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Title: The Affable Stranger
Author: McArthur, Peter
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Affable Stranger" ***

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To make clear the purpose of this book and to suggest possibilities to
the reader the author offers the following article which was published
in the _Toronto Globe_. Most of the chapters first appeared in the same

EKFRID, July 28.--This morning I got up feeling singularly cheerful and
care-free. And no wonder. Yesterday I got even with the world--said
everything I wanted to say about it right down to the last word. This
morning I feel that I am making a fresh start with all scores paid, and
I don't care whether school keeps or not.

The explanation of this unusual state of mind is quite simple. Yesterday
I finished writing a book, in which I said just what I wanted to
say--said what I have been aching to say for years--about the world and
things in general. No matter what happens to the book, it has already
served its purpose. It has rid my mind of "the perilous stuff, etc.,"
that accumulated during the war and since. And the result has been so
refreshing that I have no hesitation in recommending the book cure to
every one. Nowadays any one can write a book, and most every one does.
The mistake is in regarding the book as a literary venture. What you
should do is to make a pad of paper and a lead pencil your father
confessor and ease your mind of its worries. When the book is done, you
can send it out into the wilderness as the Israelites sent the
scapegoat--bearing your sins with it. Then you can make a fresh start.
If you don't want to publish it--though publication seems necessary to
complete absolution--you can tie a stone to it and throw it into the
lake, or do it up in a parcel and leave it for some one to find, just as
boys used to do with neat parcels in which they placed pebbles on which
they had rubbed their warts--hoping in that way to rid themselves of
warts. I know there are some old-fashioned people who will be shocked
at this levity in speaking of books, but they should waken up to the
fact that since the coming of the wood-pulp era no particular merit
attaches to writing a book. And if books can be given a medicinal value
to take the place of their old-time literary value, why shouldn't we
recognize the fact? Anyway, the writing of a book put me in the frame of
mind to parody Sir Sidney Smith and exclaim:

"Fate cannot harm me, I have had my say."

       *       *       *       *       *

I have told all this merely to explain the joyous mood induced by the
writing of the book. Having finished my task, I felt not only up-do-date
with my work, but up-to-date with life. It is the ambition of every
man--whether he confesses it or not--to get even with the world. The
world is forever defeating us and defrauding us of our hopes. So let us
have our say about it, turn over a new leaf, and make a fresh start.
When I got up this morning

    "I moved and did not feel my limbs,
      I was so light--almost
    I felt that I had died in sleep
      And was a blessed ghost."

There was no feeling of responsibility about anything, and I could go to
work in a care-free frame of mind. That made me realize how care-free
all nature is, and how care-free life might be if we did not allow
ourselves to become so much entangled with its affairs. Just because I
had arranged to free myself from all other responsibilities while doing
my task, I suddenly found myself free from responsibilities and in the
only true holiday humor. It is true there was work to do, but I did not
feel any responsibility. My first chore was to churn, but I was not
responsible for the flavor and texture of the butter. It was my part to
make the barrel churn revolve with a rhythmical "plop! plop! plop!" and
when the butter came I had nothing more to do with it. By that time the
heavy dew had dried from the sheaves, and the business of hauling in
the wheat was commenced. Though I had an interest in the wheat, I was
not responsible for it, and could pitch the sheaves without worrying.
The mood left by having poured all my problems into a book was
apparently the same as that enjoyed by Kipling's devil when he "blew
upon his nails, for his heart was free from care."

       *       *       *       *       *

Along in the forenoon a thunderstorm began to gather in the west, and I
was in the right mood to realize what a care-free and irresponsible
storm it was. Even though it was harvest-time, this storm was not
obliged to take any thought about what it was doing. It didn't have to
pick the just from the unjust and distribute the rain as a reward--or
punishment. It rained on both alike. Though it was such a care-free
storm, I confessed to a feeling of relief when I saw it sheering off to
the south. There are all kinds of just and unjust men living down that
way, and though they may not have wanted rain any more than we did, it
was no part of my business to worry about them. It was enough for us to
gather in our own crop and be thankful that, after all, the Hessian fly
had left us a crop worth gathering.

When the storm had rumbled away, the sun came out, and it was certainly
a care-free sun. It gave its stimulating warmth and heat to the weeds as
freely as to the crops. If man wanted to coddle some plants for his own
use, the sun was perfectly willing to do its part--but it did its part
just as freely and irresponsibly for the grass and the weeds. In spite
of the philosophers and teachers, Nature seemed very irresponsible
to-day. She had been irresponsible in sowing her seeds and in promoting
their growth, and it was quite evident that she would be equally
irresponsible in her work of harvesting. The free and irresponsible
winds would blow the seeds fitted with wings and parachutes to every
point of the compass and let them fall where they would. The free
streams would carry others to hospitable shores or would leave them to
rot in the lakes or even in the ocean. Other seeds provided with spines
and hooks would cling to our clothing or to the wool of the sheep and in
that way be given a wholly irresponsible distribution. Nothing in Nature
seemed to be burdened with responsibility or care or remorse or worry or
ambition or any of the things with which we fret our lives. Being in a
wholly irresponsible frame of mind, I could not help wondering if man
has not gone woefully astray in making himself responsible for so much.
Perhaps we have not interpreted properly that text about being our
brother's keeper. Certainly our brothers seldom feel grateful to us when
we concern ourselves with their affairs and try to make them realize
that we regard ourselves as their keepers. As a rule they resent our
interference, and our efforts do little good either to them or to us.
Perhaps we should learn something from the irresponsibility of Nature to
guide us in our dealings with our fellow-men.

Any one who cared to write a book about it could probably show that
most of the wars and afflictions that have come on the world are due to
attempts made by incompetent people to be their brothers' keepers. They
start great wars to stop little ones, cause great evils by trying to
remedy little ones, and otherwise make nuisances of themselves to the
limit of their power. Why don't these people take to writing books
instead of trying to set things right? Writing the books would free
their surcharged spirits, and the world could go its way without
bothering to read what they wrote. The more I think of it the more
convinced I am that the writing of books would cure a lot of our
evils--chiefly because it would help to rid the people who wrote the
books of their feeling of responsibility for other people and their
affairs. The fact that they had set down their views in fair type would
ease their consciences and enable them to go about the ordinary little
matters of their own lives in a care-free way. The book cure for our
personal and collective troubles is hereby seriously recommended. And
it is especially recommended to any one wanting to enjoy a holiday. You
can't enjoy a holiday if you are worrying about your business in life.
So write a book about it and get even with the world. Then you can enjoy
a holiday even while going on with your work.


      I. THE AFFABLE STRANGER             3

     II. THE ELUSIVE INSULT              13

    III. BACK TO THE PRIMITIVE           23

     IV. GRASPING THE NETTLE             34

      V. REGISTERING REFORM              44

     VI. THE ACCUSED                     54

    VII. A BURDEN OF FARMERS             64

   VIII. A WORLD DRAMA                   75

     IX. A WORLD FOR SALE                85

      X. ORGANIZED FOR PROFIT            98



   XIII. OLD HOME WEEK                  126

    XIV. THE WARD LEADER                138

     XV. THE NEW MASTER WORD            145

    XVI. LOYALTY                        153

   XVII. THE SHIVERING TEXAN            161

  XVIII. MANY INVENTIONS                171


     XX. MY PRIVATE MAHATMA             186

    XXI. THE SOUL OF CANADA             195


  XXIII. EPILOGUE                       213




One day a group of Americans talked for publication without being aware
of the fact. The democratic sociability of an observation car made it
possible for me to get expressions of opinion on many subjects without
the caution and frequent insincerity of formal interviews. No one knew
the name or occupation of any of his fellow-passengers, and the
conversation had "a charter large as the wind." For twelve hours, while
making the trip from Montreal to Boston, the conversation ebbed and
flowed over many fields of human interest, and by interjecting a remark
here and there it was possible to turn the talk in any direction. Having
a definite purpose in view and plenty of time at my disposal, I managed
to get some spontaneous expressions of opinion along the particular line
in which I am interested at the moment. Before leaving Toronto I had
been assured that I should be much irritated by the egotism of Americans
regarding the winning of the war. With this in mind I resolved to take
no part in the conversation if the subject came up for discussion, but
to listen attentively.

For the first half-hour we travelled mostly in silence, entering the
items of our expense accounts in notebooks after the manner of
travellers, re-reading letters that had been read hurriedly before
boarding the train, and generally putting our affairs in order before
settling down to view the scenery and kill time on the long trip.

Finally the ice was broken by a breezy Westerner who had just made the
trip across Canada from Vancouver to Montreal. He mentioned casually
that he was from Seattle and at once launched on a eulogy of all that he
had seen and experienced on his Canadian trip. Here was just what I was
looking for, and at once I was all attention. It would probably have
caused surprise and some indignation to ardent prohibitionists if they
could have heard the traveller's remarks.

"The Canadians are not so radical as we are. They do things in a more
reasonable way."

Then he proceeded to dilate with exultant particularity on the
hospitality he had enjoyed in various centres. Good Canadians had not
only given him much stimulating entertainment, but they had even seen to
it that he was supplied with liquid refreshment on the trip from the
coast. Only in Alberta had the aridity been at all noticeable, and he
attributed his misfortunes in this respect to the fact that he had no
intimate personal friends in Calgary or Edmonton to look after his
comfort. I gathered from his talk that Canada is far, far from being
bone-dry. While he talked there was a hopeful gleam in several eyes,
which subsided when he began to lament the strict watch that is kept on
the border and the danger of carrying a supply on the hip or in one's
baggage when entering the land of the ex-free. The joy had passed from
his life when he had left Montreal. Then the conversation became general
and raged over "the inhuman dearth" of plausible red whiskey under the
Stars and Stripes.

Presently the breezy Westerner began to speak of his fellow-passengers
on the Canadian trip. From Vancouver to Calgary he had associated mostly
with two Canadian officers. Here, I thought to myself, is where I need
to get a grip on my emotions, so I camouflaged myself behind a morning
paper and pretended to read. But the precaution proved unnecessary. He
showed an almost pathetic pride in telling his fellow-countrymen that
those officers had told him that the Yankees were more like the
Canadians than any other soldiers they had met in Europe. They had the
same initiative, resourcefulness, and courage. This was received with
approval, for all in the little group were willing to concede that there
was no question about the war record of the Canadians. To my surprise no
mention was made of the fact that the Americans really won the
war--which leads me to suspect that the conviction is not so general
among the plain people as I had been led to suppose. It is true that
certain spread-eagle papers have rather too much to say on the subject,
and it is possible that some Americans like to get a rise out of
visiting Canadians by assuming a patronizing attitude regarding the war,
but the fact remains that during the whole day I did not hear any
boasting on this point. The only remark that might have given offence
was made by a lean, sallow New Englander. The talk had turned to the
Peace Treaty and all were at once united in a common sorrow over the
part that President Wilson had played in Europe. From which I gathered
that all those present were Republicans, for not a word was said in the
President's defence. The lean New Englander finally grumbled:

"Well, I think England got a good deal out of the war at our expense."

But he got no further. The Westerner swept over him with a tornado of
words. If anything of that kind had occurred--which he did not admit--it
must be overlooked. The hope of the world lies in the continued
friendship of Great Britain and the United States. Germany is far from
being down and out and may even now be plotting against the peace of the
world. There are dire possibilities in Asia that may involve both
Britain and the United States.

When the New Englander got a hearing again, it was very evident that he
had seen a light. Probably he suspected that there might be a British
subject in the little chance assembled group, for he began to lay on the
soft sawder in a way that would have done credit to Sam Slick. The only
British people of which he had personal knowledge were the Canadians, as
his business took him to Canada for several weeks every year. He could
not speak too highly of their courtesy and business probity. What he had
in mind when he made the offending remark was that making a Peace
Treaty was much like a "hoss-trade," and that as a "hoss-trader" Wilson
had no show with crafty diplomats like Lloyd George, Balfour,
Clemenceau, and the others he had met.

As my interest was centred in that part of the conversation which dealt
with the attitude of the plain people of the United States toward the
plain people of Canada and the British Empire, I shall not attempt to
report the wide range of knowledge that came to the surface during the
day. I may say, however, that I learned with interest that New York has
the highest buildings in the world, Seattle the finest docks in the
world, the United States the greatest military possibilities of any
nation in the world, and that the Merrimac River turns more spindles
than any other river in the world. I suspect it would be possible to
write a book about the greatest things in the world likely to be heard
of on this trip, but I am not forgetful of the fact that it was not the
people of the United States that Rudyard Kipling had in mind when he

    "For frantic boast and foolish word,
    Thy mercy on thy people, Lord!"

In the afternoon I deserted the observation car and went visiting in the
day coach among the passengers who were taking short trips between the
intermediate stations. In this way I got an unconscious compliment that
cheered me wonderfully. An exchange of newspapers with the man with whom
a seat was shared gave an opening for conversation. Sticking to my
resolution I did not introduce the subject of the war. We talked of the
news of the day and all sorts of subjects. Suddenly my seat-mate gave me
a searching look and asked:

"You are a farmer, are you not?"

He will never know how flattered I was. Being so far from home I felt
that I could admit my nearness to the soil without being scoffed at.
There is no doubt that in some matters Americans are much more
discerning than Canadians--but let that pass.

We talked of the late spring, crop prospects, the high cost of living,
and such things, and at last my patience was rewarded. In a dreary tone
he said:

"It seems as if people would never get settled down after the war."

I encouraged him with a nod.

"The war upset everything. Labor was unsettled by high wages. The
country boys that went into the army got a taste of city life and life
in crowds, and it looks as if they would never stay on the land any

I let him ramble on about the train of evils that had followed the war.
There was no boasting--just a sense of weariness with it all.

On my arrival in Boston I became practically _incomunicado_ and unable
to play my rôle of the affable stranger who is willing to engage in
conversation with any one who is willing to talk. It was impossible to
get accommodations at the hotel to which I had telegraphed for a room.
They had more reservations than they could handle for three weeks
ahead. But if I wished, the courteous clerk might be able to arrange for
me at another hotel. As it was after ten o'clock, I wished. By using the
telephone he located a room for me in a quiet family hotel. Its tone and
exclusiveness impressed me as soon as I registered. I was in a position
to see Boston on its dignity. The elevator man looked like a sad
professor of political economy in reduced circumstances, and as I
stepped into his cage I felt as if I had been turned over to the final
psychopomp. With this in mind it gave me a thrill of pleasure to note,
like Phil Welch, that the elevator was going up and not down. No one at
this hotel spoke to another without an introduction, and I realized that
I was having a chance to get a glimpse of that sternly exclusive New

    "Where the Cabots speak only to Lowells,
    And the Lowells speak only to God."

But a few hours later I was mingling with the ordinary throng again,
looking for information.



When a man starts on a journey he usually makes a plan before starting.
He will go to this place or that at such a time or times: He will meet
this man and that--and will say to them thus and so. If he is a man of
trained habits--say a commercial traveller for an exacting firm--he will
carry out his plans--or lie about them in his report to the home office.
As my report is to be made to the public there is no need of lying. I
have promised nothing and nothing is expected. My plans went all awry
before I was in the United States two days. But what of that? I may not
find the information I was after, but I am finding things that are
interesting and amusing, so let us carry on. But first a word about
those plans--for what happened to them was rather illuminating. It seems
to cast a light on the law of acceleration that I hear about sometimes.

It has been my experience that a mere observer--"a looker-on here in
Vienna"--seldom arrives at the truth about anything. He sees only the
outside of things. It is when one is actually doing things that he
learns about them. With this in mind I deferred taking the present trip
for many months. Not wishing to come as a holiday onlooker I waited
until actual business made it necessary for me to come. This business
would make it necessary for me to have dealings with men in various
cities, and in order to transact it I would be obliged to keep step with
that part of the business world in which I found it necessary to move. I
would find the chance comments of business conversation more
enlightening than any formal interviews, for they would rise
spontaneously from the soul of things. With all this carefully thought
out I started on my trip.

When I left the farm my plans were vague and leisurely. I had business
to transact, but it was not urgent. It could wait on my convenience and
on the convenience of others. It was little more than a good excuse for
meeting business men in their offices so that I could glimpse what they
were thinking about when off their guard.

When I reached Toronto I found that it would be necessary for me to make
my plans more definite and to speed up to a regular schedule. There
seemed to be more in the business than I thought and it would be well to
make the most of it. So I reformed my plans and prepared to step lively
wherever necessary.

In Boston I was startled to find that further changes in my plans were
advisable. The business looked better than ever, but if I was to
transact it and keep step with the march of things I must exert myself
and move fully three times as fast as had been planned before leaving
Toronto. This would wipe out the holiday aspect of my trip, but it would
give me a more intimate view of the business life of the American
people. I decided to rise to the occasion.

Then I went to New York and what happened to me and my plans may be
indicated by my first experience in the city. Knowing that an old friend
was located at a certain address on lower Broadway I decided to call on
him before doing anything else. I found a real sky-scraper at the
address sought. Looking up his address in the office directory I found
that his room number was 3224. Being accustomed to office buildings and
hotels where the rooms are numbered with the first figure indicating the
floor on which the room is located, I expected to find my friend on the
third floor. Stepping in the elevator I asked for room 3224, and was
promptly whirled to the thirty-second floor. My guess at the location
had been multiplied by ten. And I soon found that this kind of
multiplication touched everything. If Boston made me move three times as
fast as Toronto, New York would make me move ten times as fast and far
as Boston. Right there my plans went glimmering. Like Huck Finn, "I lost
all holts." I was willing to forego a holiday, but I did not propose to
invite apoplexy. Since then I have been doing business in a
catch-as-catch-can way--and getting information and impressions in the
same way. And what I am getting I shall pass on just as I get
it--without plan or too much order. The impossibility of keeping step
with New York without a long previous training has compelled me to give
up the attempt and has restored me to the holiday humor I was in when
leaving the farm. So now we can step lightly again.

One day many years ago I happened to be with the late "Billy" Garrison,
whose memory still lingers in New York newspaper life. A bewildered
individual approached and asked Garrison:

"Are you a Scotchman?"

"No," said the wit, "but if you wait a minute I think I can find you

That swift absurdity epitomizes New York. If you want a man of any
nationality or from any place, you can find him in a minute or two if
you care to search. In trying to get in touch with the United States, or
even the whole world, it is not necessary to leave Manhattan Island. But
I was not searching. I was waiting for mine own to come to me. In this
care-free and receptive mood I met men from many States of the Union and
from many walks of life. Some I met as old friends, some in the way of
business, and some by the simple expedient of borrowing a match in a
smoking-car or hotel lobby. As none suspected any motive beyond what
appeared on the surface, they talked copiously if not always
entertainingly. And I soon discovered the astounding fact that if my
patriotic sentiments were to be outraged I must pave the way for the
insult myself. The war and international relations never cropped up. Of
course the Americans lack the irritant of the adverse exchange which
touches Canadian business life at many points every day and arouses
wrath. As a matter of fact, the exchange gives their dealings with
Canada and Great Britain an added zest and tends to make them take a
placid view of the international situation. That in itself is enough to
increase the irritation of a Canadian, but I could hardly make it a
cause of argument, for exchange is a subject that I do not feel that I
understand except in moments of exalted financial meditation such as
seldom come to me. While I might feel sore about having my Canadian
money discounted, the Americans were not sore at all. Indeed, they went
farther and were unfailing in their sympathy. That hurt a little, but I
could hardly treat it as an insult.

Still I was not without my moments of insight and amusement. I found
that my friends and chance acquaintances, like those who talked in the
parlor car, had one great grievance in common--the activities of
agitators, Bolshevists, I.W.W.'s and all who are attacking American
institutions. This touches them more nearly than international
relations or any criticisms that come from abroad. And all of them dealt
with the trouble in the same strain. They are not afraid of these wild
men or of their wild ideas. But they are hurt and humiliated to find
that people exist, especially within the borders of the United States,
who believe the kind of nonsense that these people talk. Real Americans
feel disgraced that news of that sort of discontent should be going out
to the world. The attitude seems to be one of shame and indignation
rather than of fear or anger. They were hurt to find that any
one--especially any one who had come to America to live--could fail to
see the manifold advantages of living under the Stars and Stripes. No
one was afraid that the radicals could accomplish their ends--they were
simply a noisy, irrational minority--but it was an insult to every
American to have these people denying that the United States is the
finest country in the world. It seemed incredible, stupefying.

The man from Seattle on the observation car was able to give first-hand
information about the I.W.W. and he proceeded to do so volubly and
emphatically. He pinned his faith to the chastening influence of an
accurately applied bludgeon in dealing with this element of society, and
told with relish of how I.W.W. leaders were beaten up whenever they
tried to start something. He established his claim to being a true
American by stating that although living in the West he was born in
Boston and was descended from one of the seven men who had established
the town of Salem. He was all for direct action in dealing with the
advocates of direct action.

The sum of the matter is that the unrest is rousing American citizens to
a keener sense of their heritage as descendants of the men who laid the
foundations of the country, and they are inclined to be intolerant of
any one who questions the soundness and essential rightness of American
institutions. They have no patience with those who would overturn their
system of government. The result will probably be a livelier sense of
citizenship on the part of many who have been neglectful of their duties
in the matter. They will not leave the conduct of affairs to those who
cater to the forces of disruption. They are all for the America of their
fathers, and this unrest will probably cause a rebirth of the
old-fashioned American spirit. The danger is that a nation that has been
roused to a sense of power by the war will act swiftly and intolerantly
without discriminating sufficiently between those who would reform
society and those who would wreck it.



Nor only is there nothing new under the sun, but in New York I find the
same views, opinions, and conclusions that I had heard to the point of
weariness even in Ekfrid. The transmission of news and the diffusion of
propagandas have reduced the world to the same mental level. For
instance: a friend placed his car at my disposal so that I could go
about the city comfortably and expeditiously. Being full of questions I
took my seat beside the chauffeur and invited information. He proved to
be a skilled mechanic who had left productive work to drive a car in the
city. He had been through the Spanish-American War, but had avoided the
Great War, being past the age limit of the earlier drafts. He had had
all he wanted of war. "War is simply a scheme by which the big men and
the profiteers put it over the plain people. The plain people get all
the knocks of war and pay the cost of it besides, while the big men get
all the glory and the crooks get the profits."

Nothing new about that. I have heard the same talk in Vancouver,
Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and even on farms. The plain people of one
country are like the plain people of any other country. They feel that
whoever won the war they did not win it. And they don't want any more of
it. What they want is to square accounts with the men who made profits
from the war, and then go through the rest of their lives without doing
anything in particular on which others can make a profit. They even seem
to think that they might live out their day on the profits that others
have accumulated--if they could only have justice properly administered.
Anyway, this business of working hard and letting others have a profit
on your work is something that belongs to the old, stupid days before
the war, when men were not awake to their rights and privileges.

This is really the philosophy of the Lotus-Eaters, and possibly it is a
natural reaction after the war.

Perhaps there is even a biological necessity for the aversion to
old-fashioned work that is apparent under all flags. Possibly we might
find analogies in nature that would cast a light on the subject. Let us
consider the case of the bees--which moralists persist in pointing to
for our emulation. Every bee-keeper knows that when a hive of bees takes
to robbing other hives its usefulness is ended. Robber bees, that have
once learned the ease and delight of plundering the accumulated stores
of other hives, will never go back to the drudgery of gathering their
food from the flowers. They will go on robbing until they are destroyed
in battle by hives that are able to protect themselves or until they
have starved in the midst of plenty because they refused to work. I do
not know whether Fabre or Maeterlinck has studied the degeneracy and
downfall of a hive of bees that has taken to robbing, but it would be
worth their while.

But people will protest at once that the Great War was not a war of
plunder. It was a war to fight back the nation that had started out to
plunder the world. Blind! Every nation engaged in the war plundered
itself even though it did not plunder others. All our reserves of
wealth, food materials, and resources were of necessity thrown into the
war and were as certainly destroyed or plundered as if we had been
overrun by the enemy. When the armistice was declared we should have
faced the future as nations that had been defeated rather than as
victors. Unless we do that without further delay the defeat of
civilization may be complete.

At this point my meditations were interrupted by my mild and
pleasant-voiced chauffeur. He glared back over my shoulder with a real
fighting face.

"What's the matter?" I asked in alarm.

"That driver back there gave me a look and I was giving him one back." I
admitted that he certainly was giving him a look.

"Some fellows think they own the streets," he grumbled. "That fellow
tried to edge me out of my place and when he found he couldn't do it he
was sore. A fellow like that makes me want to get back to the primitive
with him." He glared back once more, but the other driver had
disappeared in the traffic.

But his phrase stuck and it seems significant--"Get back to the

I wonder if my chauffeur originated it--or is it a gem from some
propaganda that I will meet with when I resume my travels? Anyway, it is
most excellent good. Getting back to the primitive is about the most
natural thing that human beings do just now. For long and dark ages the
world was ruled by big biceps rather than by big brains--and everything
was primitive. And during the Great War we went back to the primitive
with scientific thoroughness. The ape and tiger were not only given a
new lease of life, but were trained and equipped for their work by the
best brains of the world. To the ferocity of the primitive we added the
magic of science--but it is doubtful if science has enough magic left to
recapture and cage the ape and tiger. The primitive man is proud of
himself and conscious of his power. Indeed, he even feels benevolent
toward a world that he feels competent to manage and control. And that
serene kindly, capable attitude is the most dangerous aspect of the
revolutionary mood of mankind. The anarchists and agitators we
understand to some extent and can deal with. They are a natural reaction
in a world of ruthless enterprise. But these placid, altruistic
world-wreckers raise goose-flesh on me. They give me a grue. During the
past thirty years I have met many anarchists and have not contended with
them, for they know the wrong side of every subject so exhaustively that
they can down any one in an argument. Though all of them talked
violently, most of them were too human to do anything reckless. I have
in mind at the present moment a tender-hearted anarchist whose whole
soul revolted against the injustice and cruelty of organized society.
In theory he would have torn down governments, burned cities, and
assassinated kings and plutocrats. On the platform and in the Red press
he was terrible.

But the poor man suffered from a handicap that rendered him futile. He
had a wife whom he loved and children whom he adored. If he did his duty
and hurled bombs at the oppressors, what would become of his family? He
could not do anything that might cause them distress or suffering. He
had given hostages to fortune. But if he had been a free man--The
conflict between his radical brain and his kindly heart furnished the
most tragic comedy that has ever come within my experience.

But these serene altruists, often well-read and thoughtful, are much
more dangerous than the most raving Reds. They are so sure of the
economic soundness of their views and so kindly in their intentions that
one almost feels ashamed to oppose them or laugh at them. They are not
parlor Bolshevists, but men who might be described as super-sane--men
who are too rational for a mad world.

My first experience with this class was on the Western prairies, just
before the Winnipeg strike. I was travelling on a branch railroad, and
not being willing to wait for an express train I found accommodation in
the caboose of a freight. Being thrown into the company of the conductor
and trainmen I cultivated their society and induced them to talk. What
amazed me was their satisfied certainty that the world was to be made
over at once without a struggle. Capital, the great robber of labor, was
to be eliminated. Government was to be taken over by the workers and all
profits would go to those who earned them. As to the management of
affairs--wasn't that all done already by hard-worked, under-paid clerks
while highly paid officials took all the credit? Take President Beatty,
of the C. P. R. What did he do but sit at a flat-topped desk in a
luxuriously appointed office and draw a big salary while others did the
work? They were not angry about it. They were merely ashamed that the
matter had not been settled long ago. It was all so simple.

In Edmonton I met with more of these men who were about to shatter
organized society and "remould it nearer to the heart's desire." One in
particular impressed me curiously. He had the appearance of a man
accustomed to hard labor who was taking a rest and meditating on world
problems. His aspect was dreamy but kindly. I found him in the office of
the Honorable Frank Oliver, and he was trying to induce that hardheaded
statesman of the old régime to publish in his paper a prospectus for the
new world. According to the new plan all the people from the farms of
Alberta were to move into the cities, where they could get proper
shelter when the big hotels and the homes of the rich would be taken
over by the men whose labor had built them and had made them possible. I
wish I had a copy of the document, but one phrase that stuck in my
memory will give a taste of its quality. The ingenuous dreamer proposed
a method of dealing with the crops needed to supply food that struck me
as unique. He proposed that when seeding-time came round, "joyous bands"
would go out from the cities and put in the crops. Having some
experience of the drudgery of farm work that phrase impressed me.
Similar bands would go out at harvest-time and garner the grain. Mr.
Oliver was so dazed that he didn't say a word. He passed over the
document and waited for my opinion. I had nothing to say. And yet
neither of us is without a certain command of language.

The cumulative effect of this contact with the new altruism was that,
when I started for home from Winnipeg, I reminded myself of the soul of
Stephen Leacock's Melpomenus Jones, which escaped from its earthly
tenement "like a hunted cat over the back-yard fence." I hoped devoutly
that my kindly friend of the prairie freight would not succeed
President Beatty at the flat-topped desk until we had been travelling
for at least twenty-four hours. If we got through the rocky district and
reached old Ontario, I could walk the rest of the way home.

Because of such experiences I am not unduly surprised at the kind of
talk I hear among the advanced and kindly thinkers of labor circles. I
hope to pick up a few more phrases as delightful as "joyous bands" and
"get back to the primitive."

Surely, oh, surely it is high time that some one turned light and
laughter on this muddle. Canada and the United States are alike in their
need of a solution for this problem. They have more important matters
pressing for attention than the question of who won the Great War. And,
in concluding this chapter, let me record the astounding fact that as
yet no one has assured me that the United States won the war.



We are told that the way to handle a nettle is to grasp it firmly. Never
having had any need of handling a nettle, I have not tested the truth of
this popular saying and consequently have some hesitation about using it
in connection with our international relations. It is quite applicable
as far as the stinging quality of the subject is concerned; but whether
taking hold of it firmly will help matters remains to be seen. Anyway, I
propose to set down the truth as I have found it without further
persiflage or evasion.

It is beyond question that there is a growing bitterness between the
United States and Great Britain--including the Dominions Overseas. On
both sides of the borderline between Canada and the United States there
are constant bitter expressions of opinion, and unless something can be
done to check the evil the results may be disastrous. On the platform
and in the press dislike and contempt are finding daily expression. What
is the cause of this and what is its significance?

In the first place, there is the watchfulness and jealous sense of honor
due to what Herbert Spencer has called the "bias of patriotism." Few
patriotic citizens can avoid being irritated by any disparagement of the
land of their birth. We are taught in the schools to be proud of our own
country and to guard her rights even to the extent of giving our lives
in her defence. This is something that has the approval of all
governments and of most citizens. But the majority are firmly convinced
that in order to love their own country it is not necessary to hate any
other man's country. Though patriotism may be shown in the irritation
between two countries it is not the cause of the irritation. We must
seek the cause elsewhere.

During the later years of the war there was a wonderfully friendly
feeling among the Allied countries. Since the signing of the armistice
the friendship has been vanishing and a growing cleavage becoming
evident. For over a year I have been watching the matter closely, and
now that I have had a chance to investigate on both sides of the line I
feel safe in making a few definite statements. To begin with, I found in
Canada that dislike of the United States is confined very largely to the
platform and press. The plain people--the farmers and all classes of
workers--have very little feeling in the matter. They simply want a
chance to put their affairs in order after the war. What I have been
able to learn while visiting the United States has convinced me that the
attitude of the farmers and workers of that country is either friendly
or indifferent to the people of Canada. Then why the attitude of the
press and platform? They are supposed to voice the sentiments of the
great mass of the people.

That may have been the case in an earlier and undeveloped age, but the
situation has changed. The partisan spirit which inclines people to
stick to their own party organization through all vicissitudes of public
opinion practically cancels their political influence. A million
hidebound Conservative voters who can be depended on not to change their
opinions will cancel a million hidebound Liberal voters. Therefore, the
press and platform--not to mention the political workers who use more
sordid and corrupt methods--direct their efforts to capturing the
remaining vote that through ignorance, high-mindedness, discontent, or
any other reason is not attached to either party. Thus it becomes
evident that the utterances of the press and platform do not voice the
sentiments of the mass of the people. They merely show the efforts that
are being made to capture the floating vote which will finally decide in
any election. They are sectional and often criminally reckless. There is
no need of giving specific instances of the attempts to capture any
particular group of voters outside of the party folds either in the
United States or Canada. Every reader can call to mind instances where
this has been done.

But this does not deal with the specific grievances that are aired in
official utterances. Quite true, but it casts some light on the reason
for airing them. But if we are to handle this nettle we must deal with
these grievances.

Very well. First there is the egotism of Americans regarding the part
they played in the war. This finds expression, not only in the press and
from the platform, but in the movie shows. (As the movies play so
important a part in making trouble I shall devote a separate chapter to
them.) Then there is the question of exchange.

The adverse exchange rates cause much wrath in Canada, and though I
suspect that speculation may have much to do with augmenting the
difference, there is something fundamental in our trade relations that
makes a certain amount of adverse exchange inevitable at the present
time. If this is not true, then we loyal Canadians have much to answer
for. If the Wall Street financiers are doing a grievous wrong to
Canadians every time they discount a dollar, then how about us every
time we discount a pound sterling and discount it more severely than our
own dollar is discounted? The most loyal Canadian in dealing with the
Mother Country takes advantage of adverse exchange. Does this mean
disloyalty, hatred of Great Britain, and all greed and unkindness?
Certainly not. No one thinks so for a moment. It is the result of
international conditions. Then may not the attitude of the United States
be governed by the same international conditions? Anyway, it can hardly
be an avoidable policy, adopted maliciously and on purpose to humiliate
and rob us, or we would not be adopting an avoidable, malicious policy
of this kind against our Mother Country. One does not need to be deep in
the mysteries of finance to realize this proposition. Either we are
disloyal and rapacious toward Great Britain or the Americans not wholly
rapacious in exchange dealings with us. They are entitled to the benefit
of a doubt. This question of exchange and the wickedness of the United
States is much in the mouths of the supporters of the high tariff--so it
is possible that their inability to see the truth of the situation is
due more to selfish purpose than to lack of financial understanding.

In the case of the press I got an impression of opinion from an American
who controls or influences a great amount of publicity. I called to see
him to ask if something could not be done to allay the irritation and
improve the situation. With cheerful cynicism he laid bare the real

"To tell you the truth we are making the most of the irritation for
party reasons. But the other party is just as bad as we are. I know it
is rotten and even dangerous, but we are forced to do it if we want to
get the floating vote."

Few men in public life are so candid, but he wanted to be friendly and
to save me trouble, and was talking as one public writer to another. I
am thankful to him for his straight-forwardness in the matter. Now let
us turn to Canada.

There are few Canadians who have forgotten how the indiscreet utterances
of Mr. Champ Clark and of President Taft were used to rouse the wrath of
Canadians when "no truck or trade with the Yankees" was a slogan of
power. The success of that slogan entrenched the protectionists. And now
that every possible cause of irritation between the neighboring
countries is being commented upon and aggravated, it does not seem out
of place to suspect that further tinkering on that wall is to be
undertaken as one of our fall chores. This indicates that back of the
patriotic jealousy displayed on the platform and in the press there is a
sinister purpose. Men who use politics to achieve their purpose do not
hesitate to stir up racial strife--no matter what the ultimate
consequences. As this line of conduct has crystallized in Canada in the
phrase "No truck or trade with the Yankees," the blame for playing with
this evil fire rests on the party that benefits by the hatred provoked.
They attain their ends by what a leader of the United Farmers of Ontario
described as "the most criminal conduct possible to a public man."

For fear the reader may think I am holding a brief for free trade, I may
as well state my personal position on that question also. I am not an
out-and-out free trader. Though the theory of free trade satisfies my
reason it is not supported by my experience. This is an imperfect world
and free trade, like the single-tax, with which it is involved, is too
perfect for our present state of development. It is rather a goal to be
worked toward than a panacea to be applied suddenly. As I have long been
of the opinion that almost every advance in history has been made
through a benevolent opportunism, I believe in approaching the ultimate
goal of free trade by steps, as opportunity affords. In consequence I
have no deep quarrel with the protectionist or high-tariff advocate on
the score of the application of his political and economic principles.
But there is a matter on which I have an unappeasable quarrel with him.
When he bolsters up his tariff wall by appeals to racial hatred he is
guilty of a treason to humanity that cannot be lightly condoned. At the
present time, when all humanity is crying for peace, the cultivation of
race hatred is especially criminal. So if it should be found that the
irritation existing between Canada and the United States is due to the
desire of the supporters of the high tariff, then let us have free trade
"red in tooth and claw." Tariff wars lead to blood wars and surely we
have had enough of them.



Possibly no one other thing has done so much to cause irritation between
Canada and the United States as the film plays. As most of those used in
Canada are manufactured in the United States, the jingoism they reveal
arouses constant anger. During the war film plays were used as
propaganda to arouse the American spirit and to awaken a pride in the
achievements of American soldiers. Naturally these plays did not
emphasize the heroism of the British and Canadians, and when exhibited
in British territory, purely as a business venture, they did harm that
no one stopped to compute. They earned money for their promoters and for
the local movie houses, so what more need be considered? In the United
States their political effect was admirable. They roused the war spirit
of the people and stirred national pride. No one apparently took the
trouble to give a thought to how these propaganda films would look to
the returned soldiers of Canada and to a people nerve-racked by war.
They would earn additional money in Canada--so let them go. Listen to
any Canadian who is expressing ill-feeling toward the United States,
just now, and you will find that nine times out of ten the irritation
can be traced back to the movies.

Wishing to learn if it would be possible to remedy this international
evil I decided to go to the fountain-head of the trouble. A friendly
publisher arranged to have me meet one of the master minds in a
film-producing company of world-wide activities. The modern Prospero
would see me at 3.30, in his office in one of "the cloud-capped towers."
Knowing that I must shake off all philosophic languor for this interview
I went at it as if I were going to make a running jump of a new kind. A
mile away from my destination I climbed into a high-powered car
(borrowed) and approached the great man's office at the speed limit. An
express elevator shot me up to the proper floor and I burst into the
presence of the outer guard. By this time I had acquired the necessary
momentum and, in reply to his swift, interrogatory glance, snapped out a
card and "flashed."

"Mr. Swiftbrain--appointment--3.30."

He grabbed a telephone, repeated my claim of an appointment, listened a
moment, then waved me to an upholstered chair that looked rather better
than the ones from the Kaiser's Throne Room that are now for sale in New

"I am to send you in in five minutes!"

I was glad of the respite, for it would enable me to recover my breath.
Office boys who were in the waiting-room--ready to "Post o'er land and
ocean without rest" in obedience to the autocrat of the
switchboard--were so full of the jazz-time spirit of this temple of the
movies that they couldn't keep still. Even when resting, their feet beat
time to some inaudible, syncopated rhythm.

During my five minutes of probation much business was transacted.
Trembling writers of scenarios entered, left their manuscripts, and
passed out. Girls with handfuls of documents minced in and out passing
from one department to another, and each carried herself with the air of
a film queen. Hasty young men registering "urgent business" passed
through with the air of a Douglas Fairbanks or Dustin Farnum. Their
well-tailored coat-tails streamed back like the robes of Hyperion when

    "His flaming robes streamed out beyond his heels
    And gave a roar as if of earthly fire."

Suddenly I heard the snap of a gold watch-case and an authoritative arm
shot out, pointing to the door through which the main traffic was

"Down to the far end! Turn to the left!--Room Umpty-Umph!"

Rising as if from a catapult I fell in step behind a hasty edition of
Fatty Arbuckle. When I reached the properly numbered door and opened
it, I was met by a man who knew my name and business. He registered
"welcome" and waved me to a chair. I accepted the courtesy and
registered "attention." He bounced back into his swivel chair and
registered "candor." And he was astonishingly candid.

Movie plays are a purely business proposition. It made him sick to have
people talk about ideals and art in connection with them. It was their
business to give the public stories that would grip them and make them
want to see the shows. If the people felt like hating any one or
anything, give them plenty of hate stuff and play it up as long as it
fills the houses. It is not their business to educate. They are
practical business men, out after money.

He presently interrupted his monologue to answer the telephone, which
had jingled at his elbow. I suspect that the interruption was part of
the routine of the office. Anyway, I got my cue. He was to see his next
visitor in five minutes. Resuming his monologue he impressed on me the
fact that the one thing the movie firms are after is stories that will
grip the public and make them give up their money.

Then I got up and registered "gratitude" while he registered "Don't
mention it." We did a close-up hand-shake and I passed through the door.
Returning toward the front entrance I was quite in accord with the
spirit of the place and pranced like a horse with the spring-halt.

That, I think, is a fair presentation of the spirit and atmosphere of
the fountain-head of the movie shows that are pleasing the people of the
United States and rousing the wrath of Canadians. Only by giving a touch
of burlesque is it possible to indicate what is done or how it is done.
Here we have the greatest moulder of public opinion in the
world--infinitely more powerful than the press because it makes emotion
visible--and yet it is without any purpose higher than the grasping of
money. There is no George Brown, Delane, or Greeley to use this
tremendous power for the good of humanity. Sordid, exciting, without
conscience, it is bad enough when devoted merely to money-making; but
when used for purposes of propaganda it is a public menace. The dollars
of the propagandist are just as good to the promoters of film plays as
those of the public, and when one can get both it is a triumph. So,
hurrah for the scenario that will get the support of the campaign fund,
put across politics, either national or international, and at the same
time win the nickels of the public. Get them going and coming! That is
the motto! Never mind what the results may be--other than those that
show in the box offices.

Of course these reflections are inspired by what I found in the United
States. Now let me tell you something about Canada, where the movie
business is in its infancy.

By a curious blunder I was invited to see a new film of which a private
performance was to be given. It is seldom that I have ever seen anything
so amazing as this movie show proved to be. The story was highly
emotional and was enough to rouse the wrath of any one against the
aliens in the Dominion. The political propaganda stuck out like a sore
thumb, and if I had swallowed its presentation of conditions in Canada,
I would have been quite ready to vote for the War Times Election Act or
anything else that would suppress every one who did not support
Imperialism and a lot of "isms" not nearly so respectable. But I had
been through the West and had first-hand knowledge of the facts that
were distorted in this play. It merely aroused laughter. It was what
political experts would call "coarse work," but perhaps the public will
never see it in all the rawness of that first performance. I was assured
that it was to be edited and amended. My investigations afterwards
forced from a responsible representative of the high-tariff interests a
frank admission that the play already had political backing and that the
private view I had inadvertently seen had been put on for the benefit of
a selected audience of magnates and to get the support of the business

These experiences have convinced me that irresponsible movie shows must
be brought under control. It is not enough to have them censored so that
immoral and pornographic plays may be kept from polluting the youth of
the country. Some means must be found to make some one responsible--just
as an editor or publisher is responsible--for the reckless political
impressions they convey.

I am inclined to think that the part played by the movies in causing
irritation between the United States and Allied countries is
inadvertent. We all did jingo things to keep up our morale during the
war. Such things were not harmful to other countries when confined
within the borders of the countries using them, but the international
character of American film enterprises has flaunted American jingoism in
the face of the world--at a time when the world is not in the humor to
endure it. It was not the intention to insult other countries, but the
films could earn additional money--and what did anything else matter? It
will be necessary to correct this evil if we are to have harmonious
relations with our neighbors. Moreover, propaganda plays for home
consumption must be put in the same class as patent medicine
advertisements in the newspapers, if we are to have a healthy public
opinion. We must have them properly labelled, with the formula of their
ingredients shown in an introductory flash.



But neither the press, the movies, nor the exchange account fully for
the attitude of the Allies toward the United States. The chief
accusation against Americans at the present time is of callous
selfishness. They have deserted the great cause of humanity to
accumulate profits and play petty politics. Have it that way if you
wish. Say your worst and prove it and you will accomplish nothing.
Neither would anything be accomplished if the United States agreed to
all of which she is accused and roused herself to do what her critics
regard as her duty. The solution of the world's problems does not lie
within the sphere of governments, and can neither be aided nor hindered
by laws or covenants that statesmen and rulers can devise. The United
States is now in practically the same position as the devastated nations
of Europe. In spite of her swollen wealth her future depends on the
conduct of her citizens rather than on the collective wisdom of
political parties, governments or business interests. The earth hold of
humanity has been broken by the war, no less in the United States and
Canada than in the old world. Unless men and women return voluntarily to
productive work, this glittering, unreal wealth will prove to be but
gaudy trappings covering hunger and poverty. While we are concerning
ourselves with world problems, the problems of food, clothing, and
shelter are being despised as unworthy of our attention. We are
increasing our stores of money while the supply of necessary things that
money can buy is steadily diminishing. We are bringing nations to trial,
the United States as well as Germany, in a courtroom that threatens to
tumble about our heads. We are clamoring for justice but justice is

There is one great lesson, above all others, that has been taught by
this war and that few have learned. Surely we should be able to see by
now the futility of human justice. If those who have been affected by
this war could live forever and the best human judgment could be
exercised throughout eternity, we could not render justice to those who
sinned or to those who suffered. The healing of the world does not wait
on justice.

May one without irreverence go back to the birth of Christianity? At
that time the world was groaning under the administration of Roman
justice. Mosaic justice was also playing its part.

It is reasonably clear that the appeal of the new dispensation was
strengthened by the inevitable reaction from the oppressions of justice.
The Mosaic and Roman systems were the most marvellous ever devised, but
tormented humanity cried aloud against them.

    "The soul of man, like an unextinguished fire,
    Yet burns towards Heaven with fierce reproach, and doubt,
    And lamentation, and reluctant prayer,
    Hurling up insurrection."

Out of that bitterness was born the one thought that has been of value
to the human race. The amazing, divine discovery was made that
forgiveness is better than justice and that only through kindness and
brotherhood can life endure. That one flash of light has been the
guiding star of all the great souls that have struggled and sacrificed
themselves to lead the world to better things in the past two thousand
years. But since the dawn of history men have been striving for that
form of vengeance they call justice. And the most pathetic aspect of the
present crisis is that we are harking back to the primitive and
demanding justice on a scale never attempted before. We would even weigh
nations in the scales of justice, though we have no adequate balance and
no counterpoise.

Of course it would never do to ask an indignant and outraged world to
forgive a Germany that has tried to destroy the hope of man. Very well.
It does not matter whether you forgive or whether you punish. Though
you forgive her, she will not be forgiven. Forgiveness will not save her
from the disaster she has brought on herself no less than on others. And
you cannot punish her without danger of further disasters. The whole
matter--the Kaiser as well as the nations--has passed out of our hands
to be dealt with by the awful compensations of higher laws than those
that man can administer. And as for us--for all of us--we must face the
future as individuals rather than as nations. In the terrible words of
General Smuts, "Humanity has struck its tents and is once more on the
march." And when humanity marched in the past it always marched for
food--for lands of promise flowing with milk and honey. But the lands of
promise have all been discovered. They have been mapped and are
occupied. So the only thing left for humanity to do is to pitch its
tents again--or lapse into anarchy. While I would not pretend to defend
the United States for its present isolation and apparent indifference
when so many of my compatriots--and those the ones supposed to speak
with authority--are pointing the finger of scorn, I have a feeling that
under this apparent indifference there is a blind, instinctive groping
for the true solution of humanity's problem. I found the best people
perplexed rather than defiant. They were raging at their own
futility--futile because they could not yet see through the battle-smoke
that still envelops the world. And I am hopeful that before long they
will fulfil Kipling's estimate:

    "While reproof around him rings
    He turns a keen untroubled face
    Home, to the instant need of things."

The charge is brought against them that they are without spiritual
insight. I would give this accusation more weight if I had more respect
for the spiritual pretensions of others. No man and no nation need lay
claim to spiritual insight while clamoring for justice. The dispensation
under which we are supposed to live is the dispensation of forgiveness
and helpfulness. We profess the Golden Rule and yet demand an eye for
an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Could anything be more pathetically
absurd? If the world were not so wounded and stricken one might be moved
to inextinguishable laughter by the pompous inanities of men who would
administer God's justice in a world that has been brought to its present
pitiful state by organized greed. The over-organization of humanity for
profit made the Great Catastrophe inevitable and our cure for it is more
and greater organizations. But "God is not mocked." When man established
democracy it was implied that every citizen would prove capable of
self-government, would do his full share of the work of the world. And
now the safety of democracy depends, not on governments or on leagues of
government, but on the willingness and ability of each citizen to do his
part. In the past we went woefully astray. The ambition of every strong
man was to accumulate wealth and leave behind him a family that would be
freed from the need of performing the work of true citizens--that would
live parasitically on the proceeds of claims on production which he
established and for which he secured legal sanction. Instead of great
democracies of citizens each doing their part, we developed organized,
ruthless autocracies of industrialism and finance that made bloodless
war on each other and established a social parasitism that amazed the
world with its luxury and extravagance. But the hour of testing has
come. Unless the great democracies of the West, the United States and
Canada, can justify the gospel of freedom and equality they have been
flaunting before the world, their fate will be quickly sealed. But if
they can clothe their professions in deeds, and every citizen by his
actions can show himself worthy to be a citizen of a true democracy,
they will give the world the leadership it so sorely needs. To do this
they must banish the old, hard fetish of justice--or if they must have
justice let them render it, not demand it. If they take the true path it
will matter little what happens to the wealth to which they have been

Indeed, nothing could be more disastrous to mankind than that the
present swollen war wealth which is so evident and insulting in all the
capitals of the world should become fixed and permanent. The
establishment of this reckless wealth on a stable basis would justify
the intolerable conviction that war is profitable and there would be no
end to wars. The most wisely devised League of Nations could not prevent
their recurrence. They would be more likely to increase than to

Let no one say that this would mean anarchy and the destruction of our
social order. It would simply mean a return to the austere virtues of
our fathers, under the law and order which our fathers established. Let
it not be forgotten that generations of men and women have sacrificed
themselves on the altar of humanity so that freedom might be made sure
in his new world. With incredible labor that found its reward in the
building of homes rather than in dollars they cleared away the forests
and made the wilderness blossom. No one who believes in the God of
nations can believe that so much high aspiration and generous effort can
go down to defeat. In spite of misunderstandings, irritations, and the
selfish, petty intrigues of politicians, the hope of humanity still lies
with the democracies of the West. They bought their freedom at a great
price, and, in spite of mistakes and follies, that freedom, and the
example of their fathers, will point to them the path of duty.



One interested hour was spent in the office of a captain of industry who
attended to urgent work while I read a morning paper and awaited his
leisure. As the nature of his business was largely Greek to me I could
be allowed to overhear; but I was really more interested in the methods
than in the matter of his transactions. The pressure of a button would
bring an office boy, a secretary, or a salesman to his side, according
to the needs of the moment. While he was going through his mail
telegrams were delivered to him and the telephone jingled at his elbow.
He dictated letters, talked over the telephone, and answered
telegrams--even cablegrams--without leaving his desk. He not only talked
to other business men in the city, but answered long-distance calls from
other cities and ordered long-distance calls. If his activities could
be traced in red lines on a map, they would resemble the charts of the
nervous system I saw a few days ago when going through an Institute of
Anatomy. His office was a ganglion of the modern business organism.

Listening idly to the multitude of orders that were issued I noticed
presently that something was wrong. Though orders were placed and
information received as through a sensitive system of nerves, the orders
were being held up. There were outlaw strikes on the railways--and
freight was not being moved. Stevedore unions were not only refusing to
handle certain products of the company because they were packed in bags
and were too dusty and messy for highly paid, well-dressed stevedores to
handle, but they refused to let the employees of the company handle the
stuff because they were not members of the union. That sounds absurdly
unreasonable, but it is a recorded fact.

Keeping up the simile of business as a living organism, I think this
would be regarded as symptomatic of a pathological condition of the
circulatory system--to be technical, it might be described as
arterio-sclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. A very deadly disease,
and if the cities are beginning to suffer from it, the outlook is

Now let us essay a burden of great cities.

It would be a safe thing to prophesy the downfall of New York, Boston,
Philadelphia--of all the capitals of the world. Isaiah and the old
prophets were discreet in prophesying against cities, for given enough
time their prophecies were bound to be fulfilled.

    "Of Ur and Erech and Accad who shall tell?
    And Calneh in the land of Shinar? Time
    Hath made them but the substance of a rhyme."

To continue borrowing from Archibald Lampman, where now are

     "Memphis and Shushan, Carthage, Meroë"?

They have passed and are merely

     "A sound of ancientness and majesty."

The list of dead cities that were once the capitals of empires is as
long as the dusty tale of archæology. All have gone down and all must
go. As it would not be considered sporting to prophesy a sure thing we
shall leave the cities to their inevitable destiny. If one cared to
examine into the matter it would be found that a day of wrath is
approaching for them, and if there be a sure foundation for the law of
the acceleration of civilization which has been announced recently the
day is not far off. Indeed, it might be shown that all civilization is
rapidly approaching a precipice, but every one is hopeful that Dr.
Einstein or some equally profound philosopher will trammel the law of
gravity so that we shall fall over the precipice slowly and land softly.

But enough of cities. The urgent need of to-day is for some one to
prophesy against the farmers. The ultimate fate of civilization rests
with them--and they are bowing down to the old gods of politics and

Let us consider their case.

In the modern farmer, free, educated, prosperous, we have the one new
thing under the sun: something for which history has no precedent. The
old cities and civilizations were all fed, supported, and enriched by
the slave populations that worked the land, dug the mines, and did every
kind of productive work. And when the cities went down the country
perished also. But thanks to the ideals of our fathers, the farmers and
laborers of to-day are educated like the free citizens of the ancient
cities. If we had continued true to the ideals of our fathers, we should
all have self-supporting homes of our own. But we must build cities,
organize for profit, and live luxuriously.

Mark what has happened. Capital was accumulated in the cities. Capital
gradually organized business and established it in the great centres.
When business was centralized, labor was centralized and began to
organize. Now capital and labor are at each other's throats and likely
to prove themselves the substance of Shelley's symbols.

    "We two will sink on the wide waves of ruin
    Even as a vulture and a snake outspent
    Drop, twisted in inextricable fight,
    Into a shoreless sea."

At the present time the farmers are the sole inheritors of the ideals
of our fathers. But like the foolish men of the cities they are also
organizing for profit. They have forgotten that the home was the one
great ideal of the men and women who braved the perils of the ocean
and conquered the wilderness. Farming is above all a home-building
occupation--rather than a money-making business. But now men no longer
regard the place where they live as a home. It is merely a speculation
in real estate. They try to estimate everything in terms of
dollars--and the money profits are so meagre that all who are able are
deserting the farms and joining in the great jazz-time dollar dance of
the cities. The farmers are forsaking the substance for the
glitter--or are organizing for political power so that they may divert
the stream of dollars toward the farms. Of course it can be shown
that under modern conditions there can be no home without money. But
why trouble about modern conditions? The world is very old and has
developed many great men and all that we know of good without the aid
of modern conditions. Few of the poets and prophets and great leaders
of the past were born in the cities. "Modern conditions"--luxury,
extravagance, dissipation, and parasitism--undoubtedly encompassed the
destruction of all the great cities whose names move sonorously in
verse. And now the farmers are lusting for the "modern conditions"
that are hurrying the cities to destruction.

Now that the farmers are educated and "profess apprehension," why do
they not read the great portents of our time? Can they not see that some
cosmic pendulum that measures the progress of man toward his destiny has
started on its backward swing? All the great symbols and allegories by
which we have been taught in the past are now being reversed.

After the Deluge men built the Tower of Babel so that they might not be
destroyed. And for their presumption they were scattered by a confusion
of tongues.

After the Great War--a man-made disaster as terrible as the Flood--we
are having all the confused tongues of ancient Babel uniting in a cry
that men must come together to make the world safe for democracy. What
was scattered is reassembling.

We are told that in the beginning man was placed in a garden--on the
land--but for his disobedience he was driven forth by cherubim with a
flaming sword.

He built himself cities as places of refuge from the savage creatures
and enemies of the country. But the cities betrayed his trust. They
became great and terrible until now those who are disillusioned of
"modern conditions" are turning toward the country as a refuge from the
cities. The procedure has been reversed and all who have vision can see
that a day will come--a day of hunger and fear--when man will be driven
back to his garden by cherubim with a flaming sword.

But this is the old-time prophecy of woes to come--and pessimism is not
popular. Let us return to everyday life and see what we can find of
hope. At the risk of an anticlimax I shall venture to deal with what
will seem but little things after your thoughts have been dealing with
what we have ignorantly regarded as great things. Let us consider one
little thing--that is the greatest thing in the world. Let us give a
thought to the home.

While visiting the great cities I have visited in homes, and in the
thing most complained of I have found the first ray of hope. There are
no longer any servants for families of moderate means. The work of the
home must be done by those who enjoy the home. Because of this there is
a fuller and freer home life. Women of education and culture who have
been compelled by the high cost of living to do their own work are doing
it better than it was ever done by servants. They are better cooks than
the cooks they had in the past, and all the members of the family are
of necessity learning lessons of helpfulness. If the death-struggle of
labor and capital should paralyze, or at least decentralize,
civilization, we have an atavistic capacity to do our own work. Our
forefathers did their own work and we look back to them proudly as being
better than we are. The cities are full of men and women who were born
on the farms and know how to do the work of farms, and when the truth of
Job's words is brought home to them--"as for bread, it cometh from the
earth"--they can go back to the earth with confidence. The true mission
of the educated, thinking farmer to-day is to use his newly acquired
power to preserve the new experiment in civilization tried by our
fathers and which made the home rather than money the unit of success.
Let them coöperate to establish their own homes and to help others to
establish self-supporting homes and we shall have a more glorious
civilization than has been. If we return to the vision and hope of
those who established the democracies of the new world, the cherubim
with the flaming sword may prove to be heralds, whose sword will be
miraculously changed into a torch lighting us to a better world. But
this change will be wrought, not by statesmen, but by men and women
worthy to be citizens of a democracy--men and women who are not ashamed
to do little things and do them well. And we are taught not to "despise
the day of little things."



While travelling from New York to Philadelphia I saw men at work in the
fields for the first time in two weeks. I had been enjoying the great
drama of business in one of the greatest cities of the world. But the
sight of men at work in the fields suddenly reminded me that while
walking the streets I was missing the annual production of "crops"--a
drama as old as Time, that will run until the end of Time. As the
significance of what was in progress dawned on me and gripped my
imagination, I was puzzled to decide whether I should review this play
as a tragedy or as a roaring farce. From one point of view it is pitiful
to the point of tears; from another, it is broadly comic. Before
deciding what treatment it shall be given, let us analyze the plot of
the wonderful performance that will hold a world-wide stage through the
spring, summer, and autumn. If we give it our undivided attention we
shall find that it covers every form of human activity, and reveals in
rapid action all the possibilities of human nature. It is the one play
in all the world that deserves to be introduced by the greatest prologue
ever written.

    "O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
    The brightest heaven of invention,
    A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
    And monarchs to behold the swelling scene."

Having suggested the magnitude of the performance, I shall ask you to
mark the performance, either in the theatre of your imagination, or by
going out into the fields where it will be enacted; I am going to ask
you to

    "Admit me Chorus to this history:
    Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray
    Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play."

Once more the food of the world is to be produced. Working in accord
with nature, man will sow seed, prune his trees, trim his vines, tend
his herds and flocks, and bow his shoulders to the burden of toil, so
that the world may be fed. To guide him in his work he draws on the long
experience of the race and the enlightenment of modern science; to aid
him he calls for the best tools and machinery that the brain can devise.
As soon as the farmer drives his team to the field he stimulates
activity in the colleges and laboratories and in all the mines and
factories. Those who labor in the cities may go on with their work, for
there will be food to pay for their products. But there is something
more. Besides renewing the food supply of the world--the most necessary
work of all, for we are never more than a few months away from the
hunger line--the men who work in the fields will re-create the wealth of
the world. Without being renewed by the interest and profits to be
derived from the crops, Capital, that bulks so large and is often so
insolent, would dwindle and disappear. Financiers, Manufacturers,
Promoters, and Captains of Industry depend on the crops--on the labor of
the men in the fields--as much as any one else. They devise their great
schemes, launch their projects, and undertake their enterprises solely
with a view to getting a share of the new wealth that will be taken from
the fields and perfected by labor. The crops and the wages of the
laboring men will pay debts contracted for necessities and luxuries, and
pay the interest on borrowed money. The financial machinery of the world
can work smoothly, for there will be a flood of new wealth when the
crops are harvested. If the crops failed, or if the farmers refused to
produce, the cities would be wiped out and the social fabric would
crumble. The Government would be without revenues. If debts and interest
were not paid, dividends on stocks and bonds would cease and the
capitalist would be reduced to beggary. Without the yearly work of the
farmers our magnificent civilization would relapse to barbarism and our
great world drama would become a mad scramble of savages. From this
point of view the farmer's part is entirely heroic. He is the
demi-Atlas of the world, the "arm and bourgonet of men." In our great
drama, introduced by bird song and lighted by the spring sunshine, he is
surely cast for the title rôle. Alas, the pity of it! He has been too
often merely the drudge--the serf who provided the luxuries of his

Watch the drama while it unfolds. For weary months the men who are
struggling with nature toil early and late, pit their skill against all
the forces that oppose them, endure the droughts and storms and struggle
against all the chances that might defeat them in producing the world's
food. They are too busy to watch the drama. Often they are too busy for
thought. All of them have hopes that may be fulfilled if the crops are
good--little hopes compared with those of the men who are waiting in the
wings for their cues. If things turn out well they may be able to put by
something for the future, enjoy an excursion out into the amazing world,
indulge in some coveted luxury or improve their homes and farms. But
most of them will have to be satisfied with ordinary food, shelter, and
clothing--just sufficient to carry them and their families through the
winter until the great drama is staged again. But before they are sure
of anything they must gather in their harvest and market it. Now begins
the joyous comedy--the uproarious fun. The banks provide the
counters--money--for "moving the crops." Loans are repaid to them with
interest, and they thrive. Transportation companies, almost all built by
the money of the people, though not owned by them, move the crops--and
there is a golden stream of dividends. Middlemen, as "efficient" as
pickpockets, handle the food of the world over and over, and at every
turn profits are made. But it would be impossible in a brief review to
trace the food from the farm to the table of that other poor dupe, the
city laboring man. It reaches his table finally at famine prices. His
food is assured and the great comedy of life can proceed. The profit
gatherers, who work with the villain of the piece, Uncontrolled
Capital, have their wealth as well as their food supply renewed, and
they can revel and riot. All the arts flourish and the cities grow
proud. The world is safe for another year, and then the performance will
be repeated as it has been since the world began.

As this play is of human origin, developed in disobedience to many
divine commands, I have no hesitation in suggesting a few improvements.
As given at present, Capital has all the fat parts, and the men who do
the real work are crowded off the stage. The vast majority are cast for
"thinking parts," and are kept so busy that they have neither the time
nor the energy to think. But some day they may think enough to discover
that the leading actor, Capital, depends on them, instead of having them
depend on him and his high-toned crowd. They may discover that
Coöperation will give them all the assistance they need and that Capital
can be made a servant instead of master. They may realize that the men
who make the wealth of the world deserve a fair share of it.
Coöperation will do away with the profits, interest, and dividends that
now go to re-create every year the predatory Capital that supports
social parasites. Wealth will not be divided, as some Utopians have
dreamed, but the men who create wealth will be given the right to hold
their fair share of it. When the play is properly rewritten, the men who
do the work of food distribution and the distribution of all
necessaries--and luxuries, for that matter--will be the servants of the
people rather than their millionaire masters. A coöperating people will
be more powerful than any corporation, and can employ the brains that
are now being employed by capitalists who exploit them. And the task of
rewriting the play will not be done by a political party elected on that
platform. It will be done by the workers themselves. Any discerning
critic can tell you that there is more economic progress in the
formation of an egg-circle than can be won at a general election. The
people are crushed at the present time, not because the Big Interests
are so well organized, but because the people are not organized at all.
The watchword of to-day is "Coöperate!" That is the slogan of universal
brotherhood and of a new civilization that we can all enjoy. Every new
organization of producers or consumers is a step forward and a blow to
Capitalism. Every step they are making in the way of politics is usually
a mistake--that tends to place them in the power of men more adroit than
they can ever hope to be. When the actors in our play get to work and
rewrite it, it will be a great and stimulating drama worth seeing. It
will be robbed both of its tragical and farcical aspects and given a
serene beauty. Organize the industry in which you are engaged and you
will be rewriting your own lines in the great drama of life and making
the situations in which you take part more dignified and satisfying. It
is a glorious drama and one worth acting a part in, if all the people
would see to it that they get their fair share of the fat lines and cut
out the bombastic speeches of Uncontrolled Capital. Why not start to
rewrite your lines to-day? When enough small organizations have been
formed in which the members will coöperate, for their own good and for
the good of all, it will be easy to reorganize our whole social system.
An egg-circle, a beef-ring, a fruit-growers' association, a farmers'
club, or a labor union will do as well as anything else. Organize for
coöperation, and the baneful influences of both Capitalism and Partisan
Politics will disappear. Organize for political action and you will be
just where you were when you started. We must have politics, for we must
have governments, but when governments act as umpires rather than as
rulers in a coöperating world, politics will become a help to the world
instead of a menace. Let us follow the advice of our heavy financial and
industrial leaders and take business out of politics, but let us first
coöperate to make the business our own. And now is the time to begin.



Although I did not keep account of the matter, I have no hesitation in
saying that in my travelling I have met more dealers in real estate than
of any other class of men. One sat with me in the train between Hamilton
and Toronto and dwelt on the advantages of real-estate investments in
the Mountain City. Even foreign laborers who are unable to speak English
are making thousands in real estate. In the observation car, travelling
from Montreal to Boston, one of my fellow-passengers was an
international real-estate agent. He had opened subdivisions in Seattle,
Winnipeg, London, Montreal, and Brooklyn. He was one of the most
optimistic men I have ever met. He could see possibilities even in the
swamps that we passed and in the rocky slopes of New Hampshire and
Vermont that were revealed through the car windows. I suspect that he
would not hesitate to open a subdivision on the planet Mars, with a
frontage on the leading canal, if he could get an astronomer to furnish
him with a map and blue-prints. If he should decide to do this he would
have no trouble selling corner lots, for the country is full of men and
women who buy real estate on maps.

In New York I found friends debating whether to sell the homes they had
established, by thrift and industry, so that they could take advantage
of boom prices.

In Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg it had been the same. Not
only city properties, but farm lands were for sale everywhere. The
friends I visited were all dealing in real estate on the side--no matter
what their professions might be. This preoccupation led to some amusing
consequences, and I have a happy recollection of one joyous half-hour in
a mining town in British Columbia. I had been visiting a great smelter
in the company of an engineer who dealt in real estate on the side.

As we were leaving the smelter he introduced me to the smoke expert of
the institution. That sounds innocent enough, for, like me, you probably
do not know what a "smoke expert" is. I asked for explanations, and
right there the trouble began. I found that the "smoke expert" is really
a botanical pathologist, whose business it is to show that smelter smoke
does not cause all the damage that afflicts the crops of farmers and
orchardists within a radius of fifty miles. As the real-estate agent had
been telling me that British Columbia is entirely free from all bugs,
blights, and pests, my interest was aroused at once.

"Do you mean to tell me that there really are blights and destructive
fungi in this province?" I asked incredulously.

The "smoke expert" made a gesture of despair.

"The place is simply full of them."

"Come on! Don't listen to him!" yelled the real-estate man, recognizing
the mistake he had made. "He's the damnedest liar in British Columbia."

"Wait a minute," I replied. "I want to know. That is what I am here for.
Now, tell me please, please, what orchard pests there are?"

"Well, there are no coddling worms--"

"You'll admit that because no one ever sued the smelter for putting
coddling worms in apples. Come along! Don't listen to him!"

"But there is fire-blight on pears--"

"That's a damned lie! I have a whole orchard of pears and there has
never been a trace of fire-blight. Any fire-blight in this district has
been caused by the smoke from your blithering smelter."

"But," I reproached him, "if something like fire-blight is caused by
smelter smoke, isn't that just as bad as fire-blight? You didn't say
anything to me about smelter smoke."

"It doesn't do any damage either--at least not much."

"But the farmers have been suing us," said the smoke expert. "Of course
they had no reason to sue us because the damage was clearly done by

"Nothing of the kind! And, anyway, the prevailing wind carries the
smelter smoke over the mountains where there are no orchards or farms.
Aw, come along, and don't listen to him!"

The "smoke expert" smiled sadly and shook his head with gentle
tolerance. Finding in me the first sympathetic listener he had had for
years he persisted in making revelations.

"Last fall I found an interesting case of 'withered plum--"

"You couldn't convince the jury that it was a fungous growth that
affected those plums."

"No, for they didn't want to be convinced. They wanted to soak us. Then
there was that 'clover sickness.'"

Seeing that he couldn't stop what he had started, the disgusted
real-estate agent collapsed into a chair while I had an illuminating
chat with the "smoke expert." Occasionally he interrupted with a vivid
protest, but he couldn't quench my thirst for knowledge, or the expert's
desire to impart scientific information.

"Let me tell you what the fellows did!" he at last exclaimed
triumphantly. "They took some healthy leaves and sprinkled them with
sulphuric acid. This expert diagnosed it as shot-hole fungus--a kind
that he had been looking for for years--a kind they have in Australia--"

"You're another!" said the expert. "There is real shot-hole fungus

So the battle raged, but I shall not report it further. Juries of
farmers have invariably decided against the learned and patient "smoke
expert," and I have no desire to give the province a bad reputation as
to blights and pests. I saw no evidences of them on either fruit or
trees--but I'll wager that that real-estate agent will never again
introduce his friend the "smoke expert" to a sympathetic and inquisitive

So it was wherever I went. So it was at home in the country. Real estate
is being traded in everywhere.

A few months ago a writer in the "Toronto Globe" stated that Western
Ontario is for sale. About the same time a writer in the "Saturday
Evening Post" showed that the American corn belt is all for sale. People
everywhere are ready to sell at a profit and move on.

The result of all this was to fix in my mind the conviction that the
world is for sale.

One morning I awoke--or was I awake?--and found the world marvellously
astir. A huge red flag hung down from the zenith and a jovial auctioneer
with the moon for an auction block was about to offer the world for
sale. Satan had foreclosed his mortgage, and Chaos, "The Anarch Old,"
was looking over the property as a prospective buyer. The Soul of Man,
troubled and confused, was also in the market for the world and
wondering if the only price he could offer--a list of irksome
virtues--could possibly outweigh the alluring, shadowy, jazz-time
pleasures that his opponent would flash before the nations.

Bringing down his gavel with a crash that arrested the attention of the
universe, the auctioneer began his harangue.

"Look it over, gentlemen, look it over! Here is the greatest bargain
ever offered for sale--a perfect prize package of a planet. It has been
in existence a long time and all its possibilities are known. It is a
perfect location for either a heaven or a hell, and has all the natural
resources needed to make it one or the other. Its history shows the
attempts that have been made in both directions. Let me recount them
briefly. First, O Chaos, let me address myself to you.

"This world has just had a fiercer war than any one thought it was
possible for man to wage. Millions have been slaughtered, millions have
been wounded and crippled, millions have been starved to death, millions
have been wasted by disease. The wonderful baying of the hell-hounds of
war has been stilled, but a word would unleash the pack and they would
harry man through air and earth and sea. Famine and Pestilence are
feeding fat on the nations, and Lust, Greed, and Hate are revelling in
all the capitals. To anyone wanting to start a private hell for his own
amusement this is the greatest bargain ever offered. The work of
building is almost complete. All that is needed is a little imagination
and a consignment of sulphur. It is not ever necessary to provide a
match. The world is full of fools, both high and low, who are only
waiting for a chance to apply the match. Take my word for it, O Chaos,
you will never again have such a chance to start a summer resort of your
own, so consider well the price that you are willing to pay."

Turning to the Soul of Man, who had been reduced almost to despair by
this horrid recital, the face of the auctioneer glowed like the sun, and
with a voice as musical as summer winds in the elms he whispered:

"O Soul of Man, why art thou troubled? My words were but words of scorn
and reproof. Behold now this world with the eyes of faith. Look at the
fertile fields, flooded with sunshine--the rain-bearing clouds and the
mystery of growth. Mark the little homes that dot the plains and cling
to the wooded hills. Hear the laughter of children and the song of
birds. Even the war was rich with deeds of heroic sacrifice. Charity,
Mercy, and Science are striving to overtake Famine and Pestilence.
Brotherhood waits for leadership. Truly there is here the matter for a
new earth that will be a new heaven. Consider well the price that you
are willing to pay."

Lifting up his voice till the universe rang with it, the auctioneer

"The sale is now on! What am I bid for this pendulous planet that swings
forever from the throne of the sun? There is no reserve bid. The sale
must be concluded to-day. What am I bid?"

"Wealth!" shouted Chaos. "Gold, silver, paper, unlimited credit!"

The nations roared applause.

"Contentment," offered the Soul of Man quietly.

The nations jeered.

Then the two bidders made alternate offers. Chaos began:











While the bidding proceeded, tumult broke out among the nations. Some
favored one bidder; some the other. As the tumult grew, the War God,
who always walks before Chaos, tossed his plumed helmet and marshalled
all his enginery. Once more his sword was to reap its harvest.

    "The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
    Hung forth in heaven his golden scales, yet seen
    Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,
    Wherein all things created first he weighed,
        ... In these he put two weights,
    The sequel each of parting and of fight;
    The latter quick up-flew, and kicked the beam;
        ... The fiend looked up and knew
    His mounted scale above; no more; but fled
    Murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night."

The great auctioneer brought down his gavel.

"Sold to the Soul of Man, for a price that he can well afford to pay!"

Then I was awake, indeed, and as I looked about me I saw the fields
flooded with sunshine, felt the caress of the summer breeze, and heard
the song of birds. The children were shouting at their play--and the
home was my home.

My brothers, we have a good bargain!



With a couple of chance acquaintances I was discussing everyday
activities as reported in the daily papers. A quiet man with a poker
face was listening to our talk. Suddenly he contributed a remark:

"This country is going to hell for lack of leadership."

That sounded familiar. It occurred to me that I had heard the remark
before. I had heard it even in Canada. Shortly afterwards I learned that
the man who had made the remark was a millionaire. Consequently his
pontifical utterance did not surprise me. Monied men really feel deeply
on the matter--but they expect some one else to give the leadership they
so earnestly want. If you listen to their talk you will find that they
give about every reason for the lack but the true one. The people lack
leadership because they are not candid about where they want to go.
There is a lot of talk about social justice, but justice is about the
last thing that many people want. In fact, they seem to be afraid that
they are going to get it. During the war, when the soldiers were
fighting, dying, and passing through hell generally, those who stayed at
home enjoyed a prosperity that never was known before. Capital made such
profits as never were known before; Labor got such wages as never were
known before; farmers, miners, fishermen, lumbermen--men of all classes
enjoyed such prosperity as never was known before. And now they are
clamoring for leaders who will enable them to keep the blood-bought
riches and profits and the wages they got in the world's time of
anguish. They are horrified to find that the bloated, unhealthy profits
of war are losing their value through the operation of laws of
compensation more inexorable than any ever devised by man. Although the
Great War revealed the heroism and spirit of self-sacrifice in many, it
aroused the selfishness of still more. That manufacturer blurted out a
very prevalent conviction when he said, "Any man who didn't make money
during the war must have had something wrong with him." And now these
people are clamoring for leaders who will protect them in their
selfishness. They want to be led into a beatific era, where each will
get more than his share of the good things of life. It is a mistake to
think that the big profiteers are the only ones who are to blame for
existing conditions. There are shoals and swarms of little profiteers
who are just as selfish and rapacious as the big ones. All they lack is
capacity and opportunity, like the little devils described by Kipling.

    "Weep that they bin
    Too small to sin
    To the height of their desire."

Humanity will look in vain for true leadership until it is cleansed of
its selfishness.

There are many who are suffering through no fault of their own--many
who gave, toiled, and sacrificed so that freedom might endure, but they
are not the ones whose voices are the loudest to-day. They believed that
an era of justice and brotherly love would follow victory. To-day they
are bewildered and stunned to find that their sacrifices were apparently
made in vain. Many of the returned soldiers with whom I have talked are
as homesick as they were in France for the conditions they left behind
four or five years ago. This home land of insolent wealth and noisy
grumblings--of strife and turmoil--is not the land for whose freedom
they fought. They find it hard to realize that while they were offering
their lives to save the world, the world went money-mad. Can they be
blamed if they are touched with discouragement and disgust?

At the present time there is much in the papers about the reëducation of
soldiers to fit them for a place in civil life. Here is another case
where we are in danger of making a grievous mistake. There is need of
reëducation, of course, but the soldiers are not the only ones who need
to be reëducated. The present idea seems to be that the soldiers must be
reëducated so as to enable them to follow some occupation in our social
organization as it now stands. That will not do, my masters! It is not
good enough! The military training these men have had educated them to
sacrifice everything for the good of humanity--for the protection of
their wives and families and for our protection. Now we propose to
reëducate them so that they may try to compete with us in a struggle for
existence that taxes the strength and resourcefulness of those whose
strength is unwounded and who have made no sacrifices. Just think about
it for a minute. What chance would our reëducated soldiers have against
men who are already over-educated along these lines, and whose careers
have not been interrupted by the need of making sacrifices for their
country? Practically none, and it will be a poor reward to offer them
for what they have done, and are doing, to push them into such an
unequal struggle.

Every day it is becoming more apparent that the world cannot go on as it
was. Unless we rid ourselves of some of our selfishness, we shall be
forced to face more grievous problems than we are facing just now. The
soldier element in our population and in the population of the world
will be too great to be absorbed readily into an unchanged civil life.
Our old god, Profits, will be dethroned, no matter how devotedly we
worship him. The menace of a food shortage is making many people think
more clearly than ever before, and with the possibility of world-hunger
before us Prudhon's assertion that "profit is theft" does not look
nearly so anarchistic as it did. We see that every man should be
rewarded for his services, but the thought that any man should make
profits when all are struggling to bear up under accumulated burdens is
already beginning to provoke rage. We admit every man's right to make a
living, but doubt his right to make a fortune. Our reëducation has
begun, and we must see to it that it goes through properly. We must
learn that success should depend on public service rather than on
private greed. Not until we have learned that can we expect our soldiers
to reënter civil life, and submit to its workaday burdens. And there
will be no place in a reëducated world for parasites or people who will
expect to live through a claim on the services of others. Though the
subject is serious enough, one of Edward Lear's mocking limericks pops
into my head as a symbolical description of the new state of affairs
that seems inevitable:

    "There was an old man who said, 'Well!
    Will nobody answer this bell?
    I have pulled day and night
    Till my hair was grown white.
    But nobody answers this bell.'"

I am afraid that the people who expect to get their living simply by
ringing a bell will do more than get white hair.



One hates to have anything to do with the promulgation of a new law,
especially when temperamentally in accord with the poet Carman who

    "Could always be at home
    Just beyond the reach of rule."

But the new law is already in existence, and as all I propose to do is
modestly to discover its operations, I feel less compunction in the
matter. But before making the announcement it is necessary to clear the
ground by calling attention to another law that is apparently producing
the chaotic conditions that are causing so much alarm at the present
time. Then the new law may be offered as a balm that is to cure existing
evils. Having reassured the mind of the reader we may now proceed.

Somewhere in his voluminous writings Karl Marx makes the arresting
statement that "all capitalistic organizations carry within themselves
the elements of their own destruction." (Solomon said long before Marx,
"The prosperity of fools shall destroy them.") It might be demonstrated
that the destroying element is "greed" for wealth and power, but it is
enough to call attention to the fact that the work of destruction is at
present in progress. Every morning our newspapers are calling attention
to the fact that political parties are destroying themselves through
lust for power and because they are dominated by the forces of organized

Capital is at present in a parlous condition because it is suspected of
greedy profiteering and the plain people are in the mood to bring it to

Labor, that was enabled to organize because of the work done by Capital
in centralizing industry for the purpose of increasing profits, is in
danger of destroying itself by its exactions, by general strikes, and
by making labor conditions in the cities so remunerative and attractive
that no one wants to stay on the farms to do the necessary but heavy and
mussy work of food production.

There are even those who point out that the churches are destroying
their usefulness by a rage for over-organization and financial
stability, but that is a question that no cautious man would care to

Now the cities, those organized centres of humanity, appear to be
passionately intent on committing suicide. In this they are receiving
material aid from governments, but it seems useless for any one to offer
a protest. When a delegation of farmers recently waited on Governor
Smith, of New York, to protest against the adoption of daylight saving
legislation, he rebuked them severely for their class selfishness. No
one seems to realize that daylight saving is simply a gesture in the
progress of city suicide. The few laborers to be found on the farms
naturally want to take advantage of the daylight saving law, with the
result that they are idle in the morning hours when the dew makes
impracticable the cultivation of root crops, corn, etc., and the
gathering of hay and sheaves. And besides being idle at the expense of
the farmers in the morning, they are idle for their own enjoyment in the
late afternoon and evening when field work can be attended to most
satisfactorily. Besides, the farmer is obliged to do his own milking and
chores while his highly paid hired man goes to town to enjoy the movies.
The result is that farmers are forced to limit their enterprises to the
amount of work that can be done by themselves and their families. In
many cases it would not pay them to employ a hired man. Indeed, cases
have come under my personal observation where farmers found it more
practicable to sell their farms and hire out with farmers who thought
they could contend with the new adverse conditions. And presently these
farmers who hired out followed the general trend of the rural population
and moved to the cities where they could have shorter hours and more
attractive conditions.

The "New York Sun and Herald" had an editorial recently in which it
spoke of the farmers going on strike. They are not going on strike, but
they are limiting productions to what they can do themselves--and the
result is the same. They are not doing this from desire, but through the
compulsion of circumstances.

Daylight saving, however, is only one of the many methods employed to
uproot humanity from the soil and enable the cities to commit suicide by

Critics of the tariff have shown how the protection of manufactures
causes higher wages to prevail in the cities and withdraws men from
the productions of food. Agricultural education and the farmers'
movement have tended to centre the attention of the farmer on
money-making--rather than on home-building--and that is disastrous.
The farmer is keeping books, and as home-making cannot be expressed
either by single entry or double entry, he applies the dollar test to
everything with the result that in many places food crops are being
discarded for profitable cash crops, such as tobacco, sugar-beets,

The farmer is finding out what crops do not pay in dollars and is
discarding them--thereby increasing the various shortages. In order to
make him efficient in this destructive work, governments are imposing
income taxes and compelling the farmer to keep books. And no one is
calling attention to the basic fact that farming is above all a
home-making business and that money-making is secondary. Our pioneer
fathers raised all crops for their own use, with the result that they
had plenty and a surplus to feed the cities of those days.

The whole tendency of the time is to make the country more like the
cities--to give the farm city advantages. Cities are not content with
increasing their wealth and population. They promote radial railways and
manufacture automobiles to bring the farmers to the cities. They
educate them to patronize the movies and follow the fashions. Every day
the farms are becoming more like the cities. Farm children are given
city educations and they develop city tastes. The world is mad on the
building of cities. Some months ago an enthusiast sitting in the chair
beside me in the lobby of a Toronto hotel showed me how the development
of hydro-electric power on the Niagara River and the St. Lawrence would
finally transform New York State and the Province of Ontario into one
vast city from Manhattan to Port Arthur. And he added triumphantly:

"Then we could dictate to the world."

It sounded very progressive and alluring, but as I was waiting for the
dining-room to open, the promptings of appetite led me to wonder how
this great city of the future is to be fed.

The simple fact is that the country is getting so like the cities that
it is stopping the production of food, and unless the tide turns the
cities and the country will commit suicide together. But as indicated
in a previous chapter there is a door of hope. Our fathers laid the
foundations of a country civilization, richer and more satisfying than
any city civilization the world has known. If we turn in time and build
on that foundation the predictions of all the prophets will be confuted.

Now the time has come to announce the new law, the law of reversal which
has been touched upon in a previous chapter. It has already begun to
operate and all that remains is for the majority to fall in line with

And the majority will do this.

In the great crises of the past it was predicted that "a remnant will be

The time has come to announce the reversal of this law and proclaim that
"a majority will be saved."

If you stop to weigh recent events, you will find that there is a sound
reason for this proclamation. Since the signing of the armistice there
have been strikes, both authorized and "outlaw," that interfered with
the rights of the majority of the people. And the people did not endure
them tamely. In Winnipeg, Seattle, New Jersey, and elsewhere the people
undertook to do the work that was being stopped by the strikers. In
almost all these cases the volunteer workers went too far in their
manifestations--forgot the need of adhering to legal methods. But they
made it quite clear that the big, quaking, foolish majority is no longer
in the mood to put up with the tyranny of noisy minorities. All strikes
and disturbances in the transaction of business cause more trouble and
suffering to the ordinary citizens than to those who are directly
involved. And experience has shown that the ordinary people of Canada
and the United States are not ordinary. On the battlefields of Europe
the privates on many occasions showed themselves as resourceful as their
officers and as ready to cope with difficult problems. Those whose
affairs are being interfered with by men who depart from constitutional
methods to redress their grievances are not an ignorant and oppressed
mob, but men who have been accustomed all their lives to freedom and
legal methods. They are not lacking in courage or initiative, and are
entirely capable of calling "bluffs" of all kinds. It so happens that
the "bluff" of some irresponsible agitators is the first that has been
forced on their attention, and their response is the most cheering news
we have had for many a day. It may mean the beginning of a better era.
Most of the wrongs from which struggling humanity suffers are due to
"bluffs"--some of them very respectable and imposing--and if the people
start to call them we shall have a notable house-cleaning. Moreover, all
these can be called without departing from the constitutional methods
established by our fathers, and which our sons so heroically defended.

All this indicates that after the cities, Big Business, Labor, and even
the Farmers' Movement have succumbed to the present passion for suicide,
the majority will be saved.

In the days when salvation was only for the remnant, that remnant
represented the minority that stood for the rights of humanity. The
majority stood for autocratic or theocratic power and destroyed itself
by its arrogance and greed.

The birth of Democracy changed all this. The majority now stands for the
rights of man--of the plain citizen. Because there was so much to learn
before Democracy could realize its possibilities we have been tyrannized
over by minorities--bosses, bureaucracies, trusts, labor organizations,
and other forms of absolutism. But the great mass of the people stand
for individual rights and individual initiative.

The average citizen of the new world

    "Stays to his home an' looks arter his folks;
    He draws his furrer es straight es he can,
    An' into nobody's tater-patch pokes."

All of them may not be drawing furrows; some of them may be engaged in
non-essential occupations; but their instinct is the same. If they are
left alone they will leave other people alone. And there is evidence
that if they are not left alone something is going to happen. Le Bon
points out that the inert mass of the population represents the soul of
a nation. If this is true the outlook is all that can be wished. In the
new world there is an instinct for order that expresses itself sometimes
without waiting for the processes of law. This impatience is
regrettable, but the attitude is admirable. It indicates that the day of
the remnant is passed and that the majority is to come to its own. The
future may have trouble in store for the profiteers, agitators,
bureaucrats, and others who are wailing that the world is going to the
devil, but the great law of reversal is in operation and

     "A majority will be saved."



Some of my experiences led me to wonder if there is a correspondence
course for economists and statesmen. Anyway, I have been coming into
contact with thinkers, the perfection of whose theories can only be
accounted for on the hypothesis that they are graduates of a
correspondence school. They have world-shaping plans that could only be
excused on the plea that those who propound them either know God's plan
or have a better one. Only a correspondence school could give a man such
sublime self-confidence. Still, the reading of many books on economics,
and class papers, would have much the same effect as a correspondence
course, and that probably accounts for the finished thinkers that are
forever putting one down in arguments.

But this is a tough old world and politics is a science too human to be
put into books. The economists take no account of "human cussedness" or
the instinct to do anything except what the wise of the world say that
we should do. No matter how beneficent your theory may be, we will have
none of it--and a good thing it is for the world that we will not.

Still, the correspondence-school statesmen and economists are so much a
part of the life of to-day, with its agitations and movements and
tiresome futilities, that one must give them some attention. The mildest
of these world-shapers are clamoring for the nationalization of
everything from railroads to cranberry bogs. Indeed, I have met with
thinkers to whom all this would be merely a preliminary step. I have
heard it gravely suggested, or rather vehemently suggested, that things
will not be right in this world until all the inequalities due to
education and variations of brain power are also wiped out. This would
give us equality with a vengeance: the kind of blessed equality we have
in the stable at home, where the cattle are all chained so that the
energetic red cow cannot get more than her share of the food. The simple
fact is that in the new world social theories are being reduced to an
absurdity, even before being applied. This is the land of violent
contrasts, and the programme I laid out for myself has enabled me to see
some of these contrasts at their sharpest. I have made it a point to
hunt up friends of my youth who have either grown up with the country or
have gone down under its progress. In one city on the Canadian prairies
I found a friend so prosperous that he was living in the almost
sybaritic luxury of a great hotel of the kind that show how railroading
pays in Canada. Another friend was "down and out" in the same city, and
lending an attentive ear to the wildest kind of propaganda. Being an old
friend, the rich man poured forth the story of his prosperity and his
wrath against those who are hampering capital and threatening to put an
end to progress. Moved by the same bond of sacred friendship, the poor
man told of the greed and rapacity of which he had been the victim. The
poor man had lacked what another friend called "the monetary clutch,"
and while he had seen wealth all about him, had been unable either "to
have or to hold." How would it be possible for any one to hold the
scales between these two men? I didn't try. I passed on to another city,
where the same condition developed in another way. An old friend took me
to his club, where I enjoyed luncheon with a number of men who were
prosperous and satisfied. A few hours later I accidentally found myself
at a gathering of city employees who were preparing for a strike. They
advocated direct action with guns. "Why not?" they asked. "The
Governments of the world are settling their differences with guns and
high explosives and why shouldn't the down-trodden use the same method?"

It is almost certain that the social problems pressing for settlement
will be settled here first. In one of the old lands a poet wrote:

    "Lazarus sits as he sat through history,
      Through pride of heroes and pomp of kings,
    At the rich man's gate, the eternal mystery,
      Receiving his evil things."

In that land I have seen the people of place and power pass through the
streets entirely indifferent to the misery by which they were
surrounded, while those who were in misery were so accustomed to that
condition that they looked at their oppressors with dull apathy. Here it
is different; this is a new country. Dives and Lazarus are both here,
but they have known one another all their lives. They were brought up in
the same town and played with the same pup. Lazarus received the same
public school education as Dives, and perhaps beat him in his classes.
He is lacking in respect for him, and if there is any way by which he
can force a showdown while Dives is here--before he is in torment--he is
going to force it.

But no matter what changes may be adopted, whether revolutionary or
reactionary, there is an irreducible minimum of work that must be done.
The world must be fed and clothed.

Noticing that much is made of providing milk for children and invalids
whenever a general strike is in progress, it seemed worth while to see
how the best thinkers propose to deal with the matter in the new world
they propose to give us. Remembering that a college president to whom I
had mentioned the matter had given me Prince Kropotkin's "Conquest of
Bread," I turned to it for information regarding the subject of milk. As
might be expected he deals with it in the vague way of people who have
no personal knowledge of cows. Just because wheat can be produced by
spurts of labor at the proper seasons and requires no care while growing
and maturing, he apparently assumed that the milk supply could be
secured in the same way. Dealing with the provisioning of the city of
Paris under the anarchistic Commune, he sums up the whole matter as

"A population of three and a half million must have at least 1,200,000
adult men and as many women capable of work. Well, then, to give bread
and meat to all, it would need seventeen and a half days a year per man.
Add three million work-days, or double that number if you like, in order
to obtain milk. That will make twenty-five work-days of five hours in
all--nothing more than a little pleasurable country exercise--to obtain
the three principal products: bread, meat, and milk, the three products
which, after housing, cause daily anxiety to nine tenths of mankind. And
yet--let us not tire of repeating--these are not fancy dreams."

One night before leaving home, I had to milk the cows, owing to an
impending ball game, and while attending to this chore I fell to
thinking of the milk supply under Communistic or Soviet rule. These poor
people overlook the fact that the cows must be milked every day and
twice a day. Under the five-hour-a-day rule the milkers would be
different every morning and evening, and if the necessary twenty-five
days of work were distributed over the year, it is probable that the
milkers would be changed every few days. Any dairyman will tell you that
with such treatment the cows would probably go dry in a few weeks. Even
if they didn't object to the frequent change of the milkers, their flow
of milk would be greatly diminished, as they are not fond of strangers
fussing with them. The truth of this was brought home to me by the fact
that the red cow kicked at me when I sat down beside her and came to
rest with her foot firmly planted on my big toe. If that happened to me,
what would have happened to some one taking "a little pleasurable
country exercise." But perhaps Prince Kropotkin had in mind some strain
of cow that I have not yet heard of. He must know of some kind of cow
that will give up her year's production of milk in a pleasurable round
of five-hour milkings. Yet it is on the teachings of such men that the
workers of the world depend for plans to right their wrongs and make
the world an ideal place to live in. That the condition of the workers
should be improved every thinking man must admit, but they will find
experience more helpful than the theories of dreamers. Their present
plans not only assume that human nature can be changed by a revolution,
but that cow nature can also be changed.



Isn't it about time we had an "Old Home Week" for ideas? For the past
few years our thoughts, quite naturally and rightly, have been abroad,
and we have been grappling with world problems because they were more
vital to us than the problems of our every day lives. But a time has
come when we can safely come back to our individual interests.

Just now I am inclined to sympathize with the plain citizen who recently
found himself obliged to spend an evening with a number of high-thinking
friends who were having an improving conversation about world affairs.
While the high talk was in progress the plain man was examining his
rough and toil-gnarled hands, and he took advantage of a lull in the
conversation to ask:

"Can any of you fellows give me a real and sure cure for warts?"

It was a dreadful anticlimax, but it expressed a feeling of weariness
with great things that is becoming very common. We are in need of a
mental rest. As Bill Nye phrased it, we are in danger of "spraining our
thinkers" by grappling with things that are beyond our grasp. Every
morning the papers have articles about such subjects as "A League of
Nations to enforce World Peace," and so on, and so on. In order to deal
with such things intelligently we must think for the planet. A country
or an empire is no longer big enough for us. Every scheme for the good
of humanity is a world scheme, and the world must be organized to fit
it. No wonder the plain man loses his grip on it all and begins to think
about his warts.

The curse of the present time is organization. Our civilization has
woven about itself a web of organizations that will destroy it as
certainly as the poisoned shirt of Nessus destroyed Hercules. It is
organization that makes Business Success possible, and it is under the
exactions of Business Success that the whole world is writhing. Much, if
not all, of the present-day unrest can be traced back to organized
greed--either to the greed of capitalists or the greed of classes. By
organizing they get power, and when they get power they abuse it to
gratify their own selfishness. The trouble is not due to the principle
of organization, but to the fact that we have allowed organization to
degenerate into conspiracy. And conspiracy would not be possible without
secrecy. If every organization formed under the protection of that one
big organization, the Government, of which we are all a part, were
subjected to a publicity as pitiless as the Day of Judgment, we would
have no cases of three hundred and ten per cent and over. And I can see
no sound reason why the workings of business and the operations of
capital generally should not be subject to the closest public scrutiny.
The Government is forced to do business in public, under the constant
criticism of a hostile Opposition, and yet it manages to get along. Even
kings and presidents live in the white light that beats upon a throne,
and every act that affects the welfare of citizens is open to
examination. But the Kings of Industry and all the operations of Big
Business must be shrouded in darkness and mystery. Nonsense! Honest
business can bear the light of day just as well as honest government.
Our Captains of Industry all claim to be serving the public. That is the
excuse for the privileges they demand. Then why not let us see how they
are serving it? Is it that they are too modest? I am afraid their
modesty is much like that of Artemus Ward's noble Red Man who stole a
blanket and a bottle of whiskey and then rushed whooping to the
wilderness to conceal his emotion. Our Kings of Big Business are very
anxious to conceal their emotion--and other things. It is true that they
do a great service in building up our countries; but the difficulty is
that they want the title to all the buildings in their own names.

It doesn't seem to be quite right to be talking about organizations and
big organizers this way. I know that a great many people will be
offended because they are quite sure they will never get to heaven
unless they are organized and belong to exactly the right organization.
Nevertheless and notwithstanding, I repeat the assertion that
organization is the curse of our time--though it should be a blessing.
All organization that is secret in its operations is a menace to the
welfare of the people and should have the light turned in on it. It is
in secrecy that abnormal profits are piled up. If a cheese factory can
be run with the fullest publicity and yet make a decent success, I fail
to see why a cloth factory or shoe factory should not be run on the same
basis. We are allowing ourselves to be bluffed by the leaders of Big
Business and we should be ashamed of ourselves. Few of the men we are
cringing before have any real ability. They employ it. All they have is
a ruthless greed, and as ninety per cent fail it is probable that most
of the ten per cent who succeed owe their success to luck. Turn in the
light on the whole lot! We can then do honor to those who are conducting
a fair business and rendering service for the rewards they are
taking--and we can attend to the others. Implacable publicity would
probably do more to correct the high cost of living than anything else.
And no organization should be allowed to exist without the fullest
publicity regarding all its actions.

Before the outbreak of the war, Judge Brandeis, of the United States
Superior Court, wrote a paper about "The Curse of Bigness," which I
would like to re-read just now if I could only remember who borrowed it
from me. It is rather amusing to remember that he was dealing with
trifling little matters such as the Standard Oil Company, railroad
mergers, industrial corporations, trusts, and such things. Compared with
the schemes that are in the air to-day they were like nursery games.
Yet he argued with much logic that when organizations get beyond a
certain size they become inefficient and wasteful. Instead of serving
the purpose for which they were organized they stifle progress and
development. Big organizations do not encourage new ideas as little ones
do. Being beyond competition, they become sluggish and reactionary. I
cannot help wondering if we shall not have the same difficulty with the
big schemes that are being promoted just now. After all they will have
to be run by human beings, and there is a limit to human powers. Judge
Brandeis showed that business schemes could become too big for even the
colossal business brain of J. Pierpont Morgan, and it is just possible
that there may be schemes of statecraft too big for the brains of Lloyd
George and Mr. Wilson and the others who are grappling with them. And
the trouble is that we are all grappling with them and overlooking the
fact that the biggest achievement possible to democracy is to give
every individual freedom to direct his own affairs. At the present time
people have altogether too many ideas about fixing up the world, and too
few ideas about the homely tasks of ordinary citizenship. Let us call in
our far-reaching thoughts and see what we can find to do right at home.
If all of us would do that, the need for world-shaping schemes would
probably disappear.

I am afraid there is another check on big schemes that is being
overlooked. Even before the war Captains of Industry were finding it
hard to get men for their higher command. Only the other day I read an
article which bemoaned the lack of men capable of filling five thousand
and ten thousand dollar a year jobs. It was asserted that jobs of this
kind are going begging because men of the right capacity cannot be
found. There are too many men who are fitted for ordinary routine jobs,
but only now and then is it possible to find men fitted for big
executive jobs. When the work of reconstruction is undertaken in
earnest, it will probably be found that the dearth of the right kind of
men is greater than ever. The war called for just this kind of men and
they have been destroyed by the thousand. Even those who had it in them
to do great executive work, and were not fated to lay down their lives
in the cause of humanity, have had their energies turned into other
channels, and it is possible that many of them will not be able to
resume work where they left off. The best brains of the rising
generation have been diverted by the war, and the supply of competent
executives is likely to prove smaller than ever, just at the time when
schemes are developing that will require them more than ever. It is easy
enough to find dreamers who can think out schemes for the benefit of
humanity, but it is very hard to find men with the necessary executive
ability to put them into force. It is quite possible that we must give
up some of our finest dreams for the lack of the right kind of men to
carry them out. Humanity's losses in material wealth and man-power may
be estimated, but its loss in mental and spiritual force is beyond
computation. In the meantime the big ideas are being pushed forward, but
we must not be too much disappointed if we are forced to return to a
"day of little things"--which we are told is not to be despised.

Organizations, no doubt, have their value, but when overdone their
effect is more than questionable. At the present time individual
initiative, which is probably the greatest force for good in our
civilization, is being benumbed and stifled by the mad passion for
organization. In the matter of food production we constantly get news
about this and that great organization that is arranging to investigate
and take action, and the ordinary man gets an entirely wrong idea into
his head. He thinks that with all the Government committees and
commissions and public-spirited organizations at work, it is entirely
needless for him to undertake the little he might be able to do by his
own efforts. This is a serious misconception; many great movements are
started that are "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." While
organized effort, properly directed, will undoubtedly accomplish great
things, individual initiative has been the foundation of practically
every success our country has known. This tendency to flock together
into organizations whenever there is anything to be done is not an
entirely healthful sign. Some recent experiences have led me to mourn
the disappearance of an effective though somewhat undesirable type of
citizen known in the past. In trying to define the kind of man I am
thinking of, I remember a report of a scene in the police court in New
York some years ago. A lawyer was examining the badly battered

"What did the defendant say to you on that occasion?"

"He said he would knock my head off."

"And what else?"

"He said he would mop the floor with me."

"And what else?"

"Er--also he done it."

There would be a great deal of progress in this world if it could be
said after the plans suggested by each man--"also he done it." The
trouble just now is that we all organize and nobody gets his head
knocked off and the floor doesn't get mopped up.



In Philadelphia, while being entertained by a friend, I met a ward
leader of the new world that is to be. When I heard the familiar title
"ward leader," memory cut back on the film a picture of my old friend
"Biff" McGuire, ward leader for Tammany Hall. "Biff" held sway in a
tough district, and in the words of Spencer he was "in a state of
correspondence with his environment." Leaning against the end of the bar
with his back against the wall to fend off a possible felon stroke, his
pose was one of studied carelessness. One foot rested lightly on the
footrail and at his elbow there was a bottle of his "Private Stock." In
spite of his care-free attitude, his uneasy eye, even when he was
absorbed in conversation, noticed every one who passed through the
swinging doors. He did not nod acquaintanceship to all, but those whom
he favored were more stimulated than they were by the ministrations of
the white-coated bartender. From his corner he dispensed the high, low,
and middle justice, bought drinks for his dependents and accepted drinks
from men "higher up" who dropped in to consult with him. Altogether he
was a heroic if sinister figure, much railed at by the better element. A
philanthropist in his evil way he was the sole protector of those who
were "fobbed with the rusty curb of old Father antic, the law," and of
those whose misfortunes had submerged them beyond the care of decent
society. He shielded them under his grimy ægis--in return for votes and
other obscure political service. In his rough way he dispensed the only
charity that these unfortunates knew, and at all times bore himself as
one conscious of his power in shaping the destinies and controlling the
affairs of one of the greatest cities of modern civilization. With the
picture of "Biff" McGuire in the back of my head, I met the new "ward
leader," a gentle and cultured woman, luminous with the fire of public
spirit. She held office in the Philadelphia League of Women Citizens,
which has been organized according to the best traditions of the old
political machines. To give some idea of the scope and purpose of this
Woman's Movement, I shall quote briefly from a folder which she offered
for my enlightenment.

      THE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS is a national organization of
      women who wish not merely to vote, but to use their votes to the
      best advantage.

      THE ORGANIZATION HAS TWO PURPOSES--To foster education in
      citizenship and to support improved legislation.

      The National League is composed of State Leagues.

      The PROGRAMME is educational and legislative, i.e., to get behind
      needed reforms, to urge their support and adoption in the
      platforms of the political parties, and their enactment into laws.

      The SLOGAN of the League is "Enroll in the Political Parties." It
      is organized to do legislative work in order to promote its

      League of Women Voters hopes to accomplish its purpose in two
      ways: first, by education, as to national and state human needs;
      second, by the direct influence of its own members who are
      enrolled voters in the already existing political parties. It is
      not partisan. It will not support or attack national candidates or
      national parties. To quote from the Constitution, "The National
      League of Women Voters urges every woman to become an enrolled
      voter, but as an organization it shall be allied with and support
      no party."

These be "prave words," but while I listened to her eager exposition of
all the good that the League hopes to accomplish, memory played me
another scurvy trick. I remembered the one hour of mirth I enjoyed in
Ottawa during the Canadian Federal campaign of 1917. A wild-eyed man
from Montreal had rushed up to me in the office where I had a temporary
desk. Gesticulating furiously he poured out a terrible tale of what was
happening in Montreal. In the slum districts all the police court
habitues were registered as "sisters of soldiers." In that election only
such women as were the sisters, wives, mothers, or daughters of soldiers
were entitled to vote. According to my passionate informant the election
in the riding in which he was working would be controlled by the corrupt
vote of these unfortunates. Under the conditions that prevailed in that
election I knew it would be impossible to do anything, and when he
brought down his fist on a desk and thundered, almost in the words of
some forgotten poet,

    "These are the deeds that are done in Montreal!"

I was moved to great laughter. I could not help thinking of a woman
friend who had been telling me how the women voters would purify
politics. She had even introduced me to Mrs. Pankhurst so that I might
get the gospel of feminism from the lips of its prophetess.

How the women are going to handle this submerged vote is a problem that
I have not seen discussed. Are we to have female counterparts of "Biff"
McGuire to herd these voters to the polls?

It seemed strange, and perhaps portentous, that I should have my first
contact with the women voters of the United States in Philadelphia,
where political methods "make the judicious grieve." What they will do
can only be known after their votes have been cast. And if race hatred
and narrow nationalism are to play an important part in the coming
campaign, it will be interesting to see if they can be swayed by the
emotional appeals that are certain to be made. Women are said to be more
emotional than men, and it is not likely that the experts of scientific
politics will overlook the work that may be done by the "sob-sisters." I
have in mind some wonderful "sob-sister" stuff that was used in the last
Canadian election. I have always suspected that it was written by a
hardened male campaign writer--but that is of no importance. What is
important is that the "psychology" of woman is to have a part in the
already complex problem of politics. It seems unkind to doubt that the
woman will play a noble and beneficent part in the politics of the
future, but I have some glimmerings of the methods that politicians may
use to defeat them, and, to lapse into parody:

    "I walked the city streets to-day
    With the sombre ghost of Matthew Quay."

The best hope is that the swift intuition of women will enable them to
see more quickly than men that the salvation of the democracies does not
lie in political activity, but in the way in which every citizen attends
to the little commonplace things of everyday life.



A point has been reached where I feel that I must write a chapter on
psychology in relation to present-day affairs. Not that I know anything
about it! Heaven forbid! But ever since leaving home I have been hearing
about the psychology of this and that until the conviction has grown
that an account of this dip into the world will not be complete without
a chapter on the latest and most popular of our sciences. And it is not
personal psychology that must be dealt with. It is mob-psychology--the
most elusive of all subjects--that must be passed under review.

But there is no escape. The thing has been meeting me everywhere. In
Toronto a hotel proprietor spoke lightly of the need of understanding
the psychology of female help if one is to have good dining-room
service. That centered my attention.

In Boston I had luncheon with a man who has made psychology his
life-study and is widely known as an authority on the subject. We talked
psychology, personal and general, for two blessed hours, and I was so
much interested that I almost missed an appointment. I kept the
appointment, however, and found that I had arrived "at the
psychological" moment.

In New York a movie magnate talked about the psychology of people who
patronize grand opera.

At an art auction-room I heard about the peculiar psychology of
collectors of art objects, rare books, and _et cetera_, and of the need
of understanding it if one is to deal with them successfully.

Presently I met a dealer in high-class stationery who was almost in
despair through need of a phrase that may be used instead of "_de
luxe_"--which is now outworn through too much use, though it was once
"an excellent good word before it was ill-sorted." His urgent need was
for a word or phrase that would "appeal to the psychology of women." As
words are the commodity in which I deal he appealed to me for help.
Apparently he had sized up my psychology properly, for I appreciated the
compliment and racked my memory for something suitable. Finally I
remembered a descriptive phrase that I had noticed in a catalogue while
looking at the hangings and furniture of the Kaiser's throne-room, that
were offered for sale while I was in New York. It was a melodious phrase
that appealed richly to three out of the five senses. When he heard it
he thanked me profusely and hurried away to have it patented as a trade

While a collector of Japanese prints was showing me his treasures we
discussed Oriental psychology.

There is no doubt of it. If I am to make these hasty pages, even in a
small way, a "mirror of the Passing World," I must grapple with

Psychology met me at every turn. Bellboys and Pullman porters who
understood the psychology of the travelling public knew that a few
ineffective passes with a whiskbroom would make us part with our small
change. Restaurant waiters who were masters of psychology knew that
showing an interest in the food they served and asking if it was
entirely suited to our taste made tips imperative--no matter what our
convictions and good resolutions on the subject might be.

There is no doubt of it. "Psychology" is now the master word of the
world, and as mankind has at all times groaned under the tyranny of
words and phrases the matter must be looked into. We have the historic
example of "divine right" which tyrannized over the world for many
centuries. But let us deal with those words that have influenced our own
lives. First we were made to step lively (itself a modern phrase of much
potency) by "the strenuous life." Then by a natural reaction we tried to
recuperate with "the simple life" and "the rest cure." After that we
had a period when "efficiency" hurried the joy out of life. Then came
"propagandas" that were designed to enslave the world to all kinds of
far-reaching schemes. Now we are up to the neck in "psychology."

The above instances are recorded merely to show the need of dealing with
the question if I am to be right up to the minute. And I know
practically nothing about it. Why, oh, why, didn't I read Le Bon more
carefully, instead of treating his huge volumes as a new and amusing
kind of fiction? Still I can remember a little.

The laws governing mob-psychology have been crystallized in the formula,
"affirmation, repetition, authority, contagion." Affirm a thing strongly
enough, repeat it often enough, have it thundered forth with authority,
and finally a contagion of conviction will sweep the multitude. It might
be shown that every leader and master of men from Moses to Lloyd George
was a master of mob-psychology--for it is a curious fact that history
always lends itself to interpretation by the theory that is popular at
any given time. And contemporary life also invariably lends itself to
the same treatment. Let us take a humble instance.

The successful promotion of a patent medicine follows exactly the best
methods of mob-psychology.

The merits of the nostrum are affirmed strongly in advertisements of all
kinds from the daily press to the bill-boards and scenic monstrosities.
These affirmations are repeated everywhere and at all times. Then we
have authoritative testimonials showing the before and after conditions
of men and women eminent in all walks of life. Presently a swift
contagion sweeps the crowd and we all begin taking "Pale Pills for
Peculiar People" or "Dope Drops for Disgruntled Digestions." And the
shrewd promoter of the nostrum acquires a great fortune, goes into
society, and, if he lives in a country where titles prevail, buys a
title by one of the many devious methods of securing such honors.

Certainly it is clear that humanity is at present prostrate before those
who are masters of mob-psychology, either through learning or by

And yet it is only a few years since the majority of us knew no more
about psychology than the Long Island fisherman who was beating his way
against the wind to a favorite place for bluefish. A hasty motor launch
passed him and he spelled out the name on the bow.

"P-s-y-c-h-e," he spelled. Then he spat into the brine and exclaimed

"Well, if that isn't the doggondest way to spell fish I ever seen!"

If that fisherman is still alive he probably claims to understand the
psychology of bluefish and chooses with scientific exactness the right
kind of bait to use in dumming for them.

    "Surely this is not the sun-bright
      Psyche, hoar with years and hurled
    From the Northern shore of Lethe
      On this wan auroral world."

All of which goes to prove that the world is now passing through a
psychological phase--though it is infinitely more in need of potatoes
than of psychology. "We that have good wits have much to answer for" if
we do not correct this folly. But of course we must go about it in a
proper psychological way. We must affirm the world-healing quality of
potatoes, repeat it on all occasions in season and out, have our
campaign endorsed by men of power and authority--and then perhaps
everybody will be infected by a longing for potatoes and will see the
need of planting and hoeing the potatoes themselves. If they will have
psychology let them have a surfeit of it--and then perhaps they will get
back to the simple, everyday things of life that alone are of



Another Master Word that needs to be investigated is Loyalty. To say
that a man is disloyal is to make him an outlaw. But what is Loyalty? It
is certainly time that we knew. During the Great War there was a
confusion of loyalties that has not yet been cleared away. Most of us
have been overworked on the score of loyalty.

Personally I have been harangued to show unquestioning loyalty to:

     The Empire.
     The Allies.
     The Protestant Religion.
     A political party.
     A corporation.
     My personal friends.

No doubt there were other loyalties that were urged on my attention,
but the list given is sufficient. And all these loyalties conflicted at
one time or another during the turmoil of the war. Though I tried, with
all the earnestness of a soul face to face with the world's greatest
crisis, to do the loyal things at all times, I have been accused
bitterly at different times of having been disloyal to one or another of
the great causes that demanded my support. But as this happened only
while I was being loyal to one or another of them, my conscience is not
troubling me. I am merely confused. No one could possibly be loyal to
all of them at all times. Out in Vancouver I read in the papers that
they were teaching the school-children to sing a patriotic song of which
I remember these two lines:

    "We love the land where we were born
      But we love the Empire more."

As the Empire is still a somewhat undefined aggregation of conflicting
interests I cannot help wondering how those children may act in some
crisis of the future. Suppose the Imperial interests at some time
became centred in Africa or India, would a Canadian be supposed to be
more loyal to Africa or India than to Canada?

In the days when kings were absolute the matter of loyalty was quite
simple. Unless one showed unquestioning fidelity to the king he might
expect to hear the curt sentence:

"Off with his head!"

But now the people are supreme in all countries of importance, even
though the institution of monarchy may be continued and properly
venerated. In England, for instance, where monarchy is more firmly
established than in most countries, loyalty is defined to the
satisfaction of all good subjects in this popular quotation from Junius:

"The subject who is truly loyal to the chief Magistrate will neither
advise nor submit to arbitrary measures."

This attitude is reflected in the phrase "His Majesty's Loyal
Opposition." It is conceded that a member of Parliament who honestly
opposes Government measures is just as loyal to his king and country as
one who supports the Government measures. The important attitude of his
loyalty is honesty. If that is conceded, his loyalty is rated as high as
that of any man.

During the war this kind of loyalty was largely in abeyance. To oppose
the Government of the day even in its most appalling mistakes was
regarded as disloyal. And apparently there are many representatives of
the people who found that this simplified the business of government and
would like to continue it. But governments in all countries achieved so
much unpopularity during the war that this reactionary point of view is
not likely to prevail.

At the present time one hears it said frequently that steps must be
taken to educate people in true loyalty. This being the case it becomes
necessary to know just what loyalty is. In a letter to a group of Boy
Scouts Sir Robert Baden-Powell gave an explanation that is helpful.
Taking the case of a football player who had kicked a goal as an
example, Sir Robert wrote:

     He gets the applause, just because he had the luck to be in his
     place to put the ball through, when the whole team had had the work
     of getting it to him by hard and unselfish work in passing it on.
     They all deserved the applause.

     Well, that is how we get on and are successful anywhere, not by
     one fellow trying to win glory and prizes for himself, but by
     everybody bucking up and playing his best so that his side shall
     win. Do this for your patrol, do it for your troop, do it for your
     factory or business, do it for your country. If you stick to that
     you will be a true Scout--one who plays for his side and not for

An analysis of this message from the man who has perhaps done more than
any other to educate the future generation to loyalty shows that in his
opinion loyalty is a high order of unselfishness.

This is excellent, but it makes it more than ever needful for us to be
careful that this admirable unselfishness is not betrayed. Though
loyalty sometimes appears to be the only necessary virtue, it may be
abused to the point where it becomes a vice. Loyalty without
intelligence may degrade a man to the level of a beast.

Take the dog, for instance. Loyalty is his most outstanding virtue. He
may be useless in every other way, but he will be loyal to his master.
Unfortunately he is just as likely to be loyal to Bill Sykes as to the
finest man in the community. And if Bill Sykes wants to do it he can
"sick" his dog on the finest man in the community or on any one in the
community and the loyal dog will obey.

Dog loyalty of this kind is just what leaders and rulers of a certain
type are always clamoring for. If they can get a sufficient following of
dog-loyal people, they can grasp power and loot the treasury or do
anything else they wish. By "sicking" dog-loyal people against other
nations crafty leaders can win elections, raise tariffs, and provoke

In a democracy dog loyalty is perhaps the greatest enemy of progress
and good government. Consequently it is very necessary for us to examine
all loyalty cries and loyalty propaganda with great care. We should see
to it that the loyalty demanded is of a kind that a self-respecting man
may cherish and not a dog loyalty that will make him a tool of noisy and
selfish leaders. Loyalty is the most generous of human emotions--the
basic virtue of the Christian, the lover, the friend, the patriot. But
just because the loyal-hearted man is so generous and unselfish he is
constantly being preyed upon by the designing and the selfish. It was by
educating the loyalty of a submissive people to one selfish end that the
rulers of Germany built an empire that became a menace to the world.
Loyalty is a force that builds nations, but it can also hurry them to
destruction. If the world is to become truly democratic we must learn
that loyalty to the State means loyalty to ourselves. If we are to
realize Lincoln's democracy--"government of the people, for the people,
by the people"--we must at all times guard it with Shakespeare's

        "To thine own self be true
    And it must follow as the night the day
    Thou canst not then be false to any man."



One morning I rode down Broadway on a cable car and whiled away the time
by reading the names on the business signs and windows. This led me to
meditate on the evident failure of the Zionist movement as far as New
York is concerned--but that is neither here nor there.

My meditations were presently interrupted by the man who sat next to me.
He was visibly and audibly shivering. It was a cool morning in May, but
I felt comfortable. At last he blurted:

"Say, I didn't expect to run into any weather like this. When I left
Texas five days ago it was 105 in the shade."

He was evidently dressed for that temperature. While sympathizing with
him, I admitted that I was from Canada and accustomed to cooler
weather, besides being provided with heavier clothing. The reference to
Canada started him going, and all I had to do was to sit back and
listen. His people had gone from Canada to Texas. He had many relatives
in the neighborhood of Montreal. He was of Irish descent. He had no
sooner mentioned this fact than he began to express his hatred for
England. Take her treatment of Canada in the war, for instance. She had
used the Canadian army for the worst fighting and had saved her own
troops. I hastened to assure him that his view was not in accordance
with the facts and did not represent Canadian opinion. He listened
incredulously, and fearing that I might stop his flow of opinion I did
not make serious attempts to set him right. It was my business to find
out what men of his type were saying and thinking, so I encouraged him
to go on. And he went on. As I listened, my wonder grew at the
thoroughness with which modern propagandas are carried on. This man from
Texas--from thousands of miles away--had exactly the same kind of
misinformation that I had heard whispered in Canada while the war was in
progress. England--he always said England instead of Britain--had made
no sacrifices compared with those demanded of her colonies. He expressed
the deepest admiration for Canada--for the heroism of her soldiers and
her spirit of self-sacrifice; and having done that he felt quite free to
abuse the British Empire and especially England.

As this shows a lack of understanding of Canada's relations to the
Empire that I had already noticed in other Americans, I shall deal with
it briefly. It is as if a man who was on friendly terms with one member
of a family felt himself at liberty to hate all the other members and
especially the parents. There seems to be a need of a propaganda to let
our American friends know that while Canadians are justly proud of their
own country, they are also proud of the Empire to which they belong and
have a filial feeling for the countries from which they have been
derived. Through a natural evolution Canada has already achieved that
form of loyalty without which A League of Nations will be useless.
Canadians are loyal to their own land and to the group of developing
nations comprised in the Empire. I know there are Canadians who call
this a divided loyalty and regard it as impracticable. If this view is
sound, then there is no future for the League of Nations, for a League
that cannot command loyalty cannot endure. Unless we can develop
loyalties beyond the borders of our own country, all efforts to abate
the horrors of war are bound to be futile. In developing a loyalty that
extends beyond the borders of their own country to the bounds of Empire,
the Canadians are giving a leadership that the world needs. They have
set their feet on the only path that leads to better things for
humanity. And they have done this by a natural evolution rather than in
obedience to the recently enunciated principles of A League of Nations.
It is true that important changes in her relationship to the Empire
will be needed before Canada can claim complete nationhood, but when
they have been effected by gradual evolution, her loyalty to the Empire
will be strengthened rather than weakened.

Just how Canada can aspire to nationhood, while continuing to be a part
of the British Empire is a matter that causes confusion both at home and
abroad. This is because of an imperfect understanding of the evolution
of the British Empire. Critics of this relationship are led into error
through clinging to the old meaning of the word "empire." They assume
that it is used as when applied to the Roman Empire and the great
empires of the past. In these the power was centralized in one supreme
government. In the British Empire a new relationship has been evolving.
Power is being decentralized. Each of the Great Dominions is practically
self-governing while continuing to be a part of the British Empire.
There are still some matters to be adjusted regarding the
decentralization of authority, but the whole tendency is toward the
development of a league of British nations, each self-governing, but
loosely held together in a family alliance. British statesmen have
discovered, or have had it forced on their attention, that the ties of
mutual trust are stronger than the centralized power of the old empires.
They have found that the handclasp is stronger than the handcuff. The
bonds of faith and friendship bind the Empire together in the face of
danger more securely than any bonds ever devised by Imperial power.
Canada's position in the British Empire cannot be better expressed than
in the words of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier, spoken shortly after the
outbreak of the Great War:

     We are a free people, absolutely free. The charter under which we
     live has put it in our power to say whether we should take part in
     such a war or not. It is for the Canadian people, the Canadian
     Parliament, and the Canadian Government alone to decide. This
     freedom is at once the glory and honor of Britain, which granted
     it, and of Canada, which used it to assist Britain. Freedom is the
     keynote of all British institutions. There is no compulsion upon
     those dependencies of Great Britain which have reached the stature
     of Dominions, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,
     and such Crown Dependencies as India. They are all free to take
     part or not as they think best. That is the British freedom which,
     much to the surprise of the world, and greatly to the dismay of the
     German Emperor, German professors, and German diplomats, caused the
     rush from all parts of the British Empire to assist the Mother
     Country in this stupendous struggle. Freedom breeds loyalty.
     Coercion always was the mother of rebellion.

At the present time the British Empire is really an evolving League of
Nations--perhaps the only one the world will see for some time.

If a league of free British nations, with the same language, laws, and
traditions, cannot work together in harmony, it is folly to hope that
the diverse nationalities of the greater League can work together
harmoniously. In working out the proper relationship among themselves
the nations of the British Empire can set an example to the world that
will be of more value than anything they can achieve by force of arms or
skill in diplomacy.

Of course I said nothing of this to the shivering Texan. He was really
more interested in heavy underwear than in national problems and was
talking largely to keep his mind off his physical discomfort. And
talking came easy, for there was little thought back of it. He was
merely repeating what he had heard or had read. His mind had taken color
from every propaganda with which it had come in contact. To what he had
heard from his parents about Ireland and England he had added what he
had learned in the public histories of the United States. Back of "The
Ancient Grudge" exposed by Mr. Owen Wister in his recent volume he had a
more ancient grudge. The Sinn Fein propaganda had found in him an eager

And yet he was a loyal American--so loyal that he did not need to
mention the fact. He revealed this loyalty by asking if there was a
ferry at the Battery that would take him to the Statue of Liberty.

The talk with the Texan gave me food for thought that will last me for a
long time. How are we to get a better feeling between the nations of the
world when we are all liable to have our opinions formed by histories
and propagandas. Perhaps the most hopeful feature of the Texan's
conversation was the frequent use of the remark, "If one can believe
anything he reads in the papers." It is possible that the demands made
on our credulity will defeat themselves. We may reach a point where we
will treat histories and political campaigns as sensible people have
learned to treat neighborhood gossip--as something on which one should
not base opinions. In their neighborly relations civilized communities
have got beyond the duel and the feud, and have learned to settle
differences by man-to-man discussion, arbitration, and the orderly
processes of law. It is asserted that the world is now a neighborhood
of nations, but we cannot have a neighborly world spirit until we make a
bonfire of our histories and close our eyes and ears to propagandas. We
are having altogether too much irresponsible world gossip, and if the
paper shortage develops into a real famine it may be the greatest
blessing that could happen.



One day I enjoyed luncheon with an old friend and we essayed a theme
hard as high. I doubt if what we talked about would be intelligible to
all readers, and I am none too sure that we understood ourselves, but as
there seems to be a public craving for such intellectual flights I shall
venture a brief digest of our talk.

But first a word about this friend. He is a finished product of an older
civilization than that of New York. Whenever I walk with him in what Mr.
Henry James carefully describes as "the Fifth Avenue," I feel as George
Warrington did when he walked with Pendennis: "I feel as if I had a
flower in my button-hole." His life moves entirely among the most
precious objects of art and literature, among masterpieces of sculpture,
painting, printing, book-binding, and what not. And withal he is very
much alive and in touch with the world in which we live. After this
introduction I shall let him rail at our wonderful civilization.

"Invention is the curse of the world. With our machinery and efficiency
we are speeded up so that life has been spoiled. I wonder who made the
first invention."

That led to a pretty discussion. After dealing with the subject back and
forth, we decided that the most guilty man the world had ever known was
the man who invented the first wheel--who discovered that something
round could be made to revolve. That discovery was the starting-point of
all our modern machinery and destructive speed. Take away the wheel and
the world would come to a standstill. I joined him in reviling that
far-off, long-ago inventor.

Then we followed the first wheel--was it perhaps a potter's wheel?--and
followed its deadly evolution. The oldest wheels recorded in art are the
wheels of chariots--war chariots, of course. There you see the earliest
tendency of the war spirit that culminated in our great war of
machinery. The warrior used the wheel to make a chariot to give him an
advantage over his enemies. The development of the wheel has been
involved with war from the chariot wheel to the whirling propellers of

This line of thought led us to realize that war is the great stimulator
of invention. Such inventions as the aeroplane were perfected more
completely in the four years of war than they would have been in
centuries of peace. We found that it would be easy to hold a brief for
war as the force that has been perfecting our civilizations of many
inventions. (Solomon said, "Man was born upright, but he has sought out
many inventions.")

But what does it profit us if the highest use we make of our inventions
is to increase our efficiency in battle? If we invent long enough and
cleverly enough, we may yet start a war in which we will destroy the
human race.

That awful possibility is the present preoccupation of scientific

We are told that the next advance of science may be the discovery of how
to release atomic energy. Molecular energy, brought under control
through the unstable equilibrium of certain artificial compounds, has
given us the gun, the cannon, the bomb, the mine, and all the other
infernal masterpieces of high explosives.

What would atomic energy give us?

Sir Oliver Lodge has told us that the amount of atomic energy in one
ounce of matter would be sufficient to raise the fleet that was anchored
in Scapa Flow to the top of the highest mountain in Scotland. Then what
would happen if we released the atomic energy in tons of matter? It is
certain that if man ever masters the secret he will go in for quantity
production of atomic energy. And what then?

To realize the dire possibilities of this thought we must digress and
approach it from a new angle.

Those of us who date our meagre scientific knowledge from reading done
in the last quarter of the past century had our imaginations fired by
the nebular hypothesis. I do not know whether it has current authority,
but it was a wonderful theory and will serve our purposes to-day. I
quite realize that if I am to avoid destructive scientific criticism, I
should consult some up-to-the-minute scientist and get my facts right,
but a care-free conversation between friends is not to be "cabined,
cribbed, confined" in that way. If I let the public overhear our talk I
shall expect them to listen with unquestioning courtesy. I have
purposely avoided asking the aid and leading of a scientist in this
matter because most of the scientists of my acquaintance live wholly
within three dimensions and have put a padlock on the third. But the
conversation of friends demands the freedom of a fourth dimension in
which our Space and Time are but points on the superfices of a
comprehended Infinity and Eternity. Now will you be good!

To return to the nebular hypothesis. According to it the planets were
flung from the whirling mass of the sun as it was in the process of
shrinking. Neptune was naturally the first to be thrown off and the
others followed in due order. Would it not be reasonable to suppose that
the oldest of the planets--the one that was first thrown off from the
sun and is farthest from it--would be the first to cool and become
habitable? But it is known that all the outer planets except Mars are in
a gaseous state. Is there any possible explanation of this curious state
of affairs--this apparent contradiction of logical results which gives
us the last planets solid and the earlier planets gaseous?

If the earlier planets cooled to solid form and developed life analogous
to ours, it is probable that they lived by war and invention. If these
forces developed as with us, it is probable that a day came on each of
the old planets when its puny inhabitants got control of atomic energy,
started a last war, and blew their planet back to its constituent
gases. Atomic energy is probably a force of the fourth dimension and if
released in three dimensions would have about the same effect as that of
a high-explosive shell passing through a piece of tissue paper and
exploding as it passed.

The destructive discovery progressed across the ecliptic until only four
planets are left in solid form. Mars may now be preparing for the last
proud war and we are on the verge of a culminating discovery of the
disruptive force of atomic energy. Unless something checks our rage for
discovery, and war is within reasonable possibility, the whole planetary
system may be blown back to chaos--and so fulfil Poe's amazing figure of
the alternation from Chaos to Order and from Order to Chaos as "the
systole and diastole of the heart of the Infinite."

After this exhausting flight my friend faced the High Cost of Living in
the form of the waiter's check, passed me a cigar that cost a dollar,
and in a humble taxi we joined the whirling civilization that speeds on
wheels along "the Fifth Avenue," and doubtless whiles away its idle time
in discussing the war and who won it.



One afternoon toward the end of my trip I made a mistake--for which I am
now duly thankful. Through weariness, or carelessness or over-confidence
or a human desire to talk frankly to somebody, I dropped my pose of the
Affable Stranger and freely admitted to an American whom I had engaged
in conversation that I was gathering material for a book. I also went as
far as to indicate the nature of my investigations. At once he assumed
an attitude of helpfulness. All that he knew about the subject of
international relations was at my disposal--and he knew a surprising lot
of things that were of no importance. You meet men of this kind wherever
new books are discussed--or any kind of human achievement. Parasitic
helpers attach themselves to every kind of work from farming to
statesmanship. In fact this characteristic must be universal, for Fabre
has a passage on it in his description of scarabs. When one of them
finds a treasure others help him in just that way. I am being explicit
on the point, for the theme of this chapter is modesty as it affects the
relations between countries. Being somewhat modest in my claims to
modesty I feel competent to discuss the matter with the necessary
intellectual aloofness.

"The trouble with Canadians," said the candid and helpful American, "is
that they are too cocky!"

That made me tingle to my last pin-feather, but fortunately I am of
Scotch ancestry and the obvious witty retort did not flash back
instantly. In fact I was rather dazed, but somewhere deep down in my
consciousness I felt the need of taking the criticism in a friendly
spirit, for if a man starts out to promote harmonious relations he must
not be quick to take offence. Not knowing what else to do I smiled
affably, which was quite in keeping with the rôle I was playing.
Evidently my smile had the proper blend of modesty and humble enquiry,
for my mentor at once fluffed up his feathers and proceeded:

"As a matter of fact we get along much better with the English than we
do with you."

That gave me a flash of insight. Evidently this man had never fathomed
the deep guile of much English modesty. The course for me to pursue was
clear. At once I became a shrinking violet. As a matter of fact there
have been times when I have wanted to knock a man down for being half as
modest as I must have looked at that moment. But the effect on the
American was all that the most Machiavellian subtlety could desire. It
would hardly have been surprising if wings had sprouted on his shoulders
and he had flapped them and crowed.

"The fact of the matter is that Canada is still a colony of Great
Britain and not a nation, and no amount of boasting or assertion to the
contrary will change the actual status."

Wholesome truth this, but not to be borne patiently were it not for the
rising tide of laughter within. Every moment the American was becoming
more and more cocky and exhibiting the very quality he was condemning in
Canadians. The temptation to egg him on was irresistible.

"Still," I ventured modestly, "it would be kind in Americans to overlook
this youthful folly of ours. At the present time there is a growing
bitterness between the two countries that may become serious unless a
great deal of wise tolerance is shown."

"Oh, it can't become serious. Perhaps it might a hundred years from now,
when Canada may have a population approaching ours, but just now--" And
he made a large "shoo fly!" gesture that dismissed the whole matter as
unworthy of consideration.

There was no question about it. I must go away from there or there would
be an explosion that would reduce my gravity to a total loss. And when
I finally got away from the flood of kindly candor that was sweeping
over me I got the finest thrill of all.

I had mastered the art of that exasperating English modesty that had
always been my despair! This was more than an intellectual triumph! It
was balm to a bruised and wounded spirit!

One time in my salad days two London club-men entertained me kindly and
provoked me to entertain them. By making the customary modest
deprecatory remarks about Great Britain, they induced me to unbosom
myself with honest candor. After two months at the seat of the Empire I
felt competent to tell them many things that were amiss. And being a
native-born Canadian I was able to astonish them (my word!) with my
accounts of the resources and possibilities of Canada. Almost twenty
years later I admit freely that most of my criticisms and boasts have
been proven true, but that is not the point. The point is that those two
Englishmen got me to turn myself inside out for their amusement, but it
was not until I had suffered several more experiences with English
modesty that the truth dawned on me with humiliating force. Knowing how
they must have chuckled over my expansiveness afterwards, I used to
writhe every time I thought of it. Sometimes in the stillness of the
night I would remember the incident and be tempted to jump from bed,
dress, hunt up those Englishmen, and beat them with a coarse colonial
directness. But now the hurt is healed. Having had that American at my
mercy--as the chauffeur of the borrowed car would say, "I owned him for
a few minutes"--I felt a new sense of power in expressing national
egotism and meeting it. Come to think of it, Canada must have a national
status or I could not have achieved it--but let that pass. Ever since
meeting the charge of national "cockiness" with modesty, I have been in
the mood to wave my hand at those two Englishmen through the mists of
memory and confess a bond of Imperial brotherhood. I have proven that
on occasion I can be as modest as they are.

But pshaw! what am I doing? I am boasting about my modesty! That is the
trouble with even the most excellent virtues! They must be practised in
moderation. True modesty is the crowning grace of high achievement. But
conscious modesty is an offence to all who are forced to endure it.

However, there is a test of modesty which may be worth having in mind.
When the rewards of achievement are within reach, if you find the modest
person shrinking in the limelight and taking everything he can lay his
hands on, you may appraise his modesty at its true worth.

All who feel that their withers have been wrung by this chapter are at
liberty to think this out in its varied implications and apply it as
they choose.



Before leaving home I had a conference with my own private Mahatma.

"What is the greatest need of the world to-day?" I asked.


"You mean--?"

"Sunshine. Just the ordinary, everyday sunshine that you can get at this
blessed minute on the south side of the straw-stack. Not moral or
spiritual or intellectual sunshine, but the kind that is making the hens
cackle--just listen to them--the kind that the red cow over there is
soaking into her skin. Just let the brand of sunshine that is spilling
over the world to-day work its way into your system and you will forget
all your troubles. Get into the sunshine and keep there."

That was an unusually long speech for my Mahatma--proof that he was
very much in earnest. To the ordinary, unilluminated eye he was simply a
farmer--"a goodly, portly man i' faith, and a corpulent." It was just
for these qualities that I chose him as my Mahatma. At the present time
everybody who can afford a ouija-board--or is worth fleecing by a
medium--is trying to get in touch with the next world. All sorts of
fakirs with unhealthy complexions are reaping a harvest from the
credulous. But the passion of my life is to get in touch with this
world--with the dreary, wonderful, tragic, exhilarating, proxy, poetical
world that we have been born into. And I find it just as hard to get in
touch with this world as the seekers find it to get in touch with the
next. That is why I chose a good, fat, material Mahatma who is quite
obviously in touch with such gross things as food, shelter, clothing,
the sunshine, the fresh air, and the good brown earth. While others are
trying to establish communications with outlying planets, I am trying to
get into communication with the planet on which I live. Instead of
trying to lease a private wire to the Invisible, I want, as far as
possible, to learn a little about the visible and tangible and audible,
and smellable, and tasteable world in which I am obliged to sojourn. In
this humble quest my Mahatma is a great help. He does not say cryptic
things or babble trivialities in the name of the mighty Dead--the mighty
Damned or the mighty Blest. He tells me the right way to plant potatoes
and prune apple-trees, and our communion is blest with eupeptic content.
So when he pointedly directed my attention to sunshine as the greatest
need of the world, I felt it was my duty to listen.

Though the business of life drives me to the city from time to time, my
soul has been smitten by a claustrophobia that makes it impossible for
me to become a slave of the streets. Though I seem to leave the sunshine
behind when I leave the country, I can always find refreshment in the
parks. Because of this, though I have travelled across the continent,
visited great cities and met many men, my happiest and most vivid
memories are of the parks. In Stanley Park, Vancouver, I sat under the
giant firs and cedars and wondered if the world would ever again know
the leisured centuries needed to bring such trees to their royal
perfection. In Lethbridge, Regina, Saskatoon, and other cities of the
plains I sat under transplanted trees that are struggling for beauty in
spite of inclement winters. I have enjoyed the sunshine and shade on
Boston Common and in Madison Square Garden, and all have left me
memories of the tonic and healing powers of sunshine.

My most vivid recollection is of a park in Regina, and that is because
of a glimpse I caught of far-away sunshine. A letter from France had
caught up with me at Regina and I read it in the park. It was from a boy
in the trenches, and among other gossip of the battle-line he told me
how he and a chum were sunning themselves by a muddy dugout one morning
when the German drive was at its fiercest. Things were looking gloomy
for the Allies and the boy had been going over the bad news.

"Oh, well," said his chum as he puffed at his pipe, "in spite of all
that the sun is shining and the leaves are coming out."

So when my Mahatma spoke of the need of sunshine I remembered what it
had meant to two boys facing death in Flanders, and his advice seemed
good. But I wanted to sound him out on other matters.

"What you say may be true, but the great demand of the present time is
for laughter. Everybody wants to be amused."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Well, editors want amusing articles and stories, publishers want
amusing books, theatrical promoters want amusing plays and
scenarios--lecture bureaus want amusing lectures--and so it goes all the
way along the line."

"That only goes to prove that amusing people has become a business
without any more spontaneity in it than the manufacture of breakfast
foods. And the people who want to be amused are the people who have easy
money to spend. Have you noticed that mothers who have lost sons want to
be amused, or that any of the millions who have been touched by the
cruelty of the war are eager to laugh?"

"The prevailing opinion seems to be that we should forget the war."

"Certainly. Let those who made profits out of the war laugh and forget
that they were enriched by the world's agony--that they piled up wealth
while brave young men were being mangled, smothered, drowned, shattered
in the war. If they remembered such things they could not enjoy their
profits. By all means make them laugh and take your wages for your
hireling mirth. Make the laborers shut their eyes and open their mouths
with laughter so that they cannot see the disasters towards which they
are hurrying. Make the young laugh so that they will not realize the
heritage that is being passed to them by the older generation whose
pride, greed, and folly have come near to ruining the world."

"The press dispatches say that all the capitals are mad with revelry. It
is even said that tourists have been dancing on the battlefields."

"Quite so. And do you know what it all looks like to me? It reminds me
of the wakes that used to be held around the coffins of the newly dead.
Humanity is now holding a hideous wake over a dead civilization."

"So bad as that?"

"Oh, it may not prove to be so very bad a thing. The sun is still
shining. The forces that have produced all the good there ever has been
in the world are still at work. It is just possible that in the new
world at least the unrest and turmoil that have been troubling us are
but the first movements of a change for which we have been preparing
with words if not with actions."

"I do not understand."

"We have been calling the new world a crucible in which all nationalists
have been thrown to produce the true American or the true Canadian. Have
you ever watched a crucible and noticed what takes place in it?"

"I once saw a copper crucible in British Columbia and a silver crucible
in Massachusetts and iron crucibles here and there, but I never studied
them carefully."

"Well, the only crucible I ever saw was the little one, made by the
blacksmith, that I used for running bullets when a boy. I used to get
big wads of tea lead from the grocer and melt it in the little crucible.
When the heat got to the lead it would sink down to a pool at the
bottom. The top would be covered with gray scum and blazing scraps of
paper. Then I would pour the bright, clean metal into the bullet moulds.
When it was all poured there would be left behind the gray scum from the
top and some slag at the bottom. And I am thinking that when the good
metal of nationality is ready to be poured we will leave behind the
scum of parasites at the top and the slag of agitators at the bottom."

"That sounds good, but when will it happen?"

"It may happen this year and it may not happen for a hundred years but
of one thing I am sure, and that is that there is plenty of good metal
in our crucible."

Whereupon my private Mahatma knocked the ashes from his pipe and walked
home across the fields through the glowing sunshine that he loved.



It is all very well for men like William Lloyd Garrison to exclaim, "My
country is the world." I cannot lay claim to so broad a humanitarianism.
Though I do not see the need of hating any other man's country, there is
one country that means more than any other to me. How could I reprove
the people of the United States for loving their own country--for being
jingos, if you will--when I know that their home love cannot exceed

Let me confess. Often and often I have thought of writing something
about the love of my native land, but was restrained by the feeling that
it was too intimate and personal to be exposed for the entertainment of
the public. Goodness knows I have gossiped about almost everything in
the most shameless way, but there was something about love of the land
that seemed too sacred to reveal even to intimate friends. But now I am
emboldened to hang my heart on my sleeve and talk to those of my readers
both in Canada and the United States who have felt the love of the land
and know what it means. I have the good fortune to be living on the farm
on which I was born--the farm which my father cleared. Although I was
born too late to take a hand in the work of clearing, I learned the
history of every acre before an open fireplace many years ago. The
history of the clearing of the land, the first crops, the names and
characters of the horses and cows on the place, are so interwoven with
my youthful recollections that I seem to remember them all as if I had
taken part in the battle with the wilderness myself, and had shared in
all its triumphs and sorrows. Something of this farm struck a tendril
into my heart which neither time nor distance could break. It is the
only spot on earth that ever gave me the feeling of home. Even after
being away for years I have sat down in New York or London, England,
and have been as homesick for this farm as a little boy who makes his
first journey away from his mother's side. At any time I could close my
eyes and see the quiet fields, and I would wonder what crops they were
sown to. At all times it was my place of refuge, and, when I finally
returned to it, it was with a feeling that my wanderings had ended, and
that I could settle down and enjoy life where I belonged.

At the present time this love of the land appeals to me as being
especially significant. The turmoil in the world to-day recalls to me
the great purpose which moved my father and mother to undertake the task
of making a home for themselves in the wilderness. They wanted to
establish a home where their children and their children's children
could be free. I know the oppression and hardship from which they
escaped in the old world, and the toil and hardship they endured in the
new before their dream was realized. It is high time that we who are
native-born realized the price that our parents paid for the freedom
and liberty we have enjoyed. The freedom that they won by their toil and
sacrifice is a heritage worthy of our sons who did battle so that it may

There have been times when I thought that the men of my own generation
were escaping too lightly in the work of establishing a Canadian nation,
but I think so no longer. This new nation was founded by our
freedom-loving and infinitely patient fathers, and defended by our
freeborn and heroic sons. It is true that we came too late to take part
in the pioneer work, and were too old to take our place in the trenches.
But on us there rests a heavy responsibility. It is for us to pierce
through the confusions and selfishness of political strategy and
establish the truth and justice that alone can make a nation endure. We
must be true to the great purpose of our fathers and the splendid
courage of our sons. Here is something that strikes deeper than party
politics, that demands the best that is in us of wisdom and sanity. If
we fail to do our part nobly the whole fabric of nationhood will fall.
Love of the land carries with it a responsibility that may try us as
sorely as the wilderness tried our fathers or as the battlefront tried
our sons. And for us there is no escape. The future of Canada is in our

Whenever I read history, even the history of Canada, I feel like the
American soldier who was wallowing through the mud after the battle of
Spottsylvania Court-house. Saluting his officer, he exclaimed bitterly:

"If ever I love another country, damn me!"

History, as written, is largely a record of crimes and blunders that are
exposed or whitewashed according to the political bias of the man who is
writing the history. Historians, as a rule, are more given to the use of
whitewash than a political investigating committee. Fired by a patriotic
desire to picture for us a country worth loving they suppress much,
glorify everything that seems worth glorifying, and give us something
that is no nearer the truth than the crayon portraits you see in many
country parlors. If historians told the simple truth, every nation with
a scrap of decency would be trying to live down its history, just as a
convict tries to live down his past. And yet--and yet I confess to a
love of Canada that is not simply a patriotic emotion, but a passion to
which my whole being vibrates. To me Canada is a living soul--a Presence
that companions me in the fields--a mighty mother that nourished my
youth and inspires my manhood. Whenever I think of Canada I remember
Carman's wonderful lines:

    "When I have lifted up my heart to thee,
      Then hast thou ever hearkened and drawn near,
    And bowed thy shining face close over me,
      Till I could hear thee as the hill-flowers hear."

When I strive to fathom the secret of this love I find that it is due to
the fact that I learned history, not from books, but from the lips of
the men and women who made Canada--that I learned the history, not of
the government, but of the people. The spirit that broods over me
to-day is the same that danced among the shadows beside an open
fireplace while I listened to endless crooning tales of the sufferings
and hopes of the pioneers. The Spirit of Freedom that led them into the
wilderness became my spirit, and their dream of a free Canada became a
living spirit that danced about me in the flickering light of the
flaming back-logs.

By some trick of the imagination I have always thought of Canada as the
blithe spirit that haunted my childhood. But in my childhood she did not
always come in the same guise. Sometimes she would come gliding out of
the depths of the forest, a shy and dusky sprite that would take me by
the hand and teach me the love of flowers and birds and the infinite
mysteries of Nature. Again she would come as a country maid, glowing
with the joy of life, who would lead me through the fields where she
reaped the harvest and bound the sheaves. Always she walked in the
sunlight and though her moods were full of song and care-free laughter

    "She had the lonely calm and poise
        Of life that waits and wills."

As the years passed and the burdens of life began to press, I lost the
intimate touch with the spirit of my country. But always I was conscious
that back of the turmoil she was working her will and shaping the
destiny of a free people. Though I might be stunned and disheartened by
the greed of commerce and the clamor of politics, I could still see
dimly that the spirit that companioned my youth was at work wherever men
and women labored. And her love was not only for those who could claim
it as a birthright, but to all who came to Canada in quest of freedom.
Creeds and nationalities and old hatreds were nothing to her. No matter
what wrongs or abuse of power there might be in high places, the spirit
of Canada was nourishing the weak, teaching them the lesson of freedom,
and moving to her place among the nations.

Then came the day when the war trumpets sounded and the soul of Canada
flamed to her full stature. She heard the call of the oppressed and
hurled her legions against the oppressor. Not hers

    "To mix with Kings in the low lust for sway,
    Yell in the hunt, and share the murderous prey."

Nourished in freedom she gave battle for freedom. To-day I see her, as I
saw her in the time of war, roused but unafraid, and watching with
questioning eyes the sacrifice of her sons. Standing heroic on the soil
that gave her birth she marks with glooming brows the madness of the
nations. This is the hour of her decision. Woe alike to those who would
stay her hand and to those who would hurry her to destruction! Born of
the dreams of humble people who toiled and served for the freedom on
which she was nourished, Canada must be forever free! As a free nation
within the Empire she has given lavishly of her best, and as a free
nation she must endure!



There are times when a man can be very dense. During the past year I
have crossed the continent twice--stood by the "wine-dark" Pacific and
mused by "the salt, unplumbed, estranging" Atlantic--and all through the
journey, both going and coming, a piece of news that will interest all
travellers was "tickling my consciousness with the tip of its tail." But
not until my last day's travel did I make the discovery that aroused
both amusement and wrath. The story of it will now be told for the first
time because it will do as well as anything else to show a kind of
international tie that binds more securely than the arrangements
effected through diplomatic channels. Business takes no heed of
boundaries that are defined for patriotic reasons. It recognizes them
only when they can be used to its advantage. This incident will also
show how enterprise and organization may defeat democracy, and that
although we may be equal before the law our case may be different before
a Pullman car porter.

At different times during the past few years I have meditated writing an
essay on America--including the United States and Canada--as "The Land
of Upper Berths." No matter how far ahead I planned my trips and tried
to make reservations I could never get a lower berth in a sleeping-car.
But there were always uppers to be had and night after night I clambered
aloft. Always trying to make the best of everything I finally got so
that I rather liked them on account of the better ventilation, roomier
quarters, etc.

From time to time my nose for news sniffed at the prevailing conditions
and I wondered vaguely at the type of passengers who were always so
fortunate as to have lower berths. Instead of being "The beautiful,
pampered women of the wealthy bourgeoisie," they were usually brisk
young business men. Not only did they get the lower berths, but having
greater facilities for getting out of bed in the morning they were
always first at the washbowls and took an unconscionable time at their
morning ablutions; shaving expertly while the train speeded around
curves and grooming themselves like bridegrooms, while we poor
upper-berthers sat around, yawning sleepily and admiring the backs of
their silk undershirts and the nice warm suspenders that cost as much as
an ordinary man used to pay for a suit of clothes. They primped and
preened and left the rest of us only time to wash sketchily before
reaching our destination. Then they stepped from the train in flawless
form and ready to do business. Having had this experience over and over
again from Toronto to Vancouver and from Vancouver to New York, I should
have guessed something, but I was dense. That sleeping-car feeling
dulled my perceptions.

Out in Calgary I was given an explanation of the phenomenon that put me
on the wrong track and lulled my sense of outrage. I had protested to
the porter of one of the palatial hotels because he failed to get me a
lower berth to Lethbridge.

"Too late," he said cheerfully. "All the lower berths going both ways
are reserved two weeks ahead."

"What's the reason?"

"Everybody is travelling. If I wasn't a married man and tied down I
would be travelling myself."

Certainly everybody did seem to be travelling, for the hotels were
crowded to the limit and one had to telegraph a week ahead to get
reservations. Many times even that precaution failed. Often I have slept
on a cot in a corridor, and on several occasions when the corridors were
full I got a berth on a cot in the manager's office.

But the lower-berth gentry never had any trouble of that kind. They
would walk right up to the clerk's desk and register with an air of
authority utterly impossible to a man who has been sleeping in a top
berth and is looking dishevelled after dressing hastily. And they were
never disappointed. While others were sitting around waiting for some
one to check out so that they could get even an inside room opening on
an airshaft, the travelling princes would be led to the elevators by
obsequious bell-boys and personally conducted to palatial rooms with a
southern exposure and a bath. Having a keen sense of my own carelessness
and lack of foresight, I always humbly attributed my misfortunes to my
own shiftlessness and mildly envied men who could have their minds so
constantly fixed on sublunary affairs that they always got the best of

Finally I got what I thought was a possible way out of my troubles--at
least as far as lower berths were concerned. Often I had been told that
if I came around about an hour before the train started I might get a
lower berth. Some one who had a reservation might fail to turn up and if
I was on hand I might be the lucky one to get that lower berth. As I
never put much faith in the suggestion I did not put it to the test, but
when coming home from New York last week I had to come a couple of days
sooner than I expected and arrived at the ticket office about an hour
before the train started. The impossible happened. I got a lower berth.
I don't know when I have felt so puffed up. At last I was on terms of
equality with the aristocrats of the travelling public. Their
"gallusses" might still make a finer showing than mine in the
dressing-room, but as I shouldn't have to wait for the porter to bring
me a ladder I could probably beat them to the washbowls in the morning.
The country habit of early rising would stand me in good stead in a
competition of this kind. All the way up to Poughkeepsie I felt the
dignity of being a lower-berth passenger and kept aloof from the common
herd of people who have to climb to upper berths. Being new in my class
I did not feel quite up to interviewing other lower-berthers and
discussing high matters of international relations with them. Once
during the evening a Georgian from Atlanta asked me for information and
my reply made him so sad that perhaps it was as well that I kept to
myself. He asked me if there were any bars handy to the train when we
should get to Niagara Falls, Canada. I was obliged to break the news to
him that the nearest bar would probably be in Montreal. His distress was
pitiful. Like almost every one else in the United States he thought that
all Canada is wide open. And just think of it! He might have taken the
trip to Montreal just as easily as the trip to Toronto. He was
holidaying anyway. But I have wandered from my story.

While crossing the lake from Lewiston to Toronto I had dinner and
engaged in conversation with a well-set-up business man who was placed
at the same table with me. Being full of pride over that lower berth I
casually mentioned the wonderful luck I had had on the previous night.
He smiled a superior smile.

"I travel quite a bit," he said loftily, "but I am never troubled that

Here at last was a _bona-fide_ lower-berther who might be induced to
enlighten me.

"Indeed?" I insinuated.

"You see I am a member of----and it attends to all such matters as
getting lower berths, hotel accommodations, and choice theatre seats for
its members."

That was a large and illuminating piece of news to be given out in one
sentence. I registered polite interest, being careful not to arouse his
suspicion by any show of eagerness. As I expected, he went on and
expanded his theme. He did a great deal of travelling, but by being a
member of this organization all he needed to do was to state his
requirements a day in advance and he would be properly looked after on
the trains and in the hotels either in the United States or Canada. They
always had plenty of reservations ahead so that they could look after
all travelling members. They held these reservations until an hour or
so before the trains started and then returned those they did not
require. He paid an annual fee of moderate proportions which he regarded
as an insurance premium--insuring comfort in travel. He did not explain
how the hotels and theatres are approached so that rooms and seats may
be secured, but it is managed all right. Not a bad arrangement for the
favorites of fortune, but how about the ordinary public? Are not Pullman
cars, hotels, and theatres operating under licenses or charters insuring
equal opportunities for all? If not, why not?



After all, the most delightful thing about a visit to the cities is the
trip home. I take no joy in seeing sky-scrapers so high that you have to
swallow your Adam's apple three times before you can see to the top of
one. And the streets are crowded with abominations of noise and speed
that make the foot-passenger from the country get about like a whirling
dervish. And you find the men you know all working like mad for other
people, so that they can earn money with which to hire other people to
serve them with the necessaries of life. They get salaries from
corporations that enable them to buy the products of other corporations
that are all intent on charging all the traffic will bear. This sort of
thing is doubtless very businesslike and modern and up-to-date, but if I
went back to it I should feel very much as if I were being put through
a sausage-mill to appease the hunger of some monster whose appetite I
could not understand. I am afraid my powers of reasoning are not what
they used to be, for although I can see the homely common sense of
raising potatoes and vegetables and apples and such-like things for my
own use, I cannot figure out where I should be benefited by living the
strenuous life so that I could earn enough to buy potatoes and apples of
a poorer and somewhat faded character from some one else. As nearly as I
can see, our methods of handling and distributing our food products
merely take away from the quality and add to the price, and no one is
benefited but those incomprehensible people who devote their lives to
accumulating profits instead of to acquiring leisure and enjoying life.
The problem is too deep for me.

I thought I loved the country before, but this time I see it in a new
light. After I had left the last great city and began to watch the
trees whirling past the car windows I had a sense of companionship never
felt before. They seemed so much alive and so serene and friendly that I
began to quote:

    "Leaf by leaf they will befriend me
      As with comrades going home."

The wild trees of the forest--all too scattered--were best. They had an
air of independence and privacy, as if they might be the amused
custodians of world-old secrets that they guarded even beyond the
surprisal of those whom they had admitted to fellowship--after long
probation. Even the orchards--reared in captivity--looked as if they
were aware of their importance in the scheme of things and knew
unfathomable mysteries. After weeks of talk about all manner of feverish
and unimportant things, the smiling taciturnity of Nature was reassuring
and healing. The clear air was laden with the balm of forgetfulness. As
I watched the rushing moving-picture show I felt that it was worthy the
contemplation of a God, and knew that I was privileged in being allowed
a glimpse of it and a glimmer of its significance. To those who love the
cities they may be not simply endurable but glorious in times of plenty,
but to those who love the country, the country is the perfect home, rich
in never-failing fountains of delight and inspiration. Before many
months have passed thousands may be forced to choose between them.

My choice has been already made and I have no regrets.

                                  THE END

The Riverside Press


| Transcriber's Note:--                                                |
|                                                                      |
| Punctuation errors have been corrected.                              |
|                                                                      |
| The following suspected printer's errors have been addressed.        |
|                                                                      |
| Page 46. inaudibile changed to inaudible. (some inaudible syncopated |
| rhythm)                                                              |
|                                                                      |
| Page 147. physchology changed to psychology. (to the psychology of   |
| women)                                                               |
|                                                                      |
| page 173. propellors changed to propellers. (whirling propellers of  |
| aeroplanes)                                                          |
|                                                                      |
| Page 188. claustraphobia changed to claustrophobia. (smitten by a    |
| claustrophobia)                                                      |
|                                                                      |

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