last, my wandering wits),
    So it is with the heroic thing
      This shall not end for the world's end,
    And though the sullen engines swing,
      Be you not much afraid, my friend.

    This did not end by Nelson's urn
      Where an immortal England sits--
    Nor where your tall young men in turn
      Drank death like wine at Austerlitz.
    And when the pedants bade us mark
      What cold mechanic happenings
    Must come; our souls said in the dark,
      "Belike; but there are likelier things."

    Likelier across these flats afar,
      These sulky levels smooth and free,
    The drums shall crash a waltz of war
      And Death shall dance with Liberty!
    Likelier the barricades shall flare
      Slaughter below and smoke above,
    And death and hate and hell declare
      That men have found a thing to love.[5]

Remember this was written in 1904, at a time when it was commonly
thought that the last of the wars had been fought and the nations
might disarm, for henceforth the Hague Court would hold sway; when
the socialists were becoming opportunists and the anarchists had laid
aside their bombs; when such scientists as Metchnikoff were saying that
self-sacrifice and heroism of the fighting sort were antiquated virtues
for which the peaceful and sanitary world of the future would have
little use. Chesterton was wrong about the nature of the catastrophe.
He was looking and, I fear, hoping for a social revolution, and that
has not yet come although it seems now less improbable than it did then.

But the Great War has given an irresistible impulse to the movement
toward particularism as against cosmopolitanism. Whether we like
it or not, we must admit that the tide has turned in the other
direction and that it will be many years, perhaps more than one
generation, before there will be the freedom of trade, intercourse, and
migration that prevailed at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Even England has abandoned free trade, and every country will hereafter
strive to secure economic independence by developing its own resources.
Even before the war there was a tendency toward the sort of local
differentiation of which Chesterton gave a fantastic forecast in "The
Napoleon of Notting Hill." This tendency manifested itself in a variety
of ways; in the cultivation of local industries, the revival of folk
dances and historic costumes, in pageantry and community celebrations,
in the interest in town history and in the struggle to reëstablish
disappearing languages, like Gaelic, Czech, and Ruthenian.

From Chesterton's latest book devoted to the crimes of Germany, and
characteristically entitled "The Crimes of England",[6] we can see
that it is the primitive little peasant kingdom of Montenegro that
he most admires and the machine-like efficiency of the German empire
that he most abhors. Montenegro, since he wrote this volume, has
been overwhelmed by the tide of war, but probably Chesterton has
faith to believe that it will reappear like Ararat when the waters
subside. This faith he expressed in the poem, "The March of the Black
Mountain", written during the Balkan war which Montenegro initiated by
a single-handed attack upon the Turk:

    But men shall remember the Mountain,
      Though it fall down like a tree,
    They shall see the sign of the Mountain
      Faith cast into the sea;
    Though the crooked swords overcome it
      And the Crooked Moon ride free,
    When the Mountain comes to Mahomet
      It has more life than he.

Chesterton has a better right to appear now as the champion of small
nationalities than some other English authors we could name, for he
first entered the lists of public life to break a lance in defense of
the Boers at a time when it was most unpopular if not dangerous to say
a word in their favor. He refers to these youthful days in his "Song of
Defeat", published some ten years afterward. I quote part of one stanza:

    I dream of the days when work was scrappy,
      And rare in our pockets the mark of the mint:
    When we were angry and poor and happy,
      And proud of seeing our names in print.
    For so they conquered and-so we scattered,
      When the Devil rode and his dogs smelt gold,
    And the peace of a harmless folk was shattered,
      When I was twenty and odd years old.
    When mongrel men that the market classes,
      Had slimy hands on England's rod
    And sword in hand upon Afric's passes
      Her last Republic cried to God![7]

One of his youthful dreams was to see a reunion of the United States
and England which he imagined would come about in some great foreign
war. But by 1905, when he included the poem on "The Anglo-Saxon
Alliance" in a volume,[8] he had lost faith in such ethnic generalities
as the Anglo-Saxon race, so he explains in his preface:

    I have come to see that our hopes of brotherhood with
    America are the same in kind as our hopes of brotherhood
    with any other of the great independent nations of
    Christendom. And a very small study of history was
    sufficient to show me that the American nation, which-is a
    hundred years old, is at least fifty years older than the
    Anglo-Saxon race.

But the poem, both because he wrote it and because he repudiated it,
has an especial interest now when American sympathy with England is
stronger than ever before, the traditional hostility has been
largely swept away, and there is talk of joining England in this
bloodiest of all wars.

    This is the weird of a world-old folk,
      That not till the last link breaks
    Not till the night is blackest,
      The blood of Hengist wakes.
    When the sun is black in heaven,
      The moon as blood above,
    And the earth is full of hatred,
      This people tells its love.

    In change, eclipse and peril,
      Under the whole world's scorn,
    By blood and death and darkness
      The Saxon peace is sworn;
    That all our fruit be gathered,
      And all our race take hands,
    And the sea be a Saxon river
      That runs through Saxon lands.

     *       *       *       *       *

    Deep grows the hate of kindred.
      Its roots take hold on hell;
    No peace or praise can heal it,
      But a stranger heals it well.
    Seas shall be red as sunsets,
      And kings' bones float as foam,
    And heaven be dark with vultures,
      The night our son comes home.

In some respects we should expect Chesterton to go better in verse than
in prose. He thinks in metaphors and pictures, vivid, fantastic,
and colorful. The peculiarities of his prose style that grate upon
the taste of some readers, such as the repetition of the same words,
the alliteration, the unqualified assertion of half truths, the queer
rhythms, the verbal tricks, and the superabundance of tropes, are by
tradition permissible in poetry and so arouse no resentment.

On the other hand, poetry is a painstaking art, and Chesterton does
not like to take pains. He is too indolent or too indifferent to hunt
for the best possible word or rime. Consequently we find in his verse
many a perfect line, rarely a perfect stanza, and never a perfect poem.
But scattered all through his verse, even in the most nonsensical, we
happen upon curious cadences that linger in the memory like the chant
of some strange ritual. His ballads abound in unconventional rhythms
that haunt one like those of Lanier's "Ballad of the Trees and the

Although Chesterton often seems to disregard the canons of
versification from carelessness or caprice, yet at other times he takes
delight in subjecting himself to the most rigid of models, as, for
instance, the old French _ballade_, which, he says, is "the easiest
because it is the most restricted." He shows us how he constructs
one in "The Ballade of a Strange Town."[9] The strange town into
which he was shunted by the accident of taking the wrong tramcar one
rainy day while "fooling about Flanders" was Lierre, an unknown and
uninteresting way station then, but now one of the famous places of
world history, for it stood for days the shock of the German attack on
Antwerp. While waiting for the next car to take him away Chesterton
scribbled on the back of an envelope with an aniline pencil a poem
which begins in nonsense but ends with as good an expression of his
creed as he has given anywhere:

    Happy is he and more than wise
      Who sees with wondering eyes and clean
    This world through all the gray disguise
      Of sleep and custom in between.
    Yes: we may pass the heavenly screen,
      But shall we know when we are there?
    Who know not what these dead stones mean,
      The lovely city of Lierre.

Chesterton is so fond of the _ballade_ that I must quote one specimen
complete.[10] For the benefit of those who have taken no interest in
versification I may call attention to the technical difficulties of
the form of the _ballade_ that he has chosen. It consists of three
octaves and a quatrain all ending in the same refrain and using only
two rimes. The first rime is used in the first and third lines of the
first quatrain and in the second and fourth of the second quatrain.
The second rime is used in the second and fourth lines of the first
quatrain and in the first and third of the second quatrain. The closing
quatrain or _l'envoi_ is in the _ballade_ addressed to a prince or
other royal personage. Since Chesterton hates princes his apostrophe to
the prince in this _ballade_ is not in the usual sycophantic style.


    The gallows in my garden, people say,
      Is new and neat and adequately tall.
    I tie the noose on in a knowing way
      As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
    But just as all the neighbors--on the wall--
      Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
    The strangest whim has seized me... After all
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.

    To-morrow is the time I get my pay--
      My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall--
    I see a little cloud all pink and grey--
      Perhaps the rector's mother will _not_ call--
    I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
      That mushrooms could be cooked another way--
    I never read the works of Juvenal--
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.

    The world will have another washing day;
      The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
    And H. G. Wells has found that children play,
      And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
    Rationalists are growing rational--
      And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
    So secret that the very sky seems small--
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.


    Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
      The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
    Even to-day your royal head may fall--
      I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Those who assisted--with more or less enthusiasm--in the Shakespeare
Tercentenary celebration will appreciate Chesterton's verses about a
similar commemoration decreed by the calendar.


    Lord Lilac thought it rather rotten
    That Shakespeare should be quite forgotten,
    And therefore got on a Committee
    With several chaps out of the city,
    And Shorter and Sir Herbert Tree,
    Lord Rothschild and Lord Rosebery,
    And F. C. G. and Comyns Carr,
    Two dukes and a dramatic star,
    Also a clergyman now dead;
    And while the vain world careless sped
    Unheeding the heroic name--
    The souls most fed with Shakespeare's flame
    Still sat unconquered in a ring,
    Remembering him like anything.

      Lord Lilac did not long remain,
    Lord Lilac did not come again,
    He softly lit a cigarette
    And sought some other social set
    Where, in some other knots or rings,
    People were doing cultured things,
    --Miss Zwilt's Humane Vivarium
    --The little men who paint on gum
    --The exquisite Gorilla Girl....
    He sometimes in the giddy whirl
    (Not being really bad at heart),
    Remembered Shakespeare with a start--
    But not with that grand constancy
    Of Clement Shorter, Herbert Tree,
    Lord Rosebery, and Comyns Carr
    And all the other names there are;
    Who stuck like limpets to the spot,
    Lest they forgot, lest they forgot.

    Lord Lilac was of slighter stuff;
    Lord Lilac had had quite enough.[11]

Chesterton's poetic versatility range may be inferred from the
fact that he has written a drinking song that is used as a whisky
advertisement and a devotional song that has been incorporated into
the hymn book. The former may be found in "The Flying Inn", the latter
in the "English Hymnal", also in "Poems." The hymn is as follows,
omitting, as the preachers always say,[12] the third stanza. Sing it to
the tune of "Webb."

    O God of earth and altar,
    Bow down and hear our cry,
    Our earthly rulers falter,
    Our people drift and die.

    The walls of gold entomb us,
    The swords of scorn divide,
    Take not thy thunder from us
    But take away our pride.

    From all that terror teaches,
    From lies of tongue and pen,
    From all the easy speeches
    That comfort cruel men,

    From sale and profanation
    Of honor and the sword,
    From sleep and from damnation
    Deliver us, good Lord!

But I know of some people--and more sensible people than you would
suppose--who say that they like "Quoodle" the best of Chesterton's
poetry. Since there is no accounting for taste and some of my readers
may have taste, I must also quote this:


    They haven't got no noses,
      The fallen sons of Eve.
    Even the smell of roses
    Is not what they supposes,
    But more than mind discloses,
      And more than men believe.

    They haven't got no noses,
      They cannot even tell
    When door and darkness closes
    The park old Gluck encloses,
    Where even the Law of Moses
      Will let you steal a smell.

    The brilliant smell of water,
      The brave smell of a stone,
    The smell of dew and thunder,
    And old bones buried under
    Are things in which they blunder
      And err, if left alone.

    The wind from winter forests,
      The scent of scentless flowers,
    The breath of bride's adorning
    The smell of snare and warning,
    The smell of Sunday morning,
      God gave to us for ours.

     *       *       *       *       *

    And Quoodle here discloses
      All things that Quoodle can;
    They haven't got no noses,
    They haven't got no noses,
    And goodness only knowses
    The Noselessness of Man.[13]

According to Mendelism new species are most apt to come from the
crossing of diverse forms. We should then naturally expect Chesterton's
verse to be original, since it is the result of a cross between Whitman
and Swinburne. At any rate these were the poets who most influenced
Chesterton when in his teens he began to write poetry. In philosophy
of life Whitman and Swinburne were not so far apart, since they were
both pagans and democrats, but in form they are antipodes. Whitman was
the father or the grandfather of the _vers-librists_. He cultivated
the unconventional and introduced the most unpoetic and uncouth words.
Swinburne, on the other hand, sought his themes in the classics and
sacrificed anything to the music of his lines.

The early poetry of Chesterton shows traces of both influences. One
very interesting instance of this is found in a poem that he wrote
at school, when he was about sixteen. It is an Ave Maria in the
Swinburnian meter. That is, he has borrowed the weapon of the atheist
and used it in defense of Catholicism--a trick that he has been
playing ever since. The poem begins:

    Hail Mary! Thou blest among women; generations
        shall rise up to greet,
    After ages of wrangle and dogma, I come with a
        prayer to thy feet.
    Where Gabriel's red plumes are a wind in the lanes
        of thy lilies at eve
    We pray, who have done with the churches; we
        worship, who may not believe.

From his twelfth to his seventeenth year he went to St. Paul's school,
where, as he says, "I did no work but wrote a lot of bad poetry which
fortunately perished with the almost equally bad exercises. I got a
prize for one of these poems--Golly, what a bad poem it was!"

The prize was known as the Milton Prize and the subject assigned to the
pupils competing for it was St. Francis Xavier. A soliloquy of Danton
on the scaffold, written at the age of sixteen, shows how early began
his fascination for the French Revolution. His fondness for discussion
was cultivated at the St. Paul's school in the Junior Debating Club, of
which he was chairman, and the monthly periodical of the society, _The
Debater_, contains many essays and poems signed "G. K. C." His first
contribution to the outside press was a Socialist poem appearing in
_The Clarion_, but a few years later he was busy trying to puncture the
balloon of Socialism with his sharp-pointed pen.

After leaving St. Paul's he studied art at the Slade School in London
and has illustrated half a dozen books with cartoons, for he draws
as readily as he writes. His first book was a volume of jingles and
sketches entitled "Gray-Beards at Play; Literature and Art for Old

His propensity for dropping into nonsense rhymes and sketches may be
ascribed to heredity, for his father, Edward Chesterton, though a
respectable real estate agent by profession, was responsible for a slim
volume of child verse and drawings, "The Wonderful Story of Dunder van
Haeden and His Seven Little Daughters."

[Illustration: G. K. Chesterton]

G. K. Chesterton was born in Kensington, London, May 29, 1874.
There is nothing in his heredity or early training to account for
his conservative and High Church tendencies, for his father was a
liberal in politics and religion and attended Bedford Chapel where
the Reverend Stopford Brooke was preaching what was then called "the
new theology." Although educated as an artist, G. K. Chesterton soon
passed from sketching through art criticism to journalism. He began by
writing pro-Boer articles for _The Speaker_, a Liberal weekly. The
originality of his thought and the vigor of his style attracted public
attention, and _The Daily News_ took him over to write a weekly article
in spite of the fact that he differed in opinion from the editors and
readers on certain points. As his anonymous biographer says:

"Thousands of peaceful semi-Tolstoyan non-conformists have for years
been compelled to listen every Saturday morning to a fiery apostle
preaching consistently the praise of three things which seem to them
most obviously the sign-manuals of Hell--War, Drink, and Catholicism."

But more recently his antagonism to "cocoa"--extended symbolically
to the politics as well as to the beverage of Cadbury--became so
great as to break this incongruous alliance and he has found in his
brother's weekly _The New Witness_ a more congenial although a smaller
audience. He has also contributed for many years a weekly page to _The
Illustrated London News_, which is under entirely different management
from _The Daily News_. Besides these and frequent contributions to
other periodicals on both sides of the Atlantic, he manages to turn out
a volume or two of stories every year as well as poetry and criticism,
an amazing output considering that there is hardly a dull page in
it. To keep it up so long and steadily must be a strain upon one
of his easy-going temperament. Fleet Street men tell me that it is
hard to get his copy on time. As press day draws near runners are sent
around to his clubs and other London haunts to tell him that the editor
must have his article immediately. Once caught Chesterton surrenders
good-naturedly and taking any paper handy will dash off his essay,
carrying on a lively conversation at the same time.

Producing under such pressure or at least under the compulsion of
filling a certain number of columns every week with witty comment on
current events inevitably tends to careless writing. Chesterton's work
is all equally readable, but not all equally worth reading. He is an
inspired writer, but he goes on writing quite as brilliantly after
the inspiration has given out, just as a man writing in the dark goes
on after his fountain pen has run dry and is only making meaningless
scratches on the paper. His display of gems of thought is hardly to be
matched by any other show window, but there are so many paste diamonds
among them of equal brilliancy that the half of the world which does
not like Chesterton takes it for granted that they are all paste. They
may even quote Chesterton in support of their view for he says: "All
is gold that glitters for the glitter is the gold."

When ex-President Roosevelt, on his return from Africa, was given a
dinner by the journalists of London, he was asked by the committee on
arrangements whom he would like to have placed by his side to talk
with during the meal, and he promptly chose Chesterton. I was of much
the same mind when I went to England, but not being in a position to
summon him to my side I sought him out in his home, Overroads. This is
a little way out of London, near the town of Beaconsfield from which
Disraeli took his title,--uncomfortable quarters, I should say, for
Chesterton, considering his antipathy for Disraeli and his race.

Arriving at Beaconsfield by the tea-time train I walked up the hill to
where I saw a big man sitting on the little porch of a little house. He
impressed me as Sunday impressed Symes. I do not mean Billy Sunday, but
quite a different personage, the Sunday of "The Man Who Was Thursday."
Great men are apt to shrink when you get too close to them. Mr.
Chesterton did not. He was too big to fit his environment. The house
was what we should call a bungalow; I don't know what they call it in
England. It was on a little triangular lot set with trees half his
height and a rustic arbor patiently awaiting vines. Afterward I saw in
the paper that Mr. Chesterton broke a leg on that arbor. I suppose he
must have tripped over it like a croquet wicket.

Mr. Chesterton has a big head covered with curly locks, two of them
gray. He is gifted with a Taft-like smile, and talks in a deep-toned,
wheezy voice, punctuating his remarks with an engaging chuckle. It
is no trouble to interview him. I never met a man who talked more
easily or more interestingly. "There are no uninteresting subjects,"
he says, "there are only uninterested persons." Start any idea you
please as unexpectedly as a rabbit from its lair, and he will after
it in a second and follow all its turns and windings until he runs
it down. His mind is as agile as a movie actor. Epigrams, paradoxes,
puns, anecdotes, characterizations, metaphors, fell from his lips in
such profusion that I, who knew the market value of such verbal gems,
felt as nervous as a jeweler who sees a lady break her necklace. I
wanted him to stop while I got down on my knees and picked them up. But
he did not mind wasting clever things on me, for there were so many
more where those came from. Besides they were not so completely lost
as I feared. I recognized some of them a few weeks later in his
_causerie_ page of _The Illustrated London News_.

But when you visit Mr. Chesterton don't make the mistake that I did and
attempt to please him by telling him how much he reminds you of Doctor
Johnson. He admitted to me that he had "paged a bit" in that rôle, but
I judge from what he says in "The Mystery of a Pageant"[14] he does not
regard his selection for the part as altogether complimentary to his
personal appearance.

Perhaps he would not like it any better to be told that the resemblance
was more psychical than physical. Chesterton is doubtless the most
dogmatic man England has seen since Doctor Johnson died. He has equally
violent prejudices, and he expresses them with equal wit. Unfortunately
he has no Boswell. Chesterton has written a book about Shaw, but so far
Shaw has shown no disposition to return the compliment.

Shaw, in speaking of Coburn's portrait of Chesterton says: "He is
our Quinbus Flestrin, the young Man Mountain, a large abounding
gigantically cherubic person."

It is Shaw's theory that G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc are not
two persons, but one mythological monster to be known as "The

Chesterton's ideals are large and generous and very solid: A divinely
ordered church, a really democratic state, and a life of that hopeful
and humble wonder that men call romance. But his usefulness as a
moral philosopher is impaired by the possession of a number of blind
spots or inveterate prejudices that prevent him from seeing clearly.
He is like the tenor who had aelurophobia and was upset whenever a
cat came into the room. So whenever one of these phobias comes into
his mind Chesterton loses his poise and sings false. Some of the
things for which he has a particular abhorrence are: cocoa, colonies,
divorce, equal suffrage, Esperanto, eugenics, large scale production,
latitudinarianism, Lloyd George, official sanitation, organized
charity, peace movement, pragmatism, prohibition, public schools,
simplified spelling, vaccination, vivisection, and workingmen's
insurance, all of which some of the rest of us look upon with favor.
His inability to see any good in these and a score of other modern
movements brings him into curious inconsistencies. For instance, he
is an enthusiast for universal manhood suffrage. But any mention of
woman suffrage is like waving a red coat before an Irish bull. His
statement that there are three things which women can never understand,
liberty, equality, and fraternity, is as brutal and untrue as anything
Nietzsche or Strindberg has said.

In his essay on William James he says "pragmatism is bosh", yet his
whole system of apologetics is based upon the pragmatic argument;
religion is true because it works. "If Christianity makes a man happy
while his legs are being eaten off by a lion, might it not make me
happy while my legs are still attached to me and walking down the
street?" In order to make due allowance for Chesterton's class and race
prejudices while reading his works, it is convenient to keep a list
like this as a bookmark:



He likes most: 1. Children
               2. Peasants
               3. Domestic women
               4. Artisans and laborers
               5. Priests and soldiers
               6. Poets and adventurers
               7. Shopkeepers
                  (hereabouts is a great gulf fixed)
               8. Business and professional men
               9. Criminals (including politicians)
              10. The conceited professional classes (the intellectuals)
              11. Landlords
              12. Millionaires

He dislikes most: 13. Multimillionaires


   He likes most: 1. Irish
                  2. French
                  3. English
                  4. Russians
                  5. Turks
                  6. Jews
                  7. Germans
He dislikes most: 8. Cosmopolites

In his youth Chesterton wrote a poem in defense of Dreyfus, "To A
Certain Nation", but by the time he came to publish it in his first
volume, "The Wild Knight", he had so changed his opinion that he
makes a partial apology for it in the preface. Since then he has, in
connection with his brother Cecil and Mr. Belloc, introduced into
British journalism a foreign element from which it had formerly been
free, the political anti-Semitism which has been the cause of so much
disturbance in France, Russia, and Germany. Almost every number of
_The New Witness_, edited by Cecil Chesterton, contains sneers at
Jewish financiers and politicians, and in 1912 he went so far that
he was fined five hundred dollars and costs for defamatory libel of
Godfrey Isaacs, director of the Marconi Company. The prosecution
significantly was conducted by Sir Edward Carson and F. E. Smith.

It is greatly to be hoped that _The New Witness_ group may get rid of
their race prejudice and cut down on their muckraking, which, though
often necessary, is never nice, and bring forward the constructive part
of their program, for this is the time when there is a chance to do
something. For instance, the British Party system against which they so
long clamored without effect has now broken down under stress of the
war, but there is nothing in sight to take its place. G. K. Chesterton
was quite right when he said that "the party system of England is
an enormous and most efficient machine for preventing political
conflicts",[15] and that what party politics had done was to turn
Balfour from the analysis of the doubtful to the defense of the dubious
and Morley from writing on compromise to practicing it. And again, "I
think the cabinet minister should be taken a little less seriously
and the cabinet maker a little more."[16]

Chesterton protests against being regarded as a mere obstructionist and
reactionary in such language as the following:

    I do not propose (like some of my revolutionary friends)
    that we should abolish the public schools. I propose the
    much more lurid and desperate experiment that we should make
    them public. I do not wish to make Parliament stop working,
    but rather to make it work; not to shut up the churches, but
    rather to open them; not to put out the lamp of learning or
    destroy the hedge of property, but only to make some rude
    effort to make universities fairly universal and property
    decently proper.[17]

Man has always believed in a paradise, but he has never been certain
whether to look for it in the past or the future, or both. We have very
detailed descriptions of Atlantis, Valhalla, the Golden Age, Utopia,
and the like, but the tense of the verb is indeterminable. Chesterton
is equally uncertain as to whether to look forward or backward for his
ideal state. His "Christmas Song for Three Gilds" is headed "To be sung
a long time ago--or hence." He has not yet favored us with a blueprint
of his Utopia, so we are left to surmise what he likes from the
very plain indications he has given us of what he does not like.
Chesterton seems to obey a negative magnetism and orients himself by
his antipathies.

We may infer that his ideal would be a self-governing community of
equally well-to-do, leisurely, patriotic, domestic, religious, jolly,
beer-drinking, pork-eating, art-loving, freehold farmers and gild
craftsmen, clustered about the village inn and church. They would all
be of one race and creed, healthy without doctors, wealthy without
financiers, governed without politicians. He believes with Belloc
that the nearest historical approach to this ideal was Western Europe
about 1200-1500. He probably would agree with Doctor James J. Walsh
in calling the thirteenth "the greatest of all centuries." Among
contemporary communities I should say that the mujiks of the Russian
mir come the nearest to complying with his specifications, although
he has not, to my knowledge, shown any disposition to leave London
and take to the steppes in order to live the simple life in these
communities of pure democracy. But perhaps this is because women vote
in the mir. Of the made-to-order utopias I presume that of William
Morris's "News from Nowhere" would suit him better than the Socialists
for whom it was written.

To sum up Chesterton in a sentence, I must borrow the words of the
_Forum_ article of O. W. Firkins:

    A man who preaches an impassioned and romantic Christianity,
    and who adds to that the Jeffersonian doctrine of democracy,
    the Wordsworthian and Tolstoyan doctrine of the majesty
    of the untutored man, the Carlylean doctrine of wonder,
    the Emersonian doctrine of the spirituality latent in all
    objects, the Dickensian faith in the worth and wisdom of
    the feeble-minded, the Browningesque standard of optimism,
    affects us as a man with whom, whatever his vagaries and
    harlequinries, it would be wholesome and inspiriting to live.


Read whatever is handiest, for there is no order and sequence is not
important. Chesterton expresses much the same philosophy of life in
essays, stories, and poems and there has been little change in his
opinions or style in the sixteen years he has been writing.

Nowhere has he given a complete and orderly presentation of his views.
He is a born journalist and prefers to fire at a moving target. About
once a year he gathers up a sheaf of his contributions to the press and
puts them out under as general and indefinite a title as he can think
up, but he never can think up a title broad enough to cover the variety
of topics he treats. The heading to a chapter gives no clue to the
theme or its importance. One is apt to find his deepest philosophy
tucked away in some corner of a discourse on cheese or mumming or
penny dreadfuls. He is like a submarine; when he goes under you never
can tell where he will come out. Consequently, as I say, it does not
matter much which volume you pick up; they are equally brilliant and

His views on religion and society are expounded most thoroughly in
"Orthodoxy" (1908), "Heretics" (1905) both published by John Lane
Company, and "What's Wrong With the World" (1910, published by Dodd,
Mead & Company). Somewhat briefer, more varied, and trivial in topic
are "All Things Considered" (1908, Lane), "Tremendous Trifles" (1909,
Dodd), "Alarms and Discursions" (1910, Dodd), "A Miscellany of Men"
(1912, Dodd).

Since the war began he has published "The Barbarism of Berlin" (1914),
"The Appetite of Tyranny" including "Letters to an Old Garibaldian"
(1915, Dodd), and "The Crimes of England" (1916, Lane). To this we
should add his first work, "The Defendant" (1901, Dodd). In _The New
Witness_ he has been running a weekly page under the head of "At the
Sign of the World's End", and when his brother, Cecil Chesterton,
enlisted as a private in October, 1916, he assumed the editorship of
that lively journal.

His youthful poetry is in "The Wild Knight and Other Poems" (1900,
Dutton). "The Ballad of the White Horse" (1911, Lane) contains his epic
of King Alfred, and "Poems" (1915, Lane) contains all the rest of his
poetry except what still remains buried in "the files." Of these I must
mention "The Wife of Flanders", which may be found in the _Literary
Digest, Current Opinion_, or _Living Age_ of 1914.

Chesterton has written one play, "Magic: A Fantastic Comedy" (1913,
Putnam), which was a success on the London and New York stage.

Of his allegorical fantasias I have discussed at some length "The Man
Who Was Thursday" (1908, Dodd). "The Ball and the Cross" (1910, Lane)
describes the conflict between a religious fanatic and an equally
intolerant atheist. "Manalive" (1912, Lane) deals with domesticity,
and "The Flying Inn" (1915, Lane) is a defense of the public house. In
"Napoleon of Notting Hill" (1908, Lane), his first romance, he preaches

His detective or rather mystery stories are: "The Club of Queer Trades"
(1905, Harper); "The Innocence of Father Brown" (1911, Lane); and "The
Wisdom of Father Brown" (1914, Lane).

His literary criticism, mostly written as prefaces to standard
reprints, makes delightful reading, although sometimes he uses his
author merely as a point of departure. Of Dickens he has written most
and best in the prefaces to Everyman's Library edition (collected in
"Appreciations and Criticism of Dickens", Dutton) and "Charles Dickens;
A Critical Study" (1906, Dodd). His "Victorian Age in Literature"
(1913, Home University Library, Holt) is not quite so interesting
because he does not have room to ramble. His "George Bernard Shaw"
(1910, Lane) is not much of a biography, but it is valuable as bringing
into close contrast these representatives of opposing points of view.
His "Robert Browning" forms an admirable volume of the English Men of
Letters series (1908, Macmillan). Besides these he has written many
biographical sketches and critiques, among which may be mentioned:
"Five Types" (1911, Holt); "Varied Types" (1902, Dodd); "G. F. Watts"
(1902, Dutton); "William Blake" (1910, Dutton); "Samuel Johnson" (1903,
and 1911); "Carlyle" (1902 and 1904) and "R. L. Stevenson" (Pott).

Chesterton is eminently quotable, and the pocket volume of "Wit and
Wisdom of Chesterton" (1911, Dodd) will afford plenty of food for
thought for any one.

There are two biographies of Chesterton. One published anonymously in
1908 gives the best account of his early life; the other by Julius West
(1916, Dodd) gives the most complete criticism of his work up to date,
with a bibliography.

His picturesque personality and peculiar views have supplied
innumerable journalists with material for articles. Specially
noteworthy for one reason or another are: the excellent piece of
criticism by O. W. Firkins in _The Forum_ (vol. 48,. p. 597). "The
Defender of the Discarded", The Forum (vol. 44, p. 707), is harsh
and unsympathetic. "Chesterton as an Artist" by Joseph B. Gilder
(_Bookman_, vol. 39, p. 468, see also vol. 34, p. 117), containing
his sketches, a sketch by Henry Murray, with sixteen portraits
from childhood up, in the London Bookman, May, 1910. Wells, in his
"Social Forces in England and America" (p. 205), discusses Chesterton
and Belloc. "A Visit to G. K. C." by B. Russell Herts in _The
Independent_, November 7, 1912, contains some of Chesterton's sketches;
reprinted with other interviews in Herts's "Depreciations" (1915,
Boni). Chesterton wrote on "Shall the United States Fight?" in _The
Independent_, January 12, 1916.

[1] "The Crimes of England", p. 98.

[2] For specimens of his sketches see "Chesterton as an Artist" by
Joseph B. Gilder in _The Bookman_.

[3] See also "The Divine Detective" in "A Miscellany of Men."

[4] Published, 1911, by John Lane Co., New York.

[5] Republished, 1913, in "Poems" (John Lane Co., New York).

[6] Published, 1916, by John Lane Co., New York.

[7] From "Poems" (John Lane).

[8] "The Wild Knight" (Dutton & Co., New York).

[9] "In Tremendous Trifles ", 1909 (Dodd, Mead & Co., New York).

[10] From "Poems" (John Lane).

[11] From "Poems" (John Lane).

[12] It has always been a puzzle to me why congregations have to be
warned against singing the third stanza of any hymn. I never could see
that it was any worse than the rest, but I assume the clergy know best
about it.

[13] I quote from _The New Witness_. The version in "The Flying Inn" is
a trifle different.

[14] "Tremendous Trifles", p. 317.

[15] In Chesterton's book on Shaw.

[16] "Miscellany of Men."

[17] "What's Wrong with the World."




    The world knows nothing of its greatest men, because by the
    time it knows something about them they have ceased to be
    the greatest. F. C. S. Schiller.

A dozen years ago I happened upon the word "pragmatism", as it was
printed, rather inappropriately,[1] upon the slip cover of Santayana's
"Life of Reason." Being a queer looking word and unknown to me, I
started to find out what it meant and that led me on a long chase. The
farther I went the more interested I became, for I soon discovered
that I had been a pragmatist all my life without knowing it. I
was as delighted as M. Jourdain when he was told that he had been
unconsciously talking prose all his life. I felt as relieved as
Huxley when he invented "agnostic" as a tag for himself.

I had come by my pragmatism honestly enough, for I had got my training
as a journalist through the study of chemistry, and in science the
pragmatic mode of thinking is universal and unquestioned. So when I
went to writing about other things,--politics, law, ethics, history,
religion, and the like,--I naturally used my brains in the same way
as in science, that is, I persisted in the valuation of all acts by
their consequences instead of their causes and in the validation of
all truths by practicality instead of precedent. But when I found
how this way of thinking shocked, annoyed, or amused people I began
to fear that I should have to drop it as I had other evidences of my
buried past, such as the habit of using words like "catalysis" and
"parachlorbenzamidine" in casual conversation.

But when I heard of the pragmatists I knew that I was no longer alone
in the world. There were others, it seemed, even men of standing in
philosophical circles, whose minds ran in this way and who were not
ashamed to own it. I got their names and started to find them wherever
they might be. I ran down Dewey in the Adirondacks and Bergson in
the Alps. Poincaré I unearthed in a Paris flat, James I heard in a
Columbia lecture room; Ostwald I found in a Saxon village; Schiller
I caught in an Oxford quad. I was thinking of going to China to see
Wang Yang-ming, but fortunately before I had bought my steamer ticket
or learned Chinese I discovered that he had been dead for three

Some who have read or tried to read what I said about Bergson and
Poincaré[3] have complained that I used too many big words, and one
man wrote me to say that if I would define pragmatism in words of one
syllable perhaps he might understand what I was talking about. I could
not guarantee that, of course, but I had no hesitation about complying
with his request. Confucius wrote his immortal works in words of one
syllable, and I would not be beaten by a Chinaman. Even Herbert Spencer
once condescended to translate his famous definition of evolution into
Anglo-Saxon. Since I am obliged to use the word "pragmatism" more than
once in this book I may forestall criticism by putting here my

    Monosyllabic Definition of Pragmatism

    The one way to find out if a thing is true is to try it
    and see how it works. If it works well for a long time and
    for all folks, it must have some truth in it. If it works
    wrong it is false, at least in part. If there is no way to
    test it, then it has no sense. It means naught to us when
    we cannot tell what odds it makes if we hold to it or not.
    A creed is just a guide to life. We must live to learn. If
    a man would know what is right he must try to do what is
    right. Then he can find out. Prove all things and hold fast
    to that which is good. The will to have faith in a thing oft
    makes the faith come true. So it can be said in a way that
    we make truth for our own use. What we think must be of use
    to us in some way, else why should we think it? The truth is
    what is good for us, what helps us, what gives us joy and
    strength, what shows us how to act, what ties up fact to
    fact, so the chain will hold, what makes us see all things
    clear and straight, and what keeps us from stray paths that
    turn out wrong in the end. Thought is a tool, a means to an
    end. Man has to act, and so he must think. In this way he
    asks the world what it means to him. The need for thought
    first comes when man asks "Why?" or "Which?" so that he may
    know what to do to gain his end. The mind as it thinks makes
    such facts as it can to best serve its use. Out of the facts
    so come by is made a law, and this law in turn serves as a
    rule to guide one's acts.

But the reader should be warned that no two pragmatists can be got to
agree upon any definition of pragmatism, and that the opponents of
pragmatism differ still more widely in their conception of it. Schiller
says that the most serious drawback in the name is that "it condemns
every exponent of pragmatism to consume at least half an hour of his
limited time in explaining the word." Schiller himself employs the term
"humanism" instead which being less novel is less disturbing to the
conventional mind but on the other hand has the serious disadvantage of
having been applied to a very different thing, namely, the spirit of
the Renaissance. Since C. S. Peirce who invented the term "pragmatism"
and William James who popularized it are both dead, the word finds
few defenders, although the mode of reasoning it tried to stand for
is obviously permeating all fields of thought. Like many other things
pragmatism seems likely to conquer the world incognito.[4]

A man in the act of dismounting from a bicycle is temporarily
incapacitated from the effective use of either mode of locomotion, and
it was at this psychological moment that I caught Doctor Schiller at
the gate of Corpus Christi College. Otherwise I might have missed him,
for he is as alert and agile physically as he is mentally. He usually
spends his summers mountain climbing in the Alps, though I suppose
he has suspended this pastime during the last three years while the
Tyrolean Alps are being used for other purposes than tourism.

Mr. Schiller wears the pointed beard that was the distinguishing mark
of the radical of the nineties. He has a Shakespearean-shaped forehead,
but wears un-Shakespearean glasses. He is as interesting to converse
with as he is to read, which is more than you can say of many authors.
He talks best while in motion, a real peripatetic philosopher. I
wondered why he did not take his students out of the old gloomy lecture
room and walk with them as he did with me, up and down the lawn between
the trees and the ivy-clad walls of the college garden. Curious turf it
was, close-cut and springy; I never felt anything like it under my feet
except an asphalt pavement on a hot summer day.

But I suppose it would be against the Oxford customs to adopt the Greek
method in teaching Greek philosophy. At any rate when I went to Mr.
Schiller's lecture on logic I found it as conventional in form as it
was revolutionary in spirit. One would have thought that printing
had never been invented, nor even the mimeograph. The lecture was
delivered slowly, and necessarily without feeling, clause by clause,
with frequent repetitions, so every word could be taken down. It was
really a brilliant lecture as I discovered afterwards when I read over
my notes, but at the time it sounded as dull as proof-reading, for
the lecturer dictated even the punctuation marks, as he went along:
"colon", "Italics", "inverted commas", etc. The English leave out the
punctuation marks in legal documents where they are needed and put them
into lectures where they do not belong.

The students, in short black gowns, were seated uncomfortably on
benches carved with the names of many generations, and were writing
awkwardly on long boards. These were furnished with ink-wells and quill
pens, although the students sensibly used fountain pens. I suppose it
is somebody's perquisite to supply such things as quills and snuff to
the college even if nobody uses them. An American college president
told me that he thought there was more graft at Oxford than anywhere
else in the world.

[Illustration: F. C. S. Schiller.]

If Mr. Schiller had remained in America he would now be lecturing to
one or two hundred at a time, largely teachers who had come from
all parts of the country expressly to hear his ideas and who would in
turn transmit them to their students. But in that room there were only
these fifteen boys, many of whom doubtless had no special interest in
logic or in Schiller's views of logic and who took his lectures simply
because they were required for examination, after which they could be
forgotten. I could not help contrasting this scene with the big lecture
room at Jena, modern yet satisfying to the esthetic and historic taste,
where Eucken's fiery eloquence held men and women gathered from five
continents, or with the Collège de France, where Bergson had attracted
an even larger and equally cosmopolitan audience. A man in Schiller's
position must gain his disciples chiefly through his books, and for a
man of Schiller's attractive personality this is a great disadvantage.
Print can never take the place of "the spoken word", but to have its
effect the spoken word must be widely heard.

The American visitor to Oxford meets a double mystery: how it is
that Oxford accomplishes so much with a poor and antiquated plant
and how it is that American universities do not accomplish more
with their modern and convenient plants. One hates to conclude that
plumbing and ventilation are incompatible with high thinking. But
if Spencer is right in defining life as the power of adaptation to
environment, the Oxford dons are most alive of any human beings. They
have shown the adaptability of hermit crabs in fitting themselves into
their awkward environment. They somehow manage to make themselves
comfortable in buildings that a New York tenement house inspector--who
is never regarded as unduly particular--would order torn down. They
work contentedly under conditions that would cause a strike in any
well-regulated union.

Oxford is the favorite resort of American tourists because it is
the most satisfactory of all the sights of Great Britain. The Tower
of London and Stratford-on-Avon do not compare with it. They are as
disappointing as an extinct volcano. But Oxford is an antiquity in
action. Our common feeling in regard to it was best expressed by a lady
tourist who was being personally conducted through one of the college
quadrangles when a student stuck his head out of a dormer window. "Oh,
my! Are these ruins inhabited?" was her delighted exclamation.

That is a characteristic trait of the English, the economical
utilization of antiquated buildings and institutions. The House
of Lords actually does something, even though what it does is wrong.
Westminster Abbey is not a mere mausoleum, like the Paris Panthéon.
It is a church where one may worship and hear sermons of decidedly
modernistic tone. The French, when they made up their minds that they
did not need a King any longer, cut his head off, which was a waste.
The English keep their King and make use of him for spectacular and
advertising purposes. Oxford is Cluny and Sorbonne in one, a curious
combination of old and new, useful and superfluous, progress and
reaction, that puzzles and fascinates every American visitor.

Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller, M. A., D. Sc., Fellow and Senior
Tutor of Corpus Christi College, Oxford--to give for once his full
name and titles--was born in 1864. While at Rugby he showed decided
symptoms of intelligence, so he was picked as a probable winner in the
scholastic race and put in training for the classical scholarships.
The British turn all things into sport, even war and education, and
since public opinion does not allow headmasters to keep racehorses they
indulge their sporting instincts by backing their boys for the Blue
Ribbon, the Balliol Scholarships. These boys are then given daily doses
of classical verse competition; I infer for the same reason that
jockeys are fed on gin.

It is curious to see how widely educators differ as to the fundamental
principles of their business. The British system is built upon
competitions, prizes, and examinations. The American state universities
in the days of their pristine purity--I mean by that of course,
when I was a student--regarded competition as vicious, prizes as
demoralizing, and examinations as an evil to be eliminated if possible.
But it ill becomes a pragmatist to condemn a system that works so well
as the British, whatever theoretical objections may occur.

Much as Schiller detested making verses in a dead language, he did it
so well that he got a Major Exhibition. This gave him three hundred and
fifty dollars for five years as well as four hundred and fifty dollars
in Exhibitions from Rugby. But it also meant that he had sold himself
to run in harness for another four years at Balliol and was obliged to
master a philosophy which he already felt to be a fraud. T. H. Green
had died just before Schiller came up and had been sainted for the
greater glory of Balliol, and it seemed to the tutors good pedagogy
to set their pupils to begin the study of philosophy with Green's
"Prolegomena to Ethics." Most of the boys confronted with this
abstruse introduction came to the conclusion that it was wonderful, but
that they had no head for metaphysics because they could not see any
sense in it. Schiller very curiously came to the opposite conclusion
from the same premise.

Orthodox Oxford was at that time under the sway of the great
philosophic Trinity of Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel, which was supposed
somehow to be concordant with or at least allied to the theological
Trinity, and therefore fit food for the souls of innocent young men.
The third person of the philosophic Trinity was kept much in the dark,
because the tutors generally were not fond of reading German. They knew
still less of science and apparently did not suspect that Darwin and
his evolution might prove to have some bearing upon philosophy.

Schiller took his First Classes at Oxford, although he was given to
asking awkward questions and was known to be reading "out of bounds."
One of his examiners complained that he used such queer terms in his
papers, "solipsism" and "epistemology" for instance.

The years 1893-1897 Schiller spent as instructor at Cornell University,
and at the end of that period an amusing incident occurred, though
what it was and how it came about I don't know; possibly because I
never thought it best to inquire of any of the few who were in the
room at the time. The bare fact is interesting enough, that a young
man who had written one of the most brilliant volumes of the times on
metaphysics, "Riddles of the Sphinx", and who carried in his pocket a
call to teach philosophy at a leading college of Oxford, was flunked
in Cornell on his oral examination for Ph.D. in philosophy! Anybody
who is curious can pick up half a dozen inconsistent versions of this
famous episode on almost any campus. One is, that being fortified by
the crinkle of the above mentioned letter over his heart and knowing
that an American degree would have no value in England, Schiller
did not take the examination seriously and neglected the necessary
cramming. Another version of the story is that he turned tables upon
his examiners by bringing into action for the first time the pragmatic
arguments so much to their discomfiture and bewilderment that he was
penalized for these foul blows. But probably the details, if one knew
them, would prove to be quite commonplace compared with either of these
versions or the more picturesque legends that are in circulation, so it
is better to remain in ignorance and file it in the envelope with
such cases as John Henry Newman, who got only a Third Class; F. H.
Bradley, who got a Second; Gustave Doré, who failed in drawing; Darwin
who was called a stupid student, Grant who was graduated in the lower
half of his class, Mendel who was never allowed to graduate at Vienna,
and the like, good material all for some one who wants to investigate
the psychology of students--and examiners.

The chief benefit that Schiller got out of his American sojourn was an
acquaintance with William James. It was a case of love at first sight
and of lifelong devotion. Schiller dedicated his "Humanism" "To my dear
friend, the humanest of philosophers, William James, without whose
example and unfailing encouragement this book would never have been

In 1897 Schiller was called back to England to become tutor in Corpus
Christi College. The president of that college, the late Thomas
Fowler, belonged rather to the pre-Hegelian Oxford generation of the
Mill-British-empiricism school of thought: He liked things to be made
intelligible, and he was so much struck by the lucidity of Schiller's
"Riddles of the Sphinx" that he called him from Cornell to Oxford.

Here then he has for twenty years lived the quiet, sheltered,
contemplative life of the Oxford don, varied only by such daring
adventures as his hunt for the hidden fallacies of formal logic, his
single combats with Mr. Bradley, and his ascent of the bleak heights
of speculative philosophy, where the Absolute is supposed to dwell
in solitude. Our American universities are putting up some very fair
imitations of Oxford architecture now. Some have transplanted ivy and
it is growing. Some have transplanted tutors and they are growing. But
one Oxford custom has not yet been introduced into our universities,
the custom of giving the professors time to think. In Oxford all the
men have time to think and some of them do. In America if a man shows a
tendency to become absorbed in thought he is made a dean or put on the
committee of accredited high schools, which cures him.

In the British "Who's Who" Mr. Schiller's recreations are ordinarily
put down as "mountaineering, golf, etc." But in one edition of that
handy volume of contemporary autobiography it is stated that his chief
recreation is "editing _Mind!_" Thus was revealed the secret of the
mysterious appearance at Christmas, 1901, of a periodical which in
looks resembled one of the regular numbers of that staid blue-covered
review of philosophy, _Mind_, but with most startling contents.
The frontispiece is a "Portrait of Its Immanence, the Absolute." This
is followed by an article on "The Place of Humour in the Absolute, by
F. H. Badley"; "The Critique of Pure Rot, by I. Cant"; "A Commentary
on the Snark"; "More Riddles from Worse Sphinxes", and the like.
The advertisements were likewise unusual--"A Dictionary of Oxford
Mythology, in six volumes, containing a complete account of the stories
told in the Common Rooms and the men to whom they have from time to
time been attached"; "A fine consignment of assorted Weltanschauungen
just received from Germany"; phonograms of all the lectures, jokes
extra, with colored cinematographs of the most famous professors in
action, for armchair study, etc. The history of philosophy in fifty-one
limericks, covering all systems from Thales to Nietzsche, would be
useful on examination time by students of "Philosophy Four."

    We hedonists, said Aristippus,
    Discomforts detest when they grip us,
        So wealth we adore,
        The moment live for
    And take what the rich 'Arries tip us.

    The infinite self-absorbed Brahma
    Was dreaming the World-Panorama:
        He groaned and he snored,
        Till at length he grew bored,
    And woke up, and broke up the Drama.

    "To multiply beings", said Occam,
    "Is needless, 'tis better to dock 'em."
        So he seized on his razor,
        This pestilent phraser,
    And ran out to bloodily block 'em.

    A pessimist, great Schopenhauer,
    Found living exceedingly sour,
        At Hegel he cursed,
        His grievances nursed,
    And poured forth his wrath by the hour.

As will be seen from the above, _Mind!_ reads much like the Junior
Annual of an American college, but at Oxford the students are deficient
in journalistic enterprise, so the duty of keeping things cheerful
devolves upon their betters. According to its cover _Mind!_ was "edited
by a Troglodyte" but as there was only one philosopher in England who
would have the cheek to do it and who could parody the style and expose
the weak points of the regular contributors to _Mind_, the troglodyte
was soon tracked to his cave. The author of a similar _jeu d'esprit_,
"The Joysome History of Education", which surreptitiously circulates
about Columbia University, has so far as I know never been disclosed to
the public.

But Schiller has not been able to confine his humor to that
uniquity, _Mind!_ He allows it to creep into his contributions to
_Mind_-without-the-exclamation-point and other serious journals. He is
a keen debater and does not follow the ordinary rules of fencing, but
frequently disconcerts his antagonists by parrying their thrusts with a
pun or a personality. He is, so far as I know, the first philosopher to
find room for jokes in his formal philosophy, as the following passage

    When we map out the whole region of Truth-claim or Formal
    Truth, we find that it contains (1) lies, (2) errors, (3)
    methodological fictions, (4) methodological assumptions, (5)
    postulates, (6) validated truths, (7) axioms, and (8) jokes.

Most philosophers in fact would not only ignore his eighth category,
but would neglect his first and second, accepting any statement that
claimed to be true and devoting themselves to the study of its logical
implications. But the pragmatist is more interested in finding out how
and in what way an assertion comes to be called true and how it _makes
good_ its claim after it has been asserted. As Schiller puts it:[5]

    What then is common to all sorts of Truth and Error, and
    renders them species of a common genus? Nothing but their
    psychological side; "truth" is the proper term for what
    satisfies, "error" for what thwarts, a human purpose in
    cognitive activity.

    The difference between Truth and Error, therefore, is
    ultimately one in value. The "true" way of conceiving
    an object or judging a situation is simply the way most
    valuable for our purpose; the "false" way is one which is,
    at least relatively, worthless. "Truth" is a eulogistic,
    "error" a dyslogistic, way of valuing a cognitive situation.

    Truth and Error therefore are continuous, as history shows.
    Either may develop out of the other, and both are rooted
    in the same problems of knowing, which are ultimately
    problems of living. The "truths" of one generation become
    the "errors" of the next, when it has achieved more valuable
    and efficient modes of interpreting and manipulating the
    apparent "facts", which the new "truths" are continuously
    transforming. And conversely, what is now scouted as "error"
    may hereafter become the fruitful parent of a long progeny
    of "truths."

    It follows also that (as every examiner who marks a paper
    knows) Truth and Error admit of quantitative differences.
    Both can vary in importance, and can attain (or fail of)
    their purpose to a greater or a less degree. But neither
    is absolute. An answer to a question is in general called
    true, if it is true enough for the purpose in hand. But this
    does not preclude a greater exactitude if (for a different
    purpose) it should be required. It is a true answer to the
    question--"when do you leave?" to reply "to-morrow"; but if
    necessary I can specify the train I go by. Thus the demand
    for absolute exactness is both humanly unnecessary and
    scientifically unmeaning. Indeed a degree of accuracy higher
    than the situation demands would be irrational. No one wants
    to know the height of a mountain in millimeters, and if he
    did, he could not ascertain it, because his methods would
    not measure fine enough. Scientific truths are infinitely
    perfectible, but never absolute.[6]

    Now if philosophers are wise, they will accept this sort of
    truth, and admit that any truth is "absolute" enough so soon
    as it is equal to the demands made upon it, while none must
    ever be so absolute as to become incorrigible and incapable
    of further growth.

A human factor, an element of personal desire, enters into all
our thinking; otherwise why should we bother to think? Even our
most abstract and general theorems have a hidden _Hinterland_ of
subconscious motives, limitations, and conditions.

    The abstract statement that "two and two make four" is
    always incomplete. We need to know to what "twos" and
    "fours" the dictum is applied. It would not be true of lions
    and lambs, nor of drops of water, nor of pleasures and

This suppressed context of thought is of course largely personal,
and with it is suppressed the human interest of philosophy. Hence
the endeavor to drag it to light was very properly called Humanism.
Schiller conceives every thought as some one's experiment for which he
is responsible.

"Every thought", he says, "is an act and even the most 'theoretical'
assertions are made to gratify an interest." He finds in the present
war a most unpleasant confirmation of his theory that thought is
subordinate to action and never free from human volitional influence:[8]

    If only philosophers could be got to face the facts of
    actual life, could any of them fail to observe the enormous
    object-lesson in the truth of pragmatism which the world
    has been exhibiting in the present crisis? Everywhere the
    "truths" believed in are relative to the nationality and
    sympathies of their believers. It is, indeed, lamentable
    that such an orgy of the will to believe should have been
    needed to illustrate the pragmatic nature of truth, but
    who will dispute that for months say 999 persons out of
    1000 have been believing what they please, and consciously
    or unconsciously making it "true" with a fervor rarely
    bestowed even by the most ardent philosophers on the most
    self-evident truths? No improbability, no absurdity, no
    atrocity has been too great to win credence, and the
    uniformity of human nature has been signally attested by the
    way in which the same stories (_mutatis mutandis_) have
    been credited on both sides.

Since the controversy over pragmatism hinges on this theory of truth, I
will quote in condensed form what Schiller says in his discussion with
Miss Stebbing:[9]

    It is an inevitable corollary of the belief in absolute
    truth that absolute truth cannot find lodgment in human
    mind, nor be attained by way of human science. We were
    led, therefore, to examine how in fact belief in the
    accepted "truths" grew up. We found that every thought was
    essentially a _personal experiment_ that might succeed
    or fail, and that whether it did or not depended on its
    consequences. But it seemed clear that "true" was the term
    appropriated by language to the success, as false was to
    failure, of such experiments. Of course both "success" and
    "truth" are relative terms. _Absolute_ "success" is found
    as little as absolute "truth" and for the same reason. All
    "truths" remain (preferred) truth-claims and retain an
    infinite appetite for assimilating further confirmation.

    But there does come a point, alike in the individual's
    experience and in social opinion at any time, at which it
    seems that certain truth-claims have received confirmation
    enough to make them _pragmatically_ certain. These form the
    reigning truths. But they never form a closed oligarchy or
    an immutable system. Merit can force its way into their
    ranks, and inefficiency entails degradation. Thus, though
    their position is (psychologically) unchallenged, it
    is never (logically) unchallenged. So it can not be said
    that because they work they are _absolutely_ true. They are
    _called_ true because they work, and there is no sense in
    calling anything true for any other reason; but the progress
    of knowledge may nevertheless supersede them at the next

Since Schiller indignantly repudiates the formula often ascribed to
pragmatism that "All that works is true", and since Mr. Bradley has
come to say[10] "I agree that any idea which in any way 'works' has in
some degree truth", it would seem that these old antagonists are really
not so far apart in their opinions as their words would indicate.

For classical authority for his Humanism Schiller goes back to the
famous dictum of Protagoras: "Man is the measure of all things." In
Plato's "Dialogues", Protagoras is represented as having been argued
quite out of court by Socrates, but Schiller appeals to posterity
against this decision, and he has written several supplemental
dialogues of his own to prove that Protagoras was really in the

Schiller's most serious work so far is his destructive criticism
of the Aristotelian logic. Since my own study of logic came to
an abrupt end as soon as I had secured a passing mark on Jevons, I
shall not attempt to express an opinion upon the value of Schiller's
"Formal Logic", but will instead quote from the review of the volume by
Professor Dewey of Columbia.[12]

    In substance, the volume (a large octavo of about four
    hundred pages) is an unrelenting, dogged pursuit of the
    traditional logic, chapter by chapter, section by section.
    Not a single doctrine, nor, I think, a single distinction
    of the official textbooks escapes Schiller's demolishing
    hand.... A vital and wholesome sense of the realities of
    actual thinking pervades the whole book; it supplies the
    background against which the criticisms of formal doctrine
    are projected. Mr. Schiller brings out, in case after case,
    with a cumulative effect which is fairly deadly, that at the
    crucial point each formal distinction is saved from complete
    meaninglessness only by an unacknowledged and surreptitious
    appeal to some matter of context, need, aim, and use. Why
    not, then, frankly recognize the indispensableness of such
    volitional and emotional factors, and instead of pretending
    to a logic that excludes them, build up a logic that
    corresponds to human intellectual endeavor and achievement.
    It is difficult to see how even the most hardened devotee of
    a purely theoretical intellectualism can lay down the book
    without such questions haunting him....

    While traditional logic has much to say about truth, the
    truth it talks about is mere formal consistency, since
    it declines to consider the material application of its
    premises. Relevance--a fundamental conception of concrete
    thought--is excluded because it goes with selection, with
    selection of the part that is useful, while formal logic
    professes an all-inclusive ideal. Selection, moreover, is a
    voluntary and hence arbitrary act, and so is shut out from a
    doctrine that acknowledges only what is purely theoretical.
    Finally, formal logic, with its creed of absolute certitude,
    abhors the very mention of adventure and risk, the life
    blood of actual human thinking, which is aroused by doubts
    and questions, and proceeds by guesses, hypotheses, and
    experiments, to a decision which is always somewhat
    arbitrary and subject to the risk of later revision.

Much of the criticism of "Formal Logic" contained in this large
volume is too technical for any save professionals to follow, but at
my request Mr. Schiller was kind enough to write an article for _The
Independent_ putting the main points of it in a form "understanded of
the common people." From this I quote the passage in which he shows
that the syllogism cannot lead unerringly to new truth:

    The peculiar aim of logic hitherto has been to discover
    a form of "valid inference." By this was meant a form of
    words so _fool-proof_ that it could not be _misapplied_,
    and that the use of it would absolutely guarantee the
    soundness of the conclusion if only the reasoning had been
    fortunate enough to start from true premises. In the
    syllogism it was supposed that such a form had been found.
    From _all swans are white_ and _this bird is a swan_ it was
    to follow inevitably that _this bird is white_, and the
    course of nature would eternally conform to the prophetic
    demonstrations of logic.

    Yet logicians also had soon to note that even formally there
    was something wrong about this syllogistic form. It seemed
    to "prove" what was either nothing new or nothing known. To
    justify the "major premise" "_all_ swans are white", must
    not its assert or have already seen _this_ swan and know
    that _it_ is white? Or, if he did _not_ know this, is he not
    _risking_ an assertion about some "swans" on the strength of
    what he knows about others? And what right had he thus to
    argue from the known to the unknown? Can an "inference" be
    "valid" if it involves a _risk_?

    When therefore _black_ swans arrive from Australia to upset
    his dogmatizing, what is he to do? Will he say his major
    premise was a definition, and no bird, however swan-like,
    shall be _called_ a "swan" if it cannot pass his color-test?
    If so, his reasoning is still caught in the old dilemma,
    that he either "proves" nothing _new_ or begs the question
    in another way. For he then had no right to assert his
    "minor premise", _this bird is a swan_, if he knew not
    it was white. Or will he, desperately, say "in both of
    these interpretations the syllogistic form is fatuous; but
    kindly understand it as asserting a _law of nature_ which
    is immutable, and applied to the particular case in the
    minor premise." But, if so, how does he know that his "law"
    applies to the "case"? that the "case" is such as he takes
    it to be? that he has picked out the right "law" to deal
    with the case and formulated it correctly? If it is quite
    certain that the "law" applies to the "case", his conclusion
    proves nothing new; if it is not, he runs the risk that
    the case of which he is trying to predict the behavior may
    be so exceptional as to break or modify his law. And if he
    runs that risk, is he not renouncing his ideal of reaching
    fool-proof certainty?

    There seems to be _no_ way, therefore, of saving "valid
    inference", of so interpreting the syllogism that it is
    both formally valid and humanly instructive. If it is to be
    instructive, it can only enlighten human ignorance, and then
    its premises _cannot_ be _certainly_ true.[13]

Some critics, having in mind how little attention is paid to formal
logic in American schools, have expressed the opinion that Schiller
was wasting his powder on dead game. But however little it may be used
in reasoning, formal logic is still the object of formal reverence
everywhere, and in Oxford it is strongly entrenched and heavily
subsidized as Schiller says in the passage:

    That the same doctrine, in perfect verbal continuity, should
    have been taught and examined on for over two thousand years
    would be the most stupendous fact in education, were it not
    surpassed by the still more surprising fact that during all
    this time no one has arisen to call it nonsense through and
    through, and that every would-be improvement has been
    countered by the retort that it was "not in Aristotle." ...
    The great mass of logicians have always been true to their
    salt. For Aristotle is still very heavily endowed.

    In the University of Oxford alone three philosophy
    professors, twenty-eight _literae humaniores_ tutors, and
    about 460 classical scholars and exhibitioners are paid, at
    an annual cost of over £50,000, to believe that the theory
    of thought has stood still, or stumbled into error when it
    tried to move, ever since the composition of the "Organon",
    and that all modern science may be read into and out of
    the obscurities of the "Posterior Analytics." The Secret
    Doctrine in which this is taught has never been divulged in
    print, but examiners know that there are passages in the
    ordinary Oxford Logic Lecture which must have been copied
    down by two hundred generations of students ever since the
    twelfth century.

Like James and Bergson and unlike Dewey, Schiller has interested
himself in psychical research as a possible way of proving personal
immortality.[14] He does not seem from his published work to have yet
obtained any satisfactory experimental evidence of a future life,
but he regards immortality as an ethical postulate, necessary to the
conceptions of a moral universe, for if we reject it "we should be
plunged in that unfathomable abyss where Scepticism fraternizes with
Pessimism and they hug their miseries in chaos undisguised."

But in his earliest work "Riddles of the Sphinx" he expressed the
opinion that nowadays few people took a real interest in the question
of immortality and that it had little influence upon conduct. This
unconventional opinion was confirmed many years later when the Society
for Psychical Research conducted a _questionnaire_ on the subject and
found that of the many thousand persons interrogated a large proportion
did not regard a future life as of practical importance to them.[15]

Within the last few years Schiller has entered a new field, the
eugenics movement, where his keen wit and power of analysis are doing
good service. In his review of Nietzsche's work[16] he recognizes
that Nietzsche is not without reason when he asserts that the moral
qualities he dislikes, such as pity and sympathy, may lead to
decadence, for, as Schiller elsewhere shows, social reform, unless it
is eugenically directed, may lead to the growth of the evils it aims
to alleviate. In a very remarkable article published shortly before
the outbreak of the war,[17] he foretold the collapse of European
civilization and suggested that the Japanese or Chinese, through the
greater importance they attach to the family, might be found more
worthy of preeminence.

    If the ancestor-worship of the animist can be developed into
    the descendant-worship of the eugenist, I can see no reason
    why one should not prognosticate for both of them a rosier
    future and a more assured continuance than for our European
    societies, if these latter yield to the pressure of those,
    whether called individualists, socialists, or militarists,
    who tempt them to destruction.

The danger to European culture lies, he says, in that "our Hellenistic
political philosophy exhibits all the marks of senile dementia and
progressive paranoia."

    The evidence goes to show that throughout the most valuable
    part of the nation, not only in the upper classes but also
    in the middle classes and in the best parts of the working
    classes, the birth-rate per marriage has in a generation
    sunk from four and a half to two, and is now only half the
    size required to keep up the numbers in those classes.
    In other words, society is now so ordered that in every
    generation it sheds one-half of the classes it itself
    values most highly, and supplies their places with the
    offspring of the feeble-minded and casual-labourer classes,
    whose families still average more than seven. What
    seriously aggravates the evil is the whole trend of social
    legislation. Social reform costs money, and the money is
    raised by taxation, which bears very hardly on the middle
    classes, who cannot curtail luxuries like the rich, and
    will not lower their standard of comfort. They meet the
    extra expense, therefore, by further postponing the age of
    marriage, and further reducing their output of children. One
    of the chief effects, therefore, of our present methods of
    improving social conditions is to deteriorate the race. And
    this in a twofold manner: they eliminate the middle class,
    and they promote the survival of the unfit and defective.

    It is perfectly possible, therefore, to tax the middle
    classes out of existence. Indeed, it has been done.
    History exhibits a great object-lesson in the decline of
    the Roman empire. This appears to have been mainly due
    to an unscientific system of taxation which crushed the
    middle class and left no breeding ground for ability and
    ambition between the millionaire nobles, who had nothing to
    rise to, and the pauperised masses, who had no chance of
    rising. Consequently, the empire had to take from without
    its borders the men it needed to conduct its military and
    civil administration. The barbarians alone could furnish
    the men to run the empire, and consequently the barbarians
    inevitably came to overrun the empire.

The Great War which he could not foresee has immeasurably accelerated
the degenerative process which he foretold. The death roll of
university students and graduates, representing, however inadequate
the examination system, a selected class of young men of superior
intellectual ability, is probably higher than in any other class.
When I visited Oxford a few years before the war the students were
already drilling for the impending conflict and practically all who
were eligible enlisted at the first call. Raising an army by appeals
to patriotism as was done in England means sending to the front
to bear the brunt of battle longest those who are most energetic,
self-sacrificing, and intelligent, while the slackers, the incompetent,
the weaklings, the selfish, and the dull were left to the last or not
taken at all.

Besides this the burden of taxation resting upon the middle classes
that Schiller thought unbearable in 1914 has been multiplied and will
act as a deterrent to large families more strongly than ever in the
future. A Royal Commission has been appointed to consider methods for
checking the alarming decline in the birth-rate.

One anti-eugenic agency which Schiller fails to mention but which
strikes an outsider as very serious is Labanism. It was formerly
the custom to require all Oxford fellows to remain celibate. Later
they were allowed to marry after serving seven years, whence the
name. Recently this prohibition has been removed, but the antiquated
social organization of the colleges acts as a practical deterrent
of marriage. So by this elaborate and expensive system of examination,
competitions, and promotions--which unfortunately is not so
inefficient as its occasional mistakes might lead us to think--the
university prevents those whom it deems to have the brightest minds
from transmitting their mental endowments to posterity. The devil
could not have devised a more ingenious scheme for the promotion of
mediocrity. Since Oxford has been in existence for about eight hundred
years it must have had a considerable influence on the reduction of
British genius.

As Schiller points out, any measures to be eugenically effective must
apply to the young. The rewards bestowed upon ability are not only
frequently misapplied but they are invariably too long delayed. The
youthful genius is too often forced to give up having a family or
compelled to support it on faith, hope and charity. To this defect
in our civilization Schiller has given the apt name of "social

    In all the professions (except, perhaps, that of the
    actress) the young are underpaid, and established
    reputations are overpaid. It would be eugenically
    preferable to do the opposite. Yet the existing practice
    is largely due to unintentional stupidity, and failure
    to discover ability soon enough. Now to the individual
    this system brings compensation, if he lives long enough,
    because he continues to be rewarded for work he has done
    long ago, and even is no longer capable of doing, and
    is eventually raised to the status of a "grand old man"
    whom ancient institutions delight to honour, by dint of
    sheer longevity. But eugenically this social _hysteresis_,
    this delay in recompensing merit, has a fatal effect. It
    renders the capable, ambitious and rising members of the
    professional classes unduly sterile, owing to compulsory
    celibacy, postponement of marriage, overwork, etc. Thus a
    large proportion of the ability which rises to the top of
    the social ladder lasts only for one generation, and does
    not permanently benefit the race.

From this passage it will be seen that Schiller does not fall into the
common fallacy of unconsciously assuming that the upper classes of our
present social system necessarily consist of superior individuals.
But he does lay stress upon something often overlooked, that this
assumption is more justified as society becomes more democratic:

    Precisely in proportion as a society improves the
    opportunities of the able to rise, it must accelerate the
    elimination of fitness in the racial stock. So long as a
    relatively rigid social order rendered it almost impossible
    for ability to rise from the ranks, reservoirs of ability
    could accumulate unseen in the lower social strata, and
    burst forth in times of need, as in the French Revolution:
    but the more successfully a _carrière ouverte aux talents_
    is instituted, the more surely are these strata _kept
    drained_, and incapacitated from retrieving the waste of
    ability in the upper layers of society. Now it is doubtless
    true that the _primary_ need of society is to find persons
    capable of conducting its affairs ably, and that a social
    order which does not allow ability to rise is therefore bad:
    but nations cannot with impunity so order themselves as to
    eliminate the very qualities they most admire and desire,
    and must husband their resources in men as in the other
    sources of their wealth and welfare.[19]

That is to say, it did not matter much if in former times the nobility
did tend to die out in a few generations, for in hereditable ability
they were not much above the average. But in the more just regime
that we are trying to introduce, especially in America, when the
opportunities for higher education and advancement are extended to
the gifted of all classes, it will be disastrous if the professional
and well-to-do classes fail to contribute their share to the future
population, for it means a continuous reversal of the method of the
survival of the fittest by which evolution has been accomplished. This
is not a law that man can repeal however he may disregard it. So it
happens that civilized societies tend to die at the top and the
human race makes little or no progress in native ability. As Schiller

    The inventor of the wheel or even of a new mode of chipping
    flints may well have been as great a genius as the human
    race has produced, and it accords well with this that the
    early paleolithic races seem to have possessed a cranial
    capacity, not less, but greater than our own. For in the dim
    red dawn of man the fool-killing apparatus of nature was
    terribly effective, and society could do little to mitigate
    its horrors and to protect its inefficient members.

The injustice, and what is more important, the injurious effects of the
present distribution of honors and emoluments he exposes in his article
on "National Self-Selection":

    Is it not nonsense to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury
    is paid £15,000 a year and Prof. J. J. Thomson seven or
    eight hundred, because the persons fitted to perform the
    latter's functions are twenty times as common as those
    suited to the former's? Is not the real reason plainly that
    the former is the beneficiary of a long social development
    which has liberally endowed the Church, while the social
    appreciation of the value of science is only just beginning,
    and has not yet raised the makers of new truths to a par
    with the custodians of time-honoured revelations? Our
    example, however, draws attention to a very general fact,
    viz., that the social position of various functions is
    very largely the product of past valuations which have
    persisted from mere habit. Hence their present salaries
    do not really prove that an Archbishop is twenty times as
    valuable to a nation as a scientific genius, or thrice as
    precious as a Premier, nor even that men now think so.
    How many of us, for example, really now believe that mere
    descent from an illiterate medieval baron attests sufficient
    merit to entitle a man to a hereditary seat in the House of
    Lords? If we continued to value fighting qualities as highly
    as of yore, we should promote our actual fighting men. When
    we want really to defend the House of Lords, we point to
    its sagacity in gauging the will of the people and to the
    economic value of its attractiveness for foreign heiresses.

    Hence one of the chief needs of a society which desires
    to reconstitute itself on eugenical principles is a
    thorough revision of social status. It must bring the
    social position of various services into closer agreement
    with their present value. And it must induce a greater
    feeling of responsibility about the popular valuations and
    transvaluations of functions, which are constantly exalting
    the position of the caterers to individual pleasures above
    the consolidators of man's permanent welfare. It is _not_
    good for a society that a cricketer or a prize-fighter or a
    dancer should be esteemed and rewarded more highly than the
    man who discovers a cure for malaria or cancer.[20]

The humanistic view of metaphysics Schiller expresses in the preface to
the 1910 edition of his earliest work "Riddles of the Sphinx."

    Practically a system of metaphysics, with whatever
    pretensions to pure thought and absolute rationality it may
    start is always in the end one man's personal vision about
    the universe, and the "metaphysical craving" often so strong
    in the young is nothing but the desire to tell the universe
    what one thinks of it. Of course, the tale may be worth
    telling if told well.

This describes the "Riddles of the Sphinx" exactly. In it the youthful
Schiller tells the universe what he thinks of it and it is told well.
But his thoughts have changed in the twenty-five years since this
volume was published so that even in its revised form it does not so
well express his views as do his later volumes, "Humanism" and "Studies
in Humanism", of which revised editions were brought out in 1912.

The doctrine known as Absolute Idealism was, Schiller explains,
imported from Germany, "soon after its demise in its native country",
for the purpose of counteracting the anti-religious developments
of science. But the abstract conception of the Absolute is, in his
opinion, of no value to religion or anything else. The pragmatic demand
for God is, first, as "a human _moral_ principle of help and justice",
and second, as "an aid to the _intellectual_ comprehension of the
universe", but the metaphysical Absolute satisfies neither of these
cravings, for it is too impersonal to help anybody and too general to
explain anything.

In his chapter on "Absolutism and the Dissociation of Personality"[21]
he generously offers his aid to the idealistic monists who have
difficulty in conceiving how the One became the Many and why the
individualistic minds included in the Universal Mind should be so
antagonistic. Schiller suggests that it is an analogous case to the
dissociation of that celebrated Boston lady "Miss Beauchamp" into
several secondary personalities. But he admits that it is "a little
startling at first to think of the Absolute as morbidly dissociated or
even as downright mad", especially since in the case of the Absolute
there is no outsider, like Doctor Morton Prince, to put the parts
together again.

Many years before he had said[22]

    The conception of a Deity absorbed in perfect, unchanging
    and eternal bliss is a blasphemy upon the Divine energy
    which might be permitted to the heathen ignorance of
    Aristotle, but which should be abhorred by all who have
    learnt the lesson of the Crucifixion. A theology which
    denies that the imperfection of the world must be reflected
    in the sorrows of the Deity simply shows itself blind to
    the deepest and truest meaning of the figure of Him that
    was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" and deaf
    to the gospel of Divine sympathy with the world. Thus the
    world-process is the process of the _redemption_ alike of
    God, of the world and of our own selves.

The conception of a struggling and self-developing God which Schiller
adduced from Christian principles is remarkably like that to which
Bergson was led by other lines of reasoning.[23]

The value of the pragmatic method to religion is discussed by Schiller
in his article on "Faith, Reason and Religion",[24] where he shows that
even the most rigorous scientific reasoning involves the element of
faith, and on the other hand that faith is devoid of value unless it is
verified in the only way by which anything can be verified, that is, by
works. He says:

    Christianity is an essentially human and thoroughly
    pragmatic religion, hampered throughout its history and at
    times almost strangled by an alien theology, based upon
    the intellectualistic speculations of Greek philosophers.
    Fortunately the Greek metaphysic embodied (mainly) in the
    "Athanasian" creed is too obscure to have ever been
    really functional; its chief mischief has always been to
    give theological support to "philosophic" criticisms, which
    by identifying God with "the One" have aimed at eliminating
    the human elements from the Christian religion. As against
    all such attempts, however, we must hold fast to the
    principle that the truest religion is that which issues in
    and fosters the best life.

The pragmatic criterion of truth, that all truths must work, is not
a lax one as its opponents assert but the most stringent that can be
applied. It means--"You shall back your beliefs with your acts and
shall not assert the truth of whatever suits you without any testing at
all." It eliminates as meaningless all theories that make no difference
whether they are believed or disbelieved. It demands constant
confirmation of all beliefs by their consequences. It insists upon
the unity of theory and practice, of faith and works. This point was
plainly put by Schiller in his address before the Pan-Anglican Church
Congress of 1908:

    For any theory to work, it must be believed in, e.g.,
    believed to be _true_. It is impossible, e.g., to practice
    prayer merely as a piece of spiritual hygiene, and in order
    to get the strengthening which is said to result from the
    practice. The practice need not, of course, start with a
    firm belief in the reality of its object. But unless it
    engenders a real belief, it will become inefficacious.
    Hence, to conceive of Pragmatism as ultimately sanctioning
    an "act-as-if" attitude of religious make-believe is a
    misapprehension; it is to confound it with the discredited
    and ineffectual dualism of Kant's antithesis of practical
    and theoretic "reason." Lastly, it should be noted that
    any theory which works must evoke some response from the
    objective nature of things. If there were no "God", i.e.,
    nothing that could afford any satisfaction to any religious
    emotion, the whole religious attitude would be futile.
    If it is not, it must contain essential truth, though it
    may remain to be determined what is the objective fact
    corresponding to the postulate.


"Humanism" (1903, new edition 1912) and "Studies in Humanism"
(1907, new edition 1912) are both collections of papers presenting
various phases of Schiller's philosophy. Either one may serve as an
introduction to the author. "Riddles of the Sphinx" (1891), though
also revised (1910), represents an earlier mode of thought. "Formal
Logic" (1912) is too technical for any but well prepared students. All
Schiller's works are published by The Macmillan Company.

The reader who loves a fight and does not faint at the sight of inkshed
will find what he wants in almost any volume of the Oxford Mind or the
Columbia _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods_.
Where the conflict rages most fiercely there Schiller will be seen in
the midst of the combatants, thrusting in all directions at the
weak points in their armor. To enumerate all of his controversial and
fugitive writings would be impossible here, but the following articles
at least must be mentioned:

"Do Men Desire Immortality?" (_Fortnightly_, vol. 76, p. 430).

"The Desire for a Future Life" (_Independent_, September 15, 1904).

"Psychical Research" (_Fortnightly_, vol. 83, p. 60). Presidential
Address (Proceedings Society for Psychical Research, 1914-1915).

Miss Beauchamp (_Journal Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific
Methods_, vol. 4, p. 20; and _Mind_, No. 70, p. 183).

"The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche" (_Quarterly Review_, 1913).

"Choice" and "Infallibility" (_Hibbert Journal_, 1909).

"Plato" (_Quarterly Review_, vol. 204, p. 62). "Pluralism"
(_Proceedings of Aristotelian Society_, 1908-1909).

"The Rational Conception of Truth" (_Proceedings Aristotelian Society_,

"Oxford of the Workingman" (_Fortnightly_, February, 1913).

"Cosmopolitan Oxford" (_Fortnightly_, May, 1902). "War Prophecies"
(_Journal Society Psychical Research_, June, 1916).

"Criticism of Perry's Realism" (_Mind_, 1914).

Discussions of pragmatism (_Mind_, 1913, 1915). "New Developments of
Mr. Bradley's Philosophy" (_Mind_, 1915).

"Present Phase of Idealistic Philosophy" (_Mind_, January and October,
1910). __

"Realism, Pragmatism, and William James" (_Mind_, 1915)

"The Humanism of Protagoras" (Mind, April, 1911).

"Logic _versus_ Life" (_Independent_, vol. 73, p. 375). "Aristotle's
Refutation of the Aristotelian Logic" (_Mind_, vol. 23, pp. 1, 395,

"The Working of Truths and Their Criterion" (_Mind_, vol. 22, No. 88).

"Error" (IV Congresso internazionale di filosofia, Bologna, 1911).

"Relevance" (_Mind_, vol. 21, No. 82).

"The Working of Truths" (_Mind_, vol. 21, No. 84). "National
Self-Selection" (_Eugenics Review_, April, 1914)

"Our Critic Criticized" (_Eugenics Review_, January, 1914). Criticism
of Schiller and other pragmatists may be found in the controversies
referred to, but I may also add the following references:

"Vital Lies" by Vernon Lee (John Lane Company, 1913).

"Pragmatism" (_Quarterly Review_, April, 1909).

"British Exponents of Pragmatism" by Professor M'Gilvary (_Hibbert
Journal_, April, 1908).

"Der Pragmatismus von James und Schiller," by Doctor Werner Bloch

[1] Schiller says that "Professor Santayana, though a pragmatist in
epistemology is a materialist in metaphysics."

[2] The Philosophy of Wang Yang-ming is now accessible in English,
through the translation of Doctor Henke (Open Court Publishing Company,
Chicago, 1916).

[3] "Major Prophets of To-day," First Series, 1914. Little, Brown, and
Company, Boston.

[4] Of course any one who wants to find out at first hand what
pragmatism is will not bother with what I say but will turn to
William James's "Pragmatism" or invest fifty cents in the briefer and
more comprehensive survey of the movement in D. L. Murray's primer
of "Pragmatism." A definition of pragmatism that is anything but
monosyllabic may be found in the chapter on Dewey. The story is told
of a college woman who was asked what Professor James's lecture on
pragmatism was going to be about and replied that she thought it had
something to do with the royal succession in Austria. Schiller's own
definition is to be found in his "Studies in Humanism:"

Pragmatism is the doctrine (i) that truths are logical values; (2)
that the "truth" of an assertion depends on its application; (3) that
the meaning of a rule lies in its application; (4) that ultimately all
meaning depends on purpose; (5) that all mental life is purposive.
Pragmatism is (6) a systematic protest against all ignoring of the
purposiveness of actual knowing, and it is (7) a conscious application
to epistemology (or logic) of a teleological psychology, which implies,
ultimately, a voluntaristic metaphysic.

[5] Address on "Error" before the Congresso Internazionale di
Filosofia, Bologna, 1911.

[6] I find the following incident reported of a Boston school which
would indicate that the philosophy of William James is influencing the
younger generation in his home city:

"Well, Waldo," said the professor of geometry, "can you prove any of
to-day's theorems?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I can't," said Waldo hopefully; "but I can render
several of them highly probable."

[7] "Studies in Humanism."

[8] "Realism, Pragmatism and William James." _Mind_, 1915.

[9] _Mind_, vol. 22, p. 534, 1913.

[10] "Essays on Truth and Reality" by F. H. Bradley. See Schiller's
"New Developments of Mr. Bradley's Philosophy" in _Mind_, 1915.

[11] See "Protagoras the Humanist", and "Gods and Priests" in "Studies
in Humanism", and "Useless Knowledge" and "Plato or Protagoras" in

[12] _The Independent_. Schiller's "Formal Logic" gave rise to much
controversy. See for instance _Mind_, vol. 23, p. 1, 398, 558. One
critic called it "a sympathetic appreciation of all known logical

[13] "Logic _versus_ Life" in _The Independent_, vol. 73, p. 375.

[14] The latter part of "Humanism" and of "Riddles of the Sphinx" is
devoted to this topic. Schiller succeeded Bergson as President of the
Society for Psychical Research in 1914.

[15] See Schiller's article on this in _The Independent_ of September
15, 1904, or in _Fortnightly Review_, vol. 76, p. 430.

[16] _Quarterly Review_, 1913.

[17] "Eugenics and Politics" in _The Hibbert Journal_, January, 1914.

[18] "Practical Eugenics in Education."

[19] "Practical Eugenics in Education."

[20] _Eugenics Review_, April, 1910.

[21] In "Studies in Humanism."

[22] "Riddles of the Sphinx," p. 431.

[23] See "Creative Evolution" and Chapter II of "Major Prophets of
To-day"; also Wells and Shaw in this volume.

[24] In "Studies in Humanism" and _Hibbert Journal_, January, 1906. See
also "Science and Religion" in "Riddles of the Sphinx", new edition.



Teacher of Teachers

If some historian should construct an intellectual weather map of
the United States he would find that in the eighties the little
arrows that show which way the wind blows were pointing in toward Ann
Arbor, Michigan, in the nineties toward Chicago, Illinois, and in
the nineteen hundreds toward New York City, indicating that at these
points there was a rising current of thought. And if he went so far
as to investigate the cause of these local upheavals of the academic
atmosphere he would discover that John Dewey had moved from one place
to the other. It might be a long time before the psychometeorologist
would trace these thought currents spreading over the continent back to
their origin, a secluded classroom where the most modest man imaginable
was seated and talking in a low voice for an hour or two a day. John
Dewey is not famous like W. J. Bryan or Charlie Chaplin. He is not
even known by name to most of the millions whose thought he is guiding
and whose characters he is forming. This is because his influence has
been indirect. He has inspired individuals and instigated reforms in
educational methods which have reached the remotest schoolhouses of the
land. The first of the Dewey cyclones revolved about psychology, the
second about pedagogy, and the third about philosophy.

I was a thousand miles away from the first storm center, yet I
distinctly felt the vibrations. That was in the University of Kansas
when the psychology class was put in charge of a young man named
Templin just back from his _Wanderjahr_ in Germany. This study had
hitherto belonged _ex officio_ to the Chancellor of the university who
put the finishing touch on the seniors' brains with aid of McCosh. But
the queer looking brown book stamped "Psychology--John Dewey" that was
put into our hands in 1887 relegated the Princeton philosopher to the
footnotes and instead told about Helmholtz, Weber, Wundt and a lot of
other foreigners who, it seemed, were not content to sit down quietly
and search their own minds--surely as good as anybody's--but went
about watching the behavior of children, animals, and crazy folks and
spent their time in a laboratory--the idea!--measuring the speed of
thought and dissecting brains. This young man in Michigan made bold
to claim psychology as a natural science instead of a minor branch of
metaphysics, and he did the best he could to prove it with such meager
materials as were available at the time. His "Psychology" appeared,
as should be remembered, three years before the epoch-making work of
James and before any permanent psychological laboratory had been opened
in the United States. In taking down again my battered brown copy of
Dewey's "Psychology" I am surprised to find how trite and old-fashioned
some of it sounds. Although Dewey thought he had thrown overboard all
metaphysics it is evident that he was then carrying quite a cargo of it

But the commotion started by Dewey's "Psychology" was a tempest in
an inkpot compared with the cyclone that swept over the country when
he began to put his theories into practice at the University of
Chicago in 1894. I heard echoes of it as far west as Wyoming. The
teachers who went to the summer session of the University of Chicago
came back shocked, fascinated, inspired, or appalled, according
to their temperaments. The very idea of an "experimental school"
was disconcerting, suggesting that the poor children were being
subjected to some sort of vivisection or--what was worse--implying
that the established educational methods were all wrong. "He lets the
children do whatever they want to do," whispered the teachers to their
stay-at-home colleagues, who, like themselves, were spending their
time in keeping the children from doing what they wanted to do and in
making them do what they did not want to do. "He lets the children
talk and run around and help one another with their lessons!" and all
the teachers looked at each other with a wild surmise silent on the
school-room platform. Could it be that there was a better way, that
this task on which they were wearing out their nerves, trying to reduce
to rigidity for five hours a roomful of wriggling children, was no
less harmful to the children than to themselves? "I'd like to see John
Dewey try to manage my sixty," remarks the presiding teacher as she
suppresses a little girl on the front seat with a smile and a big boy
on the back seat with a tap of her pencil.

As a matter of fact, the children neither studied nor did what they
pleased, but the idea was that if children had a sufficient variety
of activities provided they would like what they did and their
activities could be so arranged as to result in getting knowledge
and in forming good habits of thought. The common assumption that
the main idea was to have the children do and study what they liked
was a complete missing of the intellectual idea or philosophy of the
school, which was an attempt to work out the theory that knowledge,
with respect to both sense observation and general principles, is
an offshoot of activities, and that the practical problems arising
in connection with consecutive occupations afford the means for a
development of interest in scientific problems for their own sake. The
social grouping of children, and the attempt to get coöperative group
work, was always just as important a phase as individual freedom--not
only on moral grounds, but because of the theoretical conception that
human intelligence developed under social conditions and for social
purposes--in other words, "mind" has developed not only with respect to
activity having purpose, but also social activity. These same notions
of the central place of intelligence in action and the social nature of
intelligence are fundamental in Dewey's "Ethics."

The real distinguishing characteristic of schools of the Dewey type is
not absence of discipline but a new ideal of discipline. This is most
clearly stated in one of his more recent works:

    Discipline of mind is in truth a result rather than a cause.
    Any mind is disciplined in a subject in which independent
    intellectual initiative and control have been achieved.
    Discipline represents original native endowment turned
    through gradual exercise into effective power.... Discipline
    is positive and constructive. Discipline, however, is
    frequently regarded as something negative--as a painfully
    disagreeable forcing of mind away from channels congenial
    to it into channels of constraint, a process grievous at
    the time, but necessary as preparation for a more or less
    remote future. Discipline is then generally identified with
    drill; and drill is conceived after the mechanical analogy
    of driving, by unremitting blows, a foreign substance into
    a resistant material; or is imaged after the analogy of the
    mechanical routine by which raw recruits are trained to
    a soldierly bearing and habits that are naturally wholly
    foreign to their possessors. Training of this latter sort,
    whether it be called discipline or not, is not mental
    discipline. Its aim and result are not _habits of thinking_
    but uniform _external habits of action_. By failing to ask
    what he means by discipline, many a teacher is misled into
    supposing that he is developing mental force and efficiency
    by methods which in fact restrict and deaden intellectual
    activity, and which tend to create mechanical routine, or
    mental passivity and servility.--"How We Think", p. 63.

But even more revolutionary than Dewey's rejection of the strict
discipline then prevailing in the schools was his introduction of
industrial training as an integral part of education, not merely for
the purpose of giving the pupils greater manual skill, still less
with the object of improving their chances of getting a job or of
making them more efficient for the benefit of the employer, but chiefly
because it is only through participation in industry that one can
get an understanding of the meaning of science and the constitution
of the social organism. In the old days when most industries were
carried on in the household or the neighborhood children learned them
by observation and participation. School was then a place where this
very effective form of home education could be supplemented by "book

But Dewey faced frankly the fact that the house-hold arts and
handicrafts had passed away for keeps, and he refused to join in
the pretense that they could be profitably "revived" by the various
esthetic and socialist movements of the William Morris and Ruskin
type. He recognized that the machine and the factory had come to stay,
and if the worker is not to become a factory machine himself he must
receive in school such a broad and diversified training as will make
him realize the significance of the work he does. Or as Dewey said in
"School and Society" in 1899:

    We sometimes hear the introduction of manual training,
    art and science into the elementary, and even into the
    secondary, schools deprecated on the ground that they tend
    toward the production of specialists--that they detract
    from our present system of generous, liberal culture. The
    point to this objection would be ludicrous if it were not
    often so effective as to make it tragic. It is our present
    education which is highly specialized, one-sided and narrow.
    It is an education dominated almost entirely by the medieval
    conception of learning. It is something which appeals for
    the most part simply to the intellectual aspect of our
    natures, our desire to learn, to accumulate information,
    and to get control of the symbols of learning; not to our
    impulses and tendencies to make, to do, to create, to
    produce, whether in the form of utility or art.

Mere "manual training", then all the rage, has failed, as Dewey said
it would, because of its fictitious and adventitious character. His
method was as different from the ordinary kind of "manual training" as
hay-making is from dumb-bell exercise.

    We must conceive of work in wood and metal, of weaving,
    sewing and cooking, as methods of living and learning, not
    as distinct studies. We must conceive of them in their
    social significance, as types of processes by which society
    keeps itself going, as agencies for bringing home to the
    child some of the primal necessities of community life, and
    as ways in which these needs have been met by the growing
    insight and ingenuity of man; in short as instrumentalities
    through which the school itself shall be made a genuine form
    of active community life, instead of a place set apart in
    which to learn lessons.

So Dewey set the children to solving the problems of primitive man
and retracing for themselves the steps in the evolution of industrial
processes. They picked the cotton from the boll, carded, spun it into
thread and wove it into cloth on machines of their own making and for
the most part of their own devising. This gave opportunity for personal
experimenting and taught them history by repeating history, not
repeating a verbal version of history. And the history they thus learnt
was the history of the human race, not the history of some chosen

This recapitulation theory, like all others, has since been carried
to an extreme. Acting on the idea that children normally pass through
the same stages as European civilization some teachers seem to think
it necessary to keep them to the chronological curriculum. So they
cultivate a pseudo-savagery for a year or two, then make them pagans
and later teach the ideals of the age of chivalry which are hardly less
repugnant to the modern mind. So careful are they to avoid anachronism
that if a boy should by any accident behave like a Christian before
he reached the grade corresponding to A.D. 28 he would be likely to
get a bad mark for it. So, too, I have known teachers of mathematics
who would not allow their pupils to take a short cut to the answer
by way of algebra unless it was in the algebra class and teachers of
chemistry who would not permit the word "atom" to be mentioned in
classroom until the term was half through. But such extravagances find
no countenance in Dewey's writings or the examples he cites.

In the laboratory school of the University of Chicago Professor and
Mrs. Dewey had for several years a free hand in developing and trying
out their theories. Their aim was to utilize instead of to suppress
the fourfold impulses of childhood; the interest in conversation, the
interest in inquiry, the interest in construction and the interest in
artistic expression. The volume in which Professor Dewey explained
what he was trying to do and why, "School and Society", was first
published in 1899 and has been reprinted almost every year up to
the present.[1] It might well have borne the same title as Benjamin
Tucker's volume on anarchism: "Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy to
Write One." It consists of the stenographic reports of three informal
talks by Professor Dewey to the parents of his pupils and the friends
of his school, supplemented by some fugitive papers. Yet it has an
influence comparable to no other modern book of its size unless perhaps
Herbert Spencer's tract on "Education."

How far the seed was sown is shown by "Schools of To-morrow",[2]
which tells of a dozen places where the ideas that were so novel
and startling in the nineties are in practical operation. But it is
characteristic of Dewey's self-effacement that he makes no claim for
priority, and there is no hint anywhere in the volume that many of the
methods described were first devised and tried out in the Dewey school
at Chicago nearly twenty years ago. He gives the credit for the theory
to Rousseau and the credit for the practice to Mr. Wirt of Gary, Mrs.
Johnson of Fairhope, Mr. Valentine of Indianapolis, Professor Merriam
of Missouri, and others.

Mr. Wirt who organized the school system of the steel city of Gary,
Indiana, and who is now employed in remodeling some of the schools
of New York City, owes his inspiration and ideas, as I have heard
him say, very largely to Dewey.[3] The Gary system differs from the
trade schools in that the industries are used for their educative
value. The pupils are shifted around from one shop to another three
times a year. Their tasks are artificial, symbolic or imitative, but
from the fifth grade up real constructive work, for the boys making
school furniture, iron castings, laying concrete, and printing; and
for the girls, sewing, cooking, marketing, millinery, and laundry, and
for both, gardening, pottery, designing, bookbinding and bookkeeping.
Arithmetic, writing, history, and geography come in necessarily and
naturally in connection with their work. Under this régime the pupils
make better progress in the traditional subjects than those who devote
their whole time to books. That it does not divert them from higher
education is shown by the fact that one third of all the pupils who
have left the Gary schools in the eight years of their existence are
now in the state university, an engineering school, or a business
college, a remarkable record for a population mostly composed of
foreign-born steel mill laborers. All the schoolrooms are in use for
something all day long, so the "peak load" is avoided and a great
economy effected. The grounds and buildings also serve as community
centers and the last trace of the ancient feud between "town and gown"
has been wiped out.

The chief advantage which these "schools of tomorrow" have over those
of the past is, in Dewey's opinion, that they come a step nearer
toward giving the type of training necessary to prepare citizens for
democracy. In this new book, then, he is working toward the ideal he
promulgated at the beginning of his career when he entered the faculty
of the University of Michigan as the youngest man ever appointed
to a professorship in that institution. He sounded the note of his
philosophy thirty years ago in a paper on "The Ethics of Democracy",[4]
and he has never faltered in his allegiance to the high ideal he
there set forth, although he has broken away from the Hegelian mode
of thought he then used. The paper was written to confute Sir Henry
Maine who, in his "Popular Government", argued that democracy was an
historical accident and the most fragile, insecure, and unprogressive
form of government. Dewey objects to his mechanical and mathematical
conception of democratic government and sets forth a very different
conception as the following quotations will show:

    The majority have a right to "rule" because their majority
    is not the mere sign of a surplus in numbers, but is the
    manifestation of the purpose of the social organism.

    Government is to the state what language is to the thought:
    it not only communicates the purposes of the state, but in
    so doing gives them for the first time articulation and

    A vote is not the impersonal counting of one; it is a
    manifestation of some tendency of the social organism
    through a member of that organism.

    The democratic formula that government derives its powers
    from the consent of the governed ... means that in democracy
    the governors and the governed are not of two classes, but
    two aspects of the same fact--the fact of the possession by
    society of a unified and articulate will.

    The aristocratic idea implies that the mass of men are to be
    inserted by wisdom, or, if necessary, thrust by force, into
    their proper positions in the social organism....

    Democracy means that _personality_ is the first and final
    reality.... It holds that the spirit of personality indwells
    in every individual, and that the choice to develop it must
    proceed from that individual. From this central position
    of democracy result the other notes of democracy, liberty,
    equality, fraternity--words which are not mere words to
    catch a mob, but symbols of the highest ethical idea which
    humanity has yet reached--the idea that _personality_ is
    the one thing of permanent and abiding worth, and that
    in every human individual there lies personality.... It
    means that in every individual there lives an infinite and
    universal possibility: that of being a king or priest.
    Aristocracy is blasphemy against personality.

Even in those days when socialism had hardly begun to be whispered, at
least in academic circles, Dewey was not afraid to say that: "Democracy
is not in reality what it is in name until it is industrial as well
as civil and political.... A democracy of wealth is a necessity."
Twenty-five years later I saw Professor Dewey giving a public
demonstration of his faith in democracy when I found him marching with
a small body of men at the tail end of a suffrage procession while
the crowds that lined Fifth Avenue jeered and hissed at us. Who would
then have thought that five years later all parties would be committed
to equal suffrage and four presidential candidates would be bidding
against one another for the privilege of giving the women the vote!

Education for democracy is the burden of Dewey's message to the world,
and I must give one more quotation on this point:

    Democracy, the crucial expression of modern life, is not so
    much an addition to the scientific and industrial tendencies
    as it is the perception of their social or spiritual
    meaning. Democracy is an absurdity where faith in the
    individual as individual is impossible; and this faith is
    impossible where intelligence is regarded as a cosmic power,
    not an adjustment and application of individual tendencies.

    ... Democracy is estimable only through the changed
    conception of intelligence that forms modern science, and
    of want, that forms modern industry. It is essentially a
    changed psychology. The conventional type of education which
    trains children in docility and obedience, to the careful
    performance of imposed tasks because they are imposed,
    regardless of where they lead, is suited to an autocratic
    society. These are the traits needed in a state where there
    is one head to plan and care for the lives and institutions
    of the people. But in a democracy they interfere with the
    successful conduct of society and government.... If we
    train our children to take orders, to do things simply
    because they are told to, and fail to give them confidence
    to act and think for themselves, we are putting an almost
    insurmountable obstacle in the way of overcoming the present
    defects of our system and of establishing the truth of
    democratic ideals.

    Children in school must be allowed freedom so that they will
    know what its use means when they become the controlling
    body, and they must be allowed to develop active qualities
    of initiative, independence, and resourcefulness, before the
    abuses and failures will disappear.--"School and Society",
    p. 304.

The old theory of education has been most pungently put by "Mr.
Dooley", the saloon-keeper of Archey Road, in one of his monologues
with Mr. Hennessy: "It don't matter much what you study--so long
as you don't like it." Professor Dewey takes almost the opposite
ground when he says:[5] "Interest ought to be the basis for selection
because children are interested in the things they need to learn."

This, as he shows, does not mean that in the new schools things are
"made easy"; on the contrary the pupils work harder because things are
made interesting.

    The range of the material is not in any way limited by
    making interest a standard of selection. Work that appeals
    to pupils as worth while, that holds out the promise of
    resulting in something to their own interests, involves
    just as much persistence and concentration as the work that
    is given by the sternest advocate of disciplinary drill.
    The latter requires the pupil to strive for ends which he
    cannot see, so that he has to be kept at the task by means
    of offering artificial ends, marks, and promotions, and by
    isolating him in an atmosphere where his mind and senses
    are not being constantly besieged by the call of life which
    appeals so strongly to him. But the pupil presented with a
    problem, the solution of which will give him an immediate
    sense of accomplishment and satisfied curiosity, will bend
    all his powers to the work: the end itself will furnish the
    stimulus necessary to carry him through the drudgery....
    Since the children are no longer working for rewards,
    the temptation to cheat is reduced to a minimum. There
    is no motive for doing dishonest acts, since the result
    shows whether the child has done the work, the only end
    recognized.--"School and Society."

We have then two fundamentally different theories of training, the
Dooley versus the Dewey system. They are now on trial in some degree
all the way up from the beginning of the primary to the end of the
college.[6] One is authoritarian; the other libertarian. One cultivates
obedience; the other initiative. One strives for uniformity; the other
diversity. In one the impelling motive is duty; in the other desire. In
one the attitude of the student is receptivity; in the other activity.
In one there is compulsory coördination; in the other voluntary

Obviously neither could be carried to an exclusive extreme, and in
practice we find each more or less unconsciously borrowing methods from
the others. Doubtless the optima for different temperaments, ages, and
studies will be found at different points along the line connecting the
two extremes. How far one may safely go in either direction is to be
determined by the pragmatic test of experiment. But at present it is
safe to say that the tide of reform is running in the direction Dewey
pointed out a quarter of a century before, though recently a strong
counter-current of militarism has set in. That Dewey is a true prophet
is proved by the extent to which his ideas are being carried out in
these "schools of tomorrow" that are already in existence to-day.

The third period in Dewey's life began with his appointment to the
chair of philosophy at Columbia University in 1905. This relieved him
of the burden of responsibility for the conduct of the laboratory
school at Chicago and enabled him to concentrate his thought upon
the fundamental problems of knowledge. It was then perceived that
he belonged on the left or radical wing of that movement to which
James applied Peirce's name of "pragmatism." But Dewey is reluctant
to call himself a pragmatist, partly because of his constitutional
dislike to wearing a tag of any kind, partly, I surmise, because
he has an aversion to the spiritualistic tendencies of the two men
who are usually classed with him as the leaders of the pragmatic
movement--James of Harvard and Schiller of Oxford.

Dewey's doctrine of cognition, the theory of instrumentalism, is now to
be found in two recent volumes, one technical and the other popular.
The ordinary skimming reader will find the "Essays in Experimental
Logic" rather hard sledding, so he will be relieved to find that
it has been translated by the author into ordinary English in the
little volume entitled "How We Think." This is intended primarily
for teachers whose business is supposed to be that of teaching their
youngsters how to think, though in reality most of their time has to be
taken up with the imparting of information.

[Illustration: John Dewey.]

The "Ethics" of John Dewey and James H. Tufts (1908) is not only a
practical textbook admirably clear in expounding the conflicting
theories and eminently fair in criticizing them, but it would be useful
to any reader for broadening the mind and pointing the proper way of
approach to modern problems. Professor Tawney of the University of
Cincinnati in reviewing it for the _American Journal of Sociology_
says: "Probably no more convincing effort to construct a system of
moral philosophy by a strictly scientific method has ever been carried

Moral philosophers are generally disposed to keep their carefully
constructed systems of ethics under a glass bell jar rather than
risk the hard knocks they must receive if taken into the street and
marketplace. But Dewey as a professed experimentalist could not
consistently adopt this cautious method. His is no cloistered morality
but a doctrine reduced from practical life and referable to the same
authority for the validification of its influences. An interesting
instance of the practical application of his principles is found in
his essay on "Force and Coercion."[7] Here he discusses chiefly the
question of the allowability of the use of force by a government as
in war or by a class as in a strike and repudiates the Tolstoyan view
that all use of force is wrong. On such a delicate question it would be
improper for me to paraphrase his argument, so I quote instead his own
summary of his conclusions:

    First, since the attainment of ends requires the use of
    means, law is essentially a formulation of the use of force.
    Secondly, the only question which can be raised about the
    justification of force is that of comparative efficiency and
    economy in its use. Thirdly, what is justly objected to as
    violence or undue coercion is a reliance upon wasteful and
    destructive means of accomplishing results. Fourthly, there
    is always a possibility that what passes as a legitimate
    use of force may be so wasteful as to be really a use of
    violence; and per contra that measures condemned as recourse
    to mere violence may, under the given circumstances,
    represent an intelligent utilization of energy. In no case,
    can antecedents or _a priori_ principles be appealed to
    as more than presumptive: The point at issue is concrete
    utilization of means for ends.

In this essay Dewey inclines to the view that "all political questions
are simply questions of the extension and restriction of exercise of
power on the part of specific groups in the community", and says
further that: "With a few notable exceptions, the doctrine that the
state rests upon or is common will seems to turn out but a piece of
phraseology to justify the uses actually made of force. Practices of
coercion and constraint which would become intolerable if frankly
labelled Force seem to become laudable when baptized with the name of
Will, although they otherwise remain the same."

I trust that Dewey is one of "the few notable exceptions", for the
quotations from his paper on the "Ethics of Democracy" which I have
given on a previous page show that Dewey in his earlier years went as
far as Fichte in his later years toward identifying government--and a
bare majority at that--with the common will of the social organism.
Such a Germanic doctrine of the power of the State could be used to
justify worse things than the German Government has ever done, and it
is perhaps a realization of this that has led Dewey latterly to look
with more favor upon the use of force by the minority.

The proper use of force is, in Dewey's opinion, "the acute question of
social philosophy in the world to-day", and "a generation which has
beheld the most stupendous manifestation of force in all history
is not going to be content unless it has found some answer to the
question." In an article on "Force, Violence and Law"[8] he discusses
the possibilities of the peace movement in the following fashion:

    At various times of my life I have, with other wearied
    souls, assisted at discussions between those who were
    Tolstoyans and--well, those who weren't. In reply to the
    agitated protests of the former against war and the police
    and penal measures, I have listened to the time-honored
    queries about what you should do when the criminal attacked
    your friend or child. I have rarely heard it stated that
    since one cannot even walk the street without using force,
    the only question which persons can discuss with one another
    concerns the most effective use of force in gaining ends
    in specific situations. If one's end is the saving of
    one's soul immaculate, or maintaining a certain emotion
    unimpaired, doubtless force should be used to inhibit
    natural muscular reactions. If the end is something else,
    a hearty fisticuff may be the means of realizing it. What
    is intolerable is that men should condemn or eulogize force
    at large, irrespective of its use as a means of getting
    results. To be interested in ends and to have contempt for
    the means which alone secure them is the last stage of
    intellectual demoralization.

    It is hostility to force as force, to force intrinsically,
    which has rendered the peace movement so largely an
    anti-movement, with all the weaknesses which appertain
    to everything that is primarily anti-anything. Unable to
    conceive the task of organizing the existing forces
    so they may achieve their greatest efficiency, pacifists
    have had little recourse save to decry evil emotions and
    evil-minded men as the causes of war.... And no league to
    enforce peace will fare prosperously save as it is the
    natural accompaniment of a constructive adjustment of the
    concrete interests which are already at work.... The passage
    of force under law occurs only when all the cards are on the
    table, when the objective facts which bring conflicts in
    their train are acknowledged, and when intelligence is used
    to devise mechanisms which will afford to the forces at work
    all the satisfaction that conditions permit.

Dewey's primary purpose has always been the development of a type
of ethical thinking and a method of school training suited to the
democratic and industrial society of modern America. Speaking of the
mental revolution that has been effected by the advance of science he

    Whether the consequent revolution in moral philosophy be
    termed pragmatism or be given the happier title of the
    applied and experimental habit of mind is of little account.
    What is of moment is that intelligence has descended from
    its lonely isolation at the remote edge of things, whence
    it operated as unmoved mover and ultimate good, to take its
    seat in the moving affairs of men. Theory may therefore
    become responsible to the practices that have generated
    it; the good be connected with nature, but with nature
    naturally, not metaphysically conceived, and social life be
    cherished in behalf of its own immediate possibilities,
    not on the ground of its remote connections with a cosmic
    reason and absolute end.--"Influence of Darwin", p. 55.

In the preface to the "Influence of Darwin" he quotes a German
definition of pragmatism:[9]

    Epistemologically, nominalism; psychologically,
    voluntarism; cosmologically, energism; metaphysically,
    agnosticism; ethically, meliorism on the basis of the

Dewey, who dislikes to wear even one tag--and that a nice new clean
one--naturally resents having these five old ones tied to him, so he

    It may be that pragmatism will turn out to be all of this
    formidable array, but even should it the one who thus
    defines it has hardly come within earshot of it. For
    whatever else pragmatism is or is not, the pragmatic spirit
    is primarily a revolt against that habit of mind which
    disposes of anything whatever--even so humble an affair as
    a new method in philosophy--by tucking it away, after this
    fashion, in the pigeon-holes of a filing cabinet....

    It is better to view pragmatism quite vaguely as part and
    parcel of a general movement of intellectual reconstruction.
    For otherwise we seem to have no recourse save to define
    pragmatism--as does our German author--in terms of the
    very past systems against which it is a reaction; or, in
    escaping that alternative, to regard it as a fixed rival
    system making like claim to completeness and finality. And
    if, as I believe, one of the marked traits of the pragmatic
    movement is just the surrender of every such claim, how have
    we furthered our understanding of pragmatism?

In one of his Socratic dialogues[10] Dewey brings in at the close
Chesterton's flip refutation of pragmatism:

    _Pupil._ What you say calls to mind something of
    Chesterton's that I read recently: "I agree with the
    pragmatists that apparent objective truth is not the whole
    matter; that there is an authoritative need to believe the
    things that are necessary to the human mind. But I say that
    one of those necessities precisely is a belief in objective
    truth. Pragmatism is a matter of human needs and one of
    the first of human needs is to be something more than a

    You would say, if I understand you aright, that to fall back
    upon the necessity of the "human mind" to believe in certain
    absolute truths, is to evade a proper demand for testing the
    human mind and all its works.

    _Teacher._ My son, I am glad to leave the last word with
    you. This _enfant terrible_ of intellectualism has revealed
    that the chief objection of absolutists to the pragmatic
    doctrine of the personal (or "subjective") factor in
    belief is that the pragmatist has spilled the personal milk
    in the absolutist's coconut.

    It is curious to see how many different classes are now
    holding up Germany as a horrible example of the dangers
    of the theories they oppose. The Anglican Catholics blame
    Luther for the war and look upon the prospective triumph
    of the Allies as the final destruction of Protestantism
    in the world. The orthodox believe that Germany got into
    trouble through higher criticism. The classicists say
    that she is suffering from an overdose of science. The
    Absolute Idealists ascribe the bad conduct of Germany to her
    desertion of Kant, Hegel, and Fichte to follow after the new
    gods--or no gods--of Haeckel and Nietzsche. But Dewey, on
    the contrary, holds Kant, Hegel, and Fichte responsible for
    it all. "That philosophical absolutism may be practically
    as dangerous as matter-of-fact political absolutism history
    testifies." This is no new notion cooked up for the
    occasion, like so many of them, but one which Dewey plainly
    stated six years before the outbreak of the war in his
    address on Ethics at Columbia University. In speaking of
    Kant's denudation of Pure Reason of all concrete attributes
    he said:

    Reason became a mere voice, which having nothing particular
    to say, said Law, Duty, in general, leaving to the
    existing social order of the Prussia of Frederick the Great
    the congenial task of declaring just what was obligatory
    in the concrete. The marriage of freedom and authority was
    thus celebrated with the understanding that sentimental
    primacy went to the former and practical control to the
    latter.--"Influence of Darwin", p. 65.

After the war began he expanded this idea in his McNair lectures at
the University of North Carolina.[11] Because Germany has developed
continuously without any decided break with its past like the French
Revolution or the transplanting of Europeans to America, German
thinkers have come to declare all progress as the unfolding of national
life and to declare impossible the construction of constitutions such
as we have in the New World. Dewey traces the intellectual process by
which the German people have reached the very startling opinions they
now hold as to their mission in the world as follows:

    The premises of the historic syllogism are plain. First,
    the German Luther who saved for mankind the principle of
    spiritual freedom against Latin externalism; then Kant
    and Fichte, who wrought out the principle into a final
    philosophy of science, morals and the State; as conclusion,
    the German nation organized in order to win the world to a
    recognition of the principle, and thereby to establish the
    rule of freedom and science in humanity as a whole.... In
    the grosser sense of the words, Germany has not held that
    might makes right. But it has been instructed by a long
    line of philosophers that it is the business of ideal right
    to gather might to itself in order that it may cease to be
    merely ideal. The State represents exactly this incarnation
    of ideal law and right in effective might.

A hundred years ago Fichte in his "Addresses to the German Nation"
roused his countrymen to make a stand against Napoleon and fulfill
their mission to "elevate the German name to that of the most glorious
of all peoples, making this Nation the regenerator and restorer of the
world." "There is no middle ground: If you sink, so sinks humanity
entire with you, without hope of future restoration."

This sounds very much like what we hear in Germany to-day, although the
present German Empire differs markedly in some respects from the ideal
State that Fichte foresaw. It is also the same sort of language as is
being used in England and the other allied countries. In fact every
nation has the same sense of its historic divine mission and unique
importance to the world's civilization. Certainly we cannot deny the
existence of that feeling among Americans. To quote again from Fichte:
"While cosmopolitanism is the dominant will that the purpose of the
existence of humanity be actually realized in humanity, patriotism
is the will that this end be first realized in the particular nation to
which we ourselves belong, and that this achievement thence spread over
the entire race."

This might seem a harmless and indeed inspiring conception of
patriotism, but when the Fichtean idea of a particular State as the
incarnation of the divine will is combined with the Hegelian idea of
progress through conflict, it makes a fatal mixture, as Dewey shows:

    Philosophical justification of war follows inevitably from
    a philosophy of history composed in nationalistic terms.
    History is the movement, the march of God on earth through
    time. Only one nation at a time can be the latest and hence
    the fullest realization of God. The movement of God in
    history is thus particularly manifest in those changes by
    which unique place passes from one nation to another. War
    is the signally visible occurrence of such a flight of the
    divine spirit in its onward movement.

This fallacious line of argument is, in Dewey's opinion, the logical
outcome of the _a priori_ and absolutist metaphysics which has
prevailed in Europe during the last century, and for which he would
substitute the method of intelligent experimentation. He says, "The
present situation presents the spectacle of the breakdown of the
whole philosophy of Nationalism, political, racial and cultural,"
and he urges as a substitute the promotion of "the efficacy of human
intercourse irrespective of class, racial, geographical and national
limits." When we see the appalling results to which the doctrine of
Nationalism has led, we may indeed regard it with Dewey as a logical
breakdown, but I fear that actually it has become more powerful,
pervading, and firmly fixed than ever through the psychological and
economic experiences of the war.[12]

Doctor F. C. S. Schiller of Oxford calls Dewey's "German Philosophy and
Politics" "an entirely admirable book; clear, calm, cogent, and popular
without being shallow" and he further says:

    Professor Dewey was assuredly the ideal person to handle
    the subject. For though he had made a deep and sympathetic
    study of German philosophy, he had in the end turned
    away from it to become a leader in the movement which is
    most antithetical to the traditionally German type of
    philosophizing. It must not indeed be alleged that the
    Anglo-Saxon world has a monopoly of the pragmatic habit
    of mind; for all men have to act and pragmatism is only
    the theoretic apprehension of the attitude which imposes
    itself on every agent everywhere. But it is probably right
    to regard this habit of mind as characteristically congenial
    to Anglo-Saxon life, and it was a perception of this that so
    infuriated our germanized professors who prided themselves
    on their superiority to the vulgar practicality of the
    national bent.[13]

A stranger who drops into one of Professor Dewey's classes is at first
apt to be puzzled to account for the extent of his influence and the
devotion of his disciples. There is nothing in his manner of delivery
to indicate that he is saying anything of importance, and it takes some
time to realize that he is. He talks along in a casual sort of way with
a low and uneventful voice and his eyes mostly directed toward the
bare desk or out of the window. Occasionally he wakes up to the fact
that the students in the back seats are having difficulty in hearing
him, and then he comes down with explosive stress on the next word,
a preposition as like as not. His lectures are punctuated by pauses
but not in a way to facilitate their comprehension. Sometimes in the
midst of a sentence, perhaps between an adjective and its noun, his
train of thought will be shunted off on to another line, and the
class has to sit patiently at the junction station until it comes
back, as it always does eventually. The difficulty of utterance in his
lectures, like the tortuous style of his technical writings, results
from overconscientiousness. When he misses the right word he does not
pick any one at hand and go on but stops talking until he finds the
one he wants, and he is so anxious to avoid a misunderstanding that he
sometimes fails to insure an understanding. Talking has never become
a reflex action with Dewey. He has to think before he speaks. Few
professors and almost no instructors are bothered that way.

In profile Professor Dewey looks something like Robert Louis Stevenson,
the same long lean face and neck and nose. From the front one would
take him to be a Kentucky colonel disguised in spectacles. His long
straight black hair, parted in the middle, is now getting gray, but his
drooping mustaches, being twenty years younger, are still dark. His
eyes are black and keen, and one can catch a twinkle in them if the
lids do not drop too quick. His neck-tie is usually awry, and several
thousands of orderly schoolma'ams have felt their hands itch to jerk it
straight. His drawling careless tone and hesitant manner quite disguise
the boldness of his thought and the logical order of its wording.
Questions from the class never disconcert him, however inopportune, and
the more he is heckled the better he talks.

One of his former students at Columbia, Randolph S. Bourne, gives this
pen sketch of Professor Dewey:[14]

    Nothing is more symbolic of Professor Dewey's democratic
    attitude towards life than the disintegrated array of his
    published writings. Where the neatly uniform works of
    William James are to be found in every public library, you
    must hunt long and far for the best things of the man who,
    since the other's death, is the most significant thinker
    in America. Pamphlets and reports of obscure educational
    societies; school journals, university monographs, and
    philosophical journals, limited to the pedant few; these
    are the burial-places of much of this intensely alive,
    futuristic philosophy.... No man, I think, with such
    universally important things to say on almost every social
    and intellectual activity of the day, was ever published in
    forms more ingeniously contrived to thwart the interest of
    the prospective public.

    Professor Dewey's thought is inaccessible because he has
    always carried his simplicity of manner, his dread of show
    or self-advertisement, almost to the point of extravagance.
    In all his psychology there is no place for the psychology
    of prestige. His democracy seems almost to take that extreme
    form of refusing to bring one's self or one's ideas to
    the attention of others. On the college campus or in the
    lecture-room he seems positively to efface himself. The
    uncertainty of his silver-gray hair and drooping mustache,
    of his voice, of his clothes, suggests that he has almost
    studied the technique of protective coloration. It will do
    you no good to hear him lecture. His sentences, flowing and
    exact and lucid when read, you will find strung in long
    festoons of obscurity between pauses for the awaited right
    word. The whole business of impressing yourself on other
    people, of getting yourself over to the people who want
    to and ought to have you, has simply never come into his
    ultra-democratic mind.

    A prophet dressed in the clothes of a professor of logic, he
    seems almost to feel shame that he has seen the implications
    of democracy more clearly than anybody else in the great
    would-be democratic society about him, and so been forced
    into the unwelcome task of teaching it.

Knowing that every biographer is expected to show that the subject of
his sketch got his peculiar talents by honest inheritance, I wrote to
Professor Dewey to inquire what there was in his genealogy to account
for his becoming a philosopher. His ancestry is discouraging to those
who would find an explanation for all things in heredity.

    My ancestry, particularly on my father's side, is free from
    all blemish. All my forefathers earned an honest living as
    farmers, wheelwrights, coopers. I was absolutely the first
    one in seven generations to fall from grace. In the last
    few years atavism has set in and I have raised enough
    vegetables and fruit really to pay for my own keep.

John Dewey was born in Burlington, Vermont, October 20, 1859, the
son of Archibald S. and Lucina A. (Rich) Dewey. His elder brother,
Davis Rich Dewey, is professor of economics and statistics in the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of the Special
Report on Employees and Wages in the 12th Census as well as of many
other works on finance and industry.

John Dewey went to the State University in his native town and received
his A. B. degree at twenty. Being then uncertain whether his liking
for philosophical studies was sufficient to be taken as a call to that
calling he applied to the one man in America most competent and willing
to decide such a question, W. T. Harris, afterward United States
Commissioner for Education, but then superintendent of schools in St.
Louis. Think of the courage and enterprise of a man who while filling
this busy position and when the war was barely over started a _Journal
of Speculative Philosophy_ and founded a Philosophical Society and
produced a series of translations of Hegel, Fichte, and other German
metaphysicians. It would be hard to estimate the influence of Doctor
Harris in raising the standards of American schools and in arousing
an interest in intellectual problems. When young Dewey sent him a brief
article with a request for personal advice he returned so encouraging a
reply that Dewey decided to devote himself to philosophy. So, after a
year spent at home reading under the direction of Professor Torrey of
the University of Vermont, one of the old type of scholarly gentleman,
Dewey went to Johns Hopkins University, the first American university
to make graduate and research work its main object. Here he studied
under George S. Morris and followed him to the University of Michigan
as Instructor in Philosophy after receiving his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins
in 1884. Two years later he married Alice Chipman of Fenton, Michigan,
who has been ever since an effective collaborator in his educational
and social work. In 1888 he went to the University of Minnesota as
Professor of Philosophy but was called back to Michigan at the end of
one year.

When President Harper went through the country picking up brilliant
and promising young men for the new University of Chicago, Dewey was
his choice for the chair of philosopher. During the ten years Dewey
spent on the Midway Plaisance he had the opportunity to try out the
radical ideas of education of which I have spoken. In 1904 Dewey was
called to Columbia University, where he has since remained. Besides his
classwork he has always been active though rarely conspicuous in many
educational and social movements. One of the latest of these is the
formation of the Association of University Professors, of which he was
the first president.

The title of his latest volume, "Democracy and Education", gives
the keynote of his philosophy and the aim of his life. In a recent
article[15] he puts it in these words:

    I am one of those who think that the only test and
    justification of any form of political and economic society
    is its contribution to art and science--to what may roundly
    be called culture. That America has not yet so justified
    itself is too obvious for even lament.. .. Since we can
    neither beg nor borrow a culture without betraying both it
    and ourselves, nothing remains save to produce one.. ..
    Our culture must be consonant with realistic science and
    with machine industry, instead of a refuge from them....
    It is for education to bring the light of science and the
    power of work to the aid of every soul that it may discover
    its quality. For in a spiritually democratic society
    every individual would realize distinction. Culture would
    then be for the first time in human history an individual
    achievement and not a class possession.


As has been said previously, Dewey's writings are scattered far and
wide in various periodicals and educational series. He has never been
able to say "no" to any struggling journal of socialism or school
reform that begged him for an article although it meant no pay, little
influence, and speedy oblivion for his contribution. The graduate
student of twenty-five years hence who undertakes to get a Ph.D. by
making a complete collection of Dewey's works will earn his degree. The
main principles of Dewey's philosophy, imparted viva voce to successive
generations of students, have never been printed in a complete and
systematic form, though his ideas have interfused the schools of the
country through the teachers he has trained and the educational books
he has written.

The nearest thing to a short cut to Dewey's philosophy that he has
given us is "How We Think" (Heath, 1910), and with this the reader
may well begin. "Essays in Experimental Logic" (University of Chicago
Press, 1916) requires for its complete comprehension some knowledge
of current controversies in philosophy. But the review of James's
"Pragmatism", contained in the chapter "What Pragmatism Means", will be
of interest to any reader seeking an answer to that question.

His epoch-making work, "The School and Society" (University of Chicago
Press, first edition 1899, second edition 1915), has by no means lost
its value although much that was prophecy then is now fulfilled. Most
readers will be more interested in the fulfillments as described in
"Schools of Tomorrow" (Dutton, 1915). This contains, besides the
description of the new schools by his daughter, Evelyn Dewey, several
chapters by Professor Dewey on the theory and aims of the educational
movement they represent. A more complete and systematic exposition
of the principles of education under modern conditions is to be
found in his most recent book, "Democracy and Education" (Macmillan,
1916). Professor Moore of Chicago who reviews this volume in the
_International Journal of Ethics_ (1916, p. 547) says of it: "The
thinking world has long since learned to expect from Professor Dewey
matters of prime importance. Of the general significance of this,
volume it is perhaps enough to say that, in the reviewer's opinion, it
is the most important of Professor Dewey's productions thus far. In
defiance of possible imputations of chauvinism, the reviewer will also
say that it would be difficult to overstate its import and value for
all students of education, philosophy, and society."

The volume clumsily entitled "The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy
and Other Essays in Contemporary Thought" (Holt, 1910) contains,
besides the anniversary address which gives it its title, ten essays
chiefly concerned with the exposition and defense of Dewey's form of
pragmatism, "immediate empiricism." "German Philosophy and Politics"
(Holt, 1915) is discussed in the preceding pages. Dewey's "Psychology"
(Harper, 1886) has largely lost its interest through the rapid advance
of the science and the altered viewpoint of the author. The "Ethics"
which he wrote in collaboration with Professor Tufts I have previously
mentioned (Holt, 1908).

The practical applications of Dewey's philosophy to current educational
and public questions may best be found in the brief and popular
articles that he contributed frequently to _The New Republic_
(New York) in 1915-1916. His professional contributions to logical
theory and epistemology appear mostly in the fortnightly organ of
the philosophical department of Columbia University, the _Journal of
Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods_.

A volume of eight essays on the pragmatic attitude was published in
January 1917 by Henry Holt under the title of "Creative Intelligence."
The leading essay on "The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy" is by John

Besides the articles to which reference has been made in the footnotes
of the preceding pages the following writings of Dewey should be
mentioned: "Science as Subject-matter and as Method", the vice
presidential address of the section on education of the Boston meeting
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1909, (in
_Science_, January 28, 1910); "The Problem of Truth", George Leib
Harrison lectures before the University of Pennsylvania, 1911 (in _Old
Penn Weekly Review_), "Maeterlinck" (_Hibbert Journal_, vol. 9, p.
765) and "Is Nature Good?" (_Hibbert Journal_, vol. 7, p. 827); "The
Existence of the World as a Problem" (_Philosophical Review_, vol.
24, p. 357); "Darwin's Influence upon Philosophy" (_Popular Science
Monthly_, vol. 75, p. 90); Presidential address to the American
Association of University Professors (_Science_, January 29, 1915);
"Professional Spirit Among Teachers" (_American Teacher_, New York,
October, 1913); _The International Journal of Ethics_ published "Force
and Coercion" (vol. 26, p. 359); "Progress" (vol. 26, p. 311); "Nature
and Reason in Law" (vol. 25, p. 25); "History for the Educator" and
other articles appeared in _Progressive Journal of Education_, Chicago,
1909; "Voluntarism in the Roycean Philosophy" in the _Philosophical
Review_, May, 1916; "Logical Foundations of The Scientific Treatment of
Morality" in the Decennial Publications of the University of Chicago.

A criticism of Bergson by Dewey under the title of "Perception and
Organic Action" may be found in the _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology
and Scientific Methods_, November 21, 1912. Professor Wilhelm Ostwald,
who, as I said in my chapter on him, has devoted much attention to
educational reforms, includes a sketch of Dewey by Franz Ludwig in
the series on _Moderne Schulreforme in Das Monistische Jahrhundert_
of May 31, 191-5. For a criticism of Dewey's social philosophy see
the articles by Lester Lee Bernhard of the University of Chicago in
_American Journal of Sociology_.

No biography of Dewey has yet been written and none ever will be if he
can prevent it. H. W. Schneider of Columbia University has prepared a
complete bibliography of Dewey's writings, not yet published.

[1] The University of Chicago Press published a second edition of
"School and Society", revised and enlarged, in 1915.

[2] "Schools of To-morrow", by John Dewey and Evelyn Dewey (Dutton),

[3] Doctor Georg Kerschensteiner who founded the famous "workshop
schools" of Munich also acknowledges his indebtedness to Dewey.

[4] No. I of Series 2 of Philosophical Papers of the University of
Michigan, 1887.

[5] "Schools of To-morrow", p. 301.

[6] See the admirable article in _Atlantic Monthly_ of November, 1908,
by President Pritchett of the Carnegie Foundation, contrasting Harvard
and West Point, "The College of Freedom and the College of Discipline."

[7] _International Journal of Ethics_, vol. 26, p. 359-367.

[8] _The New Republic_, January 22, 1916.

[9] To get the full force of this portentous definition one
must read it in the original: _Gewiss ist der Pragmatismus
erkenntniss-theoretisch Nominalismus, psychologisch Voluntarismus,
naturphilosophisch Energismus, metaphysisch Agnosticismus, ethisch
Meliorismus auf Grundlage des Bentham-Millschen Utilitarismus._

[10] "A Catechism Concerning Truth" in "The Influence of Darwin on
Philosophy and Other Essays."

[11] Published as "German Philosophy and Politics" (Holt), 1915.

[12] "German Philosophy and Politics" is sympathetically reviewed by
Professor Santayana in the _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and
Scientific Methods_ for November 25, 1915. The same Journal reprints
(vol. XII, p. 584) a criticism appearing in _The New Republic_ (vol.
IV, p. 234) by Professor Hocking of Harvard, who thinks that the
fault of the Germans is being too pragmatic. Professor Dewey's reply
is published with it. See also Dewey's admirable analysis of the
national psychology of Germany, France, and England in his article "On
Understanding the Mind of Germany", _Atlantic_, vol. 117, p. 251.

[13] _Mind_, April, 1916.

[14] _The New Republic_, March 13, 1915.

[15] _The New Republic_, July 1, 1916.




    To the history of and criticism of these conceptions and
    their terminology Professor Eucken has brought thorough and
    careful reading, acute and candid criticism, and a clear
    and solid style. While he is at home among the systems of
    the past, he seems equally familiar with the controversies
    of the present. Above all, he has studied brevity, and has
    mastered the art of expressing in a few words the results of
    patient research and critical discrimination.

    The writer of this notice was constrained to recommend the
    work for translation to his friend and former pupil by his
    estimate of the intrinsic value of the treatise and the
    desire that it might be brought within reach of English
    readers as eminently suited to the times. He can say with
    assured confidence that there are few books within his
    knowledge which are better fitted to aid the student who
    wishes to acquaint himself with the course of superlative
    and scientific thinking and to form an intelligent estimate
    of most of the current theories.[1]

These were the words with which Professor Eucken was introduced to
the American public in 1880 by one who was a good judge of men and
books, the primary qualification of a college president. Thirty-two
years later Professor Eucken came to America; this time in person, but
under the auspices of Harvard and the University of New York, instead
of Yale. This time he reached a larger audience; partly owing to his
greater fame, partly to a change in the popular attitude toward the
views he presents. In 1908, when Eucken received the Nobel prize for
the greatest work of idealistic literature, there was no book of his
accessible to the English reader, for the translation instigated by
President Porter was out of print. Since then all his important works
have been brought out in England and America; and the periodical
indexes record a growing interest in his thought, corresponding to that
which is manifested in Germany.

The Nobel prizes have failed to carry out the intention of their
founder, which was to place $100,000 or so immediately into the hands
of a man who had made a signal contribution to science, literature,
or peace. Instead of this, the Nobel committees absorb a liberal moiety
of the income of the fund in local "administrative expenses" and
usually give the residue, now amounting to some $37,000, to men whose
reputations have long been established; for example, in literature,
Sully-Prudhomme, Mommsen, Björnson, Mistral, Kipling, and Heyse. But
in so interpreting their mandate the Nobel committees have fulfilled
another useful function, possibly as much needed as that conceived by
Alfred Nobel. If they have not discovered original genius, they have at
least pointed it out to the world at large. The men thus distinguished
as having contributed to human progress have extended their influence
over their contemporaries, as well as received a due appreciation of
their efforts. The Nobel prize does not add to the stature of a man,
but it does elevate him to a pulpit.

In the case of Eucken the value of this is evident. He did not need the
assistance of the Nobel fund in order to prosecute his researches, for
the laboratory expenses of a metaphysician are but slight, and Jena is
as cheap a place to live as can nowadays be found in civilized lands.
The award of the prize did not, of course, add to his reputation in
philosophical circles, but Eucken does not believe that the influence
of a philosopher should be confined to philosophical circles. He
repudiates entirely the aloof, impartial, disinterested spectator
attitude which philosophers in general have thought it necessary to
pretend to assume. The question is, in short, what kind of a scientist
the philosopher should imitate: the chemist who transforms the world
in which he lives, or the meteorologist who merely records the
atmospheric currents without attempting to guide them? Eucken is not
only a teacher; he is a preacher. He has a message which he believes
of vital importance to his contemporaries, so it cannot be a matter of
indifference to him that he is, in his later years, gaining a wider
audience, that his works are the most widely current philosophical
writings of the present day in Germany,[2] and are being extensively
translated into other languages.

This growing popularity is all the more noteworthy since it is not
attained by any novelty of form, or even brilliancy of style. Eucken
never tries to stimulate thought by shocking the reader with
audacious paradoxes, as did Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, as do Shaw and
Chesterton. He has none of the freshness of phraseology and wealth
of novel illustrations which attract to James and Bergson their wide
circle of admirers. He does not, like Ostwald and Haeckel, make use of
the direct and concrete mode of expression which has been introduced
into literature by modern science. Eucken always writes in a serious
and methodical style, elaborating his line of thought as he goes along
with exactness and just proportion; expressing himself in general and
abstract terms, rarely making use of imagery or concrete illustrations,
never introducing personalities. A sweeter-tempered philosopher never
lived. He speaks no evil, even of the dead. He indulges in no polemics
with his contemporaries. In his historical works he passes through all
fields of thought, gleaning good grain wherever he goes, and saying as
little as possible about the tares and brambles that he finds with it.

Very curiously, it has been Eucken's lot to have been closely
associated, on the faculties of small universities, with the two men
whose views are most antagonistic to his: at Basel with Nietzsche and
at Jena with Haeckel, and he has been on the best of terms with both
of them. I was particularly interested in what Professor Eucken told
me of Nietzsche, whose personality and philosophy were in such violent
contradiction. This advocate of ruthless brutality, this scorner of
sympathy and compassion, was in reality a most tender-hearted man, but
too shy and sensitive to be popular; and when his feelings were hurt he
wrote down in a passion what he felt at the moment.

At the University of Basel Professor Eucken often served with Nietzsche
on the examining committee of candidates for the doctorate in classical
philology. On such occasions, if the student appeared to be getting
the worst of it in the verbal contest, Nietzsche would be observed to
become more and more nervous until, finally, he could contain himself
no longer and would break in with leading questions: "I suppose you
mean so-and-so?" or "Do you not believe this or that?" until he got
the student to say just about what he should have said in the first
place. Professor Eucken does not regard the widespread influence
of Nietzsche as altogether evil, believing he should not be held
responsible for all the vagaries and extravagances of his devotees. The
reason of Nietzsche's popularity, according to Eucken, is his strong
individualism; for the Germans, in spite of governmental control
and the Social Democracy, are pronounced individualists in character.
The German will insist upon having his own house, his own seat, his
own opinion. This sounded strange to the American, accustomed to have
Germany referred to as the most regimented of nations.

But modern Germany is a land of incongruities and contradictions, a
wild confusion of swirling cross-currents. The increase of population,
the checking of emigration, the amazing prosperity, the extension of
commerce, the demand for territorial expansion, would indicate a sound
physical constitution and a healthful growth. The immense sale of
serious works on religion and philosophy shows a revival of interest
in spiritual affairs. Yet, if we were to judge of the character of
the people by the most conspicuous of its achievements in art and
literature, we should say that modern Germany is hopelessly decadent
and corrupt. In drama and fiction Gallic license is allied with Gothic
coarseness. In pictorial art hideousness and viciousness are depicted
by means of strange and violent methods. Germany of to-day, as seen
by the tourist, is a land of spotted painting, spotted literature,
and spotted faces.[3] In the little university town of Jena the
incongruities of modern Germany are curiously conspicuous. In this
historic stronghold of Protestantism, this leader in the Enlightenment,
the home of Goethe, Schiller, Novalis, Fichte, the Humboldts, Hegel,
Schelling, and Wieland, the barbarous customs of the past have the
strongest hold. A student is likely to miss his seven o'clock Wednesday
lecture on the spiritual life because he sat up till two o'clock
drinking compulsory beer with his corps brothers in the middle of the
marketplace. And he may cut out his eight o'clock Saturday lecture
because he has an imperative engagement to cut off the nose or the ear
of a fellow student at the Mensurort of Döllnitz.

Among the nobler manifestations of the spirit of new Germany the
tourist is likely to take most interest in the architecture. Here,
indeed, he will find much that is displeasing and eccentric, but that
in itself is encouraging, for it shows that we are in the presence
of a living art which is not content to keep to the safe and beaten
paths, but would strike out new ways for itself. In city and country
unexpected forms and colors delight the eye on villa, monument, and
public building; new and ingenious solutions of problems as old as
man. The modern German architect is not the imitator, but the rival,
of the master builders of the past. He knows how to harmonize the
old with the new, utilizing the old to give him inspiration, but
not permitting it to hamper him. A striking example of this is the
new university buildings of Jena, erected on the three hundred and
fiftieth anniversary of the university in 1908. The whole group cost
only three hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars, not so much as
some single buildings in our leading universities, yet I know of none
more satisfactory from both the utilitarian and the esthetic point of
view. Here the problem of harmonization was particularly difficult; not
only must the new buildings fit into the picture of old Jena, but a
tower of the ancient ducal castle was actually to be incorporated. Yet
the architect, Theodor Fischer, has made no sacrifices to the spirit
of antiquity. At Oxford the newer buildings either clash violently
with their elders or imitate them so closely as to be almost equally
inconvenient and uncomfortable. The Jena buildings look as though they
might well have been built by Kurfürst Johann Friedrich der Grossmütige
in 1558, but are up to date, commodious, hygienic, well ventilated,
steam heated, equipped with electric lights and clocks, and electric
vacuum cleaners.

There are no superfluous statues stuck around in niches and on
pedestals. The adornment, plastic and polychromatic, is strictly
structural. It is put where it belongs. With the possible exception of
a Rodin bust of Minerva in the vestibule, I did not see any "objects
of art" that I could have carried off without tearing down the
building. On the stone of the north façade are roughly chiseled the
Ephesian Diana in the gable, and, beneath, four Egyptian-like figures
representing the four faculties. That of _Philosophie_, with solemn and
inscrutable face, is very appropriately nearest to the lecture room of
Professor Eucken. As we enter we see opposite the portal to the _Aula_,
the university hall of state, on either side of which are gigantic
paintings emblematic of the transmission of culture, a grown man on one
side holding out his torch to a young man, that he may light his torch
by it. The most important picture at the Jena University is the _Auszug
deutscher Studenten im Jahre 1815_ by Hodler, who used as a model for
the middle figure the youngest son of Professor Eucken.

Auditorium Number 1, the largest classroom of the new building, is
assigned to Eucken, and we find it already about half filled, although
it is not yet seven o'clock in the morning. Some seventy students
I count, and among them about a dozen women, not segregated, but
scattered here and there, for Jena is coeducational now, and masculine
resentment at the intrusion of women has quite died out. The students
may seat themselves wherever they choose, affixing a card with name
and hour if they want to hold a particular place. These cards and even
the desks are scrawled with automatic writing and sketches by the
inattentive hands of students. The seats, long benches with a fixed
desk and book rack in front, are better than those found in English
universities, but not so good as the American individual seats. There
are plenty of windows along one side of the room, and the walls--white
above, light green below--diffuse the rays agreeably. The floor slants
down to a plain pine desk and a small blackboard. On the wall is a
mosaic portrait of the late Professor Abbé, the real patron of the
University, for a prosperous optician is of much more use to a modern
university than a needy Gross-Herzog.

Promptly on the hour a vigorous shuffling and stamping of feet
announces the arrival of the professor, who begins with "_Mein'
Herren und Damen_" as his first foot steps upon the platform. A German
professor always gives good measure, a full hourful, pressed down,
shaken together, and running over; no period of preliminary meditation
on what he shall say and of casual conversation at the end, as often in
America. Nor do the German professors find it necessary to adopt the
low voice, indifferent air and hesitating utterance regarded at Oxford
and Harvard as the mark of the gentleman and the scholar. In fact I
find, in roaming about our universities, that so many of our younger
men have adopted this pitch and tempo, being often inaudible and never
impressive to the back seats, that I am tempted to lay down the law
that the younger the instructor the poorer the voice. When I complain
of it they reply coldly: "One can never shout and tell the truth."
But Eucken is evidently not afraid that being heard will impair his
veracity. You might take him for a revivalist. You would not be wrong
if you did. His voice rings out loud and clear. He is tremendously in
earnest. Occasionally, when he thinks of it, he sits down. But not
for long. He springs to his feet and throws himself forward on the
reading-desk in the effort to really reach his audience. He clasps his
hands to his breast and then throws his arms out wide, as though to
seize the _Geistesleben_ with which his heart is overflowing and spread
it far over a materialistic and indifferent generation. Who can doubt
the reality of "the spiritual life" after he has seen Eucken? It shines
in his face. We do not need to be told that Activism is his philosophy.
It shows in his movements. He lives his theories. Few philosophers do,
luckily for most of them.

"Happiness" is the subject of this lecture. The spiritual life is
the theme of it, as always. The spiritual life, he says, goes out
from within and transforms the world, thus giving true happiness. We
must work with the world movement if we would partake of its divine
purpose. And here he quotes Plotinus, the first religious philosopher,
for whom he has as high regard as have Maeterlinck and Bergson. We
must utilize the force of faith; must bring this Christian power
into modern life. True ability is moral ability. Labor is not merely
activity; it has a purpose; it is directed against opposition. By
strife and striving we must reach the reality of the spiritual life.
Through labor and love we attain our true selves. The fulfilling of
duty is inner freedom. The unrest and stress of the present day are the
signs of a new spiritual birth. The function of philosophy is not
to afford intellectual or esthetic gratification, but it is to deepen
and enrich life. To the fine old German saying, "A man is more than
his work", Eucken added "Mankind is more than his culture." It is a
_Lebensanschauung_ rather than a _Weltanschauung_ that he teaches, for
to him a theory of life is more important than a theory of the cosmos.

These are merely a few fragmentary thoughts that I gathered in that
memorable hour. Of no value in themselves, I give them merely to prove
that I got something out of the lecture, for I never understood spoken
German until I heard Eucken. But even a deaf man would have found it
profitable to be there. A second lecture followed immediately, on
"Pessimism and Optimism", delivered with the same vigor and listened
to with the same interest. Professor Eucken was then sixty-seven
years old, and would have been Carnegied if he were in an American
university, instead of giving lectures from seven to nine. His hair and
beard are pure white, but set off handsomely his pink cheeks and his
bright blue eyes still unspectacled.

And when he leaves the lecture room he does not leave his work, but
goes to more of it at home. On one wall of his study is a photograph
of Michael Angelo's "Creation", from the Sistine Chapel, and on the
opposite a cast of a section of the Parthenon frieze. Between these is
the desk of the man who has brought together the highest aspirations
of Greek and Christian culture; a table stacked high with papers and

His correspondence is now voluminous, but he answers all letters
promptly and carefully, writing his replies in the old-fashioned way,
with a pen. He receives all visitors and will talk of his philosophy to
a single auditor with the same unwearied enthusiasm as to an audience.
Even those who are repelled by the severity of his literary style are
attracted by the charm of his personality, and this accounts in large
part for his devoted following in all parts of the world.

After granting me an interview which took the heart out of his
afternoon, Professor Eucken returned good for evil by inviting me to
dinner in the evening, when I found that the lady on my right was
from Nebraska and the one on my left from Switzerland, while around
the table I saw a young Boer from the Transvaal, a don from Oxford,
a professor from Tokyo, and representatives of I don't know how many
other nationalities.

[Illustration: Mit beste Grüssen Ihr ... Rudolf Eucken]

The extension of the influence of Professor Eucken through this
hearty hospitality is due largely to his wife. Frau Eucken has happily
not confined herself to the duties which the Kaiser prescribes as
woman's only sphere, _Kirche, Kueche und Kinder_.[4] She is not only wife,
mother and housekeeper, but artist and musician as well. Her success in
managing what might be called an international salon of philosophy is
facilitated by her ability to converse in many languages. On account
of the generous hospitality extended to students and strangers by the
Eucken household a removal was made last year to a new villa in the
suburbs. Professor Eucken's wife and daughter came with him on his
visit to America.

Eucken's philosophy of life is dramatic. His life has been undramatic;
the even, ordered course of the typical German professor, made even
more uneventful by reason of his mastery of the gentle art of not
making enemies. Born in Aurich, East Friesland, January 5, 1846, he
studied at Göttingen under Lotze, and at Berlin under Trendelenburg;
taught for four years in a _gymnasium_; then for three years in the
University of Basel; in 1874 was called to the University of Jena,
where he has ever since remained, in spite of calls to larger
institutions. His inner life has been as uneventful as its external
aspects; a continuous, methodical, logical development of thought,
without leaps or backslidings.

First, in 1878, he laid the foundations in the study of the concepts
of philosophy which attracted the attention of President Porter.
Seven years later he was ready to outline his own guiding theory in a
volume bearing the characteristically Germanic title of "A Prolegomena
for the Investigation of the Unity of the Spiritual Life in the
Consciousness and Acts of Mankind." From this standpoint of the unique
significance of the spiritual life he then reviewed the whole history
of the evolution of philosophy from Plato to Nietzsche. His purpose
in this work, known in English as "The Problem of Human Life", was,
as he explains, "to afford historical confirmation of the view that
conceptions are determined by life, not life by conceptions", and "that
human destinies are not decided by mere opinions and whims, either of
individuals or of masses of individuals, but rather that they are ruled
by spiritual necessities with a spiritual aim and purport, and that
for man a new world dawns, transcending the merely natural domain--the
world, namely, of the spiritual life."

The sentences quoted are alone enough to show that Eucken's "history
of philosophy" is a very different thing from what usually goes by
that name, that is the chronicling of the speculations of successive
generations of metaphysicians, each one wiping clean the slate before
he began to write. Eucken sees an aim and purpose in philosophic
thought. He does not regard it as a mere amusement or as an
intellectual exercise, but rather as a method by which humanity may
grow into a higher sphere of existence. The vital need of the day,
then, is to awaken the present indifferent and busy generation to a
realization of the supreme importance of spiritual things and to the
necessity of bringing the Christian religion into vital connection with
modern thought.

This is the task to which Eucken devoted his energies when by the close
of the nineteenth century he had fully matured his views, and the rapid
succession of volumes which have since come from his pen are concerned
with the moral and intellectual difficulties which nowadays impede
religious progress.

The development of natural science and especially the theory of
evolution have led to the identification of man with nature. Yet the
very fact that we have come to know that we belong to nature shows
that we are more than nature.

    A transcendence of nature is already accomplished in the
    process of thought. A consideration of all the facts leads
    us to the result that a life consisting solely of nature and
    intelligence involves an intolerable inconsistency; form
    and content are sharply separated from each other; thought
    is strong enough to disturb the sense of satisfaction
    with nature, but is too weak to construct a new world in
    opposition to it. Life is in a state of painful uncertainty
    and man is a Prometheus bound in that he must experience all
    the constraint and meaninglessness of the life of nature,
    and must suffer therefrom an increasing pain without being
    able to change this state in any way.[5]

From time to time in the course of history, spiritual impulses arise
which are fundamentally different from physical self-preservation.
"They force human activity into particular channels; they speak to
us with a tone of command and require absolute obedience. Neither
the interests of individuals nor those of whole classes prevail
against them; every consideration of utility vanishes before their
inner necessity." Religious movements show life in a particular form;
something emerges in it which, unconcerned with the weal and the woe of
man, follows its own course and makes absolute demands. Man is not
altogether the creature of his environment, nor are his moral standards
determined by society. The individual is able in the light of his own
conscience to approve and value something which all around him reject;
and conversely to condemn and reject something which all around him
esteem and respect. This opposition of individuals to the condition of
things in the social environment has been the main source of all inner
progress in matters of morality.

This line of thought leads Eucken to the conclusion that a new life
distinct from that of nature arises in our soul. The spiritual life is
not the product of a gradual development from the life of nature, but
has an independent origin and evolves new powers and standards. We must
recognize in the spiritual life a universal life which transcends man,
is shared by him and raises him to itself. The philosophical treatment
of history ought first of all to trace the liberation of life from the
mere human; the inner elevation of our being to a more than human.

In discussing the question of how man attains the spiritual life,
Eucken steers carefully between the position of Buddhism, that each man
must work out his own salvation without any aid from above, and the
extreme Calvinistic position, that man is purely passive and altogether
undeserving. Or to quote his own words:

    It is necessary to acknowledge that in all the spiritual
    movement which appears in the domain of man, there is a
    revelation of the spiritual world; as merely human power
    cannot lead the whole to new heights, in all development of
    the spiritual life the communication of the new world must
    precede the activity of man. At the same time, where we are
    concerned with a life that is independent, and of which the
    activity is conscious and self-determined, the change cannot
    possibly merely _happen_ to man; it must be taken up by his
    own activity; it needs his own decision and acceptance.

    Only through ceaseless activity can life remain at the
    height to which it has attained.

This leads to the distinctive form of Eucken's philosophy of life,
known as Activism. This is like Pragmatism in its rejection of the
mere intellectualistic view of life and in basing truth upon a
more spontaneous and essential activity. But Eucken's objection to
Pragmatism is stated in the following language:

    Pragmatism, which has recently made so much headway among
    English-speaking peoples and beyond them, is more inclined
    to shape the world and life in accordance with human
    conditions and needs than to invest spiritual activity with
    an independence in relation to these, and apply its
    standards to the testing and sifting of the whole content of
    human life.

    At its highest, religion has always been concerned with
    winning a new world and a new humanity, not with the
    achievement of something within the old world and for the
    old humanity.

It will be seen that Eucken does not fall in with the tendency of the
times to subordinate the individual to society. The spiritual life
springs up, not in the "social consciousness", but in the soul of the
individual, elevating his spiritual nature above all environment.
But such a person is guarded against the arrogance of a superman by
realizing that this superiority is not due to personal merit, but
solely to the presence of the spiritual world.

This, as Eucken recognizes, may be called a form of mysticism, but it
differs decidedly from the older mysticism in some important respects.
It is not Quietism, but its opposite, Activism. Eucken does not regard
the individual as seeking a peaceful haven by absorption into the
infinite; on the contrary, the infinite enters the individual and
rouses him to intensest and creative activity.

Here Eucken shows a striking similarity to Bergson. The _Geistesleben_
might be regarded as a higher development or manifestation of the
_élan vital_. Both involve the conception of an upward impulse
acting at individual points which thus become centers of spontaneous
vital activity. It is curious that this view, so characteristically
modern and as novel as anything can be in the realm of metaphysical
speculation, should have simultaneously and independently been made
a fundamental doctrine by two philosophers so unlike in temperament
and training, the French philosopher starting from the standpoint of
mathematical physics and Spencerian evolution, and the German from
academic metaphysics and Christian theology. Such a coincidence, as
well as the reception which the teachings of Bergson and Eucken have
received in many lands, show that their common principle is in harmony
with the spirit of the age. Eucken and Bergson met for the first time
at Columbia University in 1912.

It might be feared that Eucken, emphasizing as he does the
individualistic origin of religious inspiration and realizing as he
does the injury done to the Christian cause by clinging to antiquated
formulas and medieval conceptions, would be inclined to undervalue
ecclesiastical institutions and to advocate too violent a break with
historic Christianity. But here again his moderation and sanity
are manifest. He cannot be called orthodox from the standpoint of the
established Lutheran Church. He agrees entirely with his colleague
Haeckel in condemning the union of Church and State, but for opposite
reasons; Haeckel because the Church receives thereby artificial
support; Eucken because the Church is thereby hampered in its freedom
of development.

He never, however, falls into the error of thinking that a "new"
religion can be made to order to suit the times, or even the needs of
any one person. He finds in historic Christianity all the essentials of
a permanent and universal religion, capable, when properly understood
and presented, of satisfying the severe requirements of modern thought
and feeling. But this is not to be accomplished by merely eliminating
whatever the modern mind finds objectionable.

    A religion is not primarily a mere theory concerning
    things human and divine--such a theory can, of course,
    be quite easily put together with a little ingenuity--it
    discloses ultimate revelations of the spiritual life,
    further developments of reality, great organizations of
    living energy, movements, in a word, which have convulsed
    the age in which they came victoriously to birth, and have
    subsequently proved themselves strong enough to attract
    large portions of mankind, weld each of these inwardly
    together, and set an invisible world before it as the main
    basis of life. In such upheavals of the life of the people
    there is opened a rich mine of fact which becomes the
    property of all men, and includes valuable experiences of
    humanity as a whole. He who would cut himself off from this
    great stream of experience, inward as well as outward, will
    soon find out how little the isolated individual can do in
    matters of this kind. It is easy to find fault with what
    tradition hands down, no less easy to draw up vague views of
    one's own, but how immense is the distance which separates
    procedure such as this from the creative effort which urges
    its sure way forward, from the synthesis which embraces
    all men's lives and exercises an elemental compulsion upon

Eucken's clairvoyant faith sees through the present anti-religious
atmosphere the dawning of a new era in which the spiritual life
shall again be dominant. Yet no one has recognized more clearly the
alienation of the Church from the cultural and the practical life of
the day. This chasm is no doubt greater in Germany, where the Catholic
and Protestant churches are State institutions and identified with
reactionary elements, than it is in our own country, where there is
fortunately no Church, but many churches, all equally free to adapt
themselves to changing conditions and to prove themselves useful to
society in their own way. But it must be admitted that our churches
are not availing themselves of this exceptional freedom and do not
show the originality and diversity which is characteristic of life and

Eucken is conciliatory, but no compromiser. He does not solicit for
religion a humble place in modern life by using arguments like those
employed in the sale of "patent medicines", that it is innocuous at
the least and may somehow do some good. He meets modern science upon
her own ground. He claims for religion an equal practicality and
efficiency; he demands for it a greater certitude, and he is willing,
as Jesus was willing, to put it to the pragmatic test.

    Since we have found that religion is linked thus closely
    with the whole, we need not make any timid compromise with
    certain superficial contemporary movements and content
    ourselves with a lower degree of certainty, saying, for
    instance, that we can never altogether eliminate the
    subjective element, and that religious truths can never
    have the certainty of such formulae as 2 x 2 = 4. On the
    contrary, we maintain that it is a very poor conception of
    religion which deems any certainty superior to hers, and
    does not claim for her truth a far more primary certainty
    than that of the formula 2 x 2 = 4. Only a shallow and
    perverse conception of truth can allow the certainty of the
    part to exceed the certainty of the whole.[7]

    Either religion is merely a product of human wishes
    and ideas under the sanction of tradition and social
    convention--and then neither art nor might nor cunning can
    prevent so frail a fabrication from being whelmed by the
    advancing spiritual tide--or else religion is based on facts
    of a suprahuman order, and in that case the most violent
    onslaught cannot shake her; rather will it help her in the
    end, through all the stress and toil of human circumstance,
    to discover where her true strength lies, and to express in
    purer ways the eternal truth that is in her.[8]


I have thought best to leave the article on Eucken just as I published
it in _The Independent_ of February 27, 1913, with only a few slight
changes in tense and time references. It presents a picture of German
life and thought as I saw it shortly before the war, and it would
be impossible for me to bring it up to date now when the British
censorship prevents German books and papers from reaching America. I
can only add some quotations from Eucken's recent writings to show his
attitude toward the war.

In the fall of 1914, Eucken joined with his colleague in the university
and his opponent in philosophy, Professor Ernst Haeckel, in a public
statement charging that British greed and egotism had caused the
Great War.[9] In the following spring Eucken sent an appeal to the
American people in the form of eight questions which I quote entire.

    You say that we are a nation militarist and greedy for
    conquest. Permit us a few questions with regard to that rash

    First.--How do you explain that in times gone by Germany
    did not take advantage of the difficulties of her present
    opponents--as, for instance, England's difficulty during the
    Boer war or Russia's difficulty during the Japanese war? If
    we had meant conquest should we have chosen the very moment
    when half the world was against us, and we were numerically
    in the minority? Do you really think that we are as stupid
    as all that?

    Second.--Next, how do you explain that all parties in
    Germany approve of the policy of the government and loyally
    hold together, including the Social Democrats? Yesterday
    they were our decided opponents. Do you believe that the
    Socialists have overnight, as it were, become changed from
    decided opponents to adherents of militarism?

    Third.--How do you explain the fact that the Americans
    who were in Germany at the outbreak of the war in an
    overwhelming majority sided with us? Does not the opinion
    of those who see events quite near--nay, who live through
    them--carry greater weight than the view of such as observe
    occurrences from a remote distance?

    Fourth.--You believe that the Germans are oppressed and
    narrowed down by the rule of militarism. How do you explain
    that education and technical and scientific research are
    so highly developed and universally esteemed in Germany and
    that for this reason so many Americans come to Germany in
    order to study sciences and arts?

    Fifth.--You always discuss war with regard to Belgium,
    France and England only. Have you forgotten Russia, with
    her one hundred and fifty million inhabitants and her army,
    which is by far the largest in the whole world? Russia is
    a danger to Germany and to the whole of Europe and just
    now insists on the possession of Constantinople. Have you
    forgotten that Russia, by interfering with the Servian
    murder case, began the war, and that England, according to
    the parliamentary statement made by Foreign Secretary Sir
    Edward Grey, was determined, even before the German invasion
    of Belgium, to abandon her neutrality in favor of France?

    Sixth.--You generally argue that all Europe was in profound
    peace and that only the greed of Germany disturbed that
    peace. Have you forgotten that long before the war there
    was a triple entente which was directed against Germany and
    that the entente newspapers openly discussed the war plans
    hatched against Germany and even recommended 1916 as a
    suitable year for commencing hostilities?

    Seventh.--You want to be good Christians and as such
    work for peace among the nations. Can you reconcile such
    Christianity with the fact that your country sends huge
    consignments of arms and ammunition to our opponents and
    thus intensifies and lengthens the war? Can you further
    reconcile that with neutrality, a neutrality in spirit and
    not merely in the letter?

    Eighth.--Do not you think that a great nation with a
    glorious past should see the events of the day with
    its own eyes and that such independence of thought is
    the highest test of true liberty? But you contemplate
    present history more or less through English spectacles,
    as if your country were still a British colony and not an
    independent empire with its own goals and standards. In
    such a passion-stirred age as ours neutrals have the lofty
    duty to keep out of party strife and to endeavor to be just
    and impartial to both sides. This endeavor is lacking in
    Germany's American opponents.

That even the antagonisms aroused by the war have not shaken Eucken's
faith in the power of religion and philosophy to heal the wounds of
humanity is shown by a recent article on "The International Character
of Modern Philosophy" in the _Homiletic Review_ of New York. In this
he discusses with great impartiality the contributions which England,
France, Germany, and Italy have made to philosophy and concludes as

    After all, philosophy is summoned to proclaim the unity of
    mankind over against the present split among the peoples. To
    be sure, this does not mean that individual philosophers are
    less earnest to put forward the claims of their own people
    than the claims of others; for they are not mere scholars,
    they are also living men and citizens of their own nation.
    When they see this assaulted and its existence put in peril,
    it is for them a holy duty to come to the defense of the
    fatherland--if not with the weapons of war, at least to do
    their best with the weapons of the intellect. Meanwhile,
    the belief is entirely proper that the intellectual gains
    which are the result of philosophical labor remain unharmed
    by war, that a realm of intellectual creation will retain
    full recognition beyond the enmities of man. Keenest blame
    is deserved by the attempt to array against each other the
    intellectual leaders of a people which is for the moment
    a foe, or to disparage the entire mental character of
    the opponent. That is the stamp of a small and vengeful
    disposition--he who aims to depreciate others to whom great
    thanks are due dishonors himself. Let each, therefore,
    remain true to his own people, but never forget the task
    and aim of philosophy--to consider things under the form of
    perpetuity, maintaining for humanity in the present a world
    superior to all the littlenesses of human action.

    A further and much more weighty task is from this arising
    for philosophy--to work mightily for the inner unity of
    human life and endeavor; the lack of such a unity has
    contributed not a little to whet the antagonisms of the
    nations.... Only when we are convinced that we belong
    together essentially, that we have a great work to
    accomplish in common and have to raise mankind from the
    stage of nature to that of intellect--that we have to
    carry on unitedly a fight against the manifold unreason
    of life--only by the strengthening and operation of such
    convictions can the division of humanity into hostile
    nationalities be successfully withstood. Not through elegant
    addresses and articles, only by means of a dynamic deepening
    of life and the introduction of new power can we progress in
    the solution of these problems.[10]


Eucken is not a man of one book. He has put forth his ideas in
many different forms; large volumes and little, works historical,
expository, argumentative, theoretical and practical, but his point of
view has remained throughout his long productive career essentially
unchanged, and is so clearly indicated in all his works that one may
be sure of obtaining the fundamental principles of his philosophy from
whatever volume he selects. If, however, I am expected to prescribe a
particular book as an introduction to Eucken, I should say that the
general reader who is interested in the relation of philosophy to
religion--and one who is not interested in that would not care to
read Eucken anyway--would find "Christianity and the New Idealism"
(translated by Lucy Judge Gibson and W. R. Boyce Gibson, Harper) most
suitable for the purpose. It is a small volume, as easy reading as
anything of Eucken's, and discusses frankly the present crisis in
religious thought and indicates what he believes the churches ought to
discard and what they must maintain of their inherited doctrines and
forms. "The Truth of Religion" (translated by W. Tudor Jones, Putnam)
covers similar ground, but in a more thorough and theoretical manner.

The volumes entitled in their English version "The Meaning and
Value of Life" (Gibson translation, Macmillan); "The Life of the
Spirit" (translated by F. L. Pogson, Putnam), are intended for the
non-philosophical reader; while "Life's Basis and Life's Ideals"
(translated by Alban G. Widgery, Macmillan); "Main Currents of Modern
Thought: A Study of the Spiritual and Intellectual Movements of the
Present Day" (translated by Meyrick Booth, Scribner); and "The Contest
for the Spiritual Life" (Putnam) are of a more technical character.

"The Problem of Human Life as Viewed by Great Thinkers from Plato
to the Present Time" (translated by Williston S. Hough and W. R.
Boyce Gibson, Scribner) differs decidedly from the ordinary history
of philosophy in that the author is not trying to set at odds and
overthrow the successive philosophers, but is seeking for whatever in
them is good and permanent, finally coming to "see them linked together
as workers in one common task: the task of building up a spiritual
world within the realm of human life, of proving our existence to be
both spiritual and natural."

Single lectures and articles by Eucken readily accessible in English
are: "Religion and Life" (Putnam); "Back to Religion" (Pilgrim Press);
"Can We Still Be Christians?" (Macmillan); "Naturalism or Idealism"
(the Nobel Lecture). Twenty of his papers are included in "Collected
Essays of Rudolf Eucken" (Scribner, 1914).

The titles of Eucken's chief works in German and in the English
versions are as follows: "Die Grundbegriffe der Gegenwart" (The Main
Currents of Modern Thought), 1878; "Die Einheit des Geisteslebens in
Bewusstsein und Tat der Menschheit", 1888; "Die Lebensanschauungen
der Grossen Denker" (The Problem of Human Life), 1890; "Der Kampf
um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt", 1896; "Der Wahrheitsgehalt der
Religion" (The Truth of Religion), 1901; "Grundlinien einer neuen
Lebensanschauung" (Life's Basis and Life's Ideal), 1907; "Hauptprobleme
der Religionsphilosophie der Gegenwart" (Christianity and the New
Idealism), 1907; "Sinn und Wert des Lebens" (The Meaning and Value of
Life), 1905; "Einführung in eine Philosophie des Geisteslebens" (The
Life of the Spirit), 1908; "Erkennen und Leben" (Knowledge and Life,

Of the numerous books and articles about Eucken which have appeared in
Europe, it will be sufficient to mention: "Rudolf Eucken. Die Erneuerer
des deutschen Idealismus", by Theodor Kappstein (Berlin-Schöneberg:
Bucherlag der "Hilfe"); "Rudolf Eucken's Werk, Eine neue idealistische
Lösung des Lebensproblems", by Kurt Kesseler (Bunzlau: Kreuschmer,
1911); "Eucken's dramatische Lebensphilosophie", by Otto Braun
(_Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Philosophische Kritik_, 1909);
"Rudolf Eucken's Christenthum", by Ludwig von Gerdtell (Verlag von
Becker). On Eucken's seventieth birthday, January 5, 1916, the
_Zeitschrift für Philosophie_ published a _Festschrift_ devoted to
his work. "La philosophie de M. Rudolph Eucken", by Emile Boutroux
(_Académie des Sciences morales et politiques_, 1910).

It is unnecessary to give a list of articles about Eucken in American
magazines because any library that contains the files will have a
periodical index, but a few references may be given: "Religious
Philosophy of Eucken", Harvard Theological Review (vol. 2, p. 465,
1909); "Eucken and St. Paul", by Richard Roberts, _Contemporary Review_
(vol. 97, p. 71); "Religious Philosophy of Eucken", by Baron F. von
Hügel, _Hibbert Journal_ (vol. 10, p. 660); "Eucken's Philosophy of
Life", by W. Fite, The Nation (vol. 95, p. 29); "Eucken's New Gospel
of Activism", _Current Literature_ (vol. 53, p. 67); "Idealism of
Rudolf Eucken", by S. H. Mellone, _International Journal of Ethics_
(vol. 21, p. 15).

There are two excellent expositions of Eucken's philosophy in English,
by his students and translators: "Rudolf Eucken's Philosophy of Life",
by W. R. Boyce Gibson (Macmillan), and "An Interpretation of Rudolf
Eucken's Philosophy", by W. Tudor Jones (Putnam). A briefer compendium,
"Eucken: A Philosophy of Life", by A. J. Jones, has appeared in a
series of handy volumes known as "The People's Books" (New York: Dodge
Publishing Company). Meyrick Booth (Ph.D. of Jena) has published
"Rudolf Eucken: His Philosophy and Influence," London (Unwin, 1913).

[1] "The Fundamental Concepts of Modern Philosophic Thought, Critically
and Historically Considered" by Rudolf Eucken, Professor in Jena.
Translated by M. Stuart Phelps, Professor in Smith College. With
additions and corrections by the author and an introduction by Noah
Porter, president of Yale College. Appleton, 1880.

[2] So says Professor Heinrich Weinel in an interesting article on
"Religious Life and Thought in Germany To-day", in the _Hibbert
Journal_, July, 1909.

[3] My visit to Jena, described in the following pages, was made in

[4] These must, I suppose, be translated into English as "kirk, kitchen
and kids."

[5] "Life's Basis and Life's Ideal", p. 118.

[6] "Christianity and the New Idealism", p. 146.

[7] "Christianity and the New Idealism", p. 28.

[8] "The Truth of Religion."

[9] Published in _The Independent_, September 28, 1914.

[10] "The International Character of Modern Philosophy," _Homiletic
Review_, April, 1916.

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