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Title: Major Prophets of To-Day
Author: Slosson, Edwin E. (Edwin Emery)
Language: English
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                              TO MY WIFE
                          MAY PRESTON SLOSSON
                           TO THE OLD WORLD
                       IN SEARCH OF NEW PROPHETS
                              THIS VOLUME

[Illustration: Maeterlinck]


Each age has its own prophets, men who bring to it distinctive messages
and present them in such effective form as to sway the currents of
contemporary thought. No age perhaps has had more diverse theories
of life and the meaning of things presented to it than our own, and
certainly none has ever given such an opportunity for the original
thinker to reach quickly a world-wide audience as he can now through
the medium of cheap books and free schools.

This volume originated in my own desire to find out what was being
said by certain persons who, I had reason to believe, were worth
attention. But unless one is abnormally selfish, he always wants to
introduce others to an interesting acquaintance. It is then simply as
introductions that I would wish the following chapters to be taken.
In one way or another such men are influencing the thought of all of
us, but since we mostly get their philosophy at second hand--or at
third, fourth, or nth hand--we fail to recognize its origin and are apt
to misconceive its intent. Ideas that reach us in fragmentary form,
and often after multiple translation through minds sometimes alien
or hostile, are not very useful. It is always safer to drink at the
source. I have endeavored to give some idea of the scope and character
of each man's work, so that the reader may judge for himself whether
it is profitable for him to follow up the acquaintance. If he does, he
will find at the end of the chapter directions how to proceed further.

We imagine we can understand a man better if we can see his face,
even his photograph. This may be a superstition, but, if so, it
is a superstition worth deferring to by one who aspires to be an
interpreter. So in the summer of 1910 I went to see the six men
included in this first volume in their homes, not with the hope of
getting any new and unpublished opinions, not with the expectation of
gaining a personal acquaintance that would give me any deeper insight
into their mental processes, but merely to convince myself that they
are flesh and blood, instead of paper and ink. If I can convince the
reader of this, my purpose will be accomplished.

In the choice of names to be included in the list, I was guided
primarily by the idea that I should be most likely to interest others
in the men who have most interested me. Since the object of the book
is to serve as an introduction to the works of the authors, not as a
substitute for them, the choice was limited to those who have given
expression to their philosophical views in a sufficiently popular form
to be attractive to the general reader. It was necessary to select
representatives of diverse types of thought, and it was not possible
to confine the choice to the philosophical profession, for in our day
philosophy has escaped from its classroom and often displays more
activity outside than in it. So I have included men of science and
letters as well as philosophers of the chair.

The group comprised in this volume includes: Maurice Maeterlinck,
dramatist and essayist, interpreter of the animate and inanimate world;
Henri Bergson, of the Collège de France, whose intuitive philosophy
has been introduced into America by the late William James; Henri
Poincaré, of the French Academy, mathematician and astronomer; Élie
Metchnikoff, director of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, author
of studies in optimistic philosophy; Wilhelm Ostwald, of Leipzig
University, recipient of the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1909, founder
of the _Annals of Natural Philosophy_, and Ernst Haeckel, of Jena
University, veteran zoölogist, champion of Darwinism and Monism, author
of the "Riddle of the Universe."

In large part the chapters of this volume have appeared in the
_Independent_ during the last three years in a series under the general
title of "Twelve Major Prophets of To-day", which includes similar
articles on Rudolf Eucken, Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, G. K. Chesterton,
F. C. S. Schiller, and John Dewey, and I am indebted to that periodical
for the privilege of book publication.

                                             EDWIN E. SLOSSON.
   March 1, 1914.








    Let us not forget that we live in pregnant and decisive
    times. It is probable that our descendants will envy us the
    dawn through which, without knowing it, we are passing, just
    as we envy those who took part in the age of Pericles, in
    the most glorious days of Roman greatness and in certain
    hours of the Italian Renascence. The splendid dust that
    clouds the great movements of men shines brightly in the
    memory, but blinds those who raise it and breathe it,
    hiding from them the direction of their road and, above
    all, the thought, the necessity or the instinct that leads
    them.--"The Double Garden."

It was half past seven in the morning of my last possible day in
Paris, when the maid brought on the tray with my chocolate, a blue
envelope addressed in the business-like writing of Maeterlinck; the
long expected and at last despaired of note confirming the invitation
received in America to visit him at the Abbey of St. Wandrille, and
setting five P.M. as the time. No chocolate for me that morning. The
concierge and I put our heads together over a French railway guide,
more baffling than Bullinger's, and we made up our minds that a train
started in that direction at nine, although where and when it made
connections we neither of us could make out. From Rouen on, I would
have to trust to luck, or to the Government railway service--much the
same thing.

The Gare St. Lazare is a long way from the Latin Quarter when one has
got to make a train, but the cabman said he would make it, and he did.
At Rouen, I discovered that in the course of the day one could get to
Barentin, and from Barentin, a deliberate and occasional train went
to St. Wandrille. But when I got to Barentin I found that the train
was not going till the following day. It was getting near tea time
and Maeterlinck seventeen miles away! Barentin would, under other
circumstances, have interested me on account of the incompatibility
of temper between the town and its environment, a cotton-spinning,
socialistic population in the midst of an ultra-Catholic agricultural
community. But as I strolled about, I took no interest in anything
until I came to a little automobile repair shop. Here I found a young
man who knew where he could find a machine and promised to get me to
St. Wandrille in time for tea, or burst a tire.

It was a joy ride certainly, in one sense of the word, and, I suspect,
in two. The road, such a road as we rarely see in this country, wound
around the hills overlooking the valley through which the Seine twisted
its way to the sea. The banks were flooded with the July rains, and
the poplars were up to their knees in water. We gradually left behind
us the smart brick houses of the new cotton aristocracy, and came into
the older stone age. Along the railroad, as I was sorry to see, the
meadows were beginning to grow the most noxious of American weeds, big
advertising signs, but we soon escaped them, and saw around us only the
grass and fields through the double row of trees that lined the road.

As we got away from town, my extemporized chauffeur made better time,
and under the stimulus of the acceleration, I recited passages of
Maeterlinck's dithyramb to "Speed", for he was the first to perceive
poetry in the automobile:

    The pace grows faster and faster, the delirious wheels cry
    aloud in their gladness. And at first the road comes moving
    toward me, like a bride waving palms, rhythmically keeping
    time to some joyous melody. But soon it grows frantic,
    springs forward and throws itself madly upon me, rushing
    under the car like a furious torrent whose foam lashes my
    face.... Now the road drops sheer into the abyss, and the
    magical carriage rushes ahead of it. The trees, that for so
    many slow-moving years have serenely dwelt on its borders,
    shrink back in dread of disaster. They seem to be hastening
    one to the other, to approach their green heads, and in
    startled groups to debate how to bar the way of the strange
    apparition. But as this rushes onward they take panic, and
    scatter and fly, each one quickly seeking its own habitual
    place; and as I pass they bend tumultuously forward, and
    their myriad leaves, quick to the mad joy of the force that
    is chanting its hymn, murmur in my ears the voluble psalm of
    space, acclaiming and greeting the enemy that hitherto has
    always been conquered but now at last triumphs: Speed.

Afterward, when I recalled this essay to Maeterlinck, he laughed
heartily and said he had written it when he had only a three-horse
power automobile, one of the first kind made and altogether unreliable.
Now he has a big one; also a motor cycle with which he makes fifty
miles an hour, but I do not know that he is writing prose poems on the
motor cycle yet. He is likely to be the first to do it, though, unless
Rostand or Kipling get ahead of him, as they have in literary aviation:
Rostand with a sonnet on the biplane and Kipling with his "Night Mail",
wherein he invents and teaches a new technical vocabulary without
slackening speed. No wonder Kipling got the Nobel prize for idealistic
literature. Maeterlinck, who received the same prize in 1911, deserved
it on the same ground, for he, too, is entitled to write after his name
the degree of M. M., Master of Machinery.

With the help of the machine, I got to the little village of St.
Wandrille even before the appointed hour, so I had time to drop into
the queer old church. This is a favorite resort of pilgrims from all
over Normandy and not undeserving of its repute, if one may judge from
the crutches, canes, and votive tablets left behind by those who have
been cured or blessed. Ever since 684 a.d., when Wandregisilus left
the French court and founded this retreat in the forest by the Seine,
it has been noted for its relics. The ossuary department indeed makes
a fine display; skulls, thigh bones, vertebræ, and phalanges, all laid
out under glass and labeled neatly, as in a museum. Thirty saints I
counted, some familiar like St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Clotilde, St.
Genevieve, and St. Wulfranc. But most of those represented by relics
or wooden statues were quite outside the range of my hagiography--St.
Firmin, St. Mien, St. Vilmir, St. Wilgeforte, St. Pantoleon, and St.

The village church is too modern to interest any one but an American.
The old abbey, dating in part from the twelfth century, and belonging
now to Maeterlinck, is across the road. Ringing at the little arched
portal in the wall, I was shown into the cloister; very familiar it
seemed to me, for I had a photograph of it in my room at home, a
photograph showing three witches over a caldron, since it was taken
when Maeterlinck's version of "Macbeth" was played here. "The cloister
of St. Wandrille is without doubt one of the most magnificent monuments
of the kind that has escaped the vandalism of recent times", says
Langlois in the large volume he devoted to its architecture.[1] Until
recently the monastery was in the hands of the Benedictines, but they
were dispossessed by the French Government on the separation of Church
and State in 1907, and the property offered for sale. It was about
to be sold to a chemical syndicate for a factory, when Maeterlinck
intervened and purchased it, possibly more to please his wife than
himself, for he is indifferent to surroundings, while she takes a keen
delight in an artistic stage setting, not merely for the plays she
enacts, but for daily life. For thus saving the abbey from commercial
desecration, Maeterlinck received a parchment blessing from the Pope,
but his later use of it as a theater was quite as offensive to Catholic

Certainly no author has been housed more satisfactorily to his
admirers than Maeterlinck. He had, in fact, pictured it in his
youthful plays. It is a verification of his faith that a man creates
his own environment. The surrounding forest, the old house with its
long corridors, the garden where the broken pillars and arches of the
buried temple appear here and there among the vines and flowers, are
the familiar scenes of all his dramas. All that is lacking is the
sea, which is so often in his thoughts, and some dank, dark caves
and dungeons underneath. But Maeterlinck does not need nowadays such
subterranean accessories, for he has passed through his Reign of
Terror, and come up into the sunshine.

It is curious that a man who is so modernistic in mind and who has
shown so unique a power to idealize the prosaic details of the life
of to-day, should place all his dramas in the historical or legendary
past. But he always views the past as a poet, not as an archaeologist,
giving merely some beautiful names and a suggestion as to scene
setting, and leaving it to the imagination of the reader to do the
stage carpentering. Determinist though he is, no one, not even James
or Bergson, has been more bold in repudiating the right of the past to
control our actions:

    In reality, if we think of it, the past belongs to us quite
    as much as the present, and is far more malleable than the
    future. Like the present, and to a much greater extent than
    the future, its existence is all in our thoughts, and our
    hand controls it; nor is this true only of our material
    past, wherein there are ruins that we perhaps can restore,
    but also of those regions that are closed to our tardy
    desire for atonement, and, above all, of our moral past, and
    of what we consider to be most irreparable there.

    "The past is past", we say, and it is not true; the past is
    always present. "We have to bear the burden of our past",
    we sigh; and it is not true; the past bears our burden.
    "Nothing can wipe out the past", and it is not true; the
    least effort of will sends present and future traveling
    over the past, to efface whatever we bid them efface. "The
    indestructible, irreparable, immutable past!" And that is
    no truer than the rest. In those who speak thus it is the
    present that is immutable and knows not how to repair. "My
    past is wicked, it is sorrowful, empty", we say again, "as
    I look back I can see no moment of beauty, or happiness or
    love; I see nothing but wretched ruins...." And that is not
    true, for you behold precisely what you yourself place'
    there at the moment your eyes rest upon it.[2]

While I was wandering in the cloister, puzzling over battered saints
and mossy gargoyles, any disposition I may have felt toward monastic
meditation was dissipated by the appearance of a woman, not merely a
woman, but a modern woman, one who has gained vitality and initiative
without losing the feminine graces, "the virile friend and equal
comrade", as Maeterlinck calls her. Her costume was not inharmonious
with the surroundings, for it was vaguely medieval in appearance--a
hooded robe of some heavy blue stuff, falling in long straight folds to
her feet.

It is not necessary to describe Madame Georgette Leblanc Maeterlinck,
for Maeterlinck himself has done that, sketching equally her virtues
and failings with a loving hand.[3] Her powerful influence over his
thought he gratefully acknowledges in the prefaces to his essays,
and shows it by the frequent references in them to her opinions and
personality. Monna Vanna, Joyzelle, and Mary Magdalene are rôles
written for her. We can tell when she came into Maeterlinck's life
by the appearance of "the new woman" in his dramas; Aglavaine, who
involuntarily overshadows and displaces the frail and timid Sélysette,
Ariane, the last wife of Blue Beard, who releases his other wives from
the secret chamber where they were confined, not killed as earlier
rumor had it. The imprisoned sisterhood, who are, by the way, the
anæmic heroines of Maeterlinck's earlier period, Sélysette, Mélisande,
Ygraine, Bellangère, and Alladine, refuse to follow Ariane to freedom;
they prefer to stay with Blue Beard, so she goes out alone. But she
does not slam the door like Nora in "The Doll's House." It is not
necessary nowadays to slam the door.

Madame Maeterlinck shows me the places she picked out for the scenes
of "Pelléas and Mélisande", for she is the inventor of a new form of
dramatic art based on the discovery that audiences are easier moved
about than castles, trees, and hills. Only the weather she cannot
control, and the pathetic drama was played appropriately though
inconveniently in a rainstorm.[4] The ancient refectory which she used
as the banquet hall in "Macbeth" was large enough to seat four hundred
Benedictine monks at table. It is roofed and paneled with carved wood
and lighted by a row of large pointed windows set with bits of very old
stained glass.

Here we are soon joined by M. Maeterlinck, a sturdy figure in Norfolk
jacket and knickerbockers, for he is just in from a tramp in the woods
with his dog. No, the dog was not his friend, Pelléas. Pelléas, as you
should have remembered, died years ago, very young.

Some say that Maeterlinck has a Flemish peasant face. Some say a
Flemish bourgeois face. Not being familiar with the physiognomy of
either the peasantry or the bourgeoisie of Flanders, I cannot decide
this delicate question. All I can say is that it is a face one could
trust, the face of a man one would like to have for a friend. The eyes,
wide open and wide apart, are clear and steady. His hair is getting
gray, and he has in recent years shaved off his mustache, showing his
straight, firm-set mouth and pleasant smile. His photographs do not do
him justice, for none of them show him smiling--neither do his books.
Early to bed and early to rise and much time spent in the open air have
given him an erect carriage and a vigorous step. He is fond of boxing
and has written an essay in praise of this sport.

From the window of his study upstairs he points out to me his woodland
stretching far up the hill, and he takes from his pocket the book
that has occupied his afternoon, a book of trout flies. But I am more
interested in other things, in the big work-table that occupies the
center of the study, littered with papers, a typewriter on the corner
of it. The wall opposite the window is lined with books, and as I
glance over them I see his own plays and essays translated into half
a dozen languages, Carlyle's works, Vaughan's "English Mystics", and
many volumes of natural science, poetry, and philosophy. M. Maeterlinck
divines what I want most to see and takes down his Emerson, an old
one-volume edition, in excruciatingly fine print, but manifestly well
read, with numerous underlinings and as much annotation as the narrow
margins would permit. It is curious that Emerson should have strongly
influenced two such unlike men as Nietzsche and Maeterlinck.[5] But
only the latter acquired his finest attribute, serenity of spirit.
Maeterlinck also resembles Thoreau in his love for nature, though he
makes no affectation of asceticism or hermitage.

He spends his summers only at the Abbaye de St. Wandrille. In the
winter he goes to the Riviera, to live with the bees and the flowers
whose language he speaks. His winter residence is at Les Quatre
Chemins, near Grasse, in the southeastern corner of the country. Here
he is even more secluded than at St. Wandrille. He prefers the country
to the city, not because he has any aversion to people in mass or to
the mechanism of modern life, but because he dislikes lionization and
publicity of all sorts. He would stifle in the atmosphere of a Parisian
salon. He belongs to none of the literary coteries combined for mutual
admiration and the reciprocal promotion of individual interests. He has
never been what Verlaine used to call a "Cymbalist."

As a mystic philosopher Maeterlinck finds a flower in a crannied wall
sufficient to give him a clew to the secrets of the universe. Modern
science, instead of killing mysticism, as was foreboded by despairing
poets of the last century, has brought about a revival of it. This
is quite natural, for mysticism is the verification of religion by
the experimental method, as ecclesiasticism is the verification of
religion by the historical method. The doctrine of evolution has given
an intellectual basis and a richer content to the sense of the unity
of nature, which is the force of mysticism. A weak poet, distrustful
of his vision or of his own powers, fears science and flees from it.
A great and courageous poet seizes science and turns it to his own
uses. Tennyson and Sully-Prudhomme were among the first to perceive
and to demonstrate the possibility of this. Maeterlinck, being of the
generation born since the dawn of the scientific era, entered upon the
inheritance of its wealth without having to pass through any storm and
stress period to acquire it. No traces of the fretful antagonisms of
the nineteenth century disturb the equanimity of his essays. He sees no
conflict between the scientific and poetic views of the world. He looks
upon it with both eyes open and the two visions fuse into one solid

Maeterlinck has been a leader in that characteristic movement of
the twentieth century which might be called the reanimation of the
universe. Time was, and was not so long ago but that most of us can
remember it, when, terrified by the advance of science, man did not
dare to call his soul his own. Naturally he denied a soul to the rest
of the world. Animals were automatons; plants, of course, unconscious;
and planets and machines out of the question. Nature was subjected to
a process succinctly to be described as deanthropomorphization. To
naturalists of the inanimate school an insect was not worth studying
until it had a pin through it. Animals were only interesting when

Nowadays naturalists are going back to nature. They are leaving the
laboratory for the woods. They have come to realize that studying
zoölogy in a museum is like studying sociology in a cemetery. They have
discovered that animals and plants possess not merely vitality, but
individuality, and since man's real interest in the world he looks down
upon has always been, though he has often denied it, because he hoped
to see himself there, a new school of fabulists has appeared who hold
the mirror of nature up to us as Esop and Pilpay did of old.

Among them there is no one, unless it be Kipling, who is the equal of
Maeterlinck. Like Tyltyl, he wears the fairy button on his cap which,
when touched, brings out the souls of things. And, as in "The Blue
Bird", the souls he has once released by the magic of his phrases from
their material prisons do not get back again. They remain visible to
us ever after; not merely the souls of the dog and the cat, but of the
bee, the oak, the bread, and the automobile. He shows us the cat as a
diminutive but undomesticated tiger to whom we are nothing more than an
overgrown and uneatable prey. We see through his eyes the cultivated
plants as our dumb slaves, for "the rose and the corn, had they wings,
would fly at our approach like the birds."

Maeterlinck has recently been testing the thinking horses of Eberfeld,
the successors of Kluge Hans, and convinced himself of their ability
to spell and cipher, even to extract the square root of big numbers, a
feat which Maeterlinck says he himself could never learn at school. He
does, however, draw the line at crediting the horses with telepathic

"The Blue Bird" cannot escape comparison with its contemporary rival
on the stage, "Chantecler", but the similarity is superficial. They
are as unlike in their philosophy as in their style. Maeterlinck has
written a fairy story for children; Rostand a satire for grown people.
Maeterlinck conceals his depth of thought under a dialogue of simple
and artless prose. Rostand disguises his trivialities in elaborate and
artificial versification. "The Blue Bird" is really the offspring of
"The Little White Bird", Mendel to the contrary notwithstanding. But
Maeterlinck lacks the delicious humor with which Barrie had depicted
his Peter Pan.

Whether one who has read "The Blue Bird" will be disappointed when he
sees it depends upon the vividness of his imagination. He will probably
find that he has in reading it failed to appreciate the humor of the
grotesque characterization of the minor characters, such as the Bread,
Dog, Cat, and Sugar, but on the other hand he will find that he has
pictured to himself such scenes as the Palace of Night and the Kingdom
of the Future much more splendid and impressive than they appear on the
stage. The play as performed at the New Theater in New York was not
nearly so effective as at the Haymarket in London.

"The Blue Bird" would go best as an opera. I wish somebody would set
it to music. The very impressive song of the mothers welcoming their
children shows how much music might add to it. Debussy's dreamy and
formless harmonies suited "Pelléas and Mélisande", but the author of
the "Domestic Symphony" alone could do justice to this kitchen drama.
Only Strauss could fit Sugar and Milk with suitable motives, and give
the proper orchestration to the quarrels of Cat and Dog, and Fire and

With Maeterlinck, personification is not accomplished through
falsification. His "Life of the Bee" is based on his own observation
and wide reading, and is freer from error than many of the purely
scientific books written on the subject. Such mistakes in fact, as he
makes, are accidental and never due to distortion or invention for the
purpose of working in a poetic fancy or of pointing a moral. In fact,
he does not point a moral. His nature studies teach no lesson unless it
is the great lesson of kinship with nature. He does not, like Kipling,
write an animal story with the aim of amending the budget bill or
changing diplomatic relations. "The Life of the Bee" may be used as a
socialistic tract. It may also be used as an anti-socialistic tract.
"The spirit of the hive", as he interprets it, attracts some people and
repels others. Lord Avebury, who is the leading English authority on
ants and bees, is the head of the society for opposing socialism.

Maeterlinck is not one of those who set up animals on their hind legs
to act as schoolmasters to men. He finds nowhere outside of ourselves,
neither in the heavens above nor in the earth beneath, that justice in
which mankind instinctively and inevitably believes. He is as largely
pragmatic as Sumner in his derivation of morality:

    Between the external world and our actions there exists only
    the simple and essentially non-moral relations of cause and

    In the course of adapting ourselves to the laws of life we
    have naturally been led to credit with our moral ideas those
    principles of causality that we encounter most frequently.
    And we have in this fashion created a very plausible
    semblance of effective justice, which rewards or punishes
    most of our actions in the degree that they approach, or
    deviate from, certain laws that are essential for the
    preservation of the race.

    Within us there is a spirit that weighs only intentions;
    without us a power that only balances deeds.[7]

This reads like a twentieth century supplement to Huxley's Romanes

Maeterlinck's sense of justice is more outraged by the calamities that
result from the carelessness and malevolence of man than the disasters
of earthquake and tempest. We are strange lovers of an ideal justice,
he says; we who condemn three fourths of mankind to the misery of
poverty and disease, and then complain of the injustice of impersonal
nature. And in reading a story of the "Arabian Nights", he is struck
by the fact that the women of the harem, creatures trained to vice and
condemned to slavery, give utterance to the highest moral precepts:

    These women, who forever are pondering the loftiest,
    grandest problems of justice, of the morality of men and of
    nations, never throw one questioning glance on their own
    fate, or for one instant suspect the abominable injustice
    whereof they are victims. Nor do those suspect it either who
    listen to them, and love and admire and understand them.
    And we who marvel at this--we who also reflect on justice
    and virtue, on pity and love--are we so sure that they who
    come after us shall not some day find in our present social
    condition a spectacle equally disconcerting and amazing.[8]

Maeterlinck stands quite aloof from politics, but not because he is out
of sympathy with the tendency of the times. He has faith in democracy
in spite of his clear perception of its faults and dangers:

    In those problems in which all life's enigmas converge, the
    crowd which is wrong is almost always justified as against
    the wise man who is right. It refuses to believe him on his
    word. It feels dimly that behind the most evident abstract
    truths there are numberless living truths which no brain
    can foresee, for they need time, reality and men's passions
    to develop their work. That is why, whatever warning we may
    give it, whatever prediction we may make to it, the crowd
    insists before all that the experiment shall be tried. Can
    we say that, in cases where the crowd has obtained the
    experiment, it was wrong to insist upon it?[9]

    It would surely have been highly dangerous to confide the
    destinies of the species to Plato or Aristotle, Marcus
    Aurelius, Shakespeare or Montesquieu. At the very worst
    moments of the French Revolution the fate of the people was
    in the hands of philosophers of no mean order.[10]

The thoroughgoing character of his democracy is emphasized by Professor
Dewey in his lecture on "Maeterlinck's Philosophy of Life" delivered at
Columbia University:

"Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Maeterlinck are thus far, perhaps, the only
men who have been habitually, and, as it were, instinctively, aware
that democracy is neither a form of government nor a social expediency,
but a metaphysic of the relation of man and his experience to nature;
among these Maeterlinck has at least the advantage of greater
illumination by the progress of natural science."

This democratic feeling seems to me to arise more from his mystical
sense of the continuity of life than from personal disposition or
political theory. In his earlier and more characteristic dramas,
the persons are hardly more than talking symbols. Their looks and
costumes are not described, either in the stage directions or in the
dialogue. Their names--if he takes the trouble to give them names--are
scarcely sufficient in some cases to indicate the sex. Their speech is
language reduced to its lowest elements, excessively simplified, in
fact, and full of the repetitions and incoherencies common to stupid
and uneducated people the world over. Maeterlinck himself calls them
"marionnettes", and says that they have the appearance of half deaf
somnambulists just awakening from a painful dream.

But these puppet people are divested of individuality for the purpose
of reducing them to the common denominator of humanity. They are
devoided of personal interest in order to prevent the attention of the
spectator from being fixed upon them. They are made transparent so that
we may look through them and perceive the external forces which control
them. The dramatic poet, he says in the preface to his early dramas,
"must show us in what way, in what form, in what conditions, according
to what laws, and to what end our destinies are controlled by the
superior powers, the unintelligible influences, the infinite principles
of which, in so far as he is a poet, he is persuaded that the universe
is full."

Great poetry he regards as composed of three principal elements:

    First, verbal beauty, then the contemplation and passionate
    depiction of what really exists around us and in ourselves,
    that is to say, nature and feeling, and, finally, enveloping
    the entire work and creating its own atmosphere, the idea
    which the poet has of the unknown in which float the beings
    and things he evokes, of the mystery which dominates them
    and judges them and presides over their destinies.

The critics were not altogether wrong when they called the characters
of his earlier plays "mere shadows." But a shadow exists only when a
bright light is cast on a real object. Maeterlinck's purpose is to make
Plato's cave men aware of the drama that is being enacted behind their
backs. The real action of these plays is not that seen on the stage.
His dramas contain their message written in secret ink between the
lines, and it becomes visible only when warmed by the sympathy of the

The performance of "Macbeth" at Saint-Wandrille had a double interest.
It introduced a novel form of the drama, and it added another to the
many attempts to put Shakespeare into French. This select and household
entertainment might be called "chamber pageantry", because it bears
somewhat the same relation to the outdoor processionings now so popular
as chamber music does to orchestral. Most of the incongruities which
the critics pointed out[11] are not inherent in the plan, but due to the
fact that "Macbeth" is not adapted to such a setting any more than it
is to the modern theater. Conceivably something more effective could be
done in this line if a new play were written to fit the place and the
conditions of enactment, requirements certainly not more exigeant than
those of the Elizabethan stage. In this it would even be possible to
keep strictly to the three unities, and play the scenes appropriately
indoors and out, in daylight and dark.

Madame Georgette Leblanc-Maeterlinck has been, as wives are apt to be,
both a help and a hindrance to her husband.

She has inspired some of his best work and also embroiled him in
interminable controversies with theatrical managers. "Monna Vanna"
was written for her, so, very naturally, she wanted a monopoly of the
title rôle, and when Debussy set "Pelléas et Mélisande" to music as
unearthly as the play, she insisted upon singing Mélisande. But the
Parisian managers, either because they had _protégées_ of their own
or because they did not have a sufficiently high opinion of Madame
Leblanc's capabilities as an actress and a prima donna, declined to
take her, and M. Maeterlinck was not able to compel them to, or to
prevent the production of the play and opera with other leading ladies.
She did, however, finally sing the part both at home and in America,
though she lost the distinction of creating it.

But, at any rate, we owe to her assiduity a new translation of
"Macbeth", which the London _Times_ says "is the most conscientious
effort to preserve the atmosphere of a Shakespearean play which has
been attempted in French since M. Marcel Schwab's remarkable rendering
of 'Hamlet.'" The difficulty of translating poetical language, wherein
the sound and connotation of the words are as essential as their
literal meaning, is admirably stated by M. Maeterlinck:

    The humble translators face to face with Shakespeare are
    like painters seated in front of the same forest, the
    same seas, on the same mountain. Each of them will make a
    different picture. And a translation is almost as much an
    _état d'âme_ as is a landscape. Above, below, and all round
    the literal and literary sense of the primitive phrase
    floats a secret life which is all but impossible to catch,
    and which is, nevertheless, more important than the external
    life of the words and of the images. It is that secret life
    which it is important to understand and to reproduce as
    well as one can. Extreme prudence is required, since the
    slightest false note, the smallest error, may destroy the
    illusion and destroy the beauty of the finest page. Such is
    the ideal of the conscientious translator. It excuses in
    advance every effort of the kind, even this one, which comes
    after so many others, and contributes to the common work
    merely the very modest aid of a few phrases which chance may
    now and then have favored.

He illustrates these variant views of the same landscape by bringing
together all the different versions of a couplet, from Letourneur of
the eighteenth century to Duval, the latest translator of Shakespeare:

    "Strange things I have in head that will to hand
     Which must be acted ere they may be scann'd.

    "J'ai dans la tête d'étranges choses qui aboutiront
    à ma main; et qu'il faut accomplir avant qu'on les

    "J'ai dans la tête d'étranges choses qui réclament
    ma main et veulent être exécutés avant d'être
    méditées."--(François-Victor Hugo.)

    "Ma tête a des projets étranges qui réclament ma main;
    achevons l'acte avant d'y réfléchir."--(Maurice Pottecher.)

    "J'ai dans la tête d'étranges choses qui passeront dans mes
    mains, des choses qu'il faut exécuter avant d'avoir le temps
    de les examiner."--(Guizot.)

    "J'ai dans ma tête d'étranges choses que ma main exécutera,
    et qui veulent être accomplies sans me laisser le temps de
    les peser."--(Montégut.)

    "Ma tête a des projets qu'exécutera ma main; je veux les
    accomplir de suite, sans me donner le temps de les examiner
    de trop près."--(Benjamin Laroche.)

    "J'ai d'étranges projets en tête qui veulent être exécutés
    avant d'y réfléchir."--(Georges Duval.)

    "J'ai dans la tête d'étranges projets, qui, de là,
    passeront dans mes mains; et il faut les exécuter avant
    qu'on puisse les pénétrer."--(Pierre Letourneur.)

This couplet is in itself an argument for more freedom of translation
than is customarily allowed. The choice of "scann'd" from among
other words that would have expressed the idea as well or better was
obviously dictated by the necessity of rhyming with "hand", and this in
turn was due to the desire to alliterate with "head." A translator, if
he is to make as good poetry as the original author, must have an equal
license. It is therefore not surprising to see that M. Maeterlinck has
been most successful in preserving the spirit of the original where
he has translated into rhyme instead of prose, for here the exactions
of the French verse have forced him to a greater freedom. Here are
fragments of the witches' songs:

    Paddock crie, "Allez, allez."
    Le laid est beau et le beau laid
    Allons flotter dans la brume,
    Allons faire le tour du monde,
    Dans la brume et l'air immonde.

    Trois fois le chat miaula
    Le hérisson piaula.
    Harpier crie, "Voilà! voilà!"

    Double, double, puis redouble,
    Le feu chante au chaudron trouble.

In order that the reader may judge for himself whether the Belgian poet
has succeeded in this effort to put Shakespeare into French, we quote a
few passages of especial difficulty. The complete text is published in
_Illustration_ of August 28, 1909.

    Et, enfin, ce Duncan fut si doux sur son trône, si pur dans
    sa puissance que ses vertues parleront comme d'angéliques
    trompettes contre le crime damné de son assassinat. Et la
    pitié, pareille à un nouveau-né chevauchant la tempête, ou
    à un cherubin céleste qui monte les coursiers invisibles de
    l'air, soufflerait l'acte horrible dans les yeux de tout
    homme jusqu'à noyer le vent parmi les larmes.

    "Tu ne dormiras! Macbeth a tué le sommeil!" L'innocent
    sommeil, le sommeil qui dévide l'écheveau embrouillé des

    Tout l'océan du grand Neptune pourrait-il laver ce sang de
    ma main? Non, c'est plutôt cette main qui empourprera les
    vagues innombrables, faisant de la mer verte un océan rouge.

Maeterlinck has himself suffered many things of many translators.
Alfred Sutro has given us admirable versions of his philosophical
works, "Wisdom and Destiny", "The Treasure of the Humble", and "The
Life of the Bee", but his plays have not been so fortunate, for their
emotional effect is dependent upon the maintenance of a peculiar
atmosphere, so sensitive that a harsh breath will destroy it, leaving
ridiculous wooden puppets where the moment before we thought we
glimpsed beings of supernatural beauty. So even a reader whose French
is feeble will prefer the plays in the original, for their language
is of extreme simplicity and the effect may be even enhanced by the
additional veil that his partial incomprehension draws across the stage
picture. Then, too, Maeterlinck's trick of triple repetition which
offends our Anglo-Saxon ears ceases to annoy us in French, for in that
language even identical rhymes are permissible.

As an example of how a prosaic literalism may spoil the illusion, let
us take that exquisite passage which closes "Pelléas et Mélisande":

    C'était un petit être si tranquille, si timide et si
    silencieux. C'était un pauvre petit très mystérieux, comme
    tout le monde. Elle est là, comme si elle était la grande
    soeur de son enfant.

This is the way it is rendered by Laurence Alma Tadema, and the
libretto of the opera is still worse: "It was a little gentle being, so
quiet, so timid and so silent. It was a poor little mysterious being,
like all the world. She lies there as if she were her own child's big

The wise old man, who at Mélisande's death bed sums up her character
in the words, "_C'était un pauvre petit être mystérieux, comme tout
le monde_", gives at the same time the key to the philosophy of the
play.--"She was a poor little mysterious being like every one." "Like
every one"! The phrase throws back a level ray of light, as though it
were a setting sun, and illuminates the dark road we have traversed.
"Like every one", and all this while we had been thinking what an
unnatural and absurd creature this Mélisande was, this princess who did
not know where she came from or where she was going to, who was always
weeping without reason, who played so carelessly with her wedding ring
over the well's mouth, and whose words could never express what she
felt. "Like every one"? perhaps ... at any rate to be thought on, once
it has been suggested to us. And in this connection we may consider a
sentence in "Wisdom and Destiny":

    Genius only throws into bolder relief all that can and
    actually does take place in the lives of all men; otherwise
    were it genius no longer but incoherence or madness.

What fun Francisque Sarcey did make of "Pelléas and Mélisande"
and of its admirers at its first representation in Paris in 1893.
According to the veteran critic of _Le Temps_,[12] the play contained
a triple symbolism; one part not understood by the profane, one part
not understood by the initiates, and one part not understood by the
author. Maeterlinck was only a passing craze, he thought, due to the
reprehensible fondness of the Parisians for anything foreign. Yet some
fifteen years after that he might have seen in New York blocks of
people standing for hours in the snow around the Manhattan Opera House
to get a chance to see, with the added charm of Debussy's music, this
same play that the critics called "Maeterlinck's Sedan."

Even Richard Hovey, who first introduced Maeterlinck's plays to
America in the days when the "Green Tree Library" flourished and bore
its strange fruit, feared that "his devotion to the wormy side of
things may prevent him from ever becoming popular." But he got over
his devotion to the wormy side of things and has grown into a more
wholesome philosophy and so into a greater popularity. The transition
point in his style and thought is marked by the preface to his dramas,
1901. He neither recants nor apologizes for his earlier work, still
less does he ridicule it, as Ruskin did his first writing, but he
frankly and gracefully indicates the changed attitude toward life which
shows itself in his later essays.

He ceases to use the word "destiny" exclusively in its evil sense, and
to represent it as a power inimical to man, watching in the shadow to
pounce upon us whenever we manifest a little joy. Fate in his later
work does not always mean fatality, and events are controlled by
character more than by external forces. Man by wisdom can overcome
destiny. But Maeterlinck would have us take care to keep a sane balance
of altruism and egoism:

    You are told you should love your neighbor as yourself;
    but if you love yourself meanly, childishly, timidly, even
    so shall you love your neighbor. Learn, therefore, to love
    yourself with a love that is wise and healthy, that is large
    and complete.

It is a curious transformation by which this Belgian lawyer and
esoteric poet has become one of the widest known of French playwrights
and moralists. He was born in Ghent, August 29, 1862, of an old Flemish
family. The name, "measurer of grain", is derived from an ancestor who
was generous in a time of famine.

He was educated at the University of Ghent for law, in accordance with
the wishes of his family, though he would have preferred medicine. But
his dominant interest was always literature.

His experience at the bar was brief, a couple of criminal cases, and
then he deserted the law and went to Paris for a year, where he was
chiefly under the influence of the French symbolist, Villiers de
l'Isle-Adam. Then he returned home to devote himself in quiet to the
cultivation of his double garden of literature and science. He was
especially attracted by the freshness and richness of Shakespeare and
his contemporaries, and, as he says, drank long and thirstily from
the Elizabethan springs. In Shelley and Browning he was also deeply

At the age of twenty-four he began to contribute to _La Pléiade_, the
organ of the "Young Belgians", a group of ambitious young writers,
impressionists, seekers after novel effects of style, chiefly attained
by means of transferring descriptive adjectives from one of the five
senses to the other four. In the third number of this short-lived
periodical was published Maeterlinck's first and apparently his last
story, "The Massacre of the Innocents", a biblical incident reset in
the times of the Spanish wars.[14] Here appeared some of the poems
republished in 1889 in the little volume entitled "Serres Chaudes"
("Hot-house Blooms").

The cross-fertilization of Elizabethan drama with French symbolism gave
rise to the "Princess Maleine", a new species if there ever was one,
Shakespearean in form and incident, most un-Shakespearean in everything
else. The first edition of this drama was an extremely limited one,
twenty copies, printed on a hand press with Maeterlinck turning the

It was the "Princess Maleine" which led to his "discovery" by Octave
Mirbeau, who proclaimed it "the greatest work of genius of the times",
and "superior in beauty to what is most beautiful in Shakespeare."[15]
This newspaper praise made Maeterlinck instantly famous everywhere
save in his own country. His neighbors in Ghent refused to take it
seriously, and thought it a pity that his family should encourage the
young man in his mania by paying for puffs like that.

To trace Maeterlinck's dramatic development is like watching a
materialization at a séance. His characters have become increasingly
solid and life-like, but they have lost the illusiveness and
allusiveness that made their charm in his earlier plays. Maeterlinck
has never been able to equal Ibsen--nor has anyone else--in the art of
making a perfectly individualized and natural character serve also as
a type or symbol, thus doubling our interest by combining the specific
and the general.

Maeterlinck's genius shows best in his own peculiar field of symbolism
and suggestion, that of his early dramas and of "The Blue Bird." His
plays of a more conventional type, "Monna Vanna" and "Mary Magdalene",
betray his deficiencies as a dramatic writer, his lack of the power of
plot construction and a sense of humor. "Mary Magdalene" is really as
much a one-act play as "The Interior", for the last act is the only
one that counts. Here the crowd has the star part, the crowd of the
lame, the halt and the blind, the sinners and the diseased, whom Jesus
has cured and who now desert him; and the real drama is enacted, not
in the upper chamber of the house of Joseph of Arimathea, but in the
street outside, leading to the Place of the Skull. The scene of the
woman taken in adultery is far less dramatic than in its biblical form,
because in the play she is really protected by Roman swords, not by the
awakened consciences of the mob.

The continuous development of Maeterlinck's philosophy of life is shown
as well in his plays as in his essays. Mary Magdalene, who would not
save her Savior by the sacrifice of her virtue, represents a higher
ethical ideal than Monna Vanna, who gives herself for the city. In his
earlier plays Maeterlinck tries to frighten us with the traditional
Terrors which in "The Blue Bird" are shown to be imprisoned and
harmless in the Palace of Night. Old Time with his scythe, who as "The
Intruder" of twenty years ago brought death into the household, appears
now in "The Blue Bird" under a kinder aspect, calling the Children of
the Future into life. In fact, "The Blue Bird" represents the highest
point of the philosophy of optimism, for it is based upon the most
daring of all the assumptions of science--that the secret of existence
is also the secret of happiness. "To be wise is above all to be happy",
says Maeterlinck. Truly, he has got a long way from Schopenhauer, the
object of his boyish admiration.

Maeterlinck has, in short, acquired a faith. I do not see exactly
whom or what he has faith in, but he has faith, and that, after all,
seems to be the main thing. The development of his thought has an
especial interest in that it shows how a spiritual interpretation of
the universe and a moral support can be built up on pure agnosticism.
From Christianity he has derived little except a vague symbolism and
certain ethical ideals. He looks back with bitterness upon his school
days in the Jesuit college at Ghent, but his writings show no trace of
the anticlerical animosity which is so conspicuous in Haeckel's. It was
his latest book, "Death", the most religious of them all, breathing a
spirit of unconquerable faith in immortality and future happiness, that
brought down upon Maeterlinck the condemnation of Rome, and in 1914 all
his books and plays were put upon the Index by the Sacred Congregation.

From the mystics he has derived much, especially from the German
Novalis and the Flemish Ruysbroek, whose works he has translated into
French. In his preface to the latter he says:

    Mystical truths have this strange superiority over truths of
    the ordinary kind, that they know neither age nor death....
    They possess the immunity of Swedenborg's angels, who
    progress continually toward the springtime of youth, so that
    the eldest angels always appear the youngest.

But he undoubtedly owes his ethical and philosophical growth most of
all to the study of nature, not the vague contemplation of natural
objects which in the early Victorian era was thought proper pabulum for
poets, but the effort to understand nature through the use of modern
scientific methods. We are reminded of Sir Thomas Browne, who says:
"Those strange and mystical transmigrations that I have observed in
silkworms turned my philosophy into divinity."

The reason why many poets and imaginative writers of high ability
find themselves without influence in the modern world is, in my
opinion, because they are ignorant of science or inimical to it.
They, therefore, write for antiquity, which does not buy books, or
for posterity, which, it is safe to say, will never come back to the
position they hold. The people do not enjoy science, but their manner
of thought is molded by it, and they are unaffected or repelled by
music out of tune with it.

Maeterlinck, while thoroughly appreciating science, does not exaggerate
its power. He does not look to it for a complete explanation of the

    Rarely does a mystery disappear; ordinarily it only changes
    its place. But it is often very important, very desirable,
    that it manage to change its place. From a certain point of
    view, all the progress of human thought reduces itself to
    two or three changes of this kind--to have dislodged two or
    three mysteries from the place where they did harm in order
    to transport them where they become harmless, where they can
    do good. Sometimes it is enough, without a mystery changing
    its place, if we can succeed in giving it another name. That
    which was called "the gods" is now called "life." And if
    life is just as inexplicable as the gods, we have at least
    gained this, that in the name of life no one has authority
    to speak nor right to do harm.

Maeterlinck does not seem to me so much an original thinker as an
exquisitely sensitive personality who is able to catch the dominant
note of the times in which he lives, and to give it artistic
expression, as a musician upon a high tower might take as his key
the fundamental tone of the streets below, modulating his music as
the rhythm of the city changes, not to obtain applause, but because
his soul is in sympathy with the life around him. In Maeterlinck's
writings, various though they be in form and topic, may be continuously
traced the changing moods of the philosophy of the last twenty years,
for he has always retained his sincerity of thought and courage of

    To look fearlessly upon life; to accept the laws of nature,
    not with meek resignation, but as her sons, who dare to
    search and question; to have peace and confidence within our
    soul--these are the beliefs that make for happiness. But
    to believe is not enough; all depends on how we believe. I
    may believe that there is no God, that I am self-contained,
    that my brief sojourn here serves no purpose; that in the
    economy of this world without limit my existence counts for
    as little as the evanescent hue of a flower--I may believe
    all this, in a deeply religious spirit, with the infinite
    throbbing within me; you may believe in one all-powerful
    God, who cherishes and protects you, yet your belief may be
    mean, and petty, and small. I shall be happier than you, and
    calmer, if my doubt is greater, and nobler, and more earnest
    than is your faith; if it has probed more deeply into my
    soul, traversed wider horizons, if there are more things
    it has loved. And if the thoughts and feelings on which
    my doubt reposes have become vaster and purer than those
    that support your faith, then shall the God of my disbelief
    become mightier and of supremer comfort than the God to whom
    you cling. For, indeed, belief and unbelief are mere empty
    words; not so the loyalty, the greatness and profoundness of
    the reasons wherefore we believe or do not believe.[16]

       *       *       *       *       *


To those familiar with Maeterlinck, the following, and perhaps also
the foregoing, will be of no interest. But those who wish to make his
closer acquaintance may find some suggestions not impertinent.

Maeterlinck's essays are published in English by Dodd, Mead and
Company, in seven volumes: "The Treasure of the Humble"; "Wisdom and
Destiny"; "The Buried Temple"; "The Measure of the Hours"; "The Double
Garden"; "On Emerson and Other Essays" (Novalis and Ruysbroek); and
"Our Eternity." The order given is that of their publication in French.
Any one of them will give the reader an insight into the character of
his thought; "Wisdom and Destiny" is the most consecutive. If one has
time for but a single essay, he may read "The Leaf of Olive."

For his treatment of nature, see "The Life of the Bee" (Dodd, Mead and
Company), essays in "The Double Garden" and in "The Measure of the
Hodrs", and "The Insect's Homer" in _Forum_, September, 1910; also
"News of Spring and Other Nature Studies", illustrated by E. J. Detmold
(Dodd, Mead and Company).

Of his dramatic work the early mystical plays are most characteristic.
The timid reader should avoid reading them alone after dark. Yet
there is nothing supernatural in them--except the sense of the
supernatural that permeates them. Nothing happens that cannot be given
a rationalistic explanation--only the reader is not disposed at the
time to accept such an explanation. Select your co-readers with care
(all plays should, of course, be read aloud); avoiding particularly
the hysterical giggler, for the effect depends upon maintaining the
atmospheric pressure, and Maeterlinck treads close to the line that
separates the sublime from the ridiculous and, as he himself confesses,
he occasionally steps over. Read the original if you have any knowledge
whatever of French, for the language is of the simplest, and in these
veiled dramas a slight additional haziness does no harm. (The French
edition is published by Lacomblez, Brussels, in three volumes. Volume
I, "La Princesse Maleine", "L'lntruse", "Les Aveugles"; Volume II,
"Pelléas et Mélisande", "Alladine et Palomides", "Intérieur", "La
mort de Tintagiles"; Volume III, "Aglavaine et Sélysette", "Ariane
et Barbe-bleue", "Soeur Beatrice." Volumes I and II, translated by
Hovey, are sold by Dodd, Mead and Company in three volumes.) If you
are doubtful of your ability to read "the static drama", or of your
capacity to enjoy it, begin with "The Interior (The Home)." Here the
tragedy is enacted inside the house, while all the talking is done
outside. If you find a fascination in it, pass on to "The Intruder" and
"The Blind." This last affords unlimited scope to those who are fond of
running down symbols. The dead priest in the middle of the group will
stand for any form of ecclesiasticism you may have outgrown, and you
can give the blind people around him the names of all the philosophers
you know, according to the degree of their blindness and their reliance
upon rationalism, intuitionalism, child psychology, animal psychology,
etc., for a way out. But don't think you have to label them at all if
you don't like to.

To understand "The Blue Bird," all you have to do is to become a
child. Then after you grow up again you may find that you understand
it still better. It was first presented in Russia, where it was played
by fifty-two companies. London and New York saw it before Paris,
where it was put on the stage for the first time five years after it
appeared elsewhere, with Madame Georgette Leblanc in the rôle of Light.
(English version, Dodd, Mead and Company.) Maeterlinck has taken out
the forest conspiracy because it scared the children, and substituted a
new act containing one of his most original characters, the Happiness
of Running Barefoot in the Dew, who is apparently a daughter of Doctor
Kneipp. Madame Maeterlinck has prepared "The Blue Bird for Children" in
story form for schools (Silver, Burdett and Company).

"Mary Magdalene" is played by Olga Nethersole, but may be as well
read as seen. "Monna Vanna" was prohibited by the Censor in England
until 1914, but was played in this country by Bertha Kalich, without
offense. The only play by Maeterlinck that is at all "Frenchy" is one
he translated from the English of John Ford. (Dodd, Mead and Company
publish "Joyzelle" and "Monna Vanna", "Aglavaine and Sélysette",
"Mary Magdalene", "Pelléas and Mélisande", "Princess Maleine", "The
Intruder, and Other Plays", and "Sister Beatrice", and "Ariane and Blue
Beard." Harper publishes "Monna Vanna"; Crowell published "Pelléas
and Mélisande"; R. F. Seymour, Chicago, publishes "Twelve Songs of
Maeterlinck." Several of the plays can be found in back numbers of
_Poet Lore_ sold by R. G. Badger, Boston.)

A comprehensive bibliography will be found in the life of Maeterlinck
by Montrose J. Moses (Duffield). We have also in English brief
biographies by Gérard Harry (Allen and Sons) and J. Bithel (Scribner).
The sketch by William Sharp in the "Warner Library of the World's Best
Literature" is remarkable for its insight, and the reader may also
be referred to Hunneker's "Iconoclasts", Thorold's "Six Masters of
Disillusion", and the article on "Maeterlinck's Philosophy of Life",
by Professor John Dewey of Columbia in the _Hibbert Journal_, July,
1911. The lover of Maeterlinck, whose affection is capable of being
alienated, should beware of reading the very clever parody on his style
in Owen Sea-man's "Borrowed Plumes" (Holt).

[1] "L'Abbaye de Fontenelle ou de Saint-Wandrille." Paris. 1827.

[2] From "The Past", by Maurice Maeterlinck. _The Independent,_ March
6, 1902.

[3] "The Portrait of a Lady", in "The Double Garden."

[4] See her account of the performance in _Century Magazine_, January,

[5] For Maeterlinck on Emerson, see _Poet Lore_, Vol. 10, p. 76,
January, 1898, and _Arena_, Vol. 16, p. 563, March, 1896.

[6] _Metropolitan Magazine_, May, 1914.

[7] "The Mystery of Justice", in "The Double Garden."

[8] _The Independent_, January 3, 1901.

[9] "The Double Garden."

[10] "The Mystery of Justice."

[11] For a description of the performance see "A Realization of
Macbeth" by Alvan G. Sanborn in _The Independent_, September 15, 1909.

[12] See his "Quarante Ans de Théâtre."

[13] His admiration for Browning appears in his reply to Professor
William Lyon Phelps, of Yale, who had called attention to the close
similarity between an incident in Browning's "Luria" and Maeterlinck's
"Monna Vanna." Maeterlinck very frankly and courteously acknowledged
his indebtedness to Browning, whom, he said, he regarded, like
Æschylus, Sophocles, and Shakespeare, as common sources of literary
inspiration. _The Independent_, March 5 and June 11, 1903.

[14] This is signed by his name in its original form, Mooris
Mäterlinck. A translation of this and other tales by Belgian writers by
Edith Wingate Rinder was published in 1897 in the "Green Tree Library"
of Stone & Kimball (now Duffield & Co.).

[15] _Figaro_, August 24, 1890. Octave Mirbeau later busied himself
in booming Marguerite Audoux, the Paris sempstress, who wrote

[16] "Wisdom and Destiny," § 79.



    The history of philosophy shows us chiefly the ceaselessly
    renewed efforts of reflection laboring to attenuate
    difficulties, to resolve contradictions, to measure with
    an increasing approximation a reality incommensurable with
    our thought. But from time to time bursts forth a soul
    which seems to triumph over these complications by force of
    simplicity, the soul of artist or of poet, keeping close
    to its origin, reconciling with a harmony felt by the
    heart terms perhaps irreconcilable by the intelligence.
    The language which it speaks, when it borrows the voice of
    philosophy, is not similarly understood by everybody. Some
    think it vague, and so it is in what it expresses. Others
    feel it precise, because they experience all it suggests. To
    many ears it brings only the echo of a vanished past, but
    others hear in it as in a prophetic dream the joyous song of
    the future.

These words, which Bergson used in his eulogy of his teacher,
Ravaisson, before the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences,
may be applied with greater appropriateness to Bergson himself. For
he, far more than Ravaisson, has shown himself an original force in
the world of thought, and his philosophy also appears to some people
reactionary in tendency and to others far in advance of anything
hitherto formulated. But to all it appears important. "Nothing like it
since Descartes", they say in France. "Nothing like it since Kant",
they say in Germany. His lecture room is the largest in the Collège
de France, but it is too small to accommodate the crowd which would
hear him. They begin to gather at half-past three for the five o'clock
lecture, though they have to listen to a political economist to hold
their seats. A cosmopolitan crowd it is that on Wednesdays awaits the
lecturer, talking more languages than have ordinarily been heard in
the same room at any time during the period from the strike on the
Tower of Babel to the universal adoption of Esperanto. French, Italian,
English, American, German, Yiddish, and Russian are to be distinguished
among them; perhaps the last predominate among the foreign tongues, for
young people of both sexes come from Russia in swarms to put themselves
under his instruction. This may rouse in us some speculation, even
apprehension. Bergsonianism has already assumed some curious forms in
the minds of his over-ardent disciples, and what it will become after
it has been translated into the Russian language and temperament it
would be rash to prophesy.

But the polyglot audience is silent as M. Bergson ascends the rostrum
and begins to talk, in slow, smooth, clear tones, accented by nervous
gestures of his slender hands. His figure is slight, and his face
thin and pointed, almost ecclesiastical in appearance. His hair is
slightly gray, but his close-cropped mustache is brown. The eyes are
deep, dark, and penetrating, the eyes of seer and scientist together.
He lays out his argument in advance in the formal French style, but
unlike most French lecturers he does not confine himself to notes. His
quick turns of thought break through the conventional forms of logic
and find expression in striking and original similes drawn from his
wide range of reading. I suppose all professors are given nicknames by
their students; at least all who are either loved or hated, and that
includes all who amount to anything. Bergson's students call him "the
lark", because the higher he flies the sweeter he sings. His voice,
indeed, seems to come down from some altitudinous region of the upper
atmosphere, so clear and thin and high and penetrating it is. A writer
in the _London News_ put it very well when he said of Bergson's London
lecture, "No one ever spoke before a large audience with more complete
self-possession and less self-assertion."

[Illustration: H. Bergson]

As an experienced teacher he appreciates the importance of repetition,
and in his lectures brings up the same idea in many varied forms and
italicizes with his voice the essential points. All his life he has
been a teacher, climbing up the regular educational ladder rung by rung
to the top.

Henri Bergson was born in the heart of Paris, the Montmartre quarter,
on October 18, 1859. He is descended from a prominent Jewish family of
Poland and he owes his excellent command of the English language to his
mother, for he always spoke that language with her. At the age of nine
he entered the Lycée Condorcet, only a few blocks from his house on
the Rue Lamartine. He was a good student and worked hard, particularly
on geography, which was most difficult for him. Mathematics was his
favorite study, and he then intended to make it his life work, but
instead he chose a harder road, for, as he told me, philosophy is much
more difficult, requires more concentrated thought than mathematics.
Before he left the Lycèe at the age of eighteen he won a prize for a
solution to a mathematical problem, and the _Annales de Mathématiques_
published his paper in full.

Next he entered the École Normale Supérieure, where he came under the
influence of Ravaisson, Lachelier, and Boutroux. On graduation, in
1881, he was made professor of philosophy in the Lycèe of Angers for
two years, afterward for five years at Clermont, then back to Paris,
first in the Collège Rollin and later in the Lycée Henri IV. In 1898 he
was promoted to the École Normale Supérieure, and two years later to
the Collège de France. In 1901 he was elected to the Institute, and in
1914 to the Academy.

The rapid spread of his philosophy in France is due not only to its
intrinsic value and the eloquence with which he presents it, but in
part also to his having been a teacher of teachers. By his twenty
years' work in the secondary schools or _lycées_ of the provinces and
Paris, and in the Superior Normal School, he has molded the thought of
thousands of young men who are now teaching and writing and ruling in
France. His present position as lecturer to miscellaneous audiences
in the Collège of France, though more conspicuous, is really not more
influential than his earlier work. He has the faculty of arousing the
enthusiasm and personal devotion of his students, so the soil all over
the country was prepared in advance for the propagation of his ideas,
and now all he has to do is to sow them broadcast. We may observe
something of the kind in our own country, where Dewey's influence has
been largely exercised through personal contact with teachers. If he
had never published a line, the colleges, normal and high schools in
the western half of the United States would, nevertheless, be teaching
anonymous Deweyism. A philosopher who cares more for influence than
celebrity will prefer a chair where he can reach the largest number of
future teachers to any other position however exalted.

We are not left to speculation as to the extent of Bergson's influence
in French education. A questionnaire on the teaching of philosophy
in the _lycées_ conducted by Binet[1] showed that his ideas were the
dominant force of the time. One school reported that "four professors
here have adopted them without reserve and made them the soul of their
teaching." It is interesting to note that not one of these high school
professors mentioned either materialism or pantheism among their
various philosophic creeds. They were equally divided between objective
and subjective thinkers, or, say, between realists and idealists.

Bergson himself was a materialist to start with, and he worked his
way up into his present spiritualistic philosophy when he found the
inadequacy of his early conceptions. His taste was for the exact
sciences, and in them he excelled while at school. He intended at that
time to devote himself to the study of mechanics, and his youthful
ambition was to continue and develop the philosophy of Herbert Spencer,
of whom he was then an enthusiastic admirer.

But as he studied the formulas of mechanics with a view of discovering
their philosophical implications, and of utilizing them in the
explanation of the universe, he was struck with their inadequacy,
even falsity, when applied to the phenomena of life and mind. In
particular he was troubled by the symbol _t_ which occurs so frequently
in mathematical and physical formulas, and is supposed to stand for
"time." It is represented geometrically by a straight line just like
the three dimensions of space. In fact, as Bergson points out, "time"
as used in physical science is nothing more or less than a fourth
dimension of space. It is purely a spatial conception, an empty
framework in which events may be arranged in order as objects are set
up in a row on a shelf. There is no change or development in it, for
past and future are all the same to it.

Now, when Bergson compared this physical conception of "time" with
real time or duration as he felt it within himself, he found they were
entirely different things. For the mind the past does not stretch
out in a line behind. It is rolled up into the present and projected
toward the future. Still less is there a path or several optional paths
definitely laid out ahead of us in the future. We break our own paths
as we go forward. It is like the big snowballs that we boys used to
roll up to make forts out of; all the snow it has passed over is a part
of it, and in front the snow is trackless.

The mechanical formulas of science are admirably adapted to the purpose
for which they were designed, that is, the handling of matter, but
they are misleading as applied to living beings, and especially to the
human mind, which is the farthest removed from the realm of material
mechanics. Here is true freedom and initiative.

The advocate of free will always gets beaten in the argument with the
determinist when he meets him on his own ground, for adopting the
spatial conception of time and the dynamic conception of motives,
reduces man to a machine and, of course, makes him amenable to the
ordinary laws of mechanics. If it is correct to represent the future
as two crossroads in front of the undecided individual and he pulled
to right and left by "motives" on either side, then the determinist
has it all his own way. The case has been conceded to him in advance,
and the libertarian can only flinch from his logic. But Bergson holds
that when the determinist pretends to talk about the future, he really
is regarding it as already past, as definitely mapped and virtually

As Bergson's first book, "Time and Free Will", was devoted to the
overthrow of the metaphysical argument for determinism, so his second,
"Matter and Memory", was devoted to the overthrow of the psychological
argument, which is that the mind and the brain are merely different
aspects of the same thing (monism) or that their action is parallel so
that a certain state of consciousness always corresponds to a certain
molecular motion (dualism). Since the activities of the brain are
presumably controlled by the physical and chemical laws, then must be
also the mental activities identical or inseparably connected with
them. But Bergson, taking the position of an extreme dualist, argues
that the mind is distinct from matter and only in part dependent upon
it, that memories are not altogether stored in the brain or anywhere
in space, and that the brain is essentially nothing more than an
instrument of action.

The same is true of our senses, of our bodily organism in general. They
are made for practical, not speculative, purposes. The things nearest
to us are seen largest and clearest. The eye is useful because its
vision is limited. If it were susceptible to all rays, like our skin,
we should get, not vision, but sunburn. Now the understanding, also
having a pragmatic origin, limits our knowledge just as the eye limits
our vision, and for the same purpose.

Let me give a few examples of this limitation of our senses and of
our intellect. Suppose we are looking at a horse or automobile going
past in the street. We get an immediate sense of the movement very
decidedly, but the motion itself we cannot see. We must first analyze
the motion; that is, take it apart, break it up into something that
is not motion. This we can do with a kinetoscope camera which takes
snapshots at the rate of fifty a second. These successive pictures
do not give the motion, no matter how rapidly they are taken. Each
represents the object standing still, or if not quick enough for that,
the picture is blurred; but show these still-life photographs to us in
quick succession, and we no longer perceive them as separate views but
as continuous motion. Why can the camera so deceive us? Simply because
our eyes work in the same way. They are cameras, and the exposure time
of the retina is about the same as that of the moving picture films. A
moving object looked at steadily is merely a blurred band. But if we
wink rapidly, we can catch glimpses of the legs of the horse or the
spokes of the wheel, thus like the kinetoscope transforming motion into
immobility by intermittent attention.

Look closely at a portrait in this book, and you will see that it
consists of pure black and white. Needless to say that the face
portrayed was not composed of black spots of various sizes on a white
ground. In the original there were no black, no white, and no dots.
There were only even shadings, lighter and darker. The picture is an
absolute misrepresentation. Yet viewed with the naked eye at sufficient
distance to put the dots out of sight, it imitates the shading of the
original well enough to be called a "half-tone plate", although there
is really not a half tone in it, nothing but black and white.

Now this trick of decomposing continuous motion into successive
pictures like the kinetoscope and decomposing continuous space into
successive spots like the printing process, is the way we do our
thinking. The mind goes by jerks like the eye. When we think of the
course of history we break it up into blocks of handy size, comparing
century with century, year with year. This is perfectly justifiable,
very useful, in fact inevitable, and quite innocent, provided we
realize that it is a logical fiction, adapted to practical purposes
merely. The trouble has come from not recognizing this. People
generally, and especially scientists and philosophers, have been
inclined to regard this process of rationalization as the way of
getting at reality, instead of as a mere tool for handling reality.

Long ago, when men first began to think hard, they discovered the
inadequacy of mere thinking. Zeno of Elea propounded among other
puzzles that of Achilles and the tortoise, which has kept the world
guessing for twenty-four centuries. While Achilles is making up his
handicap, the tortoise has gone on a bit farther, and when Achilles
has covered this distance, the tortoise is not there, but still ahead,
and since space is conceived as infinitely divisible, Achilles would
take an infinity of time to catch up. I do not suppose the experiment
was ever tried. That was not the way of the Greeks. They placed too
much reliance upon their brains and too little on anything outside of
them to put a theory to the test of experiment. But it has been agreed
everywhere, always and by all, that Achilles would catch the tortoise,
and a considerable proportion of each generation have tried to explain
how he could, often succeeding to their own satisfaction, but rarely
to the satisfaction of other people. For the point to this puzzle is
not to get the answer, but to say why it puzzles us, and to this point
philosophers from Aristotle to Bergson have devoted much study; and
doubtless the end is not yet.

I remember well the day when that ancient jest was first sprung upon me
in the University of Kansas, by the instructor in philosophy, a bright
young man just on from Harvard, who had the Eleatics at his finger
tips. Several of the boys volunteered to explain it, but I, having the
longest arm and snappiest fingers, got the floor. I suggested that
we substitute a greyhound chasing a jack rabbit for Achilles and the
tortoise, who must be tired of running so long. Both greyhound and
jack rabbit progress by jumps, and I argued, with the aid of a piece
of chalk, that these could be measured and laid off on the prairie,
here represented by the blackboard, and so the whole thing figured
out. But the instructor denied my petition for a change of venue.
He stuck to Greece and refused to meet me on my native soil, so I
retired discomfited. I thought him unaccommodating at the time, but
I see now that he was merely wise. Wariness is often so mistaken for
disobligingness. The paradox is solved by science and by common sense
by assuming that Achilles and the tortoise move by jumps instead of
continuously and then comparing these jumps, for they are of finite
length and number.

In short, we know what motion is by common sense, by feeling, by
intuition, but when we come to reason about it, and especially when we
come to talk about it, we have to substitute for it something that is
not motion, but is easier to handle and near enough like it, so that
ordinarily it serves just as well. It is as much like it as the short,
straight lines, substituted by the mathematician, are like the segments
of the curve he is trying to solve. What is true of motion is true in
a way of all our definitions, formulations, laws, and categories; they
are not the real things, but merely handy surrogates. They represent
some particular phase of reality more or less satisfactorily. These
formulas are not designed to pick all the locks of Nature's treasure
chests. They are good for the lock they are designed for and sometimes
others, not all. The master key to all locks either does not exist or
is too cumbrous to be wielded by man.

Bergson's theory of personality arises naturally out of his conception
of time. Time is said to have one dimension. Yes, if we symbolize it by
a line; otherwise not, it has no dimension. The impersonal time of the
philosophers and scientists is merely the spatial symbol of duration.
What our experience shows us is not this empty artificial uneventful
time, but _duration_. And not merely duration, but _durations_, for
there are as many durations of different interval rhythm as there are
consciousnesses. This is what is real in time. Time is really the
continuous unrolling of our conscious life, of psychologic states
which do not become distinct except when it pleases us to divide them.
Personality is a continuity of _indivisible movement_. We can draw a
bucket of water out of the river, and then another bucketful, but we
can never get the stream in this way, for the stream is essentially
movement. The movement is what is substantial about the stream.

From immobile states we can never make of life what experience actually
gives us, for life is change. Only by seizing this change directly in
an integral experience can we solve the problem. To true realities no
concept is applicable. Reality must be regarded itself, in itself, just
as it is; and in giving a description of it, we can fix only the image
of it before our eyes.

The guiding thread of philosophical problems is that the intellect
is an instrument of action which has developed itself in the course
of centuries in order to triumph over the difficulties that matter
opposes to life. The intellect has constituted itself for the purpose
of a battle. The obstacles which it would overthrow are those of brute
matter. The categories of the understanding are constructed with a
view of action upon matter. So where our intellect seeks to know
something else than the material world, it finds itself unable to
grasp it. The whole history of the evolution of life combines to show
that intelligence is an instrumental function for action upon matter,
to formulate and present the laws which permit us to foresee, and
therefore to forestall.

In dealing with a reality like personality, the intellect will first
attempt to handle the subject with the same processes that it employs
for inert matter, therefore it ends in a logical _impasse_. This is
the origin of the difficulties of the question. The concepts which it
would apply to personality are made only for the material world. We do
not know how to apply them adequately to the life of the mind, which
overflows them.

To direct our attention upon the stream of our consciousness breaks
it up and immobilizes it. But it may be reached by another kind of
introspection, which consists in letting live, in trying to reënforce
vitality. In this way activity may become consciousness without
ceasing to be active. Thus the ego may be seized as it really is, as a
transition and a continuity.

In his theory of evolution Bergson draws a sharp distinction between
intelligence and instinct. As intelligence has reached its highest
point in the human race, so instinct has reached its highest point in
the ants, bees, and wasps. Here we see instinct attaining its ends
by the employment of the most varied and complicated expedients. The
ant is lord of the subsoil as man is lord of the soil. The solitary
wasps, whom Maeterlinck would despise as primitive individualists in
comparison with the socialized bees, are used by Bergson to illustrate
his theory of instinct. These insects provide for the future needs of
their larvæ by storing up in their underground nest spiders, beetles,
or caterpillars. These are to be kept alive, as we keep turtles and
lobsters, so they will be fresh, and in order to prevent them from
escaping, the wasp paralyzes them by stinging them at the point or
points where the motor nerves meet. One species of wasp pierces the
ganglia of its caterpillar by nine successive thrusts of its sting and
then squeezes the head in its mandibles, enough to cause paralysis
without death. Other kinds of wasps have to use other forms of surgical
treatment, according to the kind of insect they put into storage. How
can this be explained? If we call it intelligence, we must assume that
the wasp or its ancestors has been endowed with a knowledge of insect
anatomy such as we hesitate to credit to any being lower in the scale
of life than a professor of entomology. If we adopt a mechanistic
hypothesis, we must assume that this marvelous skill in surgery has
been gradually acquired in the course of thousands of generations,
either by the survival of the descendants of those insects who happened
to have stuck their stings into the nine right places (Darwinism), or
by the inheritance of the acquired habit of stinging a certain species
of caterpillar in that particular way (Lamarckianism). But since this
knowledge or skill is never of use to the individual insect and is of
no use to the species until it has arrived at a considerable degree of
perfection, we can hardly adopt either theory without straining our

But the assumed difficulties vanish if we adopt the Bergsonian point
of view and regard the caterpillar and wasp as two parts of the same
process. It is no wonder then that they are fitted together. Slayer
and slain have developed for that purpose, and what is apparently
antagonism is really cooperation. The importance of this theory to
those who are troubled about the moral interpretation of the universe
is obvious, for the stinging of the caterpillar would seem something
like picking a sliver out of the left hand by the right, but Bergson
does not go into this question at all.

The formation of the eye, which is the source of much perplexity to
evolutionists of all schools, provides Bergson with an excellent
illustration of his theory. The eye of mollusks is similar in form and
identical in function with the eye of the vertebrates, yet the two
are composed of different elements and grow in a different way. The
retina of the vertebrate is produced by an expansion of the central
nervous system of the young embryo. It is, so to speak, a part of the
brain coming out to see. In the mollusk, on the contrary, the retina is
formed from the external layer of the embryo. Here heredity is out of
the question because of this difference of formation and because the
man is not descended from the mollusk nor the mollusk from man. The
structure of the eye involves the combination of such a large number
of elements and must satisfy so many conditions before it is good for
anything, that it is practically impossible to explain it either as
the effect of the action of light or as the result of an accretion of
slight accidental variations.

But Bergson, coming in with his philosophic faith at the point where
science leaves off, calls attention to the fact that while the eye is
a complicated structure, seeing is one simple act. Why not begin our
explanation with the simple, instead of the complex? The analytical
method of the intellect, though useful in its place, does not lead us
to the meaning of reality. It is as if we could only see a picture as
broken up into a mosaic, or as if we could only consider a movement of
the hand in the mathematician's way, as an infinite series of points
arranged in a curve.

    So the eye with its marvelous complexity of structure, may
    be only the simple act of vision, divided _for us_ into a
    mosaic of cells, whose order seems marvelous to us because
    we have conceived the whole as an assemblage....

    Mechanism and finalism both go too far, for they attribute
    to Nature the most formidable of the labors of Hercules in
    holding that she has exalted to the simple act of vision
    an infinity of infinitely complex elements, whereas Nature
    has had no more trouble in making an eye than I have in
    lifting my hand. Nature's simple act has divided itself
    automatically into an infinity of elements which are then
    found to be coordinated to one idea, just as the movement
    of my hand has dropped an infinity of points which are then
    found to satisfy one equation.--"Creative Evolution", pp.

Bergson seems born to be an exception to Amiel's criticism of French
philosophy: "The French lack that intuitive faculty to which the living
unity of things is revealed." "Their logic never goes beyond the
category of mechanism nor their metaphysic beyond dualism."

M. Bergson's residence is the Villa Montmorency in Auteuil, a quiet
quarter of Paris, lying between the Seine and the Bois de Boulogne. In
summer he goes to Switzerland for greater seclusion and the stimulus
of a higher altitude upon his thought. Here I had the pleasure of
spending an afternoon with him. From Geneva, where I was staying, I
took the railroad that skirts the lake upon the western side to Nyon,
an old Roman town at the foot of the Dole, the highest peak of the
Swiss Jura. St. Cergue, my destination, was nine miles inland and a
half a mile up. The distance I had to go was therefore the square root
of the sum of the squares of these distances, but I did not figure it
out, because, according to Bergson, we live in time rather than space,
and duration is not a measure of length. So I can only say that it was
one of the longest and pleasantest hypotenuses I ever traversed. For
there was a sense of exhilaration in rising ever higher as the carriage
zigzagged through the woods, and in getting a grander view each time we
stopped at a turn to give way to an automobile chugging slowly up or
coasting swiftly down. Arrived at the little village of St. Cergue, I
had still a climb and a search among the hotels, pensions, and summer
homes scattered over the mountainside for Villa Bois-gentil. This was
found in the middle of a meadow backed by a forest of firs, a square,
two-story house, simply furnished but with no affectation of rusticity,
as is common in American country homes. From the inclosed porch there
is a glorious view of Mont Blanc, with the long blue crescent of Lake
Geneva curving around the ramparts of its base. But, as with many
another Swiss view, the effect is marred by the presence of a big box
of a hotel in the immediate foreground.

One would have thought from the cordiality of my reception that a
philosopher had nothing better to do than to entertain a wandering
American journalist. At lunch I had an opportunity of meeting also
Madame and Mademoiselle Bergson, and afterward a long talk with
Professor Bergson, who later accompanied me down the steep mountain
path to the village and along the winding road through the woods. His
conversation has the charm of his books, the enthusiasm for the mission
of philosophy, the wealth of illustrations drawn from many fields of
science and art, the freshness and inspiration of his novel point of
view, the candidness in the consideration of opposing arguments, the
unaffected, unpretentious manner, the absence of the professional
jealousy and personal arrogance which has been characteristic of many
original thinkers. The reader will notice that in his reviews and
criticisms of the historic systems of philosophy, he never seeks to
overthrow them, but is always trying to see how much of them he can
save and assimilate. He believes that it is possible for metaphysics to
have a continuous and positive development like the natural sciences,
each man building on what has gone before, instead of setting up a new
school and endeavoring to secure a personal following.[2]

I took the liberty of extending to Professor Bergson an invitation to
America, for I was able to assure him of a hearty welcome on account
of the deep interest already taken here in his thought. The work of
James and Dewey prepared the way for Bergson in this country, for
his philosophy may be regarded as a constructive system built upon
pragmatic criticism. Indeed, he has been accused by his opponents of
stealing Yankee psychology and making metaphysics out of it. The truth
is, James and Bergson pursued through many years lines of thought
of similar tendency but of independent development, though each has
repeatedly taken occasion to express his appreciation of the work of
the other. It is a case of psycho-metaphysical parallelism rather than
of interaction.

In February, 1913, Professor Bergson came to America at the invitation
of Columbia University and gave two series of lectures, one in French
and the other in English, on _Spiritualité et Liberté_ and the Method
of Philosophy. One would find reason to question the common assertion
that nowadays no interest is taken in metaphysical problems when he
saw the lecture rooms packed with people from the city as well as
students from all departments of the university. A line of automobiles
stood waiting along Broadway, as the litters waited in the streets of
Rome when Plotinus, the Neoplatonist, came to lecture there seventeen
hundred years ago. Those who could not beg, buy, or borrow a ticket
of admission formed a line outside the door, hoping that some who had
tickets would fail to appear, but that did not often happen. A lunette
was discovered over the door which commanded the lecture room, and here
gathered a compact group of the excluded, finding room for one eye or
one ear apiece, but the fainting of a lady in the crush put a stop to
this privilege. In the downtown department stores Bergson's books were
stacked up on the "best sellers" counter. His American publisher sold
in two years half as many copies of "Creative Evolution" as had been
sold in France in fifteen. Yet Bergson is a prophet not without honor
in his own country. The three weeks he spent here were so crowded with
engagements that he had to be kept running on a schedule as close as a
railroad time-table. As he was leaving, I asked Professor Bergson the
banal question of what he thought of America. He answered: "I shall
always remember America as the Land of Interrupted Conversations. I
have met so many interesting people with whom I should like to talk,
but then somebody else equally interesting comes up."

M. Bergson believes that it is possible to make any philosophical
idea clear and acceptable to the multitude. In this he obviously
differs from other philosophers, many of whom do not think it possible
and some of whom do not think it desirable. But to gain the wider
audience, the author must take great pains with his style. The fault
with translations is that the swing, the rhythm, is apt to be lost or
altered, and this is essential to the impression as well as the right
words. I spoke to him of the difficulty of finding an exact English
equivalent of _élan vital_, which is the key word of his "Evolution
créatrice", and he replied that he thought that "impetus", the word
chosen by Dr. Arthur Mitchell in his translation of the work, was
better than any of the others which had been suggested, such as
"impulse", "momentum", "movement", "onrush", "push", "force", and

M. Bergson's method of composition is based on his theory of style.
In undertaking a new book he spends as many years as may be necessary
to the mastery of the literature of the subject and the development
of his ideas. Then when he starts in to compose, he sets aside all
his books and notes, and writes at a furious rate so as to get the
book down as nearly as possible in the form it took in his mind at
one time, jotting down his thoughts as rapidly as they come, often in
fragmentary sentences and words, so as not to interrupt the movement of
his mind. Then having put on paper the essentials of his theme with its
original impetus, he devotes himself to the long process of revision,
verification, and correction.

To art in all its forms Bergson has given a large place in his
philosophy. The little book in which he has touched upon it, "Le Rire"
(Laughter), is not so much of a digression from his fundamental line
of thought as may appear. He explains that ridicule has developed as
a method of social control, to whip people into line, to punish them
for willful or absent-minded disregard of social usages. Laughter
is incompatible with emotion. The comic addresses itself to pure
intelligence. A joke cannot be perceived until the heart has a
momentary anæsthesia. There is nothing comic except human beings.
Man has been defined as "the laughing animal." He is also the only
laughable animal. Man becomes ridiculous when we regard him from an
intellectualist standpoint; that is, as a machine. The attitudes,
gestures, and movements of the human body are laughable in the exact
degree that they seem to us mechanical. We always laugh when persons
seem like things.

The bearing of this theory of the ridiculous upon his philosophy is
so obvious that he does not need to state it. Bergson, too, might use
ridicule as a weapon and laugh determinism out of court. The man of the
mechanists would be as funny as a jack-in-the-box.

In the same volume he gives his view of the function of art, from which
a few sentences may be quoted here:

    What is the object of art? If reality struck our senses and
    our consciousness directly; if we could enter into immediate
    communication with things and with each other, I believe
    that art would be useless, or rather that we would all be
    artists, for our souls would then vibrate continuously in
    unison with nature. Our eyes, aided by our memory, would cut
    out in space and fix in time inimitable pictures. Our glance
    would seize in passing, sculptured in the living marble of
    the human body, bits of statuary as beautiful as those of
    antiquity. We would hear singing in the depths of our souls
    like music, sometimes gay, more often plaintive, always
    original, the uninterrupted melody of our interior life. All
    this is around us, all this is in us, and yet nothing of
    all this is perceived by us distinctly. Between nature and
    us--what do I say?--between us and our own consciousness,
    a veil interposes, a thick veil for the common man, a thin
    veil, almost transparent, for the artist and the poet. What
    fairy has woven this veil? Was it through malice or through
    friendliness? It is necessary to live, and life requires
    that we apprehend things relatively to our needs. Living
    consists in acting. To live is to receive from objects only
    the _useful_ impression in order to respond to it by the
    appropriate reactions; the other impressions must obliterate
    themselves or come to us only confusedly. I look and I
    believe I see, I listen and believe I hear, I study myself
    and I believe I read to the bottom of my heart. But what I
    see and what I hear from the external world is simply what
    my senses extract from it in order to throw light upon my
    conduct; what I know of myself is what flows on the surface,
    what takes part in action. My senses and my consciousness
    give me only a practical simplification of reality.

    Thus, whether it be painting, sculpture, poetry or music,
    art has no other object than to dissipate the practically
    useful symbols, the generalities conventionally and socially
    accepted, in short all that masks reality for us, in order
    to bring us face to face with reality itself. It is a
    misunderstanding on this point that has given rise to the
    debate between realism and idealism in art. Art is certainly
    only a more direct vision of reality. But this purity
    of perception implies a rupture with useful convention,
    an innate and specially localized disinterestedness of
    the sense or of the consciousness, in short, a certain
    immateriality of life which is what has always been called
    idealism. So one might say without in the least playing upon
    the sense of the words, that realism is in the work when
    idealism is in the soul, and that it is by force of ideality
    alone that one can regain contact with reality.

There are various other ways besides art whereby we may recover and
strengthen the faculty of intuition, which has been suffered to atrophy
through too exclusive a reliance upon rational processes. There is,
for example, action, life itself, the sense of living, which brings
us into immediate contact with reality. By the help of science, art,
and philosophy, we may achieve sympathy, a feeling of the kinship of
nature, a consciousness of interpenetration, a realization of the
meaning of evolution. Above all, philosophy has this aim and power, to
develop another faculty, complementary to the intellect, that will open
to us a perspective on the other half of reality, not capable of being
confined in the rigid formulas of deductive logic.

    There are things that intelligence alone is able to seek but
    which, by itself, it will never find. These things instinct
    alone can find, but it will never seek them.

    Intelligence and instinct are turned in opposite directions,
    the former toward inert matter, the latter toward life.
    Intelligence by means of science, which is its work, will
    deliver up to us more and more completely the secret of
    physical operations; of life it brings us, and moreover
    only claims to bring us, a translation in terms of inertia.
    It goes all around life, taking from the outside the
    greatest possible number of views of it, drawing it into
    itself instead of entering into it. But it is to the very
    inwardness of life that _intuition_ leads--by intuition I
    mean instinct that has become disinterested, self-conscious,
    capable of reflecting upon its object and of enlarging it

    We see that the intellect, so skillful in dealing with the
    inert, is awkward the moment it touches the living. Whether
    it wants to treat the life of the body or the life of the
    mind, it proceeds with the rigor, the stiffness, and the
    brutality of an instrument not designed for such use. The
    history of hygiene or of pedagogy teaches us much in this

In Bergson's system metaphysics occupies the same place that it does
in the works of Aristotle. Metaphysics is simply what is beyond
physics, not something antagonistic to it. He has not, like many modern
philosophers, been contemptuous toward physiological psychology. On the
contrary, he has mastered it and built upon it. This is the reason,
I think, why his ideas have met with such swift acceptance. It is as
absurd for a philosopher nowadays to attempt to confine himself to the
data accessible to Plato as it would be for a mathematician to attempt
to solve the problems of modern physics with the use of the methods of

Bergson applied his theory of the relation of mind and brain to the
explanation of the mechanism of dreaming, in an address before the
_Institut psychologique_ on March 28, 1901.[3] Here he showed how the
obscure sensations of sight, touch, and hearing which reach us even
during sleep furnish the basis for our dreams, and how our memories
fit into this framework, so the process is similar to that of ordinary
perception except that the critical faculty is less vigilant than in
a waking state. Thus, light flashing upon the closed eyes may give
rise to a dream of fire, and the recumbent posture and consequent
absence of pressure on the soles of the feet give us the idea of
floating in the air. The following passage from this paper on dreams
is of especial interest, for in it Bergson brings forward the theory
which since then Freud and his school have developed and in many cases
carried to extravagant lengths,--the theory that our memories are
stored in a state of tension like steam in a boiler, and may rise into
consciousness in various guises when the vigilance of the individual is

    Our memories, at any given moment, form a solid whole, a
    pyramid, so to speak, whose point is inserted precisely
    into our present action. But behind the memories which are
    concerned in our occupations and are revealed by means of
    it, there are others, thousands of others, stored below the
    scene illuminated by consciousness. Yes, I believe indeed
    that all our past life is there, preserved even to the most
    infinitesimal details, and that we forget nothing, and
    that all that we have felt, perceived, thought, willed,
    from the first awakening of our consciousness, survives
    indestructibly. But the memories which are preserved in
    these obscure depths are there in the state of invisible
    phantoms. They aspire, perhaps, to the light, but they do
    not even try to rise to it; they know that it is impossible
    and that I, as a living and acting being, have something
    else to do than to occupy myself with them.

    But suppose that, at a given moment, I become
    _disinterested_ in the present situation, in the present
    action--in short, in all which previously has fixed and
    guided my memory; suppose, in other words, that I am
    asleep. Then these memories, perceiving that I have taken
    away the obstacle, have raised the trapdoor which has kept
    them beneath the floor of consciousness, arise from the
    depths; they rise, they move, they perform in the night of
    unconsciousness a great dance macabre. They rush together
    to the door which has been left ajar. They all want to get
    through. But they cannot; there are too many of them. From
    the multitudes which are called, which will be chosen? It is
    not hard to say. Formerly, when I was awake, the memories
    which forced their way were those which could involve claims
    of relationship with the present situation, with what I
    saw and heard around me. Now it is more vague images which
    occupy my sight, more indecisive sounds which affect my
    ear, more indistinct touches which are distributed over the
    surface of my body, but there are also the more numerous
    sensations which arise from the deepest parts of the
    organism. So, then, among the phantom memories which aspire
    to fill themselves with color, with sonority, in short with
    materiality, the only ones that succeed are those which can
    assimilate themselves with the color-dust that we perceive,
    the external and internal sensations that we catch, etc.,
    and which, besides, respond to the effective tone of our
    general sensibility. When this union is effected between the
    memory and the sensation, we have a dream.

Bergson may be called a man of three books, if we ignore "Laughter",
which is merely a flying but-tress of his system. In the first, known
in English as "Time and Free Will", he develops his theory of vital
duration as distinct from physical time, which has been the guiding
clew of all his later thinking. This volume, completed in 1887, was
the outcome of a four years' study of the physical, psychological,
and metaphysical conceptions of time and space. For the second book,
dealing with the relation of the mind to the brain, it was necessary
to master the voluminous literature of the subject, especially the
clinical and experimental researches on aphasia and localization of
function. This required nine years of study, embodied in "Matter and
Memory", appearing in 1896. In the preparation for the third book he
devoted eleven years to the study of biology and produced "Creative
Evolution" in 1907. According to this rate of increase, we might expect
his fourth volume in 1923, but it would be obviously unfair to apply to
M. Bergson himself the mathematical determinism that he repudiates.

I call attention to this preliminary study of the sciences, because
there is a danger that the anti-intellectualist tendency of the
pragmatic movement should lead to a disregard of the importance of
scientific research. That this danger is real and present, was shown
in the Binet report on the teaching of philosophy, previously referred
to. Some of the professors complained that their students, under the
influence of Bergson's ideas, had come to have a disdain for the
tedious and laborious methods of experimental science, believing that
science does not give us reality, and assuming that, while science
is good enough for mechanics and physicians, it is indifferent to

When this point was brought up for discussion in the _Société française
de Philosophie_, M. Bergson made an indignant reply, declaring that
in the theories attributed to him he recognized nothing that he had
taught or written. He had never contemned science or subordinated it to

    Mathematics, for instance, what have I said of that? That,
    however great may be the part played in it by the creative
    imagination, it must not lose sight of space and matter;
    that matter and space are realities; that matter is weighted
    with geometry; that geometry is consequently not a mere
    play but a true point of contact with the absolute. I
    attribute the same absolute value to the physical sciences.
    It is true they enunciate laws of which the form would have
    been different if other variables, other units of measure,
    had been chosen, and especially if the problems had been
    propounded chronologically in a different order. But all
    this is because we are obliged to break up nature and to
    examine one by one the problems it sets for us. Really,
    physics strives for the absolute, and it approaches more
    and more as it advances this ideal limit. I should like to
    know if there exists, among modern conceptions of science,
    a theory that puts a higher value upon positive science.
    Most of them give us science as entirely relative to human
    intelligence. I hold, on the contrary, that it is reality
    itself, absolute reality, which the mathematical and
    physical sciences tend to reveal to us. Science only begins
    to become relative, or rather symbolic, when it approaches
    from the physico-chemical side, the problems of life and
    consciousness. But even here it is quite legitimate. It only
    needs then to be completed by a study of another kind, that
    is, metaphysics. In short, all my researches have had no
    other object than to bring about a _rapprochement_ between
    metaphysics and science and to consolidate the one with the
    other without sacrificing anything of either, after having
    first clearly distinguished the one from the other.

This outspoken and emphatic language ought to clear the air of many
current misconceptions of Bergson's philosophy. Now that he has laid
down his fundamental principles, it is to be hoped that he will next
take up their applications to the interpretation of history and the
problems of conduct. If he does not do this himself, others will do it
for him, and doubtless not always in accordance with his intentions.
In fact, they are already doing it. In France, Bergsonianism is not an
academic speculation, but an active force in some of the most important
movements of the day. We hear of a Bergsonian art and a Bergsonian
literature as well as a Bergsonian Catholicism and a Bergsonian labor
movement. The two last mentioned are of especial interest as showing
the influence of his novel views upon the most diverse minds. Just
as there were Hegelians of the Right and Hegelians of the Left, so
now there are two wings of Bergsonianism, the conservative being the
Modernists and the radical being the Syndicalists.

There has rarely been seen such an outburst of enthusiasm for
metaphysical thought as that of the French neo-Catholics. The
pragmatic philosophy, particularly James's "Varieties of Religious
Experience", pointed the way to a new Christian apologetic based upon
living experience, instead of abstract reasoning. The young Catholics
turned their attention to the saints rather than to the theologians,
and found inspiration in a fresh study of the Catholic mystics. In a
conception of truth as a growth, as an ideal convergence of beneficial
beliefs, rather than as a static limit, and in a conception of history
as a progressive process of verification, they attained a point of
view which enabled them to retain their ecclesiastical heritage and
at the same time to accept the bounty of modern science. But such
speculations were deemed dangerous by the Vatican, and the movement
was crushed, so far as a movement of such vigor and vitality can be
crushed, by the Encyclical and Syllabus issued by Pius X in 1907, and
the anti-modernist oath that was later imposed.[4] This was followed
in 1914 by the placing of Bergson's works upon the Index of Prohibited
Books which no good Catholic may read without the express permission of
his spiritual adviser.

At the opposite extreme we find the trades unions or syndicates,
whose power has been often demonstrated in recent years, but whose
aims and ideals are yet indeterminate and vague. So far it is Will
and not Idea that is manifested in the revolutionary labor movement,
to use the Schopenhauerian terms. But becoming conscious of the need
of a philosophical justification, they have seized upon one side of
Bergson's doctrine and declared the _élan ouvrier_ brother to the _élan
vital_, or a part of it. Their flamboyant phraseology reminds one of
1793: "The Collège de France collaborates with the Bourse du Travail"
and "The flute of personal meditation harmonizes with the trumpets of
the social revolution." The syndicalists, like the modernists, have
their revolt against dogma, against the catchwords of republicanism
as well as against the rigid formulas of Marxianism, against all
attempts to confine the future in the past and to impose determinism
upon conduct. And when it comes to the enforcement of conformity--or,
rather, of uniformity--of profession, there is not much difference
between Pope and party.[5]

It is unnecessary to say that M. Bergson teaches neither Catholicism
nor revolution, and that he cannot be held accountable for all the
various applications of his ideas to practical life. I mention these
extremes only to show the range of their actual influence. Whatever may
be the fate of Bergson's philosophy, we may be sure it will not leave
the world as it found it. It is a force to be reckoned with at all
events in the field of action as well as in the realm of pure reason.

Very few references to disputed questions in religion, sociology, and
ethics can be found in his works, and since he prefers to use a new,
clean, and unconventional vocabulary, he cannot be pocketed in any of
the pigeonholes provided in advance by the historians of philosophy.
To the demand for a brief formulation of his philosophy, an indignant
Bergsonian retorts: "Can you put Maeterlinck's 'Pelléas and Mélisande'
into a formula?"

The Post Impressionists and Futurists are fond of ascribing their
novel ideas of art to Bergson, but he is not eager to assume the
responsibility. When I asked him about it, he said that he had never
yet been able to discover his philosophy in their paintings, and
further that he was always skeptical of a movement where the theory ran
so far ahead of the practice.

It is obvious that the adoption of the pragmatic principle,
particularly in the extreme Bergsonian form, would radically alter
our view of the past, and compel a rewriting or at least a rereading
of history. If history never repeats itself, what is its lesson for
us? Certainly it is not competent to foretell our future, still less
to prescribe our actions. The best expression of what seems to me the
legitimate ethical deductions of Bergson's philosophy is to be found
in the brilliant essays by L. P. Jacks. According to the editor of the
_Hibbert Journal_, the highest morality consists, not in following the
established rules, but in a voluntary rise into a higher level. The
true moral act is original, creative, unprecedented. What would the
author of "Folk-ways", for whom conformity was the only morality, have
said to the following:

"Had men all along restricted themselves to the performance of those
actions for which the warrant of moral science was then and there
available, many crimes perhaps would not have been committed, but it is
doubtful if the world would contain the record of a single noble deed.
We cannot remind ourselves too often that the most complete scientific
knowledge of what has been done up to date will never enable us to
answer the question, 'What ought to be done next?'

"The subject matter of science and the subject matter of morality
are entirely different and in a sense opposed; the first is the
deed-as-done, the second is the doing of a deed-to-be.

"Conscience rightly understood is no faculty of abstract judgment
laying down propositions as to what ought and ought not to be done; it
is not a 'voice', though we often name it such, bidding us do this or
that; it is rather an _élan vital_, an impulse, an active principle,
nay, the good _Will_ itself."--"Alchemy of Thought", by L. P. Jacks,
pp. 260, 287.

Among the numerous followers of Bergson, none is more enthusiastic
or sympathetic than Edouard Le Roy, a modernist Catholic--if that,
since the encyclical, is not a contradiction in terms--who has for
many years been in close touch with Bergson, and has been especially
interested in the religious and ethical applications of his theories.
His introduction to Bergson's philosophy is therefore useful, not
merely because it gives in brief a competent exposition of Bergson's
ideas, for the beginner would probably find it quite as profitable and
enjoyable to read the same number of pages of "Creative Evolution", but
chiefly because M. Le Roy is in a way an authorized spokesman, and so
we can get some notion of Bergson's opinions about questions on which
he has not yet expressed himself. For example, Bergson in all his books
never deals with religion, although it is obvious that his philosophy
has the closest relation with religion in many of its aspects. Le
Roy, however, is not so reticent, and he closes the volume with the
following noteworthy passage:

"In the depths of ourselves we find liberty; in the depths of universal
being we find a demand for creation. Since evolution is creative,
each of its moments works for the production of an indeducible and
transcendent future. This future must not be regarded as a simple
development of the present, a simple expression of germs already given.
Consequently we have no authority for saying that there is forever
only one order of life, only one plane of action, only one rhythm of
duration, only one perspective of existence. And if disconnections and
abrupt leaps are visible in the economy of the past--from matter to
life, from the animal to man--we have no authority again for claiming
that we cannot observe to-day something analogous in the very essence
of human life, that the point of view of the flesh, and the point of
view of the spirit, the point of view of reason, and the point of
view of charity are a homogeneous extension of it. And apart from
that, taking life in its first tendency, and in the general direction
of its current, it is ascent, growth, upward effort, and a work of
spiritualizing and emancipating creation: by that we might define Good,
for Good is a path rather than a thing.

"But life may fail, halt, or travel downward.... Each species, each
individual, each function tends to take itself as its end; mechanism,
habit, body and letter, which are, strictly speaking, pure instruments,
actually become principles of death. Thus it comes about that life is
exhausted in efforts toward self-preservation, allows itself to be
converted by matter into captive eddies, sometimes even abandons itself
to the inertia of the weight which it ought to raise, and surrenders to
the downward current which constitutes the essence of materiality: it
is thus that Evil would be defined, as the direction of travel opposed
to Good. Now, with man, thought, reflection, and clear consciousness
appear. At the same time also properly moral qualifications appear;
good becomes duty, evil becomes sin. At this precise moment, a new
problem begins, demanding the soundings of a new intuition, yet
connected at clear and visible points with previous problems.

"This is the philosophy which some are pleased to say is closed by
nature to all problems of a certain order, problems of reason or
problems of morality. There is no doctrine, on the contrary, which
is more open, and none which, in actual fact, lends itself better to
further extension."

I have quoted this entire, because Professor Bergson has given it his
indorsement in the plainest terms. In a letter to M. Le Roy about the
book, he says:

    Your study could not be more conscientious or true to the
    original. Nowhere is this sympathy more in evidence than
    where you point the possibilities of further developments of
    the doctrine. In this direction I should myself say exactly
    what you have said.

The passage quoted above from M. Le Roy's book has, then, almost
the significance of a signed statement. It was observed that in his
lectures in New York Professor Bergson was much more outspoken than
formerly in his views upon religious matters; as, for example, when
he replied affirmatively to the question whether he believed in
immortality or not. It may be anticipated that his future work will be
in the development of his philosophy along the lines indicated by M. Le
Roy, although we may expect--judging from his former books--that this
will take the form, not of the formulation of a new moral code, but of
the discovery of a new way of looking at life and appraising action.

Until recently the triumphal march of Bergson into increasing
popularity and influence has met with little systematic opposition.
Some have found him obscure. Some have called him absurd. He has his
devoted partisans and bitter opponents. But his views have not yet
been subjected to the thorough criticism which they must inevitably
receive sooner or later. A step in this direction is the study of
the pragmatic movement by René Berthelot. The first volume of his
"Utilitarian Romanticism" deals with the pragmatism of Nietzsche and
Poincaré; the second with the pragmatism of Bergson. The author, after
the manner of historians of philosophy, is more concerned to determine
what is new in Bergson than what is true. He acts upon the old military
rule "divide and conquer" and accordingly splits up Bergsonism into
German romanticism and Anglo-Saxon utilitarianism, and then proceeds to
dispatch these severally after the orthodox manner. This procedure is
in a way begging the question, for it implicitly denies the Bergsonian
thesis that there may be something new in the world. Tracing a thing
back to its roots is all very well, provided that you do not assume
that the roots are all there is of the plant that has grown out of them.

In tracing this genealogy of thought M. Berthelot finds Bergson
related to Nietzsche on the romantic side. Both, he says, derive their
romanticism from Schelling; Bergson, through his revered teacher,
Ravaisson, and Nietzsche through Hoelderlin, Emerson, Schopenhauer,
and Wagner. "Like the symbolists, Nietzsche and Bergson have drunk in
different cups the water from the same magic fountain; an invisible
Vivian has bound them both in the same enchantment."

From the other side of the house--might we say the masculine
side?--Bergson derived his utilitarian empiricism; M. Berthelot traces
its descent from Berkeley through Hume, Mill, Bain, and Spencer. In the
course of this discussion the author introduces the following ingenious

Hobbes : Berkeley :: Nietzsche : Bergson.

Those who are sufficiently expert with the application of the rule of
three to metaphysics may work this out at their leisure.

One would suppose, on Mendelian principles, that a hybrid of such
diverse and distinguished intellectual ancestry would show more
originality than Berthelot is willing to allow to Bergson. At the end
of his analysis he comes to the conclusion that Bergson has really
made only one important contribution to philosophy; that is, his
conception of duration as distinguished from time. As Berkeley in
analyzing the idea of space showed how psychological space, that is,
the notion of space derived from sensation, differed from mathematical
or formal space, so Bergson has shown how concrete duration or
psychological time differs from mathematical or formal time. But
even this theory according to our author is misapplied by Bergson,
for it is not an opposition between space and time, but between two
different conceptions of both space and time. This is characteristic of
Berthelot's criticism, which is mainly directed toward breaking down
all along the line the dichotomy to which Bergson is addicted.

Bergson's literary skill and amazing popularity seem to annoy him as
they do other professors of philosophy in various lands. Whenever
Berthelot presents Bergson with a bundle of compliments, we may detect
a nettle hidden in the bouquet, as when he alludes to Bergson as
"the Debussy of contemporary philosophy", and he says that with an
increasing floridity of style the number of the _bergsoniennes_ has
come to surpass that of the _bergsoniens._ But that a philosophy should
become fashionable seems to me rather creditable to the public than
discreditable to the originator.

Professor Bergson has on several occasions expressed an interest in the
efforts of the Society of Psychical Research to throw light into dark
corners, and he has shown his sympathy by accepting the presidency of
the English society, a successor in that position to F. W. H. Myers,
Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Crookes, A. J. Balfour, and Andrew Lang.
In his presidential address delivered in Æolian Hall, London, May 28,
1913, Professor Bergson made the novel suggestion that if the same
amount of effort had been given toward the study of mental phenomena as
has been given to physical, we might now know as much about mind as we
do about matter. The concluding passage of the address is worth quoting:

    What would have happened if all our science, for three
    centuries past, had been directed toward the knowledge
    of the mind, instead of toward that of matter--if,
    for instance, Kepler and Galileo and Newton had been
    psychologists? Psychology would have attained developments
    of which one could no more form an idea than people had
    been able, before Kepler and Galileo and Newton, to form an
    idea of our astronomy and of our physics. Probably, instead
    of their being disdained _a priori_, all the strange facts
    with which psychical research was concerned would have
    been sought out minutely. Probably we should have had a
    vitalist biology quite different from ours, perhaps also a
    different medicine, or therapeutics by way of suggestion
    would have been pushed to a point of which we can form no
    idea. But when the human mind, having pushed thus far the
    science of mind, had turned toward inert matter, it would
    have been confused as to its direction, not knowing how to
    set to work, not knowing how to apply to this matter the
    processes with which it had been successful up till then.
    The world of physical, and not that of psychical, phenomena
    would then have been the world of mystery. It was, however,
    neither possible nor desirable that things should have
    happened thus. It was not possible, because at the dawn of
    modern times mathematical science already existed, and it
    was necessary, consequently, that the mind should pursue
    its researches in a direction to which that science was
    applicable. Nor was it desirable, even for the science of
    mind, for there would always have been wanting to that
    science something infinitely precious--the precision, the
    anxiety for proof, the habit of distinguishing that which
    is certain and that which is simply possible or probable.
    The sciences concerned with matter can alone give to the
    mind that precision, that rigor, those scruples. Let us
    now approach the science of mind with these excellent
    habits, renouncing the bad metaphysic which embarrasses our
    research, and the science of the mind will attain results
    surpassing all our hopes.

But whatever might have been the result if Kepler, Galileo, and Newton
had turned their attention to psychology instead of physics, it must
be confessed that the Society for Psychical Research has been a
disappointment, notwithstanding that it has numbered among its zealous
investigators such distinguished scientists as Lodge, Crookes, and
Wallace. When the society was organized in 1882, its first president,
Professor Sidgwick, called attention to the numerous reports of
physical phenomena in the séance room and expressed the hope that
such evidence would be forthcoming more abundantly now that competent
investigators were prepared to deal with them. But quite the contrary
happened. As Mr. Podmore puts it in his book on "The Naturalization of
the Supernatural":

"In short, just when an organized and systematic investigation on a
scale not inadequate to the importance of the subject was for the first
time about to be made, the phenomena to be investigated diminished
rapidly in frequency and importance, and the opportunities for
investigation were further curtailed by the indifference or reluctance
of the mediums to submit their claims to investigation."

It would seem, then, that since mankind, or some small portion of it,
has acquired the precision, rigor, and scruples of physical science,
it has become difficult, even impossible, to cultivate the occult.
Still most of us would agree with M. Bergson that, assuming that there
was such an alternative opened to humanity as he supposes, science has
chosen the better part in undertaking the conquest of the physical
world first.

The religious importance of Bergson's theory of evolution will be
apparent from the quotations given. It has occurred to me in reading
his later work that in some passages the word "faith" could be
substituted for "philosophy", and "_elohim_" for "_élan vital_",
without materially altering the sense. Then, too, his emphasis of
time restores a conception which has always been a vital factor in
religious faith, but which is not found in the scientific conception
of the world as a reversible reaction or the metaphysical conception
of the world as an illusion of an unchangeable Absolute. The present
day is different from any other, and the future depends upon it. We
cannot console or excuse ourselves by saying, "It will be all the same
a hundred years hence." Now is the accepted time, the day of decision,
the unique opportunity, and the election may be irrevocable, a turning
point in the history of the creation. The atoms have lost their chance.
The animals are hopelessly sidetracked. Upon us depends the future, the
salvation of the world.

    We must no longer speak of life in general as if it were an
    abstraction, or a mere rubric under which all living beings
    are enrolled. At a certain time, in certain points of space,
    a very visible current originated. This current of life,
    traversing the bodies which it has successively organized,
    passing from generation to generation, has divided itself
    among species and dispersed itself among individuals without
    losing anything of its force.--"Creative Evolution"?

Bergson's philosophy would apparently lead to a conception of God
more Arminian than Calvinistic, if it is permissible to apply the
old theological categories; a God perhaps conscious, personal, and
anthropomorphic, but not omnipotent and unchangeable. In fact it has a
striking similarity to the conception of the Alexandrian Gnostics, a
creative force struggling against the intractability of inert matter
and triumphing by subtlety and persistence. The motto of Louis XI,
_Divide et impera_, applies here in a different sense:

    God, thus defined, has nothing of the already made: He is
    unceasing life, action, freedom. Creation, so conceived, is
    not a mystery; we experience it in ourselves when we act

    It is as if a vague and formless being whom we may call as
    we will, man or superman, had sought to realize himself, and
    had succeeded only by abandoning part of himself on the way.
    The losses are represented by the rest of the animal world
    and even by the vegetable world.--"Creative Evolution", pp.
    248, 266.

According to this view, the world is gradually coming to life,
acquiring a consciousness. Matter is an Undine in search of a soul.
A Rodin statue with human forms emerging from the unhewn stone is
Bergson's philosophy in marble. We see again Milton's "tawny lion
pawing to get free his hinder parts." We hear again Faust's translation
of the Logos: "In the beginning was the Act."

But I must refrain from imposing such analogies upon an author who has
taken pains to clothe his thought in fresh language in order to be free
from the connotations of the old. Let Bergson summarize his theory of
evolution in his own words:

    Life as a whole, from the initial impulsion that thrust
    it into the world, will appear as a wave that rises, and
    which is opposed by the descending movement of matter. On
    the greater part of its surface, at different heights, the
    current is converted by matter into a vortex. At one point
    alone it passes freely, dragging with it the obstacle which
    will weigh on its progress but will not stop it. At this
    point is humanity; it is our privileged situation. On the
    other hand, this rising wave is consciousness, and, like all
    consciousness, it includes potentialities without number
    which interpenetrate and to which consequently neither the
    category of unity nor that of multiplicity is appropriate,
    made as they both are for inert matter. The matter that
    it bears along with it, and in the interstices of which
    it inserts itself, alone can divide it into distinct
    individualities. On flows the current, running through
    human generations, subdividing itself into individuals.
    This subdivision was vaguely indicated in it, but could
    not have been made clear without matter. Thus souls are
    continually being created, which, nevertheless, in a certain
    sense pre-existed. They are nothing else than the little
    rills into which the great river of life divides itself,
    flowing through the body of humanity. The movement of the
    stream is distinct from the river bed, although it must
    adopt its winding course. Consciousness is distinct from
    the organism it animates, although it must undergo its
    vicissitudes. As the possible actions which a state of
    consciousness indicates are at every instant beginning to
    be carried out in the nervous centers, the brain underlines
    at every instant the motor indications of the state of
    consciousness; but the interdependency of consciousness and
    brain is limited to this; the destiny of consciousness is
    not bound up on that account with the destiny of cerebral
    matter. Finally, consciousness is essentially free; it
    is freedom itself; but it cannot pass through matter
    without settling on it, without adapting itself to it;
    this adaptation is what we call intellectuality; and the
    intellect, turning itself back toward active, that is to
    say, free, consciousness, naturally makes it enter into the
    conceptual forms into which it is accustomed to see matter
    fit. It will, therefore, always perceive freedom in the form
    of necessity; it will always neglect the part of novelty or
    of creation inherent in free act; it will always substitute
    for action itself an imitation, artificial, approximate,
    obtained by compounding the old with the old and the
    same with the same. Thus, to the eyes of a philosophy
    that attempts to reabsorb intellect in intuition, many
    difficulties vanish or become light. But such a doctrine
    does not only facilitate speculation, it gives us also more
    power to act and to live. For, with it, we feel ourselves
    no longer isolated in humanity, humanity no longer seems
    isolated in the nature that it dominates. As the smallest
    grain of dust is bound up with our entire solar system,
    drawn along with it in that undivided movement of descent
    which, is materiality itself, so all organized beings, from
    the humblest to the highest, from the first origins of life
    to the time in which we are, and in all places as in all
    times, do but evidence a single impulsion, the inverse of
    the movement of matter, and in itself indivisible. All the
    living hold together, and all yield to the same tremendous
    push. The animal takes its stand on the plant, man bestrides
    animality, and the whole of humanity, in space and in time,
    is one immense army galloping beside and before and behind
    each of us in an overwhelming charge able to beat down every
    resistance and clear the most formidable obstacles, perhaps
    even death.--"Creative Evolution", p. 269.

       *       *       *       *       *


Read the last first. Begin with "Creative Evolution", for this is the
most comprehensive exposition of his philosophy and is written in
a less technical style than his earlier works. But the reader must
remember that a knowledge of these is presupposed, and Bergson has
here taken for granted what he has written two other large volumes to
prove; namely, that time cannot be adequately represented in the forms
of space, and that mind is not rigidly bound to matter. Bergson is
unexcelled by any modern philosopher except William James in brilliancy
of style and originality of illustration. "Creative Evolution" treats
of such a variety of questions, biological, psychological, and
metaphysical, that any intelligent reader will find something in it
that will arouse new trains of thought. And if the intelligent reader
finds passages which he cannot understand, he may console himself with
the reflection that there are others who have been likewise baffled.
Count Keyserling, who has the brain of a German metaphysician, says of
Bergson that "his philosophy is perhaps the most original achievement
since the days of Immanuel Kant", but he adds, "Many thoughts on which
Bergson appears to lay great weight arouse in me not the shade of an
idea." But he ascribes Bergson's obscurity to the fact that "he does
not start from abstract principles; he begins in direct consciousness,
in concrete life", so perhaps the ordinary reader may have in this
respect an advantage over a Kantian student like Count Keyserling.

The student of philosophy may prefer to trace the development of
Bergson's thought in its logical and chronological order. He will
in that case begin with the "Essai sur les donnés immédiates de la
conscience" (1889), and proceed to "Matière et Mémoire" (1896), and
end with "Evolution créatrice" (1907). These are published by Félix
Alcan, Paris, in his "Bibliothèque de Philosophie contemporaine." The
"Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness" appears under the less
cumbrous title of "Time and Free Will" in the translation of F. L.
Pogson (Macmillan). "Matter and Memory" is translated by Nancy Margaret
Paul and W. Scott Palmer (Macmillan). It may not be improper to note
that the British edition of the Essay costs nearly four times as much
as the French and is twice as heavy. "Creative Evolution", translated
by Arthur Mitchell, is printed in this country by Henry Holt & Company.
Bergson's lecture on Dreams, translated by E. E. Slosson, is published
in book form by B. W. Huebsch, New York.

Those who read French but do not wish to attack one of the larger works
will find convenient the summary of his philosophy with illustrative
selections made by one of his former pupils, René Gillouin, and
published in "Les Grands Philosophes" by Louis Michaud, Paris. The
German reader will find in A. Steenbergen's "Bergsons Intuitive
Philosophie", Jena, an epitome and critique.

"Time and Free Will" contains an admirable bibliography, including the
most important discussions of Bergson's philosophy that have appeared
in eight languages up to 1911. The most interesting introduction to
Bergson is the article published by Professor James in the _Hibbert
Journal_, April, 1909, and reprinted in his _Pluralistic Universe_.
This has the advantage of M. Bergson's indorsement, for when Professor
Pitkin of Columbia attempted to show that James was wrong in claiming
Bergson as an ally ("James and Bergson, or Who is Against Intellect?"
in _Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Method_, April
28, 1910), Bergson replied that James had not misinterpreted him but
had said what he meant in better words than his (same _Journal_, July
7, 1910). Other brief expositions of Bergson's philosophy are the
articles by H. Wildon Carr in _Proc. Aristotelian Society_, 1909 and
1910, and _Hibbert Journal_, July, 1910; by J. Solomon in _Mind,_
January, 1911 (both these now in book form also); by Arthur Balfour on
"Creative Evolution and Philosophic Doubt" in the decennial number of
the _Hibbert Journal_; "Bergson's Philosophy and the Idea of God," by
H. C. Corrance, and "Syndicalism in its Relation to Bergson," by T.
Rhondda Williams, both in _Hibbert Journal_ of January, 1914. Professor
Arthur O. Lovejoy of Johns Hopkins criticizes "The Practical Tendencies
of Bergsonianism" in the _International Journal of Ethics_, April and
July, 1913. Bergson's London lectures on the soul are summarized in the
_Educational Review_, January, 1912. Santayana's "Winds of Doctrine"
(Scribner) contains an interesting chapter on Bergson's philosophy.

Of the voluminous controversial literature in France it is only
possible to mention a few recent titles: R. Gillouin, "La Philosophie
de Bergson" (Grasset); J. Segond, "L'Intuition Bergsonienne" (Alcan);
J. Desaymard, "La Pensée d'Henri Bergson" (Mercure de France). The
most conspicuous of the opponents of Bergson are: René Berthelot in
"Un Romanticisme utilitaire," tome II, "Le Pragmatisme chez Bergson"
(Alcan); and Julien Benda in "Le Bergsonisme ou une Philosophie de la
Mobilité", and "Réponse aux Défenseurs du Bergsonisme" (Mercure de

"Bergson for Beginners", by Darcy B. Kitchin (Macmillan) gives a
summary of his works and adds some interesting observations on the
relation of Bergson to the English philosophers James Ward and Herbert
Spencer. Other recent expositions and criticisms are "The Philosophy
of Bergson", by A. D. Lindsay; "A Critical Examination of Bergson's
Philosophy", by J. McKellar Stewart; "An Examination of Professor
Bergson's Philosophy", by David Balsillie; "Bergson and the Modern
Spirit", by G. R. Dodgson (American Unitarian Assoc., Boston). But the
best volume to serve as an introduction to Bergson is that previously
mentioned, "The New Philosophy of Henri Bergson", by Edouard Le Roy

A list of the most important of the books and articles on the subject
in all languages up to 1913 comprising more than five hundred titles
was published by the Columbia University Press on the occasion of
Bergson's visit, "A Contribution to a Bibliography of Henri Bergson."

[1] Reported in the _Bulletin de la Société française de Philosophie_,

[2] For his views on the possibility of scientific metaphysics, see _Le
Parallélisme psycho-physique et la métaphysique positive_ in _Bulletin
de la Société française de Philosophie_, June, 1901; and _Introduction
à la métaphysique_ in _Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale_, January,

[3] Published in the _Revue scientifique_, June 8, 1901, and in English
in _The Independent_, October 23-30, 1913, and in book form, 1914.

[4] Articles on pragmatic Catholicism may be found in almost any volume
of the _Revue Philosophique_ and the _Revue de Métaphysique et de
Morale_ during the first twelve years of the twentieth century. See
especially those by Edouard Le Roy, a disciple of James and Bergson. A
brief account of the movement is contained in Lalande's "Philosophy in
France, 1907", _Philosophical Review_, May, 1908.

[5] As representatives of the pragmatic syndicalists may be mentioned
George Sorel and Edouard Berth. For an account of the philosophical
side of the movement, see _Syndicalistes et Bergsoniens_ by C. Bougie
in _Revue__du Mois_, April, 1909.



    The scientist does not study nature because it is useful;
    he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in
    it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful,
    it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth
    knowing, life would not be worth living. Of course I do
    not here speak of that beauty that strikes the senses,
    the beauty of qualities and of appearances; not that I
    undervalue such beauty, far from it, but it has nothing to
    do with science; I mean that profounder beauty which comes
    from the harmonious order of the parts, and which a pure
    intelligence can grasp. This it is which gives body, a
    structure so to speak, to the iridescent appearances which
    flatter our senses, and without this support the beauty
    of these fugitive dreams would be only imperfect, because
    it would be vague and always fleeting. On the contrary,
    intellectual beauty is sufficient unto itself, and it is for
    its sake, more perhaps than for the future good of humanity,
    that the scientist devotes himself to long and difficult

    It is, therefore, the quest of this special beauty, the
    sense of the harmony of the cosmos, which makes us choose
    the facts most fitting to contribute to this harmony, just
    as an artist chooses from among the features of his model
    those which perfect the picture and give it character
    and life. And we need not fear that this instinctive and
    unavowed prepossession will turn the scientist aside
    from the search for the true. One may dream a harmonious
    world, but how far the real world will leave it behind!
    The greatest artists that ever lived, the Greeks, made
    their heavens; how shabby it is beside the true heavens,
    ours!--Poincaré's "The Value of Science," p. 8.

Such language as this is extremely disconcerting to those who hold the
popular notion of science and scientists; regarding science as a vague
impending mass of solid fact, immutable, inexorable, threatening the
extinction of all such things as art, sentiment, poetry, and religion,
only to be diverted by a determination to remain ignorant of it;
regarding men of science as mere calculating machines, mechanically
grinding out logical grist for utilitarian purposes. Mathematical
astronomy is surely one of the sciences, the most rigid, remote,
and recondite of the sciences. Yet here is the leading mathematical
astronomer of the age talking about it as though it were one of the
fine arts, a thing of beauty that the artist creates for his own
delight in the making of it and shapes in accordance with his own ideas
of what is harmonious.

Now we cannot throw out of consideration M. Poincaré's opinion, on
the ground that he did not know what he was talking about. A man
who has made as much science as he has ought to know how science is
made, and what for. To most of us nature--or to avoid hurting our own
feelings let us rather say, opportunity--has denied the privilege of
knowing this by experience. Consequently M. Poincaré is an especially
interesting man to study, for he has been willing to tell us not only
what a man of science is, but also how it feels to be one. No other
contemporary of equal eminence has been so frank and accommodating in
the self-revelation of his methods or so willing to submit himself
as a subject of observation. We are admitted to the laboratory of a
mathematician, and we can watch the mechanism of scientific thought in

So far as he is concerned, he has repudiated the idea that science is
purely utilitarian in the most emphatic language. August Comte said
that it would be idle to seek to know the composition of the sun, since
this knowledge would be of no use to sociology. Against such a charge
of uselessness Poincaré eloquently defended his science by showing the
practical value of astronomy even from Comte's point of view, but in
conclusion asserted his own opinion very plainly:

    Was I wrong in saying that it is astronomy which has made us
    a soul capable of comprehending nature; that under heavens
    always overcast and starless, the earth itself would have
    been for us eternally unintelligible; that we should there
    have seen only caprice and disorder; and that, not knowing
    the world, we should never have been able to subdue it? What
    science could have been more useful? And in thus speaking
    I put myself at the point of view of those who only value
    practical applications. Certainly, this point of view is not
    mine; as for me, on the contrary, if I admire the conquests
    of industry, it is, above all, because they free us from
    material cares, they will one day give to all the leisure
    to contemplate nature. I do not say: Science is useful,
    because it teaches us to construct machines. I say: Machines
    are useful, because in working for us, they will some day
    leave us more time to make science. But finally it is worth
    remarking that between the two points of view there is no
    antagonism, and that man having pursued a disinterested aim,
    all else has been added unto him.--"Value of Science", p. 88.

It is this insistence upon the æsthetic value of science that caused
him to shrink from being called a "pragmatist", although those who
accept that name have always laid unusual stress upon the æsthetic
factor in thinking. But in his theory of knowledge Poincaré is
decidedly pragmatic, and no one has given a clear exposition or
stronger expression to the practical mode of thought by which the
natural sciences have made their progress and which is now being
extended to the fields of metaphysics, religion, ethics, and sociology.
Poincaré's favorite word is "convenient" (_commode_). Theories are
strictly speaking not to be classed as true or false. They are merely
more or less convenient. For example:

    Masses are coefficients it is convenient to introduce
    into calculations. We could reconstruct all mechanics
    by attributing different values to all the masses. This
    new mechanics would not be in contradiction either with
    experience or with the general principles of dynamics.
    Only the equations of this new mechanics would be _less
    simple_.--"Science and Hypothesis", p. 76.

    We have not a direct intuition of simultaneity, nor of
    the equality of two durations. If we think we have this
    intuition, this is an illusion. We replace it by the aid of
    certain rules which we apply almost always without taking
    count of them. But what is the nature of these rules? No
    general rule, no rigorous rule; a multitude of little
    rules applicable to each particular case. These rules
    are not imposed upon us, and we might amuse ourselves by
    inventing others; but they could not be cast aside without
    greatly complicating the laws of physics, mathematics, and
    astronomy. We therefore choose these rules, not because
    they are true, but because they are most convenient, and we
    may recapitulate them as follows: "The simultaneity of two
    events or the order of their succession, the equality of two
    durations, are to be so defined that the enunciation of the
    natural laws may be as simple as possible; in other words,
    all these rules, all these definitions, are only the fruit
    of an unconscious opportunism."--"Value of Science", p. 35.

    Time should be so defined that the equations of mechanics
    may be as simple as possible. In other words, there is not
    one way of measuring time more true than another. That
    which is generally adopted is only more _convenient_. Of
    two watches, we have no right to say that one goes true,
    the other wrong: we can only say that it is advantageous
    to conform to the indications of the first.--"Value of
    Science", p. 30.

    Behold then the rule we follow and the only one we can
    follow: when a phenomenon appears to us as the cause of
    another, we regard it as anterior. It is therefore by cause
    we define time.--"Value of Science", p. 32.

    Experience does not prove to us that space has three
    dimensions. It only proves to us that it is convenient to
    attribute three dimensions to it.--"Value of Science", p.

    It has often been observed that if all the bodies in the
    universe were dilated simultaneously and in the same
    proportion we should have no means of perceiving it, since
    all our measuring instruments would grow at the same time
    as the objects themselves which they serve to measure. The
    world, after this dilatation, would continue on its course
    without anything apprising us of so considerable an event.
    --"Value of Science", p. 39.

But Poincaré goes farther and shows not only that two such worlds of
different sizes would be absolutely indistinguishable, but that they
would be equally indistinguishable if they were distorted in any manner
so long as they corresponded with each other point by point. This
conception of the relativity of space may be thought a little hard to
grasp, but M. Poincaré is kind enough to suggest a way by which any one
may see it for himself if he has ten cents to admit him to one of those
hilarious resorts where life-size concave and convex mirrors are to be
seen.[1] You may think yourself a gentleman of proper figure, that is
to say, somewhat portly, and you look upon the tall slim shape that
confronts you in the cylindrical mirror as absurdly misshapen. But you
would find it difficult to convince him of his deformity. His legs, as
well as yours, fulfill the requirement that Lincoln laid down as their
proper length; that is, they reach from the body to the ground. If you
touch your chin with your thumb and your brow with your forefinger, so
does he. It occurs to you that here is a case where your knowledge of
geometry would, if ever, prove useful, but when you appeal to it, you
will find that the geometry of his queer-looking world is just as good
as yours; in fact, is just the same. You get a foot rule and measure
yourself; 70 inches high, 14 inches in diameter at the equator, ratio
5:2. But meanwhile the mirror man is also measuring himself, and his
dimensions come out exactly the same as yours, 70 and 14 and 5:2, for
when he holds the rule perpendicular it lengthens and when horizontal
it shrinks. Lines that in your world are straight are curved in his,
but you cannot prove it to him, for when he lays his straightedge
against these curves of his, behold it immediately bends to correspond.
By this time, finding it so difficult to prove to the mirror man that
you are right and he is wrong, it occurs to you that perhaps he isn't,
that he may have just as much reason as you for believing that his is
the normal, well-proportioned world, and yours the distorted image of
it. Since, then, you have no way of perceiving the absolute length,
direction, or curvature of a line, your space may be as irregularly
curved and twisted as it looks to be in the funniest of the mirrors,
and you would not know it. Now the principle of the pragmatist is that
anything that does not make any difference to anything else is not
real. The reason why we have not been able to discover any differences
between the mirror space and our space, each considered by itself, is
because there is none. Or to return to the language of Poincaré, "space
is in reality amorphous and the things that are in it alone give it a
form." Why do we say that space has three dimensions instead of two or
four or more? Why do we stick to an old fogy like Euclid when Riemann
and Lobachevski proffer us new and equally self-consistent systems of
geometry wherein parallels may meet or part? Because:

    by natural selection our mind has _adapted_ itself to
    the conditions of the external world. It has adopted the
    geometry _most advantageous_ to the species or, in other
    words, _the most convenient_. Geometry is not true, it is

Such language may pass without notice in university halls, for all
scientists are more or less clearly conscious of the provisional and
practical nature of the hypotheses and conventions they employ. But
to the outside world it sounds startling. To some it seemed that the
foundations of the universe were being undermined. Others saw in it a
confession of what Brunetière had called "the bankruptcy of science"
and openly rejoiced over the discomfiture of the enemy of the Church.
Now Poincaré had chanced to use in discussing the relativity of motion
the following illustration:

    Absolute space, that is to say, the mark to which it would
    be necessary to refer the earth to know whether it really
    moves, has no objective existence. Hence this affirmation
    "the earth turns round" has no meaning, since it can be
    verified by no experiment; since such an experiment not only
    could not be either realized or dreamed by the boldest Jules
    Verne but cannot be conceived of without contradiction. Or
    rather these two propositions: "The earth turns round" and
    "it is more convenient to suppose the earth turns round"
    have the same meaning; there is nothing more in the one than
    in the other.--"Science and Hypothesis", p. 85.

This remark was at once seized upon by the Catholic apologists, and
the Galileo case, once closed by the voice of Rome, was reopened
for the admission of this new evidence. If the Ptolemaic and the
Copernican theories are equally true, and the choice between them is
merely a matter of expediency, was not the Holy Inquisition justified
in upholding the established theory in the interests of religion
and morality? Monsignor Bolo, an eminent and sagacious theologian,
announced in _Le Matin_ of February 20, 1908, that M. Poincaré, the
greatest mathematician of the century, says that Galileo was wrong
in his obstinacy. To this Poincaré replied in the whispered words of

"E pur si muove, Monseigneur"?

In a later discussion of the point, he explains that what he said about
the rotation of the earth could be equally well applied to any other
accepted hypothesis, even the very existence of an external world, for
"these two propositions, 'the external world exists' or 'it is more
convenient to suppose that it exists' have one and the same meaning."
The Copernican theory is the preferable because it has a richer, more
profound content, since if we assume the earth is stationary we have to
invent other explanations for the flattening at the poles, the rotation
of Foucault's pendulum, the trade winds, etc., while the hypothesis of
a revolving earth brings all these together as the effects of a single

M. Le Roy, a Catholic pragmatist and a disciple of Bergson's, goes
much further than Poincaré in regard to the human element in science,
holding that science is merely a rule of action and can teach us
nothing of truth, for its laws are only artificial conventions. This
view Poincaré considered to be dangerously near to absolute nominalism
and skepticism, and in his controversy with Le Roy[2] he showed that
the scientist does not "create facts as Le Roy said, but merely the
language in which he enunciates them." Of the contingence upon which Le
Roy and Boutroux insist, Poincaré would admit only that scientific laws
can never be more than approximate and probable. Even in astronomy,
where the single and simple law of gravitation is involved, neither
absolute certainty nor absolute accuracy can be attained. Therefore we
cannot safely say that at a particular time Saturn will be at a certain
point in the heavens. We must limit ourselves to the prediction that
"Saturn will _probably_ be _near_" such a point.

[Illustration: Poincaré]

In an address before the International Philosophical Congress at
Bologna in April, 1910, Professor Poincaré discussed again the question
of whether the laws of nature may not change. He admitted that there
is not a sole law that we can enunciate with the certainty that it
has always been true in the past. Nevertheless, he concluded, there
is nothing to hinder the man of science from keeping his faith in
the principle of immutability, since no law can descend to the level
of a secondary and limited law without being replaced by another law
more general and more comprehensive. He considered in particular the
possibility that in the remote past the fundamental laws of mechanics
would not hold, for since the energy of the world has been continually
dissipating in the form of heat there must have been a time when bodies
moved faster than they do now. But according to the recent theories
of matter, no body can travel faster than light, and with velocities
approaching that of light its mass is no longer constant but increases
with its velocity. This, of course, would play havoc with all of
Newton's laws, which then we should have to regard as limited in their
scope to such ordinary conditions and moderate motion as we see about
us now.

But even at present we can hardly regard them with the same implicit
confidence as formerly. Take, for example, Newton's law that action and
reaction are equal and opposite. When a ball is fired from a cannon,
the cannon recoils at the same time and with the same momentum that the
ball goes forward. But suppose instead of a cannon we have a lamp with
a reflector sending a beam of light into space. It has been deduced
mathematically and proved experimentally that light exerts a minute
but measurable pressure on an object which it strikes. The reflector
therefore recoils like the cannon, but where is the ball if light is an
immaterial wave motion? To be sure, if the ray of light strikes some
planet out in space, it would give it an impulse equal and opposite to
that originally imparted to the reflector on our earth. But what if the
light goes on through vacant space and never hits anything at all? A
law that may have to wait several thousand years for its validation and
may even fail of it altogether is not what the layman has in mind when
he thinks of immutable and infrangible laws governing the universe.

But it is rather important just now that the layman gets to understand
what the scientist means when he talks of laws, theories, and
hypotheses. For we are in the midst of a stupendous revolution in
science. Our nicely arranged nineteenth century cosmos seems to be
dissolving into chaos again. We have seen the elements melt with
fervent heat and we can no longer rely upon the uniformity of atomic
weights. The laws of the conservation of matter and energy, which
were the guiding stars of research to the last generation, are
becoming dimmed. The old-fashioned ether, in its time a useful but
never entirely satisfactory contrivance, for it had to be patched up
repeatedly with divers new properties to enable it to bear the various
duties thrust upon it, seems no longer competent to stand the strain
and may have to be sent to the scientific scrap-heap at any moment. We
hear physicists of supposed sanity assert that all bodies contract in
the direction of their motion and that their weight varies with their
speed and the direction in which they are going. We read of "atoms of
light," and of corpuscles of electricity which, though they are but
a thousandth part of the hydrogen atom, are caught and counted and
weighed one by one.

Now what puzzles the lay mind is the calmness with which the scientists
survey this crash of worlds and shock of systems. They do not have the
mien of exposed impostors. They are not, like the augurs of decadent
Rome, unable to meet without laughing in each other's faces. They do
not resent the overthrow of their former idols. They have no fear
of heretics, consequently no hatred for them. They regard all this
iconoclasm with a mild curiosity quite in contrast to their intense and
personal interest in science generally. It is hard to get out a quorum
at the Association for the Advancement of Science to hear a discussion
of the principle of relativity with all its revolutionary consequences.

Compare this apparent indifference to the fate of fundamental
principles in scientific circles with what would happen in a
Presbyterian assembly if it should be proposed to eliminate
predestination from the Westminster Confession or in an Episcopal
convocation if the Virgin Birth were denied; with what would happen
in a stockholders' meeting if doubt were expressed as to the rights
of capital, or in a socialist convention if the class conflict were
questioned. Now the existence of the ether has the same importance to
scientific thought that predestination has to theological or capitalism
to economic thought. Its refutation or modification would be quite as
upsetting to faith and practice. Yet scientists are men; they have red
blood in their veins, and it not infrequently shows in their cheeks
when they debate something that seems to them worth while. Pure theory
rarely seems to them worth while because it is recognized as pure
conventionality and convenience.

The scientific man, especially the scientific investigator, holds his
theories with a light hand, but keeps a firm grip on his facts. This is
just the opposite of the lay attitude toward science. If the layman is
interested in knowing the speed of light, it is because he thinks that
he learns from it that all space is filled with a rigid elastic solid,
at which he cannot but wonder. The scientist is interested in the ether
because it helps him in his calculation of the speed of light.

A lecturer on wireless telegraphy will use in the course of the hour
two or three more or less contradictory conceptions of electricity.
If afterward you call his attention to the inconsistency and ask him
which is right and which is wrong, you will not get a very satisfactory
answer. He does not know and obviously does not care. You insist upon
his telling you which theory he personally believes in. He really
had not thought of "believing" in any of them. If he uses white
chalk on the blackboard in preference to red, it is not because he
denies the existence of red chalk and its occasional usefulness. So,
too, the astronomer will speak of the sun's rising and in the next
breath of the earth's turning toward the sun, quite innocent of his
inconsistency. The botanist alludes to a certain flower as a poppy and
again as Eschscholtzia. He means the same thing but is using different
languages; in the first case English, in the second case I don't know

It is eminently desirable that people should have faith in science, but
in order to do that they must have the same sort of faith in it that
the scientist has. Otherwise they will regard it as a lot of ingenious
fancies which are proved false by each succeeding generation. Science
is moulting just now and looks queer. The public ought to understand
clearly that the process means growth and not disease. There is another
reason now for the popularization of the scientific mode of thought. It
is beginning to be applied where entirely different conceptions have so
far prevailed--to art, ethics, religion, sociology, and the like. This
is already arousing a great commotion and will cause more before the
process is complete. It will, for example, involve the rewriting and to
a large extent the reinvestigation of history. Poincaré has hinted at
this in a passage which seems to me of very great significance:

    Carlyle has somewhere said something like this: "Nothing but
    facts are of importance. John Lackland passed by here. Here
    is something that is admirable. Here is a reality for which
    I would give all the theories in the world." Carlyle was a
    fellow countryman of Bacon, but Bacon would not have said
    that. That is the language of the historian. The physicist
    would say rather: "John Lackland passed by here. That
    makes no difference to me for he never will pass this way
    again."--"Science and Hypothesis", p. 102.

The aim of science is prevision, and I believe that this will
eventually be recognized as the true aim of all knowledge. The
historian, or let me say rather the antiquarian, for the historian may
have the scientific temperament, values facts for their rarity. The
scientist values facts for their commonness. A unique fact, if there
be such, would have no possible interest to him. The antiquarian goes
about looking for things, facts, or furniture, which have been of
importance in the past. The scientist is looking only for things that
will be of importance in the future.

According to Poincaré, the proper choice of facts is the first duty of
the scientist. He must be able to pick out the significant and reject
all the rest. "Invention consists in avoiding the constructing of
useless combinations and in constructing the useful combinations which
are in infinite minority. To invent is to discern, to choose." It is
most desirable to bring together elements far distant from one another.
Such unions are mostly sterile, but when this is not the case, they are
the most fruitful of all. The successful scientist does not, like a
shopper, look over one by one all available samples and pick out what
he wants. Life is too short. The unsuitable ideas do not even present
themselves to his mind. It is as if he were an examiner of second
resort who only concerns himself with the candidates who have passed
the first test. This preliminary sifting and sorting process is done
largely by the unconscious mind, as Poincaré shows by telling how he
came to make his first mathematical discoveries:

    For a fortnight I labored to demonstrate that there could
    exist no function analogous to those that I have since
    called the fuchsian functions.[3] I was then very ignorant.
    Every day I seated myself at my work table and spent an
    hour or two there, trying a great many combinations, but I
    arrived at no result. One night when, contrary to my custom,
    I had taken black coffee and I could not sleep, ideas
    surged up in crowds. I felt them as they struck against one
    another until two of them stuck together, so to speak, to
    form a stable combination. By morning I had established the
    existence of a class of fuchsian functions, those which are
    derived from the hyper-geometric series. I had merely to put
    the results in shape, which only took a few hours.--"Science
    et Méthode", p. 52.

After working out the deductions from this discovery, he went on a
geological excursion of the School of Mines. The distractions of travel
took his mind from his mathematical labor. But at Constance, just as
he was stepping into an omnibus for some excursion, the idea occurred
to him, without any connection with his previous thoughts, that his
fuchsian functions were identical in their transformations with
those of the non-Euclidian geometry. He took his seat in the omnibus
and continued his conversation, feeling absolutely certain of his
discovery, which he worked out at his leisure on his return to his home
at Caen.

He next devoted himself to the study of arithmetical questions,
without reaching any results of importance and without suspecting that
this subject could have the slightest connection with his earlier
researches. Disgusted at his lack of success, he went to pass some days
at the seashore, where he was occupied with other things. One day as he
was walking on the cliff, the thought came to him, brief, sudden, and
certain as usual, that he had been employing the same transformations
in his arithmetical and geometrical work.

He thereupon went back to Caen and undertook the systematic application
of his theory. But he was stopped by an insurmountable obstacle, and
while in this perplexity he was called away to his military service
at Mont-Valérien, where he had no time for mathematics. One day while
walking on the street, the solution of the difficulty appeared to him
in a flash. He did not try to think it out at the time, but after his
release from the army, he completed his memoir without trouble.

These fascinating glimpses into the soul of a mathematician will remind
the reader of many other instances of such subconscious assistance
on record and doubtless of personal experiences as well. We think of
Alfred Russel Wallace at Ternate, his brain inflamed with tropical
fever, seized with the sudden inspiration of the theory of natural
selection, the key to the biological problems which had perplexed him
for so many months. How fortunate that his clerical opponents did not
know of this and so could not dismiss evolution as the dream of a
diseased imagination. But as James says in his "Varieties of Religious
Experience", we have no right to discountenance unwelcome theories as
feverish fancies, since for all we know 102° may be a more favorable
temperature for truth to germinate and sprout in than the ordinary
bloodheat of 98°.

We are reminded, too, of Kekulé of Bonn puzzling over the constitution
of benzene, trying in vain to satisfy six carbon atoms with six
hydrogen atoms when they wanted fourteen. In the evening as he sat
by the fire, his wearied brain refused to rest, and he seemed to see
the four-handed carbon imps dancing with their one-armed hydrogen
partners on the floor. Suddenly six of them joined hands in a ring
and the problem was solved. Since then the benzene sextet has been
dancing through hundreds of volumes and has added millions annually
to the wealth of Germany. Professor Hilprecht of the University of
Pennsylvania has told how a Chaldean priest, custodian of the "Temple
Library", appeared to him in a dream and showed him how to put together
the fragments of a cuneiform inscription which he had for a long time
been striving in vain to translate.

Then there was Stevenson in Samoa, writing for dear life, but not
failing to give credit to his "brownies" for doing a large part of his
work for him. But the brownies do not work unbidden, and they will not
make bricks without straw. Poincaré insists upon the necessity of the
preliminary period of conscious effort without which these subliminal
inspirations never come and the subsequent period of verification,
development, and application, without which they are fruitless. Such
ideas came to him most often in the evening or morning when he was in
bed and half awake. He did not regard the operations of his unconscious
mind as merely mechanical. On the contrary, it is distinguished by the
power of choice, selecting and presenting to the conscious ego only
those combinations that seem profitable and important. This choice
is made, in Poincaré's opinion, under the guidance of the artistic

    The usual combinations are precisely the most beautiful; I
    mean those which can best charm that special sensibility
    which all mathematicians recognize but at which the profane
    are tempted to smile. Among the numerous combinations
    which the subliminal self has blindly formed, almost all
    are without interest and without utility. For that reason
    they have no action upon the æsthetic sensibility and never
    come into consciousness. Only those that are harmonious and
    consequently both useful and beautiful are capable of moving
    that special sensibility of the geometrician of which I
    spoke, and which, once excited, calls our attention to them
    and so gives them the chance to become conscious.--"Science
    et Méthode", p. 58.

Poincaré, if we may believe what he says on this point, was a poor
chess player and absolutely incapable of adding up a column of figures
correctly. But the reader should beware of the common fallacy of
reversing a proposition of this kind and assuming that if he, too,
makes mistakes in addition he has the mind of a great mathematician.
Poincaré's memory was, however, exceptionally good, especially for
figures and formulas. On returning from a walk he was able to recall
the numbers of the carriages he had met. When he was in the Polytechnic
School he followed the courses in mathematics without taking a note and
without looking at the syllabus provided by the professor. He was a
rapid mental calculator, using auditive imagery rather than visual. He
associated colors with the sound of words.[4]

In this connection may be quoted an anecdote told by M. Jules
Sageret:[5] At a _conférence_ in the Superior School of Telegraphy the
director called upon him to discuss a very difficult problem in the
propagation of the electric current. Poincaré complied and solved the
problem without taking any time in preparation. After the _conférence_
the director felicitated him on the solution. "Yes," said Poincaré, "I
found the value of _x_, but is it in kilograms or kilometers?"

Poincaré did not find it profitable to work more than two hours at a
time. His custom was to stay at his desk from ten o'clock to noon and
from five to seven in the afternoon, never working in the evening after
dinner. He drank wine at meals, but never smoked. He went to bed at ten
and rose at seven, but did not sleep soundly.

He was a blond, five feet five inches in height and weighed 154 pounds.
His head was unusually large, especially in breadth. His eyes were
myopic and unsteady. He stood stoopingly with his wrinkled forehead
upturned. He spoke somewhat slowly and with a distraught air, as though
he were thinking of something else, even though he might be at the time
interested and keenly observant. He talked English and German readily
and read Latin and Italian. He was fond of music, especially Wagner.

Of the absent-mindedness that had been characteristic of him from
youth, many stories are told. Like most mathematicians he was fond
of walking while thinking, his fingers opening and closing in an
unconscious gesture. One day on his return from a walk he was surprised
to find that he was carrying a wicker cage, new and happily empty. He
could not imagine how he had got it, but retracing his steps he found
upon the sidewalk the stock of the basket maker whom he had innocently

When as an engineering student he made a trip to Austria, his mother
was afraid he would drop his portfolio sometime without noticing it.
So, realizing doubtless that his memory was auditory, she sewed little
bells on it. The plan was successful. His mother found on his return
that he had brought back in his valise not only the portfolio but
also an Austrian bed sheet neatly folded, which, some morning, he had
mistaken for his night clothes.

These and similar anecdotes were told by M. Frédéric. Masson when he
welcomed M. Poincaré into the Académie Française, January 28, 1909,[6]
and it must have been a trifle embarrassing to the new member to listen
to such a minute analysis of his life and character addressed to him
in the second person. How deftly the director of the Academy mingled
eulogy and raillery may be seen from a quotation:

"You did not delay revealing your vocation and will be justly cited as
the most precocious of infant prodigies. You were nine months old when
for the first time as night came your eyes were directed toward the
sky. You saw there a star light up. You persistently pointed it out to
your mother, who was also your nurse. Then you discovered another with
some astonishment, and your reason cried '_Enco lo la bas_!' A third,
a fourth, more cries of joy and equal enthusiasm. You had to be put
to bed because you became so excited discovering stars. That evening
was your first contact with the infinite, and you had inaugurated your
courses in astronomy, the youngest professor known."

Henri Poincaré was born April 29, 1854, at Nancy, where his ancestors
had long been established. His grandfather was a pharmacist and his
father a physician of more than usual scholarship. The name, he said,
was originally Pontcaré, for, one can imagine a square bridge but
not a square point. But the philologists who took the question up
discovered in the register of the university a student named "Petrus
Pugniquadrati" in 1403 and "Jehan Poing-quarré" in 1418, so the name
Poincaré meant "clenched-fist." His cousin, Raymond Poincaré, son of a
distinguished engineer, has long been one of the most prominent figures
in the political world, a member of the Academy, senator, minister, and
is now president of the French republic.

In the Nancy _lycée_ he led all his classes and showed a special
aptitude for history and literature. At the age of thirteen he
composed a five-act tragedy in verse, and since he was a Lorrainer,
the heroine was of course Jeanne d'Arc. But as soon as he caught sight
of a geometry, his true vocation became apparent. His instructor ran
to his home and announced to his mother: "Madame, your son will be a

Passing through the Polytechnic School he entered the National School
of Mines, and for a few years after graduation he served as engineer
in the Government departments of mines and railroads. At the age of
twenty-seven he was called to a chair of mathematics in the University
of Paris, where he remained, also filling the positions of Professor
of Astronomy in the Polytechnic School and Professor of Theoretical
Electricity in the Professional School of Posts and Telegraphs. He was
received into the Academy of Sciences at the early age of thirty-two,
and at the time of his election to the French Academy he had been
honored by election to membership by thirty-five foreign academies.
He took his seat in the Académie française very appropriately as
the successor of Sully-Prudhomme, who likewise was an engineer by
profession and a philosopher by temperament. To Poincaré as well as to
Sully-Prudhomme, science appealed to the æsthetic sense as a thing of
beauty and an inspiration to the imagination.

He married at the age of twenty-seven and had four children, three
daughters and a son. His younger sister is the wife of the philosopher,
Émile Boutroux, well known in this country from the lectures he gave at
Harvard and Princeton.

Poincaré was influential in introducing improved methods in teaching
mathematics, promoting the use of natural and dynamical methods
instead of the abstract and static methods of Euclid and Legendre.
He was skeptical in regard to religion and indifferent to politics.
When called upon to contribute to a symposium on the old question
of the scholar in politics,[7] he responded that savants like all
citizens ought to interest themselves in the affairs of the country.
But politics has become a profession, and a savant who entered into it
would have to devote half his time to public business if he would be
useful and the other half to his constituents if he wished to keep his
seat, so he would have no time for science.

When asked for his opinion on woman suffrage,[8] he replied as follows:

    I see no theoretical reason for refusing the political
    suffrage to women, married or not. They pay taxes the same
    as men, and they contribute their sons, so it is even
    heavier upon them than upon men. Perhaps woman suffrage is
    the sole means of combating alcoholism. I fear only the
    clerical influence over women.

Of the achievements that have given M. Poincaré his world-wide fame
I am not competent to speak. Readers who would know the significance
and value of his work on fuchsian, hyper-fuchsian, theta-fuchsian,
abelian, and elliptical functions must go further for the information.
I can only quote the opinions of those most competent to express an
opinion as to his contributions to science. In 1905 he received the
Bolyai Prize of ten thousand crowns, which is awarded by the Hungarian
Academy of Sciences every five years for the best work in mathematics
done during that period. The official report by Gustave Rados begins as

"Henri Poincaré is incontestably the first and most powerful
investigator of the present time in the domain of mathematics and
mathematical physics. His strongly marked individuality permits us to
recognize in him a savant endowed with intuition, who knows how to draw
from the exhaustless well of geometrical and mechanical intuitions the
elements and the origins of his profound and penetrating researches,
yet using besides the most admirable logical power in working out
his conceptions. In addition to his brilliant inventive genius we
must recognize in him an ability for the finest and most fruitful
generalizations of mathematical relations, which has often enabled him
to push back, far beyond the point where others have hitherto been
stopped, the limits of our knowledge in different branches of pure
and applied mathematics. This was shown already in his first work on
automorphic functions with which he began the series of his brilliant
publications which must be classed with the greatest mathematical
discoveries of all time."

In this country Poincaré has become known largely through the efforts
of Professor George Bruce Halsted of the State Normal School of
Greeley, Colorado, who has translated his philosophical works and has
for many years been indefatigable in spreading the new gospel of the
non-Euclidian geometry. Professor Halsted has at my request kindly
contributed the following account of one of Poincaré's astronomical
triumphs and of the visit that Professor Sylvester of Johns Hopkins
paid to Poincaré many years ago:

"The kernel of Poincaré's power lies in an oracle Sylvester often
quoted from Hesiod: Only the genius knows how much more the part is
than the whole. He penetrates at once the divine simplicity of the
perfectly general case, and thence descends, as from Olympus, to the
special concrete earthly particulars. Thus his memoir of 1885, which
Sir George Darwin says came to him as a revelation, on a rotating fluid
mass, and his book 'Les Méthodes nouvelles de la Mécanique céleste,'
1892-1899, were ready with prevision when the shocking special case
occurred of Phoebe, ninth satellite of Saturn, discovered in 1900,
afterward found, incredible as it seemed, to be revolving in the
direction contrary to that of all the others. It follows that Saturn
himself originally rotated in the reverse direction. Again, on February
29, 1908, was found an eighth satellite of Jupiter, Jviii, revolving
round Jove in the shocking Phoebe retrograde direction. Zeus must
have turned over. All the planets have turned over, and some are now
making another somersault. Moreover, Jviii does not even revolve in a
closed orbit; its path is an open twister of unreturning turns.

"For Poincaré the inexhaustible source, the lamp of Aladdin, has ever
been the non-Euclidian geometry. In him the Bolyai-Lobachevski-Riemann
germ flowers fair.

"Personally Poincaré is the most lovable of men. At our very first
meeting I realized that I had already been intimately associated with
him for two years in the person of Sylvester. I told him the story of
Sylvester's discovery of him, and he showed me how vividly and tenderly
reconnaissant he was toward the great old master.

"Midsummer, and up a stuffy Paris stairway labors a giant gnome, beard
on enormous chest, fortunately no neck, for no neck could upbear such
a monstrous head, bald but for the inverted halo of hair collaring its
juncture with the broad shoulders; small inefficient hands holding big
hat and damp handkerchief; breath puffing with the heat and exertion.
It is Sylvester, self-driven to seek out the source of new creations
strangely akin to his own. At the sought door, open, he pauses, seized
by doubt, the person within is so young, so slight, so dazed. Can this
be the new incarnation of the eternal world-genius of geometry? But
the aloof sensitiveness of the face, the broad sphericity of the head
reassure him. This is Henri Poincaré. And so the old King finds the
True Prince, who in turn finds himself at last truly comprehended,
anointed to the succession, and given high heart to establish his

The sudden death of Henri Poincaré, July 18, 1912, at the age of
fifty-eight, shocked the scientific world. This marvelous thinking
machine was stopped, this repository of the exact sciences was lost
to the world, by the trifling accident of a clot of blood catching
in one of the valves of the heart. He had gone to the hospital for a
minor operation which was apparently successful. Ten days later he was
pronounced well enough to leave and was dressing when he was struck

The funeral service at the church of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas was
attended by a remarkable assemblage of men of science and letters,
government officials, and representatives of foreign countries. At
the Montparnasse cemetery orations were delivered by M. Guist'hau,
Minister of Public Instruction, Jules Claretie of the Académie
française, M. Appell, dean of the Faculty of Sciences, M. Bigourdan of
the Observatory, Paul Painlevé of the Academy of Sciences, and General
Cornille, Commandant of the École polytechnique. M. Painlevé said of

"The life of Henri Poincaré was one intense and uninterrupted
meditation, that despotic and pitiless meditation which bows the
shoulders and bends the head, which absorbs the vital influx of one's
being and too soon uses up the body it possesses.

"Henri Poincaré was not only a great creator in the positive sciences;
he was a great philosopher and a great writer. Certain of his aphorisms
remind one of Pascal: 'Thought is only a flash between two long nights,
but this flash is everything.' His style followed the movement of his
thought; brief and arresting formulas, often paradoxical when isolated,
joined by hasty explanations which discard the easy details and say
only the essential. This is why superficial critics have accused him
of being 'incoherent'; the truth being that without some previous
scientific education, such logical movement is difficult to follow.
Mice cannot keep step with a lion.

"It is likewise a lack of comprehension of his philosophy as a whole
that has led certain commentators to think they found a transcendental
skepticism in his critical studies of the principles of science. Must
he not have had faith in science who has written 'The search for truth
ought to be the aim of our activity; it is the sole aim worthy of it'?
His philosophy of the rational science will live as long as his own
discoveries. The totality of the mathematical sciences seemed to him
like a gigantic measuring instrument, harmoniously adjusted and well
adapted for the evaluation of the phenomena of the universe. There
remains one trait of his character that I cannot pass over in silence;
that is his admirable intellectual sincerity. He gave himself, he gave
to all, so far as words permit, the whole of his thought and even the
mechanism of his thought. In his last publication, appearing only a few
days before his death and dealing with the problem of the stability of
our universe, he excused himself for giving out such incomplete results:

    'It would seem under these conditions that I ought to
    abstain from all publication until I had solved the problem,
    but after the fruitless efforts I have made for months, it
    appeared to me wisest to let the problem ripen while I let
    it alone for some years. That would have been very well if
    I had been sure of taking it up again some day, _but at my
    age I could not be sure of that_. Besides, the importance of
    the subject is too great, and the results already obtained
    are on the whole too considerable for me to be content to
    leave them altogether useless. I hope that the geometricians
    who will interest themselves in this problem and who will
    doubtless be more fortunate than I will be able to get
    something out of it and make use of it in finding the path
    they should pursue.'

"What words can be added to this scientific testament, so simple and
so noble, of a life altogether consecrated, without faltering even to
the last hour, to the search for truth? For the first time in half a
century this unparalleled brain has found repose."

Poincaré, as we have seen, was awake to the wider aspects of science.
He was interested in its effects upon human life and conduct, although
he himself was engaged in one of its most remote and abstract branches.
Shortly before his death he discussed a question which nowadays
arouses intense interest, the question of what effect the advance
and popularization of science will have on ethics. Will science in
destroying superstitions, in changing utterly the traditional way of
regarding the universe and man, undermine the morality which forms
the foundation of our civilization? This question Poincaré answers in
the negative. He believes that our moral instincts lie too deep to
be affected by such a revolution in thought, but on the other hand
he does not think, as some do, that science will ever be able of
itself to provide the moral imperative. A few paragraphs from this
essay, published posthumously in "Last Thoughts", may well serve as a
conclusion to this sketch of his philosophy:

    There can be no scientific morality; but no more can there
    be immoral science. And the reason is simple; it is a
    reason--how shall I say it?--purely grammatical.

    If the premises of a syllogism are both in the indicative,
    the conclusion likewise will be in the indicative. For
    the conclusion to be put in the imperative, it would be
    necessary that at least one of the premises should itself
    be in the imperative. Now, the principles of science,
    the postulates of geometry, are and can be only in the
    indicative; still in this same mood are the experimental
    verities, and at the foundation of the sciences there
    is, there can be, nothing else. Hence, the most subtle
    dialectician may juggle with these principles as he will,
    combine them, frame them up one upon another; all he will
    get from them will be in the indicative. He will never
    obtain a proposition which shall say: do this, or don't
    do that; that is to say, a proposition which confirms or
    contradicts morality....

    Some therefore think that science will be destructive; they
    fear the ruin it will make and dread lest, where it shall
    have passed, society can no longer survive.

    Is there not in these fears a sort of internal
    contradiction? If it is scientifically proved that such
    or such a custom, regarded as indispensable to the very
    existence of human society, had not in reality the
    importance attributed to it and deceived us only by its
    venerable antiquity, if that be proved, admitting this proof
    to be possible, will the moral life of humanity be shaken?
    One of two things, either this custom is useful, and then a
    reasonable science cannot prove that it is not; or else it
    is useless and we should not regret it. From the moment that
    we place at the foundation of our syllogisms one of those
    generous emotions which engender morality, it is still this
    emotion, and consequently it is still morality which we must
    find at the end of our whole chain of reasonings, if this
    has been conducted in accordance with the rules of logic.
    What is in danger of perishing is the non-essential, that
    which was merely an accident in our moral life; the sole
    important thing cannot fail to be found in the conclusions
    since it is in the premises....

    Science, right or wrong, is deterministic; everywhere it
    penetrates it introduces determinism. So long as it is
    only a question of physics or even of biology, this is
    unimportant. The domain of conscience remains inviolate.
    What will happen when morality in turn shall become the
    object of science?

    Is all despair, or if some day morality should accommodate
    itself to determinism, could it so adapt itself without
    dying from the effects? So profound a metaphysical
    revolution would doubtless have much less influence upon
    morals than we think. It is of course understood that
    penal repression is not in question. What is called crime
    or punishment, would be called sickness or prophylaxis,
    but society would retain intact its right, which is not to
    punish, but simply the right of self-defense. What is more
    serious is that the idea of merit or demerit would have to
    disappear or be transformed. But we should continue to love
    the good man, as we love all that is beautiful; we should
    no longer have the right to hate the vicious man, who would
    then inspire only disgust; but is hate necessary? Enough
    that we do not cease to hate vice.

    Apart from that, all would go on as in the past. Instinct is
    stronger than all metaphysics, and even though one should
    have laid it bare, even if one should understand the secret
    of its force, its power would not thereby be weakened. Is
    gravitation less irresistible since Newton? The moral forces
    which guide us would continue to guide us.[9]

       *       *       *       *       *


A complete analytical bibliography of Poincaré's writings up to
1909 will be found in Ernest Lebon's "Henri Poincaré" (Paris:
Gaultier-Villars), which contains the biographical address of M.
Frédéric Masson on his admission to the French Academy and other
eulogies. The list comprises 436 articles and books classified
as follows: Mathematical analysis, 146; analytical and celestial
mechanics, 85; mathematic physics, 78; scientific philosophy, 51;
necrology, 17; miscellaneous, 59; an astonishing output for thirty
years' work, considering the amount and difficulty of the labor
involved in some of the contributions.

The mathematical works of Poincaré are too difficult for the layman
and indeed for many professional mathematicians. But there are five
volumes of general interest published by Flammarion, Paris: "La Science
et l'Hypothèse", "La Valeur de la Science", "Science et Méthode",
"Savants et Ecrivains", and "Dernières Pensées." The first of these has
had a wide popularity, having been translated into English, German,
Spanish, Hungarian, and Japanese. The English translation of "Science
and Hypothesis", by Professor George Bruce Halsted (New York: Science
Press), which appeared in 1905, is introduced by an interesting
criticism of Poincaré's philosophy by Professor Josiah Royce, of
Harvard. Two years later "The Value of Science" was published in this
country (Science Press). "Science et Méthode", though it contains
some matter of more general interest than the others, particularly
his account of the rôle played by unconscious mind in mathematical
invention and his explanation of the newer conceptions of physics,
has not yet appeared in English. The fourth volume, "Savants et
Ecrivains", is an evidence of Poincaré's good will rather than his
literary talents, as it consists of perfunctory addresses on deceased
Academicians, the most extensive being that on Sully-Prudhomme, whose
chair he holds. The fifth, published after his death, contains the
essay on "Science and Morality" from which I have quoted, as well as
interesting discussions of recent science and philosophy. The volume
entitled "Foundations of Science" (published by the Science Press,
New York) contains "Science and Hypothesis", "Value of Science", and
"Science and Method" with the introduction by Professor Royce.

From either of the two volumes, "Science and Hypothesis" or "The Value
of Science", one can get an idea of Poincaré's philosophy, which is of
importance because it is not merely the philosophy of an individual
but the point of view of most men of science nowadays, though rarely
so definitely recognized or clearly expressed. Both books consist
of a somewhat heterogeneous collection of studies on the method and
logic of the mathematical and physical sciences, containing much that
the general reader will have to skip because of its use of unfamiliar
terms, but it will not be safe for him to skip any whole pages without
looking them over carefully, for he is likely to find brilliant and
suggestive sentences embedded in the most unpromising material.

Separate articles by Poincaré, forming chapters from the
above-mentioned volumes, are accessible in American periodicals. "The
Future of Mathematics" in _Monist_, Vol. XX, pp. 76-92; also in the
1909 Smithsonian Report, which is in every public library. "The Choice
of Facts" in _Monist_, Vol. XIX, pp. 231-239. "The Principles of
Mathematical Physics" in the report of the St. Louis Congress of Arts
and Sciences, Vol. I, pp. 604-624, and in _Monist_, Vol. XV, pp. 1-24.
"The Bolyai Prize" (Report on the Work of Hilbert) in _Science_, May
19 and 26, 1911. "Mathematical Creations" in _Monist_, Vol. XX, pp.
321-335. "The Value of Science" was first published complete in the
_Popular Science Monthly_, September, 1906, and later; "Relativity of
Space", "The New Logics", and "Chance" in the _Monist_, 1913.

For biographical details besides the references already given in
footnotes, see Nordmann's article on Poincaré in Smithsonian Report,
1912; Darbou's eulogy in _Le Temps_, December 15, 1913; and articles in
_Revue du Mois_, February 10, 1913; _La Revue de Paris_, February 15,
1913; _The Nation,_ September 12, 1912.

[1] "Science et Méthode," p. 101.

[2] Part III of "The Value of Science."

[3] M. Poincaré, in relating these experiences for their psychological
interest, was kind enough to say that the non-mathematical reader
need not be frightened at these barbarous names, for it is not at all
necessary for him to know what they mean.

[4] Dr. Toulouse has devoted a volume of his series of
medico-psychological studies of men of genius to observations on the
memory, reaction time, mode of thinking, habits, and physiological
constitution of Henri Poincaré (Paris: Flammarion).

[5] _Revue des Idées_, 1909, p. 488.

[6] Masson's address may be found in Le Bon's bibliography; also in
_Popular Science Monthly_. An entertaining account of Poincaré's
reception into the Academy was written for _Le Figaro_ by André
Beaunier and translated for the Boston _Transcript_.

[7] _Revue bleue_, June 4, 1907, p. 708.

[8] _La Revue_, 1910.

[9] Translated by Professor Halsted from "Science and Morals" in
_Dernières Pensées_.



    Ever since the attempt has been made to discover a rational
    basis of morality, human nature, regarded essentially as
    good, has been taken as that basis. Religions and systems
    of philosophy, on the other hand, which have tried to find
    another foundation for morality, have regarded human nature
    as vicious at the roots. Science has been able to tell us
    that man, the descendant of animals, has good and evil
    qualities in his nature, and that his life is made unhappy
    by the evil qualities. But the constitution of man is not
    immutable, and perhaps it may be changed for the better.

    Morality should be based not on human nature in its existing
    vitiated condition, but on human nature, ideal, as it
    may be in the future. Before all things, it is necessary
    to try to amend the evolution of the human life, that
    is to say, to transform its disharmonies into harmonies
    (Orthobiosis). This task can be undertaken only by science,
    and to science the opportunity of accomplishing it must be
    given.--Metchnikoff's "The Nature of Man", p. 288.

If Carlyle were writing now his "Heroes and Hero-Worship", he would
have to add--however much he would have disliked to--a chapter on
"The Hero as Scientist." For the popular ideal of greatness has been
decidedly changed in the last half-century, and new standards of
heroism have been established. Creative genius is beginning to take
rank above destructive, and men are coming to recognize that the
heroism of those who save life may be quite as great and is certainly
more admirable than the heroism that is measured by a monument of
skulls. A striking proof of this shifting of public appreciation is
afforded by the referendum carried out by the _Petit Parisien_ a few
years ago to ascertain whom the French people regarded as the greatest
names their country had produced during the nineteenth century.
Fifteen million answers were sent in, so the result may be taken as
representing the consensus of opinion in a larger degree than such
newspaper _plebiscites_ generally do. It was to be expected that the
name of Napoleon would head such a list. It would have in almost any
other country except France. But France, always devoted to the cult
of _La Gloire_ and hitherto chiefly captivated by the bellicose form
of it; France, where every man is trained in the army and educated in
schools established with the avowed purpose of increasing the military
strength of the nation; France ranks Napoleon fourth in the list of
eminent men and puts at the head of it the name of a modest chemist
and physiologist, Louis Pasteur.[1] It is a common observation that
new ideas and social tendencies are apt to become manifest in France
earlier than elsewhere. The French clock seems to be fast, always
keeping a bit ahead of mean European time. If so, we may expect that
before long other countries may come to give due honor and, what is
more important, due opportunity and encouragement to the scientists,
inventors, and authors who confer glory upon their country by
benefiting the whole world.

The worthy successor of Pasteur as Director of the Institute he founded
is the subject of this sketch, Élie Metchnikoff. The foremost of
French medical men, he was neither born a Frenchman nor trained as a
physician. Like Pasteur, he entered the realm of medicine by crossing
the frontier of another science. Any man who pursues a straight line
of thought will find that it leads him across many of those imaginary
lines which have been drawn between the sciences, just as an aviator
crossing Europe in an air line pays no attention to the artificial
and historic boundaries which divide state from state. Pasteur was a
chemist, an inorganic chemist at that, and he was running down the
cause of asymmetry in crystals when he found himself over in the field
of biology. He had been engaged in separating the leftward skewed
crystals of tartaric acid from those that skewed to the right by
picking them out of the mixture by hand, but he discovered that he
could throw the burden of selection off on an agency whose time was
less valuable, namely, the yeast plant, which has an appetite for one
kind of crystals, but disdains the other. This led him to the germ
theory of life and of disease and enabled him to save millions annually
to the farmer and stockraiser and unnumbered human lives.

[Illustration: Élie Metchnikoff]

Metchnikoff's experience was similar. He was as a zoölogist less
interested in man than in the invertebrates, devoting his time to the
study of the minuter forms of life on the barren steppes of Russia and
in Mediterranean waters. It was in Italy at Messina in 1882 that he
made the discovery which led him to fame as one of the benefactors of
the human race. Now, if a man should deliberately set out for such a
goal, if he should be incited by egotism to become famous, or inspired
by altruism to relieve the suffering of humanity, about the last thing
he would try would be to sit down in a laboratory all day with his eye
glued to a microscope watching the blood corpuscles chase each other
through the veins of an infant starfish. But since Metchnikoff was
less influenced by the two motives mentioned than he was by a desire
for truth for its own sake and regardless of consequences, all these
things have been added unto him. If the anti-vivisectionists had their
way about it, experimentation in animals, if allowed at all, would be
restricted to physicians and to the specific purpose of curing disease.
This, however, would be one of the surest ways to check medical
progress, for the advancement of a science ordinarily owes little to
those who are professionally engaged in its practice or have their eyes
focused upon some practical result of their investigations. At least
the world may rejoice that through the liberality of French law the
work of these two men has never been hampered--Pasteur, who discovered
the cause of disease, and Metchnikoff, who discovered the cause of
immunity. These are two cornerstones of the foundation on which is
now being erected the structure of a rational system of hygiene the
purpose of which is to prolong human life by the elimination of
disease rather than by its cure. The change that is taking place in
medicine is analogous to that taking place in philanthropy. The modern
philanthropist appears cold-hearted because, instead of dropping a coin
into a beggar's hat, as did the charitable in former days, he devotes
himself to a systematic study of the causes of poverty. The modern
medical man is likewise misunderstood if he seems indifferent to the
suffering around him and is absorbed in the investigation of remote
biological problems having no perceptible relation to human needs. But
the beneficial results of the scientific method in both philanthropy
and medicine are already sufficiently apparent to enable us to see that
it will do much more for humanity than the kind but blind benevolence
of the past.

The fame of France in art, literature, and science is in large part her
reward for her hospitality in giving to men of other lands the freedom
and encouragement which they could not find at home. One example is
Maeterlinck. Another is Metchnikoff. He left his native country chiefly
because of a difference of opinion on political questions between
himself and the Czar. Not that he has ever been a revolutionist, but as
a Jew by race, an atheist in religion, and a liberal in politics, he
was triply obnoxious to the powers that be, and after the assassination
of Alexander II in 1881, the students were too much excited over
politics to attend to their studies. So he resigned his professorship
in the University of Odessa and went abroad to devote himself to
biological research.

He was born in the Province of Kharkov, Little Russia, May 15, 1845.
His father was an officer of the Guards, afterward a general. His
mother was a Jewess, and it was from her that he derived the love for
science which early manifested itself. He won a gold medal in the high
school of Kharkov and passed through the university of that city in
two years instead of the customary four. Then he went to Germany and
studied at Giessen, Göttingen, and Munich. Returning to his native
land, he taught in the University of St. Petersburg and in 1870 went to
Odessa to take the chair of zoölogy in the university there.

The years spent in private study, chiefly at Messina, the earthquake
city of Sicily, were most fruitful, for his investigation of
intercellular digestion in minute marine invertebrates gave him the
clew to the protective action of the blood in the higher animals and
man, and in 1884 he outlined his theory of inflammation, which was, in
short, that the congestion of blood at a wound was due to the efforts
of the leucocytes or white blood cells to overpower the invading
microbes. The value of this discovery was recognized immediately by
the two foremost authorities in biology: Virchow, the German, who
had discovered the leucocytes, and Pasteur, the Frenchman, who had
discovered the microbes. Metchnikoff had now found the missing link
which brought these two discoveries together and showed their meaning.

In 1888 Metchnikoff was called to the Pasteur Institute, and in 1895
became its director. Here he found an exceptional opportunity to devote
his talents to the relief of suffering humanity. Such institutions
for the advancement of the science of medicine have since been
established elsewhere: the Institute for Experimental Therapeutics
in Frankfort-on-the-Main, the Cancer Research Laboratory of London,
the Rockefeller Institute in New York, for example; but the French
people were the first to respond to the need of the man they have
delighted to honor by endowing, in 1886, an institution which should
continue his work as well as perpetuate his name. The Nobel prize for
the most important discovery in medicine was in 1908 divided between
Metchnikoff, of the Pasteur Institute, and Professor Paul Ehrlich, of
the Frankfort Institute, who has in these latter days made "606" the
mark of the beast, instead of 666, as prophesied in Revelation. The
Nobel prize man of 1912, Doctor Alexis Carrel, although a Frenchman by
birth, found in the Rockefeller Institute the opportunity to carry on
his remarkable investigations on the preservation and transplantation
of living tissues.

Characteristically French is the artistic setting which has been
given to this home of science. The visitor appropriately approaches
it through the long and handsome Boulevard Pasteur, then turning into
a side street he finds on his left the Pasteur Institute and on his
right the more imposing buildings of the Institute for Infectious
Diseases and the Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, recently erected
for carrying out the treatment which the experimental work of the other
side of the street has suggested. A new department has been added for
the study of tropical diseases such as the sleeping sickness, which has
depopulated a large part of the Nyanza region. This extension of the
work is made possible by the receipt in 1909 of the bequest of eight
million dollars by the miserly and eccentric Jewish banker who called
himself Osiris.

As the visitor passes into the courtyard of the Institute, his nerves
already shaky with thoughts of microbes and mad dogs, he is almost
startled to see, half hidden among the trees, a man engaged in a death
struggle with a wolf. This is a bronze statue of Jupile, a shepherd
who, bitten by a mad wolf, was one of the first patients to receive
the Pasteur treatment for rabies. In a crypt of marble and mosaic
underneath the building is the tomb of Pasteur, as impressive, if less
imposing, than the tomb of Napoleon under the dome of the Invalides not
far away. The reception room of the Institute is adorned with large
paintings showing the modern miracles of healing, better authenticated
than those of Sainte Geneviève depicted by Puvis de Chavannes on the
walls of the Panthéon.

Professor Metchnikoff is ordinarily not accessible to visitors,
especially interviewers, but since I was armed with a letter of
introduction from Professor Jacques Loeb, of the Rockefeller Institute,
whom he regards as the foremost of American scientists, I was fortunate
enough to find him in.

He has rather a short figure and a large head, with a bushy gray beard,
but hair that is still dark. His spectacles are not sufficient to
impart severity to his mild blue eyes. His voice is low and pleasant,
and he speaks, as he moves, without either hurry or hesitation. He is a
worker among workers, inspiring with his indefatigable zeal the young
men who come to him from Europe, America, and Asia to pursue their
researches in bacteriology.

A walk through the Pasteur Institute is like a visit to a zoölogical
garden, for the study of each particular human disease requires the
discovery of some species that is also susceptible to it. Here are not
only the dogs, guinea pigs, and rats common to every bacteriological
laboratory, but also many others closely connected with Metchnikoff's
special interests; parrots and geese, for example, which are remarkable
for their longevity; bats, which eat rotten food and yet maintain an
aseptic intestinal tract; and chimpanzees, which, as the literal blood
relations of man, are capable of sharing the worst of his diseases.

Like Agassiz, Metchnikoff has "no time to get rich." At his home
in the suburbs of Paris he sets an example of the plain living he
advocates, supplementing the meager salary given him at the Institute
by the income of a small estate in Russia. The twenty thousand dollars
he received from the Nobel Foundation he devoted entirely to the
furtherance of his researches in longevity.

M. Metchnikoff has given the best possible proof that he has no
personal aversion to women who enter his profession, for he married in
1875 as his second wife a Russian bacteriologist of distinction. He
dedicated to her his first volume of "Optimistic Studies," and in it he
cites her experiments on the growth of microbe-free tadpoles. She is an
artist as well as a scientist, and here, too, M. Metchnikoff shares her
tastes, for he is fond of painting and music. They have no children,
but he has a godchild to whom he is devoted.

His high regard for individuality leads him to look with favor upon the
entrance of women into the universities and the professions. He has
no fear that it will result in the production of a class of celibates
corresponding to the sexless workers of the beehive. On the contrary,
his observation of the feminist movement for more than forty years has
shown him that learned ladies are by no means wanting in the marital
and maternal instincts common and proper to their sex. Of a thousand
women in the St. Petersburg Medical School, ten per cent had been
married before, and forty-four per cent were married during their
course of study. A conspicuous case of feminine scientific genius is
that of Sonya Kovalevsky, who attained the highest eminence in that
field which, by the common consent of men, was formerly regarded as
unattainable by women; that is, pure mathematics. But the day when she
received the doubled prize of the French Academy of Sciences she wrote
to a friend that she had never felt so unhappy, and the cause of her
unhappiness, as revealed in her letters and romances, was that she was
not beloved as other women were.

Although Metchnikoff would grant to women every opportunity for the
exercise of their talents, and thinks they had better occupy themselves
with science than with fashions, he believes genius of a high order
to be much rarer among them than among men. When he was called upon
by the women doctors and scientists at the Naturalists' Congress at
St. Petersburg for his opinion of the feminist movement, he created
considerable consternation among them by the following frank language:

    Your complaint, as I understand it, is that man has
    excluded woman from all higher intellectual occupation by
    unnatural means, so that her mind has become atrophied, her
    capabilities blunted, her talents stagnant. You would remedy
    all this by being made man's equal in politics. You would
    then, you say, develop your slumbering abilities, overtake,
    and possibly surpass, your immemorial enslaver--man.

    But do you really need this political equality in order to
    attain this supremacy? Has the down-trodden among men ever
    needed it? His political equality has come as an effect not
    as the cause of his intellectual development. The mind that
    dominates in the artistic and scientific world ultimately
    arrives at political supremacy.

    But what art or science has man closed to you? You are
    here; but really, ladies, I have failed to discover a
    Bichat, a Louis, a Jenner, or a Pasteur among you. Have you
    personally been impeded in your careers more than certain
    individuals among men? Now let us take the arts. Is there a
    man-master so unnatural who ever forbade his female slave
    to express herself in music? But where are your Beethovens,
    your Wagners, your Verdis, your Brahms? I beg of you, dear
    ladies, if you remember one, tell me.

    What brutal slave owner at any time forbade women to
    beautify canvas with satisfying hues and lines depicting
    life or nature? As in music, man has encouraged women to do
    these things, yet where are your Raphaels, your Leonardos,
    your Rubenses? Have women been forbidden to mold, carve, or
    draw? Yet where is your Phidias, your Michelangelo, your
    Cellini? Did you ever hear of a woman architect?

    Home and motherhood there, of course, the most radical
    among you will not say that man has attempted to restrain
    you--there you have had from time immemorial, in all ages,
    in all places, under every condition, absolute and full
    freedom. Still, is it not man, the enslaver, who teaches you
    domestic economy? Is it not from man that you have learned
    how to care for your offspring in illness, how to amuse them
    in health? Who discovered the laws of domestic hygiene? Was
    it a woman?

    Now, my dear ladies, has man ever excluded you from the
    kitchen? No, you say, you have been enslaved there. "Cook!
    Feed the brute!" is eternally dinned in your ears. It would
    seem reasonable that at least in this sphere woman should
    have reached a high standard of perfection. And the actual
    result? Ah, dear ladies, I must confess. If I want a really
    good dinner I must have recourse to a chef.

    And now, ladies, I ask your pardon, you have all studied
    physiology and psychology, and you know where such
    considerations would lead me. But one word more: Do not lose
    sight of the significance of your request, "Professor, what
    is your opinion of the feministic movement?" for that makes
    out your case perfectly--to advocate your cause you would
    call in the help of man.

Metchnikoff has very little liking for the political methods in vogue
in our republics. He thinks young men too reckless, opinionated, and
pessimistic to be intrusted with the ballot at the age of twenty-one.
"It is easily intelligible," he says, "that in the new conditions such
modern idols as universal suffrage, public opinion, and the referendum,
in which the ignorant masses are called upon to decide questions which
demand varied and profound knowledge, will last no longer than the old
idols. The progress of human knowledge will bring about the replacement
of such institutions by others in which applied morality will be
controlled by really competent persons." But he fails to inform us how
these "competent persons" are to be selected and placed in power.

To give an account of the varied researches which Metchnikoff has
carried on or has superintended at the Pasteur Institute is apart
from our purpose and would in any case be impossible here, because it
would involve the recapitulation of a great part of the history of
medical progress for the past quarter century. During this period the
science of medicine has been completely revolutionized, for the use
of traditional and empirical remedies has been largely replaced by
a systematic search for the causes of diseases and the experimental
determination of methods of avoiding or counteracting them. In
general, the change may be characterized as a return to nature. In
the older medicine at its best, a dose of some vegetable or mineral
substance, such as quinine or mercury, comparatively harmless, but
altogether foreign to the body, was administered through the mouth and
in time reaching the blood through the digestive systems, killed off
or paralyzed the disease germ. In modern medicine at its best, some
substance, such as the diphtheria antitoxin, that is already present
in the blood in quantity sufficient under ordinary circumstances to
prevent infection, is reënforced in an emergency by more of the same
substance prepared in the blood of the horse. Or if that cannot be
done, the next best thing is to inject some serum that by a natural
reaction will stimulate the body to prepare in excess its own antitoxin
or excite the phagocytes to greater exertions in overcoming their
enemies. In any case, the object is to induce an artificial immunity as
nearly as possible like the natural immunity of the healthy body.

Phagocytes--that is, "devouring cells"--was the name given by
Metchnikoff to the leucocytes or white cells, which he found
wandering about the body in search of their prey. They lead a sort
of semi-independent life, like the simplest one-celled animal, the
amoeba, and they penetrate to all parts of the body, even squeezing
in between the toughened tissue of the skin and bones. When a cut is
made in the skin they are borne to the breach by the flow of blood and
there pile up and coagulate, forming a new skin to protect the raw
flesh, somewhat as a breach in a rampart is hastily filled in with sand
bags. Not only that, but when the enemy actually gains entrance either
by storming a wound or sneaking in through some unguarded opening,
then the white cells rally to the attack, surrounding and destroying
the invading microbes. If these multiply too rapidly, the phagocyte
reserves are mobilized, new recruits by the million are called out,
until the bodily force is victorious or exhausted. Such a battle we
call a local inflammation, or, if the engagement is general and long
continued, a fever. Under the microscope we may watch the foes engaged
in single combat, the phagocyte devouring the bacillus, a living,
formless mass of protoplasm stretching out extemporized tentacles and
engulfing the rod, globe, or writhing spiral which we may afterward see
slowly digesting in its interior.

To be sure, the operation is not quite so simple as Metchnikoff first
conceived it. A condition is always more complicated than the theory
devised to explain it. The question has been hotly debated and is not
yet settled whether the phagocytes best defend us by their life or by
their death. It appears that as they undergo dissolution they give
up to the blood certain substances which dissolve the disease germs
or neutralize their poisons, and this may be a more important means
of defense than the englobing or engulfing process. Then, too, these
white cells seem at times strangely indifferent to the presence of
their dearest foes, or, perhaps we should say, their favorite food.
There is needed in the blood on such occasions a substance known as
opsonin, which being absorbed by the microbes the phagocytes attack
them with avidity; this opsonin serving as some biologist, doubtless an
Englishman, has said, like Worcestershire sauce as an appetizer to the

But for further discussion of these questions I must refer the reader
to his family physician, who will take pleasure in repudiating these
vague and fanciful interpretations of mine. He will be able to tell
whether phagocytosis or bacteriolysis is the fashionable mode of
combating disease germs and he will introduce the reader to alexin,
agglutinin, anti-bodies, sidechains, and other interesting and useful
novelties that he contains within him to a greater or less degree, let
us hope a greater.

But these same voracious white blood cells which ordinarily serve as
the defenders of the body may in the period of its weakness become
its worst enemies. This reminds us of the Prætorian Guards who in
the later days of Rome precipitated its decline by attacking the
capital. The phagocytes show an unfortunate predilection for the higher
elements of the human organism and, according to Metchnikoff, the most
distressing symptom of old age, the weakening of the mind, is due to
their devouring the nerve cells. But besides that they play havoc all
through the body; eating up the pigment of the hair and so whitening
it; causing degeneration of the liver and kidneys; robbing the skeleton
of its lime and depositing it in the blood vessels, thus doing double
damage by weakening the bones and hardening the arteries. In these
symptoms of senility the germs of disease form an important factor,
both in weakening the body and instigating the treacherous insurrection
of the phagocytes. Hence Metchnikoff comes to the conclusion that: "The
senile degeneration of an organism is entirely similar to the lesions
induced by certain maladies of a microbic origin", and thus he arrives
at his famous definition: "Old age is an infectious chronic disease,
characterized by a degeneration or an enfeebling of the noble elements
and by the excessive activity of the phagocytes."

If old age is correctly characterized as a disease, and especially if
it is due in part to microbic invasion, it ought to be possible to cure
or postpone it. This, then, is what Metchnikoff has in recent years
made the main aim of his researches.

In particular he suspects the large intestine of harboring some of the
most dangerous of the microscopic enemies of man, the cause of many of
the ills that flesh is heir to. It is in his opinion an excessive and
comparatively unimportant organ, for it can be shortened or removed
without serious consequences. A comparative survey of the anatomy of
the vertebrates shows that as a general rule the longer the intestine
the shorter the life. He does not advocate its extirpation by surgery
or its disinfection by chemicals, but he would crowd out its wild and
poisonous flora by harmless cultivated species. Among the friendly
microbes he regards the lactic acid bacilli as most useful for this
purpose. These act upon milk or fruit sugar, converting it into lactic
acid, which is destructive to most other microbes, including some of
the most dangerous. For example, mysterious outbreaks of typhoid fever
have been recently traced to "typhoid carriers"; that is, persons who,
while immune to the disease themselves, may yet serve for years as
conveyors of the infection. But a thriving colony of Bulgarian bacilli
will drive out the typhoid bacilli and so put a stop to the spread of
the disease.

The difference between harmless and injurious bacteria on which the
lactic acid theory depends is easily understood because it is a matter
of common observation. Meat and milk have much the same composition so
far as their protein is concerned. But whereas meat promptly spoils,
that is, putrefies, with the formation of disgusting and poisonous
products of decomposition, milk sours instead and will remain wholesome
and to some tastes palatable for several days. Both are the results
of bacterial decomposition, but the difference is due to the fact
that milk contains a kind of sugar which, inoculated with the proper
bacilli, is converted into lactic acid, and thus the growth of the
bacteria of putrefaction is for some time prevented. But under certain
circumstances it happens that the latter get the start of the lactic
acid makers, and then the milk goes the way of the meat, and we have a
case of "ptomain poisoning." In short, the aim of swallowing cultures
of lactic acid bacilli by whole-sale is to keep the contents of the
remote regions of our digestive apparatus in the condition of soured
milk rather than that of decayed meat. Recently the same treatment has
been recommended for preserving the teeth, since these mild-mannered
and beneficent bacilli rubbed into the gums will dispossess those which
ordinarily grow in our mouths and attack our teeth.

For aid in his fight against the bacterial poisons that bring on
disease and old age, Metchnikoff has resorted to his native steppes.
The Tartars and Kalmucks of southern Russia had always had as their
favorite food koumiss, prepared by the fermentation of mare's milk,
and nomads of all races have made use of some form of curdled milk,
chiefly because of the difficulty of preserving other kinds of animal
food under primitive conditions. The keffir of the Caucasus, the leben
of Egypt, the matzoon of Armenia, the dadhi of India, and yahourth of
Bulgaria are all produced from milk by the use of various species of
lactic acid bacilli associated with other bacteria of fermentation. Of
these the last, the Bulgarian yahourth, yoghourt, or yagurt, contains
the strongest bacilli; that is, those that are able to stand the
largest percentage of the product of their own activity, lactic acid,
and so Metchnikoff has made them the basis of his dietetics.

A surprisingly large proportion of centenarians are reported from
Bulgaria, where yagurt is used, and Metchnikoff cites a large number
of cases of men and women of extreme old age who have lived largely
on sour milk or on sauerkraut, which also contains the lactic acid
bacilli.[2] Most of these are found among the poorer classes or
comparatively uncivilized races. Sir Moses Montefiore is one of the
very few rich men who have passed the century mark. Metchnikoff uses
this as an argument for the simple life. But it is questionable whether
such data, derived from the casual reports of individual cases and the
generalized observations of travelers, are of much evidential value.
Claims to longevity among the unlettered are notoriously unreliable.
It would be very unsafe to hold that the negroes were longer lived
than the whites, because so many mammies could tell of remembering
Washington. When the British old age pension bill passed, the number of
poor people in Ireland who came forward with evidence that they were
over sixty-five years old surprised the actuaries and embarrassed the
budget. Women are apt to restore double-fold in old age the years they
deprived themselves of in the later thirties.

It is also curious to see a skeptic like Metchnikoff giving serious
consideration to the accounts of longevity given in the Pentateuch
which many orthodox theologians are willing to concede as legendary. He
balks, indeed, at Noah's nine hundred and fifty years and Methuselah's
nine hundred and sixty-nine, but accepts as probable Aaron's one
hundred and twenty-three years and Moses's one hundred and twenty,
quoting the words of Jehovah: "My spirit shall not always strive with
man for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and
twenty years." He accounts for it by their more healthful mode of
living and their freedom from alcoholism and the diseases of vice,
nowadays the chief cause of premature old age. He calls attention also
to the fact that sour milk was in common use among the patriarchs and
was esteemed by Abraham food fit to set before angels. In regard to the
Mosaic dietary regulations he says:

    Some of them, it is true, such as the prohibition of
    uncooked or partially cooked meat, are confirmed by modern
    knowledge. But the greater number of the Mosaic rules, as,
    for instance, the prohibition of the consumption as food of
    blood or the flesh of pigs or hares, and so forth, are in
    direct opposition to a modern knowledge of hygienic diet.

Metchnikoff, being a scientist, uses, of course, these reports of
longevity gathered from historians and travelers merely as suggesting
profitable lines of research, not as proof of any theory. Such proof
can only be obtained by direct experimentation, and accordingly he has
for the past fifteen years been experimenting upon himself. The Pasteur
people do not belong to that class of physicians who refuse to take
their own medicine. Metchnikoff still has a weak heart as the result
of an intentional inoculation with recurrent fever, and some of his
collaborators have inoculated themselves with the most loathsome of
diseases for the purpose of testing a remedy for it. Brown-Séquard, of
the Collège de France, tried, at the age of seventy-two, to rejuvenate
himself by injections of animal secretions, but his hopes proved

But the means advocated by Metchnikoff for the prevention of
senescence, even though it may never fulfill his expectations, has at
least the merit of being harmless, for it is merely the systematic
employment of a food which has been in use by a large part of the
human race from the earliest times. The object being to colonize the
lactic bacilli in the lower part of the digestive tract, the best way
of attaining this has yet to be worked out. The generous drinking of
buttermilk or curdled milk, though this may be nutritious or otherwise
beneficial, does not necessarily accomplish the object, for the bacilli
may have been mostly killed off by the acidity or may be destroyed
in the stomach. Taking a dose of the bacilli in a dried form, as a
tablet or powder, may fail to serve the purpose, because they are in an
inactive state and may not be able to secure a foot-hold for lack of
suitable food, such as milk or fruit sugar. So Metchnikoff has adopted
the plan of taking pure cultures of the Bulgarian and paralactic
bacilli in pasteurized milk or sweetened bouillon and also in the jam
and in a kind of candy prepared from cooked dates soaked in the pure
cultures. He abstains from all alcoholic beverages and uses only cooked
food and boiled water. His daily diet in addition to this consists of
three to five ounces of meat, grains, legumes, and stewed fruit.[3]

This goes counter to the raw food advocates, but here Metchnikoff
has the best of the argument. He also questions the advisability of
excessive chewing as advocated by Mr. Fletcher, and cites cases where
the health has been injured by the practice and the resulting disease
cured by more rapid eating.[4]

As soon as Doctor Metchnikoff first made known his theory, the public,
always on the lookout for a new "Elixir of Life", demanded fermented
milk and the supply was immediately forthcoming, not always of a
satisfactory character. Many of the cultures sold in powder or tabloids
for the purpose or dispensed in drink at the soda fountains are
inactive and useless, or contain other and sometimes undesirable forms
of bacteria. I have found it easy enough to prepare the fermented milk
in the household, where the proper cultures are to be had. All that is
necessary is to sterilize the milk by heating it to the boiling point
or near it and keeping it there for ten minutes; then cool quickly to
100° Fahr. and add the ferment in tabloids or powder or some of the
former batch, and keep covered at this temperature for twelve hours.
A vacuum bottle or fireless cooker is convenient for keeping the
temperature even. The fermented milk properly prepared is somewhat
thickened, slightly acid, and palatable even to those who do not like
ordinary buttermilk.

Metchnikoff's views as to the value of lactic acid have met with not
only the legitimate skepticism and criticism of the medical profession,
but also with the usual ridicule from the press. "Who would want to
live one hundred and fifty years if he had to drink sour milk three
times a day?" is asked, and he is alluded to as "the modern Ponce de
Leon searching for the Fountain of Immortal Youth and finding it in
the Milky Whey." Of course Metchnikoff should not be held responsible
for the exaggerated expectations founded upon his theories or for the
fakes foisted upon the public in his name. He is indeed an original
thinker and a bold experimenter, but he is not a sensationalist or a
seeker for popular applause. He has never said that he expected to live
one hundred and fifty years or that any one else could by following
his regimen. But he does regard that period as more nearly the normal
length of human life than the commonly accepted limit of sixty-five
or seventy, and as possibly attainable through the advance of medical
science. Though he comes of a short-lived family and all his brothers
died at an age much younger than he has now attained, his health is
unusually good for a man of seventy, and he is as hard-working and
enterprising as ever. It is not the mere prolongation of life for which
he is working, but the prolongation of the period of serviceable and
enjoyable life. If he had remained in the University of Odessa, he
would have been retired from his professorship on the ground of old age
in 1900, the year before he published his second and greatest work,
that on "Immunity in Infectious Diseases."

The title which was given to his most popular book in its English
version, "The Prolongation of Life", was not of his choosing
and misrepresents his aim. He regards this volume as well as
its predecessor, "The Nature of Man", as "Studies in Optimistic
Philosophy." They are written to show that science is not merely of
use in facilitating and ameliorating the lot of human beings, but is
also adequate as a guide to conduct and capable of providing it with
ideals of future aspiration. In an age when, as it appears to him,
religion has lost its power, and thinking men no longer have faith in
immortality, he sees them turning to mysticism on the one hand and
to pessimism on the other, and his purpose is to find a way out that
does not involve either. As an exposition of the Religio Medici of the
twentieth century, his work has great significance, and even those
who look with confidence to a future life to rectify the disharmonies
of this one may read with interest the opinions of one who does not
hold their faith upon what may be accomplished toward perfecting the
conditions of existence and may sympathize with and second his efforts
at such amelioration.

Essentially his aim seems to me to be the same as that of Epicurus: to
relieve mankind of its two great evils, pain and fear, the fear of the
gods and the fear of death, the first to be dissipated by showing it
to be imaginary and the second by welcoming death at the proper time.
Like Epicurus, too, but unlike most Epicureans, Metchnikoff preaches
plain living and the avoidance of luxury and dissipation of all kinds.
"It would be true progress", he says, "to abandon modern cuisine and
go back to the simpler dishes of our ancestors", and he objects on
hygienic grounds to modern dress, dwellings, and social customs.

A society called "The Optimists" has been formed in Paris to increase
the sum and intensity of human happiness and to extend the limit of
active and enjoyable life. The founder is Doctor E. Dagincourt and the
secretary is Mme. Languet de Bellevue, who has given fifty thousand
dollars to the movement. Besides Professor Metchnikoff, the club
includes Jean Finot, whose "Science of Happiness" and "Philosophy
of Longevity" present similar ideals to Metchnikoff's "Optimistic
Studies"; Camille Flammarion, the distinguished astronomer and author;
Professor Charles Richet, who received the Nobel prize for medical
discoveries in 1913; Eugene Brieux, author of "Damaged Goods" and
other reform dramas; and Edmond Perrier, head of the Museum of Natural

Optimism Metchnikoff regards as the natural philosophy of old age when
a proper appreciation of the value of life is attained and youthful
pessimism outgrown.

    In the normal course of life, however, the young do not show
    an instinctive clinging to life in any marked degree. They
    often risk their lives for trifling reasons and commit all
    sorts of indiscretions hurtful to life or health without a
    thought of the consequences. They may be inspired by the
    highest motives, but they are equally ready to fritter
    strength away in the gratification of the lowest appetites.
    Youth is the age of disinterested sacrifice, but also of
    indulgence in all kinds of excesses, alcoholic, sexual, and
    others. Youths seem to think that they will always attach
    the same value to life, and that between death at thirty
    years of age and death at sixty there is a difference only
    of time. As their love of life is indifferently developed,
    young people are often extremely exacting, the pleasure
    they enjoy being but moderate, whilst the suffering
    provoked in them by the slightest annoyance is intense.
    They consequently become epicureans in the lowest sense
    of the word, or else abandon themselves to exaggerated
    pessimism.--"The Nature of Man", p. 116.

Pessimism was the militant philosophy of the nineteenth century, and
its effects are increasingly felt in the present world-wide tendency to
suicide, individual suicide due to the failure of the instinct to live,
and race suicide due to the failure to propagate. But even pessimism,
harmful as it is upon humanity, may, according to Metchnikoff, have its

    It is pessimism which has been the first to draw up a true
    indictment of human nature, and if pain is to be regarded
    as useful in its quality of danger signal we should equally
    recognize that the pessimistic view of the universe is a
    step onward in the evolution of humanity. Without pessimism
    we might easily sink into a kind of contented fatalism, and
    end in quietism, in the manner of many religions.--"Nature
    of Man", p. 194.

The difference between the philosophic pessimist and the scientific
optimist may be illustrated by two incidents. In 1831 Schopenhauer, in
spite of his theory that life was evil and worse than nothing, fled
from Berlin to Frankfort at the first outbreak of the cholera. But we
recall that Metchnikoff, professed optimist and lover of life, went in
1911 to Manchuria into the center of the bubonic plague in its most
virulent form in order to learn how to relieve human suffering. The
difference is one between whiners and helpers.

Schopenhauer wrote that "an alteration of the atmosphere so slight
that it cannot be detected by chemistry brings about cholera or yellow
fever or black death." Metchnikoff's dry comment on this is: "Humanity
will be fortunate if the pessimistic philosophers prove as wrong about
their other grievances as they have proved about disease and medicine."
And he adds that if Koch had discovered his vibrio in 1831, philosophy
would have taken a different course, for Schopenhauer need not have
been frightened away from Berlin, and Hegel, who died of the cholera,
might have gone on with the development of his idealism.

Another paradox appears in the fact that Metchnikoff, who makes
little account of altruism in his system of morality, has devoted his
life to arduous and dangerous researches for the benefit of others,
and, without hope of reward in another life in either the Buddhist
or Christian sense, has labored assiduously to lay the foundations
of a science by which posterity can profit. He regards altruism not
as a permanent and indispensable virtue, but as something to be
gradually got rid of, at least in its extreme forms of heroism and
self-sacrifice. As this is one of the most striking and, it seems to
me, most original points in his philosophy, a passage must be quoted:

    As it is highly probable that with the advance of
    civilization the greatest evils of humanity will become
    lessened, and may even disappear, the sacrifices to be made
    will also become less. Now that there is a serum which
    protects against plague, there is no room for the heroism
    of the doctors who used to incur the greatest danger in
    fighting epidemics. Until lately doctors used to risk their
    life in treating the throats of diphtheritic patients. A
    young doctor who was a friend of mine, of high ability
    and promise, died from diphtheria contracted under these
    conditions. He met his death, in isolation from his friends
    in case of affecting them, with the utmost heroism. Now that
    the antidiphtheritic serum has been discovered, such heroism
    would be unnecessary. The advance of science has removed the
    occasion of such sacrifices.

    It is now very long since there has been opportunity for
    the heroism which steeled the hand of Abraham to sacrifice
    his only son to his religion. Human sacrifice, based on
    the highest morality, has become more and more rare, and
    will finally disappear. Rational morality, although it may
    admire such conduct, has no use for it. So also it may
    foresee a time when men will be so highly developed that
    instead of being delighted to take advantage of the sympathy
    of their fellows, they will refuse it absolutely. Neither
    the Kantian idea of virtue, doing good as a pure duty, nor
    that of Herbert Spencer, according to which men have an
    instinctive need to help their fellows, will be realized in
    the future. The ideal will rather be that of men who will be
    self-sufficient and who will no longer permit others to do
    them good.--"Prolongation of Life", p. 323.

As he objects to conditions that demand sympathy and self-sacrifice
from one person for another, so also he opposes any state of society
that involves the sacrifice or subordination of the individual for the
benefit of the community as a whole.

    It is most probable that no shade of socialism will be
    able to solve the problem of social life with a sufficient
    respect for the maintenance of individual liberty. None the
    less the progress of human knowledge will inevitably bring
    about a great leveling of human fortunes. Intellectual
    culture will lead men to give up many things that are
    superfluous or even harmful, and that are still thought
    indispensable by most people. The conceptions that the
    greatest good fortune consists in the complete evolution of
    the normal cycle of human life and that this goal can be
    reached most easily by plain and sober habits will convince
    men of the folly of much of the luxury that now shortens
    human existence. Whilst the rich will choose a simpler mode
    of life and the poor will be able to live better, none
    the less, private property, acquired or inherited, may be
    maintained. Evolution must be gradual, and much effort and
    new knowledge is required. Sociology, a new-born science,
    must learn of biology, her older sister. Biology teaches
    us that in proportion that the organization becomes more
    complex, the consciousness of individuality develops,
    until a point is reached at which individuality cannot be
    sacrificed to the community. Amongst low creatures such as
    Myxomycetes and Siphonophora, the individuals disappear
    wholly or almost wholly in the community; but the sacrifice
    is small, as in these creatures the consciousness of
    individuality has not appeared. Social insects are in a
    stage intermediate between that of the lower animals and
    man. It is only in man that the individual has definitely
    acquired consciousness, and for that reason a satisfactory
    social organization cannot sacrifice it on pretext of
    the common good. To this conclusion the study of the
    social evolution of living beings leads me. It is plain
    that the study of human individuality is a necessary
    step in the organization of the social life of human
    beings.--"Prolongation of Life", p. 231.

One might think in reading "The Nature of Man" that Metchnikoff was
laying the foundations of a pessimistic instead of an optimistic system
of philosophy. He begins, as Schopenhauer or Von Hartmann might have
done, by showing how ill adapted to his environment is that simian
abortion we call man. Among the examples of marvelously perfect
adaptation of structure or instinct in nature are cited Darwin's
orchids and Fabre's wasps. M. Fabre seems to be indispensable to French
philosophers. We have seen that Maeterlinck and Bergson get some of
their finest illustrations from this "Homer of the Insects." But man is
not so favored of nature as the orchids or wasps:

    There can be no doubt but that the human constitution,
    although in many ways perfect and sublime, exhibits numerous
    and serious disharmonies which are the source of all our
    troubles. Not being so well adapted to the conditions of
    life as orchids are, for example, in the matter of their
    fertilization by the mediation of insects, or the burrowing
    wasps for the protection of their young, humanity resembles
    rather those insects the instinct of which guides them
    toward the flame which burns their wings.

In the first half of the nineteenth century there were published at
the cost of five thousand dollars apiece eight volumes known as the
Bridgewater Treatises on "The Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as
Manifested in the Creation," using as illustrations the structure of
the hand, the instincts of animals, the chemistry of digestion, and
other unworked sources of natural theology. The science was not bad for
its time, nor was the argument altogether fallacious. But the authors
overlooked one thing, namely, that Bridgewater is a game two can play
at, and that it would be equally possible to fill eight other volumes
by picking out a different set of facts, almost equally imposing, to
prove something very different, either that there is no God or that
there is a devil, either atheism or Manicheism. Metchnikoff's "Nature
of Man" supplies much of the material that a devil's advocate might
then have used in his Anti-Bridgewater Treatises.

But Metchnikoff, writing in the twentieth century, makes quite another
use of it. He has doubtless never read the Bridgewater Treatises,
nor have many of us. There is no reason to now. They have become
waste paper, not because they were false, but because the whole mass
of the argument against them has vanished, the half recognized and
subconscious argument against theism derivable from the undeniable
existence of disharmonies and imperfections in the universe. This
battlefield is deserted; though the same struggle continues, it is on
higher ground. This change has been wrought by the introduction of the
idea of evolution. We now realize we do not live in a static universe.
The theism which is founded on evolution may serenely acknowledge
the discords and failures which would be fatal to the theism of the
Bridgewater era. And Metchnikoff, as an atheist, is equally untroubled
by the existence of misleading instincts and useless, disease-producing
organs, for interpreting them in the light of evolution he escapes the
slough of nineteenth century pessimism and arrives triumphantly at the
goal of optimism.

At least he says he does. I cannot see that his argument leads to
optimism in the strict sense of the word, although it certainly leads
him to a very sane and hopeful meliorism. The weakest point in his
doctrine of orthobiosis seems to me his theory of euthanasia, that at
the end of the "normal cycle" of life--whatever that may be--the desire
for life is replaced by an instinct for death. The evidence he adduces
in support of this is very scanty and questionable. It is curious
to note that it was the experiences of Metchnikoff's brother which
supplied Tolstoy with the material for the most harrowing picture of
the fear of death in all literature, "The Death of Ivan Ilyitch"?

In "The Prolongation of Life" Metchnikoff devotes much space to an
analysis of the first and second parts of "Faust" and the life of
Goethe, whom he manifestly regards as an excellent example of a
complete and well-ordered life. The reader will observe that while
he condemns Goethe's drinking habits because they undermined his
constitution, he has, from the standpoint of a naturalist, no word of
blame for his promiscuous love affairs, since these contributed to the
development of his genius. This is, to say the least, a very one-sided
view to take of it.

But this volume is concerned with the exposition rather than the
criticism of the authors discussed, so I will conclude the chapter with
a quotation which sums up his philosophy and sets forth his ideals:

    In progress toward the goal, nature will have to be
    consulted continuously. Already, in the case of the
    ephemerids, nature has produced a complete cycle of normal
    life ending in natural death. In the problem of his own
    fate, man must not be content with the gifts of nature; he
    must direct them by his own efforts. Just as he has been
    able to modify the nature of animals and plants, man must
    attempt to modify his own constitution, so as to readjust
    its disharmonies.

    Breeders form a conception of the ideal result when they are
    about to attempt the production of some new variety which
    shall be pleasing æsthetically and of service to man. Next,
    they study the existing individual variations in animals and
    plants on which they wish to work, and from which they will
    select with minutest care. The ideal result must have some
    relation to the constitution of the organism selected. To
    modify the human constitution, it will be necessary, first,
    to frame the ideal, and thereafter to set to work with all
    the resources of science.

    If there can be formed an ideal able to unite men in a
    kind of religion of the future, this ideal must be founded
    on scientific principles. And if it be true, as has been
    asserted so often, that man can live by faith alone, the
    faith must be in the power of science.--"The Nature of Man",
    p. 302.

       *       *       *       *       *


The philosophy of Metchnikoff is given in two volumes published in
this country by Putnams, "The Nature of Man" and "The Prolongation
of Life." The second and later volume will perhaps better serve the
purpose of the general reader, but either will give the main outlines
of his theories. Both volumes are written for the medical student
rather than the public, and discuss some unpleasant subjects, but
not in any objectionable manner. The English translation, at least
in the first editions, is clumsy and careless. These works in the
original are entitled "Essais sur la nature humaine", Paris, 1903, and
"Essais optimistes", Paris, 1907. The German version, "Studien über
die Natur des Menschen", Leipsic, 1904, is prefaced by Ostwald. "The
New Hygiene", Three Lectures on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases,
prefaced by Lankester, is published by W. T. Keever & Co., Chicago.

Articles by Metchnikoff easily accessible are: "Studies in Natural
Death", in _Harper's Magazine_, Vol. CXIV, p. 272; "The Utility of
Lactic Microbes", in _Century_, Vol. LXXIX, p. 53; "Old Age", in
Smithsonian Report, 1904.

A criticism of Metchnikoff's individualism from a socialistic point of
view is "The Optimism of Metchnikoff", by F. Carrel, in _Fortnightly
Review_, Vol. LXXXIX, p. 51. A criticism to which Metchnikoff has made
a reply in his second volume is "Morale et Biologie", by D. Parodi, in
_Revue philosophique,_ Vol. LVIII, p. 113. "Metchnikoff, philosophe"
(Bibliothèque des Entretiens Idéalistes, Paris, 1911) is a pamphlet by
a young Catholic, Fernand Divoire, in a style of frantic denunciation.

An interesting character sketch by A. McFarlane is to be found in
_McClure's Magazine_, Vol. XXV, p. 541. Two interviews with Metchnikoff
by Herman Bernstein are contained in _With Master Minds_ (Universal
Series Publishing Company New York). Sir Ray Lankester in his "Science
from an Easy Chair" has a chapter on "Metchnikoff and Tolstoy."

Good articles on the theory of immunity as developed by Metchnikoff and
others are: "The War Against Disease", in _Edinburgh Review_, October,
1910; "Paul Ehrlich: The Man and His Work", by Marguerite Marks, in
_McClure's Magazine_, 1911, p. 184; "Natural Resistance to Disease", by
Dr. Simon Flexner, of the Rockefeller Institute, in _Popular Science
Monthly_, July, 1909, and in Smithsonian Report, 1909; "The Struggle
for Immunity", by H. S. Williams, in _Harper's Magazine_, December,
1911. Circular No. 171 of the Bureau of American Industry of the United
States Department of Agriculture gives a description of _Fermented
Milks_ by F. A. Rogers.

[1] The list is instructive because it shows clearly that the names
first in the hearts of their countrymen are those who have become
eminent in science and letters or have done signal service in the
cause of the republic. The leading names are as follows: 1, Pasteur
(receiving 1,338,425 votes); 2, Victor Hugo (1,227,103); 3, Gambetta
(1,155,672); 4, Napoleon Bonaparte (1,118,034); 5, Thiers (1,039,453);
6, Lazare Carnot, organizer of the republican army of the Revolution;
7, Pierre Curie, discoverer of radium; 8, Alexandre Dumas, _père_;
9, Dr. Roux, inventor of the diphtheritic serum; 10, Parmentier,
introducer of the potato into France; 11, Ampère, father of dynamic
electricity; 12, Brazza, who secured the Kongo region for France; 13,
Zola, novelist and defender of Dreyfus; 14, Lamartine, republican poet;
15, Arago, astronomer and physicist; 16, Sarah Bernhardt, actress;
17, Premier Waldeck-Rousseau; 18, Marshal MacMahon; 19, President
Carnot; 20, Chevreul, chemist; 21, Chateaubriand; 22, Ferdinand de
Lesseps, constructor of the Suez Canal and projector of the Panama; 23,
Michelet; 24, Jacquard, inventor of the pattern loom; 25, Jules Verne;
26, President Loubet; 27, Deufert-Rochereau, defender of Belfort.

[2] He might add to his notable examples of persons addicted to the use
of curdled milk the case of Tze-Hsi, the Dowager Empress of China, who
at the age of seventy-four had energy enough to change her own mind and
revolutionize the government of four hundred million people.

[3] See "Les Microbes lactiques et leur utilité pour la santé" in _La
Revue,_ 1901, p. 145. A full discussion of the subject of fermented
milks with methods for their preparation in the household may be found
in a volume by L. M. Douglas, recently published under the sensational
title of "The Bacillus of Long Life" (Putnams).

[4] "The Prolongation of Life", p. 159.



Maeterlinck expresses his idea of happiness through the symbol of the
Blue Bird. Ostwald expresses his by

     _G = E² - W²_

Poets and scientists both are necessarily symbolists. The apparent
conflict between them is chiefly a difference of taste as to the
choice of symbols, for both stand together in opposition to the great
mass of near-sighted humanity, those who live only in the concrete,
too absorbed in the consideration of particulars to discover for
themselves the One in the Many. The most conspicuous difference between
the symbolism of poetry and that of science is that the former is old
and the latter new. The poet prefers to go to antiquity for symbols,
bringing down from the attic to the living-room some metaphorical
heirloom, enriched by the associations of generations and carrying
with it a penumbra of indefinable suggestions, which makes it appear
to mean more than it does. So Maeterlinck chooses for his fairy play
"The Blue Bird", which had lived in folk lore for countless ages. But
the scientist prefers to invent a new symbol for the occasion in order
to get something that shall convey neither more nor less meaning than
what he himself puts into it at the time. Poets and artists of all
sorts get credit for greater perspicacity and prophetic power than they
deserve, by reason of later generations reading into their sayings much
more meaning than was ever in the mind of the author. This unearned
increment of reputation, compounded annually, is all that keeps some
ancient authors alive nowadays. But the man of science disdains such
support and is careful to define his terms so that posterity may give
him no more credit than he thinks he has earned by his own exertions.

The scientific symbolism is not only more exact than the poetic,
but it is also more practical. Doubtless "The Blue Bird" of Maurice
Maeterlinck and "The Blue Flower" of Henry Van Dyke have contributed
to happiness as well as stood for it, but they are not of much service
in showing which of two courses in any dilemma will lead to it. The
unpoetical reader might suppose that to be blue was to be happy.
Ostwald, however, insists that his formula is not a mere mathematical
jest, but applicable to practical affairs, and like a true physician he
has tried it on himself and knows that it works. He tells us that he
solved one of the most difficult problems of his life by its aid, as,
for example, when at the age of fifty-three the question arose whether
he should remain professor of chemistry in Leipzig University or retire
to his country place at Gross-Bothen to take up the new profession of
"practical idealist"?

An interpretation of Ostwald's formula for happiness,

     _G = E² - W²_

will enable the reader to try it for himself. _G_ stands for happiness
(_Glück_). This, according to the theory of energetics, is dependent
upon the amount of energy expended, might in fact be measured by
the amount of carbon dioxid produced by conscious activity if we
could separate this from the unconscious physiological processes of
the body. Part of this Energy is expended in agreeable ways; let
that be represented by _E_. But there is always another part of
conscious activity which is unpleasant, such as painful feelings,
disagreeable thoughts, unwilling duties; that may be represented by _W_

The second term (_E²--W²_) of the equation may be resolved into the
two factors _E_ + _W_ and _E - W_, and increase of either will tend
to increase the amount of happiness. The way of the strenuous life is
to increase the first (_E_ + _W_), the total expenditure of energy;
that is, to exert one's self to the utmost in desired directions,
even though opposition and anxieties increase also; to bring up the
health to its highest point that the supply of chemical energy may
not fail; to cut down as much as possible on sleep, for that is the
time when both _E_ and _W_ sink to zero. This is what Ostwald calls
Hero-happiness (_Heldenglück_).

But men of more timid temperament prefer to devote their attention
to the other factor (_E_ - _W_), because herein lies the danger, not
merely of no happiness (when _G_ = 0), but of unhappiness, for _G_
becomes a minus quantity when _W_ is greater than _E_. They strive
rather to reduce _W_, the unpleasant part of life, than to increase
_E_, the pleasant. To avoid risks, to curb ambition, to limit
desires, to curtail expenditure, to seek contentment rather than
delight--this is the way of the simple life and leads to Hut-happiness
(_Hüttenglück_). This may indeed attain the same result, give an equal
value for G, but the happiness so reached is very different in kind,
though equivalent in degree, to that for which strive men of the
type of Napoleon, Edison, and Roosevelt. The search for happiness by
limitation instead of expansion leads at its extreme to stoicism, to
asceticism, to nirvana, to the state of mind of Diogenes, who threw
away his sole utensil, the cup, when he saw a man drink out of his hand.

Many moralists before Ostwald have attempted to put this idea into
semi-mathematical form, generally with the object of advising the
seeker after happiness to take the lower and smoother road. Carlyle
says in "Sartor Resartus":

"The Fraction of Life can be increased in value, not so much by
increasing your Numerator as by lessening your Denominator. Nay, unless
my Algebra deceive me, Unity itself divided by Zero will give Infinity.
Make thy claim of wages a zero, then; thou hast the world at thy feet.
Well did the Wisest of our time write 'It is only with Renunciation
that Life, properly speaking, can be said to begin.'" James, in
his "Principles of Psychology", expresses it as follows:

Self-esteem = -----------

That is, our self-esteem is determined by the ratio of our actualities
to our supposed potentialities. And he suggests that some Bostonians
"would be happier men and women to-day if they could once for all
abandon the notion of keeping up a Musical Self and without shame let
people hear them call a symphony a nuisance"?

[Illustration: Wilhelm Ostwald]

William Winter puts the thought in rhyme:

    "I have set my heart on nothing, you see
    And so the world goes well with me."

One is irresistibly impelled to quote Johnson's remark:

"Sir, that all who are happy, are equally happy, is not true. A peasant
and a philosopher may be equally _satisfied_, but not equally _happy_.
Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness. A
peasant has not capacity for having equal happiness with a philosopher."

Boswell tags this in his usual style with the observation that this
very question was "very happily illustrated" by the Reverend Mr. Robert
Brown at Utrecht, who said that "a small drinking glass and a very
large one may be equally full, but the large one holds more than the

Ostwald applies his formula to James's "Varieties of Religious
Experience", and shows that the convert leaves the mourner's bench at
the moment when the factor (_E_ - _W_) changes its sign from minus
to plus. (Here _W_ apparently stands for the devil.) The equation
also serves him as an argument against the use of alcohol and other
narcotics, which, though they temporarily reduce _W_ by sinking all
unpleasantnesses below the threshold of consciousness, are likely to
make happiness a minus quantity. Wealth, being the most compact and
convenient form of energy, may serve to increase _E_ or diminish _W_,
but not in proportion to its amount. Dramatic criticism may even be
made mathematical. Jaques has a large _W_; Rosalind has a large _E_;
put them together and you have "As You Like It."

But I should not devote so much space to what is merely an extreme and,
some would say, an extravagant application of Ostwald's philosophy.[1]
It is, however, a characteristic example of his mode of thought and may
serve as well as any other to introduce the reader to his fundamental
theory of energetics, which formed the leading principle of his
chemical work, and which he has now carried over into the fields of
philosophy and sociology.

It is not necessary to explain the modern conception of energy, for we
all learned about it in our school days, and here we need only have in
mind its two fundamental laws. The first is the law of the conservation
of energy, discovered by Mayer, which states that the amount of energy
remains unchanged whatever its transformations. To take a familiar
example, when we buy coal, we are really buying chemical energy, not
carbon. When we burn it, we let the carbon go off up the chimney, but
the heat energy we keep as completely as possible, and by means of
a boiler transform it into the expansive energy of steam, which is
converted into the motion energy of piston rod and wheel, and when
connected with a dynamo may become electrical energy. The electrical
energy we can conduct by a wire into our homes and there convert it
into the light energy of an incandescent bulb, the heat energy of an
electric griddle, or the motion energy of a fan or carpet sweeper. That
is, whenever any kind of energy disappears, some other kind of energy
crops up somewhere in exactly equivalent amount. In any experiment
where they can be measured, the income and outgo of energy will be
found to balance exactly, just like a bookkeeper's ledger.

But here is another thing to consider. The fact that a trial balance
comes out even does not prove that the concern is not losing money,
and we see the same thing in the energy business. In the series of
transformations we have followed above, from the coal of the power
house to the utensils of the household, there is leakage all along
the line, a little lost in friction and radiated heat in each of the
machines, and a big waste, some eighty-five per cent, in the steam
engine. Ostwald uses the ingenious illustration of a traveler who goes
through Europe changing his money at every frontier, and losing a
little each time through the changer's discount. A good money changer
is one who is satisfied with a moderate commission. A good machine is
one that gives back to us almost as much as we give it. But there is
none perfect, no, not one.

This is the second fundamental law of thermodynamics,[2] the law of
the degradation of energy. For energy has a sort of gravitation of its
own. It always wants to run down hill. Heat seeks its level as well
as water. If we lay a hot plate, say, a temperature of 100°, on or
under a plate at zero, the heat will spread to the cold plate until
both are at 50°, disregarding radiation losses. And when they have
come to the same temperature, it is impossible to get out of them any
further heat movement. "You cannot run the mill with the water that's
gone by." You have to have a fall of temperature to run any kind of
heat engine. Every machine, every chemical and physical process, every
living being, is leaking energy all the time, that is, transforming
it into unavailable forms. That is the way we get our living. The sun
is dissipating its heat energy throughout space at a great rate. Our
allies, the plants, manage to catch a tiny bit of it and store it in
starch and oil, but we eat these and send the energy on its way as heat
again. The whole universe, regarded as a big machine, is running down
like a clock and, it seems, must ultimately come to a stop, unless,
indeed, there is a self-winding attachment hidden away in it somewhere,
or somebody outside of it all to wind it up occasionally.

This, however, is one of those questions which Ostwald calls
"pseudo-problems" and from which he would free us by applying the
energetic philosophy. His test is the following: "Suppose the problem
solved and assume any one of all possible answers to be correct, we
can then investigate what effect this would have on our conduct.
If it produces no effect, the problem is thereby indicated to be a
pseudo-problem." He takes for example the following:

    Did the world have a beginning in time or has it existed
    from all eternity? By the way of experiment we will assume
    that it has existed since eternity, and will ask what would
    change in our conduct by this knowledge? I find, at least
    for myself, that nothing would change by this knowledge, and
    just as little if we assume that there was a beginning in
    time. Hence I must say that even if I positively learn in
    some way which of the two possibilities is correct, it would
    be a matter of perfect indifference to me, and this being
    the case, we have here a pseudo-problem. The significance of
    this procedure is apparent from the answer to the question
    as to what we call "correct" or "true." The answer was that
    which enables us to make accurate predictions. Something
    that does not allow us to make any prediction whatever is
    essentially of no interest to us in any way, and there is
    no need of being concerned about it.--"The Modern Theory of
    Energetics" (_Monist_, 1907).

This, of course, is the pragmatic method, and Ostwald acknowledges the
relationship by observing: "Energetics coincides with that movement
which has originated on philosophical ground and which pursues very
similar ends under the name of pragmatism or humanism." The pragmatic
mode of thinking is practically universal among scientific men, but
Ostwald is an extreme pragmatist. Prophecy is the sole aim of science,
according to him, and he virtually denies the possibility of applying
the terms truth and falsehood, in the strict sense, to the statements
of history.[3]

To catch what we can of this stream of energy and to utilize it to
the best advantage, is the aim of human endeavor, the measure of
civilization. This is the function of the will in the individual and
the duty of the leaders of men. Wealth in all ages consists essentially
of the command of energy, whether counted by slave power, horse power,
or kilowatt hours. In order to show how Ostwald's sociology grows out
of his physics, let me quote the concluding paragraphs of his little
book on "Natural Philosophy":

    The objective characteristic of progress consists in
    improved methods for seizing and utilizing the raw energies
    of nature for human purposes. Thus it was a cultural act
    when a primitive man discovered that he could extend
    the radius of his muscle energy by taking a pole in his
    hand, and it was another cultural act when a primitive
    man discovered that by throwing a stone he could send his
    muscle energy a distance of many meters to the desired
    point. The effect of the knife, the spear, the arrow, and
    of all the other primitive implements can be called in.
    each case a purposive transformation of energy. And at the
    other end of the scale of civilization the most abstract
    scientific discovery, by reason of its generalization and
    simplification, signifies a corresponding economy of energy
    for all the coming generations that may have anything to do
    with the matter. Thus, in fact, the concept of progress as
    here defined embraces the entire sweep of human endeavor for
    perfection, or the entire field of culture, and at the same
    time it shows the great scientific value of the concept of

    If we consider further that, according to the second
    fundamental principle, the free energy accessible to us can
    only decrease, but not increase, while the number of men
    whose existence depends directly on the consumption of a due
    amount of free energy is constantly on the increase, then
    we at once see the objective necessity of the development
    of civilization in that sense. His foresight puts man in a
    position to act culturally. But if we examine our present
    social order from this point of view, we realize with horror
    how barbarous it still is. Not only do murder and war
    destroy cultural values without substituting others in their
    place, not only do the countless conflicts which take place
    between the different nations and political organizations
    act anticulturally, but so do also the conflicts between
    the various social classes of one nation, for they destroy
    quantities of free energy which are thus withdrawn from
    the total of real cultural values. At present mankind is
    in a state of development in which progress depends much
    less upon the leadership of a few distinguished individuals
    than upon the collective labor of all workers. Proof of
    this is that it is coming to be more and more the fact
    that great scientific discoveries are made simultaneously
    by a number of independent investigators--an indication
    that society creates in several places the individual
    conditions requisite for such discoveries. Thus we are
    living at a time when men are gradually approximating one
    another very closely in their natures, and when the social
    organization therefore demands and strives for as thorough
    an equalization as possible in the conditions of existence
    of all men.

From the same fundamental conception Ostwald derives his system of
ethics, which he sums up in "the energetic imperative":[4] _So act
that the crude energy is transformed into the higher with the least
possible loss_. This forms the text of several of his lay sermons such
as the one on "Efficiency."[5] Efficiency, that is, the ratio of work
to means, of accomplishment to opportunity, can be made the measure
of a man as well as of a machine, since Ostwald includes all thoughts
and feelings as forms of energy. This scientific conception and ideal
of efficiency, developed in the laboratory, was first introduced into
the shop, thence it has crept into business management, and has even
made its unwelcome appearance in university administration. It cannot
be much longer kept out from the capitol, the church, and the home. It
is, in fact, the contribution to our civilization by the fourth and
newest of the learned professions, that of the engineer. He it is who
has started us all wondering how much of what we daily do pays us in
any coin, has made us anxious to see some relation between effort and
result, has rendered us impatient of unnecessary delay, friction, lost
motion, wasted work, unutilized material, and retarded rewards.

To distinguish low and high forms of energy, says Ostwald, we should
consider their relative importance for human purposes. Thus bread must
be regarded as containing a higher form of chemical energy than wood,
although they are very similar in chemical composition and produce
about the same number of calories of heat on consumption.

Kant's categorical imperative, "So act that your conduct may be taken
as a universal law", is, in Ostwald's opinion, neither so comprehensive
nor so definite as his energetic imperative, which includes ethical
conduct, but is not confined to it. We call one automobile "good" and
another "bad" if the former will carry us twice as far as the latter on
the same amount of gasoline consumed. A "good" friend is one who helps
us in our endeavors through judicious advice and without annoyance,
while a "poor" friend only multiplies our difficulties; here again
goodness and badness are determined by the ratio of the total energy
employed and the results obtained. It is this second principle of
thermodynamics, the law of the degradation and dissipation of energy,
that prevents us from undoing the past, that gives significance to
such phrases as "time flies" and "the world moves." The cosmic process
is not a reversible reaction. Nietzsche's nightmare of the eternal
recurrence, which drove him insane, would have been dispelled by a
knowledge of elementary physics.

The second law is therefore of greater importance to philosophy and
sociology than the first, the law of the conservation and transmutation
of energy. Ostwald's recognition of its significance gives to his
philosophy a character decidedly different from the view dominant
in the last century, the mechanistic theory of the universe. It is
a curious thing that Haeckel, the biologist, has, by basing his
philosophy on the first law, been led to extreme mechanistic views,
while Ostwald, the physical chemist, by placing greater emphasis
upon the second law, comes to conclusions much better suited to the
explanation of vital phenomena.

According to the old mechanistic theory, the world could be reduced
to two elements, matter and motion. Everything was held to consist in
reality of atoms, in those days generally assumed to be indivisible and
eternal. Each atom was at a given instant moving in a certain direction
at a certain speed. It followed from this, as was suggested in the
_Philosophical Magazine_ many years ago, that if each atom should be
suddenly stopped and sent going back on its track with the same speed,
all events would be reversed and history be repeated backward. If we
were watching Waterloo, for example,[6] we should see the dead men rise
up one by one, pick up their guns, point them at their enemies, receive
into the gunbarrels the gases produced by the explosion of powder, and
walk off backward. Napoleon starting as a prisoner on St. Helena would
end as Emperor of the French.

We have all of us had this idea pictorially presented to us in moving
picture shows when the film is run through the lantern backward and
we see apples leaping from the ground and attaching themselves to the
limbs of the tree, and swimmers diving up out of the water and lighting
on the springboard. In fact, the reversed film of the cinematograph
may be regarded as the _reductio ad absurdum_ of the mechanistic
hypothesis. We might expect that a piece of music would sound just as
well if we put the perforated paper roll into the player piano wrong
end first--but somehow it doesn't. We all feel instinctively that there
is something ridiculous and impossible about this idea of reversibility
when applied to human beings. Even the chemist and the physicist can
effect this reversibility only to a limited extent and in special
cases, as, for example, when energy is supplied from some external
source. A sled can indeed be made to go up hill as well as down, but
it is hard work to make it. Wood will burn easily, but no chemist is
yet able to get the wood back out of the gases of combustion. The
second energy law was taught to us in our infancy by the parable of

Bergson bases his theory of the comic[7] upon the idea that the
absurdest of all things is to regard a human being as a machine. That
the world is, like man, not rightly to be regarded as a machine is
the fundamental theme of Bergson's "Creative Evolution", so there is
a striking similarity in point of view between Ostwald and Bergson,
notwithstanding their diversity of temperament and style. It may be
recalled that Bergson also entered into the realm of metaphysics
through the door of mathematical physics.

As early as 1895 Ostwald announced "the overthrow of scientific
materialism";[8] a startling declaration coming from one of the
greatest of chemists at a time when chemistry was almost exclusively
absorbed in the transformations of matter and only beginning to
recognize the importance of the concomitant transformations of energy.
When the chemist had put upon the blackboard the equation of a reaction
or the structural formula of a compound, he was apt to think that he
had told "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about
it. Against all such crude conceptions Ostwald protested vigorously,
preaching a new iconoclasm in the words of the old: "Thou shalt not
make unto thee any image or any likeness of anything that is in the
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor
serve them." He demanded "a science free from hypotheses"; formulas
that should merely state what is known to take place, in the place of
mechanical models and misleading visualizations. "Matter", said this
professor of the most materialistic of the sciences, "is merely a
form of thought", which is the same conclusion that Kant had come to
a hundred years before in regard to time and space. But whereas Kant
had said: "Give me matter and I will build a world out of it", Ostwald
would say: "Away with matter, I will build a world without it."

"The Actual, that is, what acts upon us, is energy alone", but in so
speaking Ostwald must not be understood, as he often is, to imply that
energy is the sole substance of which the world is composed. Mass
is merely one of the two factors which make up the product known as
energy. What the common man regards as the attributes of matter, its
hardness, heaviness, color, etc., are simply the effects of various
forms of energy on his sense organs.

Coal should be sold by calories, not tons. Even the courts, slowest
of human institutions to take cognizance of new ideas, have come to
the conclusion that energy is an entity, for now they will convict a
man for stealing it from a third rail, though perhaps they regard the
current as a stream of corpuscles. The unifying value of the energy
conception appears when we consider the old riddle of the relation of
the mind and body. Between the brain, regarded merely as a collocation
of moving molecules, and the mind, regarded merely as a succession
of states of consciousness, there is no conceivable connection, and
dualism is inevitable. But if we regard both as forms of energy, the
difficulty disappears. The "preëstablished harmony" of Leibnitz then
becomes the established unity of Ostwald. The idea of energy had its
inception in human action, so it is not an alien form of thought. It
was borrowed originally from psychology by physics, and there is no
impropriety in taking it back.

What we have been calling explanations in physics, and even in
psychology, have been for the most part merely mechanical analogies.
We have felt that a phenomenon was "explained" when we could make a
working model that we could see and handle. A few years ago physicists
were explaining electricity by cumbrous mechanisms of cogwheels and
water pipes. In recent textbooks this is reversed, and mechanical
phenomena are explained by the use of conceptions developed in the
study of electricity, such as "potential", "field", and "capacity".

The establishment in 1901 of the _Annalen der Naturphilosophie_,
by Wilhelm Ostwald, marked the change in the attitude of prominent
scientists toward the problems of speculative philosophy. The pendulum
was on its swing back from the extreme and intolerant empiricism which
has been the prevailing trait of scientific workers for so long.

In its revulsion from the imaginative metaphysics of the ancients and
the formal logic of the schoolmen, modern science resolutely turned
away from ambitious attempts to solve the riddle of the universe by
brilliant guessing and began the patient accumulation and verification
of facts and the deduction from them of their simplest and most certain
inferences. This task came to be considered as the sole sphere of
scientific thought; and there were men who were daring and foolish
enough to teach that this was the only method for the advancement of
human knowledge. Happily, however, for civilization, scientists did not
confine themselves to the method prescribed for them by Bacon and other
literary men, and of late years it has become generally recognized
that the greatest achievements have been made in quite the opposite
way--that is, by projecting the imagination into the unknown and then
working up to it. Almost all the best scientific work has been done
under the guidance of hypotheses; and purely accidental discoveries
have been rare and usually insignificant. In fact, in many branches of
science the word invention should be used rather than discovery. The
new compound or the new plant exists clearly in the mind's eye of the
chemist or the horticulturist before he sets out to produce it.

It was not to be expected that men who had already accomplished more
in science in a century than had been done in all preceding time would
forever keep their trained imaginations from attacking the deepest
problems of life and destiny; and it is no wonder that we find some of
our greatest scientists turning their attention toward metaphysics and
epistemology. The transfer of Professor Mach from the chair of physics
to that of the theory of inductive sciences was symbolic of a mental
change which was taking place in many minds.

The removal of the ban against speculative philosophy has obviously
its dangers, but they are less than have been attached to this form of
thought in the past. That mankind should again go back to the sports of
its youth and blow soap bubbles merely to watch in them the iridescent
but distorted views of the world would be a sad calamity; but it is
not probable that the lesson of a century and a half of patient work
will be wholly lost. The dreamer of the future will not dare to build
an air castle without at least an option on the site. The danger is
not from men of science like Ostwald, Mach, and Poincaré, who are so
well ballasted that they can carry more sail than ordinary men, but
from those who are less qualified and less cautious. We have never,
however, been free from the fancies of this latter class. Nature abhors
a vacuum; and if any field of intellect is left empty by the wise but
overwary, it will speedily be filled by those who have no fears where
they tread. The recrudescence of antiquated superstitions and the rise
of freak religions are the natural result of confining scientific
thought and criticism to the material and practical. Even the plodding
compilator of facts has his metaphysical theories, although he would
indignantly deny that anything of the kind could be found about his
person. Metaphysics may be ignored, but not dispensed with. In the
so-called "common sense" point of view, speculative hypotheses are not
excluded, but are unconsciously and uncritically accepted.

Science has evidently been looking on the ground only to be sure of
her footing, and now is ready to assert her right to gaze even into
the deepest darknesses. No Baconian creed will in the future limit
the operations of the intellect. We have no right to call any problem
insoluble merely because it has remained unsolved. It may be that as
great triumphs will reward the scientific method here as in humbler

In the revolution which has within the last twenty years transformed
chemistry from an empirical science based upon material conceptions to
a mathematical science based upon energetic conceptions, Ostwald has
been a leader. Qualitative and quantitative analysis which had been
hardly more systematic and rational than a kitchen recipe book became
in his hands a new and delightful study in which even the beginner
could use his mind as well as his fingers. Professors of chemistry who
had got along happily all their lives with a knowledge of arithmetic as
far as and including percentage suddenly found themselves in need of
calculus and other things of that sort. Yale graduates who went to the
Leipzig laboratory in the nineties to continue their chemistry were set
to study the works of Willard Gibbs, whose name they may indeed have
seen in the catalogue of their alma mater, but whose acquaintance they
were not likely to have made. What was worse, they had to get up their
Gibbs in German,[9] since the original papers in the "Transactions of
the Connecticut Academy" were not available, and even in English Gibbs
is not light reading. It was Ostwald who first recognized Gibbs as "the
greatest scientific genius that the United States has so far produced",
and made his work known to Europe, where it has served as the guide and
inspiration of some of the most fruitful investigations of the last two

This is eminently characteristic of Ostwald. His own researches, great
as they are, may without injustice be regarded as of less importance
than the unique service he has rendered to his science by the discovery
and prompt utilization of original theories and generalizations,
whether found in the forgotten files of the journals and transactions,
in the papers of his contemporaries or the work of his students. This
was a task requiring both genius and generosity. What he did for Gibbs,
the American, he did for van't Hoff, the Dutchman, and Arrhenius, the
Swede, and many others, living and dead. He has always taken a keen
interest in individuals. He is not content with the mere name of a
great authority in a footnote. He wants to know what manner of man he
was and in what words he first made public his discovery. This led him
to cultivate the neglected field of chemical history and biography.
Most chemists knew nothing at first hand of the work of the men they
glibly referred to in their lectures, Avogadro, Bunsen, Dalton,
Berzelius, etc. Nor could they have easily become acquainted with them
if they had cared to, for the original papers were often inaccessible.
So Ostwald started in 1889 his series of "The Classics of the Exact
Sciences", reprinting important papers with notes.

In 1887, when few people knew that there was such a thing as physical
chemistry, he founded a journal for it, the _Zeitschrift für
physikalische Chemie_, now in its eighty-first volume, and not room
enough yet in its two thousand three hundred pages a year to record
the progress of the science. In 1902, when most scientists scoffed at
the idea of philosophy, he started another venture equally bold, the
_Annalen der Naturphilosophie_. During this period of sixteen years
his literary output, not counting the two periodicals and the eighteen
volumes of the "Classics of the Exact Sciences", already mentioned,
included twenty-two books of 15,850 pages altogether; 120 papers
making original contributions to chemical science comprising 1630
pages; addresses and dissertations amounting to 300 pages; and some
3880 abstracts and 920 book reviews in his journals. Every chemical
library has upon its shelves (the plural is usually necessary) "the
big Ostwald," the "Lehrbuch der allgemeinen Chemie", the size of a
cyclopedia, with the dates of its volumes strung along through the
eighties and nineties, though "the little Ostwald", the "Grundriss der
allgemeinen Chemie", shows more wear on the binding. And all that, it
must be remembered, represents only one side of the activity of this
extraordinary man, for during the period of this enormous literary
production he was professor of chemistry at the University of Leipzig
and director of one of the busiest research laboratories in the world.

We find in our American universities nowadays many men who are so
absorbed in their investigations that they refuse to consider either
the philosophical or the practical aspects of their science, and they
resent as an insult any demands made upon their time by the outside
world. Ostwald has never been so busy as that. Notwithstanding the fact
that he has carried on researches in pure science which have obtained
for him the Nobel prize, he has not disdained to print letters to
painters on the use of pigments and to lecture to housewives on the
chemistry of cooking, as well as to bring his knowledge of science to
bear upon the educational, social, and religious questions discussed in
the periodicals of the day.

When we inquire why no American chemist has yet been honored by a
Nobel medal, we are apt to be told that laboratory facilities in this
country are too inadequate. Ostwald has never been hindered by this
obstacle; not in Riga, where he was his own mechanic and glass blower,
equipping the laboratory with home-made burettes, induction coils, and
galvanometers; not in Leipzig, where he worked under conditions that
have been described as follows:[10]

"The Leipzig laboratory, in which he worked until 1897, was situated
in the Landwirtschaftliche Institut, an old pile originally devoted to
agricultural chemistry, and in every way unfitted for the carrying on
of those delicate experiments which brought Ostwald to the forefront
of scientific workers. Research was carried on under countless
difficulties; the light was bad, the rooms unventilated, the heating
effected by means of stoves difficult to regulate and producing dust
which caused much injury to the finer instruments; no precautions
had been taken in laying the foundations to insure the deadening of
vibrations; thus many experiments were ruined; the lack of space
precluded the use of telescopes for reading scales, and altogether it
would have been difficult to construct a laboratory worse adapted for
physico-chemical investigations."

In one respect, it must be said, the current of scientific thought has
gone quite counter to Ostwald's views. The atomic theory, which he was
desirous of doing away with, has become substantiated and extended.
The kinetic theory of gases has not been displaced by his concept of
"volume-energy", and now the motion of the molecules has been made
visible by the ultra-microscope, and we hear talk of the "atomic
theory of electricity", the "corpuscular conception of light", and the
"granular nature of energy." Even time and space show a tendency to
disintegrate and become discrete. But the tide may turn at any moment,
and Ostwald's conceptions once more become fashionable in scientific

As I say, Ostwald does not appear to be a busy man. Would a busy man
take the heart out of a fair summer day to devote himself to the
entertainment of a wandering American journalist? If I had not known
that he was an editor of two periodicals and a leader in some of the
most important movements of the day, I might have supposed him a mere
gentleman of leisure, as he sat with me on the porch of his country
home, willing to talk freely on any topic I suggested, willing even to
listen when I wanted to talk, with never a longing look through his
study door at the heavily laden desk and silent typewriter. A big man,
as well as a great man, is Ostwald; genial in manner, direct of speech.
His bushy blond beard has mostly lost the color it had when first I saw
him in 1904 at the St. Louis Congress of Arts and Sciences, and his
hair is quite white and now cut short, bristling an inch or two all
over his head. He would be recognized as a German professor by his look
and bearing, if he were seen anywhere on the globe, yet he could not
be called a type specimen, for he is free from the vices to which the
average German professor is most addicted, the love of beer, tobacco,
and Latin. Also, he hates dueling, although recognizing that it is not
so dangerous as American football.[11]

But unconventional as his views may appear, it must not be thought that
Ostwald is a faddist. His is a reasoned radicalism, originating not in
mere neophilism or iconoclasm, but in the application of scientific
principles to the problems of daily life. What distinguishes Ostwald
from most other philosophers is his willingness to put his principles
to the test of experience by striving to live up to them.

Our conversation was in English necessarily, for though I had taken
my first German lessons from Ostwald over twenty years before--using
his "Lehrbuch der allgemeinen Chemie" as a primer, instead of Grimm's
"Märchen"--he had not been at hand to teach me to speak it. Ostwald,
however, speaks English as readily as he does German--or French or
Ido. His biographer relates that, when he was learning English in the
Riga _Gymnasium_ he had great difficulty in pronouncing "the", until
he discovered that he could get the sound by filling his mouth with
_Zwieback_; on the same principle, I suppose, as Demosthenes used
pebbles. Now, however, he manages his _th's_ perfectly, and I don't
think he had _Zwieback_ in his mouth when he talked with me.

His language was particularly fluent and forcible when he came to
discuss the question of teaching languages. The chief point in his
indictment of the German _Gymnasium_, or secondary school, is the
excessive time and excessive honor given to linguistics. He regards
the new scientific school (_Realschule_) as almost as bad as the
classical _Gymnasium_ in this respect, for modern languages are there
taught in much the same way as the ancient. The absorption of the
student's attention during the impressionable years of his youth in
the idiosyncrasies of German grammar, or the monstrosities of English
spelling, does not cultivate, but actually impairs, the power of
logical and original thinking. Ostwald ascribes Nietzsche's perverted
ideas, his misconception of the struggle for existence and his hatred
of the common people, to his training in classical philology. He brings
forward as a cause of the failure of Austria-Hungary to produce its
proportional share of great men, the linguistic struggle which absorbs
the energy of its people. The barrier of local language is one of
the causes of international friction and lost motion which grieves
the mind of a physicist. As a means of overcoming this friction--a
linguistic lubricating oil, as it were--he favors the formation of
an international auxiliary language, especially for scientific and
commercial purposes.[12] I suppose one reason why he thinks it possible
to construct an artificial world language is because he has seen it
done. The rapid expansion of the science of organic chemistry within
the present generation has necessitated the invention, as the need for
them arose, of more new words than Shakespeare's vocabulary contained.
Some of these are cumbrous, it is true, rather formulas than words,
but remarkable for their succinct significance and are largely common
to all languages. Ostwald has recently constructed a complete new
nomenclature of chemistry in Ido and proposes soon to use it for all
the abstracts in his _Zeitschrift für physikalische Chemie_, so that
the student, after a few hours spent in learning Ido, will have free
access to all the literature of this science. Professor Ostwald assured
me that he had tried putting his philosophy into the new language
and found it of great benefit in giving clarity and definiteness to
his thought. The adoption of an international language he regards as
an important part of the peace movement in which he is now actively
engaged. I asked him if he expected that arbitration treaties would put
an end to war, and he explained that they would act like a block signal
system on a railroad, not always preventing the disaster of war, but
lessening the chances of it.

Ido is a simplified form of Esperanto, originating in the refusal of
Dr. Zamenhof to allow any reforms in the language he had invented.
It drops the accented letters and accusative form of Esperanto and
utilizes a larger proportion of romance roots common to all European
languages. The official organs are _Progreso_ (Paris: 3 Rue le Gof) and
_The International Language_ (London: 32 Cleveland Square). Ostwald's
new chemical nomenclature began in the May, 1910, number of _Progreso_.
The volume by Ostwald, Jespersen, and three other professors entitled
"International Language and Science" (London: Constable, 1910),
contains an interesting test of the capabilities of the new language,
the translation into Ido and back again into English by another person
of a page of James's psychology with almost no loss in the process. A
page of "Das Monistische Jahrhundert" appears each week in Ido.

In order to give effect to practical measures for breaking down
the barriers between nations, he has established "An International
Institute for the Organization of Intellectual Labor" known as _Die
Brücke_, "The Bridge", or, as he would prefer to put it in Ido, _La
Ponto_. This aims to serve the purpose of a world clearing house of
information and a channel of intercourse for all forms of culture. A
plan for a uniform system of page sizes for books and periodicals, "the
hypotenuse oblong", has been here brought forward and is discussed in
_Printing Art_, April and May, 1911, July, 1912.

So Ostwald, having won the Nobel chemistry prize in 1909, is in a fair
way to become in time eligible for the Nobel peace prize. It is in
fact characteristic of the man that, having achieved success in one
field of human endeavor, he should turn his attention to another. It
is part of his theory of the art of life. I was curious to know why he
had left Leipzig and chemistry for Gross-Bothen and philosophy, had
abandoned one of the greatest of universities and the most popular of
the sciences for the Saxon village and a field of thought reputed as
unproductive. He explained to me that in early years he had a leaning
toward philosophy, but in those days the subject was looked upon with
disfavor. Now things have changed. People realize that it is necessary
to take a wide as well as a close view. Civilization advances by
alternating periods of specialization and generalization. We are now
entering upon the second phase.

Then, too, he had come to the conclusion from his study of great
scientists that the men who had accomplished most through the
prolongation of their productive period had done so by changing their
occupation two or three times in the course of their lifetime; for
example, Helmholtz, who devoted the first half of his adult life to
physiology and medicine and the last to physics, being equally eminent
in each; and Humboldt, who kept up his work to the close of his ninety
years by shifting from one field of science to another. Having come to
this conclusion, Ostwald, as an experimental scientist, was obliged
to try it upon himself. The success of the experiment indicates that
rotation of crops is a good plan in menticulture as well as agriculture.

He carries out the same principle in his daily life. When tired with
philosophizing, he turns to painting. This he finds relieves the mind
better than anything else, for it sends the blood to another side of
the brain, while if he tries to secure rest by lying down, the brain
goes on working in the same old lines. This absorption in artistic
effort he has used in his Harvard lecture on "Individuality and
Immortality", when he is arguing that the highest happiness is found
rather in the obliteration of individuality than its persistence.
This conclusion is familiar to us as that of the mystics, but Ostwald
reaches it characteristically by another way, the second law of
energetics. After speaking of the tendency of liquids and of heat
toward diffusion and consequent loss of identity, he applies the
principle to society and psychology. The passage is worth quoting
because it is practically a direct contradiction of Spencer's
fundamental theory that evolution is a progress from homogeneity
to heterogeneity, both for matter and for energy. The difference
results, I think, chiefly from the fact that Spencer's attention was
fixed upon the first law, that of the conservation of energy, for the
importance of the second law, that of the dissipation of energy, was
not recognized till long afterward.[13] The reader will notice that the
second law is decidedly democratic in its implications.

    It is a strange thing indeed that by merely being associated
    with another thing of the same kind identity is lost. And
    still more strange is the fact that every being of this
    kind seems driven by an irresistible impulse to seek every
    occasion for losing its identity. Every known physical fact
    leads to the conclusion that diffusion, or a homogeneous
    distribution, of energy is the general aim of all
    happenings. No change whatever seems to have occurred, and
    probably none ever will occur, resulting in a concentration
    greater than the corresponding dissipation of energy. A
    partial concentration may be brought about in a system, but
    only at the expense of a greater dissipation, and the sum
    total is always an increase in dissipation.

    While we are as sure as science can make us about the
    general validity of this law as applied to the physical
    world, its application to human development may be doubted.
    It seems to me to hold good in this case also, if it is
    applied with proper caution. The difficulty lies in the
    circumstance that we have no exact objective means of
    measuring homogeneity and heterogeneity in human affairs,
    and we can therefore not study any given system closely
    enough to draw a quantitative conclusion. It seems pretty
    certain that increase of culture tends to diminish the
    differences between men. It equalizes not only the general
    standard of living, but attenuates also even the natural
    differences of sex and age. From this point of view I should
    look upon the accumulation of enormous wealth in the hands
    of a single man as indicating an imperfect state of culture.

    The property which has been described as an irresistible
    tendency toward diffusion may also be observed in certain
    cases in man. In conscious beings such natural tendencies
    are accompanied by a certain feeling which we call will, and
    we are happy when we are allowed to act according to these
    tendencies or according to our will. Now, if we recall the
    happiest moments of our lives, they will be found in every
    case to be connected with a curious loss of personality. In
    the happiness of love this fact will be at once discovered.
    And if you are enjoying intensely a work of art, a symphony
    of Beethoven's, for example, you find yourself relieved of
    the burden of personality and carried away by the stream of
    music as a drop is carried by a wave. The same feeling comes
    with the grand impressions nature gives us. Even when I am
    sitting quietly sketching in the open there comes to me in a
    happy moment a sweet feeling of being united with the nature
    about me, which is distinctly characterized by complete
    forgetfulness of my poor self. We may conclude from this
    that individuality means limitations and unhappiness, or is
    at least closely connected with them.

Professor Ostwald showed me the studio which now takes the place of the
laboratory. It is still part laboratory, for he is experimenting in
pigments and has invented new forms of crayons or pastels and methods
of fixation. In painting, as in everything else, he works with rapidity
and effectiveness. Three days at Niagara Falls gave him two dozen or
more pictures. He has a good eye for picturesqueness and uses vivid and
varied coloration. He utilized his time at the University of California
to get some fine views of Berkeley and Professor Loeb's seaside
laboratory. His stay at Harvard as exchange professor in 1905 gave
him many scenes from Marblehead and Cambridge, among them a striking
picture of the Harvard stadium seen across the river flats and looking
as imposing as the Coliseum. Photography he has practiced from boyhood.
It was by this and the manufacture of fireworks in his mother's kitchen
that he took his first steps in chemistry. He has always been fond of
music, both as listener and performer, playing the violin well, and,
says his conscientious biographer, the bassoon very badly. We are
also told that in his student days he composed a symphony, wrote much
poetry, and applied himself diligently to the study of the laws of
motion by experimenting for hours on the impact of elastic ivory balls
upon a plane green surface.

Walking, however, has ever been his chief recreation, if we can call
that a recreation which is the means of his most productive thought.
After lunch he showed me about his estate, a wooded upland overlooking
the village houses, clustered about kirk and _Gasthaus_, and, beyond,
the level, orderly Saxon landscape, with its leisurely windmills. The
winding walks appear to be sufficiently long to enable him to evolve
undisturbed the most complicated German sentence. The stranger can
find his way to Landhaus Energie by inquiring of a villager for "the
house with the big post box", for when Ostwald took up his residence
in Gross-Bothen, this provision had to be made for the enormous mail
coming to him from all parts of the world.

One can generally tell in Germany the date of erection or occupancy of
a country house by whether it is called a "_Villa_" or a "_Landhaus_."
The Germanic movement is bent upon expelling all the foreigners from
the language. So now we see _Fahrkarte_ in place of _Billet_, formerly
used; _Fern-sprecher_ in place of _Telefon; Zweikampf_ in place of
_Duell_; and _Einheitslehre_ in place of _Monismus._ The adoption of an
international auxiliary language would, Professor Ostwald explained to
me, facilitate this movement, for it would leave each local language to
develop in its own way, free from the penalty of isolation.

I thought, as I walked back through the smooth, clean, tree-lined road
to the railroad station, that here at least was a man who had attained
that internal peace and happiness, that external honor and usefulness,
which theoretically should reward all philosophers. Few men have so
wide a fame in science. Still fewer have so many devoted friends
among their former students. That he has any personal enemies it
would be hard to believe, though he has many opponents. He has earned
his success by his own exertions, working his way up to his present
position by sheer force of character and ability. He was the second
son of a master cooper of Riga, an old Hansa town of Baltic Russia. He
was born September 2, 1853, and educated at the _Real-gymnasium_ of
Riga and the University of Dorpat, Russia (1872-1875). His dissertation
at the conclusion of his course here, on "The Mass Action of Water",
broke new ground in a field that he was henceforth to make his own.
He thought himself lucky then to secure a position as assistant in
physics at Dorpat at two hundred and fifty dollars a year, because
this gave him an opportunity for research, and his master's and
doctor's dissertations attracted attention by their bold adoption and
development of the new theories of solutions and affinity. He utilized
his vacations at Riga in cultivating--by means of piano and paint
brush--the acquaintance of Fraulein Helene von Reyher, whom he married
when he was twenty-seven. His comrades reminded him that not long
before he had declared that he would never marry, for he should devote
all his time to science. But he answered: "I had to marry, because the
girl interfered with my work." The measure was efficacious, for she has
not interfered with his work since, even finding time to assist in his
literary labors, although she has brought up five children. They took
their wedding journey in a postwagon from Riga to Dorpat and set up
housekeeping with a kerosene stove and a small piano as their principal
furniture; no sofa. Readers who understand the importance of the sofa
in a German household will appreciate the deprivation. The next year
he was called to his native city as professor of chemistry in the Riga
Polytechnic, and in 1887 he left Russia for Germany to take the chair
of chemistry at Leipzig University.

In his study of men of science Ostwald has introduced the distinction
of classicist and romanticist. The classicist keeps to one line of
thought and develops it by himself logically and completely. His mind
works mathematically, and he is fond of systems and formulation, often
addicted to dogmatism. He is accurate and thorough, but deficient in
experimental ability and regardless of practical applications. He
is reluctant to publish and is apt to be a poor teacher, exerting
little personal influence on his students and sometimes none on his

The romanticist, on the other hand, is usually a good teacher and often
the founder of a school of thought. He has the expansive temperament
and genial disposition; fond of conversation and given to rapid
publication. He carries on many different lines of work at the same
time and is eager to put them into practice as soon as possible. He is
an adventurous theorizer, willing to risk a leap in the dark, arriving
at conclusions by a sort of intuition and not always able to explain
how he got his results. He is, therefore, liable to make conspicuous
mistakes and is apt to be impatient of details. The romanticist gets
paid in current coin, that is to say, in the devotion of his disciples
and in honors from his colleagues, sometimes even in applause and
wealth from a grateful public. The classicist has to put up with
deferred payment, and his services to science often receive no adequate
recognition until after he is dead and sometimes not then.

Among American scientists we have almost perfect specimens of these two
genera. Count Rumford was a typical romanticist and Willard Gibbs a
typical classicist, and there was, as I have shown elsewhere,[14] the
greatest possible contrast in their characters and careers. Ostwald, it
is unnecessary to say, has all the characteristics of the romanticist.
He has become a world teacher through his books and periodicals. He has
trained in his laboratory Arrhenius, Nernst, and many others of almost
equal eminence. He has had the satisfaction of seeing his abstract
theories become the working basis of enormous industries.

It is worthy of note that the science which in Germany has been most
closely connected with the universities and in which the most pure
research has been done, has developed most rapidly and proved most
profitable. The annual value of the products of the chemical industries
of Germany is over three hundred million dollars. And this is only one
of the sources of the new wealth which is coming to Germany and making
that country one of the foremost of world powers. In Great Britain
emigration exceeds immigration, while in Germany of late the reverse
is true, although in Germany the increase in population from the
surplus of births over deaths is nine hundred thousand, twice what it
is in Great Britain. At this rate, Germany will soon have a population
twice as large as that of Great Britain. And the wealth of Germany is
increasing faster than the population, notwithstanding the heavy drains
of army and navy. I asked Professor Ostwald the cause of Germany's
amazing prosperity. "We Germans believe in science," he answered simply.

The ideals of system, economy, and efficiency which have been developed
in the laboratory have been applied in Germany more than elsewhere
to military affairs, the promotion of commerce, and methods of
administration. That the scientific view should prevail in dealing with
all social problems is Ostwald's intent, and in furtherance of this aim
he is devoting his chief attention to the discussion of the ethical
and political questions of the day through the Monist societies. As an
example of his mode of thought on such topics, I quote a passage from
his "Individuality and Immortality":

    There can be no doubt about nature being full of cruelty.
    All through the whole realm of organic beings we find in
    nearly every class of animals and plants some species
    which live at the expense of their fellow creatures. I
    mean parasitic organisms of every kind, whether they live
    in the interior of their hosts, whom they kill or make
    miserable, or whether they feed directly on other creatures.
    No one thinks of punishing a cat who tortures a poor mouse
    for no vital purpose whatever, and we find it perfectly
    natural that the larvæ of certain wasps should develop
    in the interior of caterpillars, slowly devouring their
    hosts from within. It is only man who tries to change this
    general way of nature's and to diminish as far as possible
    cruelty and injustice to his fellow man and his fellow
    creatures. And from the strong desire that this black stain
    should be removed as fully as possible from humanity, the
    idea developed that there must be beyond our bodily life
    a possibility of compensating for the evil which is done
    and for that which is suffered during life without due
    punishment or reward as suggested by our sense of justice.

    But reward and punishment take on a wholly different aspect
    when we regard mankind as one collective being. Then the
    single individual is comparable to a cell in a highly
    developed organism. Destruction of his fellow cells would be
    a nuisance and a menace to the whole organism, and therefore
    any cell which destroyed its neighbors would be either
    removed from the organism or else encysted and kept from
    doing further damage. And on the other hand such cells as
    fulfilled useful purposes would be nourished and protected.

    The very necessity for overcoming such dangerous actions on
    the part of the cells means a decrease in the efficiency of
    the organism, since the work necessary for the purpose could
    be better used for the immediate benefit of the organism
    itself. The best thing would then be to avoid beforehand the
    formation of such bad cells, and an organism possessed of
    appropriate means of doing this would have a great advantage.

    The application of these considerations to the human
    collective organism is obvious. Punishment means in every
    case a loss, and the aim of increasing culture is not to
    make punishment more effective, but to make it unnecessary.
    The more each individual is filled with the consciousness
    that he belongs to the great collective organism of
    humanity, the less will he be able to separate his own aims
    and interests from those of humanity. A reconciliation
    between duty to the race and personal happiness is the
    result, as well as an unmistakable standard by which to
    judge our own actions and those of our fellow men.

    Self-sacrifice has been considered in all ages and by
    all religions as the very highest perfection of ethical
    development. At the same time every man who has thought
    a little deeper has been aware that the self-sacrifice
    must have a meaning, that it must result in some effect
    which could not be attained by other means. Otherwise the
    self-sacrifice would not be a gain, but rather a loss, to
    humanity. But we consider self-sacrifice for the sake of
    humanity as justified, and this corresponds with our general
    feeling. We admire a man who throws himself into a fire or
    a torrent to save a child from death; it should mean even
    more to us when a physician goes into the midst of a raging
    pestilence conscious of the peril awaiting him. But we do
    not esteem a man the more for risking his life to save his
    money from a burning house.

       *       *       *       *       *


The only one of Ostwald's philosophical works which is obtainable in
English is the "Grundriss der Naturphilosophie", published in Reclam's
_Universal-Bibliothek_ (Leipzig) and translated by Thomas Seltzer and
published by Henry Holt & Company, New York, under the title "Natural
Philosophy." This is intended as a succinct popular exposition of the
fundamental principles of all the sciences and is mostly devoted to a
systematic consideration of the theory of knowledge and laws of logic.
It is, therefore, not so interesting to the general reader as some
of his untranslated works in which he discusses a variety of ethical
and social questions from the scientific standpoint, as for example
"Die Forderung des Tages" ("The Day's Demands") (Leipzig: Akademische
Verlagsgesellschaft). His "Grosse Männer" (same publisher) contains
biographical sketches of Davy, Mayer, Faraday, Liebig, Gerhardt,
and Helmholtz as well as his general observations on the character
and training of scientific discoverers. Ostwald's Harvard lecture
on "Individuality and Immortality" was published by the Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1906. He is now issuing a series of informal talks
on scientific ideals and morals under the title of "Monistische
Sonntagspredigten" (Verlag des Deutschen Monisten-Bundes in Berlin).
A second series was published by the Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft,
Leipzig, and a third by the Verlag Unesma, Leipzig. A few of the titles
will indicate their character and scope: "Love One Another", "The Jatho
Case", "How Evil Came into the World", "The Freedom of the Will",
"What is Truth?" "Nietzsche and the Struggle for Existence", "Natural
Science and Paper Science", "The Philosopher's Stone", "Efficiency."
The last named was published in _The Independent_, October 19,
1911. "The Wave Theory of History", an explanation of the cause of
periodic alternations in finance and politics, was published in _The
Independent_, July 10, 1913. An article, "Breaking Barriers", appeared
in _The Masses_, February, 1911. It is greatly to be desired that all
of these "Monistic Sunday Sermons" as well as "The Day's Duty" and
"Great Men" be translated into English, as they represent a point of
view of growing importance in modern thought.

Other articles by Ostwald accessible in English are: "The Philosophical
Meaning of Energy", in _The International Quarterly_, Vol. VII; "The
Modern Theory of Energetics", with criticism by Dr. Carus, in _The
Monist_, 1907; "Chemical Energy" in the _Journal of the American
Chemical Society_, August, 1893, and in the Smithsonian Report for
1893; "A Contribution to the Theory of Science", his address before the
Section of Methodology at the St. Louis Congress, in _Popular Science
Monthly_, 1905, p. 219; "The Art of Making Discoveries", in _Science
American Supplement_, No. 1807; a character sketch of Sir William
Ramsay in _Nature_, January 11, 1912.

Of Ostwald's chemical works the following have been translated into
English: "Conversations on Chemistry" (Wiley). "Manual of Physical
and Chemical Measurements" (Macmillan), translated by James Walker.
"The Scientific Foundation of Analytical Chemistry", translated by
G. McGowan (Macmillan). "Solutions", translated by M. Pattison Muir
(Longmans). "The Principles of Inorganic Chemistry", translated by
Alex. Findlay (Macmillan). "The Fundamental Principles of Chemistry",
translated by Harry W. Morse (Longmans). "Letters to a Painter on
Theory and Practice", translated by Morse (Ginn).

The serious student of Ostwald's thought will of course devote himself
chiefly to his "Annalen der Natur- und Kulturphilosophie" (Leipzig:
Verlag Unesma). The latest and most complete summary of his conception
of the universe is given in "Die Philosophie der Werte" (Alfred
Kröner, Leipzig, 1914). In the Lübeck lecture, "Die Ueberwindung des
wissenschaftlichen Materialismus" (_Zeitschrift für physikalische
Chemie, Band_ 18, pp. 305-320, and separately published by Veit,
Leipzig, 1895), and the "Vorlesungen über Naturphilosophie" (Veit,
1902) he laid the foundations of his theory. In "Die energetische
Grundlagen der Kulturwissenschaft" (Leipzig, 1909) he extended it
to include the science of civilization. In "Die wissenschaftliche
Stellung" ("Annalen der Naturphilosophie", Vol. X), he defends himself
against certain misconceptions, as, for example, that he makes energy
the sole reality in the world, or a metaphysical principle like
Hartmann's "Unconscious." Ostwald's educational view may be found
in chapters of "Die Forderung des Tages", in the article on "The
University of the Future and the Future of the University" ("Annalen
der Naturphilosophie", Vol. X, p. 236), and in "Wider das Schulelend,
Ein Notruf" (Leipzig: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft). "Erfinder und
Entdecker" contains sketches of Mayer, Helmholtz, and Liebig (Vol.
XXIV of _Die Gesellschaft_, Frankfurt a. M.: Rütten und Leoning). "Die
Energie" is a popular exposition of energetics (Vol. I of Wissen und
Können. Leipzig: Barth). Ostwald's contributions to internationalism
are mostly published by _Die Brücke_, Munich. His popular propaganda
of the gospel of Monism is now carried on by the weekly organ of the
society, which he edits, _Das Monistische Jahrhundert_ (Verlag Unesma,

An intimate and appreciative sketch of the life and work of "Wilhelm
Ostwald" was written by P. Walden on the twenty-fifth anniversary of
his doctorate (Leipzig: Engelmann).

There is space here to give only a few references to discussions and
criticisms of Ostwald's theories. Doctor Roberty, in "Energétique
et Sociologie" (_Revue philosophique_, January, 1910), shows the
vast importance of Ostwald's extension of the laws of energetics
to vital and social phenomena. A painstaking comparison of the
contradictory theories of Lombroso and Ostwald on the character of
genius is contributed by Georg Wendel to _Zeit. für Philosophie_,
1910. In the _Vierteljahrsschrift für wiss. Philosophie und
Soziologie_ for 1905 will be found _Bemerkungen über die Metaphysik
in der Ostwald'schen Energetik_, by F. W. Adler, and _Atomistik und
Energetik von Standpunkte ökonomischer Naturbetrachtung,_ by Hermann
Wolff. F. Dennert in his volume on "Die Weltanschauung des modernen
Naturforschers" (Stuttgart, 1907) devotes a chapter to Ostwald.

I must also mention the valuable articles contributed by Doctor
Fielding H. Garrison to the _New York Medical Journal_, September 11,
1909, on "Physiology and the Second Law of Thermodynamics", in which
he discusses the application of the theories of Gibbs and Ostwald to

[1] The reader who is interested and reads German will find a full
discussion of the formula and its significance in _Die Forderung des

[2] My unconventional definitions of the second law would be repudiated
by any self-respecting physicist. The reader is therefore warned that
the proper way to say it is, "the entropy of the universe tends to a
maximum." (Clausius.)

[3] _Was ist Wahrheit?_ (_Monistiche Sonntagspredigten, Nr. 5._)

[4] _Der energetische Imperativ, Ann. d. Nat. Phil_., Vol. X.

[5] Printed in _The Independent_, October 19, 1911.

[6] See Flammarion's scientific fantasy, _Lumen_.

[7] Laughter. An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. By Henri Bergson.
The Macmillan Company.

[8] Die Ueberwindung des wissenschaftlichen Materialismus. Lübeck
address before the German Association of Naturalists and Physicians.

[9] J. Willard Gibbs: "Thermodynamische Studien." Uebersetzt von W.
Ostwald. Leipzig: W. Engelmann. 1892.

[10] _Nature_, 64, 428 (1901).

[11] "Kultur und Duell" in "Die Forderung des Tages."

[12] Ostwald devoted the $40,000 he got from the Nobel Fund to the
attempt to introduce a new language, Ido. Mistral devoted his to the
attempt to perpetuate an old language, Provençal. So we see that
dynamite money, like dynamite itself, exerts its force in opposite

[13] Spencer laid the foundation of his philosophy in the essay on
"Progress: Its Law and Cause" more than twenty years before the
publication of Clausius's "Die mechanische Warmetheorie."

[14] "Leading American Men of Science." (Holt & Company.)



    Monistic investigation of nature as knowledge of the true,
    monistic ethic as training for the good, monistic æsthetic
    as pursuit of the beautiful--these are the three great
    departments of our monism: by the harmonious and consistent
    cultivation of these we effect at last the truly beatific
    union of religion and science so painfully longed for by
    so many to-day. The True, the Beautiful, the Good, these
    are the three august Divine Ones before which we bow the
    knee in adoration; in the unforced combination and mutual
    supplementing of these we gain the pure idea of God. To
    this triune Divine Ideal shall the twentieth century build
    its altars.--Haeckel's "The Confession of Faith of a Man of

The geographical distribution of German universities is such as
to shock the orderly mind of our General Education Board, which,
like a trained forester, believes in weeding out, or rather, in not
cultivating, institutions growing close together. But in Germany the
soil is so rich as to support three great universities--Leipzig,
Halle, and Jena--planted within a circle of twenty miles radius, and
nevertheless all thriving. Even the overweening development of Berlin
University since that city has become the imperial capital has not yet
overshadowed the smaller institutions. For, curious as it seems to
us Americans, students in Europe are not influenced in the choice of
a university chiefly by its size, the splendor of its buildings, or
even its athletic record. They seem rather to consider the personality
of the professors as the important thing, and will often travel
considerable distances, at a cost of one and sixteen hundredths cents
per mile, third class, in order to put themselves under the instruction
of a particular man they have taken a fancy to, quite ignoring some
other university which from our point of view had a claim upon their
allegiance, from the fact that it was nearer or had been attended by
their fathers. Jena, the least of the three in the matter of numbers,
is not by reason of that willing to confess inferiority to any of
its rivals, not even to big Berlin. On the contrary, Haeckel, in his
famous controversy with Virchow, apologized with satirical politeness
for his opponent's ignorance of zoölogy, on the ground that he could
not be expected to keep up with the advance of the science when he had
left the little institute of Wurzburg for the luxurious appliances and
the political and social duties of Berlin. In fact, Haeckel, with his
fondness for formulation, laid down a law on this point thirty-five
years ago which, he says, has yet to meet with contradiction, that "the
scientific work of an institution stands in inverse ratio to its size."

Certainly, if seclusion and scholarly traditions are conducive to
intellectual achievement, Jena is the place for the thinker. The
university, with one thousand eight hundred and seventeen students, is
about a third the size of the University of Wisconsin. The population
of the city is about the same as that of Madison. But while Madison
has other interests, political especially, Jena is absorbed in the
university. Its chief industry, the glassworks, is the offspring of the
university, for it was through the fortunate collaboration of Ernst
Abbé a professor who could figure out indices of refraction, with Carl
Zeiss, a glassmaker who was willing to put money into queer formulas,
that the new lenses were discovered which make possible our modern
photography and microscopy. Generously has the debt that the industry
owed to science been repaid, for the Zeiss company has borne a large
share of the expenses of maintaining the university and erecting its
new buildings, besides giving to the city many public buildings, among
them a splendid bathhouse, an auditorium and a free library and reading
room, where are on file one hundred and fifteen daily papers and three
hundred and sixty periodicals (American librarians, take notice).

From this it may be seen that Jena is an up-to-date town. Yet at the
same time it retains more of medieval picturesqueness than most,
mingling the new and the old as none but Germans know how to. "_Das
liebe närrische Nest_," as Goethe called it, is hidden away among the
Thuringian hills so that the railroad was a long time finding it. The
cobble-stoned streets stroll out from the market place in a casual sort
of a way and change their minds about where they are going without
notice, twisting about Gothic churches, diving under old towers,
wandering slowly along the banks of the Saale, or starting suddenly
straight up hill. The gossipy gables of the old houses lean toward
each other like peaked eldritch faces in fluted red caps. So close
they stand sometimes that you can touch the walls on either side, and
you have to walk with one foot on the sidewalk and the other on the
pavement, like the absent-minded German professor who thought he had
gone lame. When I saw Jena, I understood something which had long
puzzled me, that is, how the dachshund originated. It is manifestly
a product of evolution according to the principle of the survival
of the fittest, for only a creature constructed according to the
specifications "dog and a half long and half a dog high" could make his
way with convenience and celerity through this maze of narrow streets.
But all sorts of vehicles and beasts of burden get around somehow, too;
oxen and horses, automobiles and bicycles, dog carts and women carts.
Most in evidence everywhere are the students, who swagger through the
town with the consciousness of owning it, their bright-colored corps
caps at a cocky angle, and their faces looking like advertisements of
the dangers of not using safety razors, for the Jena student has three
hundred and fifty years of university tradition to live up to, and he
realizes the responsibility of it to the full.

The ancient and honorable history of Jena is unescapable. It is woven
into the very fabric of the place, and he who runs may read it from
the street signs. The Volkshaus, which I have mentioned, is very
appropriately approached through Ernst Abbé Strasse and Carl Zeiss
Strasse. On the other side of it is Luther Strasse, for Jena harbored
the great reformer for two years at a critical period in his career.
This leads to Goethe Strasse--Goethe composed the "Erlkönig" at Jena.
The next turn brings us into Schiller Strasse--Schiller was professor
of history in the University for ten years, carrying an active side
line of poetry the while. A big stone in the old garden marks the spot
where he wrote "Wallenstein," 1798. At the garden gate is Ernst Haeckel
Platz, from which Ernst Haeckel Strasse leads us to our destination,
the Villa Medusa. What other town could give a ten-minute walk so rich
in names worth remembering?

The Villa Medusa, mind you, is not named from the Greek gorgon, but
from the beautiful jellyfish with the long trail of waving threads,
one of the living comets dredged up by the _Challenger_ which Haeckel
depicted and described thirty years ago. The house is a square-built,
white, two-story dwelling, half hidden by the tall trees. The furniture
is of the conventional German type. The room into which I was shown
was not small, but it seemed so when Professor Haeckel entered it, for
the first impression one gets is largeness. He really is a large man
any way you take him; tall, heavy-limbed, large-featured; his hair is
now white but thick, and his beard broad and bushy. He moves with some
stiffness now, but otherwise his fourscore years have not impaired his
vigor. His bearing is erect and his handclasp strong. His laugh is
hearty and his blue eyes twinkle as he relates some amusing incident in
the controversies of which his life has been full.

For Haeckel has been a storm center of the cyclonic movements that
have swept over the whole earth during the last century. His name
has been a battle-cry in the scientific, religious, and political
wars of more than one generation, and never more than at present,
when a new religion with many thousands of adherents has set out to
conquer the world under the sign, "There is one Substance and Haeckel
is its prophet." I inferred from what he said to me and still more
from what he did not say that he was not very enthusiastic over the
semi-ecclesiastical form which the propaganda is now taking in Germany,
but is more interested in the quieter and wider acceptance of his
ideas which he regards as virtually complete in scientific circles. He
disclaimed emphatically any intention of establishing a cult or ritual,
like Comte. I fancy that the sentence with which he ended his chapter
on "Our Monistic Religion",

    Just as the Catholics had to relinquish a number of churches
    to the Reformation in the sixteenth century, so a still
    larger number will pass over to the free societies of
    Monists in the coming years,

was, like many another paragraph in the book, put in more to irritate
the clergy than with any serious intent. But it is curious to
observe how rapidly the Monist locals are assuming the forms of the
non-conformist congregations. They celebrate Christmas--that is, the
winter solstice--with trees, candles, and gifts. They have a weekly
sermon by Ostwald and a Sunday-school paper, _Die Sonne_.

[Illustration: Ernst Haeckel]

To see Haeckel at his best one should get him to talk of his beloved
Jena, which indeed is not difficult to do, for he is ever ready to
speak with enthusiasm of its beauty, its freedom of thought, and its
leadership in many of the great intellectual movements of German
history. When I remarked upon the many delightful roads and pathways
upon the hills round about the town, he explained Jena was the last
of the university towns to be reached by railroad. Professors and
students were poor, and they had to walk, so they learned to walk well
and to take pleasure in outdoor exercise and to appreciate fine views.
That Haeckel himself is a great lover of landscape as well as of the
beautiful in all forms of life is well known to readers of his travel
sketches. For this he gives credit to his mother, who, as he says in
dedicating to her his "Indian Letters",

    Aroused in me in my earliest childhood a sense for the
    infinite beauty of nature and taught the growing boy the
    value of time and the joy of labor.

His skill as a draftsman and colorist appears in his zoölogical works,
and besides this professional work he has in his portfolios more than
a thousand original sketches in oil and water colors of scenery from
Norway to Malay; in fact, of every quarter of the globe except America.
When he was twenty-five he was so captivated by Sicily that he almost
gave up science to adopt landscape painting as a career.

The freedom of instruction which Jena has enjoyed to an exceptional
degree, even for Germany, Haeckel ascribes in part to the fact that the
university is located in one of the minor States, remote from the great
political centers, and derives its support from several sources. "We
had four masters," said Professor Haeckel to me, "and so we remained
free." He closes his address of 1892 on "Monism as the Bond Between
Religion and Science" with a grateful eulogy of the Grand Duke Karl
Alexander, who, he says,

    has during a prosperous reign of forty years constantly
    shown himself an illustrious patron of science and art; as
    Rector Magnificentissimus of our Thuringian university of
    Jena, he has always afforded his protection to its most
    sacred palladium--the right of free investigation and the
    teaching of truth.

We see that Haeckel has reason to be grateful for the protection
accorded him when we realize that he first championed the cause of
Darwin in 1862, only three years after the publication of "The Origin
of Species", and that twenty years after that professors were being
dismissed from American universities or were viewed with suspicion
for believing in evolution. Even to-day a man of Haeckel's views on
religion and his blunt way of expressing them would find it difficult
to retain his chair in most American universities. In Germany a
professor may be almost anything he pleases--except a Socialist--and
hold his job.

A song of the Jena students contains the couplet

    "Wer die Wahrheit kennet und saget sie nicht,
    Der ist fürwahr ein erbärmlicher Wicht!"

But according to Haeckel the students of Berlin University have a
different version:

    Wer die Wahrheit kennet und saget sie frei,
    Der kommt in Berlin auf die Stadtvogtei![1]

The grand duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, of which Jena is one of
the chief cities, has about the same area as Rhode Island and fewer
inhabitants. It was the first of the German States to acquire a
constitutional government, in 1816. The community is rather rigidly
orthodox in the evangelical Lutheran faith, which it was among the
first to espouse. How well the Grand Duke Karl Alexander maintained the
Jena tradition of _Lehrfreiheit_ is shown by an incident that happened
when Haeckel first scandalized Germany by championing the cause of
Darwinism. A prominent theologian came to the palace of the Grand
Duke at Weimar and begged him to dismiss the heretic professor. Karl
Alexander asked: "Do you suppose that he really believes the things he

"Most certainly he does," was the prompt reply. "Very well," said the
Grand Duke, "then the man simply does the same as you do."

It was about this time, when Haeckel, perceiving that the University
was suffering from the attack made upon him, approached Seebeck, the
head of the governing body, with an offer to resign his professorship
in order to relieve the tension. Seebeck, who had little sympathy with
his theories, replied: "My dear Haeckel, you are still young and you
will come yet to have more mature views of life. After all, you will do
less harm here than elsewhere, so you had better stay."

It may be well to add that while Haeckel did not change his views
except to become more radical as he grew older, the University did not
suffer in the long run by his presence. On the contrary, his fame as
an investigator and teacher drew students from all over the world and
brought to the University several large endowments.

Near to Ernst Haeckel Strasse and facing the park called Paradise there
is a unique building, the Phyletic Museum, established by Haeckel to
house collections illustrating the theory of evolution. On the wall
is painted the genealogical tree of the greatest family in the world,
embracing the whole animal kingdom, and over the central arch is
inscribed a quotation from the poet whom Haeckel most admires, Goethe:

    Wer Wissenschaft und Kunst besitzt
      Der hat Religion;
    Wer diese beiden nicht besitzt
      Der habe Religion!

Which Lange puts into English as

    He who Science has and Art
      He has Religion too;
    Let him who in these has no part
      Make his religion do.

Nowadays, when evolution is generally accepted, when it is preached
from the pulpit as well as taught in the school, it is hard for us to
realize the scorn and incredulity that greeted the theory on its first
formulation. We who see about us laboratories of experimental evolution
where new species of plants and animals are produced at will, according
to specifications drawn up in advance, can hardly put ourselves in
the position of those who fifty years ago believed that to question
the immutability of species was to induce intellectual confusion and
invite moral chaos. So we can scarcely appreciate the courage and
perspicacity of the young Haeckel in openly championing Darwinism
at a time when that theory was regarded as an absurdity, not alone
by theologians, as one would infer from Andrew D. White's "Warfare
of Science with Theology", but by most of the leading authorities
in all fields of science. But we may picture him on that memorable
Sunday evening of September 19, 1863, as he rose to give the opening
address of the Scientific Congress at Stettin; a tall, handsome young
man, blond-bearded, bright-eyed, sun-browned, hard-working, athletic
(that same year he won a laurel crown at the Leipzig festival for a
record-breaking jump of twenty feet). It was certainly presumptuous in
a zoölogist of only twenty-nine years, who had just secured a position
in the university circle as Extraordinary Professor at Jena (which
means below the Ordinary in Germany); who had just published his first
book, the "Monograph on the Radiolaria", so to attack the convictions
of his elders and masters there assembled. Haeckel was no halfway man.
As soon as he espoused Darwinism--which was barely a month after he
had laid eyes on "The Origin of Species"--he drew from it conclusions
that Darwin himself hesitated to suggest; on the one hand that life
originated in inorganic matter, on the other that the human race
originated from the lower animals. He at once drew up a pedigree not
only of the radiolaria but of mankind. Here is a passage from the very
beginning of his Stettin speech:

    As regards man himself, if we are consistent we must
    recognize his immediate ancestors in the ape-like mammals;
    earlier still in kangaroo-like marsupials; beyond these, in
    the secondary period, in lizard-like reptiles; and finally,
    at a yet earlier stage, the primary period, in lowly
    organized fishes.

and this, be it remembered, was eight years before Darwin published his
"Descent of Man."

"Without Haeckel there would have been Darwin, but no Darwinism," says
one of his enthusiastic disciples. But this immediately suggests the
question of whether it was altogether an advantage to have made an
"ism" out of Darwin. As a mere question of taxonomy his theory would
have been regarded by the lay world as harmless and uninteresting.
But heralded by Haeckel as evidential of materialism, as antagonistic
to the Church and as destructive to Christianity, Darwinism raised up
foes on all sides who would not otherwise have concerned themselves
with it. This, however, is a question of what-might-have-been like to
that of whether the slaves might not have been freed without blood-shed
_if_ the abolitionists had not been so extreme and if the Southerners
had not been so intolerant. So in this case; Haeckel was extreme, his
opponents were intolerant, so the war had to be. The gentle-natured
Darwin more than once had to caution his ardent German champion to be
less violent and sweeping in his attacks upon those who held the older
views. They were more to be pitied than blamed, said Darwin, and they
could not keep back permanently the stream of truth. In England Huxley
at the same time, with quite as sharp a pen as Haeckel's, was waging a
similar warfare against clerical antagonists.

It may be said that Haeckel spent the rest of his life in filling in
the outline he had sketched at the Stettin Congress of 1863, for,
however detailed the work on which he was engaged, he never afterward
lost sight of the guiding clew to the labyrinth of life evolution. We
are here not concerned with the zoölogical studies on which his fame
securely rests, but only with the philosophical views to which they led
him. His convictions were very definitely established in early manhood,
and he occupies to-day essentially the same point of view as fifty
years ago. During this time his efforts have been increasingly directed
toward reaching a wider audience. In 1866 he developed the fundamental
principles of his monistic philosophy in the two large volumes of his
"General Morphology of Organisms." This gained few readers outside the
circle of savants, and little acceptance there. In 1868 he put his
theory of evolution into more popular form in "The Natural History of
Creation." This had an unusual sale for a book of its kind, but Haeckel
was dissatisfied to see that the general public remained indifferent
and unaffected by the new conceptions of the world and man arising
from the discoveries of modern science. Worse still, he observed with
alarm a rising tide of reactionary thought at the close of the century
and a growing dominance of the clerical power in German politics. So
he determined to make a final effort to influence his generation, an
appeal to the court of last resort, the Cæsar of to-day, the people.
He packed his science and philosophy into one volume of moderate size,
filled in the chinks with _obiter dicta,_ and published it in 1899
under the title of "The Riddle of the Universe." This time he hit the
mark. The success of the book was immediate and amazing. An author of a
detective tale or a Zenda romance might have envied him. Ten thousand
copies were sold within a few months, one hundred thousand within a
year, and by this time the sale of the German and English editions has
doubtless passed the half million mark, not to speak of the fourteen
other languages into which the book has been translated. Since a book
like this usually has several readers for each copy, it is probable
that those who have been directly reached by Haeckel within fifteen
years must be numbered by the million. Besides this, of course, the
spread of his views has been further extended by a similar volume,
"The Wonders of Life", five years later, and by the widely circulated
pamphlets of the Deutscher Monistenbund. _Haeckels einheitliche
Weltanschauung_,[2] then, whatever one may think of it, is undeniably
an important factor in the thought of to-day.

I found Professor Haeckel not altogether pleased that he owed his
popular reputation to that one of his works in which he took the least
pride. He seemed to hold it in almost as light esteem as his opponents
and was frank in acknowledging its defects of style and content.
"But," he said in substance to me, "I had set forth my philosophy with
due dignity and order in my 'General Morphology' more than thirty
years before and nobody read it. Nobody reads it now, even when they
criticize my ideas. So what could I do but put them forth in a way that
would secure attention?"

We must observe that to secure this wider audience he did not resort
to any of the ordinary expedients, such as palliating unpopular views,
skipping dry details, and avoiding technical terms. "The Riddle of
the Universe" is not the sort of writing that goes by the name of
"popular science" and that is commonly regarded as necessary to catch
the attention and reach the understanding of the lay reader. Haeckel
discusses questions of physiology, zoölogy, botany, paleontology, and
astronomy, each in its own tongue, the bare facts stated without any
poetic disguise or flowery adornment. Far from dodging long words when
necessary, he invents them when unnecessary. Few men have done so much
word coinage. In his work on the radiolaria alone he had to christen
more than thirty-five hundred new species, two names apiece. So it is
no wonder that when he comes to talking metaphysics and religion he
sticks to the habit of making up his language as he goes.

In the case of other authors of this series I have had to distill the
essence of their philosophy from the leaves of many volumes. I have
had sometimes to translate poetry into prose and sometimes to piece
together scattered suggestions and faint allusions into a coherent
and compact doctrine. But in the case of Haeckel my task is easy, for
nothing of the sort is necessary. He has himself expressed his views in
succinct form and the plainest of language. He takes as much delight in
creeds and dogmatic statements as any scholastic theologian, and he has
the same implicit faith in formulas as capable of expressing all things
in heaven and earth. One reason why his conflicts with the clergy have
been so sharp and bitter is because he has much the same type of mind
and uses similar language. Ordinarily, in the so-called warfare of
religion and science, the adversaries revolve hopelessly around one
another, like double stars, without ever coming into contact.

The most convenient formulation of Haeckel's philosophy for our purpose
is that which he prepared as a sort of confession of faith for his lay
church, the Monistenbund. It is here translated entire and for the most
part literally, though in a somewhat condensed form.[3]

       *       *       *       *       *


I.--_Theoretical Monism_

1. Monistic Philosophy. The unitary conception of the world is based
solely upon the solid ground of scientific knowledge acquired by human
reason through critical experience.

2. Empiricism. This empirical knowledge is attained partly by sense
observations on the external world and partly by conscious reflection
on our mental internal world.

3. Revelation. In opposition to this monistic theory of knowledge
is the prevailing dualistic conception of the world, that the most
profound and important truths can be gained through supernatural
or divine revelation. All such ideas are due either to obscure and
uncritical dogmas or pious frauds.

4. Apriorism. Equally untenable is the assertion of Kantian metaphysics
that some knowledge is acquired _a priori_ independent of any

5. Cosmological Monism. The world is one great whole, a cosmos, ruled
by fixed laws.

6. Cosmological Dualism. The idea that there are two worlds, one
material or natural and the other spiritual or supernatural, arises
from ignorance, cloudy thinking, and mystical tradition.

7. Biophysics. Biology is only a part of the all-embracing physical
science and living beings are under the same laws as inorganic matter.

8. Vitalism. The so-called "vital force", which is still believed by
some to direct and control physical and chemical processes in the
organism, is just as fictitious as a "cosmical intelligence."

9. Genesis. Organic beings and inorganic nature alike have been
developed by one great process of evolution through an unbroken chain
of transformations causally connected. Part of this universal process
of evolution is directly perceptible; its beginning and end are unknown
to us.

10. Creation. The idea that a personal creator made the world out of
nothing and embodied his creative thought in the form of organisms must
be abandoned. Such an anthropomorphic creator exists as little as does
a "moral world order" ordained by him or a "divine providence."

11. Theory of Descent. That all existing beings are the transformed
descendants of a long series of extinct organisms developed in the
course of millions of years is proved by comparative anatomy, ontogeny,
and paleontology. This biogenetic transformation is established whether
we explain it by selection, mutation, or any other theory.

12. Archigony. When the earth's crust had cooled sufficiently, organic
life came into existence through the katalysis of colloidal compounds
of carbon and nitrogen in the form of structureless plasma globules
(Monera) represented to-day by the Chromoceæ.

13. Plasmic Metabolism. The innumerable forms of plant and animal life
arose from the ceaseless transformation of the living substance in
which the most important factors are the physiological functions of
variation and heredity.

14. Phytogeny. All plants and animals form a single genealogical tree
rooted in the Monera.

15. Anthropogeny. The position of man in nature is now fully
understood. He has all the characteristics of the vertebrates and
mammals and developed out of this class in the later tertiary period.

16. Pithecoid Theory. Man is most nearly related to the tailless
apes, but is not descended from any of the existing forms. On the
contrary, the common ancestors of all the anthropoid apes and man are
to be looked for in the earlier extinct species of old world apes

17. Athanism. The soul consists of the totality of cerebral functions.
This soul or thought organ in man, a certain area of the cerebral
cortex, acts in accordance with the same laws of psychophysics as in
the other mammals. This function of course ceases at death, so it is
nowadays utterly absurd to believe in "the personal immortality of the

18. Indeterminism. The human will, like all other functions of the
brain (sensation, imagination, ratiocination), is dependent upon the
anatomy of this organ and is necessarily determined by the inherited
and acquired characteristics of the individual brain. The old doctrine
of "free will" is therefore seen to be untenable and must give way to
the opposite doctrine of determinism.

19. God. If by this ambiguous term is understood a personal "Supreme
Being", a ruler of the cosmos who, after the manner of men,
thinks, loves, generates, rules, rewards, punishes, etc., such an
anthropomorphic God must be relegated to the realm of the mystical
fiction, no matter whether this personal God be invested with a human
form or regarded as an invisible spirit or as a "gaseous vertebrate."
For modern science the idea of God is tenable only so far as we
recognize in this "God" the ultimate unknowable cause of things, the
unconscious hypothetical "first cause of substance."

20. Law of Substance. The older chemical law of the conservation of
matter (Lavoisier, 1789) and the more recent physical law of the
conservation of energy (Mayer, 1842) were later (1892) by our Monism
united into a single great universal law, for we recognized matter
and energy (body and spirit) as inseparable attributes of substance

II.--_Practical Monism_

21. Sociology. The culture which has raised the human race high above
the other animals and given it dominion over the earth depends upon the
rational cooperation of men in society with a thoroughgoing division
of labor and the mutual interdependence of the laboring classes. The
biological foundations of society are already perceptible among the
gregarious animals (especially the primates). Their herds and groups
are kept together by the social instinct (hereditary habits).

22. Constitution and Laws. The rational arrangement of society and its
regulation by laws can be attained by various forms of government,
the chief object of which is a just Nomocracy, the establishment of a
secular power based upon justice. The laws which limit the freedom of
the citizen for the good of society should be based solely upon the
national application of natural science, not upon venerable tradition
(inherited habits).

23. Church and Creed. On the other hand, all means should be used to
fight the hierarchy which cloaks the secular power with a spiritual
mantle and makes use of the credulity of the ignorant masses to further
its selfish aims. The confessional obligation as a particular form of
superstition is especially to be attacked, since it only serves to
evoke the distinction between those of other beliefs. The desirable
separation of Church and State is to be accomplished in such a way that
the State leaves equally free all forms of belief while restricting
their practical encroachments. The spiritual power (Theocracy) must
always be subordinate to the secular government (Nomocracy).

24. Papistry. The strongest hierarchy which to-day exercises spiritual
domination over the greater part of the civilized world is papistry or
ultramontanism. Although this mighty political organization stands in
sharp contradiction with the original pure form of Christianity and
wrongfully employs its insignia to obtain power, it nevertheless finds
strong support even from its natural opponents, the secular princes. In
the inevitable Kulturkampf against papistry it is, above all, necessary
to abrogate by law its three strongest supports, the celibacy of the
clergy, auricular confession, and the sale of indulgences. These
three dangerous and immoral institutions of the neo-Catholic church
are foreign to original Christianity. So also is the strengthening
of superstitions dangerous to society through the cult of miracles
(Lourdes, Marpingen) and of relics (Aix la Chapelle, Trèves) to be
prevented by law.

25. Monistic Religion. If we understand by religion, not a
superstitious cult and irrational creed, but the elevation of the mind
through the noblest gifts of art and science, then Monism forms a "bond
between religion and science" (1892). The three ideals of this rational
monistic religion are truth, virtue, and beauty. In all civilized
states it is the duty of the representatives of the people to see that
the monistic religion is officially recognized and its equal rights
with other confessions assured.

26. Monistic Ethics. The rational ethics which forms a part of this
monistic religion is derived, according to our modern theory of
evolution, from the social instincts of the higher animals, not from
a dogmatic "categorical imperative" (Kant). Like all of the higher
gregarious animals, man strives to attain the natural equilibrium
between the two different obligations, the behest of egoism and the
behest of altruism. The ethical principle of the "Golden Rule" has
expressed this double obligation twenty-five hundred years ago in the
maxim: "Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you."

27. Monistic Schools. In most civilized countries, and especially in
Germany, the instruction of youth in upper and lower grades is still
largely bound in fetters which the scholastic tradition of the Middle
Ages has retained to the present day. Only the complete separation of
Church and school can loose these fetters. The prevailing confessional
or dogmatic religious instruction is to be replaced by comparative
religious history and monistic ethics. The influence of the clergy of
any confession is to be removed from the school. The inevitable school
reform must be accomplished upon the basis of modern natural science.
The greater part of education should be devoted, not to the study of
the classical language and history, but to the various branches of
natural science, especially anthropology and evolution.

28. Monistic Education. Since the sound development of the soul (as
a function of the cerebral cortex) is closely connected with that of
the rest of the organism, the monistic education of youth, free from
the dogmatic teachings of the Church, must strive to upbuild soul
and body equally from earliest youth. Daily gymnastics, baths and
exercises, walks and tours, must develop and strengthen the organism
from early youth. Observation and love of nature will be thus awakened
and intensified. Through public libraries, continuation schools, and
popular monistic lectures will the more advanced be provided with
mental nourishment.

29. Monistic Culture. The admirable height of culture which mankind
in the nineteenth century has attained, the astonishing progress
of science and its practical applications in technology, industry,
medicine, etc., gives grounds for expecting a still greater development
of culture in the twentieth century. This desirable progress will then
however be possible only if the beaten paths of the traditional dogmas
and of clerical superstition be abandoned and a rational monistic
knowledge of nature attain the mastery instead.

30. The Monistenbund. In order to spread the natural unitary theory
of the universe to the widest circles and to realize practically the
beneficent fruits of theoretical monism, it is desirable that all
efforts in this direction find a common point of application through
the founding of individual monist societies. In this universal monist
association not only all free thinkers and all adherents of the
monistic philosophy find place, but also free congregations, ethical
societies, and free religious associations, etc., which recognize pure
reason as the only rule of their thought and action and not belief in
traditional dogma and pretended revelations.

There is a strong resemblance in form between this creed of the
monistic religion and the creeds that have been formulated by many
other religions in the history of the world; the same juxtaposition of
cosmogony and ethics without any apparent connection; the same mixture
of the fundamental and trivial, the permanent and ephemeral; the same
affirmation of idealistic aims mingled with attacks upon what is
assumed to be the beliefs of the opposition.

It is not my purpose in this book to criticize the views I present or
to obtrude my personal opinions, so I shall not discuss this monistic
confession of faith except to point out the striking contrast between
the theoretical and practical sections of the statement. The second is
in no sense a deduction from the first, and they are so different in
character as to give the effect of an anticlimax. Haeckel's fundamental
principles are bold and revolutionary. His practical conclusions are
timid and conventional. It would be a dull faculty meeting which did
not bring out more heretical views on education than Haeckel expresses.
Why is it necessary to storm the battlements of heaven and create a
new earth in order to make Greek optional and get the students to take
baths and walks?[4] Any session of the American Sociological Society
will bring out more suggestions for the radical reorganization of
society from professors in good and regular standing than are to be
found in all of Haeckel's works. He seems blind to what would appear
to us the glaring evils of his country, the burden of militarism, the
oppression of government, the conflict of classes, the monopoly of
land, the injustice of hereditary rank, the superstition of royalty,
and the like. If he touches on these at all, it is in mild and cautious
terms. His gratitude to the Grand Duke who was kind enough to let him
alone is expressed in language that sounds sycophantic to American
ears. All his fury is directed against the Church, Protestant and
Catholic alike, yet he remained until the age of seventy-seven a member
of the orthodox Lutheran Church. Of course, to be radical in thought
and conventional in practice is not peculiar to Haeckel. It is common
to most thinkers, but is especially conspicuous in his case.

The reforms he advocates in social customs are for the most part very
moderate. He is himself no smoker, and he thinks that the German
students devote too much attention to beer and dueling. This is
sensible but not startling. He declaims against the tyranny of fashion
and denounces corsets as injurious to the health.[5] In this, however,
most men and not a few women would agree with him. He asserts that
marriage is not a sacrament, but a civil contract, and as such may
be dissolved[6]. This is a doctrine common to Hebrew and Puritan.
One of the chief objects of the founding of the Monistenbund was to
force the separation of Church and State and the secularization of the
schools. This seems so obviously just and desirable that it is hard
for us to realize on what grounds it should be opposed. And as for the
demands expressed in Article 25 it is almost inconceivable to us that
a government could refuse a man the right to declare himself a Monist,
instead of a Lutheran or a Hebrew, if he wants to.

In our own free land anybody can get up a church of his own if he find
disciples, and if he prefers to belong to no church it is nobody's
business but his own. Not so in Germany, where a man has to give his
religion together with his age and occupation at every turn. Even if
he wants nothing more than a permit to a building or a rebate on his
railroad fare, he is called upon to make a confession of faith. And it
must be one of the few religions officially recognized by the State;
none of the "fancy religions" will pass muster. A man who declares
himself not a member of an established church, _konfessionslos_,
is looked upon with suspicion as a sort of outlaw. Under these
circumstances, of course, a large proportion of the adherents of the
State churches never attend the services and have no belief in the
creed they profess.

There is now going on in Germany what might be called an
"anti-Christian revival." Protracted meetings are being held in the
cities at which Monist missionaries exhort the people to leave the
Church, and at the conclusion the converts are called upon to stand
up and be counted. In 1913, during a whirlwind campaign in Berlin at
Christmas time, sixteen meetings were held and attended by thirteen
thousand persons, of whom twenty-three hundred and forty-three
announced their intention of formally separating themselves from the
churches of which they are nominally members. The Monist locals, the
independent congregations, and the free-thinker societies have joined
forces under the management of a central _Komitee Konfessionslos_. Very
curiously the Social Democratic party, which in its early days was so
fiercely anti-clerical, stands aloof from the movement and appears to
view it with disfavor.

This _Kirchenaustrittsbewegung_, or church-exit-movement has for its
aim to effect the complete separation of Church and State and to secure
for the individual freedom of religious choice. It does not, therefore,
indicate so great an increase of irreligion as appears on the face
of it. It will on the contrary tend to reduce the percentage of
hypocrisy and to allow the growth of new forms of religious association
better adapted to the times than the established churches. Already it
has stimulated a useful reflex. The "Go-to-church Sunday" has been
introduced from America, and the State churches are showing more signs
of life than for a long time.

It would obviously be an injustice to Haeckel to assume that, because
the practical reforms he advocates seem trite and timid to us, they
do not require both perspicacity and courage in Germany. The fact is
that Germany, advanced though it be intellectually, is still medieval
in government and usages. If, for instance, a German clergyman should
visit this country and stay in the home of an American minister, the
latter would probably be distressed by the views held by the visitor on
the inerrancy of the Scriptures and the value of beer, while, on the
other hand, the German would be equally shocked to hear his reverend
friend advocate secular schools and ridicule the divine right of kings.

Haeckel practically takes over intact the fundamental principles of
Christian ethics, making the Golden Rule the basis of his system,
although characteristically refusing to give Jesus any credit for it
by saying that it had a "polyphyletic origin." He attacks, indeed,
certain extreme forms of it, asceticism, belittlement of family life,
absolute self-sacrifice, etc., but he adopts substantially the moral
standards which the Christian men of his time and environment profess
and endeavor to practice. I do not say that he is wrong to borrow
ethics from Christianity. I do not suppose he could do better. But
he would have done the world great service if, instead of taking a
ready-made ethical system, he had worked it out from his fundamental
principle of evolution, as Spencer, Drummond, and Kropotkin have tried
to do. If, having done this, he had arrived at the same conclusions as
the Christian moralists, his aid would have been invaluable just now,
when, almost for the first time, attacks are made not so much on the
theology as on the ethics of Christianity, and this, too, in the name
of science. The air is filled with questions which arise in Haeckel's
peculiar field. Is, for example, Nietzsche justified in preaching
ruthless egoism as the logical lesson of evolution? Or is it true,
as many now say, that the preservation and protection of the weak in
body and mind necessarily lead to the degeneration of the race? In
the incidental references he makes to these questions,[7] he condemns
Nietzsche, but advocates euthanasia for the hopelessly diseased,
reaching the first conclusion from his "own personal opinion" and the
second from "pure reason." As the individual views of an evolutionist,
these are interesting and even valuable, but they can hardly be
regarded as established principles of the science of evolutionary

Haeckel's politics may be summed up by saying that he is anti-clerical
and not much else. He concerns himself little about the form
of government or economic conditions, regarding them indeed as
comparatively unimportant matters.

The monistic and the socialistic movements in Germany are closely
associated, but chiefly, it seems to me, because both are anti-clerical
rather than because the evolutionary philosophy necessarily leads to
either democracy or socialism. Many Social Democrats profess themselves
Monists, and doubtless a large proportion of that party would agree
with Haeckel in the matter of religion. But on the other hand, they
can derive little if any support for their doctrines from the monistic
literature. Haeckel states his opinion with his usual frankness in a
contribution to Maximilian Harden's magazine, which concludes with the

    I am certainly no friend of Herr Bebel, who has attacked
    me repeatedly, and among other things has slandered me in
    his book on Woman. Besides, I hold the utopian aims of
    the official social democracy to be impracticable and its
    ideal future state to be a big workhouse. That, however,
    cannot prevent me from recognizing the kernel of justice
    in the great social movement. That this can be overcome by
    the repressive acts of the Berlin council, by the power of
    the police and of the State prosecutors can be believed
    only by one who knows neither the history nor the natural
    history of mankind.--_Zukunft_, 1895, No. 18. Quoted in the
    introduction to "Freie Wissenschaft und freie Lehre", p. 9.

The immense popularity of "The Riddle of the Universe" is, I think,
largely to be accounted for by the personality of the author. The man
behind the gun was what gave it power. I do not mean that the reception
given to the book was due to Haeckel's standing as a zoölogist. The
outside world knows little and cares less for scientific reputation.
It was rather that the book revealed a man tremendously in earnest
who had made up his mind on questions of the most vital interest to
all and who said what he thought in the plainest and most emphatic
language, without regard to whose feelings he hurt. "The Riddle of the
Universe" and "The Wonders of Life" are, it seems to me, more valuable
as contributions to the psychology of genius than to philosophy. The
personal interest he aroused is evinced by the thousands of letters he
received and is still receiving about these books, ranging in tone from
the warmly sympathetic to the furiously antagonistic. He years ago had
to give up the task of answering them save by a printed slip.

Few books have ever excited so much heated controversy. Hundreds
of criticisms and replies have been published, and new ones appear
frequently yet, fifteen years after. The book was intended to draw the
fire of the enemy, clericalism, and it did. Nor did the philosophy of
the chair receive it any more favorably. It will be sufficient on this
point to quote the sharp criticism of Professor Friedrich Paulsen, of
Berlin University, whose idealistic monism comes into direct contact
with Haeckel's materialistic monism:

"I have read this book with burning shame for the state of general
culture and the philosophical culture of our people. That such a book
was possible, that it could be written, printed, sold, read, admired,
believed by a people which claims a Kant, a Goethe, a Schopenhauer, is

It is one of the curiosities of controversy that the Church should
often be found defending with desperation, not her own positions, but
some of the old, abandoned redoubts of Science. This was largely the
case in the evolution controversy. The real "origin of species" was
in the scientific mind. It was Science that discovered that all the
multifarious forms of plant and animal life could be classified into
distinct types, which, it too hastily assumed, were absolutely separate
and fixed. When later Science came to revise that view, it discovered
that the immutability of species had somehow in the meantime become a
theological dogma, to be zealously defended by curates who could not
tell a species from a genus.

It was the same in regard to the theory of spontaneous generation
or the production of living beings from non-living matter. This was
formerly good Christian doctrine, accepted by St. Augustine and taught
by the medieval schoolmen, and when in 1674 the Italian physician,
Francisco Redi, showed that the maggots that appeared in dead matter
came from eggs, he was persecuted for unbelief. But it was still
maintained that microscopic living forms could arise spontaneously
in bouillon and infusions of hay until Pasteur proved that this was
false, for in sealed and sterilized tubes no trace of life appears.
Such negative experiments are, of course, not competent to prove that
at some time and under other conditions life might not be produced from
the non-living. Yet, strangely enough, Haeckel's theological opponents
voluntarily adopted this untenable position and waged war against
him especially on account of his belief that when the earth's crust
cooled down, compounds of cyanic acid were transformed into globules of
albumin, from which developed unicellular organisms.

The only alternative hypothesis to this which has been brought forward
is the one advocated by Arrhenius, that the germs of life might have
been brought from some other planet in meteorites or floating free
in space and propelled by radiant energy. This is apparently not
impossible, but it seems a very violent assumption, much harder of
acceptance than the other, that of abiogenesis. For the wall between
the organic and the inorganic has been broken down completely, and that
between the living and non-living is being tunneled into from both
sides. On the one hand we have been able to construct artificially such
complex organic molecules as sugar and protein. On the other hand, it
has been found possible to produce in siliceous and metallic solutions
mimic cells which grow, move, put forth pseudopodia, select their food,
propagate by fission, and assume many of the characteristic forms of
vegetable and animal life. In more than one laboratory experiments in
the generation of life are still being hopefully carried on, and an
announcement of their success at any time would not amaze biologists in
general. But even though abiogenesis should forever remain impossible
as a laboratory experiment, it would not be untenable as a hypothesis
of the origin of life under the exceptional conditions of some earlier
stage in the world's history. Such a supposition, whether true or not,
is at least no more irreligious than is a recognition of the fact that
non-living matter is being continuously transformed into living within
our own bodies.

The volume invited attack because it was not only intentionally
provocative, but unintentionally vulnerable. One does not have to be
very learned in order to discover in it occasional errors as well as
many extravagant and questionable statements. The fact that few people
could treat of such a wide range of topics without making more mistakes
than Haeckel did not, of course, protect him from criticism. Huxley,
who enjoyed crossing swords with the clergy as much as Haeckel, was
more careful to guard himself from counter attack. If a discussion of
demonology led unexpectedly to the question of the exact status of the
district of Gadara in the Roman Empire, he was prepared to meet his
opponents on that ground as well as in biology. Not so Haeckel. He
picks up his church history from infidel pamphleteers[8] and recklessly
caricatures Christian beliefs. In attacking the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception of Mary he confuses it with that of the Virgin Birth of
Christ, and at the same time uses language needlessly offensive to
those who regard the Mother of Jesus with adoration.[9]

A more serious charge than ignorance of ecclesiastical history was
later brought against Haeckel by Doctor Brass, namely, that he had
fabricated evidence in support of his theory of evolution by falsifying
his drawings of embryos, that he had, among other things, taken
away vertebræ from the tail of a monkey embryo and had extended the
backbone of a human embryo in order to enhance the resemblance. Since
accuracy is the soul of science, this is as serious as it would be, for
instance, to charge a minister with preaching miracles when he does not
believe in them. In his reply Haeckel acknowledged

    that a small part of my numerous embryo pictures (perhaps
    six or eight per cent) are actually "falsified" (in the
    sense of Doctor Brass), all those in fact in which the
    material at hand for observation was so incomplete or
    unsatisfactory that one was forced to fill up the gaps
    by hypothesis and to reconstruct the missing members by
    comparative synthesis in order to produce a connected chain
    of evolution.

Haeckel emphatically denies any deception or misrepresentation, and
calls attention to the fact that such diagrammatic and reconstructed
drawings are common to all physiological works and are necessary to
bring out the desired points. As to whether Haeckel has transgressed
the permissible limits of such schematization of material I should
not be competent to decide. Thirty-six German men of science signed a
condemnation of Haeckel; forty-seven German men of science, "though
they did not like the kind of schematizing which Haeckel practiced in
some cases", signed a condemnation of Brass and the Keplerbund. The
numbers have no significance, since majorities never decide anything
except the balance of opinion, but the group that stood by Haeckel
contained more embryologists and zoölogists than the other.

So I will dismiss the subject by quoting the opinion of a biologist and
evolutionist who is thoroughly appreciative of Haeckel's contributions
to science. Professor V. L. Kellogg, of Stanford University, in
reviewing the "Evolution of Man" in _Science_, says:

"Biologists are likely to be of two minds concerning the advisability
of putting Haeckel's 'Evolution of Man' into the hands of the lay
reader as a guide and counselor on this most important of evolution
subjects. Haeckel is such a proselytizer, such a scoffer and fighter
of those who differ with him, that plain, 'unadorned statement of
facts and description of things as they are cannot be looked for in
his books. Or, if looked for, cannot be found. But this very eagerness
to convince; this hoisting of a thesis, this fight for Haeckelian
phylogeny and Haeckelian Monism, all make for interest and life in his

This whole affair is a striking illustration of Huxley's observation
that a controversy always shows an unfortunate tendency to slip from
the question of what is right to the relatively unimportant question
of who is right. Haeckel's critics have rarely attempted to controvert
his scientific work and in fact would not in most cases be competent
to discuss it. Even if he were guilty of all the mistakes alleged, it
would not materially affect his scientific conclusions.

In noting Haeckel's faults, we are in danger of failing to appreciate
the marvelous constructive genius of the man; the creative imagination
which is characteristic of the great scientist even more than of the
great poet. It was this gift that enabled him to discern in a handful
of slime dredged up by the _Challenger_ from the depths of the sea
an orderly system of living beings wherein each microscopic skeleton
of silica found its natural niche. It was this power which enabled
him to assist so largely in the transformation of zoölogy from a
purely observative and descriptive science, as it was when he began
his labors, to a rational, experimental, and prophetic science, as
it was when he closed them. As Cuvier from a few bits of bone could
construct a whole animal, so Haeckel from scattered species ventured
to construct, as early as 1865, a family tree, including all living
forms from monera to man. Faulty it is from the standpoint of our
present knowledge, but yet it must command our admiration because of
the insight he showed in perceiving natural relationships and the skill
with which he bridged the gaps in his living chain by hypothetical
forms. Just as the great Russian chemist Mendeléef was able to describe
in advance elements then unknown, but which were discovered later
and found to fit into the vacant places he had assigned to them in
his periodic law, so Haeckel's anticipations have been in many cases
confirmed by later science. It was his good fortune to be able to
hold in his hand the skullcap and femur of the "missing link" which
had for years been the jest of the anti-evolutionists. The apeman, or
Pithecanthropus, which he had in 1885 described and named, was in 1894
discovered by Dubois in Java. The mind of Haeckel has such high tension
that it leaps over the gaps in a demonstration like a ten thousand volt

His account of how he was led to doubt the dogma of the immutability of
species must be quoted because it is an excellent illustration of the
wisdom of the laboratory adage: "Study the exceptions. They prove some
other rule."

    The problem of the constancy or transmutation of species
    arrested me with a lively interest, when, twenty years ago,
    as a boy of twelve years, I made a resolute but fruitless
    effort to determine and distinguish the "good and bad
    species" of blackberries, willows, roses, and thistles.
    I look back now with fond satisfaction on the concern
    and painful skepticism that stirred my youthful spirits
    as I wavered and hesitated (in the manner of most "good
    classifiers", as we called them) whether to admit only
    "good" specimens into my herbarium and reject the "bad",
    or to embrace the latter and form a complete chain of
    transitional forms between the "good species" that would
    make an end of all their "goodness." I got out of the
    difficulty at the time by a compromise that I can recommend
    to all classifiers. I made two collections. One, arranged
    on official lines, offered to the sympathetic observer all
    the species, in "typical" specimens, as radically distinct
    forms, each decked with its pretty label; the other was a
    private collection, only shown to one trusted friend, and
    contained only the rejected kinds that Goethe so happily
    called "the characterless or disorderly races, which we
    hardly dare ascribe to a species, as they lose themselves
    in infinite varieties", such as rubus, salix, verbascum,
    hieracium, rosa, cirsium, etc. In this a large number of
    specimens, arranged in a long series, illustrated the direct
    transition from one good species to another. They were the
    officially forbidden fruit of knowledge, in which I took a
    secret boyish delight in my leisure hours.--Bölsche's "Life
    of Haeckel", p. 38.

Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel, to give him for once his full
baptismal name, was born in Potsdam, February 16, 1834. He has a double
inheritance of talent, for both the Haeckels and the Sethes, his
mother's family, have contributed prominent names to German history,
and the two families have intermarried more than once. It is a curious
fact that Gustav Freytag, in his series of "Pictures from the German
Past", should have chosen for his representative men of the nineteenth
century two of Haeckel's ancestors: his mother's father, Christopher
Sethe, Privy Councilor and defender of Prussia against Napoleon, and
his father, Karl Haeckel, State Councilor.

But Ernst did not follow the family tradition and take to the law. He
showed an unmistakable bent for natural science, so, as a compromise
profession, his father had him trained as a physician. He took the
medical course, and in obedience to his father's wishes consented to
practice the profession for a year to see if he could make a success
of it. During the year only three patients came to him, owing perhaps
to the fact that Haeckel in order to get time for his biological
researches had fixed his consultation hours from five to six in the
morning. His father then gave up trying to make a doctor out of him and
allowed him to go to Messina in 1859 to study marine animals. Haeckel
straightway became engaged to his cousin Anna Sethe, and as soon as he
got his appointment at Jena married her. Their happiness was brief.
Two years later she died, leaving Haeckel, then thirty, so stricken
that he felt that he could not long survive the blow, so he plunged
with feverish haste into the preparation of his "General Morphology" in
order to leave to the world his science and philosophy in a systematic
form. It was written and printed, two thick volumes of more than twelve
hundred pages, in less than a year, during which Haeckel lived like a
hermit, working all day long and half the night, getting barely three
or four hours sleep out of the twenty-four.

Haeckel immortalized his wife by giving her a living monument instead
of one of marble or brass. He named for her one of his beloved medusæ,
a fairy-like jellyfish, whose mass of long, trailing tentacles reminded
him of his wife's blond hair. The Mitrocoma Ann? is described in his
"Monograph on the Medusæ", published in 1864, and a note states that it
was so named[10]

    in memory of my dear, never-to-be-forgotten wife, Anna
    Sethe. If it is given to me to do something during my
    earthly pilgrimage for science and humanity, I owe it for
    the most part to the blessed influence of my gifted wife,
    who was torn from me by a premature end in 1864.

Three years afterwards he married again, Agnes Huschke, daughter of a
Jena anatomist. They have three children, two daughters and a son, who
has inherited his father's artistic talent and has devoted himself to
art in Munich.

Haeckel's æsthetic taste is shown not merely in the thousands of
paintings and drawings that fill his monographs, but especially in
his "Art Forms of Nature", which consists of ten portfolios of large
color plates depicting strange and beautiful creatures from all realms
of animal life but particularly in little known lower forms, fishes,
crustaceans, corals, radiolaria, diatoms, and desmids. Here are to
be seen real gargoyles, more grotesque than a sculptor's unaided
imagination can create. Here the designer and decorator can find
hundreds of suggestive themes for almost any purpose, so they have no
excuse for repeating the trite and traditional forms as they do.

A large part of these "art forms" Haeckel discovered in the course
of his investigations of deep-sea life on the material gathered by
the _Challenger,_ which was commissioned by the British Government
in 1872-1875 to explore the ocean. The results of this expedition,
published in fifty large volumes, constituted the greatest contribution
to oceanography that has ever been made. Haeckel contributed the
volumes on the medusæ, the siphonophora, the keratosa, and the
radiolaria. To the radiolaria Haeckel devoted ten years, 1877-1887, and
described 4318 species and 739 genera, from the curiously complicated
siliceous skeletons deposited on the bottom of the ocean by these
minute one-celled creatures.

Although Haeckel's life was largely devoted to the closest study of the
minutest forms of life, yet he never lost sight of the broader aspects
of his science. It seems as though he felt the need of resting his eyes
by raising them from the microscope and looking out of the window to
focus on infinity. Haeckel is essentially a specialist with a fondness
for generalization. He welcomed the change in the current of thought
that set in at the close of the nineteenth century, the effort of the
new century to get at the inner meaning of the mass of miscellaneous
facts that the old century had heaped up. It was with intent to assist
in this movement that he produced, at the age of sixty-five, his
"Riddle of the Universe", intending this to be the final expression of
his view of the world, a fragmentary sketch instead of the complete
"System of Monistic Philosophy" which he had projected many years
ago and could not now hope to complete. But five years later he
supplemented this with a similar popular volume, "The Wonders of Life",
in which he replies to certain criticisms and explains the biological
principles on which his philosophy is based. This, unlike the "Riddle",
was not composed at various intervals in the course of many years, but
was written uninterruptedly during four months spent at Rapallo, on the
Italian Riviera, when he was

    stimulated by the constant sight of the blue Mediterranean,
    the countless inhabitants of which had, for fifty years,
    afforded such ample material for my biological studies;
    and my solitary walks in the wild gorges of the Ligurian
    Apennines and the moving spectacle of its forest-crowned
    altars, inspired me with a feeling of the unity of living
    nature--a feeling that only too easily fades away in the
    study of detail in the laboratory.

Professor Haeckel retired from active service as teacher and
investigator in 1909 at the age of seventy-five. "Indeed I am wholly
a child of the nineteenth century and with its close I draw the line
under my life's work," he said, and the publication of "The Wonders of
Life" in 1904 confirms rather than contradicts this, for it shows that
he maintains his position altogether unshaken by the revolution that
has taken place in philosophic thought. Like Herbert Spencer he lived
to see a reaction against many of the opinions for which he fought most

The nineteenth century was cocksure of so many things about which the
twentieth century doubts. We are not so certain that, as Haeckel says,
everything can be reduced to the motion of the atoms. The atom itself
is crumbling, and as for motion, what is it? The ether in the reality
of which Haeckel puts implicit faith is to us a doubtful, perhaps an
unnecessary, hypothesis. Vitalism and teleology are coming back again
into biology in new forms. Pluralism, not monism, is the fashion of
the day, and some carry it almost to polytheism. Indeterminism finds
more advocates nowadays than determinism. Haeckel makes the first law
of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) one of the corner stones of
his philosophy, but has little regard for the second (degradation of
energy). Modern thought considers the second law more important than
the first.[11]

And what shall we say about the "Law of Substance", which is Haeckel's
contribution to the fundamental principles and which he apparently
regards as of equal importance to the discoveries of Lavoisier and
Mayer?[12] Speaking for myself, the reason I cannot accept it is
because it is absolutely meaningless to me. We know what the law of the
conservation of matter means. It means, among other things, that 12
pounds of carbon when burned make 44 pounds of carbon dioxid, which we
may decompose and get back 12 pounds of carbon again. The law of the
conservation of energy means, among other things, that when we burn 12
pounds of carbon we produce 135,305,600 foot pounds of energy. But what
does it mean when we say that matter and energy, or body and spirit,
are somehow the same substance? Have we said more than when we affirmed
the two laws separately? Even if true, does it make a bit of difference
to anybody or anything; or to put the query into the pragmatic form,
can it be true if it does not make a bit of difference to anybody or
anything? But we must bear in mind that the rigid application of this
formula to many historic attempts to solve the "riddle of the universe"
would leave less of them intact than in the case of Haeckel.

The Christian reader is likely, in his irritation at what appears to
him to be willful misrepresentation of his beliefs, to be too sweeping
in his condemnation of the ideas of Haeckel. Even in the matter of
religion Haeckel is not nearly so heretical as he assumes or is
presumed to be. Many of the things he attacks are almost unrecognizable
caricatures of modern religious views. It should be remembered that
the "Riddle" and the "Wonders" were written at a time when he saw
the German Government coming under the domination of the Blue-Black
Block, and when it seemed to him that this coalition of conservatives
and clericals threatened to suppress free speech and to check the
advance of science. In his earlier writings his views are expressed
in much more conciliatory language. Indeed, his pantheism is hardly
distinguishable at times from theories of divine immanence such as are
now held very commonly in orthodox churches. Wherein lies the magic of
the word "Monism" if not in our ingrained prejudice in favor of unity,
inherited from the fierce monotheism of the Jews? Is not Haeckel then
borrowing the thunders of Sinai to enforce his new religion?

His "General Morphology" of 1866, which, as he told me, he prefers to
his later works as an expression of his philosophy, concludes with the
following passage:

    Our philosophy knows only one God, and this Almighty God
    dominates the whole of nature without exception. We see his
    activity in all phenomena without exception. The whole of
    the inorganic world is subject to him just as much as the
    organic. If a body falls fifteen feet in the first second in
    empty space, if three atoms of oxygen unite with one atom of
    sulphur to form sulphuric acid, if the angle that is formed
    by the contiguous surfaces of a column of rock-crystal is
    always 120°, these phenomena are just as truly the direct
    action of God as the flowering of the plant, the movement
    of the animal, or the thought of man. We all exist "by
    the grace of God", the stone as well as the water, the
    radiolarian as well as the pine, the gorilla as well as the
    Emperor of China. No other conception of God except this
    that sees his spirit and force in all natural phenomena is
    worthy of his all-enfolding greatness; only when we trace
    all forces and all movements, all the forms and properties
    of matter, to God, as the sustainer of all things, do we
    reach the human idea and reverence for him that really
    corresponds to his infinite greatness. In him we live, and
    move, and have our being. Thus does natural philosophy
    become a theology. The cult of nature passes into that
    service of God of which Goethe says: "Assuredly there is no
    nobler reverence for God than that which springs up in our
    heart for conversation with nature." God is almighty: he is
    the sole sustainer and cause of all things. In other words,
    God is the universal law of causality. God is absolutely
    perfect; he cannot act in any other than a perfectly good
    manner; he cannot therefore act arbitrarily or freely--God
    is necessity. God is the sum of all force, and therefore
    of all matter. Every conception of God that separates him
    from matter, and opposes to him a sum of forces that are
    not of a divine nature, leads to amphitheism (or ditheism)
    and on to polytheism. In showing the unity of the whole of
    nature, Monism points out that only one God exists, and that
    this God reveals himself in all the phenomena of nature. In
    grounding all the phenomena of organic or inorganic nature
    on the universal law of causality, and exhibiting them as
    the outcome of "efficient causes", Monism proves that God
    is the necessary cause of all things and the law itself. In
    recognizing none but divine forces in nature, in proclaiming
    all natural laws to be divine, Monism rises to the greatest
    and most lofty conception of which man, the most perfect of
    all things, is capable, the conception of the unity of God
    and nature.

       *       *       *       *       *


"The Riddle of the Universe" (Harper) is the best popular presentation
of science and philosophy from Haeckel's point of view. This may be
supplemented by "The Wonders of Life" (Harper), in which he develops
more fully the biological side and defends himself against certain
criticisms. To these should be added the very interesting life of
Haeckel by W. Bölsche (Jacobs). Cheap editions of these three are
published by the Rationalist Press Association, London. They, as well
as other works of Haeckel, are translated by Joseph McCabe.

"The Natural History of Creation" (Appleton) and "The Evolution of
Man" (Appleton or Putnam) are both intended to explain in a way
comprehensible to the general reader the fundamental principles of
the theory of evolution and the biological facts on which it is
based. Special addresses by Haeckel are translated under the titles
of: "Monism as Connecting Religion and Science" (Macmillan) and "Last
Words on Evolution" (New York). Of his "Indische Reisebilder" there are
two versions in English; one by Mrs. S. E. Boggs entitled "India and
Ceylon", which is neither literal nor complete, and one by Clara Bell,
"A Visit to Ceylon" (Eckler), which is better. On the personal side may
be read Herman Schauffauer's sketches, "Haeckel, a Colossus of Science"
(_North American Review_, August, 1910), and "A Talk with Haeckel at
Home", in _T. P.'s Magazine_, 1912; Elbert Hubbard's "Little Journeys
to the Homes of Great Scientists", and Joseph McCabe's "A Scientist's
Sunset Years", in _Harper's Weekly,_ August 7, 1909. A few of the more
noteworthy of the books and articles on Haeckelism in English are:
"Life and Matter", by Sir Oliver Lodge, a criticism from the standpoint
of a spiritualist; the discussion between Lodge and McCabe in _Hibbert
Journal_, Vol. Ill, pp. 315 and 741; "The World View of a Scientist",
by Frank Thilly in _Popular Science Monthly,_ Vol. LXI, pp. 407-425;
"Ernst Haeckel, Darwinist, Monist", by V. L. Kellogg, in _Popular
Science Monthly_, _Vol._ LXXVI, pp. 136-142; "Haeckel and Monism", by
J. Butler Burke, in _Oxford and Cambridge Review_, 1907; "Lucretius and
Haeckel", by F. B. R. Hellems, in "University of Colorado Studies",
Vol. Ill, 1905; "Religion as a Credible Doctrine", by W. H. Mallock;
"Haeckel's Monism False", by Reverend F. Ballard; "The Old Riddle and
the Newest Answer", by Father Gerard; "Haeckel's Critics Answered", by
Joseph McCabe (London: Rationalist Press); "Haeckel's Answer to the
Jesuits" (New York: _Truthseeker_); "Haeckel and His Methods", by R.
L. Mangan, in the _Catholic World_, May, 1909. The monism of Doctor
Paul Cams, of Chicago, is a different variety from Haeckel's as he has
pointed out in the Monist, Vol. II, p. 498; Vol. IV, p. 228; and Vol.
XVI, p. 120.

Of the immense body of literature in German on Haeckel it is impossible
to give more than a few selected titles. The bibliography appended to
"Ernst Haeckel: Versuch einer Chronik seines Lebens und Wirkens" by
Walther May (Leipzig: Barth, 1909) devotes fourteen pages to the titles
of Haeckel's writings, four pages to a list of biographical books and
sketches, and thirteen pages to a list of criticisms and discussions of

"Die Welträtsel" and "Die Lebenswunder" are published by Alfred Kröner,
Leipzig. The epitome of Haeckel's philosophy, which is given almost
entire in the preceding pages, is to be found in "Der Monistenbund",
_Thesen zur Organisation des Monismus_ (Neuer Frankfurter Verlag).
Other works of Haeckel of a general and philosophical character are:
"Natürliche Schöpfungs-Geschichte" (Berlin: Reimer); "Anthropogenic
oder Entwickelungsgeschichte des Menschens" (Leipzig: Engelmann);
"Generalle Morphologie der Organismen" (Reimer); "Systematische
Phylogenie" (Reimer); "Der Kampf um den Entwickelungs-Gedanken"
(Reimer); "Der Monismus als Band zwischen Religion und Wissenschaft"
(Kröner); "Freie Wissenschaft und freie Lehre", the reply to Virchow
(Kröner); "Das Weltbild von Darwin und Lamarck", the centenary address
on Darwin's, birthday (Kröner).

Haeckel's travel sketches are to be found in "Indische Reisebriefe"
(Berlin: Paetel) and "Aus Insulinde" (Kröner). Even one who reads no
German will find enjoyment and gain an appreciation of the artistic
side of Haeckel by looking over the color plates in "Kunstformen der
Natur" (Leipzig: Bibliographisches Institut) or "Wanderbilder" (Gera:

A remarkable tribute of world-wide affection is the volume issued on
his eightieth birthday, "Was wir Ernst Haeckel verdanken" (Leipzig:
Verlag Unesma), to which one hundred and twenty-five men and women
contributed,--savants, artists, workingmen, officials, and businessmen.

The monistic movement may be followed by the pamphlets of the society
which may be obtained ordinarily from the Verlag Unesma, Leipzig.
Some of the more interesting of these _Flugschriften_ are: "Friedrich
Paulsen über Ernst Haeckel", by Albrecht Rau; "Reinke contra
Haeckel", by Heinrich Schmidt; "Eine neue Reformation vom Christentum
zum Monismus", by Hannah Dorsch and Arnold Dodel; "Monismus und
Christentum", by Heinrich Schmidt; "Monismus und Klerikalismus", by J.
Unold; "Das Einheit der physikochemischen Wissenschaften", by Wilhelm
Ostwald; "Die einheitliche Weltanschauung", by Ernst Diesing: this last
urges the Monists to support the peace and conservation movements.
The official organ is _Das monistische Jahrhundert_, a weekly edited
by Ostwald and published by the Verlag Unesma, Leipzig. The issue for
February 14, 1914, is, in honor of his eightieth birthday, devoted to
Haeckel. For the history of monistic philosophy in general from the
Greeks to the present time see "Der Monismus", by various authors,
under the editorship of Arthur Drews (Jena: Diederich, 1908) or
"Geschichte des Monismus", by Rudolf Eisler (Leipzig: Kröner).

Of the expository and controversial literature, pro and con, it must
suffice to mention the following titles: "Die Weltanschauung Haeckel",
by Max Upel (Berlin-Schoenberg; Buchverlag der Hilfe), a brief and
fairminded critique; "Ernst Haeckel, ein Bild seines Lebens und
seiner Arbeit", by Wilhelm Breitenbach (Brackwede i. W.: Verlag von
Breitenbach & Hoerster), a tribute to the master on his seventieth
birthday; "Haeckel's Welträthsel nach ihren starken und ihren schwachen
Seite", by Julius Baumann (Leipzig: Diederich, 1900); "Anti-Haeckel",
by F. Loofs, Professor of Theology in Halle; "Philosophia Militans" by
F. Paulsen, Professor of Philosophy in Berlin. A good account of the
Haeckel-Paulsen controversy by Theodor Lorenz may be found in _Deutsche
Literaturzeitung_, March 12, 1910, and later.

[1] An undergraduate friend of mine to whom I referred these verses for
translation into the vernacular of the campus gives me this version:

    Who knows the truth and speaks not out
    He is indeed a sorry lout!
    Who knows the truth and speaks too loose
    In Berlin gets in the calaboose!

[2] This is _not_ to be translated, as I once heard a student give it,
"Haeckel's one-sided showing-up of the universe."

[3] "Thesen zur Organization des Monism."

[4] "Riddle of the Universe", p. 363.

[5] "Wonders of Life", p. 430.

[6] _Ibid._, p. 248.

[7] "Wonders of Life", pp. 115 and 119.

[8] President Thomas, of Middlebury College, exposed the source of his
theory that the father of Christ was a Roman officer named Pandera in
_The Independent_, Vol. 64, p. 515.

[9] Some of the more offensive of these passages are modified or
eliminated in the later editions of "Die Welträtsel."

[10] Another medusa also named for his wife, Demomema Annasethe,
will be found on one of the color plates of the New International
Encyclopedia (Vol. XII, p. 68).

[11] The significance of this change of emphasis in its bearing on
metaphysical, religious, and ethical ideas I endeavored to explain in
the preceding chapter.

[12] See Number 20 of the thirty theses given above.

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