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Title: Seventy Years Among Savages
Author: Salt, Henry S.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                             SEVENTY YEARS
                             AMONG SAVAGES



                             SEVENTY YEARS
                             AMONG SAVAGES

                                  BY

                             HENRY S. SALT

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                   LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD.

                RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C. 1

                       _First published in 1921_

                       (_All rights reserved._)



CONTENTS


                                               PAGE

I. THE ARGUMENT                                   7

II. WHERE IGNORANCE WAS BLISS                    16

III. LITERÆ INHUMANIORES                         36

IV. THE DISCOVERY                                50

V. CANNIBAL’S CONSCIENCE                         67

VI. GLIMPSES OF CIVILIZATION                     73

VII. THE POET-PIONEER                            90

VIII. VOICES CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS           101

IX. A LEAGUE OF HUMANENESS                      121

X. TWENTIETH-CENTURY TORTURES                   135

XI. HUNNISH SPORTS AND FASHIONS                 151

XII. A FADDIST’S DIVERSIONS                     169

XIII. HOOF-MARKS OF THE VANDAL                  185

XIV. THE FORLORN HOPE                           200

XV. THE CAVE-MAN RE-EMERGES                     219

XVI. POETRY OF DEATH AND LOVE                   231

XVII. THE TALISMAN                              239

INDEX                                           249



Seventy Years Among Savages



I

THE ARGUMENT

    A strange lot this, to be dropped down in a world of barbarians--Men
    who see clearly enough the barbarity of all ages except
      their own!--ERNEST CROSBY.


The tales of travellers, from Herodotus to Marco Polo, and from Marco
Polo to the modern “globe-trotter,” have in all ages been subject,
justly or unjustly, to a good deal of suspicion, on the ground that
those who go in quest of curious information among outlandish tribes are
likely in the first instance to be imposed on themselves, and in the
sequel to impose on their readers. No such doubt, however, can attach to
the following record, for I am myself a native of the land whose customs
are described by me. I cannot think that my story, true as it is, and
admitting of corroboration by the similar witness of others, is any the
less adventurous on that account; for, like previous writers who have
recorded certain startling discoveries, I, too, have to speak of
solitudes and remotenesses, vast deserts and rare oases, inextricable
forests and dividing gulfs; and such experiences are none the less
noteworthy because they are not of the body but of the mind. At any
rate, the tale which I have to tell deals with incidents which have had
a very real significance for myself--quite as real as any of those
related by the most venturesome of voyagers.

The seventy years spent by me among savages form the subject of this
story, but not, be it noted, seventy years of _consciousness_ that my
life was so cast, for during the first part of my residence in the
strange land where I was born, the dreadful reality of my surroundings
was hardly suspected by me, except now and then, perhaps, in a passing
glimmer of apprehension. Then, by slow degrees, incident after incident
brought a gradual awakening, until at last there dawned on my mind the
conviction which alone could explain and reconcile for me the many
contradictions of our society--that we were not “civilized” but
“savages”--that the “dark ages,” far from being part of a remote past,
were very literally present.

And here, in explanation of my long blindness to an unwelcome truth, it
must be remarked that there is a fixed and almost insuperable
superstition among my savage fellow-islanders--and, indeed, among all
the surrounding nations--that they are a cultured and highly civilized
race, living in an age which has wholly emerged from the barbarism of
their forefathers, the “good old times” to which some of them even
affect to look back with feelings of pious regretfulness. It was this
delusion, to which I was at first fully subject, that made it so
difficult for me to see things in their true light, and still makes it
wellnigh impossible to communicate the truth to others, except to those
whose suspicions have in like measure been aroused. In reality, it will
be seen, the difference between the earlier “barbarism” and the later
so-called “civilization” is, in the main, a mere matter of the absence
or presence of certain intellectual refinements and mechanical sciences,
which, while largely altering and complicating the outward conditions of
life, leave its essentially savage spirit almost entirely untouched.

It was not till I was over thirty years of age that I felt any serious
concern as to the manners and customs with which I was familiar, and
which I had unquestioningly accepted from childhood as part of the
natural order. I had heard and read of “savages,” but felt the more
satisfaction to know that I was a native of a land which had for
centuries enjoyed the blessings of civilization and of religion, which
it was anxious to disseminate as widely as possible throughout the
earth. Why the diet of my countrymen should have been the first thing to
set me pondering, I am unable to say, for as my later discoveries
convinced me, the dietetic habits of these people are not more
astonishing than many kindred practices which I still regarded without
mistrust. But it was so; and I then found myself realizing, with an
amazement which time has not diminished, that the “meat” which formed
the staple of our diet, and which I was accustomed to regard--like
bread, or fruit, or vegetables--as a mere commodity of the table, was in
truth dead flesh--the actual flesh and blood--of oxen, sheep, swine, and
other animals that were slaughtered in vast numbers under conditions so
horrible that even to mention the subject at our dinner-tables would
have been an unpardonable offence.

Now, when I began to put questions to my friends and acquaintances about
this apparently glaring inconsistency in our “civilization,” I could not
help observing, novice though I was in such discussion, that the answers
by which they sought to parry my awkward importunities were extremely
evasive and sophistical--reminding me of the quibbling explanations
which travellers have received from cannibals when they inquired too
closely into certain dietetic observances; and from this I could not but
suspect that, as far as diet was concerned, we differed in degree only
from the savages whom we deemed so debased.

It must be understood, however, that here, and in other references to
“savages,” I use that term in its natural and inoffensive meaning, as
implying simply a lack of the higher civilization and not any personal
cruelty or bloodthirstiness. What I write is just a friendly account of
friendly savages (by one of them); and I would emphasize the fact that
the kindliness and good nature of my fellow-countrymen are in one
direction quite as marked features of their character as their savagery
is in another. In their own families, to their own kith and kin, to
their personal friends--to all those whom fortune has placed within,
instead of without the charmed circle of relationship--their conduct, in
the great majority of cases, is exemplary; it is only where custom or
prejudice has dug a gulf of division between their fellow-creatures and
themselves that they indulge in the barbarous practices to which I
refer.

It may be convenient if I here speak briefly of their other customs
under two heads: first, those that relate to human beings; and,
secondly, those that relate to the so-called lower animals. In few ways,
perhaps, is the barbarism of these islanders more apparent than in their
wars and in their preparation for wars. For what they call “peace” is,
in fact, only an armed truce--an interval between two outbreaks of
hostility--during which, so far from being at genuine peace with their
neighbours, they are occupied in speculating where the next attack shall
be delivered, or, rather (for they love to depict themselves as always
standing on pious self-defence against the wanton aggressiveness of
others), how they shall repel the next attack from abroad. It is their
custom always to have, for the time being, some bugbear among
neighbouring tribes, whose supposed machinations against the richer
portions of their empire give them constant cause for unrest, and prompt
them to cement undying, but equally transitory, alliances with other
nations, so that their very friendships are based less on the spirit of
amity than on that of distrust. Under pretence of believing in an
unbelievable and, indeed, wholly ridiculous maxim--_Si vis pacem, para
bellum_ (”If you wish for peace, prepare for war”)--they keep their
minds for ever set on wars and rumours of wars, with the result that,
in spite of all their profession of benevolence and brotherhood, the
trade of _killing_ is that which is above all others respected by them.
Is money required for purposes of national welfare, such as education or
the relief of the poor? Every difficulty is at once put in the way of
such expenditure for such ends. But let there be the least suspicion,
however irrational, of some foreign slight to “the flag,” and there is
scarce a savage in the island who is not willing that the public
treasury should be depleted in pursuance of a childish revenge. To
remonstrate against such folly is to incur the charge of being
“unpatriotic.”

But comical as their foreign policy is, their social system is still
more so, for under the guise of “charity” and “philanthropy” there
exists, in fact, a civil war, in which each individual, or group of
individuals, plays a remorseless game of “Beggar my neighbour” and
“Devil take the hindmost” in mad scramble for wealth; whence results, of
course, a state of gross and glaring inequality, under which certain
favoured persons wallow in the good things of life, while others pass
their years in the pinch of extremest poverty. Thus, in due course, and
by an unerring process, is manufactured what they call “the criminal
class”--that is, the host of those who are driven by social injustice to
outlawry and violence. And herein, perhaps, more than in any other of
their customs, is shown the inherent savagery of their natures, for,
instead of attempting to eradicate the _cause_ of these evils by the
institution of fairer and juster modes of living, my fellow-islanders
are almost to a man in favour of “punishing” (that is the expression)
these victims of their own foolish laws by the infliction of barbarous
sentences of imprisonment, or the lash, or, in extreme cases, the
gallows. To inculcate habits of honesty they shut a man in prison, and
render him more than ever incapable of earning an honest livelihood. As
a warning against robbery with violence, they give a lesson in official
violence by flogging the criminal; and, by way of teaching the sanctity
of human life, they judicially murder the murderer. Many a grotesque
absurdity is solemnly and deliberately enacted in their so-called
“courts of law”; and any one who ventures to suggest that this is the
case is regarded as a fool and reprobate for his pains.

But it is when we turn to their treatment of the non-human races that we
find the surest evidences of barbarism; yet their savagery, even here,
is not wholly “naked and unashamed,” for, strange to say, these curious
people delight to mask their rudeness in a cloak of fallacies and
sophisms, and to represent themselves as “lovers” of those very
creatures whom they habitually torture for “sport,” “science,” and the
“table.” They actually have a law for the prevention of cruelty to
animals, under which certain privileged species, classed as “domestic,”
are protected from some specified wrongs, though all the time they may,
under certain conditions, be subjected with impunity to other and worse
injuries at the hands of the slaughterman or the vivisector; while the
wild species, though presumably not less sensitive to pain, are regarded
as almost entirely outside the pale of protection, and as legitimate
subjects for those brutalities of “fashion” and “sport” which are
characteristic of the savage mind. Their women go furred and feathered
with the skins of beasts and birds; and so murderous is their millinery
that whole species are sacrificed to this reckless habit. Nothing can
exceed the ferocity of the national pastimes, in which, under the plea
of affording healthful exercise to their tormentors, park-bred deer,
that have been kept in paddocks for the purpose, are turned out before a
mob of men and dogs to be baited and worried; foxes, otters, and hares
are hunted and “broken up”; bagged rabbits are “coursed” in small
enclosures by yelling savages on the eve of the weekly religious
festival; pheasants and other “preserved” birds are mown down in
thousands in an organized butchery euphemistically known as the
_battue_; pigeons are released from traps in order to be shot by gangs
of ruffians who gamble over the result of their skill; and almost every
conceivable form of cowardly slaughter is practised as “sportsman-like”
and commended as “manly.” All this, moreover, is done before the eyes
and for the example of mere youths and children, who are thus from their
tenderest years instructed in the habit of being pitiless and cruel.
Nay, in some cases they are even encouraged to take part in such doings,
and on the first occasion when they are “in at the death” are initiated
by being “blooded”--that is, baptized with the blood of the slaughtered
victim of their sport.

Nor are these things perhaps so strange as they might at first appear,
for, in spite of their boasted progress in sciences and arts, my
countrymen are still practically ignorant of the real kinship which
exists between mankind and the other races, and of the duties which this
kinship implies. They are still the victims of that old anthropocentric
superstition which pictures Man as the centre of the universe, and
separated from the inferior animals--mere playthings made for his august
pleasure and amusement--by a deep intervening gulf; and it is probable
enough that if any one of these unthinking savages who “break up” a
hare, or baptize their children in the blood of a butchered fox, were
reminded that he himself is in very truth an “animal,” he would resent
such statement of an established fact as a slight on his religious
convictions and on his personal self-respect. For, as the author of
_Hudibras_ discovered:

    There’s nothing so absurd, or vain,
    Or barbarous, or inhumane,
    But if it lay the least pretence
    To piety and godliness,
    And zeal for gospel truths profess,
    Does sacred instantly commence.

The very scientists themselves, who have in theory renounced the
old-fashioned idea of a universe created for mankind, are inclined in
practice to belie their own biological faith, for they claim the moral
right to devote large numbers of the lower animals, without scruple or
remorse, to the tortures of “research,” just as if the fact of a close
kinship between the vivisector who wields the scalpel and the dog who
lies in the trough were a notion of which Science is unaware!

Is it surprising that, to those of us who have gradually realized that
we are dwelling in a wild land among savages such as these, the
consciousness of the discovery should at times bring with it a sense of
unutterable loneliness and desolation--that we should feel cut off, as
it were, by interminable leagues of misunderstanding from all human
intercourse, and from all possibility of expressing ourselves? What
appeal _can_ be made to people whose first instinct, on seeing a
beautiful animal, full of joyousness and vitality, is to hunt or eat it?
One can only marvel how such sheer, untempered barbarism has come down
to us from the past.

But the facts, though so terrible in their first impression, are capable
of being more hopefully regarded; there is a consolatory, as well as a
discomforting, way of interpreting them. For if these countrymen of ours
are indeed savages (as who can doubt?), have we not at least reason to
rejoice that, being savages, they in many ways conduct themselves so
discreetly, and that, as far as their sense of relationship extends,
they are so civil, so kindly, so law-abiding? Instead, therefore, of too
loudly upbraiding them for hunting or eating their little brethren, the
animals, ought we not, perhaps, to feel and express some gratitude to
them that they do not hunt each other--that they have not eaten _us_?
Their self-restraint in many directions is, perhaps, quite as remarkable
as their self-abandonment in others; and the mere fact of one’s having
_lived_ for many years among savages is in itself a testimony to their
good nature. Looked at in this light, the trouble is not so much that
they are in reality savage, as that they suppose themselves to be
civilized; for it is from the false garb of civilization that the
misapprehension has sprung.

But, however that may be, they are, when the worst is said of them, a
quaint and interesting people, and it is my earnest wish that, by the
publication of this story, I may be the means of drawing to the habits
of my fellow-islanders the closer attention of anthropologists. Surely,
in an age when many wild tribes have been the subject of learned
discourse and of missionary enterprise, it is desirable that a race
which has carried into the twentieth century the primitive customs which
I have described should be critically and exhaustively studied. If such
should indeed be the result of this book, I shall be more than
compensated for whatever pain I may have felt in the writing of these
strange but faithfully recorded experiences.



II

WHERE IGNORANCE WAS BLISS

     Thought would destroy their paradise!
     No more: where ignorance is bliss
          ’Tis folly to be wise.
    _Gray’s Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College._


If it be true, as scientists tell us, that the period of boyhood
corresponds, in human development, with an early phase of savagery, and
that the individual boy is himself an epitome of the uncivilized tribe,
it may be said with still greater confidence that an English public
school, or “boy-farm,” where life is mostly so ordered as to foster the
more primitive habits of mind, is essentially a nursery of barbarism--a
microcosm of that predatory class whose members, like the hunters of
old, toil not, neither do they spin, but ever seek their ideal in the
twofold cult of sport and soldiership. Certainly the Eton of the
’sixties and ’seventies, whatever superficial show it might make of
learning and refinement, was at heart a stronghold of savagery--a most
graceful, easy-going savagery, be it granted; for savages, as we know,
are often a very pleasant people.

In some reminiscences, _Eton under Hornby_, published in 1910, I gave a
description of the public-school education of fifty years ago, a system
probably not much worse than that of to-day; and the conclusion reached
was that as Eton never really changes, it is best to regard her, as she
regards other institutions, in a mood of good-natured unconcern, and as
a subject less for argument than for anecdote. Eton has been
pre-eminently the school “where ignorance is bliss,” and in a much wider
sense than that intended by the poet Gray in his famous ode “On a
Distant Prospect of Eton College.” For, if it be true of schoolboys that
“thought would destroy their paradise”--that is, the thought merely of
the personal ailments of mature age--how much more disturbing would be
the contemplation of the vast social wrongs that fill the world with
suffering! Of such sombre thought Eton knew nothing, but basked content
in the warmth of her own supreme self-satisfaction; and the Eton life
was probably the most enjoyable of all hitherto invented forms of
heedless existence. It is, then, of the pleasures of Eton that I would
speak, and of some of the more distinguished of her sons with whom it
was my privilege to be acquainted.

Long before I was admitted to Eton as a King’s Scholar, I had a personal
link with the school in the fact that John Moultrie, the friend of
Praed, and contributor to that most noteworthy of school magazines, the
_Etonian_--himself a Colleger at Eton from 1811 to 1819--was my
great-uncle. At Eton and Cambridge, Moultrie’s career had been a
brilliant one; he was the “Gerard Montgomery” of the _Etonian_--in
Praed’s words “the humorous Moultrie, and the pathetic Moultrie, the
Moultrie of ‘Godiva,’ and the Moultrie of ‘My Brother’s Grave,’”--but
his later career did not fulfil the promise of his youth. The vivid and
extravagant fancy of his early poems was succeeded by a more homely and
sober style, and the pastor-poet in his “Dream of Life” even referred
apologetically to the levities of his youthful muse.[1] Yet he still
retained in some measure the poet’s vision; and when Rector of Rugby he
was famous for the powerful interpretation which he gave to Shakespeare
in his reading of the Plays. Him I remember at his rectory in the early
’sixties, a dignified, kindly old man, with a quaint mixture of humour
and pathos, of ruggedness and gentleness, in his manner. Many stories
were current in Rugby of his eccentricities and absent-mindedness; on
one occasion when he had brought a lengthy sermon to an end, he is said
to have startled his congregation by substituting for the usual formula
the equally familiar post-prandial one: “For what we have received, the
Lord make us truly thankful.”

It was from this Etonian worthy that I first heard of Eton; and though I
little foresaw that nearly twenty years of my life would be spent there
as boy and master, it thus came about that in the summer of 1866 I found
myself being “coached” for an Eton scholarship by the Rev. C. Kegan
Paul, formerly “Conduct” (Chaplain) at Eton, who held the Eton living of
Sturminster Marshall in Dorsetshire.

Mr. Paul, afterwards founder of a well-known publishing firm, was then a
radical parson of very “broad” views, a friend of Frederick Denison
Maurice, Charles Kingsley, and many other Liberals. A man of fine taste,
he also possessed a large fund of vivacity and spirits, which, with his
unvarying kindness, made him very popular among his pupils; indeed, only
at Eton itself could there have been a more delightful life, regarded
from the boyish point of view, than that which we led in those summer
months, fishing, bathing, bird’s-nesting. The one cloud on our horizon
was the impending rite of Confirmation, which some of us had to undergo
at Blandford, and for which Mr. Paul prepared us. I have always felt
grateful to him for the simplicity of his method, which was free from
the morbid inquiries then common in schools. I think he asked me only
one question: “Is it wrong to doubt?” This was a problem in which I felt
no sort of concern; making a bold shot, I replied “No,” and was
gratified to find that I had answered correctly.

At Eton my tutor was Mr. Francis Warre Cornish, one of the gentlest and
most accomplished of men, the very antithesis of the bullying,
blustering schoolmaster of the good old type which even then was not
wholly superseded. Much loved by those of his pupils who learnt to know
him intimately, Mr. Cornish was a good deal hampered in his dealings
with boys by his shyness and diffidence; he lacked that gift of
geniality which is essential to a successful teacher. This I discovered
at an early date, when, in the course of the entrance examination, I was
told to show him the rough copy of my Latin verses. It was to these, as
it turned out, that I mainly owed my election; but it somewhat depressed
me when my prospective tutor, after reading the lines with a sad and
forlorn expression, handed them back to me with no more cheering remark
than: “Too many spondees.” Years afterwards, when Mr. Cornish, competing
for a headmastership, was described in a testimonial as “trembling on
the brink of poetic creation” (an odd certificate for such a post), I
remembered his criticism of my youthful verses, and could not help
thinking that his own poetic genius would also have benefited by a
larger infusion of the sprightly or dactylic element. His nature was
decidedly spondaic; but he was a kind and courteous gentleman, in the
best sense of the word, and in a less rough environment than that of a
public school his great abilities would have found ampler scope.

Much the same must be said of Dr. J. J. Hornby, who succeeded the rigid
Dr. Balston in the headmastership of Eton in 1868. It was a marvel that
a man who loved leisure and quietude as he did, and who seemed always to
desire to doff rather than to don the formalities of high office, should
have deliberately sought preferment in a profession which could not have
been very congenial to him. Not that he lacked the reputed qualities of
a ruler: he had a stately presence, a most courteous manner, a charming
sense of humour, and the rare power of interesting an audience in any
subject of which he spoke. But, behind these external capabilities, he
had a fatal weakness--slackness, perhaps, is the proper term--which
loosened the reins of authority, and made his headmastership a period of
which Eton had no reason to be proud. “Idleness holds sway everywhere,”
wrote an Eton boy at that time, “and _such_ idleness! As a man who has
never had dealings with the Chinese can have but a faint idea of what
swindling is, so a man who has never been at Eton has but a poor
conception of what idleness is.”[2] What wonder, when the headmaster was
himself as unpunctual as a fourth-form boy?

Hornby was too retiring, too sensitive, to govern a great school. I was
in his Division for two years, almost at the beginning of his
headmastership; and I can see him still as he sat at his oak table in
the middle of the sixth-form room, toying with a pencil, and looking at
us somewhat askance, as if to avoid either scrutinizing or being
scrutinized, for he was not of the drill-master kind, who challenge
their class and stare them down. We liked him the better for it, but
divined that he was not quite at ease; and it occurred to one of us that
he was aptly described in that terse phrase which Tacitus applied to a
Roman emperor: _Capax imperii nisi imperâsset_ (“Every inch a ruler--if
only he had not ruled”). There was a certain maladroitness, too, about
him which at times set us wondering; until some one suggested that we
should look up the cricket records, and see how he had acquitted himself
in that supreme criterion of greatness, the Eton and Harrow match. We
did so, and found that he had hit his own wicket. Thus all was
explained, our worst misgivings confirmed.

The want of discipline in some of the classrooms was appalling. My first
term was spent in the “lag” Division of Fifth Form, a very rowdy one,
then taken by a most accomplished classical scholar known as “Swage,” or
“Swog,” and a more unpleasant introduction for a new boy could hardly
have been devised. So great was the uproar, and so frenzied the attempts
of the unfortunate “Swage” to suppress it, that it was as dangerous to
be a member of the class as it is for a well-disposed citizen to be
mixed up in a street-riot; for among so many tormentors there was no
security against being mistaken for a ringleader. “Swage’s” schoolroom
was on the ground floor and close to the road; and one of the first
scenes I witnessed was a determined attempt on the part of some of the
bigger boys to drive a stray cow into the room; they got her to the
doorway, but there she was met and headed back by “Swage” himself,
shouting at the top of his voice and flourishing his large door-key.
That was the sort of game that went on almost daily. It was currently
reported, and I believe with truth, that “Swage” once set a punishment
to a bird. To sing and to whistle were common practices in his Division;
and when a bird perched near the window and chirruped in an interval of
the din, he rounded on it blindly with a cry of “A hundred lines.”

There was a story, too, that a letter which he once wrote to the
headmaster, complaining of one of his private pupils who persisted in
knocking loudly on his study door, bore a brief after-cry more eloquent
than many words: “_P.S._ He is knocking still.”

To fall into the hands of boys, as this ill-fated master had done--and
his lot was shared by several others--was to be a captive among savages:
they did not kill and eat him, it is true, but that was the extent of
their tender mercies, and every day he was brought out afresh to be
baited and worried.

Such was the state of affairs when Hornby was made headmaster; and it
became worse rather than better under his lax and listless regime. Yet
no one who has any knowledge of the history of corporal punishment will
be surprised to hear that he was a frequent wielder of the rod. Seldom
did a day pass without a visit from the Sixth Form Præpostor to one or
more of the Divisions, to bid some culprit “stay after school”; and on
those occasions the conduct of the class was a good indication of the
light in which the punishment was regarded. As the fatal hour
approached, the eyes of all would be riveted on the offender, who
maintained a dauntless demeanour to the last; pantomimic gestures would
indicate the nature of the penalty which he was shortly to undergo;
watches would be held up to emphasize the dreadful fact that, as in the
case of Dr. Faustus, time was on the wing; and there would be audible
surmises as to “how many” he would get. The victim’s friends, indeed,
were hardly so considerate and sympathetic as the circumstances might
have been expected to demand.

Flogging is an old institution which has found mention in every book
written about the school, and which could never be omitted from any
discourse upon Eton. It used to be the custom, in the holidays, for
parties of Windsor trippers to be shown over the school buildings under
the leadership of a woman--the wife, presumably, of one of the College
servants--who gave an oral explanation of the “sights.” When the
headmaster’s room was reached, the guide of course drew attention to
that awful emblem of authority, the “block”; and after pointing out the
part which it played in the correction of offenders, she would add, in a
croaking voice befitting the solemnity of the subject: “They receive the
punishment upon their seats.” That was a true, but rather inadequate
description of a practice which only a very barbarous society could
tolerate. A flogging was a disgusting sight even to the two “lower boys”
who then had to act as “holders-down”; still more so to the Sixth Form
Præpostor whose duty it was to be present; most of all, one would
suppose, to the headmaster. It has been described as “an operation
performed on the naked back by the headmaster himself, who is always a
gentleman, and sometimes a high dignitary of the Church.”[3]

The Lower Master, at the time of which I am speaking, was the Rev. F. E.
Durnford, nicknamed “Judy,” described in _Eton under Hornby_ as “a
strange, laughable, yet almost pathetic figure, with whimsical puckered
visage and generally weather-beaten aspect, like a sort of Ancient
Mariner in academic garb.” He, too, used the birch freely in his domain
of Lower School, but his castigations were of a more paternal kind, and
between the strokes of the rod he would interject moral reproofs in his
queer nasal voice, such as: “You nahty, nahty boy!” It was said that
during the punishment he would even enter into conversation with the
offender, especially when he knew his “people” personally, and that on
one occasion he was overheard to inquire of a boy on the block: “Have
you seen your uncle lately?” a question which, in the circumstances,
would at first sight seem irrelevant, but was probably intended to
awaken repentance in the criminal by directing his thoughts to some
pious and respected relative. To the upper boys, “Judy” Durnford was a
never-failing amusement; his every gesture was noted by them; as when,
in correcting exercises, if some word or phrase eluded his memory, he
would sit scratching his temples vigorously, and exclaiming: “It runs in
me head.”

Among Dr. Hornby’s assistant masters were several others whose
eccentricities have been a fruitful subject of anecdote and legend.
Russell Day, a quiet and insignificant-looking little man, had a mordant
wit and gift of ready epigram, which caused him to be dreaded alike by
master and boys. “Friend, thou hast learned this lesson with a crib: a
crib is a thing in which thou liest,” was his remark in the course of a
Theocritus lesson to a member of his Division, from whom I heard the
story full forty years later. There were two boys of the name of Bankes,
one known afterwards as a distinguished K.C., the other a lazy youth who
never knew his lessons and was wont to mumble the Greek or Latin very
slowly in order to postpone the moment of discovery. On one of these
occasions Day leaned back in his chair and said in his drawling tones:
“Bankes, Bankes, you remind me of the banks where the bees suck and with
their murmuring make me sleep.” I remember how a friend and schoolfellow
of mine named Swan, who was a pupil of Day’s, showed me a copy of his
Latin verses which had drawn the following annotation: “_Olor!_ You
_cycnus_.” Not less characteristic was Day’s curt dismissal of a youth
named Cole (report says it was the future director of the Bank of
England): “Then, Cole, you may scuttle.” Nor did he hesitate to turn his
wit against his colleagues or himself. He called his pony “Lucifer,”
because, as he said, “When you see him coming, it announces the approach
of Day.”

A still more remarkable teacher was William Johnson, author of “Ionica,”
who afterwards took the name of Cory, a man of real genius, whose
enforced departure from Eton (for he did not leave, as was currently
supposed, from some sudden whim of his own) was the tragedy of his
lifetime, a “strange wounding,” as he calls it in one of his published
letters. Of “Billy Johnson” many descriptions have been written. Here is
a passage from one of them:

     “In appearance, as in everything else, he was unlike the typical
     schoolmaster: his thoughtful, handsome, somewhat sensuous features
     were altogether out of the common; and owing to his short sight he
     had a dreamy, mystic, inquiring way of looking at you which was
     sometimes a little disquieting to the schoolboy mind. There were
     occasions, too, when we dreaded his tart sayings (the very school
     books written by him bristled with epigrams), and listened with
     some anxiety to his sharp, staccato utterances, or watched him
     during those ‘accusing silences’ by which, hardly less than by his
     barbed speeches, he could awe the most unruly class. His blindness
     led to a prevalent story (apocryphal, I believe, as it was told
     also of other persons at different times) that he had been seen
     pursuing a hen down Windsor Hill, and making futile grabs at her,
     under the belief that she was his hat; but it is certain that he
     was sometimes seen standing stock-still in School Yard, or some
     open space, apparently unconscious of all observers or passers-by,
     and wrapt in a profound daydream. Singular he undoubtedly was, to a
     degree that was inconvenient to a schoolmaster; and there were
     queer anecdotes of certain too generous suppers that he gave to his
     favourites among the boys, when he began by politely overlooking
     that they were getting drunk, and ended by unceremoniously kicking
     them downstairs.”[4]

“Formerly wise men used to grow beards. Now other persons do so.” This
sentence in _Nuces_, an exercise-book of William Johnson’s compilation,
was supposed by us to be aimed at another assistant master, a bearded
clergyman, bluff, honest, mannerless, and universally disliked, who went
by the name of “Stiggins.” He had a detestable habit of standing at
right angles to any one with whom he was conversing, while he looked
straight away in front of him, his long red beard streaming down to his
waist, and when he spoke, he jerked his words at you, as it were, from
round the corner. His rudeness was a by-word; and the attempt sometimes
made to excuse it, on the ground that it “was not intended,” did not
appeal very strongly I think, either to masters or to boys: and justly,
for surely the only sort of rudeness which can be pardoned is that which
_is_ intended. There are occasions, rare, but real, when it is necessary
and wholesome to be rude; but to be rude without knowing it is the very
acme of ill manners, and that was precisely the kind of discourtesy in
which “Stiggins” was unequalled.

The story of how “Stiggins” was once nearly thrown into Barnes Pool, a
by-water of the Thames, by a riotous troop of boys, has been told in
more than one of the books about Eton; it was a curious coincidence that
he should have almost shared the fate of his reverend predecessor in
_Pickwick_, who was dipped in a horse-trough by the infuriated Mr.
Weller. This incident was, perhaps, the greatest of the many scandals
that occurred at Eton during Dr. Hornby’s headmastership.

It has often struck me as strange that I should owe to such a plain and
unadorned barbarian as “Stiggins” my first introduction to Keats’s
poems: he gave me, as a prize, Moxon’s edition of the works. He also
“sent me up for good” (for Latin verses), an honour of which I was
rather unpleasantly reminded, some twenty or more years afterwards, when
he had retired from Eton to a country parsonage; for in order to raise
funds for a proposed “restoration” of his church, he conceived the idea
of soliciting “for the glory of God,” as he expressed it, a subscription
from every Old Etonian who in bygone days had been “sent up for good” in
his Division. There was a naïve effrontery about this proposal which was
quite characteristic of its author.

The writing of Latin verse, so highly regarded at Eton, was a curious
accomplishment. It was said by Coleridge in his _Table Talk_ that
Etonians acquired the art “by conning Ovid and Tibullus”: my
recollection is that we read Ovid but rarely, and Tibullus not at all.
Some of us certainly became proficient in making Latin verses of a kind;
but our models were the renderings of English poems in such collections
as the _Arundines Cami_ or the _Sabrinæ Corolla_, rather than any Latin
originals; and though we could turn out “longs and shorts” with
facility, and even with neatness, I hardly think our productions would
have passed muster in the Augustan age. Still, the versifier’s art, such
as it was, brought us a certain gratification; and in the summer, when,
as we all felt, the time of the leading cricketers was of inestimable
value to the school, we were glad to turn our skill to good account by
composing for them their weekly copy of verses, and so releasing them,
as it were, from a frivolous for a serious task. On “verse days” members
of the Eleven would often come up into College, where each would find
for himself a poet; and thus valuable time would be saved for practice
at the nets. It was but little we could do in so great a cause, but we
did it with willingness; and I remember the honest pride which I felt
when dictating to the Captain of the Eleven a copy of verses, made up
largely of old tags and stock phrases, which he copied down with much
satisfaction and without the least understanding. His ignorance of the
meaning of what purported to be his own composition would lead to no
trouble; for tutors and division-masters alike were aware that they must
not press a good cricketer too hard. A blue cap covered a multitude of
sins.

But that we were savages, who, looking back on those bygone times, can
doubt? _Non angeli, sed Angli._ “It was an era,” as Mr. Ralph Nevill has
well remarked in his _Floreat Etona_, “when the sickening cant of
humanitarianism, born of luxury and weakness, had not yet arisen, to
emasculate and enfeeble the British race.” The hunting and breaking up
of hares then, as now, was one of the recognized pastimes; indeed, even
as late as the headmastership of Dr. Balston (1857-68), it had been
permitted to the boys, as a variation from the hare-hunt, to pursue with
beagles a mutilated fox deprived of one of his pads.[5] In the hundreds
of sermons which I have heard preached in Eton College Chapel, never was
a word spoken on the subject of cruelty. And no wonder; for Eton had
always been a home of cruel sports.

There was the less excuse for these miserable practices, because an
abundance and superabundance of the nobler sports was within reach of
the Eton boy: nowhere else could river and playing-field offer such
attractions. Thrilling beyond all else, and crowning the glories of the
summer school-time, was the great annual cricket match between Eton and
Harrow at “Lord’s,” a drama of such excitement as nothing in mature life
could ever equal. Who, for example, that witnessed the match of 1869--C.
J. Ottaway’s year, when Eton broke a long series of defeats by a
single-innings victory--can have forgotten the delirious scene at the
close? I can still see Dr. Goodford, the venerable Provost of Eton,
dancing ecstatically, hat in hand, before the pavilion, and looking very
much as “Spy” once pictured him in a famous cartoon in _Vanity Fair_.

Athletics, of course, took precedence of all intellectual pursuits. The
_Etonian_, in our time, was but a dim legend of the past, and the genius
of Praed and Moultrie had left no direct line of succession;
nevertheless among the upper boys there was not an entire dearth of
literary aspiration, and we had a school magazine, the _Adventurer_,
which existed from the later ’sixties for about five years. One of its
editors, a Colleger named C. C. Thornton, was the author of some
extremely good verse; and among other contributors, towards the latter
part of the _Adventurer’s_ career, were Arthur A. Tilley, now a Fellow
of King’s College, Cambridge; E. C. Selwyn, afterwards headmaster of
Uppingham School; J. E. C. Welldon, the popular Dean of Durham; Herbert
W. Paul; George Campbell Macaulay; J. C. Tarver; and Sir Melville
Macnaghten, who wrote as M^{2}; also, if I mistake not, the _nom de
plume_ of “Tom” covered some early poems of Mr. F. B. Money-Coutts, now
known as Baron Latymer. One of the best essays in the _Adventurer_ was
that on “Arbitration as a Substitute for War,”[6] by Mr. Herbert Paul.
Another noteworthy contribution, which has some historical interest for
Etonians of that period, was a poem by Bishop Welldon, entitled
“Adventurer Loquitur”[7] in which the Magazine was represented as giving
some description of the several members of its “staff,” whether in
recognition of their services or in reproof of their remissness. Among
those clearly indicated, though unnamed, were A. A. Tilley, R. C.
Radcliffe, G. R. Murray, Bernard Coleridge (now Lord Coleridge), H. G.
Wintle, G. C. Macaulay, C. C. Lacaita, J. E. C. Welldon, E. C. Selwyn,
and the writer of these reminiscences. The cause of the _Adventurer’s_
decease was that it ran counter to Etonian sentiment, in acting on the
perilous principle that “it is only those who truly love Eton that dare
to show her her faults.”[8]

Apart from the _Adventurer_, the literary ambition of some of the
Collegers sought irregular expression, in those far-off days, by
supplying the Windsor press, when opportunity occurred, with exaggerated
and absurdly inflated accounts of any exciting incident such as the
outbreak of a fire. Nor was it only the local papers that allured us;
for I remember how G. C. Macaulay and I once had a daring wager as to
which of us should more egregiously hoax the _Field_ with some story of
a rare bird. He tried a too highly coloured anecdote of a bee-eater, and
failed to win credence; while I, with a modest narrative of a supposed
stork in Windsor Park (“can it have been a stork? I shall indeed feel
myself lucky if my supposition be correct”), not only saw my letter
inserted, but drew the gratifying editorial comment: “Most probably it
was a stork.” Thus we made natural history and beguiled the idle hours.

To look upon a group photograph of the Collegers of fifty years ago
brings many memories to the mind. E. C. Selwyn, before we met at Eton,
had been my schoolfellow at Blackheath Proprietary School, of which his
father was headmaster; and our friendly relations were renewed from
time to time till his death in 1919. As I once reminded him, we had but
two quarrels--the first when we were freshmen at Cambridge, about Moses,
in whom I had been rash enough to say that I “did not believe”; and the
second, at a later period, because I _did_ believe in Mr. H. M. Hyndman,
of whose socialist doctrines Selwyn as vehemently disapproved. Long
years afterwards I made what I thought was a fair proposal to him--that
if he would give up Moses, I would give up the other patriarch, and so
our two small disagreements would be mutually adjusted; but his answer
was that, though Moses need no longer delay a settlement, he could not
agree to Mr. Hyndman being given up, because his patriotic conduct
during the Great War had shown him in a new light.

We used to call Selwyn “bishop” in those days, either because of a
distant relationship to Dr. G. A. Selwyn, the well-known Bishop of
Lichfield, or because we thought him almost certainly destined to attain
to episcopal rank: his scholarship, not to mention his defence of Moses,
seemed to warrant no less. J. E. C. Welldon, who _did_ become a bishop,
was another most genial schoolfellow, famous in the football field no
less than in the examination room. I remember running second to him in a
handicap quarter-mile race, in which he was allowed a good many yards’
start, and with that advantage just managed to keep the rest of us in
the rear. Herbert Paul, unlike Welldon or Selwyn, was by no means
designated for a bishopric. I recall him, a sceptic even in boyhood,
standing in Upper Passage, where Collegers often held informal
discussion, as, with thumbs in waistcoat pockets, he would hold forth,
already a fearless disputant, on matters human and divine.

Among other figures in the group are Dr. Ryle, Dean of Westminster; Sir
Richmond Ritchie; Mr. George Campbell Macaulay; Mr. C. Lowry, head of
Tonbridge School; Dr. Burrows, Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Harmer, Bishop
of Rochester; Sir E. Ruggles-Brise, Chairman of the Prison Commission;
Mr. E. C. Tennyson-d’Eyncourt; Rev. J. H. J. Ellison, late Vicar of
Windsor; Sir Lionel Carden, of Mexican fame; and others who in various
ways have become distinguished.

Very provocative of reminiscence, too, are the illustrations, printed in
books about Eton, of the College servants, the College buildings, and
many well-remembered faces and scenes. Take, for example, a picture of
“Old College Servants” in Mr. Ralph Nevill’s _Floreat Etona_.

There stands the old College porter, Harry Atkins, whom, to our
disgrace, we used to bombard on dark winter nights in his little lodge
at the gateway into School Yard, hurling missiles at his door from
behind the pillars of the cloisters under Upper School, and trusting to
our superior fleetness of foot when he was goaded into a desperate
charge. There, too, are Culliford, the butler, and Westbrook, the cook,
who were treated by us with far greater respect than the equally
respectable Atkins, as presiding over departments in which our own
personal comforts were more closely concerned, and from whose hands, on
the occasion of banquets in the College Hall, the smaller Collegers
would try to beg or snatch dainties as they carried them up from the
kitchen. Among the least prominent members of the group is one
Wagstaffe, designated “scullion”; yet, humble though he was in
appearance, his name had become a household word among the boys; for the
somewhat unappetizing dough which formed the base of the puddings served
to the Collegers was then known as “the Wagstaffe,” on the supposition,
presumably, that the under part of the pudding was the creation of the
under-cook. I do not think I could eat that pudding now; but looking on
the worthy Wagstaffe’s image again, I feel that we wronged him in
identifying him, as we did, with an unsavoury composition for which he,
a mere subordinate, was not personally to blame.

To the College Hall there came daily, for the remnants of bread and
other victuals, a number of poor old alms-women; and if any further
proof be needed of the exceeding thinness of the veneer by which our
youthful savagery was overlaid, it will be found in our treatment of
those humble folk, who were of much more use in the world than
ourselves. We named them “the hags”; and one of our amusements was to
construct for them what was called a “hag-trap.” A large square piece of
bread was hollowed out in the centre through a hole bored in the side,
and when the cavity had been filled up with mustard, pepper, salt, etc.,
the opening was plugged, and the bread left lying on the table as a bait
for some unwary victim who should carry it to her home. Whether the Eton
Mission in Hackney Wick has so ameliorated the hearts of later
generations of Etonians that a “hag-trap” would now be an impossibility,
I do not know; but in those days we certainly had not the smallest atom
of sympathy with the working classes, except perhaps with those College
servants who were known to us personally, and who ministered to our
wants.

We did not pretend to regard the working man as a brother. Once, when I
was travelling with some Eton friends, a sweep who was standing on the
platform tried to enter our carriage just as the train was about to
start. Instantly we seized the door, and held it closed from the inside;
and after a short struggle (the black man’s anxious eyes still haunt
me), the victory remained with us, for the train begun to move, and the
sweep was left behind. That was our idea of Fraternity. Was it Waterloo
that was won in the Eton Playing Fields? I have sometimes thought it
must have been Peterloo.

But let me turn from the recollection of childish deeds done by those
who were but “scugs,” or “lower boys,” to that of the immense
self-importance of which we were conscious when we had reached the
eminence of sixth form. Surely nowhere on earth is there such a
tremendous personage as a sixth-form Eton boy; he acts continually with
that “full sense of responsibility” so dear to the occupants of the
Parliamentary front-bench. No visitor to Eton College Chapel can have
failed to be impressed by the pompous entry of those twenty immaculately
attired young men as they precede the Headmaster and the Provost in a
sort of triumphal procession, thinking of anything rather than the
religious service to which their arrival is the prelude. On speech-days,
too, when, arrayed in dress-coat and knee-breeches, we declaimed
passages from the great writers of antiquity or of modern times, we felt
to the full the colossal seriousness of our position--serious also it
was in another sense, for our self-satisfaction was then sobered by the
possibility of breaking down. To keep order in the passages at night; to
say the Latin grace in Hall; to note the names at “Absence” in the
school-yard, standing by the headmaster’s side--even to read prayers in
the Houses on occasions--these were but a few of the many duties and
dignities of sixth form. No young feathered “bloods” in red Indian tribe
could have had greater reason to be proud.

Even in the holidays our grave responsibilities did not wholly cease;
for it was a custom for sixth-form youths to be sent as tutors to lower
boys who needed “coaching” at their homes. On two occasions it fell to
my lot to perform that service for a lively but very backward boy at
Evans’s House, Charley Selwyn, nephew of the Bishop of Lichfield; and
the awe which I felt at sojourning in a bishop’s palace helped to fix
more firmly in my memory some of the impressions which I got there.

Dr. George Augustus Selwyn was the most stalwart champion of “muscular
Christianity.” His face was somewhat grim and stern, as was to be
expected in so redoubtable a preacher of the gospel of hard work; but
there was a humorous twinkle in his eyes which betokened a very kind
heart; and to any one connected with Eton, present Etonian or Old
Etonian, he extended the warmest of welcomes. In fact, New Zealand, the
scene of his missionary labours, and Eton, where he had been a
successful scholar and athlete, were the standing subjects of
conversation at his table: he and Mrs. Selwyn used often to converse
together in the Maori tongue; and had there been an Etonian language
(other than slang) it would assuredly have been spoken by them. The
world was, for the bishop, divided into Etonian and non-Etonian. I once
heard him pressing upon an old schoolfellow, who was about to leave the
Palace, some table-delicacies of rare excellence, and quoting the
Horatian line:

      Ut libet; hæc porcis hodie comedenda relinques.
    (“As you like! The pigs will eat them up, if left.”)

He explained that some other guests who were coming to Lichfield that
day were--non-Etonians.

But in spite of the large and lion-like geniality of the bishop, there
were anxious moments when the sight of some indolent or slovenly action
caused his quick temper to give way, and then one knew not whether to
tremble or be inwardly amused at the forms which his anger would take.
Once, on a dull Sunday afternoon (the Sundays _were_ dull at the
Palace), he overheard his nephew yawning wearily and saying he did not
know what to do. “What!” cried the bishop. “A Christian boy not know
what to do on a Sunday afternoon!” Then, in terrible tones: “Go and
fetch your Greek Testament.” Forthwith, while I made haste to escape
from that scene of wrath, the wretched boy had to undergo a long lesson
from his uncle.

On another occasion it was my pupil’s sister, a very beautiful child of
ten or twelve, who caused an eruption of the volcano. She had left, in
the course of luncheon, “a wasteful plate”--that is, she had put the
gristle of the meat at the side, cleverly hidden, as she thought, under
knife and fork--and the bishop, observing this, lectured her sharply on
the sinfulness of such a habit. Then, to our consternation, his anger
rising higher, he ended by seizing the girl’s plate, and then and there
himself devoured the disgusting stuff as a practical lesson in
frugality. “The bishop’s in a very bad temper, to-day, sir,” the butler
gravely remarked to me afterwards.[9]

Eton, then, was the school where ignorance was bliss, but the bliss was
very dear while it lasted, and it would have been dearer still if we had
more fully realized the nature of the change that was to follow--the
difference between University and School. As the end of the last summer
term drew near, we felt more and more the pang of the parting that was
to come; and when it was time to write our _Vale_--that last copy of the
weekly verses, in which we were allowed, for once, to substitute English
for Latin--we naturally likened ourselves to some prophetic dreamer of
sad dreams, or to some despairing convict who sees his approaching fate.

    So I, who write, feel ever on my heart
      Such dim presentiment, such dull despair:
    Me, too, a doom awaits; I, too, must part,
      And change a careless life for toil and care.

Doubtless many such elegies periodically found their way, as mine did,
into Dr. Hornby’s waste-paper basket.



III

LITERÆ INHUMANIORES

    Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow.
              MILTON.


Certainly, after the liveliness of Thames, old Camus seemed to foot it
very slowly. Heavy was the fall from the exaltation of the sixth form to
the lowliness of the freshman. A needed experience it may have been, as
correcting the natural priggishness of boyhood; but it was a change that
we little relished while we underwent it.

King’s College, Cambridge, in the early ’seventies, was in a phase of
transition from the old-fashioned system, under which it was a mere
appanage of Eton, to a new order of things which was gradually throwing
its gates open to all comers; much, however, of the ancient pettiness of
spirit still remained; the College was small in numbers and small in
tone, dominated by a code of unwritten yet vexatious ordinances, which
it was waste of time to observe, yet “bad form” to neglect. “King’s
always had a tyrant,” was a remark made to me by F. W. Cornish, himself
a Kingsman.

The Provost was Dr. Okes, a short, rather crabbed-looking old man, whose
enormous self-complacency was the theme of many tales. Once, when he was
walking through the court, his pompous gait caused some ill-mannered
undergraduates, who were watching him from a window, to give vent to
audible laughter; whereupon he sent for them and explained that such
merriment must not be indulged in while _he_ was passing by. That he
himself could have been the cause of the merriment was a possibility
which had not entered his mind.

Next in authority was the dean, a wan and withered-looking clergyman
named Churton, who always seemed unhappy himself and infected every one
who entered his rooms with a sense of discomfort. He used to invite
undergraduates to breakfast with him, a melancholy function in which he
often had the aid of Fred Whitting (the name was pronounced Whiting), a
bluff and more genial don whose conversation just saved the guests from
utter despair; and at these entertainments poor Churton’s one remark, as
he helped the fish, was to say with a sour smile of ineffable
wretchedness: “Whitting, will you be a cannibal?”

Very different from this chilly dean, and much more interesting, as
being genuine relics of the brave old days when Kingsmen had no need to
study or to exert themselves, inasmuch as their University career was
assured them from the first, were two portly and inseparable bachelors,
Messrs. Law and Brocklebank, whose sole employment it seemed to be to
reap to the full the emoluments of their life-fellowship, which they had
held for a goodly number of years. “Brock” and “Applehead” were their
nicknames; both were stout and bulky, but there was a rotundity about
Mr. Law’s cranial development which gave him a more imposing appearance.
As they ambled side by side about the courts and lawns, it amused us to
fancy them a pair of strange survivals from a rude prehistoric age, we
ourselves, of course, playing the part of the moderns and intellectuals.
When “Applehead” died, we were enjoined in a poetical epitaph, by some
anonymous admirer, to deck his grave with pumpkins, gourds, melons,
cucumbers and other emblematic fruits.

The literary element was not strong in King’s; but in Henry Bradshaw,
one of the senior Fellows, the College could boast a University
Librarian of much distinction. He was a kind, but most whimsical and
eccentric man, whose friendship was open to any undergraduate who sought
it, only it must be sought, and under the conditions imposed by Bradshaw
himself, for it was never in any circumstances offered. If you presented
yourself uninvited at his rooms--rather an ordeal for a nervous
freshman--you were welcomed, perhaps taken to his heart. If you did not
present yourself, he never asked you to come; on the contrary, however
often he met you on the stairs or elsewhere, he passed with a look of
blank and stony indifference on his large and somewhat inexpressive
visage. I knew a scholar of King’s who lived on Bradshaw’s staircase,
and who for more than a year was thus passed by as non-existent: then,
one evening, moved by a sudden impulse, he knocked at the great man’s
door, entered, and was immediately admitted to the cheery circle of his
acquaintance. It was useless to resent such waywardness on Bradshaw’s
part; there was no “ought” in his vocabulary; you had to take him on his
own terms, or “go without”; and the great number of University men who
came on pilgrimage to his rooms was in itself a proof of his mastery. I
recall the following lines from an epigram which some rebellious
undergraduate wrote on him:

    Throned in supreme indifference, he sees
    The growing ardour of his devotees:
    He cares not if they come, yet more and more
    They throng subservient to the sacred door:
    He cares not if they go, yet none the less
    His “harvests ripen and his herds increase.”

It was so; and Bradshaw, having a gift of very pungent speech, was well
able to keep his “herds” in order when they were assembled: he would at
times say a sharp and wholesome word to some conceited or presumptuous
visitor. Even his nearest friends could take no liberties with him. It
was said that when Mr. G. W. Prothero, then a Fellow of King’s, took to
omitting the “Esquire” in the address of letters, and wrote plain “Henry
Bradshaw,” the librarian retaliated in his reply by addressing
laconically to “Prothero”--nothing more.

To attend lectures and chapel services formed the chief duties of
undergraduates; and the lectures were much the less tedious task. It was
a chilly business, however, on a cold winter morning, to hear the great
Greek scholar, R. Shilleto, hold forth for an hour on his beloved
Thucydides; for he was an elderly man with a chronic cough, and his
enthusiasm for a Greek idiom hardly compensated his audience for the
physical difficulties with which he laboured. He would begin cheerily on
a difficult passage, and, overtaken by a bout of coughing, lose the
place for a while; then, with a drawling “yes,” catch up the thread of
his discourse, till another spasm overwhelmed him; while we, desiring
our breakfasts much more than the privilege of listening to a second
Porson, fumed and fidgeted, and took notes, or neglected to take notes,
till the stroke of the clock released us. Much more popular were some of
the lectures which we attended, in other Colleges, given by such skilled
exponents of the Classics as Henry Jackson and R. C. Jebb. Jebb was
always the same--self-composed, neat and eloquent; Jackson, on the
contrary, though not at all less competent, used to work himself into a
fever of fretfulness when he could not find the exact word he sought
for; and then, to our amusement, he would upbraid himself as “dolt” and
“idiot,” even while he was giving a most suggestive address.

The compulsory “chapels” were a great trial to some of us; and each
King’s scholar was further liable, in turn, to the function of reading
the Lessons for a week. I do not know why this should have seemed more
formidable than “speeches” at Eton, but it was an office which we would
very thankfully have escaped. It needed some courage to step down from a
stall in that spacious chapel--most of all when, as on a Sunday
afternoon, there was a large concourse of visitors--and then to mount,
by what cragsmen would call an “exposed ridge,” the steps that led up to
the big lectern in the middle of the nave. The sensation was one of
extreme solitariness and detachment, with little but the lectern itself
to give support and protection; so that we could almost sympathize with
the plight of that disreputable undergraduate who, according to a
current story (which, be it hoped, was fictitious), had essayed to read
the Lessons, in some college chapel, when he was not so sober as he
should have been. Throwing his arms round the eagle--for his lectern was
fashioned in the shape of that pagan bird--he appalled the congregation,
it was said, by exclaiming, in a pensive voice: “If it wasn’t for this
[something] duck, I’d be down.”

But practice makes all things easier; and after a time one or two of us
so far overcame our nervousness as to utilize our position at the
lectern for the benefit, as we thought, of the congregation at
large--certainly for our own personal comfort; for we ventured to dock
and shorten the Lessons as we felt inclined. “Here endeth the Lesson,”
we would cry, when we had read, perhaps, no more than a dozen verses out
of twice or thrice that number; and immediately the great organ would
sound, and the pompous choral service continued on its course. We had
private information that this irregularity did not pass unobserved by
some of the dons; but as nothing was said we concluded that they blessed
us for it in secret.

The relations between dons and undergraduates were for the most part
very friendly; but the blandness of the dons was somewhat measured and
condescending--not without reason, perhaps, for undergraduates, like
schoolboys, were apt to take undue advantage of any excess of
affability. Once, when I was walking along King’s Parade with a friend,
we saw the great Dr. Lightfoot coming from the opposite direction. “Now
just look,” said my companion, “how polite Lightfoot will be. See how
I’ll make him smile as he passes.” And sure enough, the learned divine,
in response to an audacious salute from one who had no sort of claim to
his acquaintance, was instantly wreathed in smiles and benignity, as if
he were meeting the son of his dearest friend, instead of being
impudently imposed on by a stranger.

We rather dreaded the invitations that sometimes reached us to a formal
breakfast, or worse still, a _soirée_ (familiarly known as a
“stand-up”), at the residence of some high authority. I have spoken of
the Churton breakfasts in King’s; still more serious an affair was it to
be one of a dozen undergraduates summoned _en bloc_ to breakfast at
Trinity Lodge, for Dr. Thompson, the Master of Trinity, was a great
University magnate, widely famed and feared for his sententious sayings
and biting sarcasms, many of which were reported from mouth to mouth. We
had heard of that deadly verdict of his on a University sermon preached
by Dean Howson, joint author of Conybeare and Howson’s _Life of St.
Paul_: “I was thinking what a very clever man Mr. Conybeare must have
been.” As a member once or twice of such a breakfast-party, I recollect
how awkwardly we stood herded together when we had entered the sage’s
presence, and how, as we passed into the breakfast-room, we almost
jostled each other in our anxiety to get a seat as far as possible away
from that end of the long table where the Master in his majesty sat. As
for the _soirées_ at Trinity Lodge and elsewhere, they demanded some
strength of limb; for the number of visitors exceeded the number of
seats, and to stand for two hours in a corner, and look as if one liked
it, was irksome even for youth. At these ceremonials, when the Provost
of King’s was the host, he used to invite undergraduates with immense
condescension to “be seated”; and when he added with emphasis: “You may
sit down _here_,” he was understood to be reflecting on the superior
comfort of a Provost’s entertainment as compared with that of Trinity
Lodge.

One thing that rather galled the feelings of undergraduates was that
none but Provost and Fellows might set foot on the extensive lawns at
King’s--a selfish privilege of the few, as it appeared, maintained to
the exclusion of the many. However that may have been, there came a
night when a small party of Kingsmen committed the sacrilegious act of
releasing a mole in front of the Provost’s Lodge, and dauntlessly
awaited the result, thus anticipating Lord Milner’s policy of “damning
the consequences.” There were no serious consequences, except to the
most innocent of all the persons concerned--the mole. We watched him
with admiration as he sank into that soft green turf, like a seal into
water; and the next morning we were thrilled to see a small line of
earthen hillocks on the sacred sward. Then followed a great to-do of
gardeners and mole-catchers; and on the third day, to our regret and
remorse, the poor mole paid the penalty for the trespasses of others. We
put a London newspaper on the track of this incident, and the editor
published some humorous speculations, for the benefit of readers
interested in natural history, as to how the mole could have found his
way to that cloistered spot.

The _Cambridge Undergraduates’ Journal_ (I am now speaking of the year
1873 and thereabouts) was a fortnightly paper--edited at one time by G.
C. Macaulay, at another by Hallam (now Lord) Tennyson--in which some of
us used to try our hands at the higher journalism, and write satirical
essays on the various anomalies of Cambridge life. Compulsory chapels;
compulsory Latin and Greek; “cribbing” in examinations; antiquated
college customs; the exactions of college servants; the social functions
known as “stand-ups”--these were but a few of the topics on which we
held forth with all the confidence of youth. It was the _Adventurer_
over again, but on a more comprehensive scale; for the undergraduate
could express his feelings more openly than the schoolboy; else the
writer of an article on compulsory chapels could hardly have inveighed,
as he did, against the ordinance of full choral service, where “the man
without an ear” was doomed, for two long hours, “to sit, stand, and
kneel in wearisome succession.”

The annual competition for the English Prize Poem afforded another
opportunity for nascent ambition. The subject one year was the recovery
of the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward) from a serious illness;
and it was this rather snobbish theme that drew from one of the
competitors a couplet which went the round of a delighted University:

    Flashed o’er the land the electric message came:
    “He is not better, but he’s much the same.”[10]

Then there were the “Sir William Browne’s Medals,” offered annually for
Greek and Latin odes and epigrams. These prizes were usually the
perquisite of a few select scholars (my friend E. C. Selwyn had a way of
carrying them off); but as the poems were sent in anonymously, the
envelope containing the competitor’s name not being opened except when
he won the medal, it was a safe and rather good sport to try one’s luck
in the contest. One of the surprises of my life was when old Shilleto
(the coughing grammarian) walked into my room one evening, and told me
that the examiners had awarded me the medal for Greek epigram. There
being a defect in one of the lines, he sat down and corrected it, there
and then, by an emendation which was doubtless better Greek and
certainly worse poetry.

Another high Cambridge authority, at that time, was Dr. Benjamin
Kennedy, famed as former headmaster of Shrewsbury School, and as author
of a Latin Grammar familiar to many generations of schoolboys. I had
been told to call on him at his house, for my father had been under him
at Shrewsbury, and there was an old friendship between the families; and
when I did so with some trepidation--perhaps because a recent experience
at Trinity Lodge had made me fearful of “receptions”--I found him a most
benign old gentleman, quite free from the awful stateliness of a Provost
or a Master; indeed, when he asked undergraduates to dinner he relaxed
to an extent which could not but restore confidence in the most timid.
After dinner he would give us “words” to decipher, in ivory letters,
according to that rather inane Victorian pastime; or he would recite odd
verses to us in his quaint sing-song voice, something between a whisper
and a wheeze. Who could have feared even the most learned of Professors,
when he stooped to conquer by rehearsing for us such an example of an
English pentameter as the following, presumably of his own composition:

    Strawberry jam jam jam; strawberry, strawberry jam.

But even the genial Dr. Kennedy could not wholly release himself from
the rigidness of Cambridge etiquette: it was impossible, so he had
stated when he desired me to call on him, for _him_ to call on an
undergraduate. No such difficulty existed for the greatest yet least
assuming of the distinguished men then living in Cambridge, Frederick
Denison Maurice. Having heard of me as a pupil of Mr. Kegan Paul’s, he
came, though he was an old man, to my room on the top story in King’s,
and talked so quietly and naturally that I felt quite at ease with him.
On a later occasion I breakfasted at his house, alone with him, a
privilege which I much valued; for even then I was aware of his real
greatness, unlike as he was to the pompous University magnates who
figured so largely in public. If only the heads of Colleges and
Universities could know--but, of course, they rarely know--how much more
powerful is the influence of simple unaffected kindness than of the
affability which betrays a touch of patronage and condescension!

St. Edward’s Church, of which Maurice was the incumbent, was close to
the gates of King’s--and some of us undergraduates used to go there on
Sunday evenings, notwithstanding our weariness of our own chapel
services, in order to hear him preach, for we were drawn to him by the
obvious impression which he gave of quiet sympathy and strength. At a
time when the revolting doctrine of eternal punishment was still widely
held, his humanizing influence must have been very valuable within the
Church. Matthew Arnold’s clever gibe, that he beat about the bush, but
without starting the hare, left a good deal unsaid; for if he did not
start the hare he helped to silence the hell-cat.

Not very long before the time of which I am speaking, Maurice’s curate
at St. Edward’s had been a namesake of that saint’s, Edward Carpenter,
who, as is related in his autobiography,[11] resigned his Orders,
together with his Fellowship at Trinity Hall, in 1871. Some thirteen
years later I made his acquaintance in London; and I have often
regretted that I went to Cambridge too late to hear him preach, for I
have never been able quite to picture the author of _Towards Democracy_
in the pulpit, arrayed canonically in surplice or gown.

The goal of a Kingsman’s career at Cambridge was the Classical Tripos;
and for three years he would read steadily, and with increasing
intentness, keeping that end in view. It was generally thought advisable
to have a “coach”; but experience led me to doubt whether, for those who
knew how to direct their own reading, and had the necessary
perseverance, it was not a waste of time to invoke such assistance; a
good “crib” was a far speedier and more effective instructor. Some
“coaches,” moreover, were apt to be rather lazy at times, and to put off
their pupils’ attendance on the plea, perhaps, that they had to go to
London for the day, or were called off by some equally important
engagement; and now, by a curious reversal, we, who at Eton should have
been only too delighted if our tutors had perennially shirked their
duties, had become in turn the studious ones, and having ourselves paid
for the tuition were annoyed if we did not get it! One contemporary of
mine at King’s was so upset by his “coach’s” remissness that he wrote
him a letter of remonstrance, more in sadness than anger, and roused him
to fury by quoting some words from Thucydides (οί δἐ προλαβόντες τὀ
ἀργύριον), in open allusion to those who first get their fee and then
neglect to earn it.

Young men often fail to realize the sensitiveness of their elders, and
thus say and do things which cause more hurt than was intended. We used
to be resentful, in those too fastidious pre-war days, of the
considerable amount of shale, schist, and rubble which was sold to us
with our coal; and a fellow Kingsman once asked me to accompany him to
the coal-merchant’s, to whom he proposed to return a basketful of the
refuse in question. Foreseeing sport, I went; but the scene that ensued
was sorrowful rather than amusing, for the head of the firm, a
venerable-looking old man with white hair, happened to be in the office,
and when the coal-substitutes were handed to him over the counter his
wrath was so great that his hand positively shook with passion. Savages
though we were, we came away rather penitent.

There was, however, one Kingsman at that time, an undergraduate senior
to myself, who was unpleasantly famed for the remorseless devilry with
which he scored off any unfortunate person whom chance placed in his
power. His tailor, it was said, having by mistake sent him in a bill
that had already been paid, was ordered to set the matter right, on pain
of being dismissed. He did so; and then the offended customer said to
him: “And now I dismiss you just the same.” On another occasion it was a
broken-down clergyman who had the ill-luck to appeal to this young
gentleman for pecuniary aid: so rare an opportunity could not be allowed
to slip. “You trust in God, I suppose,” said the undergraduate. It was
not possible for a clergyman to gainsay it. “Then I will toss up,” said
the other; “and if you cry rightly, I shall know you deserve
assistance”; and forthwith he spun the coin, and the clergyman
cried--“heads” or “tails” as might be. But unluckily for the poor
pilgrim, the Kingsman was a skilled manipulator of the coin in hazards
of this sort, and the result was never in doubt. The mendicant was
proved, on the highest authority, to be undeserving.

But to return to the Classical Tripos. Coached or uncoached, we came at
last to that great final examination, a sort of Judgment Day in
miniature, which, for some of us, would have an important bearing on our
later lives. The examination system is in various ways open to
criticism, and critics have by no means been lacking, but it need not be
denied that intellectual benefit in many cases may result from the
sustained effort to prepare oneself for a very searching test,
necessitating a thorough study of the chief Classical writers. But the
weightiest charge against the University education is the one which
least often finds expression--that a learning which would strengthen the
intellect only, and does not feed the heart, is in the main but barren
and unprofitable, a culture of the _literæ inhumaniores_. Except from F.
D. Maurice, I never heard, during my four years at Cambridge--from
preacher or professor, from lecturer, dean, or don--the least mention of
the higher social ethics, without which there can be no real culture
and no true civilization.

I remember, with shame, that I was once so moved by the florid rhetoric
of Dean Farrar, in a missionary sermon preached before the University,
that I made a contribution to the offertory which I could ill afford. A
day or two afterwards, with the return of sanity, I felt the force of
the adage that “fools and their money are soon parted,” and I saw that
it was worse than folly to send missions to other countries, when we
ourselves were little better than pagans at home. The mischief of this
spurious religionism was that it lessened the chance of any genuine
awakening of conscience to the facts that stared us in the face. We were
made to study Paley’s fantastic “Evidences,” while the evidence of
nature, of the human heart, and of actual life, was sedulously hidden
away.

In the Tripos of 1875 the Senior Classic was Mr. Peskett, who belonged
properly to the preceding year, but owing to illness or some other cause
had “degraded” into ours, and thus robbed my friend Mr. Arthur Tilley of
an honour which should rightly have been his. Dr. J. Gow, Headmaster of
Westminster School, was third; the fifth place was shared by Mr. Gerald
Balfour and myself.

It was the custom in those days for headmasters of Eton to draw largely
on King’s College for their supply of assistants: thus a King’s Scholar
of Eton, after taking his degree at Cambridge, would often return to the
school as a Classical assistant master, and so complete the academical
round. The process might, perhaps, have been likened to the three stages
of butterfly life, but with the first and the last phase transposed. We
_began_ as the gay Eton insects, whose ignorance was bliss; and then,
after passing through the chrysalis period by the Cam, reappeared on
Thames’s bank, metamorphosed into the caterpillars locally known as
“beaks,” and usually content thenceforth to crawl soberly along on a
wingless but well-nourished career. But even a worm, as we know, will
turn; and, as the next chapter must relate, some of the grubs would at
times be so unconscionable as to take new and unsettling notions into
their heads.



IV

THE DISCOVERY

     “Why, they are cannibals!” said Toby. “Granted,” I replied; “but a
     more gentlemanly and amiable set of epicures do not exist.”--HERMAN
     MELVILLE.


What are the feelings of the poacher transformed into the gamekeeper?
They must, I think, be similar to those of a youth who, after studying
for a few years at the University, returns as master to the school which
he left as boy. _Quantum mutatus ab illo!_ The scene itself is the same,
but the part which he must play in it is now to a great extent reversed;
and the irony of the situation is that though henceforth an upholder of
law and order, he still, perhaps, sympathizes at heart with the
transgressors whom it is his duty to reprimand.

To be summoned as an assistant by Dr. Hornby, and at a few days’ notice
(his arrangements were frequently made in desperate haste), was to be
thrown very suddenly upon one’s own resources; for, an appointment once
completed, he showed no further interest in the matter, and did not even
trouble himself to provide a school-room in which his latest lieutenant
should teach: that the number of Divisions exceeded the number of rooms
was a trifle which did not engage his attention. A novice had therefore
to consider himself rather lucky when he was able to secure, for his
first term or two, even an apartment so ill equipped for educational
purposes as a sort of cupboard, situated under the stairs that led to
the headmaster’s room, and popularly known as “The Dog-Kennel.” Here,
with a class of about forty boys, a pleasant summer school-time had to
be spent.

It was a curious sensation, which I suppose all teachers of large
classes must have felt, to be confronted by serried ranks of boys whose
faces were entirely strange, though their names were entered on the list
which lay, like a map, upon the desk. Some time was required before each
name could be correctly fitted to the face; and in this process any
abnormality of feature or size in individuals, which might constitute a
landmark, was a great help. A red-haired boy, or a fat boy, served to
punctuate a row; and that classification of boys (I forget who made it)
into the beef-faced and the mealy-faced was a thing to be kept in mind.

Such were the auspices under which an Eton master was in those days
started on his career--shut up in the Dog-Kennel with a horde of young
barbarians, whom, in the circumstances, it was hardly possible to
instruct, and not very easy to control. There were a few masters at
Eton, as doubtless at other public schools, who had a real gift for
teaching; also a few, like our friend “Swage,” who were unable to
maintain any semblance of authority. Between these two extremes were
those, the great majority of us, who, while courteously and respectfully
treated by the boys, and having pleasant relations with them, could not
in strict truth flatter themselves that, except in special cases, they
had overcome the natural tendency of boyhood to be idle. So much has
been written about the defects of the Eton system that it suffices here
to say that while a reputation for cleverness was maintained by a few of
the boys, mostly King’s Scholars, the bulk of the school was inflexibly
bent upon other activities than those of the mind.

Nor were the masters themselves unaffected by the general tone of the
school. There were some fine scholars, it is true, on Dr. Hornby’s
staff, experts not in Classical literature only, but in various
branches of learning; yet in not a few cases these gifted specialists
seemed as artless in their outlook on life as they were skilled in their
particular department. “A d----d fool, with a taste for the Classics,”
was the too unceremonious description given of one of them by a
sarcastic acquaintance; and the epigram, however reprehensible in
expression, hit the mark. Knowledge is not wisdom; and this academical
learning often went together with a narrow and pedantic spirit which
blindly upheld the old order of things and resented every sign of
change. For example, there was one learned master who used to assert, in
those years of peace, that what England most needed was a war--a grim,
hard-fought war; and this was the sort of reckless talk often indulged
in by the mildest-mannered of men, who themselves were in no danger
whatever of exchanging the gown for the sword.

New ideas were under a ban at Eton; notwithstanding the specious
invitations given to some distinguished men to lecture before the
school. Gladstone, Arnold, Ruskin, Morris and Lowell were among those
who addressed the boys in the School Library; and it was instructive to
note the reception which they severally obtained. Lowell was the most
popular; his cheery contention that this world of ours is, after all,
“not a bad world to live in,” being delightedly received by an audience
which had good personal reasons for concurring in such a sentiment:
William Morris, on the other hand, having ventured on the then dangerous
ground of Socialism, was hissed. Gladstone discreetly kept to the
unimpeachable subject of Homer; and Matthew Arnold’s staid appearance,
with his “mutton-chop” whiskers and mechanical bowing of the head in
accord with the slow rhythm of his sentences, was sufficient to lull to
sleep any insidious doubts of his respectability. As a speaker, Ruskin
was by far superior to the rest; his lucid train of thought and clear,
musical voice could hold enchanted an audience, even of Eton boys, for
the full space of an hour.

Science lectures formed another branch of the intellectual treats that
were provided for the school; but Science was still rather under a cloud
at that date. I recollect the title of but one discussion, and that only
because I happened to be able to throw some light on the geological
problem with which it dealt. I was living in a small house (once famous
as “Drury’s”), which had a much higher one on either side; and as it was
the practice for the boys in neighbouring houses to bombard each other
with any missiles or minerals that might be handy, my garden became a
sort of “no-man’s-land” between the two rival fortresses, and its
surface was enriched with a very varied deposit. When, therefore, a
lecture was announced on the question, “Will coal be found in the Thames
valley?” I was able to solve the problem affirmatively by the production
from my own premises of some remarkably fine samples.

It would doubtless have shocked Dr. Hornby if any one had suggested that
there was a lack of religious instruction in that most conservative of
schools. Chapel services there were in plenty; and a Greek Testament
lesson on Monday morning; and “Sunday Questions” to be answered in
writing; and “Sunday Private” to be attended in the Tutor’s pupil-room;
and Prayers every evening in each House. Yet the general tone of Eton
was far from being religious, even in the conventional meaning of the
term; for the many superficial observances did not affect the deep
underlying worldliness of the place. It was Vanity Fair on Sundays and
week-days alike. There was an Eton story of a servant in a private
family who, when the bell was rung for evening devotions, was overheard
to cry in a weary voice: “Oh, dear! _Why_ do gentry have prayers?” The
reference to “gentry” shows the light in which such ceremonies are
regarded downstairs. In the same way, the religious teaching in schools
is looked upon by the boys as imposed on them for purposes of
discipline.

It was not the boys only who found the Chapel services very tedious; for
most of the masters were laymen, many of them unorthodox, and for these
it was no agreeable duty to be victimized both on Sundays and on Saints’
Days for the sake of keeping up appearances before the school.
Calculations are sometimes made of the number of years spent in prison
by some hardened criminal or “gaol-bird.” Why does no one tell us how
many hours, amounting to how many years, some zealous church-goer, or
pew-bird, has spent on such devotions? Without claiming that
distinction, I calculate that during some twenty years spent in
connection with public school and University I passed several thousands
of hours in church and chapel.

Human nature could not but chafe under the fearful dulness and length of
the sermons in Eton College Chapel. Dr. Goodford, the Provost, was a
sort of personified Doom; when once he mounted the pulpit he was in the
saddle, so to speak, and rode his congregation well-nigh to despair with
his merciless homilies, all uttered in that droning voice, with its
ceaseless _burr_ and inevitable cadence, which became to generations of
Etonians as familiar as the Chapel bell itself. Scarcely less fearsome
were some of the elder Fellows, retired masters, such as Bishop Chapman
and the Rev. John Wilder, who were often let loose on us on Sunday
mornings and blithely seized the opportunity: it was their field-day,
and they were out to enjoy themselves, quite unconscious that what was
pious sport to them was death to their unwilling audience. Small wonder
that some assistant masters used to dread the weeks when they were on
duty (“in desk” it was called); but providentially there were others
who, disliking still more the labour of correcting Latin verses, were
willing to barter “verses” for “desks”; that is, they would take so
many of a colleague’s desks, while he in return would look over a
stipulated number of exercises. Thus did the Muse come to the aid of her
devotees:

    Sic me servavit Apollo.

Perhaps the strangest form that religion took at Eton was that of
missionary zeal; we used to have sermons periodically about carrying the
gospel to “the heathen”; though if ever there was a benighted spot on
earth, it was that pleasant school by the Thames. Some of the boys were
at times infected by the passion for making proselytes: on one occasion
an extremely dull and idle youth, who had lately left Eton, wrote to
tell me, as his former tutor, that he had decided to become a missionary
“to the poor perishing heathen”--in his case, the Chinese, a people much
less ignorant and barbarous than many of their self-appointed rescuers.

“Divinity” was one of the studies most encouraged and fostered at Eton;
one would have thought the place was a training-school for theologians,
from the prominence that was given in examinations to this particular
branch of learning. The result, as might have been expected, was the
same as in the writing of Latin verses: a few boys became adepts in the
Bible Dictionary, while the bulk of the school scarcely advanced beyond
that stage of biblical knowledge exhibited by a certain Etonian who,
when invited to write an account of St. James the Elder and St. James
the Less, was able to give a brief description of the Elder, but was
reduced, in the case of the Lesser saint, to the rather inadequate,
though so far correct, statement that: “The other was another.”

We were perhaps somewhat overdone with the Saints at Eton: the masters
who had to set the Sunday Questions were nearly as tired of asking about
St. Peter and St. Paul as the boys of answering; and in the Chapel
sermons we suffered, year after year, under the whole Hagiology, until
some of us, it must be confessed, sighed in secret for the time:

    When Reason’s rays, illuming all,
      Shall put the Saints to rout,
    And Peter’s holiness shall pall,
      And Paul’s shall peter out.

But if Christianity was the nominal religion at Eton, the real creed was
Respectability. To do the “proper thing”; not to offend against any of
the conventional canons; to dress, walk, speak, eat and live in the
manner prescribed by “good form”--this was the ever-present obligation
which neither boy nor master could disregard. Any slip in matters of
etiquette was regarded as deadly. There was a dark rumour about one of
the masters, a good and worthy man, but very shortsighted, that by a
tragic error in the High Street he had taken off his hat to his cook: it
was only less dreadful than if he had failed to perform that act of
courtesy in some case where it was required.

As is usual in barbarous societies, the number of things that were
“taboo” was considerable. In the early ’eighties the bicycle and
tricycle were frowned upon, not for boys only but for masters; and a
lady living in Eton once received from Mrs. Hornby, who of course, was
at the head of the Fashions, a message that to ride a tricycle was “not
a nice thing to do.” Yet for the boys it _was_ considered a nice thing
to hunt and “break up” hares. I once witnessed the virtuous indignation
of one of the masters, a clergyman, and a follower of the Eton hounds,
when some rather “shady” incident of the hunt was reported to the
headmaster; but Dr. Hornby soon set matters right by explaining that, as
_all_ hunting was cruel, he obviously could not take notice of any
particular malpractice. That was the sort of reasoning with which any
attempts to humanize Eton customs were parried and thwarted.

Yet new ideas could not be wholly excluded, even from that stronghold
of the antique; there were, in fact, several members of Hornby’s staff
who held views too advanced to be avowed in such surroundings. One of
the least prejudiced men at Eton was the French Master, M. Roublot, who
was a close personal friend of his German colleague, Herr Griebel; and
it is pleasant to recall the fact that during the horrors of the
Franco-German War, some ten years earlier than the period of which I am
speaking, these two “enemies” had kept their friendship unbroken, and
might be seen daily taking their walk together, just as if their
countrymen were not insanely engaged in cutting each other’s throats.

Among the Classical tutors, two of the most enlightened spirits, men of
great personal charm, were Mr. E. S. Shuckburgh, afterwards lecturer at
Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and the Rev. Duncan Tovey, who a few years
later took the Eton living of Worplesdon. Shuckburgh, though himself
most impatient of the old traditions, and sympathizing largely with the
newer thought, was of a very critical habit of mind, and used to
delight, for argumentative purposes, in dwelling on the difficulties and
shortcomings of the reforms which some of us advocated. Tovey was a
literary man (his works on Gray and Thomson are well known), out of his
element in such a place as Eton, but in his happier moods a most
delightful talker and companion. Mrs. Tovey, too, had a lambent wit
which could play lightly round the anomalies of Eton life. She once
wrote a charming list of some imaginary books of fiction, the authorship
of which she assigned to various local celebrities: one of the works,
the supposed creation of an Eton upholsterer notorious for his big
bills, had a title which might make the fortune of a modern
philosophical novelist: “Man’s Time; a Mystery.”

Some of the junior masters played a useful part in challenging the old
superstitions. Mr. J. D. Bourchier, afterwards a famous correspondent of
_The Times_ in south-east Europe, was the first rider of the bicycle at
Eton, and incurred much obloquy through his persistence in a practice
which no Eton master could then countenance with safety. My
brother-in-law, J. L. Joynes, jun., was a still worse offender. He had
been impressed by Henry George’s _Progress and Poverty_, and in the
summer holidays of 1882 travelled with George in Ireland. By a
ridiculous blunder of the Irish Constabulary, the two were arrested and
locked up as dangerous conspirators; and, though they were quickly
discharged when the magistrates discovered the error, the whole Press of
the country rang with amused comments. The Government had to apologize
to Henry George as an American citizen; and an account of the fiasco,
written by Joynes, and published in _The Times_, caused great scandal in
Etonian circles, where publicity was regarded, not without good reason,
as the thing of all things to be deprecated. Great, then, was the horror
of the Eton authorities when, a few weeks later, an advertisement
announced Joynes’s forthcoming volume, _Adventures of a Tourist in
Ireland_. In hot haste he was informed by the headmaster that he must
choose between his mastership and his book: he chose the latter, and
resigned his post. That was the result, as a patriotic colleague and
friend pointed out to me, of giving heed to “a mouldy American.” Thus
fallen from the high estate of an Eton mastership, Joynes became a
leading spirit in the Social Democratic Federation; and by him I was
introduced to many well-known socialists whose names will be mentioned
later on.

During the sixteen years of his headmastership Dr. Hornby dismissed no
fewer than four assistants, and was himself involved at times in serious
conflicts with the Governing Body. A weak man, he was obstinate to the
last degree when once engaged in controversy; as was shown by his
determination to get rid of Mr. Oscar Browning, who, whatever the
merits of their quarrel, was worth much more to Eton than Hornby
himself. It was not generally known that three other assistant masters
proffered their resignations as a protest against Mr. Browning’s
dismissal; a most ill-judged step, because matters had then reached a
point where either Hornby or Browning had to go. The resignations were
accepted, and the three mutineers had to ask leave to withdraw them,
which they did with as good a grace as they could muster. Thus the
headmaster triumphed; but it was a victory that brought him little
credit, and it was a lucky day for Eton when, on the death of Dr.
Goodford, he was appointed to the Provostship in 1884.

Dr. Warre, succeeding Dr. Hornby, was like King Stork following King
Log: it was as if the school, after a long period of “go as you like,”
had been suddenly placed under a military dictatorship. Warre had nearly
been appointed headmaster in 1868; and though, during Hornby’s reign, he
continued to serve loyally as an assistant, it was evident that it
galled him to watch the nervelessness and vacillation with which the
government of the school was conducted: I have heard him at a “masters’
meeting” appeal to Dr. Hornby in terms which, however respectful in
form, conveyed a reproach which could hardly have been unnoticed: “Will
the headmaster insist upon his rule being kept? Will you pull us up,
sir, if we neglect it?” We listened in amusement, knowing full well that
Hornby would himself be the first to break his own rule, if it was one
that demanded either punctuality or perseverance.

One of Dr. Warre’s earliest innovations was to visit the different
Divisions in person while a lesson was going on; a very right and proper
course to take, but one which came rather as a shock to the assistant
masters of that time, who had been accustomed to consider their
class-rooms, like the proverbial Englishman’s house, as their “castles.”
We each wondered, not without anxiety, when his own turn would come.
When mine came, I was spared a lengthy inspection owing to an incident
which was as amusing as it was unforeseen. The next room happened to be
occupied that day by a colleague who was entirely unable to keep order;
and as neither the unfortunate man, nor his rowdy Division, was aware
that the headmaster was so near them, I had hardly begun my lesson when
there rose a terrific din from next door--shrieks, catcalls, peals of
laughter, stamping of feet, all the noises of a madhouse. With a wave of
his hand to me, the headmaster slipped swiftly from the room; and a
moment later I knew what had happened, not by hearing, but by the
instant _cessation_ of sound, for that wild uproar stopped as suddenly
as if it had been cleft with an axe, and was succeeded by a deep silence
more eloquent than words.

A few days later, Dr. Hornby, the new-made Provost, came up to a small
group of masters who were standing near the school-yard, and smilingly
asked us if we had been “inspected” yet. “I’m glad,” he added, with a
sigh of relief, “that they didn’t inspect _me_.”

Dr. Warre was in every way a contrast to Dr. Hornby. Far less sensitive
and refined, he had much more real sympathy, if not with the masters, at
any rate with the boys, and under a rough exterior showed on many
occasions a practical kindness which was quite wanting in his
predecessor. For example, the setting of “Georgics” (i.e. the writing of
500 lines of Virgil), one of the most senseless punishments in vogue at
that time, was always encouraged by Hornby. When Warre heard an
assistant master remark that he was “looking out for an opportunity” to
set a “Georgic” to a troublesome boy, he interrupted him with: “You
should look out _not_ to set him a ‘Georgic.’” He had that kindly
understanding of boyhood which is of great value to a teacher; and from
the point of view of those who believe that Eton is an ideal school, and
the “hub” of the universe, it is difficult to see how a better
headmaster than Dr. Warre could have been found; but he was a Tory of
the strictest type, and his appointment meant the indefinite
postponement of reform.

Enough has now been said to show why a ten-years’ sojourn as a master at
Eton was likely to bring disillusionment, even if outside influences had
not quickened the process. Socialism was even then “in the air”; and to
have become personally acquainted with Bernard Shaw, Edward Carpenter,
H. M. Hyndman, Henry George, William Morris, John Burns, H. H. Champion,
Belfort Bax, and other apostles of what was then termed “revolution,”
was not calculated to strengthen a waverer in the pure Etonian faith.
Still earlier, in the winter holidays of 1878-79, I had met at Coniston,
in the Lake District, an ardent disciple of Ruskin, Mr. William Harrison
Riley, who held communistic views; and in the course of some long walks
with him on the mountains, in which I acted as his guide, he more than
repaid the obligation by opening my eyes to certain facts which I had
previously overlooked. He brought me a message from another world.

This Riley, with all his fiery zeal, was a man of touching simplicity.
He was then working some land of Ruskin’s, at St. George’s farm, near
Sheffield, and he had come to Coniston to visit the Master, for whom he
felt and expressed an almost childlike veneration. By Mr. Ruskin’s
invitation I accompanied Riley to luncheon at Brantwood, and was greatly
struck by the meeting between the two--the devotion of the follower, and
the geniality of the sage. Early in the morning Riley, who was much
surprised by the luxuriance of the verdure at Coniston, as compared with
the grey desolation of the Sheffield hills, confided to me his intention
of taking as a present to Ruskin a clump of moss from a wall-top near
the hotel; but as there was hardly a wall in the district that was not
similarly covered, I suggested to him, as delicately as I could, that
it might be a case of carrying “coals to Newcastle.” Disregarding such
hints, he arrived at Ruskin’s door with a big parcel of the moss, and
gravely presented it as soon as the first salutations were complete. The
delightful charm of Ruskin’s manner was seen in this little incident: he
laughed--for who could have helped laughing?--yet took the gift--and
turned the subject--with a graciousness that could leave no hurt. A few
years later Riley migrated to Massachusetts, but took with him his
quenchless ardour for “the cause.” The last letter I received from him
concluded with the words: “My feeble hand still holds aloft the banner
of the ideal.”

I remember that one of the subjects on which Ruskin discoursed was the
poetry of Tennyson, who was still regarded by most people, certainly by
the _literati_ of Eton, as a thinker of extraordinary power. He was an
instance, said Ruskin, “of one who, with proper guidance, _might_ have
done something great”; as it was, he had written nothing of real value,
except, perhaps, _In Memoriam_. _Maud_ and _The Princess_ were
“useless,” _Enoch Arden_ “disgusting”; the hero of _Maud_ “an ass and a
fool,” and the war-spirit in the poem “downright mischievous.” Thus,
again, was sapped the simple faith of an Eton master, who knew by heart
a large portion of Tennyson’s poetry, including the whole of _Maud_.

In addition to such dangerous doctrines, Vegetarianism was now beginning
to be heard of in Eton; and this was in one respect a worse heresy than
Socialism, because it had to be practised as well as preached, and the
abstinence from flesh-foods could not fail to attract unfavourable
attention. There was a distinguished scientist among the Eton masters at
that time, Dr. P. H. Carpenter, a son of Dr. W. B. Carpenter; and when
he expressed a wish to speak with me on the subject of the new diet
which he heard I had adopted, I felt that a critical moment had arrived,
and as a novice in vegetarian practice I awaited the scientific
pronouncement with some awe. When it came, spoken with friendly
earnestness, it was this: “Don’t you think that animals were _sent_ us
as food?” I have since heard the same pathetic question asked many
scores of times. What can one say in reply to it, except that the
invoice has not yet been received?

A book of rare merit, filled with a multifarious store of facts about
the food question in relation to the humaner thought, is Mr. Howard
Williams’s _Ethics of Diet_, which was then appearing by instalments in
the magazine of the Vegetarian Society. I had the good fortune to make
Mr. Williams’s personal acquaintance, which was the beginning of a
valued friendship; I also had helpful correspondence with Professor F.
W. Newman, then President of the Vegetarian Society, and with Professor
J. E. B. Mayor, who afterwards succeeded to that post. Thus equipped, I
was not greatly impressed by the proofs which friendly colleagues
offered me of the “impossibility” of the humaner diet; nor was I
troubled when, of the two medical men with whom I was acquainted at
Eton, the one said to me: “Well, I will give you two years,”[12] and the
other, a rather foolish person whom the boys used to call “Mary,”
inquired with a look of puzzled despair at such incredible madness: “Do
vegetarians eat meat _by night_?” A vegetarian was of course regarded as
a sheer lunatic in the Eton of those days. Twenty-five years later Eton
had a vegetarian headmaster in Dr. Edward Lyttelton, who was an
assistant there in the ’eighties. “Little did I think,” he wrote to me,
“when we used to chaff you about cabbages, that it would come to this!”

It happened, in one of those years, that it fell to my lot to set the
subject for “Declamations,” a Latin theme on some debatable point, which
had to be composed and “spouted” annually by two of the sixth-form
boys, who took opposite sides in the discussion; and I chose for
subject, rather to Dr. Hornby’s disgust, the question of vegetarianism
(_An Pythagorei qui carne abstinent laudandi sint_). Another channel for
vegetarian propaganda was afforded by the Ascham Society, a learned and
select body organized by some of the masters, who met periodically to
read and discuss papers on ethical and literary subjects. It happened
that the members were hospitably invited to a dinner by one of their
colleagues, who specially announced a dish of roast veal as an
attraction: thus provoked, I could not but decline that treat in the
accredited Eton manner, a set of Latin verses, of which the conclusion
was obvious: Spare the calf, or let _me_ be excused:

    Si non vis vitulo parcere, parce mihi.

Thus gradually the conviction had been forced on me that we Eton
masters, however irreproachable our surroundings, were but cannibals in
cap and gown--almost literally cannibals, as devouring the flesh and
blood of the higher non-human animals so closely akin to us, and
indirectly cannibals, as living by the sweat and toil of the classes who
do the hard work of the world.[13] To speak of this, with any fulness,
in such a society as that of Eton, except to the two or three friends
who held a similar belief, would have been an absurdity; and I do not
think I exaggerated, in the first chapter of this book, when I described
the discovery as bringing with it a sense of being cut off from one’s
neighbours by interminable leagues of misunderstanding. I was living _in
partibus infidelium_. It became a necessity to leave a place where there
could be no sympathetic exchange of thought upon matters which were
felt to be of vastly more importance than the accepted religion and
routine.

I treasure the recollection of the interview in which I took farewell of
Dr. Warre. Most kindly he expressed his regret that I had lost faith in
that public school system to which he himself, as all Etonians are
aware, devoted a lifetime of unsparing service. “It’s the
Vegetarianism,” he gravely remarked; and I understood him to mean that
it was the abandonment of the orthodox diet that had led, by inevitable
weakening of the _mens sana in corpore sano_, to my apostasy in regard
to Education. When I told him that Socialism must take its share of
blame, as having been at least an auxiliary cause, he was really
shocked. “Socialism!” he cried, in his hearty tones. “Then blow us up,
blow us up! There’s nothing left for it but that.”

It is strange to reflect that between thirty and forty years ago the
mere mention of Socialism should have suggested desperate acts of
violence: the term was then the bugbear, for the time being, of the
respectable classes, who always keep on hand some convenient scare-word,
for the purpose of making an alarm. “Anarchism” has since served its
turn; “Bolshevism” is the latest. Something to fear, something to hate,
seems to be an indispensable requirement; hence the periodical outbreak
of war-cries and flogging-crazes; it matters little what the bogey is,
so long as there is a vendetta of some kind, even if it be only, for a
diversion, a campaign against the sparrow or the rat. There is no surer
token of the barbaric mind than this capricious state of panic,
described by George Meredith as “all stormy nightcap and fingers
starving for the bell-rope.”

My one irreparable loss in leaving Eton was not that of culture or
scholarship or social position, but of the game of Fives; for I used to
think that the evolution of the Eton fives-court, the original of which
was a flagged space between two buttresses of the Chapel (“Tax not the
royal Saint with vain expense”), was the most valuable contribution ever
made by the school to the well-being of mankind. Fives is a great game;
and to have played it with such master-hands as A. C. Ainger, E. C.
Austen-Leigh, Edward Lyttelton, or C. T. Studd, was a privilege neither
to be forgotten nor to be replaced. I used afterwards to dream at times
that I was again engaged in the game--“serving,” perhaps, or taking the
service, or enjoying a duel of long sweeping strokes on the outer court,
or mixed up in one of those close-fought rallies that centred round the
“pepper-box”; until a perfect shot from one side or the other had sent
the ball to its resting-place in “dead man’s hole.”

My parting gift to the school was an article entitled “Confessions of an
Eton Master,” which appeared in the _Nineteenth Century_ in January,
1885, and led to a good deal of discussion on the Eton system of
education.



V

CANNIBAL’S CONSCIENCE

     If any one should be educated from his infancy in a dark cave till
     he were of full age, and then should of a sudden be brought into
     broad daylight ... no doubt but many strange and absurd fancies
     would arise in his mind.--From BACON’S _Advancement of Learning_.


“Do you think me a cannibal?” is the remark often made by a cheery
flesh-eater, when enjoying his roast beef in the presence of a
vegetarian; and it may not be denied that such is the thought which
commonly suggests itself, for the more highly developed nonhuman animals
are very closely akin to man. “We do not eat negroes,” says Mr. W. H.
Hudson, “although their pigmented skin, flat feet and woolly heads
proclaim them a different species--even monkey’s flesh is abhorrent to
us, merely because we fancy that that creature, in its ugliness,
resembles some old men and some women and children that we know. But the
gentle, large-brained social cow ... we slaughter and feed on her
flesh--monsters and cannibals that we are.” No apology, then, shall be
made for the heading of this chapter. There is a very real likeness, not
only between anthropophagy and other forms of flesh-eating, but between
the excuses offered by cannibals and those offered by flesh-eaters.

Forty years ago, the possibility of living healthily on a non-flesh diet
was by no means so generally admitted as it is now; and consequently
very naïve and artless objections used to be advanced against abstinence
from butcher’s-meat. Mr. Kegan Paul told me that he had once heard a
lady say to F. W. Newman: “But, Professor, don’t you feel very weak?” to
which the Professor sturdily replied: “Madam, feel my calves.” “What on
earth do you live on?” used to be a frequent question at Eton in those
days, the implication being that there is no “variety” in the vegetarian
diet; an amusing complaint, in view of what Richard Jefferies has
described as “the ceaseless round of mutton and beef to which the dead
level of civilization [_sic_] reduces us.” So obvious is this monotony
in the orthodox repasts that the _Spectator_, a good many years ago,
published an article headed, “Wanted, a New Meat,” in which it was
explained that what is needed is some new and large animal, something
which “shall combine the game flavour with the substantial solidity of a
leg of mutton.” The _Spectator’s_ choice ultimately fell upon the eland,
but not before the claims of various other “neglected animals,” among
them the wart-hog, had been conscientiously debated.

That the cannibal conscience is somewhat guilty and ill at ease seems
evident from the nature of the arguments put forward by the apologists
of flesh-eating; else why did Dr. P. H. Carpenter suggest that the lower
animals were “sent” to us for food, when, as a scientist, he knew well
the absurdity of that remark? Why not say frankly what Nathaniel
Hawthorne wrote in his _English Notebook_ that “the best thing a man
born in this island can do is to eat his beef and mutton, and drink his
porter, and take things as they are, and think thoughts that shall be so
beefish, muttonish, and porterish, that they shall be matters rather
material than intellectual”? The reckless hardihood of a simple and
barbarous people is essentially _un_conscious, just as the action of a
hawk or weasel is unconscious when it seizes its prey; but when
consciousness is once awakened, and a doubt arises as to the morality of
the action, the habit begins of giving sophistical reasons for practices
that cannot be justified. Herman Melville tells us in his _Typee_ that
the Polynesians, being aware of the horror which Europeans feel for
anthropophagy, “invariably deny its existence, and, with the craft
peculiar to savages, endeavour to conceal every trace of it.” The
existence of flesh-eating cannot be denied; but do we not see a savage’s
craft in the shifty and far-fetched reasons alleged for its continuance?

It is only fair to “the noble savage” to draw this distinction between
the natural barbarism and the sophisticated, between the real necessity
for killing for food and the pretended necessity. Commander Peary, the
Arctic explorer, once wrote in the _Windsor Magazine_, under the title
of “Hunting Musk Oxen near the Pole,” a story of the genuine hunger, and
expressed a doubt whether a single one of his readers knew what hunger
was. He was actually in a famishing state when a herd of Musk Oxen came
in view: “The big black animals,” he said, “were not game, but meat, and
every nerve and fibre in my gaunt body was vibrating with a savage lust
for that meat, meat that should be soft and warm, meat into which the
teeth could sink and tear and rend.” Here was a savagery that can at
least be understood and respected, that did not need to postulate the
“sending” of the oxen for its subsistence; yet, strange to say, Peary’s
story would be voted disgusting in many a respectable household which
orders its “home-killed meat” from the family butcher and employs a cook
to disguise it. Certainly, if there is a “noble savage,” we must
recognize also the ignoble variety that has developed the “conscience”
of which I speak.

To this “cannibal’s conscience” we owe those delightful excuses, those
flowers of sophistry, which strew the path of the flesh-eater and lend
humour to an otherwise very gruesome subject. By far the most
entertaining of them is what may be called the academical fallacy,
inasmuch as it seems to have a special attraction for learned men--the
argument that it is a kindness to the animals themselves to kill and eat
them, because otherwise they would not be bred at all, and so would miss
the pleasures of existence. This “Canonization of the Ogre,” as it has
been named, was propounded by Professor D. G. Ritchie, Sir Leslie
Stephen, Sir Henry Thompson, Dr. Stanton Coit, and other distinguished
publicists,[14] every one of whom, with the single exception of Dr.
Coit, prudently evaded discussion of the question when the flaw in his
reasoning was pointed out, viz. that existence cannot be compared with
non-existence. Of existence it is possible to predicate certain
qualities--good or bad, happiness or unhappiness--but of non-existence
we can predicate nothing at all; we must first have the actual ground of
existence to argue from, and he who bases his reasoning on the
non-existent is building upon the treacherous sands.

“The Pig has a stronger interest than anyone in the demand for bacon,”
wrote Sir Leslie Stephen in his _Social Rights and Duties_. Sir Leslie
was repeatedly invited to make some answer to the criticisms which this
dictum called forth; but courageous champion of intellectual freedom
though he was, he preferred in this instance to take refuge in silence.
To no one but Dr. Stanton Coit has philosophy been indebted for a full
exposition of a comfortable theory which may be expressed (with the
alteration of one word) in Coleridge’s famous lines:

    He prayeth best who _eateth_ best
    All things both great and small.

“If the motive that might produce the greatest number of happiest
cattle,” said Dr. Coit, “would be the eating of beef, then beef-eating,
so far, must be commended. And while heretofore the motive has not been
for the sake of cattle, it is conceivable that, if vegetarian
convictions should spread much further, love for cattle would (if it be
not psychologically incompatible) blend with the love of beef, in the
minds of the opponents of vegetarianism.”[15] According to this ethical
dictum, it will be seen, mankind will continue to eat cows, sheep, pigs,
and other animals for conscience sake--we must be, not conscientious
objectors to butchery, but conscientious _promoters_ of it. So far, Dr.
Coit only set forth in greater detail the argument stated by Professor
Ritchie, Sir Leslie Stephen, and the other casuists in cannibalism; but
now we come to that “psychological incompatibility” to which in a
parenthesis he referred.

     “But we frankly admit,” he continued, “that it is a question
     whether the love of cattle, intensified to the imaginative point of
     individual affection for each separate beast, would not destroy the
     pleasure of eating beef, and render this time-honoured custom
     psychologically impossible. We surmise that bereaved affection at
     the death of a dear creature would destroy the flavour.”

Nothing in controversy ever gave me keener satisfaction than to have
drawn this “surmise,” this pearl of great price, from Dr. Stanton Coit
in the very serious columns of the _Ethical World_. It shows clearly, I
think, why his co-adjutors in the metaphysic of the larder were wise in
their avoidance of discussion.

It seems to be a benign provision of Nature that those who allege
altruistic reasons for selfish actions invariably make themselves
ridiculous. “What would become of the Esquimaux?” was one of the
questions often put to advocates of vegetarianism; probably it is the
only instance on record of any solicitude for the welfare of that remote
people. Then, again, we were frequently asked: “What would become of the
animals?” the implication being that under a vegetarian regime there
would be large numbers of uneaten and neglected quadrupeds left straying
about the earth. An artist friend of mine once drew an amusing picture
to illustrate this “Flesh-Eaters’ Dilemma.” A gentleman and lady,
sitting at a well-ordered dinner-table, are terribly inconvenienced by
an invasion, through the conservatory door, of a number of such
superfluous animals: a cow is putting her head through the window; a
sheep is snatching at the bread; a pig is playing with a rabbit on the
floor; and in the distance a forlorn ox is seen lying in desperation
against the garden gate.

Such are some of the sophisms of which cannibal’s conscience is
prolific. They belong to that class of subterfuge which Bacon designated
_eidola specus_, “idols of the cave,” as lurking in the inmost and
darkest recesses of the human mind. “Fallacies of the Cave-Dweller”
might perhaps be a fitting name for them; for they seem to be
characteristic of the more primitive and uncivilized intelligence.



VI

GLIMPSES OF CIVILIZATION

     Wealth is acquired by overreaching our neighbours, and is spent in
     insulting them.--WILLIAM GODWIN.


In the ’eighties there were two movements especially attractive to one
who was breaking away from the old academical traditions, to wit,
Socialism, the more equitable distribution of wealth; and
Simplification, the saner method of living. William Godwin, in many ways
a true prophet, had foreshadowed the need of both these reforms in that
pungent sentence of his _Political Justice_.

Simplification of life has in all ages had its advocates, but it was not
till the time of Rousseau and the revolutionary epoch that it acquired
its full significance, when the connection between simple living and a
juster social state became obvious and unmistakable, and it was seen
that luxury on the part of one man must involve drudgery on the part of
another. Thoreau’s _Walden_, published in America in 1854, was beginning
to be known in England some thirty years later; and Edward Carpenter’s
essays, afterwards collected in his _England’s Ideal_ (1887), were
pointing the way to a wiser and healthier mode of life. I read some of
those essays while still at Eton; and amid such surroundings they had a
peculiarly vivid interest, as revealing, what was there quite
overlooked, that it was possible to dispense with the greater part of
the trappings with which we were encumbered, and to live far more simply
and cheaply than was dreamed of in polite society.

The removal from a public school to a cottage among the Surrey hills was
something more than a change of residence: it was an emigration, a
romance, a strange new life in some remote antipodes, where the emblems
of the old servitude, such as cap and gown, found new and better uses,
like swords beaten into ploughshares. My gown was cut into strips for
fastening creepers to walls: my top-hat, the last time I remember seeing
it, was shading a young vegetable-marrow. Servants there were none; and
with the loss of them we learnt two things: first that servants do a
great deal more than their employers give them credit for; secondly,
that much of what they do may be lessened or rendered needless by a
little judicious forethought in the arrangement of a house.

One ungrateful office that servants perform is that of protecting their
employers from personal interviews with beggars and tramps; they act as
plenipotentiaries in the business of saying No. In country districts
this certainly saves a good deal of a householder’s time, but whether it
is altogether a benefit to him may be doubted, for tramps are sometimes
an amusing folk, and by no means devoid of humour in their mode of
levying taxes upon the well-to-do. One old mendicant, I remember, who
called at my back door to solicit a small sum for a very special
purpose, and told his tale so skilfully that from admiration, not
conviction, I relieved him, as he himself expressed it, of his immediate
difficulty. Two minutes later there was a gentle knock at my _front_
door, and behold the same old rascal commencing the same old tale! He
had made the mistake of supposing that a single cottage was two
semi-detached ones, and when the door was opened by his late benefactor,
I saw him shaken by a momentary spasm of laughter, so human as to disarm
wrath.

Then there were the “tramps” in the metaphorical sense, the friends and
bidden or unbidden guests whose visits were welcomed in that secluded
region of bare heaths and hills. Edward Carpenter, as the writer of the
books which had shown such life to be possible, was, of course, the
tutelary deity of the place: Bernard Shaw, on the other hand, was the
_advocatus diaboli_, whose professed hatred of the country gave an
additional zest to his appearances there, and culminated in a
characteristic article, “A Sunday on the Surrey Hills,” in which he
described a wet walk on Hindhead and the extremity of his sufferings
until he was restored to London by “the blessed rescuing train.”[16] But
it is dangerous to jest on such subjects; and I regret to say that a
local paper, some years afterwards, in reprinting “G.B.S.’s” jeremiad,
added some scathing editorial comments, which showed a resentment
unmitigated by time, on “a cockney gentleman possessing a very fine
liver, but no soul above his stomach.”[17] In the simplification of
household life, Shaw easily held his own; he was most conscientious and
exemplary in “washing up,” and to see the methodical precision with
which he made his bed was itself a lesson in domestic orderliness. Thus
was realized the truth of what Clough had written in his _Bothie_:

    How even churning and washing, the dairy, the scullery duties,
    Wait but a touch to redeem and convert them to charms and attractions;
    Scrubbing requires for true grace but frank and artistical handling,
    And the removal of slops to be ornamentally treated.

In dealing with tramps, however, even Shaw could be at fault. We once
had a visit from a very undesirable vagrant who held forth at great
length about a fearful wound which he bore on his person; and when his
lecture was ended, Shaw, in the approved Fabian fashion, proceeded to
ask a Question or two. But in such company to question is to suspect;
and the tramp, deeply hurt at any reflection on his veracity, at once
commenced to divest himself of his clothing, so as to offer ocular
proof. “A sight to dream of, not to tell.” We were just saved from it by
an earnest disavowal of any fragment of unbelief.

Among the most welcome of our visitors was “the Wayfarer,” Mr. W. J.
Jupp, author in after years of one of the wisest and most gracious of
books, a real spiritual autobiography, a true story of the heart.[18]
Himself a devoted nature-lover, he brought us tidings of the greatest of
poet-naturalists, Henry David Thoreau, and thus laid me under the first
of the many obligations which I owe to a friendship of old date.

But refreshing though it was thus to throw off the signs and symbols of
Respectability, it is not so easy to drop “the gentleman” as one could
wish, for the tattoo-marks of gentility are almost as ineffaceable as
those of the barbarous ritual in which the islanders of the Pacific
delight. Once a gentleman, always a gentleman: the imputation, like that
of criminality, is hard to live down. I once met the author of _Towards
Democracy_ walking and talking with a very ragged tramp whom he had
overtaken on the high road. The tramp accosted me, as if wishing to
explain matters: “This gentleman----” he began, indicating Mr.
Carpenter. “I’m _not_ a gentleman,” sharply interjected the philosopher;
whereupon the tatterdemalion, with a puzzled look, and a shake of the
head that showed entire bewilderment, forsook us and went shambling on
his way.

As an organized movement, Simplification has not been so successful as
the importance of the subject might have warranted. The Fellowship of
the New Life, a society established in 1883, had the services of many
thoughtful men, among them Mr. Maurice Adams, Mr. W. J. Jupp, Mr.
Herbert Rix, Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald, and Mr. Percival Chubb; but
though its protagonist, Mr. Adams, brought to the cause an exceptional
knowledge and ability, the Fellowship, after lasting a good many years,
gradually flagged and expired. This was the more to be regretted,
because simplification of life is peculiarly liable to misunderstanding
and cheap ridicule, and therefore needed to be set permanently before
the public in a rational form; whereas now it is largely associated in
people’s minds with Pastor Wagner’s book, _The Simple Life_, and similar
banalities. For it is stupid, nothing less, to represent Simplification
as merely a personal matter, and as amounting to little more than
moderation and sincerity in the various departments of life: there is a
_social_ aspect of the question which cannot thus be ignored. As Thoreau
says: “If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must
first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another
man’s shoulders.” Simplicity is not only “a state of mind”: it implies
action as well as taste.

It is not very surprising, perhaps, that this doctrine has been
ridiculed by critics, in view of the unwise manner in which some of its
adherents have preached and practised it. The attractions of Rousseau’s
“return to nature” have been too powerful for the weaker enthusiasts,
who, in their desire to be “natural,” have missed the qualities in which
true naturalness consists. I remember the case of a clever young man,
fresh from the University, who, bitten by the creed of simplicity,
rented a large tract in a sandy wilderness where crops could hardly be
made to grow, and induced an experienced labourer, of the old school, to
bring his family to reside upon this model farm in the hope of there
realizing the ideal. He would be “natural”; that was his constant cry. A
Hardy would have been needed to portray the agricultural tragedies that
ensued. In the fierce heat of a fiery summer the crops withered one by
one, until the heart of the old husbandman was sick within him with a
savage despair. I recall a Sunday stroll, with the party from the farm,
to a hill which overlooked that Sahara where their hopes were buried,
and the deep fervour of the veteran’s ejaculations as he gazed across
the desolate scene. “Well, I _am_--” was his repeated remark; and the
language was quite unfitted for the mixed company at his side.

Against fiascos of this sort stood the fact that the writings of the
true exponents of Simplicity were increasingly read and pondered. In
Thoreau’s genius there was a magnetism which could influence not only
those who knew him, but a later generation of readers, among whom a
common love for the “poet-naturalist” of Concord has often been a link
of friendship (as I have reason to remember with gratitude) between
lives that were otherwise far apart. A first reading of _Walden_ was in
my own case an epoch, a revelation; and I know that in this respect my
experience was not a singular one; nor has the impression which I then
formed of Thoreau’s greatness been in any way lessened, but on the
contrary much strengthened, by my correspondence or personal intercourse
with those who were numbered among his friends.

One of the most remarkable chapters in _Walden_ is that on “Higher
Laws,” in which the ideal of humaneness is insisted on as an essential
part of Simplification. How often, from the lack of such principle, in
the efforts to lead the simple life, has simplicity itself become little
more than sentimentality! Who but a savage, for example, would include
the keeping and killing of pigs as a feature of a model homestead? Yet
in that establishment of which I have spoken, where the avowed aim was
to be “natural,” the pig-killing was a festive event. “Father sticks
’em, brother cleans ’em,” was the description vouchsafed by a charming
young “land-girl” (to use a later-invented term), who dwelt with delight
upon these unsavoury divisions of labour in her Blithedale Romance.
Well might Tolstoy use this pig-killing process in illustration of his
argument that, in any advance toward civilization, a disuse of butchery
must be “the first step.”

Socialism was at that time in its early and romantic stage, when the
menace of the Social Democratic Federation was becoming a terror to the
well-to-do, and when many a dignitary of Church and State shared Dr.
Warre’s belief that to “blow us up” was the diabolical desire of the
incendiaries who denounced Capitalism. Doubtless it was the novelty of
the attack that made it seem so terrible; for Chartism had been largely
forgotten, and Secularism had been filling up the interval as the
national bogey. Certainly in that period of the ’eighties the leading
socialist figures seemed more ominous and sinister than do any in the
Labour movement of to-day. To William Morris, indeed, as being a poet of
wide renown, a sort of licence was accorded to speak as bluntly as he
chose; but Hyndman, Burns, Bax and H. H. Champion were names of dark
import to the “bourgeois” of that date. Mr. Hyndman’s repeated
prophecies of a Revolution were none the less disturbing because they
were always unfulfilled; Mr. Burns was dreaded as a demagogue who had
been imprisoned owing to his defiance of law and order, Mr. Champion, as
a retired army officer, who might possibly turn his military knowledge
to deadly account. To one who knew those reformers personally, and their
fearless labours in an unpopular cause, it is strange to recall the
storm of obloquy which they then had to face; to them and others of like
mettle is due in large measure such progress as has since been made in
the betterment of the conditions of Labour. Their weakness was that they
could not agree among themselves (reformers seldom can); hence the
internal ruptures that wrecked the influence of the S.D.F. Round
Champion in particular the discord raged, until he was ostracized by his
former colleagues; yet no juster word was ever said of him than a
remark made to me, years afterwards, by Mr. John Burns--that if he were
ever in a tight place at a tiger-hunt there was no one whom he would so
gladly have at his side as H. H. C.

With William Morris it was impossible, even for a “comrade,” to have any
quarrel; his utter sincerity and great-heartedness forbad it. But broad
as his geniality was, he used to seem rather nonplussed by such new
ideas as vegetarianism in conjunction with teetotalism. “I’d like to ask
you to have a drink,” he would say, after a meeting or lecture; and then
would add, as in despair: “But you _won’t_ drink.”

One of the memories of those years is the great meeting held in
February, 1888, to welcome John Burns and Cunninghame Graham on their
release from prison. Apart from my admiration for the heroes of the
evening, I had some cause to remember the occasion, because, like many
others who were present, I lost a valuable watch. This placed us in an
embarrassing position; for having assembled to protest against the
conduct of the police in the Square, we could not with dignity invoke
their aid against the pickpockets.

Quite the strangest personality among the socialists of that time was
Dr. Edward Aveling. It is easy to set him down as a scoundrel, but in
truth he was an odd mixture of fine qualities and bad; a double-dealer,
yet his duplicities were the result less of a calculated dishonesty than
of a nature in which there was an excess of the emotional and artistic
element, with an almost complete lack of the moral. The character of
Dubedat in Mr. Bernard Shaw’s play, _The Doctor’s Dilemma_, in some ways
recalls that of Aveling, for nearly every one who had dealings with him,
even those who were on the friendliest of terms, found themselves
victimized, sooner or later, by his fraudulence in money matters. One’s
feelings towards him might, perhaps, have been summed up in the remark
made by one of the characters in _The Doctor’s Dilemma_: “I can’t help
rather liking you, Dubedat. But you certainly are a thorough-going
specimen.”

Yet Aveling’s services to the socialist cause were perfectly sincere;
and so, too, was his love of good literature, though it sometimes
manifested itself in rather too sentimental a strain. He was a skilled
reciter of poetry, and on one occasion when, with Eleanor Marx, he
visited our Surrey cottage, he undertook to read aloud the last Act of
Shelley’s _Prometheus Unbound_. As he gave effect to chorus and
semi-chorus, and to the wonderful succession of spirit voices in that
greatest of lyrical dramas, he trembled and shook in his passionate
excitement, and when he had delivered himself of the solemn words of
Demogorgon with which the poem concludes, he burst into a storm of sobs
and tears. I used to regret that I had never heard his recitation, said
to be his most effective performance, of Poe’s “The Bells”; for there
was something rather uncanny and impish in his nature which doubtless
made him a good interpreter of the weird.

There was real tragedy, however, in Aveling’s alliance with Karl Marx’s
daughter; for Eleanor Marx was a splendid woman, strong both in brain
and in heart, and true as steel to the man who was greatly her inferior
in both, and who treated her at the end with a treachery and ingratitude
which led directly to her death.

As a corrective of the romantic socialism of the S.D.F. arose the
soberer doctrine of Fabianism, a name derived, we are told, from the
celebrated Fabius, who won his victories on the principle of “more
haste, less speed”; else one would have been disposed to trace it to a
derivative of the Latin _fari_, “to talk,” as seen in the word
“con_fab_ulation.” In the early and most interesting days of Fabianism,
its chief champions, known as “the four,” were Sidney Webb, Bernard
Shaw, Sydney Olivier, and Graham Wallas; and assuredly no Roman three
ever “kept the bridge so well” as the Fabian four kept the planks of
their platform in all the assaults that were made on it. Rarely have
better debates been heard than at those fortnightly meetings in Willis’s
Rooms. The trouble indeed with Fabianism was that it became almost _too_
brainy; it used to remind me of Sydney Smith’s remark about some one who
was all mind--that “his intellect was indecently exposed.” Humaneness
found little place in the Fabian philosophy. Once, when visiting a
suburban villa that had just been occupied by a refined Fabian family, I
learned that the ladies of the household, highly intellectual and
accomplished women, had themselves been staining the floors of their new
and charming residence with bullock’s blood brought in a bucket from the
shambles.

Shaw was, of course, the outstanding figure of Fabianism, as he was
bound to be of any movement in which he took permanent part; but he was
a great deal more than Fabian, he was humanitarian as well; and it gives
cause for reflection, as showing how much easier it is to change men’s
theories than their habits, that, while his influence on social and
economic thought has been very marked, his followers in the practice of
the Humanities have been few. It has been noticeable, too, how, in the
many appreciations that have been written of Shaw, his humanitarianism
has been almost entirely ignored, or passed over as an amiable
eccentricity of a man of genius. Yet it is clear that if “G.B.S.,” who,
during the past forty years, has done enough disinterested work to make
the reputation of a score of philanthropists, is “not to be taken quite
seriously,” there is no sense in taking any one seriously. A man is not
less in earnest because he has a rich gift of humour or veils his truths
in paradoxes. Shaw, in fact, is one of the most serious and painstaking
of thinkers: his frivolity is all in the manner, his seriousness in the
intent; whereas, unhappily, in most persons it is the intent that is so
deadly frivolous, and the manner that is so deadly dull.

Perhaps the dulness of our age shows itself most clearly in its humour;
the professional jester of the dinner-table or comic journal is of all
men the most saddening. It is related that when Emerson took his little
boy to see a circus clown, the child looked up with troubled eyes and
said: “Papa, the funny man makes me want to go home.” Many of us must
have felt that sensation when we have heard or read some of the
banalities that pass for humorous. It is here that “G.B.S.” stands out
in refreshing contrast; his wit is as genuine and spontaneous as that of
Sydney Smith; but whereas Sydney Smith was constrained in his old age to
calculate how many cartloads of flesh-meat he consumed in his lifetime,
Bernard Shaw has been able to tell the world that his funeral will be
followed “not by mourning coaches, but by herds of oxen, sheep, swine,
flocks of poultry, and a small travelling aquarium of live
fish”--representatives of grateful fellow-beings whom he has _not_
eaten.[19]

If socialists had cared for the poetical literature of their cause one
half so well as the Chartists did, the names of Francis Adams and John
Barlas would have been far more widely known. It was Mr. W. M. Rossetti
who drew my attention to Adams’s fiery volume of verse, the _Songs of
the Army of the Night_, first published in Australia in 1887; and as I
was then preparing an anthology of _Songs of Freedom_ I got into
communication with the writer, and our acquaintance quickly ripened into
friendship. Francis Adams was a poet of Socialism in a much truer sense
than William Morris; for, while Morris was a poet who became a
socialist, Adams, like Barlas, was less a convert to Socialism than a
scion of Socialism, a veritable _Child of the Age_, to quote the title
of his own autobiographical romance, in the storm and stress of his
career. He had received a classical education at Shrewsbury School (the
“Glastonbury” of his novel), and after a brief spell of schoolmastering,
had became a journalist and wanderer. He was connected for a short
time, in 1883 or thereabouts, with the Social Democratic Federation, and
enrolled himself a member under the Regent’s Park trees one Sunday
afternoon at a meeting addressed by his friend, Frank Harris. In
Australia, for a time, where he took an active part in the Labour
movement, and wrote frequently for the _Sydney Bulletin_ and other
journals, he had many friends and admirers; but just as a Parliamentary
career was opening for him he was crippled by illness, and returned to
England, a consumptive, in 1890, to die three years later by his own
hand.

Of Adams’s prose works the most remarkable is _A Child of the Age_,
written when he was only eighteen, and first printed under the title of
_Leicester, an Autobiography_, an extraordinarily fascinating, if
somewhat morbid story, which deserves to be ranked with _Wuthering
Heights_ and _The Story of an African Farm_, among notable works of
immature imagination. He told me that it was written almost
spontaneously: it just “came to him” to write it, and he himself felt
that it was an abnormal book. Of the _Songs of the Army of the Night_,
he said that they were intended to do what had never before been
done--to express what might be the feelings of a member of the working
classes as he found out the hollowness, to him, of our culture and
learning; hence the pitiless invective which shows itself in many of the
poems. As surely as Elliott’s “Corn Law Rhymes” spoke the troubled
spirit of their age, so do these fierce keen lyrics, on fire alike with
love and with hate, express the passionate sympathies and deep
resentments of the socialist movement in its revolt from a sham
philanthropy and patriotism. No rebel poet has ever “arraigned his
country and his day” in more burning words than Adams in his stanzas “To
England.”

    I, whom you fed with shame and starved with woe,
      I wheel above you,
    Your fatal Vulture, for I hate you so,
      I almost love you.

But the _Songs_ are not only denunciatory; they have a closer and more
personal aspect, as in the infinitely compassionate “One among so Many,”
which endears them to the heart of the reader as only a few choice books
are ever endeared. In their strange mixture of sweetness and bitterness,
they are very typical of Francis Adams himself: he was at one moment,
and in one aspect, the most simple and lovable of beings; at another,
the most aggressively critical and fastidious.[20]

But if Francis Adams has not received his just meed of recognition, what
shall be said of John Barlas, whose seven small volumes of richest and
most melodious verse were printed (they can hardly be said to have been
published) under the _nom de plume_ of “Evelyn Douglas,” and mostly in
places remote from the world of books? When full allowance is made for
such drawbacks, it is strange that literary critics, ever on the
look-out for new genius, failed to discover Barlas; for though the
number of modern poets is considerable, the born singers are still as
few and far between as before; yet it was to that small and select class
that Barlas unmistakably belonged. His _Poems Lyrical and Dramatic_
(1884) contained, with much that was faulty and immature, many
exquisitely beautiful lyrics, the expression of a genuine gift of song.
A Greek in spirit, he also possessed in a high degree the sense of
brotherhood with all that breathes, and was ever aspiring in his poetry
not only to the enjoyment of what is best and most beautiful on earth,
but to a fairer and happier state of society among mankind. Nor was he a
dreamer only, intent on some far horizon of the future; he was an ardent
lover of liberty and progress in the present; and this hope, too, found
worthy utterance in his verse. It would be difficult to say where
Freedom has been more nobly presented than in his poem to “Le Jeune
Barbaroux”:

    Freedom, her arm outstretched, but lips firm set,
    Freedom, her eyes with tears of pity wet,
      But her robe splashed with drops of bloody dew,
    Freedom, thy goddess, is our goddess yet,
              Young Barbaroux.

Of Barlas’s _Love Sonnets_ (1889) it may be said without exaggeration
that, unknown though they are to the reading public and to any but a
mere handful of students, they are not undeserving to be classed among
the best sonnet-sequences. It was Meredith’s opinion that as
sonnet-writer Barlas took “high rank among the poets of his time”; and
that the concluding sonnet was “unmatched for nobility of sentiment.”
Nobility was indeed a trait of all Barlas’s poetry, and of his
character. Sprung from the line of the famous Kate Douglas who won the
name of Bar-lass, he was noted even in his school-days for magnanimity
and courage; and in no way did those qualities show themselves more
clearly than in the dignity with which he bore long years of failure and
misfortune, darkened at times by insanity.

The winter of 1891-1892 had brought the one occasion on which Barlas’s
name came before the public. He was charged with firing a revolver at
the House of Commons, which he did to mark his contempt for
Parliamentary rule; but when H. H. Champion and Oscar Wilde offered
themselves as sureties, he was discharged in the care of his friends. I
first heard from him, through Champion, soon after that event, in a
letter in which he spoke of his poetry as having been “three parts of my
religion”; but it was not till ten or twelve years later that I became
closely acquainted with him, and then he wrote to me regularly till his
death in 1914. His letters, written mostly from an asylum in Scotland,
are among the most interesting I have ever received; for in spite of his
ill health he was an untiring student, a great classical scholar, and
deeply read in many Greek and Latin authors whose works lie outside the
narrow range of school and University curriculum. But his genius was in
his poems; and it is to be hoped that a selection from these may yet see
the light.

Thus it was that these two poets, Adams and Barlas, though true-born
children of Socialism, were precluded, owing to the misfortunes which
beset their lives, from taking active part in its advocacy. Edward
Carpenter, on the other hand, if unattached to any one section of
reformers, has been one of the most influential writers and speakers in
the socialist cause; and his name is deservedly honoured not only for
his many direct services to the movement, but for the personal
friendship which he has extended to fellow-workers, and indeed to all
who have sought his aid--giving freely where, in the nature of the case,
there could be little or no return. His cottage at Millthorpe had
already become, in the ’nineties, a place of pilgrimage, the resort of
“comrades” who dropped down on him from the surrounding hills, or
swarmed up the valley from Chesterfield like a tidal wave, or “bore,” as
he aptly described it. His friend George Adams and family were then
living with him at Millthorpe; and those who had the good fortune to be
intimate with that delightful household will always remember their
visits with pleasure. George Adams, the sandal-maker, was as charming a
companion as the heart could desire, full of artistic feeling (witness
his beautiful watercolours), of quaint humorous fancies, and of
unfailing kindliness. His memory is very dear to his friends.

One of the strangest things said about Edward Carpenter, and by one of
his most admiring critics, is that he has no faculty for organization. I
used often to be struck by the great patience and adroitness with which
he marshalled and managed his numerous uninvited guests. He might fairly
have exclaimed, with Emerson:

    Askest “how long thou shalt stay”?
    Devastator of the day!

But though the pilgrims often showed but little consideration for their
host, in the manner and duration of their visits, he seemed to be always
master of the emergency, receiving the new-comers, however untimely
their arrival, with imperturbable urbanity, and gently detaching the
limpets with a skill that made them seem to be taking a voluntary and
intended departure. It was hospitality brought to a fine art.

For many years there was a quaint division of Carpenter’s writings in
the British Museum catalogue, his earlier works being attributed to one
Edward Carpenter, “Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge,” and the later to
another Edward Carpenter, placed on the lower grade of “Social
Reformer.” There was, perhaps, some propriety, as well as unconscious
humour in this dual arrangement; for Carpenter, like Morris, was not a
socialist born, but one who, by force of natural bias, had gravitated
from Respectability to Freedom; and his writings bore obvious tokens of
the change.

Another and more audacious classification was once propounded to me by
Bernard Shaw, viz. that future commentators would divide Carpenter’s
works into two periods; first, that of the comparatively trivial books
written before he came in contact with “G.B.S.”; secondly, that of the
really important contributions to literature, where the Shavian
influence is discernible. I mentioned this scheme to Carpenter; and he
smilingly suggested that if there were any indebtedness, the names of
the debtor and the creditor must be reversed. But it would have been as
reasonable for an elephant to claim to have influenced a whale, or a
whale an elephant, as for either the thinker or the seer, each moving
in quite a different province, to suppose that he had affected the
other’s course. One common influence they felt--the desire to humanize
the barbarous age in which they lived--and it is strange that Carpenter,
in his book on “Civilization,” should have bestowed so fair and
unmerited a name on a state of society which, in spite of all its
boasted sciences and mechanical inventions, is at heart little else than
an ancient Savagery in a more complex and cumbrous form.



VII

THE POET-PIONEER

     I know not the internal constitution of other men.... I see that in
     some external attributes they resemble me, but when, misled by that
     appearance, I have thought to appeal to something in common, and
     unburthen my inmost soul to them, I have found my language
     misunderstood, like one in a distant and savage land.--SHELLEY.


The words quoted above would savour of self-righteousness, if put into
the mouth of any one but the poet who wrote them. Coming from Shelley,
they do not give that impression; for we feel of him that, as Leigh Hunt
used to say, he was “a spirit that had darted out of its orb and found
itself in another world ... he had come from the planet Mercury.” Or,
rather, he was a prophet and forerunner of a yet distant state of
society upon this planet Earth, when the savagery of our past and
present shall have been replaced by a civilization that is to be.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century Shelley’s influence was
very powerful, not only upon the canons of poetry, but upon ideals of
various kinds--upon free-thought, socialism, sex-questions, food-reform,
and not a few other problems of intellectual and ethical import. The
Chartist movement set the example. In a letter which I received from
Eleanor Marx in 1892 she spoke of the “enormous influence” exercised by
Shelley’s writings upon leading Chartists: “I have heard my father and
Engels again and again speak of this; and I have heard the same from the
many Chartists it has been my good fortune to know--Ernest Jones,
Richard Moore, the Watsons, G. J. Harvey, and others.” What was true of
Chartism held equally good of other movements; as indeed was admitted
by Shelley’s detractors as well as claimed by his friends: witness Sir
Leslie Stephen’s complaint that “the devotees of some of Shelley’s pet
theories” had become “much noisier.” In the ’eighties, the interest
aroused by the controversies that raged about Shelley, both as poet and
as pioneer, was especially strong, as was proved by the renewed output
of Shelleyan literature, such as Mr. Forman’s and Mr. W. M. Rossetti’s
editions of the works, the biography of Dr. Dowden, and the numerous
publications of the Shelley Society, dating from 1886 to 1892. It was a
time when the old abusive view of Shelley, as a fiend incarnate, was
giving way to the equally irrational apologetic view--the “poor, poor
Shelley” period--of which Dowden was the spokesman; yet a good deal of
the old bitterness still remained, and Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson’s lurid
fiction, entitled “The Real Shelley,” was published as late as 1885.

It is difficult for a humble student of such a genius as Shelley to
speak frankly of the debt that he owes to him, without seeming to forget
his own personal unimportance; but I prefer to risk the misunderstanding
than to leave the tribute unsaid. From the day when at a preparatory
school I was first introduced to Shelley’s lyrics by having some stanzas
of “The Cloud” set for translation into Latin, I never doubted that he
stood apart from all other poets in the enchantment of his verse; and I
soon learnt that there was an equal distinction in the beauty and wisdom
of his thoughts; so that he became to me, as to others, what Lucretius
found in Epicurus, a guide and solace in all the vicissitudes of life:

    Thou art the father of our faith, and thine
    Our holiest precepts; from thy songs divine,
    As bees sip honey in some flowery dell,
    Cull we the glories of each golden line,
    Golden, and graced with life imperishable.[21]

At Eton there was little knowledge of Shelley, and still less
understanding. When it was first proposed to place a bust of the poet in
the Upper School, Dr. Hornby is said to have replied: “No: he was a bad
man,” and to have expressed a humorous regret that he had not been
educated at Harrow. I once read a paper on Shelley before the Ascham
Society, and was amazed at the ignorance that prevailed about him among
Eton masters: only one or two of them had any acquaintance with the
longer poems; the rest had read the lines “To a Skylark”; one told us
with a certain amount of pride that he had read “Adonais”; many thought
the poet a libertine; and though they did not say that he was a disgrace
to Eton, it was evident that that was the underlying sentiment. Several
years after I had left Eton, William Cory wrote a paper for the Shelley
Society on “Shelley’s Classics” (viz. his knowledge of Greek and Latin),
which, in his absence, I read at one of the Society’s meetings; and I
remember being surprised to find that even he regarded Shelley as a
verbose and tedious writer.

From Mr. Kegan Paul, who was a friend of Sir Percy and Lady Shelley, I
had heard all that was known of the inner history of Shelley’s life; and
as, after the publication of Dowden’s biography in 1886, the main facts
were no longer in dispute, it seemed to me that the best service that
could then be rendered to his memory was to show how, far from being a
“beautiful and ineffectual angel,” he was a beautiful but very efficient
prophet of reform. This I did, or tried to do, in various essays
published about the time when the Shelley Society was beginning its
work; and I was thus brought into close touch with it during the seven
years of its existence. As illustrating how the old animosities still
smouldered, more than sixty years after Shelley’s death, I am tempted to
quote a testimonial received by me from a critic in the _Westminster
Review_, where I found myself described as one of the writers who
grubbed amongst “the offensive matter” of Shelley’s life “with gross
minds and grunts of satisfaction,” and as having made “an impudent
endeavour to gain the notoriety of an iconoclast amongst social heretics
with immoral tendencies and depraved desires.” There was the old genuine
ring about this, and I felt that I must be on the right track as a
Shelley student. I knew, too, from letters which I had received from
Lady Shelley, the poet’s daughter-in-law, whose _Shelley Memorials_ was
the starting-point of all the later appreciations, that I was not
writing without credentials. “For the last thirty-five years,” she wrote
to me in 1888, speaking for Sir Percy Shelley and herself, “we have
suffered so much from what has been written on Shelley by those who had
not the capacity of understanding his character, and were utterly
ignorant of the circumstances which shaped his life, that I cannot
refrain from expressing our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the
comfort and pleasure we have had in reading your paper.” And later: “It
is a great happiness to me to know, in my old age, that when I am gone
there will be some one left to do battle for the truth against those
whose nature prevents them from seeing in Shelley’s beautiful unselfish
love and kindness anything but evil.”

The Shelley Society, founded by Dr. F. J. Furnivall in 1886, had the
support of a large number of the poet’s admirers, among whom were Mr. W.
M. Rossetti, Mr. Stopford Brooke, Mr. Buxton Forman, Mr. Hermann Vezin,
Dr. John Todhunter, Mr. F. S. Ellis, Mr. Stanley Little, and Mr. Bernard
Shaw; and much useful work was done in the way of meetings and
discussions, the publication of essays on Shelley, and facsimile
reprints of some of his rarer volumes, thus throwing new light,
biographical or bibliographical, on many doubtful questions. I will
refer only to one of these, in which I was myself concerned, a study of
“Julian and Maddalo,” which I read at a meeting in 1888, and which was
subsequently printed in the _Shelley Society’s Papers_ and reissued as a
pamphlet. Its object was to make clear what had been overlooked by
Dowden, Rossetti, and the chief authorities, though hinted at by one or
two writers, viz. that the story of “the maniac” (in “Julian and
Maddalo”) was not, as generally supposed, a mere fanciful interpolation,
but a piece of poetical autobiography, a veiled record of Shelley’s own
feelings at the time of his separation from Harriet. On this point Dr.
Furnivall wrote to me (April 16, 1888): “Robert Browning says he has
always held the main part of your view, from the first publication of
‘Julian and Maddalo,’ but you must not push it into detail. I had a long
talk with him last night.”

The greatest single achievement of the Shelley Society was the staging
of _The Cenci_ at the Islington Theatre, in 1886. The performance was
technically a private one, as the Licenser of Plays had refused his
sanction; but great public interest was aroused, and the acting of Mr.
Hermann Vezin as Count Cenci, and of Miss Alma Murray as Beatrice--“the
poetic actress without a rival” was Browning’s description of her--made
the event one which no lover of Shelley could forget. If the Society had
done nothing else than this, its existence would still have been
justified.

Every literary association, like every social movement, is sure to have
a humorous aspect as well as a serious one, and the Shelley Society was
very far from being an exception to this beneficent rule; indeed, on
looking back over its career, one has to check the impulse to be
absorbed in the laughable features of the proceedings, to the exclusion
of its really valuable work. The situation was rich in delightful
incongruities; for the bulk of the Committee, while admiring Shelley’s
poetical genius, seemed quite unaware of the conclusions to which his
principles inevitably led, and of the live questions which any genuine
study of Shelley was certain to awake. Accordingly, when Mr. G. W.
Foote, the President of the National Secular Society, gave an address
before a very large audience on Shelley’s religion, the Committee, with
a few exceptions, marked their disgust for the lecturer’s views, which
happened also to be Shelley’s, by the expedient of staying away. I think
it was on an earlier occasion that Bernard Shaw appalled the company by
commencing a speech with the words: “I, as a socialist, an atheist, and
a vegetarian....” I remember how the honorary secretary, speaking to me
afterwards, as to a sympathetic colleague, said that he had always
understood that if a man avowed himself an atheist it was the proper
thing “to go for him”; but when I pointed out that, whatever might be
thought of such a course as a general rule, it would be a little
difficult to act on it in a Shelley Society, he seemed struck by my
suggestion. Anyhow, we did not go for Shaw; perhaps we knew that he had
studied the noble art of self-defence.

Then there was sad trouble on the Committee when Dr. Aveling applied for
membership, for the majority decided to refuse it--his marriage
relations being similar to Shelley’s--and it was only by the determined
action of the chairman, Mr. W. M. Rossetti, who threatened to resign if
the resolution were not cancelled, that the difficulty was surmounted.
This was by no means the only occasion on which William Rossetti’s sound
sense rescued the Society from an absurd and impossible position; but
sane as were his judgments in all practical matters, he was himself
somewhat lacking in humour, as was made evident by a certain lecture
which he gave us on “Shelley and Water”; a title, by the way, which
might have been applied, not inaptly, to the sentiments of several of
our colleagues. There are, as all Shelley students know, some curious
references, in the poems, to death by drowning; and we thought that the
lecturer intended to comment on these, and on any passages which might
illustrate the love which Shelley felt for sailing on river or sea; we
were therefore rather taken aback when we found that the lecture, which
was divided into two parts, viz. “Shelley and Salt Water” and “Shelley
and Fresh Water,” consisted of little more than the quotation of a
number of passages. We heard the first part (I forget whether it was the
salt or the fresh), and then, at Dr. Furnivall’s suggestion, the second
was withdrawn. There was comedy in this; but none the less all lovers of
Shelley owe gratitude to Mr. W. M. Rossetti, for he was one of the first
critics to understand the real greatness of Shelley’s genius, and to
appreciate not the poetry alone, but the conceptions by which it was
inspired. He likewise did good service in introducing to the public some
original writers, Walt Whitman among them, whose recognition might
otherwise have been delayed.

But the outstanding figure of the Shelley Society was that of its
founder, Dr. F. J. Furnivall, the veteran scholar and sculler, a grand
old man whose unflagging ardour in his favourite pursuits might have
shamed many enthusiasts who were his juniors by half a century. A born
fighter, the vehemence of his disputes with certain men of letters
(Swinburne, for example), was notorious; but personally he was kindness
itself, and I have most pleasant recollections of the many visits which
I paid him in his house near Primrose Hill, where, sitting in a big
arm-chair, he would talk eagerly, as he took tea, over the men he had
known or the Societies he had founded. His tea-tray used to be placed on
a sort of small bridge which rested on the arms of the chair, and in his
excitement over a thrilling anecdote, I have seen him forget that he was
thus restricted, and springing forward send tray and tea flying together
across the room. He once told me that, for hygienic reasons, he had been
a vegetarian for twenty years, and had done the hardest work of his life
without flesh-food: then, happening to be confined to the house with
sprained ankles, he got out of health by neglecting to reduce his daily
diet. Just at that moment a friend sent him a turkey, and he said to
himself: “Now, why should this fine bird be wasted, owing to a mere whim
of mine?” Thus had he relapsed into cannibalism as lightly as he
relinquished it.

There was an innocence and _naïveté_ about Furnivall which at times was
almost boyish; his impetuosity and total lack of discretion made him
insensible to other persons’ feelings, so that he gave direful offence,
and trod on the toes of many good people, without being in the least
conscious of it. He ruined the Browning Society, of which he was both
founder and _con_founder, by an ill-advised speech about Jesus Christ,
in a discussion on “Christmas Eve and Easter Day”; and in like manner,
though with less serious results, he startled his Shelleyan friends,
when Prometheus was the subject of debate, by asking in tones of
impatience: “_Why_ did the fellow allow himself to be chained to the
rock? _Why_ didn’t he show fight, as I should have done?” And certainly,
when one thinks of it, there would have been trouble in the Caucasus, if
Dr. Furnivall had been bidden to play the martyr’s part.

Knowing of my connection with Eton, Dr. Furnivall once came to me, in
high spirits, with the news that in some researches at the British
Museum he had by chance unearthed the fact that Nicholas Udall, a
headmaster of Eton in the sixteenth century, and one of the recognized
“worthies” of the school, had been convicted of a criminal offence--its
nature I must leave my readers to surmise. I had heard this before, but
I could not spoil the old man’s glee by saying so; I therefore
congratulated him warmly, and asked him, in jest, whether he would not
write to Dr. Warre and tell him of so interesting a discovery. “I _have_
written to him,” he cried; and then, with a shade of real surprise and
disappointment on his face: “But he’s not answered me!”

During the latter part of the Shelley Society’s career, when its
fortunes were dimmed, and many of its fashionable members had dropped
off, we still continued to hold our monthly meetings at University
College, Gower Street, and very quaint little gatherings some of them
were. The audience at times numbered no more than five or six, and the
“proceedings” might have altogether failed had it not been for two or
three devoted enthusiasts who never slackened in their attendance. One
of these was Mrs. Simpson, an old lady who became to the Shelley Society
what Miss Flite was to the Court of Chancery in _Bleak House_, an
ever-present spectator and ally. We all liked and respected her--she was
humanitarian as well as Shelleyan--but we were a little embarrassed when
her filial piety prompted her to give us copies of her father’s
writings, a bulky volume entitled _The Works of Henry Heavisides_. It
was a sobering experience to become possessed of that book, the title of
which conveyed a true indication of the contents.

The Shelley Centenary (August 4, 1892) marked the climax of the cult
which had had so great a vogue in the previous decade. The local meeting
held at Horsham in the afternoon, when Sussex squires and literary
gentlemen from London united in an attempt to whitewash Shelley’s
character--those “shining garments” of his, “so little specked with
mire,” as one speaker expressed it--was a very hollow affair which
contrasted sharply with the London celebration held in the evening at
the Hall of Science, when Mr. G. W. Foote presided, and Mr. Bernard Shaw
convulsed the audience by his description of the Horsham apologetics. An
account of both these meetings was written by “G.B.S.” in his best vein,
and printed in the _Albemarle Review_: it was in this article that he
made the suggestion that Shelley should be represented, at Horsham, on a
bas-relief, “in a tall hat, Bible in hand, leading his children on
Sunday morning to the church of his native parish.”

That piece of sculpture has never been executed; but it would hardly
have been more inappropriate than the two chief monuments that have
been erected, the one in Christchurch Priory, Hants, the other at
University College, Oxford; for what could be less in keeping with the
impression left by Shelley’s ethereal genius than to figure him, as is
done in both these works, as a dead body, stretched limp and pitiful
like some suicide’s corpse at the Morgue? Let us rid our thoughts of all
such ghastly and funereal notions of Shelley, and think of him as what
he is, the poet not of death but of life,[22] that nobler life to which
mankind shall yet attain, when they have learnt, in his own words:

    To live as if to love and live were one.

The most human portrait of Shelley, to my thinking, is the one painted
by a young American artist, William West, who met him at Byron’s villa
near Leghorn, in 1822, and being greatly struck by his personality, made
a rough sketch which he afterwards finished and took back to America.
There it was preserved after West’s death, and reproduced for the first
time in the _Century Magazine_ in October, 1905, with an explanatory
article by its present owner, Mrs. John Dunn. By the courtesy of Mrs.
Dunn, I was able to use this portrait as a frontispiece to a revised
edition of my study of Shelley, published in 1913. Mr. Buxton Forman
told me that he did not believe in the genuineness of the picture; but
readers of _Letters about Shelley_ (1917) will see that Dr. Richard
Garnett held a contrary opinion, and so, as I know, did Mr. W. M.
Rossetti. Some account of West’s meeting with Shelley, and of his
recollections of Byron, may be found in Henry Theodore Tuckerman’s _Book
of the Artists_. His portrait of Byron is well known; and there seems to
be no inherent improbability in the account given of the origin and
preservation of the other picture, which certainly impresses one as
being more in agreement with the verbal descriptions of Shelley in his
later years than the almost boyish countenance so familiar in
engravings.

Shelley is the greatest of the poet-pioneers of civilization, and his
influence is still very far from having reached its zenith: he is “the
poet of the young” in the sense that future generations will be better
and better able to understand him.

    Thy wisdom lacks not years, thy wisdom grows
    With _our_ growth and the growth of time unborn.[23]



VIII

VOICES CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS

    I suffer mute and lonely, yet another
    Uplifts his voice to let me know a brother
      Travels the same wild paths though out of sight.
           JAMES THOMSON (B.V.).


Poets, as Shelley said, are “the hierophants of an unapprehended
inspiration, the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts
upon the present.” The surest solace for the conditions in which men’s
lives are still lived is to be found in the utterances of those
impassioned writers, poets or poet-naturalists as we may call them, who
are the harbingers of a higher social state, and, as such, have power to
cheer their fellow-beings with the charm of their speech, though it is
only by the few that the full purport of their message can be
understood. It is of some of these lights in the darkness, these voices
crying in the wilderness, that I would now speak.

There would seem, at first sight, to be a great gulf fixed between
Shelley and James Thomson, between optimist and pessimist, between the
poet of _Prometheus Unbound_ whose faith in the future was immutable,
and him of _The City of Dreadful Night_, who so despaired of progress as
to hold that before we can reform the present we must reform the past.
Yet it was on Thomson’s shoulders that the mantle of Shelley descended,
in so far as they were the singers of free-thought; and he was one of
the earliest of all writers of distinction to apprehend the greatness of
that “poet of poets and purest of men” to whom his own _Vane’s Story_
was dedicated. Though we do not assent to the pessimistic contention
that we are the product of a past which has foredoomed human effort to
failure, we may still profit by the _mood_ of pessimism, the genuine
vein of sadness that is found in all literatures and felt at times by
all thoughtful men; for in its due place and proportion it is as real as
the contrary mood of joy. Why, then, should the darker mood be
sedulously discountenanced, as if it came from the source of all evil?
It stands for something; it is part of us, and it is not to be
arbitrarily set aside.

So wonderful a poem as _The City of Dreadful Night_ needs no apology;
its justification is in its own grandeur and strength: nor ought such
literature to be depressing in its effect on the reader’s mind, but
rather (in its right sphere and relation) a means of enlightenment and
help. For whatever the subject and moral of a poem may be, there is
nothing saddening in Art, provided the form and treatment be adequate;
we are not discouraged but cheered by any revelation of feeling that is
sincerely and nobly expressed. I hold Thomson, therefore, pessimist
though he was, to have been, by virtue of his indomitable courage and
love of truth, one of the inspired voices of democracy.

Over thirty years ago I was requested by Mr. Bertram Dobell, Thomson’s
friend and literary executor, to write a Life of the poet; and in the
preparation of that work, which involved a good deal of search for
scattered letters and other biographical material, I was brought into
touch not only with many personal friends of Thomson, such as Mr.
Charles Bradlaugh, Mr. G. W. Foote, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Wright, Mrs.
H. Bradlaugh Bonner, Mr. J. W. Barrs, Mr. Charles Watts, and Mr. Percy
Holyoake, but also with some well-known writers, among them Mr. George
Meredith, Mr. Swinburne, Mr. Watts-Dunton, Mr. W. M. Rossetti, and Mr.
William Sharp. I was impressed by the warm regard in which Thomson’s
memory was held by those who had known him, the single exception being a
sour old landlady in a gloomy London street, of whose remarks I took
note as an instance of the strangely vague views held in some quarters
as to the function of a biographer. She could give me no information
about her impecunious lodger, except that he had “passed away”; but she
added that if I wished to write the Life of a good man, a real
Christian, and a total abstainer--here she looked at me dubiously, as if
questioning my ability to carry out her suggestion--there was her dear
departed husband!

In another case an old friend of Thomson’s, who told me many interesting
facts about his early life, detained me just as I was taking my
departure, and said in a meditative way, as if anxious to recall even
the veriest trifle: “I think I remember that Jimmy once wrote a poem on
some subject or other.” What he imagined to be my object in writing a
Life of an obscure Army schoolmaster, except that he _had_ written a
poem, I did not discover; perhaps the idea was that the biographer goes
about, like the lion, seeking whom he may devour.

In literary circles there has always been a strong prejudice against
“B.V.,” owing, of course, to his atheistical views and the general lack
of “respectability” in his life and surroundings. I was told by Mr.
William Sharp that, just after the _Life of James Thomson_ was
published, he happened to be travelling to Scotland in company with Mr.
Andrew Lang, and having with him a copy of the book, which he was
reviewing for the _Academy_, he tried to engage his companion in talk
about Thomson, but was met by a marked disinclination to discuss a
subject so uncongenial. I was not surprised at hearing this; but I had
been puzzled by a refusal which I received from Mr. Swinburne to allow
me to publish a letter which he had addressed to Mr. W. M. Rossetti some
years before, in high praise of Thomson’s narrative poem “Weddah and
Om-el-Bonain,” which he had described as possessing “forthright
triumphant power.” That letter, so Mr. Swinburne wrote to me, had been
inspired by “a somewhat extravagant and uncritical enthusiasm,” and he
now spoke in rather severe reprobation of Thomson, as one who might have
left behind him “a respectable and memorable name.” The word
“respectable,” coming from the author of _Poems and Ballads_, deserves
to be noted.

About two years later, in 1890, the immediate cause of this change of
opinion on Mr. Swinburne’s part was explained to me by no less an
authority than Mr. Watts-Dunton, who had invited me to pay him a visit
in order to have a talk about Thoreau. During a stroll on Putney Heath,
shared by Mr. Bernard Shaw, Mr. Watts-Dunton told me the story of James
Thomson’s overthrow; and as the similar downfall of Whitman, and of some
of Swinburne’s other early favourites, was probably brought about in the
same manner, the process is worth relating. Mr. Swinburne, as I have
said, had written in rapturous praise of one of “B.V.’s” poems. One day
Mr. Watts-Dunton said to him: “I wish you would re-read that poem of
Thomson’s, as I cannot see that it possesses any great merit.” A few
days later Swinburne came to him and said: “You are quite right. I have
re-read ‘Weddah and Om-el-Bonain,’ and I find that it has very little
value.” Watts-Dunton’s influence over his friend was so complete that
there are in fact _two_ Swinburnes: the earlier, democratic poet of the
_Songs before Sunrise_, who had not yet been rescued by Mr.
Watts-Dunton; and the later, respectable Swinburne, whose bent was for
the most part reactionary. A “lost leader” indeed! Contrary to the
proverb, the appeal, in this case, must be from Philip sober to Philip
drunk.

At the luncheon which followed our walk, Mr. Swinburne was present, and
one could not help observing that in personal matters, as in his
literary views, he seemed to be almost dependent on Mr. Watts-Dunton:
he ran to him with a new book like a poetic child with a plaything. His
amiability of manner and courtesy were charming; but his delicate face,
quaint chanting voice, and restlessly twitching fingers, gave an
impression of weakness. He talked, I remember, of Meredith’s _Sandra
Belloni_ and _Diana of the Crossways_, and complained of their obscurity
(“Can you construe them?”); then of his reminiscences of Eton, with
friendly inquiries about my father-in-law, the Rev. J. L. Joynes, who
had been his tutor and house-master; also about one of the French
teachers, Mr. Henry Tarver, with whom he had been on very intimate
terms. Here a few words on the poet’s adventures at Eton may not be out
of place.[24]

It is stated in Gosse’s Life of Swinburne that there is no truth in the
legend that he was bullied at Eton; it is, however, a fact that his Eton
career was not altogether an untroubled one. Mr. Joynes used to tell how
Swinburne once came to him before school and begged to be allowed to
“stay out,” because he was afraid to face some bigger boys who were
temporarily attached to his Division--“those dreadful boys,” he called
them. “Oh, sir, they wear tail coats! Sir, they are men!” The request
was not granted; but his tutor soothed the boy by reading a Psalm with
him, and thus fortified he underwent the ordeal.

One very characteristic anecdote has unfortunately been told
incorrectly. Lady Jane Swinburne had come to Eton to see her son, who
was ill, and she read Shakespeare to him as he lay in bed. When she left
him for a time, a maid, whom she had brought with her, was requested to
continue the reading, and she did so, with the result that a glass of
water which stood on a table by the bedside was presently dashed over
her by the invalid. In the version quoted by his biographer the glass
of water has become “a pot of jam”--quite wrongly, as I can testify, for
I heard Mr. Joynes tell the story more than once.

Swinburne was not allowed to read Byron or Shelley while he was at Eton.
In Mr. Joynes’s house there was a set of volumes of the old English
dramatists, and the young student urgently begged to be permitted to
read these. “Might he read Ford?” To settle so difficult a question
recourse was had to the advice of Mr. W. G. Cookesley, a master who was
reputed “to know about everything”; and Mr. Cookesley’s judgment was
that the boy might read all Ford’s plays except one--the one, of course,
which has a title calculated to alarm. But this, it transpired, was one
that he had specially wished to read!

Mr. Watts-Dunton has been well described by Mr. Coulson Kernahan as “a
hero of friendship”; and his personal friendliness was shown not to
distinguished writers only, but to any one whom he could encourage or
help, nor did he take the least offence, however bluntly his own
criticisms were criticized. In reviewing _The City of Dreadful Night_,
on its first appearance in book form (1880), he had said that Thomson
wrote in his pessimistic style “because now it is the fashion to be
dreadful,” a denial of the sincerity of the poet to which I referred in
my _Life of James Thomson_ as one of the strangest of misapprehensions.
When I met Mr. Watts-Dunton, he alluded to this and other matters
concerning Thomson so genially as to make me wonder how he could at
times have written in so unsympathetic and unworthy a manner of authors
whom he disliked. Admirers of Walt Whitman, in particular, had reason to
resent the really disgusting things that were said of him; as when he
was likened to a savage befouling the door-step of the civilized man.
That Whitman himself must have been indignant at the jibes levelled at
him from Putney Heath can hardly be doubted: I was told by a friend of
his that he had been heard to speak of Swinburne--the _second_
Swinburne--as “a damned simulacrum.”

Very different from Swinburne’s ungenerous attitude to Thomson was that
of George Meredith, as may be seen from several of his letters to me,
published in the _Life of James Thomson_, and reprinted in _Letters of
George Meredith_. A proposal was made that Mr. Meredith should himself
write an appreciation of “B.V.”; this he could not do, but he gave me
permission to make use of any opinions he had expressed by letter to me
or in conversation; I visited him at Box Hill in 1891, and he talked at
great length on that and other subjects. Of Thomson he spoke with
feelings akin to affection, exclaiming more than once: “Poor dear
fellow! I bitterly reproach myself that I did not help him more, by
getting him work on the _Athenæum_.” But he doubted if he could at that
date have been reclaimed: earlier in life he might have been saved, he
thought, by the companionship of a woman who would have given him
sympathy and aid; praise, too, which had been the ruin of many writers
(he instanced George Eliot and Dickens, with some trenchant remarks
about both) would have been good for “B.V.,” who was so brave and
honest. He himself, he said, had often felt what it was to lack all
recognition, and sometimes, when he had looked up from his writing and
seen a distant field in sunlight, he had thought, “it must be well to be
in the warmth.” What above all he admired in Thomson was his resolute
clear courage. There had been no mention of pessimism in their talk,
except that when he had been speaking of the brightest and the darkest
moods of Nature, Thomson answered: “I see no brightest.”

Meredith was evidently repelled by this gospel of despair; he said that
the writing of _The City of Dreadful Night_ had done its author no good,
inasmuch as he there embodied his gloomier images in a permanent form
which in turn reacted on him and made him more despondent. He
considered “Weddah and Om-el-Bonain” to be Thomson’s masterpiece, and
the finest narrative poem we have: “Where can you find its equal?” I
told him of Swinburne’s change of opinion about it, and he said
instantly: “You know whose doing _that_ is.” A playful account followed
of the way in which his own poems used to be reviewed by Watts-Dunton in
the _Athenæum_. “We always receive anything of Mr. Meredith’s with
respect.” “You know,” said Meredith, “what that sort of beginning
means.” Of late he had ceased to send out review copies of his poems,
being sickened by the ineptitude of critics. “There are a good many
curates about the country,” he added, “and the fact that many of them do
a little reviewing in their spare hours does not tend to elevate
literature.”

Of social problems he spoke with freedom; most strongly of the certain
change that is coming, when women get their economic independence.
Infinite mischief comes to the race from loveless marriages. But he
anticipated it would take six or more generations for women to rid
themselves of the intellectual follies they now inherit from their
grandmothers.

At dinner Mr. Meredith talked of his distaste for flesh food, and his
esteem for simplicity in all forms, and stated emphatically that it was
quite a mistake to suppose that his own experiments in vegetarianism had
injured his health. Yet, if he were to try that diet again, he knew how
his friends would explain to him that it is “impossible to live without
meat,” or (this in dramatically sarcastic tones) that “if it be possible
for _some_ persons, it is not possible for _me_.”[25] I was struck by
his great kindliness as host; he was in fact over-solicitous for the
welfare of vegetarian guests.

The formality and punctiliousness of Mr. Meredith’s manner, with his
somewhat ceremonious gestures and pronunciation, perhaps affected a
visitor rather unfavourably at first introduction; but after a few
minutes this impression wore off, and one felt only the vivacity and
charm of his conversation. It was a continuous flow of epigrams, as
incisive in many cases as those in his books; during which I noticed the
intense sensitiveness and expressiveness of his mouth, the lips curling
with irony, as he flung out his sarcasms about critics, and curates, and
sentimentalists of every order. His eyes were remarkably keen and
penetrating, and he watched narrowly the effect of his points; so that
even to keep up with him as a listener was a considerable mental strain.
It was in consequence of my mentioning this to Mr. Bernard Shaw, a few
days later, that he made his sporting offer that, if he were taken down
to Box Hill, he “would start talking the moment he entered the house,
and not let Meredith get a word in edgeways.” In Mr. S. M. Ellis’s
biography of Meredith, Shaw is quoted as saying that the proposal
emanated from Mr. Clement Shorter or myself: this, however, is quite
incorrect, for the suggestion was his own, and much too reckless to have
had any other source. Such an encounter, had it taken place, would not
have been, as Shaw flattered himself, a monologue, but a combat so
colossal that one shrinks from speculating on the result: all that seems
certain is that it would have lasted till the talk-out blow was given,
and that upon the tomb of one or other of the colloquists a _hic tacet_
would have had to be inscribed.

I noticed a certain resemblance in Meredith’s profile to that of Edward
Carpenter (it may be seen in some of the photographs); and this was the
more surprising because of the unlikeness of the two men in temperament,
Meredith’s cry for “More brain, O Lord, more brain!” being in contrast
with Carpenter’s rather slighting references to “the wandering lunatic
Mind.” Yet Meredith, too, was an apostle of Nature; his democratic
instincts are unmistakable, though the scenes of his novels are mostly
laid in aristocratic surroundings, so that his “cry for simplicity” came
“from the very camp of the artificial.” This was the view of his
philosophy taken by me in an article on “Nature-lessons from George
Meredith,” published in the _Free Review_, in reference to which Mr.
Meredith wrote: “It is pleasant to be appreciated, but the chief
pleasure for me is in seeing the drift of my work rightly apprehended.”

To Mr. Bertram Dobell, the well-known bookseller, whose name is so
closely associated with Thomson’s and Traherne’s, I was indebted for
much information about books and writers of books, given in that cosy
shop of his in the Charing Cross Road, which was a place of pleasant
recollections for so many literary men. I had especial reason to be
grateful to him for directing me to the writings of Herman Melville,
whose extraordinary genius, shown in such masterpieces as _Typee_ and
_The Whale_, was so unaccountably ignored or undervalued that his name
is still often confused with that of Whyte Melville or of Herman
Merivale. Melville was a great admirer of James Thomson; this he made
plain in several letters addressed to English correspondents, in which
he described _The City of Dreadful Night_ as the “modern Book of Job
under an original form, duskily looming with the same aboriginal
verities,” and wrote of one of the lighter poems that “_Sunday up the
River_, contrasting with the _City of Dreadful Night_, is like a Cuban
humming-bird, beautiful in fairy tints, flying against the tropic
thunderstorm.”

Mr. Dobell was a man of very active mind, and he had always in view some
further literary projects. One of these, of which he told me not long
before his death, was to write a book about his friend, James Thomson;
and it is much to be regretted that this could not be accomplished.
Another plan--surely one of the strangest ever conceived--was to render
or re-write Walt Whitman’s poems in the Omar Khayyám stanza: a proposal
which reminded me of the beneficent scheme of Fourier, or another of the
early communists, to turn the waters of the ocean into lemonade. It is
difficult to speak of _Leaves of Grass_ and the _Rubáiyát_ in the same
breath; yet I once heard the Omar Khayyám poem referred to in a still
stranger connection by a clergyman who was the “autocrat of the
breakfast table” in a hotel where I was staying. Suddenly pausing in his
table-talk, he did me the honour of consulting me on a small question of
authorship. “I am right, am I not,” he said, “in supposing that the
translator of Omar Khayyám was--Emerson?”

Mr. Dobell’s experiences in book-lore had been long and varied, and he
could tell some excellent stories, one of which especially struck me as
showing that he had a rare fund of shrewd sense as well as of
professional knowledge. He once missed from his shop a very scarce and
valuable book, in circumstances which made it a matter of certainty to
him that it had been abstracted by a keen collector who had been talking
to him that very day, though no word concerning the book had been
spoken. Dobell was greatly troubled, until he hit upon a plan which was
at once the simplest and most tactful that could have been imagined.
Without any inquiry or explanation, he sent in a bill for the book, as
in course of business, and the account was duly paid.

Through _Songs of Freedom_, an anthology edited by me in 1892, I came
into correspondence with many democratic writers, several of whom,
especially Mr. Gerald Massey and Mr. W. J. Linton, showed much interest
in the work and gave me valuable assistance. Dr. John Kells Ingram’s
famous verses, “The Men of ‘Ninety-Eight,” were included in the book;
and as curiosity has sometimes been expressed as to how far the
sentiments of that poem accorded with the later views of its author, it
may be worth mentioning that, in giving me permission to reprint the
stanzas, he wrote as follows: “You will not suppose that the effusion of
the youth exactly represents the convictions of the man. But I have
never been ashamed of having written the verses. They were the fruit of
genuine feeling.” A request for Joaquin Miller’s spirited lines, “Sophie
Perovskaya,” brought me a letter from the veteran author of that very
beautiful book, _Life amongst the Modocs_ (a work of art worthy to be
classed with Herman Melville’s _Typee_), which was one of the strangest
pieces of penmanship I ever received, having the appearance of being
written with a piece of wood rather than a pen, but more than
compensating by its heartiness for the labour needed in deciphering it:
“I thank you cordially; I am abashed at my audacity long ago, in
publishing what I did in dear old England. I hope to do something really
worth your reading before I die.” But _that_ he had done long before.

The liberality with which writers of verse allow their poems to be used
in anthologies is very gratifying to an editor; the more so, as such
republication is by no means always a benefit to the authors themselves.
Mr. John Addington Symonds was an example of a poet who had suffered
much, as he told me, from compilers of anthologies, especially in regard
to some lines in his oft-quoted stanzas, “A Vista,” which in the
original ran thus:

    Nation with nation, land with land,
      Inarmed shall live as comrades free.

“Inarmed” signified linked fraternity, but the word being a strange one
was changed in some collections to “_un_armed,” and in that easier form
had quite escaped from Mr. Symonds’s control. This error still continues
to be repeated and circulated, and has practically taken the place of
the authorized text. Truth, as the saying is, may be great, but it does
not always prevail.

Mr. J. A. Symonds, like his friend Mr. Roden Noel, at whose house I met
him, was one of those writers who, starting from a purely literary
standpoint, came over in the end towards the democratic view of life.
His appreciation of Whitman is well known; and he told me that since he
wrote his study of Shelley for the “English Men of Letters” series he
had changed some of his views in the more advanced Shelleyan direction.

Robert Buchanan was another of Roden Noel’s friends with whom I became
acquainted and had a good deal of correspondence. His later writings,
owing to their democratic tendencies and extreme outspokenness, received
much less public attention than the earlier ones; in _The New Rome_, in
particular, there were a number of trenchant poems denouncing the
savageries of an aggressive militarism, and pleading the cause of the
weak and suffering folk, whether human or sub-human, against the
tyrannous and strong. So marked, in his later years, became Buchanan’s
humanitarian sympathies, that when his biography was written by Miss
Harriett Jay, in 1903, I was asked to contribute a chapter on the
subject.

An anthologist, as I have said, meets with much courtesy from poets, yet
his path is not altogether a rose-strewn one. When I undertook the work,
I was warned by Mr. Bernard Shaw that the only certain result would be
that I should draw on myself the concentrated resentment of all the
authors concerned: this forecast was far from being verified; but in one
or two instances I did become aware of certain irritable symptoms on the
part of poetical acquaintances whose own songs of freedom had unluckily
escaped my notice. Then the over-anxiety of some authors as to which of
their master-pieces should be included, and which withheld, was at times
a trial to an editor. One of my contributors, who had moved in high
circles, was concerned to think that certain royalties of his
acquaintance might feel hurt by his arraignment of tyrants: “but if the
Czar,” he wrote, “takes it home to himself, I shall be only too
delighted.” Whether any protest from the Czar or other crowned heads was
received by the publishers of the Canterbury Poets Series, I never
heard.

But if poets are the forerunners of a future society, to
“poet-naturalists” also must a like function be assigned. Of Thoreau, to
whom that title was first and most fittingly given, I have already
spoken; and his was the genius which, to me, next to that of Shelley,
was the most astonishing of nineteenth-century portents; a scion of the
future, springing up, like some alien wild-flower, unclassed and
uncomprehended: like Shelley’s, too, his wisdom is still far ahead of
our age, and destined to be increasingly acknowledged.

It was with this thought in mind that I wrote a biography of Thoreau, in
which task I received valuable aid from his surviving friends, Mr.
Harrison Blake, Mr. Daniel Ricketson, Mr. Frank B. Sanborn, Dr. Edward
Emerson, and others. With Mr. Sanborn, the last of the Concord group, I
corresponded for nearly thirty years, and I had several long talks with
him on the occasions of his visiting England: he was a man of great
erudition and extraordinary memory, so that his store of information
amassed in a long life was almost encyclopedic. I learnt much from him
about Concord and its celebrities; and he collaborated with me in
editing a collection of Thoreau’s “Poems of Nature,” which was published
in 1895. Mr. Daniel Ricketson, the “Mr. D. R.” of Emerson’s edition of
Thoreau’s _Letters_, was another friend to whom I was greatly indebted;
his correspondence with me was printed in a memorial volume, _Daniel
Ricketson and his Friends_, in 1902. By no one was I more helped and
encouraged than by that most ardent of Thoreau-students, Dr. Samuel A.
Jones, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who, with his fellow-enthusiast, Mr.
Alfred W. Hosmer, of Concord, sent me at various times a large amount of
_Thoreauana_, and enabled me to make a number of corrections and
amplifications in a later edition of the _Life_. It was through our
common love of Thoreau that I first became acquainted with Mr. W. Sloane
Kennedy, of Belmont, Massachusetts, a true nature-lover with whom I have
had much pleasant and friendly intercourse both personally and by
letter.

Richard Jefferies, unlike Shelley or Thoreau, was so far a pessimist as
to believe that “lives spent in doing good have been lives nobly
wasted”; but while convinced that “the whole and the worst the worst
pessimist could say is far beneath the least particle of the truth, so
immense is the misery of man,” he could yet feel the hope of future
amelioration. “Full well aware that all has failed, yet side by side
with the sadness of that knowledge, there yet lives on in me an
unquenchable belief, thought burning like the sun, that there is yet
something to be found, something real, something to give each separate
personality sunshine and flowers in its own existence now.” If ever
there was an inspired work, a real book of prophecy, such a one is
Jefferies’s _Story of my Heart_, in which, with his gaze fixed on a
future society, where the term _pauper_ (“inexpressibly wicked word”)
shall be unknown, he speaks in scathing condemnation of the present lack
of just and equitable distribution, which keeps the bulk of the human
race still labouring for bare sustenance and shelter.

In a study of Jefferies’s life and ideals, published in 1894, I drew
attention to the marked change that came over his views, during his
later years, on social and religious questions, a ripening of thought,
accompanied by a corresponding growth of literary style, which can be
measured by the great superiority of _The Story_ over such books as _The
Gamekeeper at Home_; and in connection with this subject I pointed out
that the incident recorded by Sir Walter Besant in his _Eulogy of
Richard Jefferies_ of a death-bed return to the Christian faith, at a
time when Jefferies was physically and intellectually a wreck, could not
be accepted as in any way reversing the authoritative statement of his
religious convictions which he had himself published in his _Story_. For
this I was taken to task in several papers as having perverted biography
in the interest of my own prejudiced opinions; but under this censure,
not to mention that my views were shared by those friends and students
of Jefferies with whom I was brought in touch, I had one unsuspected
source of consolation in the fact that Sir Walter Besant told me in
private correspondence that, from what he had learnt since the
publication of his _Eulogy_, he was convinced that I was quite right. I
did not make this public until many years later, when a new edition of
my book appeared: there was then some further outcry in a section of the
press; but this was not repeated when Mr. Edward Thomas, in the latest
and fullest biography of Jefferies, dismissed the supposed conversion as
a wrong interpretation by “narrow sectarians” who ignored the work of
Jefferies’s maturity.

I have thought it worth while to refer to these facts, not that they are
themselves important, but as illustrating a Christianizing process which
is often carried on with boundless effrontery by “religious” writers
after the death of free-thinkers. Another instance may be seen in the
case of Francis W. Newman, where a similar attempt was made to represent
him as having abandoned his own deliberate convictions.

From Jefferies one’s thoughts pass naturally to Mr. W. H. Hudson. It
must be over twenty-five years since through the hospitality of Mrs. E.
Phillips, of Croydon, an ardent bird-lover and humanitarian, I had the
good fortune to be introduced to Mr. Hudson and to his books. A
philosopher and keen observer of all forms of life, he is far from being
an ornithologist only; but there are certain sympathies that give rise
to a sort of natural freemasonry among those who feel them; and of
these one of the pleasantest and most human is the love of birds--not of
cooked birds, if you please, associated with dining-room memories of
“the pleasures of the table,” nor of caged birds in drawing-rooms, nor
of stuffed birds in museums; but of real birds, live birds, wild birds,
free to exercise their marvellous faculties of flight and song. From
this love has sprung a corresponding bird-literature; and of the notable
names among the prophets and interpreters of bird life, the latest, and
in my opinion the greatest, is that of Mr. Hudson: his books, in not a
few chapters and passages, rise above the level of mere natural history,
and affect the imagination of the reader as only great literature can.
If he is an unequal writer and somewhat desultory, perhaps, in his
manner of work, yet at his best he is the greatest living master of
English prose. Such books as _The Naturalist in La Plata_ and _Nature in
Downland_ (to name two only) are classics that can never be forgotten.
And Mr. Hudson’s influence, it should be noted, has been thrown more and
more on the side of that humane study of natural history which Thoreau
adopted: his verdict is given in no uncertain language against the
barbarous habits of game-keeper and bird-catcher, fashionable milliner,
and amateur collector of “specimens.”

If a single title were to be sought for Mr. Hudson’s writings, the name
of one of his earlier books, _Birds and Man_, might be the most
appropriate; for there seems almost to be a mingling of the avian with
the human in his nature: I have sometimes fancied that he must be a
descendant of Picus, or of some other prehistoric hero who was changed
into a bird. There is a passage in Virgil’s _Æneid_ where Diomede is
represented as lamenting, as a “fearful prodigy,” such metamorphosis of
his companions.

    Lost friends, to birds transfigured, skyward soar,
    Or fill the rocky wold with wailing cries.

But if such a vicissitude were to befall any of Mr. Hudson’s friends, I
feel sure that, far from being dismayed by it, he would be able to
continue his acquaintance with them on terms of entire understanding:
they would in no sense be “lost” because they were feathered. To him a
much more fearful prodigy is the savage fashion of wearing the skins and
feathers of slaughtered birds as ornamental head-gear.

One of the most devoted followers of this new school of natural history,
and himself a naturalist of distinction, was Dr. Alexander H. Japp, who,
under the pen-name of “H. A. Page,” wrote the first account of Thoreau
published in this country. I have a recollection of many pleasant chats
with him, especially of a visit which he paid me with Mr. Walton
Ricketson, the sculptor, a son of that intimate friend of Thoreau’s of
whom I have spoken. Walton Ricketson was a boy at the time when Thoreau
used to visit his father at New Bedford; but he was present on the
occasion when the grave hermit of Walden surprised the company by a
sudden hilarious impulse, which prompted him to sing “Tom Bowling” and
to perform an improvised dance, in which, it is said, he kept time to
the music but executed some steps more like those of the Indians than
the usual ballroom figures.

Dr. Japp was also a biographer of De Quincey, and by his sympathetic
understanding did much to correct the disparaging judgments passed on
“the English opium-eater” by many critics and press-writers. As a result
of a study of De Quincey which I published in 1904, I made the
acquaintance, three years later, of Miss Emily de Quincey (she spelt her
name in that manner), his last surviving daughter. She was a most
charming old lady, full of vivacity and humour; and her letters, of
which I received a good many, were written with a sprightliness
recalling that of her father in his lighter moods; some of her
reminiscences, too, were very interesting. She remembered the opium
decanter and glass standing on the mantelpiece when she was a child, but
she said that De Quincey quite left off the use of the drug for years
before his death. She told me that the grudge against her father, which
frequently found expression in “grotesque descriptions” of him, was
caused in part by his neglect to answer the letters, many of a very
flattering kind, addressed to him by readers of his books; a remissness
which was due, not to any lack of courtesy or gratitude, but to his
inveterate procrastination; he would always be going to write
“to-morrow” or “when he had a good pen.” On one occasion an admirer
wrote to him from Australia, begging him for “some truths” that he might
give to his little son (who had been named after De Quincey) when he
should be able to understand them. De Quincey said sadly to his
daughter: “My dear, truths are very low with me just now. Do you think,
if I sent a couple of lies, they would answer the purpose?” She feared
that he never sent either truths or lies. Among the unanswered letters
which her father received she recollected that there was one from “three
brothers,” accompanied by a volume of poems by “Currer, Ellis and Acton
Bell.” It was by the poetry of Ellis that the De Quinceys were most
struck, but not till years afterwards did they guess that those
“brothers” were the Brontë sisters in disguise.

Were it not a common practice of reviewers, in estimating the work of a
great writer, to omit, as far as possible, any mention of humane
sympathies shown by him, it would be strange that De Quincey should be
represented as a mere “dreamer” and visionary; for in truth, in spite of
the transcendental Toryism of his politics, he was in several respects a
pioneer of advanced humanitarian thought, especially in the question of
corporal punishment, on which he spoke, a hundred years ago, with a
dignity and foresight which might put to shame many purblind
“progressives” of to-day. His profound regard for a suffering humanity
is one of the noblest features in his writings; he rejoiced, for
instance, at the interference of Parliament to amend the “ruinous social
evil” of female labour in mines; and he spoke of the cruelty of that
spirit which could look “lightly and indulgently on the affecting
spectacle of female prostitution.” “All I have ever had enjoyment of in
life,” he said, “seems to rise up to reproach me for my happiness, when
I see such misery, and think there is so much of it in the world.” It is
amusing to read animadversions on De Quincey’s “lack of moral fibre,”
written by critics who lag more than a century behind him in some of the
matters that afford an unequivocal test of man’s advance from barbarism
to civilization.



IX

A LEAGUE OF HUMANENESS

     Hommes, soyez humains. C’est votre premier devoir. Quelle sagesse y
     a-t-il pour vous, hors de l’humanité.--ROUSSEAU.


From the vaticinations of poets and prophets I now return to the
actualities of the present state. Thirty years ago there were already in
existence a number of societies which aimed at the humanizing of public
opinion, in regard not to war only but to various other savage and
uncivilized practices. The Vegetarian Society, founded in 1847,
advocated a radical amendment; and the cause of zoophily, represented by
the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had been
strengthened by the establishment of several Anti-Vivisection Societies.
In like manner the philanthropic tendencies of the time, with respect to
prison management and the punishment or reclamation of offenders, were
reflected in the work of the Howard Association.

The purpose of the Humanitarian League, which was formed in 1891, was to
proclaim a _general_ principle of humaneness, as underlying the various
disconnected efforts, and to show that though the several societies were
necessarily working on separate lines, they were nevertheless inspired
and united by a single bond of fellowship. The promoters of the League
saw clearly that barbarous practices can be philosophically condemned on
no other ground than that of the broad democratic sentiment of universal
sympathy. Humanity and science between them have exploded the
time-honoured idea of a hard-and-fast line between white man and black
man, rich man and poor man, educated man and uneducated man, good man
and bad man: equally impossible to maintain, in the light of newer
knowledge, is the idea that there is any difference in kind, and not in
degree only, between human and non-human intelligence. The emancipation
of men from cruelty and injustice will bring with it in due course the
emancipation of animals also. The two reforms are inseparably connected,
and neither can be fully realized alone.

We were well aware that a movement of this character would meet with no
popular support; on the contrary, that those who took part in it would
be regarded as “faddists” and “visionaries”; but we knew also that the
direct opposite of this was the truth, and that while we were supposed
to be merely building “castles in the air,” we were in fact following
Thoreau’s most practical advice, and _putting the foundations under
them_. For what is “the basis of morality,” as laid down by so great a
thinker as Schopenhauer, except this very doctrine of a comprehensive
and reasoned sympathy?

A year or two before the founding of the League, I had read at a meeting
of the Fabian Society a paper on “Humanitarianism,” which afterwards
formed a starting-point for the League’s publications. The idea of a
humane society, with a wider scope than that of any previously existing
body, was suggested by Mr. Howard Williams; and it was at the house of a
very true friend of our cause, Mrs. Lewis (now Mrs. Drakoules), in Park
Square, London, that a small group of persons, among whom were Mrs.
Lewis, Mr. Edward Maitland, Mr. Howard Williams, Mr. Kenneth Romanes,
and the present writer,[26] assembled, early in 1891, to draw up a
manifesto and to launch the Humanitarian League. The title
“humanitarian” was chosen because, though fully aware of certain
objections to the word, we felt that it was the only term which
sufficiently expressed our meaning, and that, whether a good name or a
bad name, it must be taken up, like a gauntlet, by those who intended to
fight for the cause which it denotes.

For it was to be a fighting, not a talking Society that the League was
designed, even if it were a forlorn hope. In an interesting letter, read
at the first meeting, the opinion was expressed by our veteran friend,
Professor Francis W. Newman, that the time was not ripe for such a
venture as the assertion of a humanitarian ethic; but we came to the
conclusion that however small a beginning might be made, much good would
be done by a systematic protest against the numerous barbarisms of the
age--the cruelties inflicted by men on men, and the still more atrocious
ill-treatment of the lower animals.

Edward Maitland, who, in spite of his advanced years, took a good deal
of interest in our meetings, had had rather a remarkable career as
traveller, writer, and mystic; and his earlier book, _The Pilgrim and
the Shrine_, had been widely read. Those who knew him only as occultist
would have been surprised to see how extremely critical he was--to the
verge of fastidiousness--in discussing practical affairs; there was no
one on that committee more useful in bringing the cold light of reason
to bear on our consultations than the joint-author of Dr. Anna
Kingsford’s very strange revelations. At the time I knew him, he was
writing his _magnum opus_, the Life of Anna Kingsford, and he would
often discourse to me freely, after a committee meeting, on his
spiritual experiences, to the astonishment, perhaps, of our
fellow-travellers by rail or tram: on one occasion he described to me
on the top of an omnibus how he had been privileged to be a beholder of
the Great White Throne. There was something in these narrations so
natural and genuine as to compel the respectful attention of the
listener, whatever his personal belief might be as to the reality of the
visions described.

Mr. Howard Williams, on the other hand, was as pronounced a rationalist
as Maitland was a mystic, and one who by word and by pen, in private and
in public, was a quiet but untiring champion of the humanitarian cause.
His _Ethics of Diet_, which had the honour, at a later date, of being
highly commended by Tolstoy, whose essay entitled “The First Step” was
written as a preface to his Russian translation of the book, is a
veritable mine of knowledge, which ranges over every period of history
and covers not only the subject of humane dietetics but the whole field
of man’s attitude toward the non-human races: if Ethical Societies were
intended to be anything more than places of debate, they would long ago
have included this work among their standard text-books. For the writing
of such a treatise, Mr. Williams was specially qualified by the fact
that with a wide classical knowledge he united in a remarkable degree
the newer spirit and enthusiasm of humanity; he was in the truest sense
a student and professor of _literæ humaniores_. It is difficult to
estimate precisely the result of labours such as his; but that they have
had an appreciable influence upon the growth of a more humane public
opinion is not to be doubted.

The Committee was gradually strengthened by the inclusion of such
experienced workers as the Rev. J. Stratton, Colonel W. Lisle B.
Coulson, Mrs. L. T. Mallet, Mr. J. Frederick Green, Miss Elizabeth
Martyn, the first secretary of the League, and Mr. Ernest Bell, a member
of the well-known publishing firm and now President of the Vegetarian
Society, who for over twenty years was a bulwark of strength as
chairman and treasurer. A campaign against the Royal Buckhounds had at
once commanded respect; the pamphlets were well noticed in the
press--better, perhaps, in those days, when they were still a novelty,
than later, when they were taken as a matter of course--some successful
meetings were held, and the general interest shown in the League’s
doings was out of all proportion to its numerical strength.

It was in 1895 that the second phase of the League’s career began with
the acquirement of an office in Great Queen Street, and the institution
of a monthly journal, _Humanity_, so-called at first because its later
title, _The Humanitarian_, was at that time appropriated elsewhere. The
holding of a National Humanitarian Conference, at St. Martin’s Town
Hall, in the same year, was the first big public effort that the League
had made, and attracted a good deal of attention; and the scope of the
work was considerably extended by the appointment of special departments
for dealing with such subjects as Sports, Criminal Law and Prison
Reform, Humane Diet and Dress, and the Education of Children; and by a
much wider use of the press as a medium for propaganda, in which sphere
the League was now able to avail itself of the services of Mr. Joseph
Collinson, whose numerous press letters soon became a distinctive
feature of its work. In the summer of 1897 the League shifted its
headquarters to Chancery Lane, where it remained till it was brought to
an end in 1919.

The League was soon engaged in controversies of various kinds. A little
book entitled _Animals’ Rights_, which I wrote at the request of my
friend, Mr. Ernest Bell, and which was published by his firm in 1892,
led to a great deal of discussion, and passed through numerous editions,
besides being translated into French, German, Dutch, Swedish, and other
languages. Among its earliest critics was Professor D. G. Ritchie, who,
in his work on _Natural Rights_, maintained that though “we may be said
to have duties of _kindness towards_ the animals, it is incorrect to
represent these as strictly _duties towards_ the animals themselves, as
if they had rights against us.” (The italics are Mr. Ritchie’s.) There
is a puzzle for you, reader. I took it to mean that, in man’s duty of
kindness, it is the kindness only that has reference to the animals, the
duty being a private affair of the man’s; the convenience of which
arrangement is that the man can shut off the kindness whenever it suits
him to do so, the kindness being, as it were, the water, and the duty
the tap. For instance, when the question of vivisection arose, Mr.
Ritchie at once turned off the water of kindness, though it had been
very liberally turned on by him when he gave approval to the
humanitarian protests against the barbarities of sport.

To this sophistical hair-splitting, in a matter of much practical
importance, we from the first refused to yield, and made it plain that
it was no battle of words in which we were engaged but one of ethical
conduct, and that while we were quite willing to exchange the term
“rights” for a better one, if better could be found, we would not allow
the concept either of human “duties” or of animals’ “rights” to be
manipulated in the manner of which Mr. Ritchie’s book gave a conspicuous
example. Meanwhile the word “rights” held the field.

The old Catholic school was, of course, antagonistic to the recognition
of animals’ rights, and we had controversies with Monsignor John S.
Vaughan, among other sacerdotalist writers, when he laid down the
ancient proposition that “beasts exist for the use and benefit of man.”
It may be doubted whether argument is not a pure waste of time, when
there is a fundamental difference of opinion as to data and principles:
the sole reason for such debate was to ensure that the humanitarian view
of the question was rightly placed before the public, and to show how
strange was the alliance between sacerdotalist and vivisector.
Evolutionary science has demonstrated beyond question the kinship of all
sentient life; yet the scientist, in order to rake together a moral
defence for his doings, condescends to take shelter under the same plea
as the theologian, and having got rid of the old anthropocentric fallacy
in the realm of science avails himself of that fallacy in the realm of
ethics: a progressive in one branch of thought, he is still a
medievalist in another.

Thus scientist and sacerdotalist between them would perpetuate the
experimental tortures of the laboratory. _Laborare est orare_ was the
old saying; now it should be expanded by the Catholic school of
vivisectionists into _laboratorium est oratorium_: the house of torture
is the house of prayer. It is a beautiful and touching scene of
reconciliation, this meeting of priest and professor over the
torture-trough of the helpless animal. They might exclaim in Tennyson’s
words:

    There above the little grave,
    O there above the little grave,
      We kissed again with tears.

More exhilarating was the discussion when Mr. G. K. Chesterton entered
the lists as champion of those high prerogatives of Mankind, which he
saw threatened by the sinister devices of humanitarians, who, as he has
explained in one of his books, “uphold the claims of all creatures
against those of humanity.” A debate with Mr. Chesterton took place in
the Essex Hall; and for several years afterwards the argument was
renewed at times, as, for instance, when reviewing a book of mine on
_The Logic of Vegetarianism_, he insisted[27] that “the difference
between our moral relation to men and to animals is not a difference of
degree in the least: it is a difference of kind.” The human race, he
held, is a definite society, different from everything else. “The man
who breaks a cat’s back breaks a cat’s back. The man who breaks a man’s
back breaks an implied treaty.” To us, this terse saying of Mr.
Chesterton’s seemed to contain unintentionally the root of all cruelty
to animals, the quintessence of anthropocentric arrogance. The man who
breaks a cat’s back, breaks a cat’s back. Yes, and the scientist who
vivisects a dog, vivisects a dog; the sportsman who breaks up a hare,
breaks up a hare. That is all. The victims are not human. But it is a
distinction which has caused, in savage hands, the immemorial ill-usage
of the lower animals through the length and breadth of the world.

Perhaps the strangest of Mr. Chesterton’s charges against humanitarians
was one which he made in his book _Orthodoxy_, that their trend is “to
touch fewer and fewer things,” i.e. to abstain from one action after
another until they are left in a merely negative position. He failed to
see that while we certainly desire to touch fewer and fewer things with
whip, hob-nailed boot, hunting-knife, scalpel, or pole-axe, we equally
desire to get into touch with more and more of our fellow-beings by
means of that sympathetic intelligence which tells us that they are
closely akin to ourselves. Why, ultimately, do we object to such
practices as vivisection, blood-sports, and butchery? Because of the
cruelty inseparable from them, no doubt; but also because of the hateful
narrowing of our own human pleasures which these barbarous customs
involve. A recognition of the rights of animals implies no sort of
disparagement of human rights: this indeed was clearly indicated in the
sub-title of my book, _Animals’ Rights_ “considered in relation to
social progress.”

During the winter of 1895-96, a course of lectures on “Rights,” as
viewed from various standpoints--Christian, ethical, secularist,
scientific, theosophical, and humanitarian--was organized by the
Humanitarian League; and of these perhaps the most significant was Mr.
Frederic Harrison’s address on the ethical view, in which it was
maintained that “man’s morality towards the lower animals is a vital
and indeed fundamental part of his morality towards his fellow-men.” At
this same meeting some discussion arose on the far from unimportant
question of nomenclature, objection being taken to Mr. Harrison’s use of
the term “brute,” which he, on his part, defended as being
scientifically correct, and, in the sense of “inarticulate,” wholly void
of offence, even when applied to such highly intelligent beings as the
elephant, the horse, or the dog. Humanitarians, however, have generally
held that the meaning of the word “brute,” in this connection, is not
“inarticulate” but “irrational,” and that for this reason it should be
discarded, on the ground that to call an animal a brute, or irrational,
is the first step on the path to treating him accordingly. “Give a dog a
bad name,” says the proverb; and directly follows the injunction: “and
hang him.”

For like reasons the Humanitarian League always looked with disfavour on
the expression “dumb animals,” because, to begin with, animals are not
dumb, and secondly, nothing more surely tends to their depreciation than
thus to attribute to them an unreal deficiency or imperfection: such a
term may be meant to increase our pity, but in the long run it lessens
what is more important, our respect. In this matter the League was glad
to have the support of Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton, who, as long ago as
1877, had written satirically in the _Athenæum_ of what he called “the
great human fallacy” conveyed in the words “the dumb animals,” and had
pointed out that animals are no more dumb than men are. Years afterwards
he wrote to me to inquire about the authorship of an article in the
_Humanitarian_ in which the same conclusion was reached, and expressed
his full sympathy with our point of view.

But much more difficult to contend with than any anti-humanitarian
arguments is the dull dead weight of that unreasoning prejudice which
cannot see consanguinity except in the conventional forms, and simply
does not comprehend the statement that “the animals” are our
fellow-beings. There are numbers of good and kindly folk with whom, on
this question, one never reaches the point of difference at all, but is
involved in impenetrable misapprehensions: there may be talking on
either side, but communication there is none. Tell them, in Howard
Moore’s words, that the non-human beings are “not conveniences but
cousins,” and they will answer, assentingly, that they are all in favour
of “kindness to animals”; after which they will continue to treat them
not as cousins but as conveniences. This impossibility of even making
oneself intelligible was brought home to me with great force, some years
ago, in connection with the death of a very dear friend, a cat, whose
long life of fifteen years had to be ended in the chloroform-box owing
to an incurable ailment. The veterinary surgeon whose aid I invoked was
an extremely kind man, for whose skill I shall always feel grateful; and
from his patience and sympathetic manner I thought he partly understood
what the occasion meant to me--that, like a human death-bed, it was a
scene that could never pass from the mind. It was, therefore, with
something of an amused shock that I recollected, after he had gone, what
I had hardly noticed at the moment, that he had said to me, as he left
the door: “You’ll be wanting a new pussy-cat soon.”

Richard Jefferies has remarked that the belief that animals are devoid
of reason is rarely held by those who themselves labour in the fields:
“It is the cabinet-thinkers who construct a universe of automatons.” One
is cheered now and then by hearing animals spoken of, quite simply and
naturally, as rational beings. I once made the acquaintance, in the Lake
District, of an old lady living in a roadside cottage, who had for her
companion, sitting in an armchair by the fire, a lame hen, named Tetty,
whom she had saved and reared from chicken-hood. Some years later, as I
passed that way, I called and inquired after Tetty, but learnt that she
was dead. “Ah, poor Tetty!” said the dame, as tears fell from her eyes;
“she passed away several months ago, quite conscious to the end.” That
to attribute to a dying bird the self-consciousness which is supposed to
be the special prerogative of mankind, should, to the great majority of
persons, appear nothing less than comical, is a measure of the width of
that gulf which religion has delved between “the beasts that perish” and
the Christian with his “soul” to save.

But it is not often that one hears of a case like that of Tetty: as a
rule, disappointment lurks in the hopes that flatter the humanitarian
mind. We had a neighbour in Surrey, an old woman living in an adjoining
cottage, who professed full adherence to our doctrine that cats should
not be allowed to torture captured birds. “I always take them away from
my cat: I can’t bear to see them suffering,” she said. We warmly
approved of this admirable sentiment. But then, as she turned aside, she
added quietly: “Unless, of course, they’re sparrows.”

A year or two ago the papers described a singular accident at a railway
station, where a cow got on the line and was wedged between the platform
and a moving train: the cow, we were told, was killed, “but fortunately
there was no personal injury”--a view of the occurrence which seemed, to
a humanitarian, still stranger than the accident itself.

Here, again, is an instance of unintended humour: “Homeward Bound” as
the title of a cheerful picture in which a bronzed sailor is represented
returning from the tropics, carrying--a caged parrot.

It is this traditional habit of regarding the lower animals not as
persons and fellow-beings, but as automata and “things,” that lies
behind the determined refusal to recognize that they have rights, and is
thus ultimately responsible for much of the callousness with which they
are treated. With this superstition the League was in conflict from the
first.

But perhaps some of my readers may still think that time spent on the
rights of animals is so much taken away from the great human interests
that are at stake. Let us help men first, they may argue, and then, when
mankind is righted, we can help the animals after. On the other hand,
there are some zoophilists who take the contrary view that men can help
themselves, and that it is the animals first and foremost who need aid
and protection. The League’s opinion was that both these arguments are
mistaken, and, for the same reason, viz. that, in our complex modern
society, all great issues of justice or injustice are crossed and
intermingled, so that no one cruelty can be singled out as the source of
all other cruelties, nor can any one reform be fully realized apart from
the rest. By “humanitarian” we meant one who feels and acts humanely,
not towards mankind only, or the lower animals only, but towards all
sentient life--one who adopts the Humanitarian League’s principle that
“it is iniquitous to inflict avoidable suffering on any sentient being.”
We did not regard as humanitarians, for example, those “philanthropic”
persons who, having made a fortune by commercial competition, in which
the depreciation of wages was a recognized method, afterwards gave back
a portion of their wealth in “charity.” This might, perhaps, be
philanthropy, but it did not seem to be quite humanity. Nor did we think
that the name “humanitarian” should be given to those zoophilists or
animal lovers who keep useless and pampered animals as pets and
playthings, wasting on them time and money which might be better spent
elsewhere, and indeed wasting the lives of the animals themselves, for
animals have their own lives to live as men have.

Perhaps the most able of all vindications of humane principles is that
contained in Mr. Howard Moore’s _The Universal Kinship_, published by
the League in 1906. It was through a notice which I wrote in the
_Humanitarian_ of an earlier book of his, _Better-World Philosophy_,
that the League first came into association with him; and I remember
with shame that when that “sociological synthesis,” as its sub-title
proclaimed it to be, first came into my hands, I nearly left it unread,
suspecting it to be but the latest of the many wearisome ethical
treatises that are a scourge to the reviewer, to whom the very word
“sociology” or “synthesis” is a terror. But fortunately I read the book,
and quickly discovered its merits; and from that time, till his death in
1916, Howard Moore was one of the truest and tenderest of our friends,
himself prone to despondency and, as his books show, with a touch of
pessimism, yet never failing in his support and encouragement of others
and of all humanitarian effort. “What on earth would we Unusuals do, in
this lonely dream of life,” so he wrote in one of his letters, “if it
were not for the sympathy and friendship of the Few?”

Howard Moore died by his own hand (he had good reason for his action);
and the timorous attitude which so many people adopt towards suicide was
shown in the silence on this point which was maintained in most of the
English zoophilist journals which mentioned his death: one editor hit
upon the sagacious announcement that “he died very suddenly,” which
deserves, I think, to be noted as a consummate instance of how the truth
may be truthfully obscured.

In _The Universal Kinship_, Howard Moore left to humanitarians a
treasure which it will be their own fault if they do not value as it
deserves. There is a tendency to forget that it is to modern
evolutionary science that the ethic of humaneness owes its strongest
corroboration. The physical basis of the humane philosophy rests on the
biological fact that kinship is universal. Starting from this admitted
truth, Moore showed, with much wealth of argument and epigram, that the
supposed psychical gulf between human and non-human has no more
existence, apart from the imagination of man, than the physical gulf
which has now been bridged by science. The purpose of our movement was
admirably stated by him: “to put science and humanitarianism in place of
tradition and savagery.” It was with that aim in view that our League of
Humaneness had been formed.



X

TWENTIETH-CENTURY TORTURES

     Why not bring back at once the boot, the stake, and the
     thumbscrew?--PROFESSOR LAWSON TAIT.


It is among the proudest boasts of this country that torture is not
permitted within its borders: “Torture,” wrote Macaulay, “was inflicted
for the last time in the month of May, 1640.” But pleasant though it is
to think that it was in the beautiful springtime that the barbarous
practice came to an end, this is unfortunately one of the cases in which
our people allow themselves to be beguiled and fooled by very
transparent quibbles; for a few minutes’ thought would suffice to
convince the most complacent of Britons that while some specialized
forms of judicial torture have been abandoned, other tortures, some of
them not less painful and fully as repulsive, are being inflicted to
this day--nearly three hundred years after the glorious date of
abolition. For if “torture,” as etymology and the dictionaries and
common usage tell us, means nothing more or less than the forcible
infliction of extreme pain, it is not a technicality but an absurdity to
pretend that it finds no place among twentieth-century institutions.

Flogging is torture in a most literal sense, and in one of its grossest
shapes: the “cat,” as Mr. G. K. Chesterton has well said, is “the rack
without any of its intellectual reasons.”[28] The horror of the old
naval and military lashings is within the memory of many officers who
were compelled to witness them: how is the punishment any less savage in
its nature because it is now administered in a less severe degree, and
on men convicted of robbery with violence or some breach of prison
discipline? In one of the Parliamentary debates of November, 1912, a
Member who had been invited by the Home Secretary to examine the “cat,”
gave it as his opinion that “if _that_ is not torture, then I do not
know what torture is.”

In the gloomiest but most impressive of his stories, _The Island of Dr.
Moreau_, Mr. H. G. Wells has represented his savage “beast-folk” as
monotonously chanting a certain “idiotic formula” about the
infallibility of “the Law.” With nothing more fitly than with this can
be compared the undying legend, now over half a century old, that
“garrotting was put down by the lash.” It is not often that a popular
fallacy, however erroneous it may be, can be actually disproved; but in
this particular case such refutation was possible, in the certified fact
that the garrotting “epidemic” of 1862 had been suppressed by the
ordinary law _before_ flogging for that offence was legalized. For many
years the Humanitarian League issued a public challenge on the subject,
and made the facts known in thousands of press letters; the challenge
was quietly ignored, and the false statement repeated, till it was plain
that, as De Quincey remarked, “rarer than the phœnix is that virtuous
man who will consent to lose a prosperous story on the consideration
that it happens to be a lie.” One such virtuous man, however, and one
only, was found, namely, Mr. Montague Crackanthorpe, who actually
recanted the statement which he could not substantiate.[29] In view of
his unique candour, it was suggested after his death that a statue
should be erected to his memory.

Very different from the course taken by Mr. Crackanthorpe was the
action of Sir Alexander Wood Renton, of the Supreme Court of Ceylon,
who, in an article on “Corporal Punishment,” introduced into the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_ of 1910 that very garrotting legend from which
it had previously been kept free, and made the further mistake of giving
the date of the Flogging Act of 1863 as 1861, thus lending to his
blunder a misleading appearance of plausibility. When called to account,
he was content to maintain a masterly silence--more eloquent than
words--and to allow his misstatement, unacknowledged and uncorrected, to
continue to keep alive a prevalent superstition. Can it be wondered that
such fallacies persist, when a Chief Justice will thus lie low rather
than admit himself at fault?

It is an amusing fact, and far too little known, that the text which has
long lent a sanctity to the use of corporal punishment, is not taken, as
supposed, from the _Proverbs_ of Solomon, but from a passage, and a
rather unseemly one, in Butler’s _Hudibras_ (1663):[30] this, however,
is as it should be, for it is fitting that an indecent practice should
claim authority from an indecent source. Thus encouraged, and with this
divine precept in their thoughts, parents and schoolmasters, and
magistrates, and judges, and all governors and rulers, have felt that in
wielding the rod they were discharging a religious obligation, and not,
as might otherwise have been suspected, gratifying some very primitive
instincts of their own. For “the Wisdom of Solomon” has been quoted as
our guide, in the correction of the old as well as of the young; indeed,
as a writer in the _People_ sagely remarked, “the older the evildoer,
the more his need of the birch.” On this principle, aged vagrants have
on various occasions been sentenced to be corrected with the rod; but
it is to the young that the blessings of the birch more properly
belong.

    Our British boys, from shore to shore,
      Two priceless boons may find:
    The Flag that’s ever waved before,
      The Birch that’s waved behind.

In its campaign against flogging in the Royal Navy, the Humanitarian
League gained not only a considerable success, but an amount of
entertainment which of itself would have more than repaid the labour
expended on the work. To begin with, there was the technical quibble,
very characteristic of officialdom, that though the backs of boys, or
rather of young men, might be cut into ribbons with the birch, there was
no “flogging” in the Navy, for “flogging” meant the infliction not of
the birch but of the “cat.” With Mr. Swift MacNeill conducting the
attack in the House of Commons, it may be imagined that such
prevarications--and there were many similar instances--fared but badly;
and it was no surprise when “these degrading practices,” as Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman described them, were brought to an end in 1906,
though the use of the cane, to the discredit of the Admiralty, is still
permitted and defended.

In this long controversy the League was brought into conflict with all
sorts of opponents, among them several Admirals, of whom the “breeziest”
were the Hon. V. A. Montagu and Sir William Kennedy. With the latter
especially we had great fun, as we found in him an antagonist of the
utmost heartiness and good humour. “Of what use is it,” he wrote to me,
“sending me all this rubbish, except to fill the waste-paper basket? I
don’t care a damn for Admiral----’s opinion.” On another occasion he
sent me a formal challenge to meet him “at any time and place, when
pistols and coffee will be provided.” At a later date we had his
support, equally emphatic, in our protest against the practice of
feeding snakes on live prey at the “Zoo.”

Other friends, too, helped to lend gaiety to a rather dismal subject.
Among those who actively co-operated with the League was a commercial
traveller, who was deeply versed in the various laws relating to
corporal punishment, and who, as he once confided to me, had been in the
habit of working locally as a sort of freelance and Bashi-Bazouk. He had
made a practice, for example, of writing “How about the Birch?” on the
Admiralty’s printed notices in which boys were invited to reap the
benefits of joining the Navy; and this had touched so sore a point that
the advertisements in question had at length been put within glass
frames. Another of his little jokes was to write to private
schoolmasters, saying that he had a son whom he was about to send to
school (which was true), and asking whether they could guarantee that
there would be no corporal punishment. Several masters responded
favourably, but as the boy could not be sent to more than one place of
education, these worthy folk were deprived of their _quid pro quo_; in
the end, however, a nemesis fell upon their betrayer, for once, when he
had just returned home after a long journey, tired, and wanting above
everything his tea, who should be announced but one of those very
pedagogues with whom he had been in communication. He too had travelled
some distance, rather than miss the chance of a pupil, and, having
“ideas” on the subject of corporal punishment, had come, as he said, for
“a good talk.” “I could have eaten him,” was our friend’s remark.

In the ’nineties of last century, the state of the Criminal Law, as Mr.
Justice Mathew pointed out, was a hundred years behind the times, and a
special department of the Humanitarian League was established in order
to advocate certain much-needed reforms. It was felt that in view of the
severity of the penal laws, the inequality of sentences, and the hard
and indiscriminating character of prison discipline, an organized
attempt ought to be made to humanize both the spirit of the law and the
conditions of prison life, and to show that the true purpose of
imprisonment was the reformation, not the mere punishment, of the
offender. In this campaign the League was able to avail itself of a mass
of expert information. It published, in 1893, a very effective pamphlet,
“I was in Prison,” written by Mr. Robert Johnson, director of the
Colonial College at Hollesley Bay; and this was followed, a year later,
by “A Plea for Mercy to Offenders,” an address given before the League
by Mr. C. H. Hopwood, the Recorder of Liverpool, who, with his friend
Mr. Johnson, did great service in showing the futility of long sentences
of imprisonment. I had several talks about that time with Mr. Johnson
and Mr. Hopwood; and they would have thrown in their lot altogether with
the Humanitarian League but for their fear that the inclusion within its
programme of many other questions, such as sport and vivisection, would
alienate sympathy in some quarters from their special subject of prison
reform: it was for this reason that Mr. Hopwood afterwards founded the
Romilly Society.

Two other names stood out conspicuously in the same sphere of work--that
of Dr. W. Douglas Morrison, the well-known criminologist, now Rector of
Marylebone, under whose guidance the League took a prominent part in the
agitation which led to the Prisons Act of 1898, and that of “Lex,” one
of the keenest intellects of his time, whose pen was placed unreservedly
at the League’s disposal. Mr. W. H. S. Monck--for it was he who adopted
that _nom de plume_--was Chief Registrar in Bankruptcy in the King’s
Bench Division, Dublin, a post which he filled with distinction, while
his extraordinarily active and versatile mind found interest in many
other studies: he was a mathematician, an astronomer, a writer on logic,
political economy, and moral philosophy, and withal a chess-player of
note, among which pursuits he never failed to find time to help the
humanitarian cause. His official position made it desirable that his
name should not appear; but many were the press letters that he wrote,
and many the resolutions, memorials, and letters to governmental
departments that he drafted on the League’s behalf. To “ask ‘Lex’ to
draft it” was often the course taken by the Committee when dealing with
some technical matter that needed exceptional care. The two subjects in
which Mr. Monck was specially concerned, besides that of flogging, were
the establishment of a Court of Criminal Appeal and a revision of the
law relating to Imprisonment for Debt; and it was largely his
unacknowledged labours that brought about the one reform and prepared
the way for the other. In his press letters on corporal punishment he
would sometimes adopt the ironic manner; that is, he would write as one
who in part believed in the value of flogging, yet in such a way as to
suggest rather the flaws and failures of the practice, and so to impair
any faith in it which might linger in the minds of his readers.

Among other friends to whom this department of the League was much
indebted were Mr. George Ives, author of _A History of Penal Methods_;
Mrs. H. Bradlaugh Bonner; Mr. Carl Heath; Mr. H. B. Montgomery; Mrs. L.
T. Mallet; Dr. T. Baty, the distinguished authority on International
Law; and Mr. Joseph Collinson, who for some years acted as its honorary
secretary. Mr. Collinson was a young north-countryman, self-taught, and
full of native readiness and ingenuity, who at an early age had
developed a passion for humanitarian journalism, and whose press letters
became as well known as those of Mr. Algernon Ashton, while he had a
marked advantage over that gentleman in having an ethical purpose and
something definite to write about. Any one who should glance over the
files of the chief London and provincial journals, between the years
1895 and 1910, could not fail to see a number of letters signed “Joseph
Collinson,” or to admire the pertinacity with which the humanitarian
view of a host of controversial subjects, in particular those relating
to criminal law and prisons, was brought to the notice of the public.
Especially in regard to the flogging question Mr. Collinson’s services
were of great value.

Thus supported, the Humanitarian League had no cause to fear any
reasoned opposition: our difficulty, rather, was to meet with any; for
our antagonists were mostly anonymous and often abusive correspondents
of newspapers, and the real obstacle with which we had to cope was the
crass weight of prejudice and the immense stability of old institutions.
Two of our adversaries, however, must not go without mention. One was
Mr. William Tallack, then Secretary of the Howard Association, whose
hostility was dangerous because it lurked under the guise of
philanthropy. He was an old gentleman of benevolent demeanour, whose
method it was to sit astutely “on the fence,” making oracular
utterances, now on that side, now on this, so that, like the writer of
an astrological almanack, he might be able in any event to run in and
cry: “I told you so.” In his _Penological Principles_, a work much
advertised in those days, there was plenty of penology, but very little
principle, much more of the Tallack than of the Howard: it was, in fact,
a farrago of platitudes and pieties, which said many things without
ultimately meaning anything at all. Yet, in spite of his much verbiage
and many estimable sentiments, Mr. Tallack was a reactionist; he
belonged to an antiquated school of thought, quite out of sympathy with
the new style of prison reform; and as he lost no opportunity of
disparaging the work of the League, we showed him somewhat emphatically
that that was a game at which two parties could play. This he did not
relish, especially as we were strongly backed up by Mr. Passmore Edwards
in his paper, the _Echo_. A conference was accordingly proposed by Mr.
Tallack, where it was agreed that in future there should be a friendly
arrangement of “hands off” on either side. I remember how, at that
meeting, he told me in his paternal manner, as an instance of the
advantages of not advocating “extreme” measures of reform, that he
enjoyed the privilege of being able, now and then, to have a personal
talk with the Home Secretary. “What would humanitarians think of that?”
The old gentleman was evidently unaware that if he was a _persona grata_
at the Home Office, it was precisely because he was known to be a “tame”
reformer, a parasite of the old system, not a champion of the new, and
therefore useful to those who wished to let matters go on as before.

In a prison-play “The Home Secretary’s Holiday,” which was acted before
the Humanitarian League at one of its social gatherings, Mr. Tallack was
glanced at in the character of Mr. Prim, a Visiting Justice, who dwells
on the value of “segregation,” “introspection,” “self-questioning,” and
“remorse,” as heaven-sent means by which the convicted sinner may be
awakened to a sense of his guilt.

Our other critic, of whom I must say a brief word, was Sir Robert
Anderson, then an ex-Assistant Commissioner of Police; who, being of a
choleric and over-bearing nature, was consumed with wrathful indignation
at the activities of the Humanitarian League. In his book on _Criminals
and Crime_, vengeful tirades against the professional criminal were
accompanied with scarcely less violent abuse of “professional
humanitarians”--a strange term this, to be applied to honorary workers
in an unpopular cause, and by one who had himself been for many years a
salaried official at Scotland Yard! In the same work we figured
variously as “humanity-mongers,” “agitators,” “fools,” “hysterical
faddists,” “doctrinaire philanthropists,” “spurious philosophers,”
“maudlin sentimentalists,” and so on. Authors sometimes describe their
books as “a labour of love.” Sir Robert’s was certainly a labour of
hate, and among the punishments which he indicated as suitable for an
impenitent thief were the gallows, crucifixion, thumb-screws, and the
rack; he added that it was consideration for the community, not for the
thief, that prevented the use of them. It is not pleasant to have to
speak of such a man; one would rather forget him. But in estimating the
savagery of the age, the fact that his most vindictive proposals met
with a good deal of public support is one which cannot be left out of
account.

A thorough-going condemnation of flogging is without doubt a very
unpopular policy; the Humanitarian League lost many members and much
pecuniary support by its steadfastness on this point, especially,
strange to say, among zoophilists and anti-vivisectionists, many of whom
were firm believers in the propriety of vivisecting the backs of
criminals, and would have gone any distance, as I have heard said, “to
see a vivisector flogged.” Not the least valuable part of the League’s
duties was to put a check on foolish talk of that sort; and in this we
had the satisfaction of being warmly supported by so distinguished an
opponent of vivisection as Professor Lawson Tait. It came about in a
rather strange way.

The League held a meeting in Birmingham; and a local member, who had the
arrangements in hand, got Mr. Tait to preside, but by some oversight did
not sufficiently apprise him beforehand of our aims and objects. When he
entered the room--a formidable-looking figure, with slow gait, massive
build, and heavy brows--he was seen to be in a towering rage. The storm
broke at once. Instead of the usual complimentary remarks from the
chair, he told us in wrathful tones that he knew nothing of the
Humanitarian League, and that it was most improper that he should have
been left thus uninformed. This was true, and we wished the earth would
swallow us up; but there was nothing for it but to go on with the
business of the meeting, and while the speeches were being made Mr.
Tait sat and studied the League’s printed manifesto. As he read it, the
gloom gradually left him; he began to mutter approval of point after
point, then to chuckle with satisfaction, and presently he turned to me
(I happened to be sitting next to him) and told me that he was in
complete agreement with our programme. A great good humour now took the
place of his former resentment, and presently he spoke at some length,
and himself moved a resolution that the objects of the League were
“worthy the support of all good citizens.” He declared that he felt
almost as strongly on the question of prison punishments as on that of
vivisection, and severely censured the clamour for the lash that had
been raised by some woman-suffragists of Edinburgh. It was then that he
used the words prefixed to this chapter: “Why not bring back at once the
boot, the stake, and the thumbscrew?”

That there are numbers of persons who would be quite willing to bring
back, if it were possible, the medieval forms of torture cannot for a
moment be doubted by any one who, like myself, has had the experience of
working for over twenty-five years for the discontinuance of flogging.
There are, of course, many reasonable advocates of corporal punishment
in one or another of its forms; but there are many more to whom the cry
for flogging, and for more and yet more flogging, has become a veritable
craze, as was seen when, in the agitation for the lashing of “white
slavers” in 1912, a frenzied shriek of passion went up from a large
section of the people. “We know,” said a Member of Parliament at the
time, “the extraordinary hysterical emotion which this Bill has aroused
throughout England. We get letters from all sorts of people, chiefly
women, ‘flog them,’ ‘crucify them,’ and anything else you like. It is a
cry we have had all down the ages.”[31] That there has been such a cry
all down the ages is likely enough; but the age which tolerates it can
hardly claim to be a civilized one.

In _The Flogging Craze, a Statement of the Case against Corporal
Punishment_,[32] a book published for the Humanitarian League in 1916,
with a preface by my friend Sir George Greenwood, I availed myself of
the large amount of material amassed by the League during its long
campaign against flogging, in the hope that such a work--the first of
its kind, if pamphlets be excepted--might prove useful to many social
reformers, who, though instinctively opposed to the use of the lash, are
often silenced by confident assertions of its efficacy, and are unaware
that in this, as in similar discussions, humanity and reason go hand in
hand.

Let me now turn to another and still more gruesome form of torture. It
is fitting, perhaps, that the twin tyrannies of Flogging and Vivisection
should be linked together as Lawson Tait saw them, for they are indeed
kindred expressions of one barbarous spirit. I use, for the sake of
brevity and convenience, the customary term “vivisection,” though there
is force in the objection raised against it by certain humanitarian
writers, that the Latin word somewhat conceals the vileness of the
practice, and though the phrase suggested by Mr. Howard Williams,
“experimental torture,” is more strictly appropriate to the nameless
thing for which a name has to be found. Here, at any rate, in the
twentieth century of our barbarism, is torture in its most naked
form--the rack, not indeed “without any of its intellectual reasons,” as
was said of the lash, but torture as surely as the boot and the
thumbscrew were torture. As for the intellectual reasons alleged in
excuse of the practice, it was pointed out in _Animals’ Rights_ that
before holding vivisection justified on the strength of its utility, a
wise man will take into consideration the other, the _moral_ side of
the question, “the hideous injustice of torturing a sentient animal,
and the wrong thereby done to the humane sense of the community.” This
contention was quoted and corroborated in an unexpected quarter, viz. in
a book published in 1901 by a Russian doctor, V. Veresaeff,[33] who,
though himself justifying vivisection, did not conceal his misgivings as
to the ethical aspect of the practice. “The question,” he said, in
reference to the passage in _Animals’ Rights_, “is plainly put, and
there can be no room for any equivocation. I repeat that we ought not to
ridicule the pretensions of the anti-vivisectionists--the sufferings of
animals are truly horrible; and sympathy with them is not
sentimentality.” In view of that admission, I will waste no words in
discussing the pretence that anæsthetics have relieved the vivisected
animals of their “truly horrible” sufferings. It is not so, even in this
country, where the legal restrictions are a farce; and if it were so
here, the rest of the world would be open to experimentation unlicensed
and unlimited.

The special application of the word “vivisection” to physiological
experiments has led to a belief, in many minds, that the vivisecting
scientist is the sole torturer of animals. This is unjust both to the
laboratory and to its victims. The crusade against vivisection would be
much strengthened if those who take part in it would remember that the
cruelties of science are only part of the great sum of cruelty that in
various forms disgraces the dealings of mankind with the lower animals.
Granted that the worst barbarities of the vivisector exceed those of the
sportsman or the slaughterman, both in duration and intensity, it is
still a fact, as scientists have often pointed out, that there are other
tortures than those of the laboratory, and that to some of these the
name “vivisection” might as accurately be applied. For example, clumsy
castration of domestic animals, as the law is beginning to recognize,
is nothing less than “farmyard vivisection”; the “docking” of horses’
tails is vivisection in a very revolting form; in the seal-fishery the
wretched victims of “fashion” have often been skinned alive; nor can it
be pretended that the torture of the egrets, flung aside to die when
their nuptial plumes have been torn off, demands a milder name than
vivisection; yet some zoophilists, who look upon a vivisecting
physiologist as a fiend, do not hesitate to wear an aigrette or a
sealskin cloak, or to be the owners of docked horses or cropped dogs. It
is impossible to draw a strict line of division between those
barbarities which amount to torture and those which fall short of it,
and it is convenient that the cruelties of sport and fashion should be
dealt with under a separate head; nevertheless there is one other
practice on which a few words must be spoken before this chapter is
closed.

Under the antiquated methods of transport and butchery still permitted
in England, it is impossible to doubt that something not far removed
from torture is often practised in the cattle trade; for which reason,
while aware that in vegetarianism lies the only full solution of the
diet-question, humanitarians have long pressed for an amelioration of
the worst features of cattle-ship and shambles, and, as a minimum, for
the establishment of public abattoirs in place of private
slaughterhouses. Even in this respect, owing to the supineness of the
County Council, London has been left at the mercy of “the trade,” though
in some other districts there has been a gratifying improvement. The
Humanitarian League, enjoying the advantage of being advised by such
experts as Sir Benjamin Richardson, Mr. H. F. Lester (whose _Behind the
Scenes in Slaughterhouses_ we published in 1892), Mr. Charles W.
Forward, Mr. C. Cash, and Mr. R. S. Ayling, lost no opportunity of
making known the need of this long postponed reform; but the subject
being so repulsive it was always difficult to enlist the sympathies of
the public, that is, of the very persons whose conscience ought to have
been touched; or, if any interest _was_ awakened, it might be among
those who were traditionally or professionally opposed to the changes
desired.

This danger was once curiously illustrated at a meeting held by the
League in the rooms of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals, when Mr. John Colam, the Secretary of that Society, took the
chair, and Mr. C. W. Forward gave an address on the Jewish method of
slaughtering. A mere handful of our friends attended, but the hall was
packed from end to end with Jewish visitors, who had seen the
announcement of the meeting in the papers, and rallied to the defence of
their ritual. We had intended to move a resolution, strongly condemning
the Jewish system, but we decided, after a hurried consultation with Mr.
Colam, that an academic discussion would better suit the circumstances;
and fortunately it did not occur to our Hebrew friends to propose and
pass a resolution of the contrary kind: they talked long and volubly,
and we were glad they did nothing worse. The meeting, however, was not
without result, for it led, a couple of months later, to the reception
by the Jewish Board of Shecheta of a deputation from the Humanitarian
League, at which the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Adler, was present, and gave us a
very courteous reply. The Jewish system of “casting,” he said, which had
especially been criticized as barbarous, was a good deal misunderstood
owing to the word by which it was described: in reality the animals were
not “cast,” but “let down gently with ropes.” Mr. Forward, however, who
had often witnessed the process, remained unconvinced on this point: it
seemed to him that it was the public that was being let down gently with
words.

The League had the satisfaction of seeing the Jewish system strongly
condemned in the official report (1904) of the Committee appointed to
consider the Humane Slaughtering of Animals; but nothing has yet been
done to carry the recommendations of that Committee into effect, the
supposed sanctity of a “religious” usage having been allowed, as usual,
to outweigh the clearest dictates of humaneness.

There are not a few other current and strongly-rooted practices to which
the title of this chapter might justly be applied; but enough has now
been said to show that the merry month of May, in the year of grace
1640, did not witness, as has been supposed, quite the last instance of
the infliction of Torture in this favoured land of the free.



XI

HUNNISH SPORTS AND FASHIONS

    Half ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel,
    That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.
              KEATS.


From the subject of torture we pass naturally to that of sport; indeed,
it is difficult to separate them, for they are psychologically and
actually akin. There is undoubtedly an element of sport in the gloating
over savage punishments, and some of the sufferings which sportsmen
inflict, such as the hunting to death of a timid deer or hare, cannot
fairly be distinguished from torture. But when I speak of “sport” in
this connection, I mean of course _blood-sport_; not the manly games of
playing-field or river, but the quest for personal recreation at the
expense of pain to others. The term “blood-sports” was first used, as
far as I am aware, by Mr. John Macdonald, who, under the name of
“Meliorist,” was the author of some suggestive articles that appeared in
the _Echo_; anyhow, the Humanitarian League borrowed the word from him,
and finding that it “went home,” made a point of using it on every
possible occasion. It is the right and proper expression for the
practices which it connotes.

The League published in 1914 a volume of essays on _Killing for Sport_,
with Preface by Mr. Bernard Shaw, in which the various aspects of
blood-sports were for the first time fully set forth and examined from
the standpoint of ethics and economics: the book, in fact, formed a
summary of the League’s arraignment of certain bloody and barbarous
pastimes, just as _The Flogging Craze_ was a record of its protests
against the continued use of the lash. I will here mention only a few of
the more salient features of a long campaign.

For ten years, from 1891 to 1901, the League made the Royal Buckhounds
serve as a “peg”--and a very useful peg it was--on which to hang an
exposure of the cruelty of stag-hunting.[34] The doings of the
Buckhounds were watched from season to season; detailed accounts of the
“runs” were published, in contradiction of the shuffling reports sent to
the papers by patrons of the Hunt, and a number of horrible cases of
mutilation were dragged into light. Questions were put in Parliament;
leaflets, articles, and press letters printed in hundreds, and many
lectures given at various clubs and institutions.

In this work we had the sympathy of many distinguished public men and
the support of a section of the press (notably of the _Star_, which was
then edited by Mr. Ernest Parke); but every possible difficulty was put
in our way by officials, whether of the Court, the Government, or the
Hunt, who in this case, as in all, desired nothing more than to save
themselves trouble by letting things go on as before. Red tape cared
little whether carted stags continued to be disembowelled on iron
palings and worried by hounds. For example, when, in 1898, we wished to
lay before Queen Victoria the case _against_ the Royal Hunt, in answer
to Lord Ribblesdale’s book, _The Queen’s Hounds_, her private secretary,
Sir A. Bigge, refused to bring the League’s publications to her notice;
the Home Secretary also declined to do so, and so did the Prime
Minister, each and all of them cordially advising us to apply elsewhere.
Thus thwarted, we hit on the expedient of _petitioning_ the Queen to
allow the counter-case to be sent to her, and in this way the Home
Office was finally forced to do what it had declared to be “contrary to
practice.” The Queen, as we had known since 1891, from a private letter
addressed to Mr. Stratton by Sir Henry Ponsonby, had been “strongly
opposed to stag-hunting for many years past”; and when this fact was
published after her death it settled the fate of the Buckhounds.

Looking back twenty years and more, it is comical to find the followers
of the Royal Hunt trying to exploit the visit of the German Emperor, in
1899, in order to bolster up the failing reputation of their sport. They
were very anxious that a “meet” of the Buckhounds should be one of the
entertainments provided for the Kaiser, and on November 24th, in
expectation of his being present, an unusually large company assembled;
but the Humanitarian League had been beforehand in the matter, a letter
of protest which it had addressed to the Prince of Wales had the desired
effect, and the Kaiser had an engagement elsewhere. Had he been present,
he would, as it happened, have seen a deer staked and done to death in
the manner which was far from uncommon, and he would have learnt (if he
had any doubt on the subject) that “Huns” are not entirely confined to
Germany.

This rascally “sport,” though no longer a State institution, is still
carried on by private packs in several parts of the country, and nothing
but fresh legislation can prevent its continuance. A “Spurious Sports
Bill” drafted by the Humanitarian League, with the purpose of
prohibiting the hunting of carted stags, the coursing of bagged rabbits,
and the shooting of birds released from traps, has been introduced at
various times in the House of Commons by Mr. A. C. Morton, Mr. H. F.
Luttrell, Sir William Byles, Sir George Greenwood, and other Members,
and in the House of Lords by the Bishop of Hereford (Dr. Percival); but
its opponents have always succeeded in preventing its becoming law. On
one occasion (1893) it was “talked out” by Sir Frederick Banbury, who
is renowned in the House as an anti-vivisectionist and friend of
animals. It is not only human beings who have to pray, at times, to be
delivered from their friends.

The Eton Beagles were another of the League’s most cherished “pegs,” and
displayed as useful an illustration of the hare-hunt as the Royal
Buckhounds of the deer-worry. Had humanitarians talked of the cruelty of
hare-hunting in general, little attention would have been paid to them;
but with concrete instances drawn from the leading public school, and
quoted in the words of the boys themselves as printed in the _Eton
College Chronicle_--a disgusting record of “blooded” hounds and of the
hare “broken up,” or crawling “deadbeat,” “absolutely stiff,” “so done
that she could not stand”--a great impression was made, and the
memorials presented to the headmaster or the Governing Body, asking for
the substitution of a drag-hunt (a form of sport which was formerly
popular at Eton and led to very good runs), received a large number of
very influential signatures, including that of the Visitor of Eton, the
late Bishop of Lincoln, Dr. E. L. Hicks. But public opinion counts for
very little at the school where ignorance is bliss; a far more important
consideration for Governing Bodies and headmasters is the opinion of Old
Etonians; indeed, it is doubtful whether a headmaster of Eton could even
retain his position if he were to decree the discontinuance of what Dr.
Warre described, with all due solemnity, as “an old Eton institution.”
So obvious was this that we were inspired to borrow the title of Gray’s
famous poem in an enlarged form, and to indite an “Ode on the
Exceedingly Distant Prospect of Humane Reform at Eton College.”

Dr. E. C. Selwyn, headmaster of Uppingham, wrote to me if he were made
headmaster of Eton, he would abolish the Beagles “at the earliest
opportunity.” Unfortunately he was not the successful candidate for the
post when Dr. Warre gave it up, or we might have seen some rare sport at
Eton, and a hue and cry more exciting than any hare-hunt. Dislike of
blood-sport as a school recreation is by no means confined to
humanitarians, as may be seen from the following sentence which I quote
from an interesting unpublished letter on the ethics of sport, addressed
to Mr. Stratton in 1905 by Mr. F. C. Selous, the great lion-hunter:
“After reading your pamphlet, I certainly think it would be better to
substitute drag-hunting for the pursuit and killing of a hare. To see
one of these animals worried and torn by a pack of dogs is not an
edifying sight for a young boy.”

All hunting, whether of the hare, fox, stag, or otter, has many horrible
features: perhaps the very nastiest is the custom of “blooding,” i.e.
baptizing with the blood of the mangled victim any children or young
folk who partake in the sport for the first time. The practice has been
described, but too modestly, it would seem, as “a hunting tradition
which goes back to the Middle Ages”; one would suppose it went back to
still more primitive times. Yet to this day this savage ritual is
patronized by our nobility and by royalty. “Prince Henry was blooded,”
was the conclusion of a newspaper report of a “kill” with a pack of
fox-hounds, January 9, 1920. There is a double significance, it seems,
in the expression “a prince of the blood.”

“You can’t eliminate cruelty from sport,” says a distinguished
sportsman, the Earl of Warwick, in his _Memories of Sixty Years_. In no
form of blood-sport do we more clearly see what a veritable mania this
amateur butchery may become than in one of Lord Warwick’s hobbies, “big
game hunting,” the difficult and costly pursuit of wild animals in
distant lands, for no better reason than the craze for killing.
Tiger-shooting is doubtless an exciting pastime, and there are savage
beasts that at times have to be destroyed; but what of that other tiger
that lurks in the heart of each of us? and how is _he_ going to be
eliminated, so long as a savage lust for killing is a recognized form of
amusement? For in spite of all the barriers and divisions that prejudice
and superstition have heaped up between the human and the non-human, we
may take it as certain that, in the long run, as we treat out
fellow-beings, “the animals,” so shall we treat our fellow-men.

Every one knows how the possessors of such “trophies” as the heads and
horns of “big game” love to decorate their halls with these mementoes of
the chase. I was once a visitor at a house which was not only adorned in
this way, but contained also a human head that had been sent home by a
member of a certain African expedition and “preserved” by the skill of
the taxidermist. When I was invited by the owner of the head--the
_second_ owner--to see that particular trophy, it was with some
misgivings that I acquiesced; but when, after passing up a staircase
between walls plastered with portions of the carcases of elephant,
rhinoceros, antelope, etc., I came to a landing where, under a glass
case, was the head of a pleasant-looking young negro, I felt no special
repugnance at the sight. It was simply a part--and, as it seemed, not a
peculiarly dreadful or loathsome part--of the surrounding dead-house;
and I understood how mankind itself may be nothing more than “big game”
to our soldier-sportsmen abroad. The absolute distinction between human
and non-human is a fiction which will not bear the test either of
searching thought in the study or of rough experience in the wilds.

Iniquitous as the Game Laws are, I have often thought it strange that
Kingsley, even when regarding them, quite justly, from the poacher’s
standpoint, should have hurled at the game-preserver that eloquent
denunciation:

    There’s blood on the game you sell, squire,
      And there’s blood on the game you eat.

without in the least realizing the full truth of the statement. For
there, literally, is blood on the “game” which the squire (or the
poacher) disposes of, viz. the blood of the “game” itself; and that
Kingsley should have forgotten this, is a singular proof of the way in
which the lower animals are regarded as mere goods and chattels, and not
as creatures of flesh and blood at all--except to cook and eat. The very
use of the word “game,” in this sense, is most significant.

As mention has been made of the fall of the Royal Buckhounds, a few
words must be said of the man who chiefly brought it about. The Rev. J.
Stratton was Master of Lucas’s Hospital, Wokingham, a charitable
institution founded in 1663, where a number of aged labourers live as
pensioners; and as Wokingham lay in the centre of the hunting district,
he was well placed for observing what went on, and for obtaining exact
information: he had, moreover, a first-hand knowledge of “sport,” and
his detestation of it was based on his own earlier experiences, as well
as on a keen sense of fair play. Of all the active workers with whom I
have been privileged to be associated, Mr. Stratton was the finest; I
have known nothing more courageous than the way in which, almost
single-handed at first, and with the whole hunting fraternity against
him, he gradually “pulled down” (to use a pleasant sporting term) the
cruel and stupid institution which was carried on in the Sovereign’s
name and at the expense of the public.

In character, as in appearance, Mr. Stratton was a Roman; his stern and
unswerving rectitude made him respected even by his most active
opponents. His outspokenness, where matters of real import were at
stake, was quite undaunted, and to an extent which sometimes caused
consternation among the weaker brethren. I was once asked by a
sympathetic bishop whether it would be possible “to keep Mr. Stratton
quiet.” More than one dignitary of the Church must have mused on that
problem; for if Mr. Stratton had a weakness, it was for a bishop. I do
not mean that he viewed bishops with undue reverence, somewhat the
reverse, for he loved to take a bishop to task; and some of his letters
to bishops, in reference to their sanction of vivisection or
blood-sports, were of a nature to cause a mild surprise in episcopal
circles. But if bishops did not always appreciate Mr. Stratton, other
persons did. So well did the birds in his garden at Wokingham understand
him, that they would let him talk to them and stroke them as they sat on
their nests. Could there be a more convincing proof of a man’s goodness?

Another active champion of the reform of blood-sports was Colonel W. L.
B. Coulson, a well-known Northumberland country gentleman and J.P., who
was one of the first men of influence to join the Humanitarian League.
He possessed a fine military presence, and a voice which, even at its
whisper, had a volume and resonance which could not fail to make it
heard to the uttermost corner of a room; his appearance, in brief, had
so little of the pale cast of thought that on the occasion when he first
met us we were the victims of an odd misapprehension. It had been
arranged that he would preside at a public meeting in London, the first
we held, on the subject of deer-hunting; and when the members of our
Committee arrived, some time before the discussion began, we were
troubled to find thus early upon the scene a very large and powerfully
built man, whom, as he did not introduce himself, we imagined to be a
master of staghounds, or at least an opponent of formidable calibre,
come to intimidate us at the start. We were relieved when we discovered
him to be our missing chairman.

Colonel Coulson was very popular with his audiences, for there was a
frankness about him which went straight to the heart, and his speeches,
though not cultured, were full of raciness and humanity. Himself brought
up as a sportsman, he felt keenly about the sufferings of animals, and
after his retirement from the army devoted much time to lecturing-tours,
in which he visited many parts of the country and especially addressed
himself to schools. Eton would not receive him, doubtless fearing some
reference to her hare-hunt; but at several of the other big public
schools he was asked to speak more than once. Brave, simple, and
courteous, he was loved by all who knew him, and by none more than by
his colleagues in the humanitarian cause.

Nothing was more remarkable in the history of the Humanitarian League
than the diversity of character in the persons whom its principles
attracted. Lady Florence Dixie, who joined the League at its start in
1891, had a strange and adventurous career, and has been described, not
inaptly, as “a sort of ‘Admirable Crichton’ among women, a poet, a
novelist, an explorer, a war correspondent, a splendid horse-woman, a
convincing platform-speaker, a swimmer of great endurance, and as keen a
humanitarian as ever lived.” It was as humanitarian that I knew her; and
she was certainly one of the most faithful supporters of the League,
ever ready to help with pen or purse, and prompt, sincere, and
unwavering in her friendship. Her poems, of which she sent me more than
one volume, had little worth; but her essay on “The Horrors of Sport”
was one of the most vivid and moving appeals that have been written on
the subject; none of the League’s pamphlets had so wide a circulation,
for it has been read and quoted in every part of the English-speaking
world. She here wrote with full knowledge of the facts, and with a
sympathetic insight, which, together with a swift and picturesque style,
made her, at her best, a powerful and fascinating writer. Of her
personal eccentricities many reports were rife; and I remembered that
when I lived at Eton she used to be seen in the garden of her villa, on
the Windsor bank of the Thames, walking, like a modern Circe, with a
number of wild beasts in her train. On one occasion a jaguar made his
escape from her control, and there was a mild panic in Windsor and Eton
till he was recaptured: it might have indeed been serious if the bold
youths who hunted the terror-stricken hare had started a quarry that
showed fight.

Another unfailing friend of the League’s Sports Committee was the Hon.
FitzRoy Stewart. When I first knew him he was Secretary of the Central
Conservative Office, and we were rather surprised at finding an ally in
that direction; in fact, we had some suspicions, entirely unjust, as the
result proved, that Mr. Stewart might be desirous of learning our plan
of campaign against the Royal Buckhounds in the interest of his sporting
friends. The first time I visited him at the Conservative headquarters I
was introduced to Sir Howard Vincent, M.P., who, though a patron of the
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had not scrupled
to throw in his lot with those who were fighting for the continuance of
rabbit-coursing, pigeon-shooting and stag-hunting. He seemed to be a
good-natured, vacuous-minded person, and one of his remarks, I remember,
was that England is “a paradise for animals.” This was hardly the
opinion of FitzRoy Stewart, who was indefatigable with his schemes for
the prohibition of the more cruel forms of sport. He had great hopes of
young Mr. Winston Churchill, then beginning to be known as a rising star
of the Tory party, and at his earnest request a letter was sent to Mr.
Churchill from the office of the League, reminding him of Lord Randolph
Churchill’s strong denunciation of stag-hunting, and asking his aid
against the Buckhounds. Mr. Churchill, however, unmoved by this appeal
to his filial piety, sagely opined that the crusade against the Royal
Hunt was too democratic.

Mr. FitzRoy Stewart worked closely with the Humanitarian League till his
death in 1914; and many were his press letters which he and I jointly
composed at the office in Chancery Lane. He liked to come there armed
with some sheets of his Carlton Club notepaper, on which the letters,
when worded to his satisfaction, were duly copied and signed--“Old
Harrovian,” or “A Member of the Carlton Club,” was his favourite
signature--and then he sent them off to some influential editors of his
acquaintance, whose disgust would have been unmeasured had they known
what company their esteemed contributor had been keeping. Mr. Stewart, I
must in fairness add, though a strong opponent of blood-sport, was a
firm believer in the beneficence of flogging; but he was willing to sink
this one point of difference in his general approval of the League’s
work. So good-natured was he, that when the subject of corporal
punishment was going to crop up at a Committee meeting, he used to ask
me to put it first on the agenda, so that he might wait outside until
that burning question was disposed of: then he would join us--coming in
to dessert, as we expressed it--and take his share in the discussion.
Oh, if all colleagues were as reasonable! As _The Times_ truly said of
him, “his sweetness of temper and social tact made him the most
companionable of human beings.”

Mr. John Colam, for many years Secretary of the Royal Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was a well-known figure in the
zoophilist movement at the time of which I am speaking, and had a great
reputation for astuteness. Wily he certainly was, with the vast
experience he had acquired in evading the double pressure of those who
cried “forward” and of those who cried “back”; and he was a veritable
Proteus in the skill with which he gave the slip to any one who tried to
commit him to any course but the safest. He used privately to allege the
backwardness of his Committee as a cause for this seeming timidity; thus
he told me in 1901, when the fate of the Royal Buckhounds was hanging in
the balance, that the R.S.P.C.A. was unable to take any public action,
not from any remissness on his part, but because certain members of the
Committee were afraid of alienating subscribers, including King Edward
himself. Personally I liked Mr. Colam; he was humane so far as his
interests permitted, and when one had realized, once for all, the
uselessness of attempting to bind him to any fixed purpose, it was
instructive to have an occasional talk with him at Jermyn Street, and to
observe the great adroitness with which he conducted the affairs of the
Society; and he, on his part, when he saw that one had no longer any
ethical designs on him, but approached him rather as a fellow-student,
albeit a mere amateur, in the art of dealing with unreasonable people,
would become chatty and confidential and tell amusing stories of a
Secretary’s adventures. He would have made a successful Prime Minister,
for his “wizardry” was of the highest order; as a humanitarian he left
something to be desired.

With the Sporting League, which professed to discountenance
“malpractices” in sport, yet opposed the Bill which would have
prohibited rabbit-coursing and kindred pastimes, we were of course
involved in controversy. We sought to bring this to a point by proposing
a public discussion of the question: “What are malpractices in Sport?”
But this challenge was declined, the _Sportsman_ expressing the opinion
that “such piffling folly is best treated with contempt,” and the
_Evening News_ that “cackling is the strong point of the faddists.” We
were more successful in bringing to book some champions of aristocratic
blood-sports, among them Sir Herbert Maxwell and Sir Edward Grey, who on
one or two occasions appeared on neutral platforms, and seized the
opportunity to eulogize their own favourite recreations, but showed
little relish for the discussion which they themselves had provoked. Mr.
F. G. Aflalo was another of our many antagonists in the magazines and
the press; and I have a pleasant recollection of friendly encounters
with him in the _Fortnightly Review_ and elsewhere. Many other
apologists of blood-sports there were, of a more sentimental and
unreasoning kind, and with these, too, we much enjoyed the argument,
which was quite as good sport to us as their hunting or coursing was to
them.

Before passing from Sports to Fashions, I will speak briefly of those
popular places of recreation, known euphemistically as “Zoological
Gardens,” which in a civilized age would surely be execrated as among
the saddest and dullest spots on the earth, being, in fact, nothing
cheerier than big convict-stations, to which the ill-fated
life-prisoners--“stuff,” as the keepers call them--are conveyed from
many distant lands. How any rational person can find pleasure in seeing,
for example, “the lions fed” (the modern version of _Christianos ad
leones_) is a mystery that baffles thought. I have not been to the
London “Zoo” for a good many years; but when I knew it, the
incongruities of the place were so ludicrous as almost to obscure one’s
sense of its barbarity: the Tiger’s den, for instance, was labelled:
“Beware of pickpockets,” and the Eagle’s cage bore the inscription: “To
the Refreshment Rooms”; and there, sure enough, within sight of the
captive Bird of Jove moping disconsolate on his perch, was a waiter,
serving out coffees or lemon-squashes, regardless of the great Raptor by
whom his predecessor, Ganymede, had been carried off to be the god’s
cup-bearer. Could bathos have gone further?

A friend of mine who, as an Eton boy, used to go to the “Zoo” in the
holidays and amuse himself by teasing the captives, was converted to
humanitarian principles in a rather curious way. An elk, or some large
animal of the ruminant order, whose wrath he had deservedly incurred,
_coughed_ on him with such vehemence that he retired from the elk-house
covered with a sort of moist bran, and with his top-hat irrevocably
damaged. Though at the time this touched his hat rather than his heart,
he afterwards came to regard the incident as what is called a “means of
grace.” It caused _him_, too, to “ruminate,” and so brought home to him
the fact that an elk is “a person.”

A pamphlet of mine, issued by the Humanitarian League in 1895, entitled
“A Zoophilist at the Zoo,” was the beginning of an agitation which
gradually led to a considerable improvement in the housing of the
animals, in which discussion the most noteworthy feature was a series of
articles contributed to the _Saturday Review_ by Mr. Edmund Selous, and
afterwards reprinted by the League. Another subject, debated with much
liveliness, was the practice of feeding pythons and other large serpents
on living prey--ducks, fowls, rabbits, and even goats being given to the
reptiles, to be devoured in a manner which was sickening to witness and
almost too loathsome to describe.[35] These exhibitions were open till
1881; then for publicity extreme secrecy was substituted, and all
inquiries were met by the stereotyped statement that the use of live
prey was confined to cases “where such food was a necessity.”

    Who feeds slim serpents must himself be slim.

The League found the reptile-feeders at Regent’s Park exceedingly
slippery to deal with, and it needed long time, and much patience, to
bring them to book. In this task, however, I was encouraged by the
recollection of a scene which I once witnessed in a crowded
railway-carriage, when a large eel had made its escape from a basket
which one of my fellow-travellers was holding, and created a mild panic
among the company by its convolutions under the seat. An old lady
sharply upbraided the owner of the eel, and I was struck by the
reasonableness of his reply in rather difficult circumstances, when the
eel had repeatedly slipped from his grasp. “Wait a little, mum,” he
said, “until he gets a bit dusty”; and the result proved the man to be
right. In like manner we waited till the excuses given by the Zoological
Society had become very dusty indeed.

Some of the reasons offered for the old system of snake-feeding were
themselves truly reptilian. “We follow God’s ordinances, and they must
be right,” was the reverent remark of a keeper; and humanitarians were
told that “to declare the use of live food to be cruel is to bring that
charge against the Designer of Nature Himself.” So deep and fervent was
the piety of the Reptile House! Nevertheless, we continued to urge our
point, and the subject was hotly debated at more than one of the
Zoological Society’s annual meetings, where, as a result of the protests
raised by Captain Alfred Carpenter, R.N., Mr. Stephen Coleridge, Mr.
Rowland Hunt, and other F.Z.S.’s, it was made evident that the majority
of the Fellows, who regarded the Society as a sort of private club, were
indignant at public opinion being brought to bear upon their concerns.
It was a situation not devoid of humour. I happen to know that in the
course of an excited meeting held in November, 1907, when the Duke of
Bedford, as President of the Zoological Society, was in the chair, the
following telegram was despatched to his Grace:

     Beg you to stand firm for live food and maintain the ordinances of
     the Creator.

_From_ ANNA CONDA.



This artless prayer of an unknown lady was fully in accord with the
spirit of the meeting. Nevertheless, things moved, even in Regent’s
Park; and, when we had shown that the snakes in the New York Zoological
Park were successfully fed on freshly-killed animals, we had the
satisfaction of seeing the same less barbarous method adopted at the
London “Zoo.”

I once had the advantage of hearing some of the inner history of a large
menagerie from the wife of one of the keepers, a charwoman in the house
where I was staying, who was of a somewhat loquacious and communicative
disposition, the staple of her talk being the adventures of her husband,
Johnnie. “Johnnie came home dead-tired last night, sir,” she said on one
occasion. “Why was that, Mrs. Smith?” I asked. “Why, sir, he had had to
beat the elephant; and after that he was too stiff and tired to take his
supper.” My natural inquiry whether the elephant had been able to take
_his_ supper was set aside as frivolous.

Knowing something of the profound piety of the keepers at the (London)
“Zoo” in relation to snake-feeding, I was pained to learn from this good
woman that her husband, who, unfortunately, was not employed in a
reptile-department, had “lost his faith,” and for a reason which I think
has not before been recorded among the many modern causes of unbelief.
“You see, sir, Johnny can never again hold with the Church, after the
way he’s seen clergymen going on with girls in the elephant house.”

When speaking of cruel pastimes, I referred to the value of the term
“blood-sports” in the many controversies which we waged. Just as the
fortunes of a book may be affected by its title, so in ethical and
political discussions there is often what may be called a winning word;
and where none such is found ready to hand, it is advisable to invent
one. Thus the League made good play with “flagellomania,” as used by Mr.
Bernard Shaw in one of his lectures; and “brutalitarian” (an invention
of our own, I think) did us yeoman service, as will be seen in a later
chapter. “Murderous Millinery,” another term which has gained a wide
circulation, was first used as a chapter-heading in my _Animals’
Rights_; and though it rather shocked some zoophilists of the older
school, who presumably thought that only a human being can be
“murdered,” it served a useful purpose, perhaps, in drawing attention
to the revolting cruelty that underlies the plumage trade. In its
condemnation of these barbarities, as in other matters, the Humanitarian
League was a pioneer; its pamphlet on “The Extermination of Birds,”
written by Miss Edith Carrington, and published nearly thirty years ago,
played a marked part in the creation of a better public opinion; and a
Bill drafted by the League in 1901, to prohibit the use of the plumage
of certain rare and beautiful birds, attracted very wide public
attention, and was the basis of subsequent attempts at legislation. But
here it must be added that the man who has done more than all the
Societies together to insure the passage of a Plumage Bill is Mr. James
Buckland. Nothing in the humanitarian movement has been finer than the
way in which Mr. Buckland forced this question to the front and made it
peculiarly his own.

Every whit as savage as the feather-trade is the fur-trade, responsible
as it is for some most horrible methods of torture--the steel-trap,
which inflicts shocking injuries on its victim; the spring-pole, which
jerks both trap and captive high in air, there to hang till the trapper
next comes on his rounds; the terrible “dead-fall” used for bears and
other large animals; the poisoning of wolves with strychnine; and the
abominations in the butchery of seals. Even the fashionable people who
wear furs (in a climate where there is not the least need of such
clothing) would hardly be able to continue the habit if they knew how
their “comforts” were provided; as it is, the Feather-Headed Woman is
not a commoner sight in our streets than the Ass in the skin of the
(Sea) Lion. It would seem that fur-wearers are almost unconscious that
their sables and sealskins are the relicts of previous possessors, and,
like the heroines of modern drama, have very decidedly had “a past”; or,
if they do not wholly forget this fact, they think it quite natural that
_they_ should now have their turn with the skin, as the animal had
before. Thus Pope, in a well-known couplet:

    Know, Nature’s children all divide her care;
    The fur that warms a monarch warmed a bear.

One would have thought that the bear who grew the skin had somewhat more
right to it than the monarch! Politicians may talk of “one man, one
vote”; but really, if there is ever to be a civilized state, a programme
of “one man, one skin” seems fairer and more democratic.



XII

A FADDIST’S DIVERSIONS

     No greyhound loves to cote a hare, as I to turn and course a
     fool.--SCOTT’S _Kenilworth_.


I wonder how many times, during the past thirty years, we humanitarians
were told that we were “faddists,” or “cranks,” or “sentimentalists,”
that our hearts were “better than our heads,” and that we were totally
lacking in a sense of humour. I feel sure that if I had kept all the
letters and press-cuttings in which we found ourselves thus described,
they would amount not to hundreds but to thousands; for it seemed to be
a common belief among the genial folk whose unpleasant practices were
arraigned by us that the Committee of the Humanitarian League must be a
set of sour Puritans, sitting in joyless conclave, and making solemn
lamentation over the wickedness of the world. Our opponents little knew
how much we were indebted to them for providing a light and comic side
in a controversy which might otherwise have been just a trifle dull.

It was said by Gibbon, that it was the privilege of the medieval church
“to defend nonsense by cruelties.” Nowadays we see the patrons of sport,
vivisection, butchery, and other time-honoured institutions, adopting
the contrary process, and defending cruelties by nonsense. And by _what_
nonsense! I do not know where else one can find such grotesque
absurdities, such utter topsy-turvydom of argument, as in the quibbling
modern brutality which gives sophisticated reasons for perpetuating
savage customs.

Of some of the fallacies of the cannibalistic conscience I have already
spoken: a volume could easily be filled with not less diverting
utterances culled from kindred fields of thought. The apologists of the
Royal Buckhounds, for instance, were comedians of the first rank, a
troupe of entertainers who long ago anticipated “The Follies.” Did they
not themselves assure us that, in hunting the carted stag, they “rode to
save the deer for another day”? Such devotion needed another Lovelace:

    Did’st wonder, since my love was such,
      I hunted thee so sore?
    I could not love thee, Deer, so much,
      Loved I not Hunting more.

The stag, so a noble lord pointed out at a meeting of the Sporting
League, was “a most pampered animal.” “When he was going to be hunted,
he was carried to the meet in a comfortable cart. When set down, the
first thing he did was to crop the grass. When the hounds got too near,
they were stopped. By and by he lay down, and was wheeled back to his
comfortable home. It was a life many would like to live.” Thus it was
shown to be a deprivation, to humans and non-humans alike, not to be
hunted by a pack of staghounds over a country of barbed wire and broken
bottles. Life seemed poor and mean without it.

Fox-hunting, too, has always been refreshingly rich in sophistries. The
farmer is adjured to be grateful to the Hunt, because the fox is killed,
and the fox because his species (not himself) is “preserved”$1 thus the
sportsman takes credit either way--on the one hand, for the destruction
of a pest; on the other, for saving similar pests from extermination. It
is a scene for a Gilbertian opera or a “Bab Ballad”; it makes one feel
that this British blood-sport must be deleterious not only to the
victims of the chase, but to the mental capacity of the gentlemen who
indulge in it.

The climax of absurdity was reached, perhaps, in the dedication by the
Archbishop of York (Dr. Cosmo Lang) of a stained window--a _very_
stained window, as was remarked at the time--in the church of Moor
Monkton, to the memory of the Rev. Charles Slingsby, an aged
blood-sportsman who broke his neck in the hunting-field. That a minister
should have been “launched into eternity,” as the phrase is, while
chasing a fox, might have been expected to cause a sense of deep pain,
if not shame, to his co-religionists: what happened was that an
Archbishop was found willing to eulogize, in a consecrated place of
worship, not only the old gentleman whose life was thus thrown away, but
the sport of fox-hunting itself: Dr. Lang pronounced, in fact, what may
be called the Foxology. Of the stained window, with its representation,
on one part, of St. Hubert and the stag, and on the other of St.
Francis--yes, St. Francis--giving his blessing to the birds, one can
only think with a smile. A few months later, an Izaak Walton memorial
window was placed in Winchester Cathedral in honour of “the quaint old
cruel coxcomb” whom Byron satirized. Whether, in this work of religious
art, the pious angler is portrayed in the act of impaling the live frog
on the hook “as if he loved him,” the newspapers did not state.

Many instances might be quoted of the deep godliness, at times even
religious rapture, felt by the votaries of blood-sports; perhaps one
from the German Crown Prince’s _Leaves from my Hunting Diary_ is most
impressive: “To speak of religious feelings is a difficult matter. I
only know one thing--I have never felt so near my God as when I, with my
rifle on my knee, sat in the golden loneliness of high mountains, or in
the moving silence of the evening forest.” This sort of sentiment is by
no means exclusively of German make. Listen to the piety of a big
game-hunter, Mr. H. W. Seton-Karr: “Why did Almighty God create lions to
prey on harmless animals? And should we not, even at the expense of a
donkey as bait, be justified in reducing their number?” Here, again, is
what the Rev. Walter Crick had to say in defence of the fur-trade: “If
it is wrong to carry a sealskin muff, the camel’s-hair raiment of St.
John Baptist, to say nothing of the garments worn by our first parents
in the Garden of Eden, stands equally condemned.”

Strictly ecclesiastical was the tone of a pamphlet which hailed from New
York State, entitled “The Dog Question, discussed in the Interest of
Humanity,” and concluded in these terms: “Now, my boy or girl, whichever
you are, drop this nonsense about dogs. They are demanding valuable time
that should be employed in teaching such as you. A dog cannot love you.
You cannot love a dog. Naught beside a divine soul can love or be loved.
Chloroform your dog, and take to reading your Testament.”

I once overheard a clergyman, who had taken his seat at a tea-table in a
Surrey garden, sharply call to order some boys of his party who were
striking wildly at wasps and mashing them with any instrument that was
handy. I listened, thinking that at last I was going to hear some wise
words on that silly and disgusting practice in which many excitable
persons indulge; but it turned out that the cause of the reverend
gentleman’s displeasure was merely that he had not yet “said grace”:
that done, the wasp-mashing was resumed without interruption.

Space would fail me, were I to attempt to cite one-hundredth part of the
amazing Book of Fallacies written in defence of Brutality. “Methinks,”
said Sir Herbert Maxwell, “were it possible to apply the referendum to
our flocks and herds, the reply would come in a fashion on which
vegetarians scarcely calculate.” There would be a universal roar of
remonstrance, it seems, from oxen, sheep, and swine, at the proposal to
sever their grateful association with the drover and the slaughterman.
Even more delightful was Mr. W. T. Stead, when he received from the
spirit world a message to the effect that vegetarianism was good for
some persons but not good for _him_. That message, I think, smacked less
of the starry spheres than of the _Review of Reviews_ office: if it was
not pure spirit, it was pure Stead.

The “mystics” were often a great joy to us; for example, Mr. J. W.
Lloyd, author of an occult work called _Dawn-Thought_, expressed himself
as follows: “When I go afield with my gun, and kill my little brother,
the Rabbit, I do not therefore cease to love him, or deny my
relationship, or do him any real wrong. I simply set him free to come
one step nearer to me.” Here was Brer Fox again, only funnier. We
suggested to Mr. Lloyd that “Brawn-Thought” might be a more appropriate
title for his book.

Thus, like pedagogues, we faddists, too, had our diversions; cheered as
we were in the weary work of propaganda by such mental harlequinades as
those of which I have quoted a few specimens almost at random.

Perhaps the most laughable thing about the poor spavined Fallacies was
the entire confidence with which they were trotted out. They were very
old and very silly; they had again and again been refuted; yet they were
always advanced in a manner which seemed to say: “Surely _this_ is an
argument you have never heard before? Surely you will give up your
humanitarian sentiment _now_?” As the frequent oral exposure of such
inveterate sophisms was a tedious task, we found it convenient to print
them, tabulated and numbered, each with its proper refutation, under
some such title as “Familiar Fallacies,” or, borrowing from Sydney
Smith, “The Noodle’s Oration”; and then, when some opponent came along
exultingly with one or other of them, all we had to do was to send him
the list, with a mark against his own delusion. Trust one who has tried
the plan: it is more effective than any amount of personal talk. The man
who will bore you to death with his pertinacious twaddle, in the belief
that he is saying something new, will soon tire of it when he finds the
whole story already in print, with a “See number--” written large in
blue pencil against his most original argument.

But the League did not stop at that point: we felt ourselves competent,
after years of experience, to carry the war into the enemies’ camp--to
hoist them with their own petard by means of the _reductio ad absurdum_,
a pretended defence of the very practices which we were attacking. The
publication of the first and only number of _The Brutalitarian, a
Journal for the Sane and Strong_, went far towards achieving our aims.
The printers were inundated with requests for copies, and the editor (as
I happen to know) received many letters of warm congratulation on his
efforts “to combat the sickly sentiments of modern times.” The press, as
a whole, regarded the new paper with amusement tempered with caution:
some suspecting in it the hand of Mr. G. K. Chesterton, some of Mr.
Bernard Shaw, while one venturesome editor hinted that the humanitarians
themselves might have been concerned in it, but prudently added that
“perhaps that would be attributing too much cleverness to the
Humanitarian League.” So the authorship of the _Brutalitarian_, like
that of the letters of Junius, remained a secret; but the laughter
caused by its preposterous eulogies of Flogging put a stop for the time
to the cry that had been raised in _Blackwood_ by Mr. G. W. Steevens and
others, that “we have let Brutality die out too much.” They did not
relish their own panacea, when it was served to them in an undiluted
form, and with imbecility no less than brutality as its principal
ingredient.

The Eton Beagles, of course, offered a tempting mark for satire, as it
was easy to hit upon a strain of balderdash, in mock defence of
hare-hunting, the absurdity of which would be apparent to the ordinary
reader, yet would escape the limited intelligence of schoolboys and
sporting papers. Accordingly, there appeared in 1907, two numbers of
_The Beagler Boy_, conducted by two Old Etonians with the professed
purpose of “saving a gallant school sport from extinction,” and with the
ulterior design of showing that there is nothing too fatuous to be
seriously accepted as argument by the upholders of blood-sports.

The success of the _Beagler Boy_ in this adventure was not for a moment
in doubt. The Etonians were enthusiastic over it. The _Sportsman_ found
it “a publication after our own heart,” and “far more interesting and
invigorating than anything we are capable of”; and the hoax was welcomed
in like manner by _Sporting Life_, _Horse and Hound_, and the
_Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News_, a periodical described (by
itself) as “bright, entertaining, and original.” One of the most
solemnly comic notices was that in _Countryside_, Mr. E. Kay Robinson’s
paper, which found the _Beagler Boy_ “clever and strenuous, but of
course _ex parte_”; but the gem of the collection was a long and serious
dissertation on “Boys and Beagles” in the _British Medical Journal_,
which thought that its readers would be glad to have their attention
directed to the new sporting organ. There was a _sauve qui peut_ among
these worthy people when, from the general laughter in the press, they
learnt that they had been imposed upon; but the shock was borne most
good-humouredly. “Even the beagler boys,” as was remarked by the
_Evening Standard_, “those of them, at least, who know how rare and
precious an instrument satire is, may forgive, after they have read:
perhaps some will even be converted.” Their disillusionment must
certainly have been rather keenly felt at the time; like that of the
lion who, as related in _The Man-Eaters of Tsavo_, had carried off what
he thought was a coolie from the tent, only to find, when he had gone
some distance, that it was a sack of sawdust.

The _Beagler Boy_ was added, by request, to Lord Harcourt’s collection
of books, pamphlets, and other matter relating to Eton, which at a later
date he presented to the School. It must, I feel sure, be gratifying to
Sir George Greenwood, and to the other Old Etonian who collaborated with
him in the editorship, to know that the fruits of their toil are thus
enshrined in the archives of Eton College.

Some twelve months after the meteoric career of the _Beagler Boy_ it
happened that there was a good deal of talk about an Eton Mission to
China, which was to give the Chinese “an opportunity of the best
education and of learning Christianity.” Then a very curious thing
happened. A Chinese gentleman, Mr. Ching Ping, who was in England at the
time, wrote to Dr. Lyttelton, the headmaster, and offered to conduct a
Chinese Mission to Eton, in order to bring “a message of humanity and
civilization to your young barbarians of the West.” The proposal was not
accepted, and it was even hinted in the press that Mr. Ching Ping came
from this side of Suez; but however that may have been, his letter to
Dr. Lyttelton had a wide circulation, both in England and in the Far
East.

Such were some of a faddist’s diversions; others too we had, of a
different kind, for the every-day work that goes on behind the scenes in
an office is by no means devoid of entertainment to one who is
interested in the eccentricities of human nature, and is prepared to
risk some wasted hours in studying them. There was a time when I went to
the headquarters of the Humanitarian League in Chancery Lane almost
daily for some years, and there had experience of many strange visitors
and correspondents of every complexion--voluble cranks and genial
impostors; swindlers begging for the cost of a railway-ticket to their
distant and long-lamented homes; ex-convicts proposing to write their
prison-story at the League’s expense; needy journalists anxious to pick
up a paragraph; litigants who wanted gratuitous legal advice; and, worst
of all, the confidential Bores who were determined to talk to one for
hours together about what Mr. Stead used to call “the progress of the
world.”

Nor did the post often fail to bring me some queer tidings--a letter
perhaps, from some zealot who sent his latest pamphlet about “God’s Dumb
Animals” (himself, alas! not one of them), with a request that it should
be at once forwarded to the Pope; a voluminous work in manuscript,
propounding, as its author assured me, “opinions of an extraordinary and
undreamt of kind”; an anthology of Bible-texts in praise of some
disputed practice; a suggestion that a notorious murderer should be
flogged before being hanged; a grave remonstrance from a friend who
feared that public abattoirs “would pave the way for Socialism”; a
request from a very troublesome correspondent that the League would
award a medal to a man who had saved her from drowning; two twenty-page
epistles from an American lady, who, in the first, complimented me on my
“markedly intelligent view of the universe,” and in the second told me
frankly that I was a fool; a note inviting me to call at a certain
address, to fetch a cat whom the writer wished me to destroy; and an
urgent inquiry whether sea-sand was a healthy bedding for pigs. Such
communications were the daily reward of those who sat in offices to
promote humanitarian principles. It was remarkable how few persons
volunteered for the work.

Even arbitration, of a most delicate and thankless sort, was thrust
upon us. My opinion was once asked on a point of manners, by a young man
who was a member of the Humanitarian League. He had never been in the
habit of doffing his hat to ladies; he hardly knew how to do so; yet
having come to London from Arcadia he found himself upbraided for not
making the customary obeisance to the wife of his employer. What was he
to do? I gave him what I thought was the tactful advice, that he should
so far make compromise as to raise his hat slightly, eschewing
flourishes. A fortnight later he returned in reproachful mood, with the
news that my too slender regard for principle had had a disastrous
result. He had met the lady on the steps of some underground station,
and in his attempt to bow to her, had dropped his hat in the stream of
outgoing passengers, where it had been trampled underfoot.

All this was well enough for an amateur like myself who could withdraw
when it became unbearable; but it made me understand why the official
secretaries of propagandist societies often acquire a sort of defensive
astuteness which is wrongly ascribed to some inborn cunning in their
character. To do reform work in an office open at certain hours, is like
being exposed as a live-bait where one may be nibbled at by every
prowling denizen of the deep, or, to speak more accurately, of the
shallows; and it is no exaggeration to say that the secretarial work of
a cause is hindered much less by its avowed enemies than by its
professed friends. Among zoophilists, especially, there are a number of
good people, ladies, who go about talking of their “mercy-work,” yet
show a merciless indifference to the value of other persons’ time. Here,
incidentally, I may say that one of the most considerate visitors whom I
ever saw at the office of the Humanitarian League was Mr. G. K.
Chesterton, who repeatedly expressed his fears that, if he occupied much
of my time, our friends the animals might be the sufferers. “Can you
assure me,” he said, “that, if I stay a few minutes longer, no elephant
will be the worse for it?”

By far the most deadly consumer of humanitarian energies is the
benevolent Bore. There was a very good and worthy old gentleman who used
to pay me frequent visits, the reason of which I did not discover till
many years later; on several occasions he brought with him a written
list of questions to be put to me, twelve or more perhaps in number, the
only one of which I still remember was the not very thrilling inquiry:
“Now, Sir, do you read the _Echo_?” In particular he pressed on my
attention, as demanding most earnest study, a book called _The Alpha_,
written by a friend of his, and differing, as he explained to me, from
all other printed works in this--that whereas _they_ expressed merely
the opinions of their respective writers, _The Alpha_ conveyed the
actual and absolute truth. In my liking and respect for a sincere friend
of our cause, I not only replied as well as I could to his string of
questions, but even made an attempt to read _The Alpha_ itself: here,
however (as with _The Works of Henry Heavisides_ mentioned in a previous
chapter), I failed so utterly that all I could do was to agree with the
donor of the book that it was certainly unique. This was too ambiguous
to satisfy him; he was disappointed in me, and from that time his visits
were fewer, till they altogether ceased: thus _The Alpha_ became in a
manner the Omega or the end of our intercourse. After his death I learnt
that he had left money to found a Society; and then only did I
comprehend why he had “sampled” the Humanitarian League with such
assiduous care. Without knowing it, we had been weighed in the balance
and found wanting: we were not capable of so great and sacred a trust.

Sometimes the visitation came from oversea; in one case we unwittingly
brought it on ourselves, by sending to the Madrid papers an account of a
scandalous scene that had taken place with the Royal Buckhounds, our
object being to show that British deer-hunting and Spanish bull-baiting
came of the same stock. We did not know with what zest the Spanish
papers had taken to the subject, till one day there arrived in Chancery
Lane an infuriated American, who told us that his work in the Canary
Islands had been blasted and ruined by our action. For years, he said,
he had preached kindness to animals, making England his exemplar, and
now at one fell swoop all his labours had been demolished, for the story
of the British stag-bait had gone like wild-fire through the Spanish
papers, and thence to the Canaries. We expressed our sincere regret to
him for this mishap, but tried to make him see that it was no fault of
ours if he had based his propaganda on a false principle, viz. the
superiority of Anglo-Saxon ethics, instead of on the universal
obligation of humaneness. It was useless. He consumed much time in
excited talk, and went away unappeased. This incident should be classed,
I feel, not with our diversions, but with our tribulations; but having
no chapter on the latter theme, I must let it remain where it stands.

But here some of my readers may be wondering why the office of the
Humanitarian League should have been so open to attack: they imagine it
perhaps as a luxurious suite of apartments, one within the other, with a
hall-porter in the outer premises, skilled in the art of the sending the
undesirable visitor into space. In reality, the circumstances of the
League were very humble, and its housing was in accord with its income;
some of our friends, in fact, used to be pleased to chaff us by quoting
that well-known verse in Lowell’s stanzas to Lloyd Garrison:

    In a small chamber, friendless and unseen,
      Toiled o’er his types one poor unlearn’d young man;
    The place was dark, unfurnitured and mean;
      Yet there the freedom of a race began.

Thus it was that, with an ante-room of very diminutive size, we were
almost at the mercy of any one who opened the outer door; for though the
secretary of the League, Miss Whitaker, would rush forward most
devotedly to bear the brunt of the charge, not a few of our assailants
were through the front lines, and well in our midst, before we were
aware of it. To this I owe my not inconsiderable knowledge of the
time-devouring Bore.

Among the ex-prisoners who visited us were occasionally some very good
fellows, with a real wish to do something to improve the penal system,
which they all described as thoroughly bad; but as a rule they lacked
the power of expressing what they knew, or were hampered by some
personal ailment. There was one, a quiet civil man, who was anxious to
give a lecture before the League, and assured us that, though he was
prone to drink, he would take care that none of his lapses should
coincide with the date of his appearance on our platform. That was a
risk which we were not disposed to take; but strange to say, the very
disaster which we shunned in this case actually befell us, a year or two
afterwards, at a most respectable meeting which we organized jointly
with another Society. On the very stroke of the clock, when the audience
was all seated in expectation, and the chairman was ready to ascend the
platform, supported by the members of our Committee, the news reached us
that the lecturer himself could not be present: it was _he_ in fact, who
was having to be “supported,” in another and more literal sense.

Ex-warders did not often favour us with a visit; but one there was who
had been employed in Reading Gaol at the time when Oscar Wilde was
imprisoned there: such was his story, and I had no reason to disbelieve
it. He told me several edifying anecdotes, among them the following: It
used to be a great hardship to Wilde that the glazed window of his cell
allowed him no skyward view (one recalls his allusion, in _The Ballad
of Reading Gaol_, to “that little tent of blue, which prisoners call the
sky”); and once, when the prison chaplain was visiting him, he spoke
sorrowfully of this grievance. But the chaplain only offered him
spiritual comfort, and urged him to lift up his thoughts “to Him who is
above the sky”; whereat Wilde, suddenly losing his patience, exclaimed,
“Get out, you d----d fool!” and pushed him to the door. For this he was
reported to the Governor.

The League had not often the honour of finding itself in agreement with
the Prison Commissioners; but we did think that they were wise to
decline the too generous offer of a body calling itself the Poetry
Recital Society to read poetry to prisoners. The words, “I was in
prison, and ye came unto me,” would receive a new and fearful
significance, if a number of versifiers and reciters were to be let
loose on the helpless inmates of our gaols. It seemed barbarous on the
part of these minstrels to try to secure an audience which had no choice
in the matter, and which had not got even an open window to jump through
if the strain should have become too acute.

Of beggars and swindlers we had no lack in Chancery Lane; it suited
their purpose to regard a Humanitarian League as primarily designed for
the relief of the impecunious; its very name, they felt, could imply
nothing less. They were mostly young men who seemed to act in concert;
for they usually came, as if on circuit, at certain times of the year.
Their mentality was of a low order (or they thought that ours was), for
though they showed a certain ingenuity in collecting previous
information about the parties on whom they tried to impose, they often
presented their case so badly as to make it palpably absurd. Sometimes,
however, a really clever and humorous rogue would make his appearance.
There was one such who began a wordy statement that if I would but
grant him twenty minutes, he could convince me that he was deserving of
half a crown; but when I hinted that if the interview was going to cost
me half a crown, I would rather be spared the twenty minutes, his
solemnity fell from him like a cloud, and with a twinkling eye he said
that he would be only too pleased to cut his story as short as I liked.

When I was a master at Eton I used to subscribe to the Charity
Organization Society, and I was presented by that austere body with a
number of tickets, one of which was to be given to every beggar who
called; but the trouble was that the tramps declined to regard the
“scrap of paper” seriously, and informed us, in effect, that when they
asked for bread we were offering them a stone. It certainly did not seem
quite a human way of treating a fellow-being; unless one could hold the
comfortable belief, confidently expressed to me by one of my Eton
colleagues, a very religious man, that every mendicant one meets has had
a good chance in life, and has deliberately thrown it away. The logic of
that view was to say “no” to everybody.

I once had an opportunity of seeing the exactly opposite theory put into
practice. When I was living in Surrey, I had a visit from Prince
Kropotkin, who was looking for a house in the district, and we spent a
day in walking about on that quest. We met a troop of beggars whose
appearance was decidedly professional; and I noticed that Kropotkin at
once responded to their appeal. Later in the day we fell in with the
same party, and again, when they told their tale of woe, Kropotkin put
his hand in his pocket. At this I ventured to ask him whether he had
observed that they were the same lot; to which he replied: “Oh, yes. I
know they are probably impostors and will drink the money at the public
house; but _we_ are going back to our comfortable tea, and I cannot run
the risk of refusing help where it may possibly be needed.” If in this
matter one sympathizes with Kropotkin rather than with the Charity
Organization folk, I suppose it is on Shelley’s principle--that he would
“rather be damned with Plato and Lord Bacon than be saved with Paley and
Malthus.”

I will conclude this chapter on our diversions with a rather diverting
passage from Mr. George Moore’s _Confessions_:

     “Self, and after self, a friend; the rest may go to the devil; and
     be sure that when any man is more stupidly vain and outrageously
     egotistic than his fellows, he will hide his hideousness in
     humanitarianism.... Humanitarianism is a pigsty where liars,
     hypocrites, and the obscene in spirit congregate; it has been so
     since the great Jew conceived it, and it will be so till the end.
     Far better the blithe modern pagan in his white tie and evening
     clothes, and his facile philosophy. He says: ‘I don’t care how the
     poor live; my only regret is that they live at all’; and he gives
     the beggar a shilling.”

Many years ago, at a meeting of the Shelley Society, I had the pleasure
of a talk with Mr. George Moore; and I remember that when he asked me
what work I was doing, and I said it was mostly humanitarian, there came
over his expressive face a look of half-incredulous surprise and
disgust--the sort of look a bishop might give to one who coolly remarked
that he had just committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. I was rather
puzzled at the moment; and it was not till long after, when I read Mr.
Moore’s _Confessions_, that I realized of what crimes I had convicted
myself in his eyes by my too careless avowal. But as for “the blithe
modern pagan,” I suspect he would be a little less blithe if his wish
were fulfilled, and the poor did not live at all; for how then would he
obtain his evening clothes and his white tie? He would have to live
entirely, one fears, upon his “facile philosophy,” as snails were once
reputed to subsist on their own succulence.



XIII

HOOF-MARKS OF THE VANDAL

     The barbarian gives to the earth he lives on an aspect of rough
     brutality.--ELISÉE RECLUS.


Humanitarianism is not merely an expression of sympathy with pain: it is
a protest against all tyranny and desecration, whether such wrong be
done by the infliction of suffering on sentient beings, or by the
Vandalism which can ruthlessly destroy the natural grace of the earth.
It is in man’s dealings with the mountains, where, owing to the
untameable wildness of the scenery, any injury is certain to be
irreparable, that the marks of the modern Vandal are most clearly seen.

It so happens that as I have known the mountains of Carnarvonshire and
Cumberland rather intimately for many years, the process of spoliation
which, as Elisée Reclus has remarked, is a characteristic of barbarism,
has been there forced on my attention. It is close on half a century
since I was introduced to some of the wildest mountains of North Wales
by that muscular bishop, Dr. G. A. Selwyn, of whom I have spoken in an
earlier chapter, when, as tutor to his nephew, I was one of an episcopal
party that went on a summer holiday from Lichfield to Penmaenmawr. There
the bishop relaxed very genially from the austere dignities of his
Palace: and having procured an Ordnance map, was not only taken with a
desire to find his way across the heights to Llyn-an-Afon, a tarn which
nestles under the front of the great range of Carnedd Llewelyn, but
insisted on being accompanied by his nephew and his nephew’s tutor.
Mountaineering, as I afterwards saw, could not have been one of Dr.
Selwyn’s many accomplishments; for we had to make more than one
expedition before we set eyes on the lake, and in the course of our
first walk he slipped on a steep ridge and put his thumb out of joint,
to the secret amusement, I had reason to fear, of my pupil, who, greatly
disliking these forced marches into the wilderness, regarded the
accident as a nemesis on an uncle’s despotism. But to me the experience
of those bleak uplands was invaluable, for it was the beginning of a
love of mountains, both Cambrian and Cumbrian, which led me to return to
them again and again, until I had paid over a hundred visits to their
chief summits. Thus I could not fail to note, now in the one district,
now in the other, how the hand of the desecrator had been busy.

Recent discussions in the press on the subject of the proposed Sty Head
motor-road have been useful in two ways: first, they called forth so
strong and general an expression of opinion against that ill-advised
project, as to render its realization extremely unlikely for a long time
to come; and secondly, they drew attention to the wider and deeper
under-lying question of the preservation of British mountain scenery
against Vandalism of various kinds. The attempt on the Sty Head was in
itself a significant object-lesson in the dangers by which our mountain
“sanctuaries” are beset. A hundred and fifty years ago the poet Gray
could write thus of the hamlet of Seathwaite, where the famous Pass has
its entrance on the Borrowdale side:

     “All further access is here barred to prying mortals, only there is
     a little path winding over the fells, and for some weeks in the
     year passable to the dalesmen; but the mountains know well that
     these innocent people will not reveal the mysteries of their
     ancient kingdom.”

If the mountains held that belief, it was _they_, not the dalesmen, who
were the innocents, for the little path has been found passable at every
season of the year; and Mr. G. D. Abraham, himself a distinguished
climber, and a native of the district, was so willing to reveal the
mountain mysteries as to plead in his book on _Motor Ways in Lakeland_
for the construction of a highroad from the very point where all farther
access used to be barred. “The quaint little old-world hamlet,” he said,
“will doubtless recover its glory of former days when the highway over
Sty Head Pass becomes an accomplished fact.”

The love of mountains, itself a growth of modern times, has in fact
brought with it a peril which did not exist before; it has opened the
gateway and pointed the path to the shrine; but where the worshipper
enters, what if the destroyer enters too? What if the pilgrim is close
followed by the prospector?

Some years ago Mr. C. P. Trevelyan, M.P., introduced an “Access to
Mountains Bill,” which while safeguarding the interests of land-owners,
would have permitted pedestrians to indulge their love of highland
scenery by making their way to the summits of uncultivated mountain or
moorland. All nature-lovers must desire that such a measure may become
law; and it might be hoped that landlords themselves would not persist
in opposing it, for consideration should show them that it is impossible
permanently to exclude the people from the hilltops of their native
land. Even now, since it is the difficult and the forbidden which
attract, there is a certain relish in the attempted ascent of those
heights which in the landlord’s sense (not the climber’s) are still
“inaccessible”--just as the cragsmen find a pleasure in striving to
surmount the obstacles of rock-face or gully. Who has not longed to
cross the lofty frontier into some deer-stalking or grouse-shooting
Thibet, where, beyond the familiar lying sign-post stating that
“trespassers will be prosecuted,” all is vagueness and mystery? What
mountain-lover has not at times sought to snatch an “access to
mountains” where access was denied?

I still recall the zest of a raid, albeit unsuccessful, on one of the
summits of the Grampians, when our small party of climbers, starting
from Aviemore, and passing the heathery shores of Loch-an-Eilan, fell in
near “the Argyle Stone” with a number of deer-stalkers, who groaned
aloud in their fury when they heard by what route we had ascended, and
insisted on our going down to Kincraig. We had spoiled their day’s
sport, they told us; and we, while regretting to have done so, could not
refrain from saying that they had equally spoiled ours. We were
consoled, however, in some measure, during that inglorious descent, by
the sight of an osprey, or fishing-eagle, hovering over the river Spey:
doubtless the bird was one of a pair that for years haunted
Loch-an-Eilan, until the cursed cupidity of egg-collectors drove them
from almost their last breeding-place.

One of the most inaccessible heights in England at the present day is
Kinderscout, the “Peak” of Derbyshire, a triangular plateau of heathery
moorland, with rocky “edges” broken into fantastic turrets and
“castles.” Here only do the Derbyshire hills show some true mountain
characteristics; and the central position of the “Peak,” which is about
twenty miles equidistant from Sheffield, Manchester, and Huddersfield,
would seem to mark it as a unique playground for the dwellers in our
great manufacturing towns. In reality, it is a _terra incognita_ to all
but a very few, a place not for workers to find health in, but for
sportsmen to shoot grouse; and there is no spot in England which is
guarded against intruders with more jealous care. I speak advisedly, for
I once tried, with some friends, to “rush” the summit-ridge from the
public path which crosses its western shoulders, only to be overtaken
and turned back by some skilfully posted gamekeeper.[36] The loss to the
public of a right of way over these moors, as over many similar places,
is deplorable; and here, as elsewhere, the compromise that has been
arrived at has been greatly to the landlord’s advantage, for while the
grouse-shooter excludes the public from a vast area of moorland, the
wayfarer finds himself limited to the narrowest of roundabout routes,
and is insulted, as at Ashop Head, by a perfect plague of notice-boards
threatening all the imaginary pains and penalties of the law for any
divergence on to the hillside. Certainly an Access to Mountains Bill is
urgently required.

But there is one thing which is even worse than too little access to
mountains, and that is the concession of too much. It were heartily to
be wished that such districts as those of the Lakes, Snowdonia, and
others which might be named, had long ago been made inaccessible, in
this sense, to the railway-lord, the company-promoter, and all the other
Vandals who for commercial purposes would destroy the sanctitude of the
hills. We have, in fact, to consider what _sort_ of access we propose,
for just as there is all the difference in the world between the
admission of the public to see a grand piece of statuary, and the
admission of the man who has a design to chip the statue’s nose, so we
have to distinguish between those who come to the mountains to speculate
on the beauties of Nature and those who come there to speculate in a
baser sense. Access to mountains is in itself most desirable, but what
if we end by having no mountains to approach? In this respect the Bill
might be strengthened, by making it withhold from the Vandal the access
which it would bestow on the mountaineer.

Already much that was of inestimable value has been lost. The Lake
District has in this respect been more fortunate than some other
localities, because, owing to the powerful sentiment aroused by the Lake
poets, there is a considerable public opinion opposed to any act of
desecration. For this we have to thank, in the first place, the great
name of Wordsworth, and, next, the faithful band of defenders which has
stood between the enterprising contractor and his prey, as in the case
of the once threatened railway to Ambleside and Grasmere. But even in
Lakeland no little damage has been done, as by the mining which has
ruined the scenery of Coniston, and by the permission granted to
Manchester to turn the once sylvan and secluded Thirlmere into a
suburban tank--Thirlmere first, and now the ruin of Haweswater is to
follow.

Mention has been made in an earlier part of this book of a visit which I
paid to Coniston in the winter of 1878-79. It so happened that a spell
of severe frost and cloudless skies had then turned the Lakeland
mountains into a strange realm of enchantment, the rocks being
fantastically coated with fronds and feathers of snow, and the streams
and waterfalls frozen into glittering masses of ice. I was the only
visitor in the place (it was before Mr. Harrison Riley’s arrival), and
for several days I had been scrambling over the range of the Old Man
mountain without meeting a human being, when one afternoon, on the shore
of Levers Water, a solitary figure came suddenly round a buttress of the
hill and stalked silently past me as if wrapped in thought. I knew at
once that it was Ruskin, for what other inhabitant of Coniston would be
on the fells at such a season?

A few days later, when I went to Brantwood with Harrison Riley, as I
have described, Ruskin talked a good deal of his favourite mountain
haunts, as he showed us his wild strawberry beds, and terraces on the
hillside made like Swiss roads; also a small beck running through his
grounds to the lake, which he said was never dry, and was as precious to
him as a stream of pure gold. The Lake scenery, he said, almost
compensated him for the loss of Switzerland, which he could not hope to
see again; his feeling for it was one less of affection than of
“veneration.” But the sunsets had been a disappointment to him, for the
sky above the Old Man was often sullen and overclouded, and this he
attributed to the poisonous influence of the copper mines.

At present the chief danger to the quietude and beauty of the Lake
district seems to be the motor-craze, especially that form of it which
has been called “the fascinating sport of hill-hunting,” a game which
has turned the Kirkstone Pass into a place of terror, where noisy
machines pant and snort up one side and scorch furiously down the other,
and which is now craving new heights to conquer. If not on the Sty Head,
why not make a motor-way of the old track from Langdale to Eskdale over
the passes of Wrynose and Hardknott? Such was the “compromise” which
some mountain-lovers unwisely suggested, forgetting, first, that even
this surrender, though less deadly than that of the Sty Head, would
involve the destruction of a wild and primitive tract, and secondly
that, as there is no finality in such dealings, it would only whet the
motorists’ appetite for more. It is generally overlooked, too, though
the point is a very important one, that the invaders have already got
much more than their due share of the district; for the making of many
of the roads now in existence would have been strongly opposed years
ago, if it had been possible to foresee the riotous use to which they
would be put.

But it is when we turn to the mountains of Snowdonia that we see what
inexcusable injury has been done by the rapacity of private enterprise,
connived at by the indifference of the public. It is a somewhat strange
fact that, while there is an English branch of the League for the
Preservation of Swiss Scenery, no organized attempt is made to preserve
our own mountain scenery, not from desecration merely, but from
destruction.[37]

Take, for example, the case of the River Glaslyn, which flows from the
heart of Snowdon through Cwm Dyli and Nant Gwynant, till it finds its
way by the Pass of Aberglaslyn to the sea. Visitors are often invited to
admire the “power works,” erected some years ago at the head of Nant
Gwynant, and other signs of enterprise; but from the nature-lover’s
point of view there is a different tale to tell. The once shapely peak
of Snowdon has been blunted into a formless cone by the Summit Hotel,
which has since added to its premises a battlemented wall built of red
brick; both Glaslyn and Llyn Llydaw, two tarns of flawless natural
beauty, have long been befouled with copper mines; and more recently the
glorious waterfall, through which the stream dashed headlong from Cwm
Dyli to Nant Gwynant, has been replaced by a line of hideous metal
pipes, by which the whole hillside is scarred. As for the far-famed Pass
of Aberglaslyn, defaced as it is by railway works and tunnellings,
remorselessly begun and then temporarily abandoned, its state can only
be described as one of stagnant devastation.

Yet all this mountain scenery, which has been foolishly sacrificed for
private purposes, might have been a public possession of inestimable
value had it been tended as it deserved; and much yet remains in
Snowdonia that might be saved for the enjoyment and refreshment of
future generations, if the apathy of public feeling, and of the Welsh
people, could be dispelled. But it is useless to look for local
resistance to this vandalism, for one is always met by the assertion,
true but irrelevant, that such enterprises “give work”; which, indeed,
would equally justify the pulling down of Westminster Abbey to “give
work” to the unemployed of London. Nothing but an enlightened public
opinion, unmistakably expressed, can now avert the destruction (for such
it is) of the noblest of Welsh, perhaps of all British mountains.

It is strange that the incongruity--the lack of humour--in these
outrages on the sanctitude of a great mountain does not make itself
felt. What could be more ridiculous, apart from the gross vandalism of
the act, than to put a railway-station on Snowdon? A friend who knows
the Welsh mountains intimately told me that on his first visit to the
peak, after the building of the Summit Hotel, he remarked to a
companion: “We shall be expected to have a green chartreuse after lunch
here.” A waiter, overhearing him, said: “We ain’t got no green
chartreuse, sir; but we have cherry brandy and curaçoa, if you like.”

In a little book entitled _On Cambrian and Cumbrian Hills_, published in
1908, I commented strongly on these outrages, and the justice of my
criticisms with regard to the ruin of Welsh mountain scenery was not
seriously disputed in the local press, though one editor did accuse me
of being guilty of “a wicked libel upon the people of Wales,” and
expressed himself as having been caused “real pain” by my remarks. When,
however, I asked him to consider what real pain the disfigurement of
Snowdon had caused to mountain-lovers, and suggested that, instead of
taking me to task, he should try to arouse his readers to put an end to
the vandalism which, for the sake of a temporary profit, is ruining some
of the finest portions of Carnarvonshire, he made a reply which was, in
fact, a most signal corroboration of my complaint; for he stated that I
had evidently “no conception of the difficulties which residents in
North Wales have to encounter when they oppose any commercial
enterprise, backed up by English speculators, which threatens to spoil
our beauty-spots.”[38] There we have the fatal truth in a sentence! What
is spoiling Snowdonia is the commercial cupidity of the Welsh
themselves, utilized by English capitalists. The editor naïvely added
that, were I myself living in North Wales, I should be “more
sympathetic.” More sympathetic, that is, with the Welsh residents, who
know that their country is being spoiled, but dare not say so; less
sympathetic with the mountain-lovers who deplore this crime!

In the excuses put forward for the invasion of the mountains with
funicular railways, motor high-roads, and the like, there is a comic
element which would be vastly entertaining if the very existence of
mountain scenery were not at stake. Thus I have been met with the
argument that a mountain railway, such as that on Snowdon, “takes into a
purer atmosphere and into an ennobling environment those who have no
other way of learning the lesson that grand mountains can teach,” to
wit, “the enfeebled toilers of the towns.” I was reminded, as one
convicted of “a little selfishness,” that “the weak and the feeble have
to be considered, as well as the athletic and the hardy.” But, in the
first place, those who travel by so expensive a route as this mountain
railway are rarely the toilers of the towns, nor, so far as I have
observed them, are they “the weak and the feeble.” They seem to be
mostly able-bodied well-to-do tourists, who are too lazy to use their
legs. I once overheard a passenger in a train, describing a recent Swiss
trip, make the remark: “Oh, no, I didn’t _walk_ a step. Funicular
railways up nearly all the mountains--Pilatus, Rigi, and the rest. I
wouldn’t give a fig to _walk_.”

It is amusing, too, to find “imperial” reasons advanced in defence of
the Snowdon railroad, in what is called the “Official Guide,” a pamphlet
published by the London and North-Western Railway at Llanberis England,
we are proudly told, “does not usually care to be behind other countries
in matters of progress, but, with regard to the application of
mechanical means for reaching the peaks of mountains, until now it has
certainly been so.” The inference is obvious. Patriotic climbers should
ascend Snowdon by train.

Then there is the clever appeal to the sense of peril and romance. We
are informed in the same disinterested treatise that the owner of
Snowdon (yes, reader, Snowdon is _owned_!), “having regard to the
exigencies of the modern tourist, the increasing eagerness of people to
‘do’ Snowdon, and the dangers which beset the ordinary ways available
for that purpose, felt that the solitude and sanctity of Snowdon ought,
to a certain extent, to give way before the progressive advance of the
age.” And again: “Hitherto none but the most daring or the most sanguine
would venture to ascend during a storm.... None the less, however,
Snowdon during a storm presents a scene of impressive grandeur, and the
new railway will make it possible to see it under this aspect without
risk.” Henceforth poets will know how to view the grandeur of the
gathering storm. “I climbed the dark brow of the mighty Helvellyn,” sang
Scott. The modern singer will take a ticket on the Snowdon Mountain
Tramroad.

The true objection to mountain railways is not that they bring more
people to the mountain, but that they spoil the very thing that the
people come to see, viz. the mountain itself. The environment, in fact,
is no longer “ennobling” when a mountain-top is vulgarized, as Snowdon
has been, by a railway and hotel; it is then not a mountain scene at
all. There are numberless points of view in North Wales, and in every
highland district, to which the weak and feeble can be easily conveyed,
and from which they can see the mountains at their best; but to
construct a railway to the chief summit is “to kill the goose that laid
the golden eggs,” because, when that is done, there is no mountain (in
the true sense) any longer for the enjoyment of either feeble or strong.

And surely the feeble can seek their enjoyment in fitter ways than in
being hauled up mountains by steam. I have heard of a blind man who
walked, with a friend to guide him, to the top of Goatfell, in the Isle
of Arran, because he wished to feel the mountain air and to hear the
thunder of the sea waves far away below. Was not that better than
spoiling Goatfell with a rail? Not, of course, that such railways are
really made for the benefit of the feeble-bodied; they are built for
commercial purposes, to put money into private pockets at the expense of
scenery which should belong to the community as a whole.

But it is not only the nature-lover and the rock-climber who are
interested in the preservation of mountains; the naturalist also, and
the botanist, are very deeply concerned, for the extermination of the
rarer fauna and flora is practically assured unless the onroad of this
vandalism is checked. The golden eagle, the kite, and the osprey are
gone. Do we desire such birds as the raven, the chough, the buzzard, and
the peregrine falcon to survive in their few remaining strongholds? If
so, we must take measures to stop the depredations not only of the
egg-collecting tourist, but of the death-dealing gamekeeper.

The flight of the buzzard is one of the greatest glories of the hills of
Cumberland and Carnarvonshire, and it is deeply to be regretted that so
beautiful and harmless a bird should be wantonly destroyed. The
worst--or should we say the best?--that can be said of the buzzard is
that in very rare instances he has been known to “stoop” at persons who
approach his eyrie. In a letter which appeared in the _Lakes Chronicle_
some years ago a tourist absurdly complained that he had been attacked
on a mountain near Windermere by a “huge bird “--evidently a
buzzard--and urged that “it would be to the advantage of the public if
some good shot were to free the mountain of this foul-fiend usurper.”
The buzzard defending his nest is a “foul-fiend usurper”! Such is the
amount of sympathy which the average tourist has with the wild mountain
bird! And as for the ornithological knowledge, this may be judged from
the fact that a similar incident on the same mountain was actually
described in the papers under the head, “_Bustard_ attacks a clergyman.”

Of the wild upland flora there is the same tale to tell. The craze for
collecting, and what is worse, uprooting, the rarer Alpine plants has
almost brought about the extinction of several species, such as the
_saxifraga nivalis_, which used to be fairly frequent on Snowdon,
Helvellyn, and other British hills; and this in spite of the many
appeals that have been made to the better feeling of tourists. Public
spirit in these matters seems to be wellnigh dead.

What, then, is being done, in the face of these destructive agencies, to
preserve our wild mountain districts, and the wild life that is native
to them, from the ruin with which they are threatened? As far as I am
aware, apart from occasional protests in newspapers, this only--that
appeals are made to the public from time to time by the National Trust
and kindred societies to save, by private purchase, certain “beauty
spots” from spoliation. These appeals cannot but meet with the entire
approval of nature-lovers, and the rescuing of such estates as Catbells,
Gowbarrow, Grange Fell, and others that might be mentioned, represents a
real measure of success. Still the question has to be faced--what is to
be done in the future if, as is certain to happen, the menace to our
mountains is maintained? It is too much to hope that large sums can
always be raised by private subscription; also, while one favoured place
is being safeguarded, others, less fortunate, are being destroyed. We
cannot save our mountains generally by these piecemeal purchases; for
even if the money were always procurable, the rate of destruction
exceeds that of purchase, and the power of the many syndicates that
would exploit the mountains must necessarily be greater than that of the
few Societies that would preserve them. In a word, private action is
quite inadequate, in the long run, to repel so extensive an attack.

What is needed is public action on a scale commensurate with the evil,
in the direction of the “reservation” of certain districts as
sanctuaries for all wild life. We need, in fact, highland parks, in
which the hills themselves, with the wild animals and plants whose life
is of the hills, shall be preserved in their wildness as the property of
the people; an arrangement which would be equally gratifying to the
nature-lover, the naturalist, and the mountaineer, and of vastly more
“profit” to the nation as a whole than the disfigurement of its
beautiful places.

Without at all suggesting that the National Trust should relax its
efforts for the rescue by purchase of particular tracts, I think that it
would be doing a still greater service if it could see its way to
organizing a movement for pressing on the Government the urgent need of
taking some active steps to counteract the injury which is being done by
commercial interests to the true interests of the people. Otherwise the
result will be that while a few spots are saved, whole districts will be
lost, and eventually all that the nation will possess will be some oases
of beauty in a desert of ugliness.

As I have elsewhere pointed out,[39] there is only one thorough solution
of the problem, and that is, to nationalize such districts as Snowdonia,
Lakeland, the Peak of Derbyshire, and other public holiday-haunts, and
so to preserve them for the use and enjoyment of the people for all
time. “If parks, open spaces, railways, tramways, water, and other
public needs can be nationalized, why not mountains? It is impossible to
over-estimate the value of mountains as a recreation-ground for soul and
body; yet, while we are awaking to the need of maintaining public rights
in other directions, we are allowing our mountains--in North Wales and
elsewhere--to be sacrificed to commercial selfishness. If Snowdon, for
instance, had been purchased by the public twenty years ago, the
investment would have been a great deal more profitable than those in
which we usually engage; but while we are willing to spend vast sums on
grabbing other people’s territory, we have not, of course, a penny to
spare for the preservation of our own.”



XIV

THE FORLORN HOPE

    At least we witness of thee, ere we die,
    That these things are not otherwise, but thus.
                 SWINBURNE.


Twenty-four years’ work with the Humanitarian League had left many
problems unsolved, many practical matters undecided; but on one point
some of us were now in no sort of uncertainty--that a race which still
clung tenaciously to the practices at which I have glanced in the
foregoing chapters was essentially barbaric, not in its diet only,
though the butchery of animals for food had first arrested our
attention, but also, and not less glaringly, in its penal system, its
sports, its fashions, and its general way of regarding that great body
of our fellow-beings whom we call “the animals.” It did not need Mr.
Howard Moore’s very suggestive book, _Savage Survivals_,[40] to convince
us of this; but we found in the conclusions reached by him an ample
corroboration of those we had long had in mind, and which alone could
explain the stubborn adherence of educated as well as uneducated classes
to a number of primitive and quite uncivilized habits. “It is not
possible,” he says, “to understand the things higher men do, nor to
account for the things that you find in their natures, unless you
recognize the fact that higher men are merely savages made over and only
partially changed.”

Professor F. W. Newman’s warning, that the time was not ripe for a
Humanitarian League, had to this extent been verified: if we had thought
that we were going to effect any great visible changes, we should have
been justly disappointed. But those who work with no expectation of
seeing results cannot be disappointed; they are beyond the scope of
failure, and may even meet, as we did, with some small and unforeseen
success. The League was thus, in the true sense of the term, a Forlorn
Hope; that is, a troop of venturesome pioneers, who were quite
untrammelled by “prospects,” and whose whim it was to open out a path by
which others might eventually follow.

Perhaps the success of the League lay less in what it did than in what
it _demanded_--less, that is, in the defeat of a flogging Bill, or in
the abolition of a cruel sport, than in the fearless, logical, and
unwavering assertion of a clear principle of humaneness, which applies
to the case of human and non-human alike. After all, it does not so
greatly matter whether this or that particular form of cruelty is
prohibited; what matters is that _all_ forms of cruelty should be shown
to be incompatible with progress. Here, I venture to think, the
intellectual and controversial side of the League’s work was of some
value; for before a new system could be built up, the ground had to be
cleared, and the main obstacle to humanitarianism had long been the very
widespread contempt for what is known as “sentiment,” and the idea that
humanitarians were a poor weakly folk who might be ridiculed with
impunity. The Humanitarian League changed all that; and a good many
pompous persons, who had come into collision with its principles,
emerged with modified views and a considerably enlarged experience.

I have already spoken of some of the protagonists of the League: at this
point it may be fitting to recount, in epic fashion, the names and
services of a few of the influential allies who from time to time lent
us their aid.

Mr. Herbert Spencer’s philosophical writings were fully imbued with the
humane spirit. An opponent of militarism, of vindictive penal laws, of
corporal punishment for the young, of cruel sports, and indeed of every
form of brutality, he had done as much as any man of his generation to
humanize public opinion. He willingly signed the Humanitarian League’s
memorials against the Royal Buckhounds and the Eton Beagles.

Dr. Alfred R. Wallace was also in full accord with us, and he was
especially interested in our protest against the Game Laws, “those
abominable engines of oppression and selfishness,” as he described them
in one of several letters which I received from him. He was anxious that
some Member of Parliament should be found who would move an annual
resolution for the abolition of these laws, and he considered that such
a motion “would serve as a very good test of Liberalism and Radicalism.”
In reference to flogging under the old Vagrancy Act, he wrote: “There
are scores or hundreds of these old laws which are a disgrace to
civilization. Many years ago I advocated enacting a law for the
automatic termination of _all_ laws after, say, fifty years, on the
ground that one generation cannot properly legislate for a later one
under totally different conditions.”

“The Truth about the Game Laws,” a pamphlet of which Dr. Wallace
expressed much approval, was written by Mr. J. Connell, author of “The
Red Flag,” whose democratic instincts had led him to acquire first-hand
knowledge of the nocturnal habits of game-keepers, and was prefaced with
some spirited remarks by Mr. Robert Buchanan, who, as having been for
many years a devotee of sport, here occupied, as he himself expressed
it, “the position of the converted clown who denounces topsy-turvydom.”
Buchanan’s humane sympathies were shown in many of his poems, as in his
“Song of the Fur Seal,” inspired by one of the League’s pamphlets; he
wrote also a powerful article on “The Law of Infanticide,” in reference
to one of those cruel cases in which the death-sentence is passed on
some poor distracted girl, and which clearly demonstrate, as Buchanan
pointed out, that “we are still a savage and uncivilized people, able
and willing to mow down with artillery such subject races as are not of
our way of thinking, but utterly blind and indifferent to the sorrows of
the weak and the sufferings of the martyred poor.”

George Meredith, for the last ten or twelve years of his life, was a
friend and supporter of the League. “On a point or two of your
advocacy,” he wrote to me, “I am not in accord with you, but fully upon
most.” He declared the steel trap to be “among the most villainous
offences against humanity”; and he more than once signed the League’s
memorials against such spurious sports as rabbit-coursing and
stag-hunting. When the Royal Buckhounds were abolished in 1891, he wrote
to us: “Your efforts have gained their reward, and it will encourage you
to pursue them in all fields where the good cause of sport, or any good
cause, has to be cleansed of blood and cruelty. So you make steps in our
civilization.”

Mr. Thomas Hardy more than once lent his name to the League’s petitions,
and recognized that in its handling of the problem of animals’ rights it
was grappling with the question “of equal justice all round.” In an
extremely interesting letter, read at the annual meeting in 1910, he
expressed his opinion that “few people seem to perceive fully, as yet,
that the most far-reaching consequence of the establishment of the
common origin of all species is ethical; that it logically involved a
readjustment of altruistic morals, by enlarging, as a necessity of
rightness, the application of what has been called the Golden Rule from
the area of mere mankind to that of the whole animal kingdom.” This
was, of course, the main contention of the Humanitarian League.

In 1896 the League addressed an appeal to a number of leading artists,
asking them to make it plain that their sympathies were on the
humanitarian side, and that they would at least not be abettors of that
spirit of cruelty which is the ally and companion of ugliness. Very few
replies were received, but among them was one from Mr. G. F. Watts, who,
in becoming a member, wrote us a letter on the cruelty of docking
horses’ tails (“barbarous in those who practise it, infinitely degrading
in those who encourage it from so mean a motive as fashion--only not
contemptible because so much worse”), which was very widely published in
the press, and did great service in bringing an odious fashion into
disrepute. Mr. Walter Crane was another artist who gave support on many
occasions to humanitarian principles; so, too, was Mr. Martin Anderson
(“Cynicus”), who employed on the League’s behalf his great powers as a
satirist in a cartoon which castigated the tame deer hunt.

Count Tolstoy, it goes without saying, was in full sympathy with us; and
so was that many-sided man of genius, M. Elisée Reclus. Famed as
geographer, philosopher, and revolutionist, one is tempted to sum him up
in the word “poet”; for though he did not write in verse, he was a great
master of language, unsurpassed in lucidity of thought and serene beauty
of style. He was a vegetarian, and the grounds of his faith are set
forth in a luminous essay on that subject which he wrote for the
Humanitarian League. Very beautiful, too, is his article on “The Great
Kinship,” worthily translated by Edward Carpenter, in which he portrayed
the primeval friendly relations of mankind with the lower races, and
glanced at the still more wonderful possibilities of the future. His
anarchist views prevented him from formally joining an association
which aimed at legislative action; but his help was always freely given.
“I send you my small subscription,” he wrote, “without any engagement
for the future, not knowing beforehand if next year I will be penniless
or not.” I only once saw Elisée Reclus; it was on the occasion of an
anarchist meeting in which he took part, and he then impressed me as
being the Grand Old Man without rival or peer; never elsewhere have I
seen such magnificent energy and enthusiasm combined with such lofty
intellectual gifts.

Ernest Crosby, another philosophic anarchist, was perhaps as little
known, in proportion to his great merits, as any writer of our time.
Elected as a Republican to the Assembly of New York State, he had been
appointed in 1889 to be a Judge of the International Court in Egypt; but
after serving there five years, his whole life was suddenly changed,
owing largely to a book of Tolstoy’s which fell into his hands: he
resigned his post, and thenceforward passed judgment on no man but
himself. A poet and thinker of high order, he stood up with unfailing
courage against the brute force of “imperialism” in its every form--the
exploitation of one race by another race, of one class by another class,
of the lower animals by mankind. It is strange that his writings,
especially the volume entitled _Swords and Plowshares_, should be almost
unknown to English democrats, for they include many poems which touch a
very high standard of artistic excellence, and a few that are gems of
verse. “The Tyrant’s Song,” for instance, expresses in a few lines the
strength of the Non-Resistant, and of the conscientious objector to
military service (“the man with folded arms”); yet during all the long
controversy on that subject I never once saw it quoted or mentioned. A
superficial likeness between Crosby’s unrhymed poetry and that of Edward
Carpenter led in one case to an odd error on the part of an American
friend to whom I had vainly commended Carpenter’s writings; for in his
joy over _Swords and Plowshares_ he rashly jumped to the conclusion that
“Ernest Crosby” was a _nom de plume_ for the other E.C. “I owe you a
confession,” he wrote. “Hitherto I have not been able to find in
Carpenter anything that substantiated your admiration for him; but _now_
a flood of light is illuminating his _Towards Democracy_.” I
communicated this discovery to the poets concerned, and they were both
charmed by it.

Crosby was a tall handsome man, of almost military appearance, and this,
too, was a cause of misapprehension; for an English friend whom he
visited, and who knew him only through his writings, spent a long
afternoon with him without even discovering that he was the Crosby whose
poems he admired.

Clarence Darrow, brother-in-law of Howard Moore and friend of Crosby,
was another of our American comrades. He arrived one afternoon
unexpectedly at the League’s office, with a letter of introduction from
Crosby. It is often difficult to know what to do with such letters in
the presence of their bearer--whether to keep him waiting till the
message has been deciphered, or to greet him without knowing fully who
he is--but on this occasion a glance at Crosby’s first three words was
enough, for I saw: “This is Darrow,” and I knew that Darrow was the
author of “Crime and Criminals,” an entirely delightful lecture,
brimming over with humour and humanity, which had been delivered to the
prisoners of the Chicago County Gaol; and I had heard of him from Crosby
as a brilliant and successful advocate, who had devoted his genius not
to the quest of riches or fame, but to the cause of the poor and the
accused. It _was_ Darrow; and as I looked into a face in which strength
and tenderness were wonderfully mingled, the formalities of first
acquaintance seemed to be mercifully dispensed with, and I felt as if I
had known him for years. Since that time Darrow has become widely known
in America by his pleadings in the Haywood and other Labour trials, and
more recently through the McNamara case. He is the author of several
very remarkable works. His _Farmington_ is a fascinating book of
reminiscences, and _An Eye for an Eye_ the most impressive story ever
written on the subject of the death-penalty.

Let me now pass to a very different champion of our cause. In connection
with the _Humanitarian_, the _Humane Review_, and the League’s
publications in general, I received a number of letters from “Ouida,”
written mostly on that colossal notepaper which her handwriting
required, some of them so big that the easiest way to read them was to
pin them on the wall and then stand back as from a picture. Her large
vehement nature showed itself not only in the passionate wording of
these protests against cruelties of various kinds, but in her queer
errors in detail, and in the splendid carelessness with which the
envelopes were often addressed. One much-travelled wrapper, directed
wrongly, and criss-crossed with postmarks and annotations, I preserved
as a specimen of the tremendous tests to which the acumen of the Post
Office was subjected by her.

Ouida was often described as “fanatical;” but though her views were
certainly announced in rather unmeasured terms, I found her reasonable
when any error or exaggeration was pointed out. Her sincerity was beyond
question; again and again she lent us the aid of her pen, and as the
press was eager to accept her letters, she was a valuable ally, though
through all that she wrote there ran that pessimistic tone which marked
her whole attitude to modern life. Whatever her place in literature, she
was a friend of the oppressed and a hater of oppression, and her name
deserves to be gratefully remembered for the burning words which she
spoke on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves.

It was always a cause of pride to the Humanitarian League that its
principles were broad enough to win the support of thoughtful and
feeling men, without regard to differences of character or of opinion
upon other subjects. A striking instance of this catholicity was seen on
an occasion when the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes was lecturing before the
League on the attitude of Nonconformists towards Humanitarianism, and
Mr. G. W. Foote, editor of the _Freethinker_, and President of the
National Secular Society, was present in the audience; for Mr. Price
Hughes and Mr. Foote had been engaged in a very bitter personal
controversy concerning the alleged conversion of a certain “atheist
shoemaker.” When Mr. Foote rose to take part in the discussion, I
noticed a sudden look of concern on the face of the lecturer, as he
whispered to me: “Is that Mr. Foote?” expecting doubtless a
recrudescence of hostilities; but on the neutral, or rather the
universal ground of humanitarianism, hostilities could not be; and
questions bearing on the subject of the lecture were courteously asked
and answered by antagonists who, however sharply at variance on other
questions, were in their humanity at one.

Looking back over a large period of the League’s work, I can think of no
one who gave us more constant proofs of friendship than Mr. Foote; and
his testimony was the more welcome because of the very high and rare
intellectual powers which he wielded. Few men of his time combined in
equal degree such gifts of brain and heart. I have heard no public
speaker who had the faculty of going so straight to the core of a
subject--of recapturing and restoring, as it were, to the attention of
an audience that jewel called “the point,” on which all are supposed to
be intent, but which seems so fatally liable to be mislaid. It was
always an intellectual treat to hear him speak; and though, owing to
religious prejudices, his public reputation as thinker and writer was
absurdly below his deserts he had the regard of George Meredith and
others who were qualified to judge, and the enthusiastic support of his
followers. All social reformers, whether they acknowledge it or not, owe
a debt of gratitude to iconoclasts like Bradlaugh and Foote, who made
free speech possible where it was hardly possible before.

Mr. Passmore Edwards, renowned as a philanthropist, was another of our
supporters; indeed, he once proposed indirectly, through a friend, that
he should be elected President of the League; but this suggestion we did
not entertain, because, though we valued his appreciation, we were
anxious to keep clear of all ceremonious titles and “figure-heads” that
might possibly compromise our freedom of action. Perhaps, too, we were a
little piqued by an artless remark which Mr. Edwards had made to the
Rev. J. Stratton, who was personally intimate with him: “It is for the
League to do the small things, Mr. Stratton. Leave the great things to
me.” None the less, Mr. Edwards remained on most friendly terms with the
League; and when the Warden of the Passmore Edwards Settlement curtly
requested us not to send him any more of our “circulars,” Mr. Edwards
expressed his surprise and regret, and added these words: “If the
Passmore Edwards Settlement does as much good [as the Humanitarian
League] in proportion to the means at its disposal, I shall be
abundantly satisfied.”

Two other friends I must not leave unmentioned. Mr. W. J. Stillman’s
delightful story of his pet squirrels, _Billy and Hans_, was the most
notable of the many charming things written by him in praise of that
humaneness which, to him, was identical with religion. A copy of the
book which he gave me, and which I count among my treasures, bears marks
of having been nibbled on the cover. “The signature of my Squirrels,”
Mr. Stillman had written there. I value no autograph more than that of
Billy or Hans.

Mr. R. W. Trine used often to visit the League when he was in London.
He had an extraordinary aptitude for re-stating unpopular truths in a
form palatable to the public; and his _Every Living Creature_, which was
practically a Humanitarian League treatise in a new garb, has had a wide
circulation. Mr. Trine, many years ago, asked me to recommend him to a
London publisher with a view to an English edition of his _In Tune with
the Infinite_; and I have it as a joke against my friend Mr. Ernest Bell
that when I mentioned the proposal to him he at first looked grave and
doubtful. Eventually he arranged matters with Mr. Trine, and I do not
think his firm has had reason to regret it, for the book has sold by
hundreds of thousands.

Enough has been said to show that the humanitarian movement was not in
want of able counsellors and allies; and there were not a few others of
whom further mention would have to be made if this book were a history
of the League. The support of such friends as Mr. Edward Carpenter, Mr.
Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Besant, Mr. W. H. Hudson, and Mr. Herbert Burrows,
was taken for granted. Sir Sydney Olivier, distinguished alike as
thinker and administrator, was at one time a member of the Committee; a
similar position was held for many years by Captain Alfred Carpenter,
R.N. Even Old Etonians were not unknown in our ranks. Mr. Goldwin Smith
paid tribute to the justice of our protests against both vivisection and
the Eton hare-hunt, as may be seen in two letters which he wrote to me,
now included in his published Correspondence. In Sir George Greenwood
our Committee had for years a champion both in Parliament and in the
press, whose wide scholarship, armed with a keen and rapier-like humour,
made many a dogmatical opponent regret his entry into the fray. Readers
of that subtly reasoned book, _The Faith of an Agnostic_, will not need
to be told that its author’s philosophy is no mere negative creed, but
one that on the ethical side finds expression in very real humanitarian
feeling.

Belonging to the younger generation, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Deuchar were
among the most valuable of the League’s “discoveries”: rarely, I
suppose, has a reform society had the aid of a more talented pair of
writers. Mr. Deuchar has a genuine gift of verse which, if cultivated,
should win him a high place among present-day poets: if anything finer
and more discriminating has been written about Shelley than his sonnet,
first printed in the _Humane Review_, I do not know it; and in his small
volume of poems, _The Fool Next Door_, published under a disguised name,
there are other things not less good. Mrs. Deuchar, as Miss M. Little,
earned distinction as a novelist of great power and insight: she, too,
was a frequent contributor to the _Humane Review_ and the
_Humanitarian_.

The _Humane Review_, which has been mentioned more than once in the
foregoing pages, was a quarterly magazine, published by Mr. Ernest Bell,
and edited by myself, during the first decade of the century. It was
independent of the Humanitarian League, but was very useful as an organ
in which the various subjects with which the League dealt could be
discussed more fully than was possible in the brief space of its
journal. The list of contributors to the _Review_ included the names of
many well-known writers; and if humanitarians had cared sufficiently for
their literature, it would have had a longer life: that it survived for
ten years was due to the fact that it was very generously supported by
two excellent friends of our cause, Mr. and Mrs. Atherton Curtis.

The Humanitarian League itself resembled the _Humane Review_ in this,
that its ordinary income was never sufficient to meet the yearly
expenditure, and had it not been for the special donations of a few of
its members, notably Mr. Ernest Bell, and some welcome bequests, its
career would have closed long before 1919. The League ended, as it
began, in its character of Forlorn Hope. We had the goodwill of the
free-lances, not of the public or of the professions. I have already
mentioned how the artists, with one or two important exceptions, stood
aloof from what they doubtless regarded as a meddlesome agitation;
literary men, even those who agreed with us, were often afraid of
incurring the name “humanitarian”; schoolmasters looked askance at a
society which condemned the cane; and religious folk were troubled
because we did not begin our meetings with prayers (as was the fashion a
quarter-century ago), and because none of the usual pietistic phrases
were read in our journal. From the clergy we got little cheer; though
there were a few of them who did not hesitate to say personally with
Dean Kitchin, that the League “was carrying out the best side of our
Saviour’s life and teaching.” Mr. Price Hughes, in particular, was most
courageous in his endorsement of an ethic which found little favour
among his co-religionists. Archbishop Temple and some leaders of
religious opinion personally signed our memorials against cruel sport;
and the Bishop of Hereford (Dr. Percival) introduced our Spurious Sports
Bill in the House of Lords; yet from Churchmen as a body our cause
received no sympathy, and many of them were ranged against it.

In the many protests against cruelty in its various forms, whether of
judicial torture, or vivisection, or butchery, or blood-sport, the
reproachful cry: “Where are the clergy?” has frequently been raised, but
raised by those who have forgotten, in each case, that there was nothing
new in the failure of organized Religion to aid in the work of
emancipation.

I wish to be just in this matter. I know well from a long experience of
work in an unpopular cause that humaneness is not a perquisite of any
one sect or creed, whether affirmative or negative, religious or
secular; it springs up in the heart of all sorts of persons in all sorts
of places, according to no law of which at present we have cognisance.
In every age there have been men whose religion was identical with
their humanity; men like that true saint, John Woolman, whose gift, as
has been well said, was love. St. Francis is the favourite instance of
this type; but sweet and gracious as he was, with his appeals to
“brother wolf” and “sister swallows,” his example has perhaps suffered
somewhat by too frequent quotation, which raises the suspicion that the
Church makes such constant use of him because its choice is but a
limited one. Less known, and more impressive, is the story, related by
Gibbon, of the Asiatic monk, Telemachus (A.D. 404), who, having dared to
interrupt the gladiatorial shows by stepping into the arena to separate
the combatants, was overwhelmed under a shower of stones. “But the
madness of the people soon subsided; they respected the memory of
Telemachus, who had deserved the honour of martyrdom, and they submitted
without a murmur to laws which abolished for ever the human sacrifices
of the amphitheatre.” Gibbon’s comment is as follows: “Yet no church has
been dedicated, no altar has been erected, to the only monk who died a
martyr in the cause of humanity.”

Religion has never befriended the cause of humaneness. Its monstrous
doctrine of eternal punishment and the torture of the damned underlies
much of the barbarity with which man has treated man; and the deep
division imagined by the Church between the human being, with his
immortal soul, and the soulless “beasts,” has been responsible for an
incalculable sum of cruelty.

I knew a Catholic priest, of high repute, who excused the Spanish
bull-fight on the plea that it forms a safety-valve for men’s savage
instincts; their barbarity goes out on the bull, and leaves them gentle
and kindly in their domestic relations. It is, in fact, the story of the
scape-goat repeated; only the victim is not a goat, and he does not
escape. Everywhere among the religious, except in a few individuals, one
meets the persistent disbelief in the kinship of all sentient life: it
is the religious, not the heretics, who are the true infidels and
unbelievers. A few years ago the Bishop of Oxford refused to sanction a
prayer for the animals, because “it has never been the custom of the
Church to pray for any other beings than those we think of as rational.”

I was told by the Rev. G. Ouseley, an old man whose heart and soul were
in the work of alleviating the wrongs of animals, that he once
approached all the ministers of religion in a large town on the south
coast, in the hope of inducing them to discountenance the cruel
treatment of cats. He met with little encouragement; and one of the
parsons on whom he called, the most influential in the place, bluntly
ridiculed the proposal. “One can’t chuck a cat across the room,” he
said, “without some old woman making a fuss about it.” Mr. Ouseley’s
only comment, when he repeated this remark, was: “A Christian
clergyman!”

The following is an extract from a letter written at Jerusalem by my
friend Mr. Philip G. Peabody, who has travelled very widely, and has
been a most careful observer of the treatment accorded to animals,
especially to horses, in the various countries visited by him:

     “When I reflect that for centuries, and from all parts of the
     world, the most earnest Christians have been coming here, and are
     still coming; that often they remain here until they die; that
     scores of great churches here are crowded with pious thousands; and
     that not one human being of them, so far as I can see or can learn,
     has the slightest regard for the cruelties occurring hundreds of
     times daily, so atrocious that the most heartless ruffian in Boston
     would indignantly protest against them--what am I to think of the
     value of Christianity to make men good, tender, and kind?”

This opinion would seem to be corroborated by that of Dean Inge, who has
described Man as “a bloodthirsty savage, not much changed since the
first Stone Age.” Unfortunately, the Gloomy Dean, whose oracular
utterances are so valued by journalists as providing excellent material
for “copy,” does not himself extend any sympathy to those who are
endeavouring to mitigate the savageness which he deplores, and which his
religion has failed to amend.

Perhaps no better test of a people’s civilization could be found than in
the manner of their religious festivals. What of our Christmas--the
season when peace and goodwill take the form of a general massacre
followed by a general gormandizing, with results not much less fatal to
the merry-makers than to their victims? One would think that a decent
cannibal would be sickened by the shows of live cattle, fattened for the
knife, and thousands of ghastly carcases hung in the butchers’ shops;
but, on the contrary, the spectacle is everywhere regarded as a genial
and festive one. The protests which the Humanitarian League used to
make, in letters to ministers of religion and other persons of
influence, met with hardly any response; sometimes a press-writer would
piously vindicate the sacred season, as “Dagonet” once did in the
_Referee_: “We are, of course, from a certain point of view, barbarians
in our butchery of beasts for the banquet. The spectacle of headless
animals hanging on hooks and dripping with blood is not æsthetic. But
Nature is barbarous in her methods, and it is a law of Nature that one
set of live things should live upon another set of live things. To kill
and eat is a natural instinct. To denounce it as inhuman is not only
absurd, but in a sense impious.” Piety and pole-axe, it will be seen, go
together, in the celebration of the Christian Saturnalia.

    Christmas comes but once a year:
      Let this our anguish soften!
    For who could bide that season drear
    Of bogus mirth and gory cheer,
      If it came more often?

From Religion, then, as such, the League expected nothing and got
nothing; but it must be owned that its failure to obtain any substantial
help from the Labour movement was something of a disappointment; for
though not a few leaders, men such as Keir Hardie, J. R. Clynes, J. R.
Macdonald, Bruce Glasier, and George Lansbury, were good friends to our
cause, the party, as a whole, showed little interest in the reforms
which we advocated, even in matters which specially concerned the
working classes, such as the Vagrancy Act, the Game Laws, and the use of
the cane in Board Schools. As for the non-humans, it is a curious fact
that while the National Secular Society includes among its immediate
practical objects a more humane treatment of animals, and their legal
protection against cruelty, the Labour movement, like the Churches, has
not cared to widen its outlook even to the extent of demanding better
conditions for the more highly organized domestic animals.

I have often thought that Walter Crane’s cartoon, “The Triumph of
Labour,” has a deep esoteric meaning, though perhaps not intended by its
author. Every socialist knows the picture--a May-day procession, in
which a number of working-folk are riding to the festival in a large
wain, with a brave flutter of flags and banners, and supporting above
them, with upturned palms, a ponderous-looking globe on which is
inscribed “The Solidarity of Labour”--the whole party being drawn by two
sturdy Oxen, the true heroes of the scene, who must be wishing the
solidarity of labour were a little less solid, for it would appear that
those heedless merry-makers ought to be prosecuted for overloading their
faithful friends. The Triumph of Labour seems a fit title for the scene,
but in a sense which democrats would do well to lay to heart. Do not
horses and other “beasts of burden” deserve their share of citizenship?
Centuries hence, perhaps, some learned antiquarian will reconstruct,
from such anatomical data as may be procurable, the gaunt, misshapen,
pitiable figure of our now vanishing cab-horse, and a more civilized
posterity will shudder at the sight of what we still regard as a
legitimate agent in locomotion.

Such, then, was the position of our Forlorn Hope in the years that saw
the menace of Armageddon looming larger. Like every one else,
humanitarians underrated the vastness of the catastrophe towards which
the world was drifting; but some at least saw the madness of the
scaremongers who were persistently fostering in their respective nations
the spirit of hatred; and five years before the crash came it was
pointed out in the _Humanitarian_ that a terrible war was, consciously
or unconsciously, the aim and end of the outcry that was being raised
about the wicked designs of Germany, to the concealment of the more
important fact that every nation’s worst enemies are the quarrelsome or
interested persons within its own borders, who would involve two
naturally friendly peoples in a foolish and fratricidal strife.

We knew too well, from the lessons of the Boer War, what sort of folk
some of these were, who, themselves without the least intention of
fighting, had stirred up such warlike passions in the Yellow Press. I
had been acquainted with some of them at that time, and had not
forgotten how, meeting one such firebrand, I noticed with surprise that
he had become facially, as well as journalistically, yellow, his cheeks
having assumed an ochreous hue since I had seen him a day or two before.
He confided his secret to me. He had once enlisted in the army; and
having, as he supposed, been discharged, was now stupefied by receiving
a notice to rejoin his regiment. And there he sat, wondering how he
could meet his country’s call, a yellow journalist indeed: I saw him in
his true colours that day.

But even thus, though we suspected, with a great eruption in prospect,
that to pursue our humanitarian work was but to cultivate the slopes of
a volcano, we did not at all guess the magnitude of the coming disaster.
It might bring a return, we feared, to the ethics of, say, the Middle
Ages; our countrymen’s innate savagery would be rather more openly and
avowedly practised--that would be all. They would be like the troupe of
monkeys who, having been trained to go through their performance with
grave and sedate demeanour, were loosed suddenly, by the flinging of a
handful of nuts, into all their native lawlessness. What we did _not_
anticipate--the very thing that happened--was that the atavism aroused
by such a conflict would bring to light much more aboriginal instincts
than those of a few centuries back; that it was not the medieval man who
was being summoned from the vasty deep, but the prehistoric troglodyte,
or Cave-Man, who, far from having become extinct, as was fondly
supposed, still survived in each and all of us, awaiting his chance of
resurrection.



XV

THE CAVE-MAN RE-EMERGES

                    I scan him now,
    Beastlier than any phantom of his kind
    That ever butted his rough brother-brute
    For lust or lusty blood or provender.
               TENNYSON.


It is a subject of speculation among zoologists whether the swamps and
forests of Central Africa may still harbour some surviving Dinosaur, or
Brontosaur, a gigantic dragon-like monster, half-elephant, half-reptile,
a relic of a far bygone age. The thought is thrilling, though the hope
is probably doomed to disappointment. What is more certain is that not
less marvellous prodigies may be studied, by those naturalists who have
the eyes to see them, much nearer home; for though Africa has been truly
called a wonderful museum, it cannot compare in that respect with the
human mind, a repository that still teems with griffins and gorgons,
centaurs and chimæras, not less real because they are not creatures of
flesh and blood. Two thousand years ago it was shown by the Roman poet
Lucretius that what mortals had to fear was not such fabled pests as the
Nemean lion, the Arcadian boar, or the Cretan bull, but the much more
terrible in-dwelling monsters of the mind. In like manner, it was from
some hidden mental recesses that there emerged that immemorial savage,
the Cave-Man, who, released by the great upheaval of the war, was
sighted by many eye-witnesses, on many occasions, during the
five-years’ carnival of Hatred.[41]

Some day, perhaps, a true history of the war will be written, and it
will then be made plain how such conflict had been rendered all but
inevitable by the ambitious schemes and machinations not of one Empire,
but of several; by the piling up of huge armaments under the pretence of
insuring peace; by the greed of commercialists; and by the spirit of
jealousy and suspicion deliberately created by reckless speakers and
writers on both sides; further, how, when the crisis arrived, the
working-classes in all the nations concerned were bluffed and cajoled
into a contest which to their interests was certain in any event to be
ruinous. Then, the flame once lit, there followed in this country the
clever engineering of enforced military service, rendered possible by
the preceding Registration Act (disguised under the pretence of a quite
different purpose), and by a number of illusory pledges and promises for
the protection of conscientious objectors to warfare. The whole story,
faithfully told, will be a long record of violence and trickery
masquerading as “patriotism”; but what I am concerned with here is less
the war itself than the brutal spirit of hatred and persecution which
the war engendered.

As a single instance of Cave-Man’s ferocity, take the ill-treatment of
“enemy aliens” by non-combatants, who, themselves running no personal
risks, turned their insensate malice against helpless foreigners who had
every claim to a generous nation’s protection. “They are an accursed
race,” said a typical speaker at one of the meetings held in London.
“Intern them all, or rather leave out the _n_, and inter them all. Let
the name ‘German’ be handed down to posterity, and be known to the
historian as everything that was bestial, damnable, and abominable.”
These would be words of criminal lunacy--nothing less--in the mouth of
civilized beings, yet they are merely examples of things said on
innumerable occasions in every part of our land. Great masses of
Englishmen were, for the time, in a mental state lower than that of
remote tribes whom we regard as Bushmen and cannibals.

Perhaps the most curious feature of this orgie of patriotic Hatred was
its artificial nature: it was at home, not at the front, that it
flourished; and if those who indulged in it had been sane enough to read
even the war-news with intelligence, they would there have found ample
disproof of their denunciations. Half a dozen lines from one of Mr.
Philip Gibbs’s descriptions would have put their ravings to shame. “Some
of them [English wounded] were helped down by German prisoners, and it
was queer to see one of our men with his arms round the necks of two
Germans. German wounded, helped down by our men less hurt than they,
walked in the same way, with their arms round the necks of our men; and
sometimes an English soldier and a German soldier came along together
very slowly, arm in arm, like old cronies.” Not much patriotic Hatred
_there_.

Nor, of course, was it only the wounded, companions in misfortune, who
thus forgot their enmity; for the practice of “fraternizing” sprang up
to such an extent at the first Christmas of the war, that it was
afterwards prohibited. “They gave us cigars and cigarettes and toffee,”
wrote an English soldier who took part in this parley with the accursed
race, “and they told us that they didn’t want to fight, but they had to.
We were with them about an hour, and the officers couldn’t make head or
tail of it.” To this a military correspondent adds: “There is more
bitterness against the Germans among the French soldiers than among the
British, who as a rule show no bitterness at all, but the general spirit
of the French army is much less bitter than that of many civilians.” It
is an interesting psychological fact that it was the civilians, the
do-nothings, who made Hatred into a cult.

And what a beggarly, despicable sort of virulence it was! For a genuine
hatred there is at least something to be said; but this spurious
manufactured malevolence, invented by yellow journalists, and fostered
by Government placards, was a mere poison-gas of words, a thing without
substance, yet with power to corrupt and vitiate the minds of all who
succumbed to it. Men wrangled, as in Æsop’s fable, not over the ass, but
over the shadow of the ass. Theirs was, in Coleridge’s words:

    A wild and dreamlike trade of blood and guile,
    Too foolish for a tear, too wicked for a smile.

Yet it was difficult not to smile at it. The Niagara of nonsense that
the war let loose--the war that was supposed to be “making people
think”--was almost as laughable as the war itself was tragic; and
satirists[42] there were who, like Juvenal, found it impossible to keep
a grave countenance under such provocation. Hereafter, no doubt, smiles
and tears will be freely mingled, when posterity realizes, for example,
what tragi-comic part was played by “the scrap of paper,” that emblem of
national adherence to obligations of honour; by the concern felt among
the greater nations for the interests of the smaller; or by the
justification of the latest war as “the war to end war.”[43] What a
vast amount of material, too, will be available for an illustrated book
of humour, when some wag of the future shall collect and reprint the
series of official war-posters, including, of course, those printed as
advertisements of the war-loans (the melancholy lady, reminded that “Old
Age must Come,” and the rest of them), and when it shall be recollected
that these amazing absurdities could really influence the public! As if
militarism in itself were not comical enough, its eulogists succeeded in
making it still more ridiculous by their cartoons. As for the blind
credulity which the war-fever inspired, the legend of the Angels of Mons
will stand for age-long remembrance.

    Parturiunt mures, nascetur ridiculus Mons.

This credulity begins, like charity, at home. Whenever a war breaks out,
there is much talk of the disingenuousness of “enemy” writers; but the
sophisms which are really perilous to each country are those of native
growth--those which lurk deep in the minds of its own people, ready,
when the season summons them, to spring up to what Sydney Smith called
“the full bloom of their imbecility.” That egregious maxim, _si vis
pacem para bellum_, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war,” is now
somewhat discredited; but it did its “bit” in causing the war, and after
a temporary retirement will doubtless be brought forward again when
circumstances are more favourable. It is perhaps as silly a saying as
any invented by the folly of man. Imagine a ward of lunatics, who,
having got their keepers under lock and key by a reversal of position
such as that described in one of Poe’s fantastic stories, should proceed
to safeguard peace by arming themselves with pokers and legs of tables.
For a time this adoption of the _para bellum_ principle might postpone
hostilities; but even lunatics would be wasting time and temper in thus
standing idly arrayed, and it is certain that sooner or later that
madhouse would realize its Armageddon. For opportunity in the long run
begets action; and whether you put a poker into a lunatic’s hand, or a
sword into a soldier’s, the result will eventually be the same.

Or perhaps we are told that war is “a great natural outburst,”
mysterious in its origin, beyond human control: the creed expressed in
Wordsworth’s famous assertion that carnage is “God’s daughter.” Could
any superstition be grosser? There is nothing mysterious or cataclysmic
in the outbreak of modern wars. Antipathies and rivalries of nations
there are, as of individuals, and of course if these are cherished they
will burst into flame; but it is equally true that if they are wisely
discountenanced and repressed they will finally subside. We do not
excuse an individual who pleads his jealousy, his passion, his thirst
for revenge as a reason for committing an assault, though personal crime
is just as much an “outbreak” as war is. There seems to be an idea that
when such passions exist it is better for them to “come out.” On the
contrary, the only hope for mankind is that such savage survivals should
_not_ come out, but that “the ape and tiger” should be steadily
repressed until they die.

But “_this_ war was justifiable.” In every nation the belief prevails
that, though war in general is to be deprecated, any particular contest
in which they may be engaged is righteous, inevitable, one of pure
self-defence, in their own words, “forced on us.” Even if this were
true, in some instances, in bygone years when international relations
were less complex, and when it was possible for two countries to quarrel
and “fight it out,” like schoolboys, without inflicting any widespread
injury upon others, it is wholly different now; for the calamity caused
by a modern war is so great that it hardly matters, to the world at
large, who, in schoolboy phrase, “began it.” It takes two to make a
quarrel; and the two are jointly responsible for the disaster that their
quarrel entails upon mankind.

The more one looks into these fallacies about fighting--and their number
is legion--one is compelled to believe that the spirit which chiefly
underlies the tendencies to war, apart from the direct incentive of
commercial greed, is one of Fear. Hatred is more obvious, but it is fear
which is at the bottom of the hatred. This alone can account for the
extraordinary shortsightedness with which all freedom, both of speech
and of action, is trampled on, when a war is once commenced. In such
circumstances, society at once reverts, in its panic alarm for its own
safety, to what may be called the Ethics of the Pack. Of all the absurd
charges levelled against those objectors to military service who refused
to sacrifice their own principles to other persons’ ideas of patriotism,
the quaintest was that of “cowardice”; for, with all respect to the very
real physical bravery of those who fought, it must be said that the
highest courage shown during the war was that of the persons who were
denounced and ridiculed as cravens. It was a moment when it required
much more boldness to object than to consent; one of those crises to
which the famous lines of Marvell are applicable:

    When the sword glitters o’er the judge’s head,
    And fear has coward churchmen silencéd,
    Then is the poet’s time; ’tis then he draws,
    And single fights forsaken virtue’s cause.

The despised “Conchie” was, in truth, the hero and poet of the occasion.

Again, it must be owing to fear, above all other impulses, that when a
war is over, the conquerors, instead of offering generous terms--a
course which would be at least as much to their own advantage as to that
of the vanquished--enforce hard and ruinous conditions which rob them
of a permanent peace. This they do from what Leigh Hunt calls

    The consciousness of strength in enemies,
    Who must be strain’d upon, or else they rise.

It was this that caused the Germans, fifty years ago, to dictate at
Paris those shameful terms which have now been their own undoing; and it
was this which caused the French, in their hour of victory, to imitate
the worst blunders of their enemies.

We are but a world of savages, or we should see that in international as
in personal affairs generosity is much more mighty than vengeance. Some
years before the war there appeared in the _Daily News_ an article by
its Paris correspondent, the late Mr. J. F. Macdonald, which even at the
time was very impressive, and which now, as one looks back over the
horrors of the war, has still greater and more melancholy significance.
He called it “A Dream.” He pointed out that the sole obstacle to a
friendly relationship between France and Germany, and the chief peril to
European peace, was the lost provinces of Alsace-Lorraine.

     “During my fifteen years’ residence in France I have often dreamt a
     dream--so audacious, so quixotic, so startling, that I can hardly
     put it down on paper. It was that the German Emperor restored the
     provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to France.... What a thrill throughout
     the world, what a heroic and imperishable place in history for the
     German Emperor, were the centenary of Waterloo to be commemorated
     by the generous, the magnificent release of Alsace-Lorraine.”

A dream, indeed, and of a kind which at present flits through the ivory
gate; but a true dream in the sense that it conveyed a great
psychological fact, and of the sort which will yet have to be fulfilled,
if ever the world is to become a fit place for civilized beings--not to
mention “heroes”--to dwell in.

But let us return to realities and to the Cave-Man. However irrational
the Hatred which surged up in so many hearts, it nevertheless had power
to trample every humane principle under foot. That gorilla-like visage
which looked out at us from numbers of human faces meant that our
humanitarian cause, if not killed or mortally injured by the war-spirit,
was at least, in military parlance, “interned.” What we were advocating
was a more sympathetic conduct of life with regard to both our human and
our non-human fellow-beings, and what we mainly relied on, and aimed at
developing by the aid of reason, was the compassionate instinct which
cannot view any suffering unmoved. We had advanced to a point where some
sort of reprobation, however inadequate, was beginning to be felt for
certain barbarous practices; and though we could not claim to have done
more than curb the ferocious spirit of cruelty that had come down to us
from the past, it was at least some satisfaction that limits were
beginning to be imposed on it. What result, then, was inevitable, when,
in a considerable area of the world, all such ethical restrictions were
suddenly and completely withdrawn, and mankind was exhorted to take a
deep draught of aboriginal savagery?

Terrible as are the wrongs that countless human beings have to suffer,
when great military despotisms are adjusting by the sword their “balance
of power,” and exhibiting their entire lack of balance of mind, still
more terrible are the cruelties inflicted on the innocent non-human
races whose fate it is to be involved in the internecine battles of men.
In a message addressed to the German people, the Kaiser was reported to
have said: “We shall resist to the last breath of man and of horse.” As
if the horse could enjoy the comforts of “patriotism,” and were not
ruthlessly sacrificed, like a mere machine, for a quarrel in which he
had neither lot nor part! More suffering is caused to animals in a day
of war than in a year of peace; and so long as wars last it is idle to
suppose that a humane treatment of animals can be secured. Do the
opponents of blood-sports, of butchery, of vivisection, wonder at the
obstinate continuance of those evils? Let them consider what goes on
(blessed by bishops) in warfare, and they need not wonder any more.

“Do men gather figs from thistles?” It seemed as if some of our sages
expected men to do so, if one might judge from the anticipations of a
regenerated Europe that was to arise after the close of the war! Already
we see the vanity of such prophesyings--of making a sanguinary struggle
the foundation of idealistic hopes. Not all the wisdom of all the
prophets can alter the fact that like breeds like, that savage methods
perpetuate savage methods, that evil cannot be suppressed by evil, nor
one kind of militarism extinguished by another kind of militarism. Hell,
we say, is paved with good intentions; but those who assumed that the
converse was true, and that the pathway of their good intentions could
be paved with hell, have been woefully disillusioned by the event.

There is a too easy and sanguine expectation of “good coming out of
evil.” People talked as if Armageddon would naturally be followed by the
millennium. But history shows that modern wars leave periods of
exhaustion and repression. “Reconstruction” is a phrase now much in
vogue, but reconstruction is not progress. If two neighbouring families,
or several families, quarrel and pull down each others’ houses, there
will certainly have to be “reconstruction”; but it will be a long time
before they are even as well off as they were before. So it is with
nations. The question is: Does war quicken men’s sympathies or deaden
them? To some extent, both, according to the difference in their
temperaments; but it is to be feared that those who are quickened by
experience of war to hatred of war are but a small minority, compared
with those who are rendered more callous.

One great obstacle to the discontinuance of bloodshed is the
incorrigible sentimentality with which war has always been regarded by
mankind. “Who was it,” exclaimed the poet Tibullus, “that first invented
the dreadful sword? How savage, how truly steel-hearted was he!” But
surely the reproach is less deserved by the early barbarian who had the
ingenuity to discover an improved method of destruction than by the
so-called civilized persons who, for the sake of lucre, prolong such
inventions long after the date when they should have been abandoned.
“War is hell,” men say, and continue to accept it as inevitable. But if
war is hell, who but men themselves are the fiends that people it?

In like manner the outbreak of war is often called “a relapse into
barbarism,” but rather it is a proof that we have never emerged from
barbarism at all; and the knowledge of that fact is the only rational
solace that can be found, when we see the chief nations of Europe flying
at each other’s throats. For if this were a civilized age, the prospect
would be without hope; but seeing that we are not civilized--that as yet
we have only distant glimpses of civilization--we can still have faith
in the future. For the present, looking at the hideous lessons of the
war, we must admit that the growth of a humaner sentiment has been
indefinitely retarded. We cannot advance at the same time on the path of
militarism and of humaneness: we shall have to make up our minds, when
the fit of savagery has spent itself, which of the two diverging paths
we are to follow. And the moral of the war for social reformers will
perhaps be this: that it is not sufficient to condemn the barbarities of
warfare alone, as our pacifists have too often done. The civilized
spirit can only be developed by a consistent protest against all forms
of cruelty and oppression; it is only by cultivating a whole-minded
reverence for the rights of all our fellow-beings that we shall rid
ourselves of that inheritance of selfish callousness of which the
militarist and imperialist mania is a part.[44]

Is it not time that we sent the Cave-Man back to his den--henceforth to
be his sepulchre--and buried for ever that infernal spirit of Hatred
which he brought with him from the pit?



XVI

POETRY OF DEATH AND LOVE

    And Death and Love are yet contending for their prey.
              SHELLEY.


To look back over a long stretch of years, or to re-read the annals of a
Society with which one has been closely associated, is to be reminded of
the loss of many cherished comrades and friends. During the past decade,
especially, there are few households that have not become more
intimately associated with Death; but even in this matter, it would
seem, the war, far from “making men think,” has thrown them back more
and more on the ancient substitutes for thought, and on consolations
which only console when they are quite uncritically accepted.

For though the ceaseless conflict between death and love has brought to
the aid of mankind in this age, as in all ages, a host of comforters
who, whether by religion or by philosophy, have made light of the
terrors of the grave, they have as yet failed to supply the solace for
which mankind has long looked and is still looking. They profess to
remove “the sting of death,” but leave its real bitterness--the
sundering of lover from lover, friend from friend--unmitigated and
untouched.

Death is the eternal foe of love; and it is just because it is the foe
of love, not only because it is the foe of life, that it is properly and
naturally dreaded. Its sting lies not in the mortality, but in the
separation. A lover, a friend, a relative, grieves, not because the
loved one is mortal, still less because he himself is mortal, but
because they two will meet no more in the relation in which they have
stood to each other.

    They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead.
    They brought me bitter news to hear, and bitter tears to shed.
    I wept as I remembered how often you and I
    Had tired the sun with talking, and sent him down the sky.

It is useless to surmise, or to assert, that the spirit passes, after
death, into other spheres of activity or of happiness; for, even if
there were proof of this, it would in no way lessen the grief of those
who are bereaved of the actual. It was long ago pointed out by Lucretius
that even a renewed physical life would in any case be so different from
the present life that it could not be justly regarded as in any true
sense a continuance of it:

    Nor yet, if time our scattered dust re-blend,
    And after death upbuild the flesh again--
    Yea, and our light of life arise re-lit--
    Can such new birth concern the Self one whit,
    When once dark death has severed memory’s chain?[45]

In like manner a future spiritual life could never compensate for the
severance of love in _this_ life; for it is of the very essence of love
to desire, not similar things, nor as good things, nor even better
things, but the same things. As Richard Jefferies wrote: “I do not want
change; I want the same old and loved things, the same wild flowers, the
same trees and soft ash-green: the turtle-doves, the blackbirds, ... and
I want them in the same place.”

And what is true of the nature-lover is not less true of the
human-lover, be he parent, or brother, or husband, or friend. It is not
a solace but a mockery of such passionate affection to assert that it
can be compensated for its disruption in the present by a new but
changed condition in the future. A recognition of this truth may be seen
in Thomas Hardy’s poem, “He Prefers Her Earthly”:

... Well, shall I say it plain?
    I would not have you thus and there,
    But still would grieve on, missing you, still feature
      You as the one you were.

But this, it may be said, is to set love in rebellion against not death
only, but the very laws of life. There is truth in such censure; and
wisest is he who can so reconcile his longings with his destiny as to
know enough of the sweetness of love without too much of the bitterness
of regret. Perhaps, in some fairer society of a future age, when love is
more generally shared, the sting of death will be less acute; but what
centuries have yet to pass before that “Golden City” of which John
Barlas sang can be realized?

    There gorgeous Plato’s spirit
      Hangs brooding like a dove,
    And all men born inherit
      Love free as gods above;
    There each one is to other
    A sister or a brother,
    A father or a mother,
      A lover or a love.

Meantime it would almost seem that to the religious folk who assume a
perpetuity of individual life, the thought of death sometimes becomes
less solemn, less sacred, than it is to those who have no supernatural
beliefs. The easy assurance of immortality to which friends who are
writing letters of condolence to a mourner too often have recourse, is
usually a sign less of sympathy than of the lack of it; for it is not
sympathetic to repeat ancient formulas in face of a present and very
real grief; indeed, it is in many cases an impertinence, when it is
done without any regard to the views of the person to whom such solace
is addressed. Among the professional ghouls who watch the death-notices
in the papers, none, perhaps, are more callous--not even the would-be
buyers of old clothes or artificial teeth--than the pious busybodies who
intrude on homes of sorrow with their vacant tracts and booklets. Nay,
worse: nowadays mourners are lucky if some spiritist acquaintance does
not have a beatific vision of the lost one; for the dead seem to be
regarded as a lawful prey by any one who sees visions and dreams dreams,
and who is determined to call them as witnesses that there is no reality
in the most stringent ordinances of nature:

    Stern law of every mortal lot;
      Which man, proud man, finds hard to bear,
    And builds himself I know not what
      Of second life I know not where.

With much appropriateness did Matthew Arnold introduce his trenchant
rebuke of human arrogance into a poem on the grave of a dog; for mankind
has neither right nor reason to presume for itself an hereafter which it
denies to humbler fellow-beings who share at least the ability to suffer
and to love. Can any one, not a mere barbarian, who has watched the
death of an animal whom he loved, and by whom he was himself loved with
that faithful affection which is never withheld when it is merited, dare
to doubt that the conditions of life and death are essentially the same
for human and for non-human? Is an animal’s death one whit less poignant
in remembrance than that of one’s dearest human friend? Must it not
remain with us as ineffaceably?

That individual love should resent the thraldom of death may be
unreasonable; but it is useless to ignore the fact of such resentment,
or to proffer consolations which can neither convince nor console. From
the earliest times the poets, above all others, have borne witness to
love’s protest. Perhaps the most moving lyric in Roman literature is
that short elegy written by Catullus at his brother’s grave, full of a
deep passion which can hardly be conveyed in another tongue.

    Borne far o’er many lands, o’er many seas,
      On this sad service, brother, have I sped,
    To proffer thee death’s last solemnities,
      And greet, though words be vain, the silent dead:
    For thou art lost, so cruel fate decrees;
      Ah, brother, from my sight untimely fled!
    Yet take these gifts, ordained in bygone years
      For mournful dues when funeral rites befell;
    Take them, all streaming with a brother’s tears:
      And thus, for evermore--hail and farewell!

A similar cry is heard in that famous passage of Virgil, where the
bereaved Orpheus refuses to be comforted for the loss of his Eurydice.
And nearly two thousand years later we find Wordsworth, a Christian
poet, echoing the same lamentation:

... When I stood forlorn,
    Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
    That neither present time, nor years unborn,
    Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

Mark the reference to “years unborn.” Wordsworth was a believer in
immortality; but immortality itself cannot restore what is past and
gone. All the sages and seers and prophets, that have given mankind the
benefit of their wisdom since the world began, have so far failed to
provide the least crumb of comfort for the ravages of death, or to
explain why love should be for ever built up to be for ever overthrown,
and why union should always be followed by disseverance.

There may, of course, be a solution of this tragedy hereafter to be
discovered by mankind; all that we know is that, as yet, no human being
has found the clue to the mystery, or, if he has found it, has
vouchsafed the knowledge to his fellow-mortals. For we must dismiss as
idle the assertion that such things cannot be communicated in words.
Anything that is apprehended by the mind can be expressed by the
mouth--not adequately, perhaps, yet still, in some measure,
expressed--and the reason why this greatest of secrets has never been
conveyed is that, as yet, it has never been apprehended.

It is, doubtless, this lack of any real knowledge, of any genuine
consolation, that drives mankind to seek refuge in the more primitive
superstitions. Something more definite, more tangible, is not
unnaturally desired; and therefore men turn to the assurances of what is
called spiritualism--the refusal to believe that death, in the accepted
sense, has taken place at all. This creed is at least free from the
vagueness of the ordinary religious view of death. It is small comfort
to be told that a lost friend is sitting transfigured, harp in hand, in
some skiey mansion of the blest; but it might mitigate the bereavement
of some mourners (not all) to converse with their lost one, and to learn
that he exists in much the same manner, and with the same affections as
before. Some who “prefer him earthly” are less likely to be disappointed
in spiritualism than in any other philosophy; the danger is rather that
they should find him _too_ earthly--enjoying a cigarette, perhaps, as in
a case mentioned in recent revelations of the spirit-life. This is
literalness with a vengeance; but however ludicrous and incredible it
may be, it is not--from the comforter’s point of view--meaningless;
whereas it _is_ unmeaning to tell a mourner that the loved one is not
lost, to him, when the whole environment and fabric of their love are
shattered and destroyed.

Is there, then--pending such fuller knowledge as mankind may hereafter
gain--no present comfort for death’s tyranny? I have spoken of the poets
as the champions of love against death; and it is perhaps in poetry,
the poetry of love and death, that the best solace will be found--in
that open-eyed and quite rational view of the struggle, which does not
deny the reality of death, but asserts the reality of love. It is
amusing to hear those who do not accept the orthodox creed as regards an
after-life described as cold “materialists” and “sceptics.” For who have
written most loftily, most spiritually, about death and the great
emotions that are implied in the word--the religionists and
“spiritualists,” who pretend to a mystic knowledge, or the great
free-thinking poets, from the time of Lucretius to the time of Shelley
and James Thomson? Can any “spiritualist” poetry match the great sublime
passages of the _De Rerum Naturâ_, or, to come to our own age, of _The
City of Dreadful Night_?

It is to the poets, then, not to the dogmatists, that we must look for
solace; for, where knowledge is still unattainable, an aspiration is
wiser than an assertion, and the theme of death is one which can be far
better treated idealistically than as a matter of doctrine. In poetry,
as nowhere else, can be expressed those manifold moods, and half-moods,
in which the noblest human minds have sought relief when confronted by
this mighty problem; and far more soothing than any unsubstantial
promises of futurity is the charm that is felt in the magic of beautiful
verse. In Milton’s words:

... I was all ear,
    And took in strains that might create a soul
    Under the ribs of death.

At the present time, when a great war has brought bereavement into so
many homes, and when superstition is reaping its harvest among the sad
and broken lives that are everywhere around us, how can rational men do
better than recall as many minds as possible from the false teachers to
the true, from the priests, who claim a knowledge which they do not
possess, to the poets, in whom, as Shelley said, there is “the power of
communicating and receiving intense and impassioned conceptions
respecting man and nature”? And the testimony of the poets cannot be
mistaken; their first word and their last word is Love. Whether it be
Cowper, gazing on his mother’s portrait; or Burns, lamenting his
Highland Mary; or Wordsworth, in his elegies for Lucy; or Shelley, in
the raptures of his “Adonais”; or pessimists, such as Edgar Poe and
James Thomson, to whom love was the “sole star of light in infinite
black despair”--the lesson that we learn from them is the same. For
death there is no solace but in love; it is to love’s name that the
human heart must cling.

    Ah! let none other alien spell soe’er,
    But only the one Hope’s one name be there,
    Not less, nor more, but even that word alone!



XVII

THE TALISMAN

    Comprendre c’est Pardonner.--MADAME DE STAËL.


Are we, then, a civilized people? Has the Man of to-day, still living by
bloodshed, still striving to grow rich at the expense of his neighbour,
still using torture in punishment, still seeking sport in destruction,
still waging fratricidal wars, and, while making a hell on earth,
claiming for himself an eternal heaven hereafter--has this selfish,
predatory being arrived at a state of “civilization”?

It may be said, perhaps, that as the ideal is always in advance of the
actual, and it is easy to show that any present stage of society falls
far short of what it might be and ought to be, the distinction between
savagery and civilization is a matter of names. This, in one sense, is
true; but it is also true that names are of great importance as reacting
upon conduct, and that to use flattering titles as a veil for cruel
practices gives permanence to evils that otherwise would not be
permitted. Our present self-satisfaction in what we are pleased to call
our civilization is a very serious obstacle to improvement.

In this manner euphemism plays a great part in language; for just as the
Greeks used gracious terms to denote malignant powers, and so, as they
thought, to disarm their hostility, the modern mind seeks, consciously
or unconsciously, to disguise iniquities by misnaming them. Thus a blind
tribal hatred can be masked as “patriotism”; living idly on the work of
others is termed “an independence”; vivisection cloaks itself as
“research”; and the massacre of wild animals for man’s wanton amusement
is dignified as “sport.” There is undoubtedly much virtue in names.

But here another objection may be raised, to wit, that in view of the
vast advance that has been made by mankind from primeval savagery to the
present complex social state, it is impossible to apply to the higher
man the same name as to the lower man; for if _we_ are savages, what are
the Bushmen or the Esquimaux?

    Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.

It may be doubted whether of late years Europe has been pleasanter as a
residential district than Cathay; but, letting that pass, must we not
admit that a real culture implies something more than material and
mental opulence? “Civilization,” as a French writer has lately said, “is
not in this terrible trumpery: if it is not in the heart of man, then it
exists nowhere.”[46] It is easy to frame “ethnical periods,” as is done
in Morgan’s _Ancient Society_, in which are postulated the three
phases--Savagery, Barbarism, and Civilization--the last-named commencing
with the invention of a Phonetic Alphabet; but such a definition, when
put to practical test, seems a somewhat fanciful one. The brute who
tortures or butchers a sentient fellow-being remains a brute, whether a
Phonetic Alphabet has been invented or not. He has not learnt the ABC of
civilization. What is needed, for the measurement of human progress, is
a standard of ethical, not ethnical refinement.

That mankind has already advanced so far is a sign, not that it has now
reached its zenith, but that it has yet further to advance; and this
advance will be delayed, not promoted, by the refusal to recognize that
the physical and mental sciences have far outrun the moral--that,
despite our multifarious discoveries and accomplishments, we are still
barbarians at heart.

In this sense, then, we are savages; and the knowledge of that fact is
the first step toward civilization. There is a line which pious
zoophilists are fond of quoting to sportsmen or other thoughtless
persons who ill-use their humbler fellow-creatures:

    Remember, He who made thee made the brute.

The reminder is wholesome, for kinship is too apt to be forgotten; but I
would venture to interpret that significant verse in a much more literal
sense; for it must be confessed that many a human being, if judged by
his actions, is not only _related_ to the brute, but is _himself_ the
brute. The old Greek maxim, “Know thyself,” is the starting-point of all
reformation.

Through this knowledge, and only through it, can come the patience which
forgives because it fully understands: “Comprendre c’est pardonner” is
assuredly one of the world’s greatest sayings.

    He pardons all, who all can understand.

There is no need to search for extenuating circumstances, because, as
Ernest Crosby has remarked: “Is not the fact of being born a man or a
woman an all-sufficient extenuating circumstance?” All is explained,
when once we are content to look upon our fellow-beings, and upon
ourselves, as what we verily are--a race of rough but not unkindly
barbarians, emerging with infinite slowness to a more humanized
condition, and to recognize that if mankind, even as it is, has been
evolved from a still more savage ancestry, that fact is in itself a
proof that progress is not wholly chimerical.

Considered from the point of view of personal happiness and peace of
mind, the question is the same. To what sort of comfort can a person of
sensibility hope to attain, in sight of the immense sum of wretchedness
and suffering that is everywhere visible, and audible, around us? I know
not a few humanitarians whose lives are permanently saddened by the
thought of the awful destitution that afflicts large masses of mankind,
and of the not less awful cruelties inflicted on the lower animals in
the name of sport and science and fashion. How can sensitive and
sympathetic minds forget the loss of other persons’ happiness in the
culture of their own, especially if they have realized that not a little
of their well-being is derived from the toil of their fellows?

Here, again, some measure of consolation may be found, if we look at the
problem in a less sanguine and therefore less exacting spirit. People
often indignantly ask, with reference to some cruel action or custom,
whether we are living “in an age of civilization or of savagery,” the
implication being that in an era of the highest and noblest
civilization, such as ours is assumed to be, some unaccountably
barbarous persons are stooping to an unworthy practice. Is it not wiser,
and more conducive to one’s personal peace of mind, to reverse this
assumption, and to start with the frank avowal that the present age, in
spite of its vast mechanical cleverness, is, from an ethical point of
view, one of positive barbarism, not so savage, of course, as some that
have preceded it, but still undeniably savage as compared with what we
foresee of a civilized future?

Viewed in this more modest light, many usages which, if prevalent in a
civilized country, might well make one despair of humankind, are seen to
be, like the crimes of children, symptoms of the thoughtless infancy of
our race. We are not civilized folk who have degenerated into monsters,
but untamed savages who, on the whole, make a rather creditable display,
and may in future centuries become civilized.

For example, when one meets a number of “sportsmen” going forth, with
horses and with hounds, to do to death with every circumstance of
barbarity some wretched little animal whom they have actually bred, or
“preserved,” or imported for the purpose, such a sight--if one regards
them as rational and civilized beings--might well spoil one’s happiness
for a fortnight. But if we take a lower stand, and see in them nothing
more than fine strapping barbarians, engaged in one of the national
recreations of those “dark ages” in which we live, the outlook becomes
immediately a more cheerful one; and instead of being surprised that
ladies and gentlemen in the twentieth century should desire to “break
up” a fox, we are able to recognize the moderation and civility with
which in other respects they conduct themselves.

One advantage, at least, can be drawn by humanitarians from the present
state of affairs--a more accurate apprehension of the obstacles by which
their hopes are beset. Much has been said and written about the causes
of the war; and it is inevitable that the _immediate_ causes (for they
alone are discussed) should be thoroughly investigated. But the deeper
underlying causes of the recent war, and of every war, are not those
upon which diplomatists and politicians and journalists and historians
are intent: they must be sought in that callous and selfish habit of
mind--common to all races, and as such accepted without thought, and
transmitted from one generation to another--which exhibits itself not in
war only, but in numerous other forms of barbarity observed in so-called
civilized life.

No League of Nations, or of individuals, can avail, without a change of
heart. Reformers of all classes must recognize that it is useless to
preach peace by itself, or socialism by itself, or anti-vivisection by
itself, or vegetarianism by itself, or kindness to animals by itself.
The cause of each and all of the evils that afflict the world is the
same--the general lack of humanity, the lack of the knowledge that all
sentient life is akin, and that he who injures a fellow-being is in fact
doing injury to himself. The prospects of a happier society are wrapped
up in this despised and neglected truth, the very statement of which, at
the present time, must (I well know) appear ridiculous to the accepted
instructors of the people.

The one and only talisman is Love. Active work has to be done, but if it
is to attain its end, it is in the spirit of love that it must be
undertaken. Perhaps the most significant symptom of the brutishness
aroused by the war-fever was the blank inability which many Christians
showed not only to practise such injunctions as “Love your enemies,” but
even to understand them.[47] Had it not been that humour, like
humaneness, was sunk fathoms deep in an ocean of stupidity, one would
have been tempted to quote Ernest Crosby’s delightful lines on “Love the
Oppressors”:

    Love the oppressors and tyrants:
    It is the only way to get rid of them!

In these days, when the voice of hatred and malevolence is so dominant,
it is a joy to turn to the pages of writers who proclaim a wiser faith.
“This is a gray world,” says Howard Moore. “There is enough sorrow in
it, even though we cease to scourge each other--the sorrow of floods,
famines, fires, earthquakes, storms, diseases, and death. We should
trust each other, and love each other, and sympathize with and help each
other, and be patient and forgiving.” Nor is it only the human that
claims our sympathy; for does not Pierre Loti, in his _Book of Pity and
Death_, imagine even his stray Chinese cat, whom he had befriended on
shipboard, addressing him in similar words: “In this autumn day, so sad
to the heart of cats, since we are here together, both isolated beings
... suppose we give, one to the other, a little of that kindness which
softens trouble, which resembles the immaterial and defies death, which
is called affection, and which expresses itself from time to time by a
caress.”

Has not this distracted world had enough, and more than enough, of
jealousies and denunciations? Is it not time that we tried, in their
stead, the effect, say, of a bombardment of blessings? If there are
light-waves, heat-waves, sound-waves, may there not also be love-waves?
How if we sent out a daily succession of these to earth’s uttermost
parts? A benediction is as easily uttered as a curse; and it needs no
priest to pronounce it. At least it is pleasant to think (and men put
faith in creeds that are much less believable) that gentle thoughts, the
“wireless” of the heart, may penetrate and be picked up in regions that
are beyond our ken, and so create a more favourable atmosphere for
gentle deeds. “Why did none of them tell me,” asks Crosby, “that my soul
was a loving-machine?” It is strange, certainly, that we take so much
more pains to kindle the fires of hate than the fires of love.

“Boundless compassion for all living beings,” says Schopenhauer, “is the
surest and most certain guarantee of pure moral conduct, and needs no
casuistry. Whoever is filled with it will assuredly injure no one, do
harm to no one, encroach on no man’s rights; he will rather have regard
for every one, forgive every one, help every one as far as he can, and
all his actions will bear the stamp of justice and loving-kindness.”[48]
Incidentally it may be observed that, as Schopenhauer points out, the
difficulties of what is called the sex question would in large measure
be solved, if this rule of “injure no one” were more fully believed and
acted on.

The lesson of the past six years is this. It is useless to hope that
warfare, which is but one of many savage survivals, can be abolished,
until the mind of man is humanized in other respects also--until _all_
savage survivals are at least seen in their true light. As long as man
kills the lower races for food or sport, he will be ready to kill his
own race for enmity. It is not _this_ bloodshed, or _that_ bloodshed,
that must cease, but _all_ needless bloodshed--all wanton infliction of
pain or death upon our fellow-beings. Only when the great sense of the
universal kinship has been realized among us, will love cast out hatred,
and will it become impossible for the world to witness anew the
senseless horrors that disgrace Europe to-day.

Humanitarians, then, must expect little, but claim much; must know that
they will see no present fruits of their labours, but that their labours
are nevertheless of far-reaching importance. Let those who have been
horrified by the spectacle of an atrocious war resolve to support the
peace movement more strongly than ever; but let them also support the
still wider and deeper humanitarian movement of which pacifism is but a
part, inasmuch as all humane causes, though seemingly separate, are
ultimately and essentially one.



POSTSCRIPT


In the preparation of this book I have used the substance of several
articles that first appeared in the _Humane Review_, _Humanitarian_,
_Literary Guide_, _Rationalist Press Association’s Annual_, _Vegetarian
Messenger_, or elsewhere. Acknowledgment of certain other obligations is
made in the footnotes.



INDEX


Adams, Francis, 83-85

Adams, George, 87

Adams, Maurice, 76, 77

_Adventurer_, the, 28, 29

Anderson, Martin (“Cynicus”), 204

Anderson, Sir Robert, 143, 144

Animals, kinship with man, 13, 14, 128, 130, 131;
  deaths of, 130, 234;
  “dumb,” 129;
  rights of, 125-128, 132

Anthropocentric superstition, 13, 127, 128, 131

Arnold, Matthew, 45, 52, 234

Aveling, Edward, 80, 81, 95


Barlas, John, 85-87;
  quoted, 233

_Beagler Boy_, the, 175, 176

Bell, Ernest, 124, 125, 211

Besant, Sir Walter, 115, 116

Big Game Hunting, 155, 156

“Blooding,” 13, 155

Blood-Sport, 12, 13, 151, 162, 171, 243

Bourchier, J. D., 57, 58

Bradshaw, Henry, 37-39

Browning, Oscar, 58, 59

Browning, Robert, 94

_Brutalitarian_, The, 174

Buchanan, Robert, 113, 202, 203

Buckland, James, 167


“Canonization of the Ogre,” 70, 71

Carpenter, Captain Alfred, R.N., 165, 210

Carpenter, Edward, 45, 61, 73, 75, 76, 87-89, 109, 110, 205, 206, 210

Carpenter, Dr. P. H., 62, 68

Catullus, quoted, 235

Champion, H. H., 61, 79, 86

Chesterton, G. K., 127, 128, 174, 178;
  quoted, 135

Ching Ping, Chinese Mission to Eton, 176

Christmas cruelties, 215

Coit, Dr. Stanton, 70, 71

Colam, John, 149, 161, 162

_Comprendre c’est pardonner_, 241

Conda, Anna, her appeal to the Zoological Society, 165

Cornish, F. Warre, 19, 36

Cory, William, _see_ Johnson

Coulson, Colonel W. L. B., 124, 158, 159

Crane, Walter, 204, 216

Crosby, Ernest, 205, 206, 241, 244, 245


Darrow, Clarence, 206, 207

Day, Rev. Russell, 23, 24

de Quincey, Miss E., 118, 119

De Quincey, Thomas, 118-120;
  quoted, 136

Deuchar, N. Douglas, 211;
  quoted, 100

Dixie, Lady Florence, 159, 160

Dobell, Bertram, 102, 110, 111

Durnford, Rev. F. E., 23


Edwards, J. Passmore, 142, 209

Eton College, 16-35, 50-66

Eton Hare-hunt, 27, 56, 154, 155, 160, 175


Fabian Society, 81, 82

Feather and Fur Trades, 12, 148, 167, 168, 172

Fighting, fallacies about, 223-225, 228, 229

Flagellomania, 145, 146, 166

Flesh-eating, 9, 67-69, 148

Flogging, at Eton, 22, 23;
  in Royal Navy, 138;
  judicial, 135-137, 144-146

Foote, G. W., 94, 95, 98, 102, 208

Foxology, the, pronounced by an Archbishop, 171

Furnivall, Dr. F. J., 93, 94, 96, 97


Game Laws, 156, 157, 202

Garrotting, _not_ suppressed by the lash, 136, 137

George, Henry, 58, 61

Goodford, Dr. C. O., 28, 54

Greenwood, Sir George, 153, 176, 210


“Hag-traps,” 32

Hardy, Thomas, 203, 204;
  quoted, 233

Harrison, Frederic, 128, 129

Hatred, carnival of, 220-222, 227, 230

Hopwood, C. H., 140

Hornby, Dr. J. J., 19, 20, 50, 56, 58-60;
  on Shelley, 92

_Hudibras_, quoted, 13, 137

Hudson, W. H., 116-118, 210;
  quoted, 66

Hughes, Rev. H. Price, 208, 212

_Humane Review_, The, 211

Humanitarian League, established, 121-123;
  closed, 211

Hyndman, H. M., 30, 79, 108 (note)


Inge, Very Rev. W. R., 70 (note), 214, 215

Ingram, John Kells, 111, 112


Japp, A. H., 118

Jefferies, Richard, 115, 116, 130

Johnson (Cory), William, 24, 25, 92;
  quoted, 232

Joynes, Rev. J. L., 105, 106

Joynes, J. L, _jun._, 58

Jupp, W. J., 76


Kennedy, Admiral Sir W., 138

Kennedy, Dr. Benjamin, 43, 44

Kennedy, W. S., 115

Kropotkin, Prince, 183, 184


Latin Verses at Eton, 26, 27

Lester, H. F., 148

Linton, W. J., 111

Loti, Pierre, quoted, 244, 245

Lowell, J. R., 52;
  quoted, 180

Lucretius, quoted, 91, 232

Lyttelton, Dr. Edward, 23 (note), 63, 66, 176


Macaulay, G. C., 20 (note), 28, 29, 42

Macdonald, J. F., his dream, 226

Macdonald, John, 151

Maitland, Edward, 122-124

Marx, Eleanor, 81, 90

Massey, Gerald, 111

Maurice, Rev. F. D., 44, 45, 47

Melville, Herman, 69, 110, 112

Meredith, George, 102, 107-110, 203;
  quoted, 65

Miller, Joaquin, 112

Missionary zeal, at Eton, 55, 176;
  at Cambridge, 48

Monck, W. H. S. (“Lex”), 140, 141

Moore, George, on Humanitarianism, 184

Moore, J. Howard, 130, 132-134, 200;
  quoted, 64 (note), 244

Morris, William, 52, 61, 79, 80

Morrison, Dr. W. D., 140

Moultrie, John, 17, 18

Mountain scenery, desecration of, 185-199

“Murderous Millinery,” 166


Names, importance of, 129, 166, 239, 240

Newman, Francis W., 63, 68, 116, 123, 201

Noel, Hon. Roden, 113


Okes, Dr., Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, 36, 37, 41

Olivier, Sir Sydney, 81, 210
  “Ouida,” 207


Parke, Ernest, 152

Paul, C. Kegan, 18, 68, 92

Paul, Herbert W., 28, 30

Peabody, Philip G., 214

Pig-killing, 78


Reclus, Elisée, 204, 205

Religion, its attitude towards Humaneness, 212-216

Renton, Chief Justice, his error in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, 137

Ricketson, Daniel, 114

Ricketson, Walton, 118

Riley, W. Harrison, 61, 62, 190

Ritchie, D. G., 70, 125, 126

Rossetti, W. M., 83, 95, 96, 99, 102

Ruskin, John, 52, 61, 62, 190, 191;
  on Tennyson, 62


Sanborn, F. B., 114

Savages, in what sense, 8-10

Schopenhauer, quoted, 122, 245

Selous, Edmund, 164

Selous, F. C., on the Eton Hare-hunt, 155

Selwyn, Dr. E. C., 28-30, 43, 154

Selwyn, Dr. G. A., Bishop of Lichfield, 30, 33-35, 185, 186

Sharp, William, 102, 103

Shaw, G. Bernard, 61, 75, 80, 82, 83, 88, 93, 95,
    98, 109, 113, 151, 166, 174, 210

Shelley, Lady, 92, 93

Shelley, P. B., 90-93, 99, 100

Shelley Society, 91, 93-98

Shilleto, R., 39, 43

Shuckburgh, E. S., 57

Simplification of Life, 73, 75-78

Slaughter-house barbarities, 9, 148-150

Smith, Professor Goldwin, 210

Snake-Feeding in Zoological Gardens, 164, 165

Socialism, 61, 73, 79, 80;
  Dr. Warre on, 65

Solomon, on the rod, Butlerized, 137

Spencer, Herbert, 202

Stag-hunting, 152-154, 170

Stephen, Sir Leslie, 70, 91

Stewart, Hon. FitzRoy, 160, 161

“Stiggins,” 25, 26

Stillman, W. J., 209

Stratton, Rev. J., 124, 157, 158

“Swage,” 21

Swinburne, A. C., 102-107

Symonds, J. A., 112, 113


Tait, Professor Lawson, 144, 145

Tallack, William, 142, 143

Telemachus, the Martyr, 213

Thompson, Dr., Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, 41

Thomson, James (“B.V.”), 101-104, 237

Thoreau, H. D., 73, 76, 78, 114, 115, 118, 122;
  quoted, 77

Tolstoy, Count, 79, 204, 205

Tovey, D. C., 57

Trine, R. W., 209, 210


Vaughan, Mgr. J. S., 126

Vegetarianism, at Eton, 62-64, 68

Veresaeff, V., his _Confessions of a Physician_, 147

Vivisection, 12, 127, 146-148


Wallace, Alfred R., 202

Warre, Dr. E., Headmaster of Eton, 59, 60, 65, 97, 154

Watts, G. F., 204

Watts-Dunton, Theodore, 102, 104-106, 108, 129

Welldon, Rt. Rev. J. E. C., 28-30

West, William, his portrait of Shelley, 99, 100

Wilde, Oscar, 86, 181, 182

Williams, Howard, 63, 122, 124, 146


Zoological Gardens, 163, 164;
  piety at the Reptile House, 165

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FOOTNOTES:

 [1] In an article published in _Macmillan’s Magazine_, December 1887,
 I dealt with the subject of Moultrie’s Poems.

 [2] Article on “Eton as it is,” in the _Adventurer_, No. 23, by “E. G.
 R.” (G. C. Macaulay).

 [3] Dr. Lyttelton, when Headmaster of Eton, substituted the cane for
 the birch in the Upper School.

 [4] From the chapter on “The Author of Ionica,” in _Eton under Hornby_.

 [5] See Brinsley Richards’s _Seven Years at Eton_.

 [6] The article, unsigned, appeared in No. 23.

 [7] The _Adventurer_, No. 20.

 [8] See the concluding article, “Valete Etonenses,” No. 29.

 [9] The incident is a good example of the way in which the _real_
 ethics of diet are often overlooked, while stress is laid upon some
 quite minor and subordinate aspect of it.

 [10] I was not aware of these lines having appeared in print,
 until they were quoted by Sir Edward Cook in his _More Literary
 Recreations_, 1919. My version of them is slightly different from his;
 but I think my recollection is trustworthy.

 [11] _My Days and Dreams_, by Edward Carpenter, 1916.

 [12] The two years allowed for vegetarianism have now become forty,
 and all of them years of hard work.

 [13] “Our competitive system of industry is a vestigial institution.
 It is a survival from the militant ages of the past.... It is a system
 of cannibalism. Instead of instilling the feeling of brotherhood,
 it compels us to eat each other.”--_Savage Survivals_, by J. Howard
 Moore, 1916.

 [14] Since the above was written, Dean Inge has added his name to the
 illustrious list. Is it not time, by the way, that some one collected
 the Gloomy Dean’s golden sayings in a volume--under the title of
 _Ingots_, perhaps?

 [15] Article on “The Bringing of Sentient Beings into Existence,” the
 _Ethical World_, May 7, 1898.

 [16] _Pall Mall Gazette_, April 28, 1888.

 [17] _Farnham Herald_, September 16, 1899.

 [18] _Wayfarings_: a Record of Adventure and Liberation in the Life of
 the Spirit, 1918.

 [19] _The Academy_, October 15, 1898.

 [20] The substance of what is here said about Francis Adams is taken
 from my editorial note to the revised edition of the _Songs of the
 Army of the Night_, published by Mr. A. C. Fifield, 1910.

 [21] _De Rerum Naturâ_, iii. 9-13, as translated in _Treasures of
 Lucretius_.

 [22] It is significant that the title of Edward Carpenter’s lines
 to Shelley: “To a Dead Poet,” became, in later editions of _Towards
 Democracy_, “To One who is where the Eternal are.”

 [23] _Sonnet to Shelley_, by N. Douglas Deuchar.

 [24] From a letter on “Swinburne at Eton,” _Times Literary
 Supplement_, December 25, 1919.

 [25] The assertion made in Mr. H. M. Hyndman’s _Records of an
 Adventurous Life_ (1911) that Meredith’s vegetarianism was “almost
 the death of him,” and that he himself “recognized the truth,” viz.
 that flesh food is a necessity for those who work with mind as well
 as body, is directly at variance with what Meredith himself told me
 twenty years nearer the date of the experiment in question.

 [26] Here perhaps I had better say that my own work for the League,
 though mostly private and anonymous, was continuous during the
 twenty-nine years of the League’s existence; so that in describing
 the various aspects of the movement I am writing of what I know. The
 opinions expressed are, of course, only personal, as in the remarks
 about the war (Chap. XV).

 [27] _Daily News_, April 10, 1906.

 [28] _Daily News_, June 6, 1908.

 [29] _The Times_, December 11 and 26, 1902.

 [30]

    Then spare the rod and spoil the child.
      _Hudibras_, Part II, canto 1, 844.


 [31] Mr. J. F. P. Rawlinson, in the House of Commons, November 1, 1912.

 [32] London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.

 [33] _The Confessions of a Physician_, translated by Simeon Linden,
 pp. 158, 159.

 [34] A Member of Parliament who had charge of a Sports Bill once
 begged us not to get the Buckhounds abolished, because, as he said,
 they were the great incentive to vote for the Bill.

 [35] See Dickens’s description, Forster’s _Life of Dickens_, iii. 146.

 [36] Some years later I was enabled, by the courtesy of the owner, to
 visit the top of Kinderscout on a frosty afternoon in December, when
 it had the appearance of a great snow-clad table-land, intersected by
 deep ruts, and punctuated here and there by the black masonry of the
 tors.

 [37] I have here incorporated the substance of a letter on “The
 Preservation of Mountain Scenery” published in _The Times_, April 28,
 1908.

 [38] _North Wales Weekly News_, May 15, 1908.

 [39] _On Cambrian and Cumbrian Hills._

 [40] Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago, 1916; Watts & Co., London, 1918.

 [41] See the address on “War and Sublimation,” given by Dr. L. Jones,
 in the subsection of Psychology, at the meetings of the British
 Association, September 11, 1915. In war, he pointed out, impulses
 were noticed which apparently did not exist in peace, except in
 the criminal classes. Primitive tendencies never disappeared from
 existence; they only vanished from view by being repressed and buried
 in the unconscious mind.

 [42] _Cf._ Mr. Edward Garnett’s _Papa’s War, and Other Satires_,
 George Allen & Unwin, Ld., 1918.

 [43] “We were told that the war was to end war, but it was not: it did
 not and it could not.” So said Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, May 18,
 1920; at which date it was no longer necessary to keep up the illusion.

 [44] If any doubt existed as to the national insensibility caused by
 the war, it must have been dispelled by the comparative indifference
 with which the news of the Amritsar massacre--a more terrible atrocity
 than any for which German commanders were responsible--was received in
 this country.

 [45] _De Rerum Naturâ_, iii, 847-850, as translated in _Treasures of
 Lucretius_.

 [46] _Civilization_, by George Duhamel. Translated by T. P.
 Conwil-Evans.

 [47] I heard a Derbyshire gamekeeper actually quote “Vengeance is
 mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” as if it were an injunction to
 the righteous to follow the example of a vengeful Deity.

 [48] _The Basis of Morality._ Translated by Arthur Brodrick Bullock,
 1903 (George Allen and Unwin, Ltd.).


Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

for how then would be obtain=> for how then would he obtain {pg 184}

the London and North-Western Railway at Llanber i England=> the London
and North-Western Railway at Llanberis England {pg 195}





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