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Title: Mankind in the Making
Author: Wells, H. G. (Herbert George)
Language: English
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Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed


By H. G. Wells


It may save misunderstanding if a word or so be said here of the aim
and scope of this book. It is written in relation to a previous work,
_Anticipations_, [Footnote: Published by Harper Bros.] and together with
that and a small pamphlet, “The Discovery of the Future,” [Footnote:
Nature, vol. lxv. (1901-2), p. 326, and reprinted in the Smithsonian
Report for 1902] presents a general theory of social development and of
social and political conduct. It is an attempt to deal with social and
political questions in a new way and from a new starting-point, viewing
the whole social and political world as aspects of one universal
evolving scheme, and placing all social and political activities in a
defined relation to that; and to this general method and trend it is
that the attention of the reader is especially directed. The two
books and the pamphlet together are to be regarded as an essay in
presentation. It is a work that the writer admits he has undertaken
primarily for his own mental comfort. He is remarkably not qualified to
assume an authoritative tone in these matters, and he is acutely aware
of the many defects in detailed knowledge, in temper, and in training
these papers collectively display. He is aware that at such points,
for example, as the reference to authorities in the chapter on the
biological problem, and to books in the educational chapter, the lacunar
quality of his reading and knowledge is only too evident; to fill in
and complete his design--notably in the fourth paper--he has had quite
frankly to jerry-build here and there. Nevertheless, he ventures to
publish this book. There are phases in the development of every science
when an incautious outsider may think himself almost necessary, when
sketchiness ceases to be a sin, when the mere facts of irresponsibility
and an untrained interest may permit a freshness, a freedom of mental
gesture that would be inconvenient and compromising for the specialist;
and such a phase, it is submitted, has been reached in this field of
speculation. Moreover, the work attempted is not so much special
and technical as a work of reconciliation, the suggestion of broad
generalizations upon which divergent specialists may meet, a business
for non-technical expression, and in which a man who knows a little of
biology, a little of physical science, and a little in a practical way
of social stratification, who has concerned himself with education and
aspired to creative art, may claim in his very amateurishness a special
qualification. And in addition, it is particularly a business for some
irresponsible writer, outside the complications of practical politics,
some man who, politically, “doesn’t matter,” to provide the first
tentatives of a political doctrine that shall be equally available for
application in the British Empire and in the United States. To that we
must come, unless our talk of co-operation, of reunion, is no more than
sentimental dreaming. We have to get into line, and that we cannot do
while over here and over there men hold themselves bound by old party
formulae, by loyalties and institutions, that are becoming, that
have become, provincial in proportion to our new and wider needs.
My instances are commonly British, but all the broad project of this
book--the discussion of the quality of the average birth and of
the average home, the educational scheme, the suggestions for the
organization of literature and a common language, the criticism of
polling and the jury system, and the ideal of a Republic with an
apparatus of honour--is, I submit, addressed to, and could be adopted
by, any English-reading and English-speaking man. No doubt the spirit
of the inquiry is more British than American, that the abandonment of
Rousseau and anarchic democracy is more complete than American thought
is yet prepared for, but that is a difference not of quality but of
degree. And even the appendix, which at a hasty glance may seem to be
no more than the discussion of British parochial boundaries, does indeed
develop principles of primary importance in the fundamental schism of
American politics between the local State government and the central
power. So much of apology and explanation I owe to the reader, to the
contemporary specialist, and to myself.

These papers were first published in the British _Fortnightly Review_
and in the American _Cosmopolitan_. In the latter periodical they were,
for the most part, printed from uncorrected proofs set up from an
early version. This periodical publication produced a considerable
correspondence, which has been of very great service in the final
revision. These papers have indeed been honoured by letters from men
and women of almost every profession, and by a really very considerable
amount of genuine criticism in the British press. Nothing, I think,
could witness more effectually to the demand for such discussions
of general principle, to the need felt for some nuclear matter to
crystallize upon at the present time, however poor its quality, than
this fact. Here I can only thank the writers collectively, and call
their attention to the more practical gratitude of my frequently
modified text.

I would, however, like to express my especial indebtedness to my
friend, Mr. Graham Wallas, who generously toiled through the whole of
my typewritten copy, and gave me much valuable advice, and to Mr. C. G.
Stuart Menteath for some valuable references.


SANDGATE, _July_, 1903.









Toleration to-day is becoming a different thing from the toleration
of former times. The toleration of the past consisted very largely in
saying, “You are utterly wrong and totally accurst, there is no truth
but my truth and that you deny, but it is not my place to destroy you
and so I let you go.” Nowadays there is a real disposition to accept the
qualified nature of one’s private certainties. One may have arrived at
very definite views, one may have come to beliefs quite binding upon
one’s self, without supposing them to be imperative upon other people.
To write “I believe” is not only less presumptuous and aggressive in
such matters than to write “it is true,” but it is also nearer the
reality of the case. One knows what seems true to one’s self, but we are
coming to realize that the world is great and complex, beyond the utmost
power of such minds as ours. Every day of life drives that conviction
further home. And it is possible to maintain that in perhaps quite a
great number of ethical, social, and political questions there is no
absolute “truth” at all--at least for finite beings. To one intellectual
temperament things may have a moral tint and aspect, differing widely
from that they present to another; and yet each may be in its own way
right. The wide differences in character and quality between one human
being and another may quite conceivably involve not only differences in
moral obligation, but differences in fundamental moral aspect--we may
act and react upon each other towards a universal end, but without any
universally applicable rule of conduct whatever. In some greater vision
than mine, my right and wrong may be no more than hammer and anvil in
the accomplishment of a design larger than I can understand. So that
these papers are not written primarily for all, nor with the same
intention towards all who read them. They are designed first for those
who are predisposed for their reception. Then they are intended to
display in an orderly manner a point of view, and how things look from
that point of view, to those who are not so predisposed. These latter
will either develop into adherents as they read, or, what is more
likely, they will exchange a vague disorderly objection for a clearly
defined and understood difference. To arrive at such an understanding is
often for practical purposes as good as unanimity; for in narrowing down
the issue to some central point or principle, we develop just how far
those who are divergent may go together before separation or conflict
become inevitable, and save something of our time and of our lives from
those misunderstandings, and those secondary differences of no practical
importance whatever, which make such disastrous waste of human energy.

Now the point of view which will be displayed in relation to a number of
wide questions in these pages is primarily that of the writer’s. But he
hopes and believes that among those who read what he has to say, there
will be found not only many to understand, but some to agree with him.
In many ways he is inclined to believe the development of his views may
be typical of the sort of development that has gone on to a greater or
lesser extent in the minds of many of the younger men during the last
twenty years, and it is in that belief that he is now presenting them.

And the questions that will be dealt with in relation to this point of
view are all those questions outside a man’s purely private self--if he
have a purely private self--in which he interacts with his fellow-man.
Our attempt will be to put in order, to reduce to principle, what is at
present in countless instances a mass of inconsistent proceedings, to
frame a general theory in accordance with modern conditions of social
and political activity.

This is one man’s proposal, his attempt to supply a need that has
oppressed him for many years, a need that he has not only found in
his own schemes of conduct, but that he has observed in the thought
of numberless people about him, rendering their action fragmentary,
wasteful in the gross, and ineffective in the net result, the need for
some general principle, some leading idea, some standard, sufficiently
comprehensive to be of real guiding value in social and political
matters, in many doubtful issues of private conduct, and throughout the
business of dealing with one’s fellow-men. No doubt there are many
who do not feel such a need at all, and with these we may part company
forthwith; there are, for example, those who profess the artistic
temperament and follow the impulse of the moment, and those who consult
an inner light in some entirely mystical manner. But neither of these I
believe is the most abundant type in the English-speaking communities.
My impression is that with most of the minds I have been able to examine
with any thoroughness, the attempt to systematize one’s private and
public conduct alike, and to reduce it to spacious general rules, to
attempt, if not to succeed, in making it coherent, consistent, and
uniformly directed, is an almost instinctive proceeding.

There is an objection I may anticipate at this point. If I am to leave
this statement unqualified, it would certainly be objected that such
a need is no more nor less than the need of religion, that a properly
formulated religion does supply a trustworthy guide at every fork and
labyrinth in life. By my allusion to the failure of old formulae
and methods to satisfy now, I am afraid many people will choose to
understand that I refer to what is often spoken of as the conflict of
religion and science, and that I intend to propound some contribution
to the conflict. I will at any rate anticipate that objection here, in
order to mark out my boundaries with greater precision.

Taken in its completeness, I submit that it is a greater claim than
almost any religion can justifiably make, to satisfy the need I have
stated. No religion prescribes rules that can be immediately applied
to every eventuality. Between the general rules laid down and the
particular instance there is always a wide gap, into which doubts and
alternatives enter and the private judgment has play. No doubt upon
certain defined issues of every-day life some religions are absolutely
explicit; the Mahomedan religion, for example, is very uncompromising
upon the use of wine, and the law of the Ten Commandments completely
prohibits the making of graven images, and almost all the great variety
of creeds professed among us English-speaking peoples prescribe certain
general definitions of what is righteous and what constitutes sin. But
upon a thousand questions of great public importance, on the question
of forms of government, of social and educational necessities, of one’s
course and attitude towards such great facts as the press, trusts,
housing, and the like, religion, as it is generally understood, gives by
itself no conclusive light. It may, no doubt, give a directing light in
some cases, but not a conclusive light. It leaves us inconsistent and
uncertain amidst these unavoidable problems. Yet upon these questions
most people feel that something more is needed than the mood of the
moment or the spin of a coin. Religious conviction may help us, it
may stimulate us to press for clearer light upon these matters, but it
certainly does not give us any decisions.

It is possible to be either intensely religious or utterly indifferent
to religious matters and yet care nothing for these things. One may be a
Pietist to whom the world is a fleeting show of no importance whatever,
or one may say, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die”:
the net result in regard to my need is the same. These questions appear
to be on a different plane from religion and religious discussion; they
look outward, while essentially religion looks inward to the soul, and,
given the necessary temperament, it is possible to approach them in an
unbiassed manner from almost any starting-point of religious profession.
One man may believe in the immortality of the soul and another may not;
one man may be a Swedenborgian, another a Roman Catholic, another a
Calvinistic Methodist, another an English High Churchman, another a
Positivist, or a Parsee, or a Jew; the fact remains that they must go
about doing all sorts of things in common every day. They may derive
their ultimate motives and sanctions from the most various sources, they
may worship in the most contrasted temples and yet meet unanimously in
the market-place with a desire to shape their general activities to the
form of a “public spirited” life, and when at last the life of every day
is summed up, “to leave the world better than they found it.” And it is
from that most excellent expression I would start, or rather from a sort
of amplified restatement of that expression--outside the province of
religious discussion altogether.

A man who will build on that expression _as his foundation_ in political
and social matters, has at least the possibility of agreement in the
scheme of action these papers will unfold. For though we theorize it is
at action that our speculations will aim. They will take the shape of an
organized political and social doctrine. It will be convenient to give
this doctrine a name, and for reasons that will be clear enough to those
who have read my book _Anticipations_ this doctrine will be spoken of
throughout as “New Republicanism,” the doctrine of the New Republic.

The central conception of this New Republicanism as it has shaped itself
in my mind, lies in attaching pre-eminent importance to certain aspects
of human life, and in subordinating systematically and always, all
other considerations to these cardinal aspects. It begins with a way
of looking at life. It insists upon that way, it will regard no human
concern at all except in that way. And the way, putting the thing as
compactly as possible, is to reject and set aside all abstract, refined,
and intellectualized ideas as starting propositions, such ideas as
Right, Liberty, Happiness, Duty or Beauty, and to hold fast to the
assertion of the fundamental nature of life as a tissue and succession
of births. These other things may be important, they may be profoundly
important, but they are not primary. We cannot build upon any one of
them and get a structure that will comprehend all the aspects of life.

For the great majority of mankind at least it can be held that life
resolves itself quite simply and obviously into three cardinal phases.
There is a period of youth and preparation, a great insurgence of
emotion and enterprise centering about the passion of Love, and a third
period in which, arising amidst the warmth and stir of the second,
interweaving indeed with the second, the care and love of offspring
becomes the central interest in life. In the babble of the
grandchildren, with all the sons and daughters grown and secure, the
typical life of humanity ebbs and ends. Looked at thus with a primary
regard to its broadest aspect, life is seen as essentially a matter of
reproduction; first a growth and training to that end, then commonly
mating and actual physical reproduction, and finally the consummation of
these things in parental nurture and education. Love, Home and Children,
these are the heart-words of life. Not only is the general outline of
the normal healthy human life reproductive, but a vast proportion of the
infinitely complex and interwoven interests that fill that outline with
incessant interest can be shown by a careful analysis to be more or less
directly reproductive also. The toil of a man’s daily work is rarely
for himself alone, it goes to feed, to clothe, to educate those cardinal
consequences of his being, his children; he builds for them, he plants
for them, he plans for them, his social intercourse, his political
interests, whatever his immediate motives, tend finally to secure their
welfare. Even more obviously is this the case with his wife. Even in
rest and recreation life still manifests its quality; the books the
ordinary man reads turn enormously on love-making, his theatre has
scarcely ever a play that has not primarily a strong love interest, his
art rises to its most consummate triumphs in Venus and Madonna, and his
music is saturated in love suggestions. Not only is this so with the
right and proper life, but the greater portion of those acts we call
vice draw their stimulus and pleasure from the impulses that subserve
this sustaining fact of our being, and they are vicious only because
they evade or spoil their proper end. This is really no new discovery at
all, only the stripping bare of it is new. In nearly every religious and
moral system in the world indeed, the predominant mass of the exposition
of sin and saving virtue positively or negatively centres upon birth.
Positively in the enormous stresses, the sacramental values which are
concentrated upon marriage and the initial circumstances of being, and
negatively in a thousand significant repudiations. Even when the devotee
most strenuously renounces this world and all its works, when St.
Anthony flees into the desert or the pious Durtal wrestles in his cell,
when the pale nun prays in vigil and the hermit mounts his pillar, it
is Celibacy, that great denial of life, that sings through all their
struggle, it is this business of births as the central fact of life they
still have most in mind.

This is not human life merely, it is all life. This living world, as
the New Republican will see it, is no more than a great birth-place,
an incessant renewal, an undying fresh beginning and unfolding of
life. Take away this fact of birth and what is there remaining? A world
without flowers, without the singing of birds, without the freshness of
youth, with a spring that brings no seedlings and a year that bears no
harvest, without beginnings and without defeats, a vast stagnation, a
universe of inconsequent matter--Death. Not only does the substance of
life vanish if we eliminate births and all that is related to births,
but whatever remains, if anything remains, of aesthetic and intellectual
and spiritual experience, collapses utterly and falls apart, when this
essential substratum of all experience is withdrawn. So at any rate the
world presents itself in the view the New Republican takes. And if it
should chance that the reader finds this ring untrue to him, then he may
take it that he stands outside us, that the New Republic is not for him.

It may be submitted that this statement that Life is a texture of
births may be accepted by minds of the most divergent religious and
philosophical profession. No fundamental or recondite admissions are
proposed here, but only that the every-day life for every-day purposes
has this shape and nature. The utter materialist may say that life
to him is a fortuitous concurrence of atoms, a chance kinking in the
universal fabric of matter. It is not our present business to confute
him. The fact remains this is the form the kinking has taken. The
believer, sedulous for his soul’s welfare, may say that Life is to
him an arena of spiritual conflict, but this is the character of the
conflict, this is the business from which all the tests and exercises of
his soul are drawn. It matters not in this present discussion if Life is
no more than a dream; the dream is this.

And now one comes to another step. The reader may give his assent
to this statement as obvious or he may guard his assent with a
qualification or so, but I doubt if he will deny it. No one, I expect,
will categorically deny it. But although no one will do that, a great
number of people who have not clearly seen things in this light, do in
thought and in many details of their practice follow a line that is,
in effect, a flat denial of what is here proposed. Life no doubt is
a fabric woven of births and the struggle to maintain and develop and
multiply lives. It does not follow that life is _consciously_ a fabric
woven of births and the struggle to maintain and develop and multiply
lives. I do not suppose a cat or a savage sees it in that light. A cat’s
standpoint is probably strictly individualistic. She sees the whole
universe as a scheme of more or less useful, pleasurable and interesting
things concentrated upon her sensitive and interesting personality. With
a sinuous determination she evades disagreeables and pursues delights;
life is to her quite clearly and simply a succession of pleasures,
sensations and interests, among which interests there happen to

And this way of regarding life is by no means confined to animals and
savages. I would even go so far as to suggest that it is only within
the last hundred years that any considerable number of thoughtful people
have come to look at life steadily and consistently as being shaped to
this form, to the form of a series of births, growths and births. The
most general truths are those last apprehended. The universal fact
of gravitation, for example, which pervades all being, received its
complete recognition scarcely two hundred years ago. And again children
and savages live in air, breathe air, are saturated with air, die for
five minutes’ need of it, and never definitely realize there is such a
thing as air at all. The vast mass of human expression in act and art
and literature takes a narrower view than we have here formulated; it
presents each man not only as isolated from and antagonized with the
world about him, but as cut off sharply and definitely from the past
before he lived and the future after he is dead; it puts what is, in
relation to the view we have taken, a disproportionate amount of stress
upon his egotism, upon the pursuit of his self-interest and his personal
virtue and his personal fancies, and it ignores the fact, the familiar
rediscovery which the nineteenth century has achieved, that he is
after all only the transitory custodian of an undying gift of life, an
inheritor under conditions, the momentary voice and interpreter of a
being that springs from the dawn of time and lives in offspring and
thought and material consequence, for ever.

This over-accentuation in the past of man’s egoistic individuality, or,
if one puts it in another way, this unsuspicious ignorance of the
real nature of life, becomes glaringly conspicuous in such weighed
and deliberate utterances as _The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius_.
Throughout these frank and fundamental discourses one traces a
predominant desire for a perfected inconsequent egotism. Body is
repudiated as a garment, position is an accident, the past that made us
exists not since it is past, the future exists not for we shall never
see it; at last nothing but the abstracted ego remains,--a sort of
complimentary Nirvana. One citation will serve to show the colour of all
his thought. “A man,” he remarks, “is very devout to prevent the loss
of his son. But I would have you pray rather against the fear of
losing him. Let this be the rule for your devotions.” [Footnote: _The
Meditations of M. A. Antoninus_, ix. 40.] That indeed is the rule
for all the devotions of that departing generation of wisdom. Rather
serenity and dignity than good ensuing. Rather a virtuous man than any
resultant whatever from his lifetime, for the future of the world. It
points this disregard of the sequence of life and birth in favour of an
abstract and fruitless virtue, it points it indeed with a barbed point
that the son of Marcus Aurelius was the unspeakable Commodus, and that
the Roman Empire fell from the temporizing detachment of his rule into a
century of disorder and misery.

To the thoughtful reader to whom these papers appeal, to the reader
whose mind is of the modern cast, who has surveyed the vistas of the
geological record and grasped the secular unfolding of the scheme of
life, who has found with microscope and scalpel that the same rhythm of
birth and re-birth is woven into the minutest texture of things that has
covered the earth with verdure and shaped the massifs of the Alps, to
such a man the whole literature the world produced until the nineteenth
century had well progressed, must needs be lacking in any definite and
pervading sense of the cardinal importance in the world of this central
reproductive aspect, of births and of the training and preparation for
future births. All that literature, great and imposing as we are bound
to admit it is, has an outlook less ample than quite common men may
have to-day. It is a literature, as we see it in the newer view, of
abstracted personalities and of disconnected passions and impressions.

To one extraordinary and powerful mind in the earlier half of the
nineteenth century this realization of the true form of life came with
quite overwhelming force, and that was to Schopenhauer, surely at once
the most acute and the most biassed of mortal men. It came to him as
a most detestable fact, because it happened he was an intensely
egotistical man. But his intellect was of that noble and exceptional
sort that aversion may tint indeed but cannot blind, and we owe to him a
series of philosophical writings, written with an instinctive skill
and a clearness and a vigour uncommon in philosophers, in which a very
complete statement of the new view is presented to the reader in terms
of passionate protest. [Footnote: _Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung._]
“Why,” he asked, “must we be for ever tortured by this passion and
desire to reproduce our kind, why are all our pursuits tainted with this
application, all our needs deferred to the needs of the new generation
that tramples on our heels?” and he found the answer in the presence of
an overwhelming Will to Live manifesting itself throughout the universe
of Matter, thrusting us ruthlessly before it, as a strong swimmer
thrusts a wave before him as he swims. That the personal egotism should
be subordinated to and overwhelmed by a pervading Will to Live filled
his soul with passionate rebellion and coloured his exposition with the
hues of despair. But to minds temperamentally different from his, minds
whose egotism is qualified by a more unselfish humour, it is possible to
avail one’s self of Schopenhauer’s vision, without submitting one’s self
to his conclusions, to see our wills only as temporary manifestations
of an ampler will, our lives as passing phases of a greater Life, and
to accept these facts even joyfully, to take our places in that larger
scheme with a sense of relief and discovery, to go with that larger
being, to serve that larger being, as a soldier marches, a mere unit
in the larger being of his army, and serving his army, joyfully into

However, it is not to Schopenhauer and his writings, at least among the
English-speaking peoples, that this increasing realization of life as
essentially a succession of births, is chiefly ascribed. It is mainly,
as I have already suggested, the result of that great expansion of our
sense of time and causation that has ensued from the idea of organic
Evolution. In the course of one brief century, the human outlook upon
the order of the world has been profoundly changed. It is not simply
that it has become much more spacious, it is not only that it has opened
out from the little history of a few thousand years to a stupendous
vista of ages, but, in addition to its expanded dimensions, it has
experienced a change in character. That wonderful and continually more
elaborate and penetrating analysis of the evolutionary process by
Darwin and his followers and successors and antagonists, the entire
subordination of the individual lot to the specific destiny that these
criticisms and researches have emphasized, has warped and altered the
aspect of a thousand human affairs. It has made reasonable and in order
what Schopenhauer found so suggestively perplexing, it has dispelled
problems that have seemed insoluble mysteries to many generations of
men. I do not say it has solved them, but it has dispelled them and made
them irrelevant and uninteresting. So long as one believed that life
span unprogressively from generation to generation, that generation
followed generation unchangingly for ever, the enormous preponderance
of sexual needs and emotions in life was a distressing and inexplicable
fact--it was a mystery, it was sin, it was the work of the devil. One
asked, why does man build houses that others may live therein; plant
trees whose fruit he will never see? And all the toil and ambition,
the stress and hope of existence, seemed, so far as this life went,
and before these new lights came, a mere sacrifice to this pointless
reiteration of lives, this cosmic _crambe repetita_. To perceive this
aspect, and to profess an entire detachment from the whole vacuous
business was considered by a large proportion of the more thoughtful
people of the world the supreme achievement of philosophy. The acme
of old-world wisdom, the ultimate mystery of Oriental philosophy is to
contemn women and offspring, to abandon costume, cleanliness, and all
the decencies and dignities of life, and to crawl, as scornfully as
possible, but at any rate to crawl out of all these earthly shows and
snares (which so obviously lead to nothing), into the nearest tub.

And the amazing revelation of our days is that they do not lead to
nothing! Directly the discovery is made clear--and it is, I firmly
believe, the crowning glory of the nineteenth century to have
established this discovery for all time--that one generation does not
follow another in _fac simile_, directly we come within sight of
the reasonable persuasion that each generation is a step, a definite
measurable step, and each birth an unprecedented experiment, directly it
grows clear that instead of being in an eddy merely, we are for all our
eddying moving forward upon a wide voluminous current, then all these
things are changed.

That change alters the perspective of every human affair. Things that
seemed permanent and final, become unsettled and provisional. Social
and political effort are seen from a new view-point. Everywhere the old
direction posts, the old guiding marks, have got out of line and askew.
And it is out of the conflict of the new view with the old institutions
and formulae, that there arises the discontent and the need, and the
attempt at a wider answer, which this phrase and suggestion of the “New
Republic” is intended to express.

Every part contributes to the nature of the whole, and if the whole of
life is an evolving succession of births, then not only must a man in
his individual capacity (_physically_ as parent, doctor, food dealer,
food carrier, home builder, protector, or _mentally_ as teacher, news
dealer, author, preacher) contribute to births and growths and the
future of mankind, but the collective aspects of man, his social and
political organizations must also be, in the essence, organizations that
more or less profitably and more or less intentionally, set themselves
towards this end. They are finally concerned with the birth and with the
sound development towards still better births, of human lives, just as
every implement in the toolshed of a seedsman’s nursery, even the hoe
and the roller, is concerned finally with the seeding and with the sound
development towards still better seeding of plants. The private and
personal motive of the seedsman in procuring and using these tools
may be avarice, ambition, a religious belief in the saving efficacy of
nursery keeping or a simple passion for bettering flowers, that does not
affect the definite final purpose of his outfit of tools.

And just as we might judge completely and criticise and improve that
outfit from an attentive study of the welfare of plants and with an
entire disregard of his remoter motives, so we may judge all collective
human enterprises from the standpoint of an attentive study of human
births and development. _Any collective human enterprise, institution,
movement, party or state, is to be judged as a whole and completely, as
it conduces more or less to wholesome and hopeful births, and according
to the qualitative and quantitative advance due to its influence made
by each generation of citizens born under its influence towards a higher
and ampler standard of life_.

Or putting the thing in a slightly different phrasing, the New
Republican idea amounts to this: the serious aspect of our private
lives, the general aspect of all our social and co-operative
undertakings, is to prepare as well as we possibly can a succeeding
generation, which shall prepare still more capably for still better
generations to follow. We are passing as a race out of a state of
affairs when the unconscious building of the future was attained by
individualistic self-seeking (altogether unenlightened or enlightened
only by the indirect moralizing influence of the patriotic instinct and
religion) into a clear consciousness of our co-operative share in that
process. That is the essential idea my New Republic would personify and
embody. In the past man was made, generation after generation, by forces
beyond his knowledge and control. Now a certain number of men are coming
to a provisional understanding of some at least of these forces that go
to the Making of Man. To some of us there is being given the privilege
and responsibility of knowledge. We may plead lack of will or lack of
moral impetus, but we can no longer plead ignorance. Just as far as our
light upon the general purpose goes, just so far goes our responsibility
(whether we respect it or not) to shape and subdue our wills to the
Making of Mankind.

Directly the man, who has found akin to himself and who has accepted and
assimilated this new view, turns to the affairs of the political
world, to the general professions of our great social and business
undertakings, and to the broad conventions of human conduct, he will
find, I think, a very wide discrepancy from the implications of this
view. He will find--the New Republican finds--that the declared aims and
principles of the larger amount of our social and political effort are
astonishingly limited and unsatisfactory, astonishingly irrelevant to
the broad reality of Life. He will find great masses of men embarked
collectively upon enterprises that will seem to his eyes to have no
definable relation to this real business of the world, or only the
most accidental relationship, he will find others in partial lop-sided
cooperation or unintelligently half helpful and half obstructive, and he
will find still other movements and developments which set quite in
the opposite direction, which make neither for sound births nor sound
growth, but through the thinnest shams of excuse and purpose, through
the most hypnotic and unreal of suggestions and motives, directly and
even plainly towards waste, towards sterility, towards futility and
death and extinction.

But not deliberately towards Death. It is only in the theoretical
aspirations of Schopenhauer that he will find an expression of conscious
and resolved opposition to the pervading will and purpose in things.
In the common affairs of the world he will find neither deliberate
opposition nor deliberate co-operation, chance opposition indeed
and chance co-operation, but for the most part only a complete
unconsciousness, a blind irrelevance or a purely accidental accordance
to the essential aspect of Life.

Take, for example, the great enthusiasm that set all England waving
bunting in June, 1902. It was made clear to the most unwilling observer
that the great mass of English people consider themselves aggregated
together in one nation mainly to support, honour, and obey a King, and
that they rejoice in this conception of their national purpose. Great
sums of money were spent to emphasize this purpose, public work of all
sorts was dislocated, and the channels of public discussion clogged and
choked. A discussion of the education of the next generation, a matter
of supreme interest from the New Republican point of view, passed from
public sight amidst the happy tumults and splendours of the time. The
land was filled with poetry in the Monarch’s praise, bad beyond any
suspicion of insincerity. All that was certainly great in the land,
all that has any hold upon the motives and confidence of the English,
gathered itself into a respectful proximity, assumed attitudes of
reverent subordination to the Monarch. All that was eminent in science
and literature and art, the galaxy of the episcopate, the crowning
intellectualities of the army, came to these rites, clad in robes and
raiment that no sane person would ever voluntarily assume in public
except under circumstances of extreme necessity. The whole business was
conducted with a zest and gravity that absolutely forbids the theory
that it was a mere formality, a curious survival of mediævalism
cherished by a country that makes no breaks with its past. The spirit
and idea of the whole thing was intensely real and contemporary; one
could believe only that those who took part in it regarded it as a
matter of primary importance, as one of the cardinal things for which
they existed. The alternative is to imagine that they believe nothing
to be of primary importance in this world; a quite incredible levity of
soul to ascribe to all those great and distinguished people.

But it reflects not at all upon the high intelligence, the unobtrusive
but sterling moral qualities, the tact, dignity, and personal charm
of the central figure in their pageantries, a charm the pathetic
circumstances of his unseasonable illness very greatly enhanced, if
the New Republican fails to consider these ceremonials of primary
importance, if he declines to see them as of any necessary importance at
all, until it has been conclusively shown that they do minister to
the bettering of births and of the lives intervening between birth and
birth. On the surface they do not do that. Unless they can be shown to
do that they are dissipations of energy, they are irrelevant and wrong,
from the New Republican point of view. The New Republican can take no
part in these things, or only a very grudging and qualified part, on his
way to real service. He may or he may not, after deliberate examination,
leave these things on one side, unchallenged but ignored.

It may be urged that all the subserviences that distinguish our kingdom
and that become so amazingly conspicuous about a coronation, the kissing
of hands, the shambling upon knees, the crawling of body and mind, the
systematic encouragement of that undignified noisiness that nowadays
distinguishes the popular rejoicings of our imperial people, are simply
a proof of the earnest preoccupation of our judges, bishops, and leaders
and great officers of all sorts with remoter and nobler aims. The
kingdom happens to exist, and it would be complex and troublesome to get
rid of it. They stand these things, they get done with these things, and
so are able to get to their work. The paraphernalia of a Court, the sham
scale of honours, the submissions, the ceremonial subjection, are, it is
argued, entirely irrelevant to the purpose and honour of our race, but
then so would rebellion against these things be also irrelevant and
secondary. To submit or to rebel is a diversion of our energies from the
real purpose in things, and of the two it is infinitely less bother to
submit. In private conversation, I find, this is the line nine out of
ten of the King’s servants will take. They will tell you the public
understands; the thing is a mere excuse for festivity and colour; their
loyalty is of a piece with their Fifth of November anti-popery.
They will tell you the peers understand, the bishops understand,
the coronating archbishop has his tongue in his cheek. They all
understand--men of the world together. The King understands, a most
admirable gentleman, who submits to these traditional things, but who
admits his preference is for the simple, pure delight of the incognito,
for being “plain Mr. Jones.”

It may be so. Though the psychologist will tell you that a man who
behaves consistently as though he believed in a thing, will end in
believing it. Assuredly whatever these others do, the New Republican
must understand. In his inmost soul there must be no loyalty or
submission to any king or colour, save only if it conduces to the
service of the future of the race. In the New Republic all kings are
provisional, if, indeed--and this I shall discuss in a later paper--they
can be regarded as serviceable at all.

And just as kingship is a secondary and debatable thing to the New
Republican, to every man, that is, whom the spirit of the new knowledge
has taken for its work, so also are the loyalties of nationality, and
all our local and party adhesions.

Much that passes for patriotism is no more than a generalized jealousy
rather gorgeously clad. Amidst the collapse of the old Individualistic
Humanitarianism, the Rights of Man, Human Equality, and the rest of
those broad generalizations that served to keep together so many men of
good intention in the age that has come to its end, there has been much
hasty running to obvious shelters, and many men have been forced to take
refuge under this echoing patriotism--for want of a better gathering
place. It is like an incident during an earthquake, when men who have
abandoned a cleft fortress will shelter in a drinking bothy. But the
very upheavals that have shattered the old fastnesses of altruistic
men, will be found presently to be taking the shape of a new gathering
place--and of this the New Republic presents an early guess and
anticipation. I do not see how men, save in the most unexpected
emergency, can be content to accept such an artificial convention as
modern patriotism for one moment. On the one hand there are the patriots
of nationality who would have us believe that the miscellany of European
squatters in the Transvaal are one nation and those in Cape Colony
another, and on the other the patriots of Empire who would have me, for
example, hail as my fellow-subjects and collaborators in man-making a
host of Tamil-speaking, Tamil-thinking Dravadians, while separating me
from every English-speaking, English-thinking person who lives south of
the Great Lakes. So long as men are content to work in the grooves set
for them by dead men, to derive all their significances from the past,
to accept whatever is as right and to drive along before the compulsions
of these acquiescences, they may do so. But directly they take to
themselves the New Republican idea, directly they realize that life is
something more than passing the time, that it is constructive with its
direction in the future, then these things slip from them as Christian’s
burthen fell from him at the very outset of his journey. Until grave
cause has been shown to the contrary, there is every reason why all men
who speak the same language, think the same literature, and are akin
in blood and spirit, and who have arrived at the great constructive
conception that so many minds nowadays are reaching, should entirely
disregard these old separations. If the old traditions do no harm
there is no reason to touch them, any more than there is to abolish the
boundary between this ancient and invincible kingdom of Kent in which I
write and that extremely inferior country, England, which was conquered
by the Normans and brought under the feudal system. But so soon as these
old traditions obstruct sound action, so soon as it is necessary to
be rid of them, we must be prepared to sacrifice our archaeological
emotions ruthlessly and entirely.

And these repudiations extend also to the political parties that
struggle to realize themselves within the forms of our established
state. There is not in Great Britain, and I understand there is not in
America, any party, any section, any group, any single politician even,
based upon the manifest trend and purpose of life as it appears in the
modern view. The necessities of continuity in public activity and of a
glaring consistency in public profession, have so far prevented any such
fundamental reconstruction as the new generation requires. One hears of
Liberty, of Compromise, of Imperial Destinies and Imperial Unity,
one hears of undying loyalty to the Memory of Mr. Gladstone and the
inalienable right of Ireland to a separate national existence. One
hears, too, of the sacred principle of Free Trade, of Empires and
Zollvereins, and the Rights of the Parent to blockade the education of
his children, but one hears nothing of the greater end. At the best
all the objects of our political activity can be but means to that end,
their only claim to our recognition can be their adequacy to that
end, and none of these vociferated “cries,” these party labels, these
programme items, are ever propounded to us in that way. I cannot see
how, in England at any rate, a serious and perfectly honest man, holding
as true that ampler view of life I have suggested, can attach himself
loyally to any existing party or faction. At the utmost he may find
their faction-fighting may be turned for a time towards his remoter
ends. These parties derive from that past when the new view of life had
yet to establish itself, they carry faded and obliterated banners that
the glare and dust of conflict, the vote-storms of great campaigns, have
robbed long since of any colour of reality they once possessed. They
express no creative purpose now, whatever they did in their inception,
they point towards no constructive ideals. Essentially they are things
for the museum or the bonfire, whatever momentary expediency may
hold back the New Republican from an unqualified advocacy of such a
destination. The old party fabrics are no more than dead rotting things,
upon which a great tangle of personal jealousies, old grudges, thorny
nicknames, prickly memories, family curses, Judas betrayals and sacred
pledges, a horrible rubbish thicket, maintains a saprophytic vitality.

It is quite possible I misjudge the thing altogether. Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, for example, may hide the profoundest and
most wide-reaching aims beneath his superficial effect of utter
superficiality. His impersonation of an amiable, spirited,
self-conscious, land-owning gentleman with a passion for justice in
remote places and a whimsical dislike of motor cars in his immediate
neighbourhood, may veil the operations of a stupendous intelligence bent
upon the regeneration of the world. It may do, but if it does, it is a
very amazing and purposeless impersonation. I at any rate do not believe
that it does. I do not believe that he or any other Liberal leader or
any Conservative minister has any comprehensive aim at all--as we of the
new generation measure comprehensiveness. These parties, and the phrases
of party exposition--in America just as in England--date from the
days of the limited outlook. They display no consciousness of the new
dissent. They are absorbed in the long standing game, the getting in,
the turning out, the contests and governments, that has just about the
same relation to the new perception of affairs, to the real drift of
life, as the game of cricket with the wheel as a wicket would have to
the destinies of a ship. They find their game highly interesting and
no doubt they play it with remarkable wit, skill and spirit, but
they entirely disregard the increasing number of passengers who are
concerning themselves with the course and destination of the ship.

Those particular passengers in the figure, present the New Republic. It
is a dissension, an inquiry, it is the vague unconsolidated matter for a
new direction. “We who are young,” says the spirit of the New Republic,
“we who are in earnest can no more compass our lives under these
old kingships and loyalties, under these old leaders and these old
traditions, constitutions and pledges, with their party liabilities,
their national superstitions, their rotting banners and their
accumulating legacy of feuds and lies, than we can pretend we are indeed
impassioned and wholly devoted subjects of King Edward, spending our
lives in the service of his will. It is not that we have revolted
from these things, it is not that we have grown askew to them and that
patching and amendment will serve our need; it is that we have travelled
outside them altogether--almost inadvertently, but quite beyond any
chance of return to a simple acceptance again. We are no more disposed
to call ourselves Liberals or Conservatives and to be stirred to party
passion at the clash of these names, than we are to fight again the
battles of the Factio Albata or the Factio Prasina. These current
dramas, these current conflicts seem scarcely less factitious. Men
without faith may be content to spend their lives for things only half
believed in, and for causes that are contrived. But that is not our
quality. We want reality because we have faith, we seek the beginning of
realism in social and political life, we seek it and we are resolved to
find it.”

So we attempt to give a general expression to the forces that are new
at this time, to render something at least of the spirit of the New
Republic in a premature and experimental utterance. It is, at any rate,
a spirit that finds itself out of intimacy and co-ordination with all
the older movements of the world, that sees all pre-existing formulae
and political constitutions and political parties and organizations
rather as instruments or obstacles than as guiding lines and precedents
for its new developing will, its will which will carry it at last
irresistibly to the conscious and deliberate making of the future of
man. “We are here to get better births and a better result from the
births we get; each one of us is going to set himself immediately to
that, using whatever power he finds to his hand,” such is the form its
will must take. And such being its will and spirit these papers will
address themselves comprehensively to the problem, What will the New
Republic do? All the rest of this series will be a discussion of the
forces that go to the making of man, and how far and how such a New
Republic might seek to lay its hands upon them.

It is for the adversary to explain how presumptuous such an enterprise
must be. But presumption is ineradically interwoven with every beginning
that the world has ever seen. I venture to think that even to a reader
who does not accept or sympathize with the conception of this
New Republic, a general review of current movements and current
interpretations of morality from this new standpoint may be suggestive
and interesting. Assuredly it is only by some such general revision, if
not on these lines then on others, that a practicable way of escape is
to be found for any one, from that base and shifty opportunism in public
and social matters, that predominance of fluctuating aims and spiritless
conformities, in which so many of us, without any great positive
happiness at all to reward us for the sacrifice we are making, bury the
solitary talents of our lives.


Within the last minute seven new citizens were born into that great
English-speaking community which is scattered under various flags and
governments throughout the world. And according to the line of thought
developed in the previous paper we perceive that the real and ultimate
business, so far as this world goes, of every statesman, every social
organizer, every philanthropist, every business manager, every man
who lifts his head for a moment from the mean pursuit of his immediate
personal interests, from the gratification of his private desires, is,
as the first and immediate thing, to do his best for these new-comers,
to get the very best result, so far as his powers and activities can
contribute to it, from their undeveloped possibilities. And in the next
place, as a remoter, but perhaps finally more fundamental duty, he has
to inquire what may be done individually or collectively to raise the
standard and quality of the average birth. All the great concerns of
life work out with a very little analysis to that, even our wars, our
orgies of destruction, have, at the back of them, a claim, an intention,
however futile in its conception and disastrous in its consequences, to
establish a wider security, to destroy a standing menace, to open new
paths and possibilities, in the interest of the generations still
to come. One may present the whole matter in a simplified picture by
imagining all our statesmen, our philanthropists and public men, our
parties and institutions gathered into one great hall, and into this
hall a huge spout, that no man can stop, discharges a baby every eight
seconds. That is, I hold, a permissible picture of human life, and
whatever is not represented at all in that picture is a divergent and
secondary concern. Our success or failure with that unending stream of
babies is the measure of our civilization; every institution stands
or falls by its contribution to that result, by the improvement of the
children born, or by the improvement in the quality of births attained
under its influence.

To begin these speculations in logical order we must begin at the birth
point, we must begin by asking how much may we hope, now or at a later
time, to improve the supply of that raw material which is perpetually
dumped upon our hands? Can we raise, and if so, what can we do to raise
the quality of the average birth?

This speculation is as old at least as Plato, and as living as the seven
or eight babies born into the English-speaking world since the reader
began this Paper. The conclusion that if we could prevent or discourage
the inferior sorts of people from having children, and if we could
stimulate and encourage the superior sorts to increase and multiply, we
should raise the general standard of the race, is so simple, so obvious,
that in every age I suppose there have been voices asking in amazement,
why the thing is not done? It is so usual to answer that it is not done
on account of popular ignorance, public stupidity, religious prejudice
or superstition, that I shall not apologize for giving some little
space here to the suggestion that in reality it is not done for quite a
different reason.

We blame the popular mind overmuch. Earnest but imperfect men, with
honest and reasonable but imperfect proposals for bettering the world,
are all too apt to raise this bitter cry of popular stupidity, of the
sheep-like quality of common men. An unjustifiable persuasion of
moral and intellectual superiority is one of the last infirmities of
innovating minds. We may be right, but we must be provably, demonstrably
and overpoweringly right before we are justified in calling the
dissentient a fool. I am one of those who believe firmly in the
invincible nature of truth, but a truth that is badly put is not a
truth, but an infertile hybrid lie. Before we men of the study blame the
general body of people for remaining unaffected by reforming proposals
of an almost obvious advantage, it would be well if we were to change
our standpoint and examine our machinery at the point of application.
A rock-drilling machine may be excellently invented and in the most
perfect order except for a want of hardness in the drill, and yet there
will remain an unpierced rock as obdurate as the general public to so
many of our innovations.

I believe that if a canvass of the entire civilized world were put to
the vote in this matter, the proposition that it is desirable that the
better sort of people should intermarry and have plentiful children,
and that the inferior sort of people should abstain from multiplication,
would be carried by an overwhelming majority. They might disagree with
Plato’s methods, [Footnote: _The Republic_, Bk. V.] but they would
certainly agree to his principle. And that this is not a popular error
Mr. Francis Galton has shown. He has devoted a very large amount of
energy and capacity to the vivid and convincing presentation of this
idea, and to its courageous propagation. His Huxley Lecture to the
Anthropological Institute in 1901 [Footnote: _Nature_, vol. lxiv.
p. 659.] puts the whole matter as vividly as it ever can be put. He
classifies humanity about their average in classes which he indicates
by the letters R S T U V rising above the average and r s t u v falling
below, and he saturates the whole business in quantitative colour.
Indeed, Mr. Galton has drawn up certain definite proposals. He has
suggested that “noble families” should collect “fine specimens of
humanity” around them, employing these fine specimens in menial
occupations of a light and comfortable sort, that will leave a
sufficient portion of their energies free for the multiplication of
their superior type. “Promising young couples” might be given “healthy
and convenient houses at low rentals,” he suggests, and no doubt it
could be contrived that they should pay their rent partly or entirely
per stone of family annually produced. And he has also proposed that
“diplomas” should be granted to young men and women of high class--big
S and upward--and that they should be encouraged to intermarry young. A
scheme of “dowries” for diploma holders would obviously be the simplest
thing in the world. And only the rules for identifying your great S T U
and V in adolescence, are wanting from the symmetrical completeness of
his really very noble-spirited and high-class scheme.

At a more popular level Mrs. Victoria Woodhull Martin has battled
bravely in the cause of the same foregone conclusion. The work
of telling the world what it knows to be true will never want
self-sacrificing workers. The _Humanitarian_ was her monthly organ of
propaganda. Within its cover, which presented a luminiferous stark
ideal of exemplary muscularity, popular preachers, popular bishops, and
popular anthropologists vied with titled ladies of liberal outlook in
the service of this conception. There was much therein about the Rapid
Multiplication of the Unfit, a phrase never properly explained, and I
must confess that the transitory presence of this instructive little
magazine in my house, month after month (it is now, unhappily, dead),
did much to direct my attention to the gaps and difficulties that
intervene between the general proposition and its practical application
by sober and honest men. One took it up and asked time after time, “Why
should there be this queer flavour of absurdity and pretentiousness
about the thing?” Before the _Humanitarian_ period I was entirely in
agreement with the _Humanitarian’s_ cause. It seemed to me then that to
prevent the multiplication of people below a certain standard, and to
encourage the multiplication of exceptionally superior people, was the
only real and permanent way of mending the ills of the world. I think
that still. In that way man has risen from the beasts, and in that way
men will rise to be over-men. In those days I asked in amazement
why this thing was not done, and talked the usual nonsense about the
obduracy and stupidity of the world. It is only after a considerable
amount of thought and inquiry that I am beginning to understand why
for many generations, perhaps, nothing of the sort can possibly be done
except in the most marginal and tentative manner.

If to-morrow the whole world were to sign an unanimous round-robin
to Mr. Francis Galton and Mrs. Victoria Woodhull Martin, admitting
absolutely their leading argument that it _is_ absurd to breed our
horses and sheep and improve the stock of our pigs and fowls, while we
leave humanity to mate in the most heedless manner, and if, further,
the whole world, promising obedience, were to ask these two to gather
together a consultative committee, draw up a scheme of rules, and start
forthwith upon the great work of improving the human stock as fast as it
can be done, if it undertook that marriages should no longer be made in
heaven or earth, but only under licence from that committee, I venture
to think that, after a very brief epoch of fluctuating legislation, this
committee, except for an extremely short list of absolute prohibitions,
would decide to leave matters almost exactly as they are now; it would
restore love and private preference to their ancient authority and
freedom, at the utmost it would offer some greatly qualified advice, and
so released, it would turn its attention to those flaws and gaps in our
knowledge that at present render these regulations no more than a theory
and a dream.

The first difficulty these theorists ignore is this: we are, as a matter
of fact, not a bit clear what points to breed for and what points to
breed out.

The analogy with the breeder of cattle is a very misleading one. He
has a very simple ideal, to which he directs the entire pairing of his
stock. He breeds for beef, he breeds for calves and milk, he breeds
for a homogeneous docile herd. Towards that ideal he goes simply and
directly, slaughtering and sparing, regardless entirely of any divergent
variation that may arise beneath his control. A young calf with an
incipient sense of humour, with a bright and inquiring disposition, with
a gift for athleticism or a quaintly-marked hide, has no sort of chance
with him at all on that account. He can throw these proffered gifts
of nature aside without hesitation. Which is just what our theoretical
breeders of humanity cannot venture to do. They do not want a
homogeneous race in the future at all. They want a rich interplay of
free, strong, and varied personalities, and that alters the nature of
the problem absolutely.

This the reader may dispute. He may admit the need of variety, but he
may argue that this variety must arise from a basis of common endowment.
He may say that in spite of the complication introduced by the
consideration that a divergent variation from one ideal may be a
divergence towards another ideal, there remain certain definable points,
that could be bred for universally, for all that.

What are they?

There will be little doubt he will answer “Health.” After that probably
he may say “Beauty.” In addition the reader of Mr. Galton’s _Hereditary
Genius_ will probably say, “ability,” “capacity,” “genius,” and
“energy.” The reader of Doctor Nordau will add “sanity.” And the
reader of Mr. Archdall Reid will round up the list with “immunity” from
dipsomania and all contagious diseases. “Let us mark our human beings,”
 the reader of that way of thinking will suggest, “let us give marks for
‘health,’ for ‘ability,’ for various sorts of specific immunity and so
forth, and let us weed out those who are low in the scale and multiply
those who stand high. This will give us a straight way to practical
amelioration, and the difficulty you are trying to raise,” he urges,
“vanishes forthwith.”

It would, if these points were really points, if “beauty,” “capacity,”
 “health,” and “sanity” were simple and uniform things. Unfortunately
they are not simple, and with that fact a host of difficulties arise.
Let me take first the most simple and obvious case of “beauty.” If
beauty were a simple thing, it would be possible to arrange human beings
in a simple scale, according to whether they had more or less of this
simple quality--just as one can do in the case of what are perhaps
really simple and breedable qualities--height or weight. This person,
one might say, is at eight in the scale of beauty, and this at ten,
and this at twenty-seven. But it complicates the case beyond the
possibilities of such a scale altogether when one begins to consider
that there are varieties and types of beauty having very wide
divergences and made up of a varying number of elements in dissimilar
proportions. There is, for example, the flaxen, kindly beauty of the
Dutch type, the dusky Jewess, the tall, fair Scandinavian, the dark and
brilliant south Italian, the noble Roman, the dainty Japanese--to name
no others. Each of these types has its peculiar and incommensurable
points, and within the limits of each type you will find a hundred
divergent, almost unanalyzable, styles, a beauty of expression, a beauty
of carriage, a beauty of reflection, a beauty of repose, arising each
from a quite peculiar proportion of parts and qualities, and having no
definable relation at all to any of the others. If we were to imagine a
human appearance as made up of certain elements, a, b, c, d, e, f, etc.,
then we might suppose that beauty in one case was attained by a certain
high development of a and f, in another by a certain fineness of c and
d, in another by a delightfully subtle ratio of f and b.

                A, b, c, d, e, F, etc.
                a, b, _c_, _d_, e, f, etc.
                a, _b_, c, d, e, _F_, etc.,

might all, for example, represent different types of beauty. Beauty
is neither a simple nor a constant thing; it is attainable through a
variety of combinations, just as the number 500 can be got by adding or
multiplying together a great variety of numerical arrangements. Two long
numerical formulae might both simplify out to 500, but half the length
of one truncated and put end on to the truncated end of the other, might
give a very different result. It is quite conceivable that you might
select and wed together all the most beautiful people in the world and
find that in nine cases out of ten you had simply produced mediocre
offspring or offspring below mediocrity. Out of the remaining tenth a
great majority would be beautiful simply by “taking after” one or other
parent, simply through the predominance, the _prepotency,_ of one parent
over the other, a thing that might have happened equally well if the
other parent was plain. The first sort of beauty (in my three formulae)
wedding the third sort of beauty, might simply result in a rather ugly
excess of F, and again the first sort might result from a combination of

                a, b, c, d, e, _F_, etc.,
                _A_, b, c, d, e, f, etc.,

neither of which arrangements, very conceivably, may be beautiful at all
when it is taken alone. In this respect, at any rate, personal value and
reproductive value may be two entirely different things.

Now what the elements of personal aspect really are, what these
elements a, b, c, d, e, f, etc., may be, we do not know with any sort
of exactness. Possibly height, weight, presence of dark pigment in the
hair, whiteness of skin, presence of hair upon the body, are simple
elements in inheritance that will follow Galton’s arithmetical treatment
of heredity with some exactness. But we are not even sure of that. The
height of one particular person may be due to an exceptional length of
leg and neck, of another to an abnormal length of the vertebral bodies
of the backbone; the former may have a rather less than ordinary
backbone, the latter a stunted type of limb, and an intermarriage may
just as conceivably (so far as our present knowledge goes) give the
backbone of the first and the legs of the second as it may a very tall

The fact is that in this matter of beauty and breeding for beauty we are
groping in a corner where science has not been established. No doubt
the corner is marked out as a part of the “sphere of influence” of
anthropology, but there is not the slightest indication of an effective
occupation among these raiding considerations and uncertain facts.
Until anthropology produces her Daltons and Davys we must fumble in this
corner, just as the old alchemists fumbled for centuries before the dawn
of chemistry. Our utmost practice here must be empirical. We do not know
the elements of what we have, the human characteristics we are working
upon to get that end. The sentimentalized affinities of young persons in
their spring are just as likely to result in the improvement of the
race in this respect as the whole science of anthropology in its present
state of evolution.

I have suggested that “beauty” is a term applied to a miscellany of
synthetic results compounded of diverse elements in diverse proportions;
and I have suggested that one can no more generalize about it in
relation to inheritance with any hope of effective application than one
can generalize about, say, “lumpy substances” in relation to chemical
combination. By reasoning upon quite parallel lines nearly every
characteristic with which Mr. Galton deals in his interesting and
suggestive but quite inconclusive works, can be demonstrated to consist
in a similar miscellany. He speaks of “eminence,” of “success,” of
“ability,” of “zeal,” and “energy,” for example, and except for the
last two items I would submit that these qualities, though of enormous
personal value, are of no practical value in inheritance whatever; that
to wed “ability” to “ability” may breed something less than mediocrity,
and that “ability” is just as likely or just as unlikely to be prepotent
and to assert itself in descent with the most casually selected
partner as it is with one picked with all the knowledge, or rather
pseudo-knowledge, anthropology in its present state can give us.

When, however, we turn to “zeal” or “energy” or “go,” we do seem to be
dealing with a simpler and more transmissible thing. Let us assume that
in this matter there is a wide range of difference that may be arranged
in a direct and simple scale in quantitative relation to the gross
output of action of different human beings. One passes from the
incessant employment of such a being as Gladstone at the one extreme,
a loquacious torrent of interests and achievements, to the extreme of
phlegmatic lethargy on the other. Call the former a high energetic and
the latter low. Quite possibly it might be found that we could breed
“high energetics.” But before we did so we should have to consider
very gravely that the “go” and “energy” of a man have no ascertainable
relation to many other extremely important considerations. Your
energetic person may be moral or immoral, an unqualified egotist or as
public spirited as an ant, sane, or a raving lunatic. Your phlegmatic
person may ripen resolves and bring out truths, with the incomparable
clearness of a long-exposed, slowly developed, slowly printed
photograph. A man who would exchange the slow gigantic toil of that
sluggish and deliberate person, Charles Darwin, for the tumultuous
inconsequence and (as some people think it) the net mischief of a
Gladstone, would no doubt be prepared to substitute a Catherine-wheel
in active eruption for the watch of less adventurous men. But before
we could induce the community as a whole to make a similar exchange, he
would have to carry on a prolonged and vigorous propaganda.

For my own part--and I write as an ignorant man in a realm where
ignorance prevails--I am inclined to doubt the simplicity and
homogeneity even of this quality of “energy” or “go.” A person without
restraint, without intellectual conscience, without critical faculty,
may write and jabber and go to and fro and be here and there, simply
because every impulse is obeyed so soon as it arises. Another person
may be built upon an altogether larger scale of energy, but may be
deliberate, concentrated, and fastidious, bent rather upon truth and
permanence than upon any immediate quantitative result, and may appear
to any one but an extremely penetrating critic, as inferior in energy to
the former. So far as our knowledge goes at present, what is popularly
known as “energy” or “go” is just as likely to be a certain net
preponderance of a varied miscellany of impulsive qualities over a
varied miscellany of restraints and inhibitions, as it is to prove a
simple indivisible quality transmissible intact. We are so profoundly
ignorant in these matters, so far from anything worthy of the name of
science, that one view is just as permissible and just as untrustworthy
as the other.

Even the qualification of “health” is not sufficient. A thoughtless
person may say with the most invincible air, “Parents should, at any
rate, be healthy,” but that alone is only a misleading vague formula for
good intentions. In the first place, there is every reason to believe
that transitory ill-health in the parent is of no consequence at all
to the offspring. Neither does acquired constitutional ill-health
necessarily transmit to a child; it may or it may not react upon the
child’s nutrition and training, but that is a question to consider
later. It is quite conceivable, it is highly probable, that there are
hereditary forms of ill-health, and that they may be eliminated from the
human lot by discreet and restrained pairing, but what they are and
what are the specific conditions of their control we do not know. And
furthermore, we are scarcely more certain that the condition of “perfect
health” in one human being is the same as the similarly named condition
in another, than we are that the beauty of one type is made up of the
same essential elements as the beauty of another. Health is a balance, a
balance of blood against nerve, of digestion against secretion, of heart
against brain. A heart of perfect health and vigour put into the body
of a perfectly healthy man who is built upon a slighter scale than that
heart, will swiftly disorganize the entire fabric, and burst its way
to a haemorrhage in lung perhaps, or brain, or wherever the slightest
relative weakening permits. The “perfect” health of a negro may be
a quite dissimilar system of reactions to the “perfect health” of a
vigorous white; you may blend them only to create an ailing mass of
physiological discords. “Health,” just as much as these other things,
is, for this purpose of marriage diplomas and the like, a vague,
unserviceable synthetic quality. It serves each one of us for our
private and conversational needs, but in this question it is not hard
enough and sharp--enough for the thing we want it to do. Brought to the
service of this fine and complicated issue it breaks down altogether. We
do not know enough. We have not analyzed enough nor penetrated enough.
There is no science yet, worthy of the name, in any of these
things. [Footnote: This idea of attempting to define the elements in
inheritance, although it is absent from much contemporary discussion,
was pretty evidently in mind in the very striking researches of the Abbé
Mendel to which Mr. Bateson--with a certain intemperance of manner--has
recently called attention. (Bateson, _Mendel’s Principles of Heredity_,
Cambridge University Press, 1902.)]

These considerations should at least suffice to demonstrate the entire
impracticability of Mr. Galton’s two suggestions. Moreover, this idea of
picking out high-scale individuals in any particular quality or group of
qualities and breeding them, is not the way of nature at all. Nature
is not a breeder; she is a reckless coupler and--she slays. It was a
popular misconception of the theory of the Survival of the Fittest,
a misconception Lord Salisbury was at great pains to display to the
British Association in 1894, that the average of a species in any
respect is raised by the selective inter-breeding of the individuals
above the average. Lord Salisbury was no doubt misled, as most people
who share his mistake have been misled, by the grammatical error of
employing the Survival of the Fittest for the Survival of the Fitter, in
order to escape a scarcely ambiguous ambiguity. But the use of the
word “Survival” should have sufficed to indicate that the real point of
application of the force by which Nature modifies species and raises
the average in any quality, lies not in selective breeding, but in the
disproportionately numerous deaths of the individuals below the average.
And even the methods of the breeder of cattle, if they are to produce a
permanent alteration in the species of cattle, must consist not only
in breeding the desirable but in either killing the undesirable, or
at least--what is the quintessence, the inner reality of death--in
preventing them from breeding.

The general trend of thought in Mrs. Martin’s _Humanitarian_ was
certainly more in accordance with this reading of biological science
than were Mr. Galton’s proposals. There was a much greater insistence
upon the need of “elimination,” upon the evil of the “Rapid
Multiplication of the Unfit,” a word that, however, was never defined
and, I believe, really did not mean anything in particular in this
connection. And directly one does attempt to define it, directly one
sits down in a businesslike way to apply the method of elimination
instead of the method of selection, one is immediately confronted by
almost as complex an entanglement of difficulties in defining points to
breed out as one is by defining points to breed for. Almost, I say, but
not quite. For here there does seem to be, if not certainties, at least
a few plausible probabilities that a vigorous and systematic criticism
may perhaps hammer into generalizations of sufficient certainty to go

I believe that long before humanity has hammered out the question of
what is pre-eminently desirable in inheritance, a certain number of
things will have been isolated and defined as pre-eminently undesirable.
But before these are considered, let us sweep out of our present
regard a number of cruel and mischievous ideas that are altogether too
ascendant at the present time.

Anthropology has been compared to a great region, marked out indeed as
within the sphere of influence of science, but unsettled and for the
most part unsubdued. Like all such hinterland sciences, it is a happy
hunting-ground for adventurers. Just as in the early days of British
Somaliland, rascals would descend from nowhere in particular upon
unfortunate villages, levy taxes and administer atrocity in the name of
the Empire, and even, I am told, outface for a time the modest heralds
of the government, so in this department of anthropology the public mind
suffers from the imposition of theories and assertions claiming to be
“scientific,” which have no more relation to that organized system of
criticism which is science, than a brigand at large on a mountain has
to the machinery of law and police, by which finally he will be hanged.
Among such raiding theorists none at present are in quite such urgent
need of polemical suppression as those who would persuade the heedless
general reader that every social failure is necessarily a “degenerate,”
 and who claim boldly that they can trace a distinctly evil and
mischievous strain in that unfortunate miscellany which constitutes “the
criminal class.” They invoke the name of “science” with just as much
confidence and just as much claim as the early Victorian phrenologists.
They speak and write with ineffable profundity about the “criminal” ear,
the “criminal” thumb, the “criminal” glance. They gain access to gaols
and pester unfortunate prisoners with callipers and cameras, and quite
unforgivable prying into personal and private matters, and they hold
out great hopes that by these expedients they will evolve at last a
“scientific” revival of the Kaffir’s witch-smelling. We shall catch our
criminals by anthropometry ere ever a criminal thought has entered their
brains. “Prevention is better than cure.” These mattoid scientists
make a direct and disastrous attack upon the latent self-respect of
criminals. And not only upon that tender plant, but also upon the
springs of human charity towards the criminal class. For the complex
and varied chapter of accidents that carries men into that net of
precautions, expedients, prohibitions, and vindictive reprisals, the
net of the law, they would have us believe there is a fatal necessity
inherent in their being. Criminals are born, not made, they allege. No
longer are we to say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”--when the
convict tramps past us--but, “There goes another sort of animal that
is differentiating from my species and which I would gladly see

Now every man who has searched his heart knows that this formulation of
“criminality” as a specific quality is a stupidity, he knows himself to
be a criminal, just as most men know themselves to be sexually rogues.
No man is born with an instinctive respect for the rights of any
property but his own, and few with a passion for monogamy. No man who
is not an outrageously vain and foolish creature but will confess
to himself that but for advantages and accidents, but for a chance
hesitation or a lucky timidity, he, too, had been there, under the
ridiculous callipers of witless anthropology. A criminal is no doubt of
less personal value to the community than a law-abiding citizen of the
same general calibre, but _it does not follow for one moment that he
is of less value as a parent._ His personal disaster may be due to the
possession of a bold and enterprising character, of a degree of pride
and energy above the needs of the position his social surroundings have
forced upon him. Another citizen may have all this man’s desires and
impulses, checked and sterilized by a lack of nervous energy, by an
abject fear of the policeman and of the consequences of the disapproval
of his more prosperous fellow-citizens. I will frankly confess that for
my own part I prefer the wicked to the mean, and that I would rather
trust the future to the former strain than to the latter. Whatever
preference the reader may entertain, there remains this unmistakable
objection to its application to breeding, that “criminality” is not a
specific simple quality, but a complex that may interfuse with other
complexes to give quite incalculable results in the offspring it
produces. So that here again, on the negative side, we find a general
expression unserviceable for our use. [Footnote: No doubt the home of
the criminal and social failure is generally disastrous to the children
born into it. That is a question that will be fully dealt; with in
a subsequent paper, and I note it here only to point out that it is
outside our present discussion, which is concerned not with the fate of
children born into the world, but with the prior question whether we
may hope to improve the quality of the average birth by encouraging some
sorts of people to have children and discouraging or forbidding others.
It is of vital importance to keep these two questions distinct, if we
are to get at last to a basis for effective action.]

But it will be alleged that although criminality as a whole means
nothing definite enough for our purpose, there can be picked out and
defined certain criminal (or at any rate disastrous) tendencies that
are simple, specific and transmissible. Those who have read Mr. Archdall
Reid’s _Alcoholism_, for example, will know that he deals constantly
with what is called the “drink craving” as if it were such a specific
simple inheritance. He makes a very strong case for this belief, but
strong as it is, I do not think it is going to stand the pressure of
a rigorously critical examination. He points out that races which
have been in possession of alcoholic drinks the longest are the least
drunken, and this he ascribes to the “elimination” of all those whose
“drink craving” is too strong for them. Nations unused to alcoholic
drink are most terribly ravaged at its first coming to them, may even be
destroyed by it, in precisely the same way that new diseases coming to
peoples unused to them are far more malignant than among peoples who
have suffered from them generation after generation. Such instances
as the terrible ravages of measles in Polynesia and the ruin worked by
fire-water among the Red Indians, he gives in great abundance. He infers
from this that interference with the sale of drink to a people may
in the long run do more harm than good, by preserving those who would
otherwise be eliminated, permitting them to multiply and so, generation
by generation, lowering the resisting power of the race. And he proposes
to divert temperance legislation from the persecution of drink makers
and sellers, to such remedies as the punishment of declared and
indisputable drunkards if they incur parentage, and the extension of the
grounds of divorce to include this ugly and disastrous habit.

I am not averse to Mr. Reid’s remedies because I think of the wife and
the home, but I would not go so far with him as to consider this “drink
craving” specific and simple, and I retain an open mind about the sale
of drink. He has not convinced me that there is an inherited “drink
craving” any more than there is an inherited tea craving or an inherited
morphia craving.

In the first place I would propound a certain view of the general
question of habits. My own private observations in psychology incline me
to believe that people vary very much in their power of acquiring habits
and in the strength and fixity of the habits they acquire. My most
immediate subject of psychological study, for example, is a man of
untrustworthy memory who is nearly incapable of a really deep-rooted
habit. Nothing is automatic with him. He crams and forgets languages
with an equal ease, gives up smoking after fifteen years of constant
practice; shaves with a conscious effort every morning and is capable
of forgetting to do so if intent upon anything else. He is generally
self-indulgent, capable of keen enjoyment and quite capable of
intemperance, but he has no invariable delights and no besetting sin.
Such a man will not become an habitual drunkard; he will not become
anything “habitual.” But with another type of man habit is indeed second
nature. Instead of the permanent fluidity of my particular case, such
people are continually tending to solidify and harden. Their memories
set, their opinions set, their methods of expression set, their delights
recur and recur, they convert initiative into mechanical habit day by
day. Let them taste any pleasure and each time they taste it they
deepen a need. At last their habits become imperative needs. With such
a disposition, external circumstances and suggestions, I venture to
believe, may make a man either into an habitual church-goer or
an habitual drunkard, an habitual toiler or an habitual rake. A
self-indulgent rather unsocial habit-forming man may very easily become
what is called a dipsomaniac, no doubt, but that is not the same thing
as an inherited specific craving. With drink inaccessible and other
vices offering his lapse may take another line. An aggressive, proud and
greatly mortified man may fall upon the same courses. An unwary youth of
the plastic type may be taken unawares and pass from free indulgence to
excess before he perceives that a habit is taking hold of him.

I believe that many causes and many temperaments go to the making of
drunkards. I have read a story by the late Sir Walter Besant, in which
he presents the specific craving as if it were a specific magic curse.
The story was supposed to be morally edifying, but I can imagine this
ugly superstition of the “hereditary craving”--it is really nothing
more--acting with absolutely paralyzing effect upon some credulous
youngster struggling in the grip of a developing habit. “It’s no good
trying,”--that quite infernal phrase!

It may be urged that this attempt to whittle down the “inherited
craving” to a habit does not meet Mr. Reid’s argument from the gradual
increase of resisting power in races subjected to alcoholic temptation,
an increase due to the elimination of all the more susceptible
individuals. There can be no denying that those nations that have had
fermented drinks longest are the soberest, but that, after all, may be
only one aspect of much more extensive operations. The nations that have
had fermented drinks the longest are also those that have been civilized
the longest. The passage of a people from a condition of agricultural
dispersal to a more organized civilization means a very extreme change
in the conditions of survival, of which the increasing intensity
of temptation to alcoholic excess is only one aspect. Gluttony, for
example, becomes a much more possible habit, and many other vices tender
death for the first time to the men who are gathering in and about
towns. The city demands more persistent, more intellectualized and less
intense physical desires than the countryside. Moral qualities that were
a disadvantage in the dispersed stage become advantageous in the
city, and conversely. Rugged independence ceases to be helpful, and an
intelligent turn for give and take, for collaboration and bargaining,
makes increasingly for survival. Moreover, there grows very slowly an
indefinable fabric of traditional home training in restraint that is
very hard to separate in analysis from mental heredity. People who have
dwelt for many generations in towns are not only more temperate and less
explosive in the grosser indulgences, but more _urbane_ altogether. The
drunken people are also the “uncivil” peoples and the individualistic
peoples. The great prevalence of drunkenness among the upper classes two
centuries ago can hardly have been bred out in the intervening six or
seven generations, and it is also a difficult fact for Mr. Reid that
drunkenness has increased in France. In most of the cases cited by
Mr. Reid a complex of operating forces could be stated in which the
appearance of fermented liquors is only one factor, and a tangle of
consequent changes in which a gradually increasing insensibility to the
charms of intoxication was only one thread. Drunkenness has no doubt
played a large part in eliminating certain types of people from the
world, but that it specifically eliminates one specific definable type
is an altogether different matter.

Even if we admit Mr. Reid’s conception, this by no means solves the
problem. It is quite conceivable that the world could purchase certain
sorts of immunity too dearly. If it was a common thing to adorn the
parapets of houses in towns with piles of loose bricks, it is certain
that a large number of persons not immune to fracture of the skull by
falling bricks would be eliminated. A time would no doubt come
when those with a specific liability to skull fracture would all be
eliminated, and the human cranium would have developed a practical
immunity to damage from all sorts of falling substances. But there
would have been far more extensive suppressions than would appear in the
letter of the agreement.

This no doubt is a caricature of the case, but it will serve to
illustrate my contention that until we possess a far more subtle and
thorough analysis of the drunkard’s physique and mind--if it really is a
distinctive type of mind and physique--than we have at present, we
have no justification whatever in artificial intervention to increase
whatever eliminatory process may at present be going on in this respect.
Even if there is such a specific weakness, it is possible it has a
period of maximum intensity, and if that should be only a brief phase
in development--let us say at adolescence--it might turn out to be much
more to the advantage of humanity to contrive protective legislation
over the dangerous years. I argue to establish no view in these matters
beyond a view that at present we know very little.

Not only do ignorance and doubt bar our way to anything more than a
pious wish to eliminate criminality and drunkenness in a systematic
manner, but even the popular belief in ruthless suppression whenever
there is “madness in the family” will not stand an intelligent scrutiny.
The man in the street thinks madness is a fixed and definite thing, as
distinct from sanity as black is from white. He is always exasperated
at the hesitation of doctors when in a judicial capacity he demands: “Is
this man mad or isn’t he?” But a very little reading of alienists will
dissolve this clear assurance. Here again it seems possible that we have
a number of states that we are led to believe are simple because they
are gathered together under the generic word “madness,” but which
may represent a considerable variety of induced and curable and
non-inheritable states on the one hand and of innate and incurable and
heritable mental disproportions on the other.

The less gifted portion of the educated public was greatly delighted
some years ago by a work by Dr. Nordau called _Degeneration_, in which
a great number of abnormal people were studied in a pseudo-scientific
manner and shown to be abnormal beyond any possibility of dispute.
Mostly the samples selected were men of exceptional artistic and
literary power. The book was pretentious and inconsistent--the late Lord
Tennyson was quoted, I remember, as a typically “sane” poet in spite
of the scope afforded by his melodramatic personal appearance and his
morbid passion for seclusion--but it did at least serve to show that if
we cannot call a man stupid we may almost invariably call him mad with
some show of reason. The public read the book for the sake of its abuse,
applied the intended conclusion to every success that awakened its envy,
and failed altogether to see how absolutely the definition of madness
was destroyed. But if madness is indeed simply genius out of hand and
genius only madness under adequate control; if imagination is a snare
only to the unreasonable and a disordered mind only an excess of
intellectual enterprise--and really none of these things can be
positively disproved--then just as reasonable as the idea of suppressing
the reproduction of madness, is the idea of breeding it! Let us take all
these dull, stagnant, respectable people, one might say, who do nothing
but conform to whatever rule is established about them and obstruct
whatever change is proposed to them, whose chief quality is a sheer
incapacity to imagine anything beyond their petty experiences, and let
us tell them plainly, “It is time a lunatic married into your family.”
 Let no one run away from this with the statement that I propose such a
thing should be done, but it is, at any rate in the present state of
our knowledge, as reasonable a proposal, to make as its quite frequently
reiterated converse.

If in any case we are in a position to intervene and definitely forbid
increase, it is in the case of certain specific diseases, which I
am told are painful and disastrous and inevitably transmitted to the
offspring of the person suffering from these diseases. If there are such
diseases--and that is a question the medical profession should be able
to decide--it is evident that to incur parentage while one suffers
from one of them or to transmit them in any avoidable way, is a cruel,
disastrous and abominable act. If such a thing is possible it seems to
me that in view of the guiding principle laid down in these papers it
might well be put at the nadir of crime, and I doubt if any step the
State might take to deter and punish the offender, short of torture,
would meet with opposition from sane and reasonable men. For my own part
I am inclined at times almost to doubt if there are such diseases. If
there are, the remedy is so simple and obvious, that I cannot but blame
the medical profession for very discreditable silences. I am no believer
in the final wisdom of the mass of mankind, but I do believe enough in
the sanity of the English-speaking peoples to be certain that any clear
statement and instruction they received from the medical profession, as
a whole, in these matters, would be faithfully observed. In the face
of the collective silence of this great body of specialists, there is
nothing for it but to doubt such diseases exist.

Such a systematic suppression of a specific disease or so is really the
utmost that could be done with any confidence at present, so far as the
State and collective action go. [Footnote: Since the above was written,
a correspondent in Honolulu has called my attention to a short but most
suggestive essay by Doctor Harry Campbell in the _Lancet_, 1898, ii.,
p. 678. He uses, of course, the common medical euphemism of “should not
marry” for “should not procreate,” and he gives the following as a list
of “bars to marriage”: pulmonary consumption, organic heart disease,
epilepsy, insanity, diabetes, chronic Bright’s disease, and rheumatic
fever. I wish I had sufficient medical knowledge to analyze that
proposal. He mentions inherited defective eyesight and hearing also, and
the “neurotic” quality, with which I have dealt in my text. He adds two
other suggestions that appeal to me very strongly. He proposes to bar
all “cases of non-accidental disease in which life is saved by the
surgeon’s knife,” and he instances particularly, strangulated hernia and
ovarian cyst. And he also calls attention to apoplectic breakdown
and premature senility. All these are suggestions of great value for
individual conduct, but none of them have that quality of certainty
that justifies collective action.] Until great advances are made in
anthropology--and at present there are neither men nor endowments to
justify the hope that any such advances will soon be made--that is as
much as can be done hopefully for many years in the selective breeding
of individuals by the community as a whole. [Footnote: If at any time
certainties should replace speculations in the field of inheritance,
then I fancy the common-sense of humanity will be found to be in favour
of the immediate application of that knowledge to life.] At present
almost every citizen in the civilized State respects the rules of the
laws of consanguinity, so far as they affect brothers and sisters, with
an absolute respect--an enormous triumph of training over instinct, as
Dr. Beattie Crozier has pointed out--and if in the future it should be
found possible to divide up humanity into groups, some of which could
pair with one another only to the disadvantage of the offspring, and
some of which had better have no offspring, I believe there would
be remarkably little difficulty in enforcing a system of taboos in
accordance with such knowledge. Only it would have to be absolutely
certain knowledge proved and proved again up to the hilt. If a truth is
worth application it is worth hammering home, and we have no right to
expect common men to obey conclusions upon which specialists are as
yet not lucidly agreed. [Footnote: It has been pointed out to me by my
friend, Mr. Graham Wallas, that although the State may not undertake
any positive schemes for selective breeding in the present state of our
knowledge, it can no more evade a certain reaction upon these things
than the individual can evade a practical solution. Although we
cannot say of any specific individual that he or she is, or is not, of
exceptional reproductive value to the State, we may still be able, he
thinks, to point out classes which are very probably, as a whole, _good_
reproductive classes, and we may be able to promote, or at least to
avoid hindering, their increase. He instances the female elementary
teacher as being probably, as a type, a more intelligent and more
energetic and capable girl than the average of the stratum from which
she arises, and he concludes she has a higher reproductive value--a view
contrary to my argument in the text that reproductive and personal value
are perhaps independent. He tells me that it is the practice of many
large school boards in this country to dismiss women teachers on
marriage, or to refuse promotion to these when they become mothers,
which is, of course, bad for the race if personal and reproductive value
are identical. He would have them retain their positions regardless of
the check to their efficiency maternity entails. This is a curiously
indirect way towards what one might call Galtonism. Practically he
proposes to endow mothers in the name of education. For my own part I do
not agree with him that this class, any more than any other class, can
be shown to have a high reproductive value--which is the matter under
analysis in this paper--though I will admit that an ex-teacher will
probably do infinitely more for her children than if she were an
illiterate or untrained woman. I can only reiterate my conviction that
nothing really effective can be organized in these matters until we are
much clearer than we are at present in our ideas about them, and that
a public body devoted to education has no business either to impose
celibacy, or subsidize families, or experiment at all in these affairs.
Not only in the case of elementary teachers, but in the case of
soldiers, sailors, and so on, the State may do much to promote or
discourage marriage and offspring, and no doubt it is also true, as Mr.
Wallas insists, that the problems of the foreign immigrant and of racial
intermarriage, loom upon us. But since we have no applicable science
whatever here, since there is no certainty in any direction that any
collective course may not be collectively evil rather than good, there
is nothing for it, I hold, but to leave these things to individual
experiment, and to concentrate our efforts where there is a clearer hope
of effective consequence. Leave things to individual initiative and some
of us will, by luck or inspiration, go right; take public action on
an insufficient basis of knowledge and there is a clear prospect of
collective error. The imminence of these questions argues for nothing
except prompt and vigorous research.]

That, however, is only one aspect of this question. There are others
from which the New Republican may also approach this problem of the
quality of the birth supply.

In relation to personal conduct all these things assume another colour
altogether. Let us be clear upon that point. The state, the community,
may only act upon certainties, but the essential fact in individual life
is experiment. Individuality is experiment. While in matters of public
regulation and control it is wiser not to act at all than to act upon
theories and uncertainties; while the State may very well wait for
a generation or half a dozen generations until knowledge comes up to
these--at present--insoluble problems, the private life _must_ go on
now, and go upon probabilities where certainties fail. When we do not
know what is indisputably right, then we have to use our judgments
to the utmost to do each what seems to him probably right. The New
Republican in his private life and in the exercise of his private
influence, must do what seems to him best for the race; [Footnote: He
would certainly try to discourage this sort of thing. The paragraph is
from the _Morning Post_ (Sept., 1902):--

“_Wedded in Silence_.--A deaf and dumb wedding was celebrated at Saffron
Walden yesterday, when Frederick James Baish and Emily Lettige King,
both deaf and dumb, were married. The bride was attended by deaf and
dumb bridesmaids, and upwards of thirty deaf and dumb friends were
present. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. A. Payne, of the Deaf
and Dumb Church, London.”] he must not beget children heedlessly and
unwittingly because of his incomplete assurance. It is pretty obviously
his duty to examine himself patiently and thoroughly, and if he feels
that he is, on the whole, an average or rather more than an average man,
then upon the cardinal principle laid down in our first paper, it is
his most immediate duty to have children and to equip them fully for
the affairs of life. Moreover he will, I think, lose no opportunity of
speaking and acting in such a manner as to restore to marriage something
of the solemnity and gravity the Victorian era--that age of nasty
sentiment, sham delicacy and giggles--has to so large an extent refused
to give it.

And though the New Republicans, in the existing lack of real guiding
knowledge, will not dare to intervene in specific cases, there is
another method of influencing parentage that men of good intent may
well bear in mind. To attack a specific type is one thing, to attack a
specific quality is another. It may be impossible to set aside selected
persons from the population and say to them, “You are cowardly, weak,
silly, mischievous people, and if we tolerate you in this world it is on
condition that you do not found families.” But it may be quite possible
to bear in mind that the law and social arrangements may foster and
protect the cowardly and the mean, may guard stupidity against the
competition of enterprise, and may secure honour, power and authority
in the hands of the silly and the base; and, by the guiding principle we
have set before ourselves, to seek every conceivable alteration of such
laws and such social arrangements is no more than the New Republican’s
duty. It may be impossible to select and intermarry the selected best
of our race, but at any rate we can do a thousand things to equalize the
chances and make good and desirable qualities lead swiftly and clearly
to ease and honourable increase.

At present it is a shameful and embittering fact that a gifted man from
the poorer strata of society must too often buy his personal development
at the cost of his posterity; he must either die childless and
successful for the children of the stupid to reap what he has sown, or
sacrifice his gift--a wretched choice and an evil thing for the world at
large. [Footnote: This aspect of New Republican possibilities comes in
again at another stage, and at that stage its treatment will be resumed.
The method and possibility of binding up discredit and failure with
mean and undesirable qualities, and of setting a premium upon the
nobler attributes, is a matter that touches not only upon the quality of
births, but upon the general educational quality of the State in which
a young citizen develops. It is convenient to hold over any detailed
expansions of this, therefore, until we come to the general question,
how the laws, institutions and customs of to-day go to make or unmake
the men of to-morrow.]

So far at least we may go, towards improving the quality of the average
birth now, but it is manifestly only a very slow and fractional advance
that we shall get by these expedients. The obstacle to any ampler
enterprise is ignorance and ignorance alone--not the ignorance of a
majority in relation to a minority, but an absolute want of knowledge.
If we knew more we could do more.

Our main attack in this enterprise of improving the birth supply must
lie, therefore, through research. If we cannot act ourselves, we may
yet hold a light for our children to see. At present, if there is a man
specially gifted and specially disposed for such intricate and laborious
inquiry, such criticism and experiment as this question demands, the
world offers him neither food nor shelter, neither attention nor help;
he cannot hope for a tithe of such honours as are thrust in profusion
upon pork-butchers and brewers, he will be heartily despised by
ninety-nine per cent. of the people he encounters, and unless he has
some irrelevant income, he will die childless and his line will perish
with him, for all the service he may give to the future of mankind.
And as great mental endowments do not, unhappily, necessarily involve
a passion for obscurity, contempt and extinction, it is probable that
under existing conditions such a man will give his mind to some pursuit
less bitterly unremunerative and shameful. It is a stupid superstition
that “genius will out” in spite of all discouragement. The fact that
great men have risen against crushing disadvantages in the past proves
nothing of the sort; this roll-call of survivors does no more than give
the measure of the enormous waste of human possibility human stupidity
has achieved. Men of exceptional gifts have the same broad needs as
common men, food, clothing, honour, attention, and the help of their
fellows in self-respect; they may not need them as ends, but they need
them by the way, and at present the earnest study of heredity produces
none of these bye-products. It lies before the New Republican to tilt
the balance in this direction.

There are, no doubt, already a number of unselfish and fortunately
placed men who are able to do a certain amount of work in this
direction; Professor Cossar Ewart, for example, one of those fine,
subtle, unhonoured workers who are the glory of British science and
the condemnation of our social order, has done much to clarify the
discussion of telegony and prepotency, and there are many such medical
men as Mr. Reid who broaden their daily practice by attention to
these great issues. One thinks of certain other names. Professors Karl
Pearson, Weldon, Lloyd Morgan, J. A. Thomson and Meldola, Dr. Benthall
and Messrs. Bateson, Cunningham, Pocock, Havelock Ellis, E. A. Fay
and Stuart Menteath occur to me, only to remind me how divided their
attention has had to be. As many others, perhaps, have slipped my
memory now. Not half a hundred altogether in all this wide world of
English-speaking men! For one such worker we need fifty if this science
of heredity is to grow to practicable proportions. We need a literature,
we need a special public and an atmosphere of attention and discussion.
Every man who grasps the New Republican idea brings these needs nearer
satisfaction, but if only some day the New Republic could catch the
ear of a prince, a little weary of being the costumed doll of grown-up
children, the decoy dummy of fashionable tradesmen, or if it could
invade and capture the mind of a multi-millionaire, these things might
come almost at a stride. This missing science of heredity, this unworked
mine of knowledge on the borderland of biology and anthropology, which
for all practical purposes is as unworked now as it was in the days of
Plato, is, in simple truth, ten times more important to humanity than
all the chemistry and physics, all the technical and industrial science
that ever has been or ever will be discovered.

So much for the existing possibilities of making the race better by
breeding. For the rest of these papers we shall take the births into the
world, for the most part, as we find them.

[Mr. Stuart Menteath remarks _apropos_ of this question of the
reproduction of exceptional people that it is undesirable to suggest
voluntary extinction in any case. If a man, thinking that his family
is “tainted,” displays so much foresighted patriotism, humility, and
lifelong self-denial as to have no children, the presumption is that the
loss to humanity by the discontinuance of such a type is greater than
the gain. “Conceit in smallest bodies strongest works,” and it does
not follow that a sense of one’s own excellence justifies one’s utmost
fecundity or the reverse. Mr. Vrooman, who, with Mrs. Vrooman, founded
Ruskin Hall at Oxford, writes to much the same effect. He argues that
people intelligent enough and moral enough to form such resolutions are
just the sort of people who ought not to form them. Mr. Stuart Menteath
also makes a most admirable suggestion with regard to male and female
geniuses who are absorbed in their careers. Although the genius may not
have or rear a large family, something might be done to preserve the
stock by assisting his or her brothers and sisters to support and
educate their children.]


§ 1

With a skin of infinite delicacy that life will harden very speedily,
with a discomforted writhing little body, with a weak and wailing outcry
that stirs the heart, the creature comes protesting into the world, and
unless death win a victory, we and chance and the forces of life in
it, make out of that soft helplessness a man. Certain things there are
inevitable in that man and unalterable, stamped upon his being long
before the moment of his birth, the inherited things, the inherent
things, his final and fundamental self. This is his “heredity,” his
incurable reality, the thing that out of all his being, stands the test
of survival and passes on to his children. Certain things he must be,
certain things he may be, and certain things are for ever beyond his
scope. That much his parentage defines for him, that is the natural man.

But, in addition, there is much else to make up the whole adult man as
we know him. There is all that he has learnt since his birth, all that
he has been taught to do and trained to do, his language, the circle of
ideas he has taken to himself, the disproportions that come from unequal
exercise and the bias due to circumambient suggestion. There are a
thousand habits and a thousand prejudices, powers undeveloped and skill
laboriously acquired. There are scars upon his body, and scars upon his
mind. All these are secondary things, things capable of modification and
avoidance; they constitute the manufactured man, the artificial man.
And it is chiefly with all this superposed and adherent and artificial
portion of a man that this and the following paper will deal. The
question of improving the breed, of raising the average human heredity
we have discussed and set aside. We are going to draw together now as
many things as possible that bear upon the artificial constituent, the
made and controllable constituent in the mature and fully-developed man.
We are going to consider how it is built up and how it may be built up,
we are going to attempt a rough analysis of the whole complex process by
which the civilized citizen is evolved from that raw and wailing little

Before his birth, at the very moment when his being becomes possible,
the inherent qualities and limitations of a man are settled for good and
all, whether he will be a negro or a white man, whether he will be free
or not of inherited disease, whether he will be passionate or phlegmatic
or imaginative or six-fingered or with a snub or aquiline nose. And not
only that, but even before his birth the qualities that are not strictly
and inevitably inherited are also beginning to be made. The artificial,
the avoidable handicap also, may have commenced in the worrying, the
overworking or the starving of his mother. In the first few months
of his life very slight differences in treatment may have life-long
consequences. No doubt there is an extraordinary recuperative power in
very young children; if they do not die under neglect or ill-treatment
they recover to an extent incomparably greater than any adult could do,
but there remains still a wide marginal difference between what they
become and what they might have been. With every year of life the
recuperative quality diminishes, the initial handicap becomes more
irrevocable, the effects of ill-feeding, of unwholesome surroundings,
of mental and moral infections, become more inextricably a part of the
growing individuality. And so we may well begin our study by considering
the circumstances under which the opening phase, the first five years of
life, are most safely and securely passed.

Food, warmth, cleanliness and abundant fresh air there must be from
the first, and unremitting attention, such attention as only love can
sustain. And in addition there must be knowledge. It is a pleasant
superstition that Nature (who in such connections becomes feminine and
assumes a capital N) is to be trusted in these matters. It is a pleasant
superstition to which, some of us, under the agreeable counsels of
sentimental novelists, of thoughtless mercenary preachers, and ignorant
and indolent doctors, have offered up a child or so. We are persuaded
to believe that a mother has an instinctive knowledge of whatever is
necessary for a child’s welfare, and the child, until it reaches the
knuckle-rapping age at least, an instinctive knowledge of its own
requirements. Whatever proceedings are most suggestive of an ideal
naked savage leading a “natural” life, are supposed to be not only
more advantageous to the child but in some mystical way more moral. The
spectacle of an undersized porter-fed mother, for example, nursing a
spotted and distressful baby, is exalted at the expense of the clean
and simple artificial feeding that is often advisable to-day. Yet the
mortality of first-born children should indicate that a modern woman
carries no instinctive system of baby management about with her in her
brain, even if her savage ancestress had anything of the sort, and both
the birth rate and the infantile death rate of such noble savages as
our civilization has any chance of observing, suggest a certain generous
carelessness, a certain spacious indifference to individual misery,
rather than a trustworthy precision of individual guidance about
Nature’s way.

This cant of Nature’s trustworthiness is partly a survival of the day of
Rousseau and Sturm (of the Reflections), when untravelled men, orthodox
and unorthodox alike, in artificial wigs, spouted in unison in this
regard; partly it is the half instinctive tactics of the lax and
lazy-minded to evade trouble and austerities. The incompetent medical
practitioner, incapable of regimen, repeats this cant even to-day,
though he knows full well that, left to Nature, men over-eat themselves
almost as readily as dogs, contract a thousand diseases and exhaust
their last vitality at fifty, and that half the white women in the world
would die with their first children still unborn. He knows, too, that to
the details of such precautionary measures as vaccination, for example,
instinct is strongly opposed, and that drainage and filterage and the
use of soap in washing are manifestly unnatural things. That large,
naked, virtuous, pink, Natural Man, drinking pure spring water, eating
the fruits of the earth, and living to ninety in the open air is
a fantasy; he never was nor will be. The real savage is a nest of
parasites within and without, he smells, he rots, he starves. Forty is
a great age for him. He is as full of artifice as his civilized brother,
only not so wise. As for his moral integrity, let the curious inquirer
seek an account of the Tasmanian, or the Australian, or the Polynesian
before “sophistication” came.

The very existence and nature of man is an interference with Nature
and Nature’s ways, using Nature in this sense of the repudiation of
expedients. Man is the tool-using animal, the word-using animal, the
animal of artifice and reason, and the only possible “return to
Nature” for him--if we scrutinize the phrase--would be a return to the
scratching, promiscuous, arboreal simian. To rebel against instinct,
to rebel against limitation, to evade, to trip up, and at last to
close with and grapple and conquer the forces that dominate him, is the
fundamental being of man. And from the very outset of his existence,
from the instant of his birth, if the best possible thing is to be made
of him, wise contrivance must surround him. The soft, new, living thing
must be watched for every sign of discomfort, it must be weighed and
measured, it must be thought about, it must be talked to and sung to,
skilfully and properly, and presently it must be given things to see and
handle that the stirring germ of its mind may not go unsatisfied. From
the very beginning, if we are to do our best for a child, there must
be forethought and knowledge quite beyond the limit of instinct’s poor

Now, for a child to have all these needs supplied implies certain other
conditions. The constant loving attention is to be got only from a
mother or from some well-affected girl or woman. It is not a thing to be
hired for money, nor contrivable on any wholesale plan. Possibly there
may be ways of cherishing and nursing infants by wholesale that will
keep them alive, but at best these are second best ways, and we are
seeking the best possible. A very noble, exceptionally loving and quite
indefatigable woman might conceivably direct the development of three
or four little children from their birth onward, or, with very good
assistance, even of six or seven at a time, as well as a good mother
could do for one, but it would be a very rare and wonderful thing. We
must put that aside as an exceptional thing, quite impossible to provide
when it is most needed, and we must fall back upon the fact that the
child must have a mother or nurse--and it must have that attendant
exclusively to itself for the first year or so of life. The mother or
nurse must be in health, physically and morally, well fed and contented,
and able to give her attention mainly, if not entirely, to the little
child. The child must lie warmly in a well-ventilated room, with some
one availably in hearing day and night, there must be plentiful warm
water to wash it, plenty of wrappings and towellings and so forth for
it; it is best to take it often into the open air, and for this, under
urban or suburban conditions at any rate, a perambulator is almost
necessary. The room must be clean and brightly lit, and prettily and
interestingly coloured if we are to get the best results. These things
imply a certain standard of prosperity in the circumstances of the
child’s birth. Either the child must be fed in the best way from a
mother in health and abundance, or if it is to be bottle fed, there must
be the most elaborate provision for sterilizing and warming the milk,
and adjusting its composition to the changing powers of the child’s
assimilation. These conditions imply a house of a certain standard of
comfort and equipment, and it is manifest the mother cannot be earning
her own living before and about the time of the child’s birth, nor,
unless she is going to employ a highly skilled, trustworthy, and
probably expensive person as nurse, for some year or so after it. She or
the nurse must be of a certain standard of intelligence and education,
trained to be observant and keep her temper, and she must speak her
language with a good, clear accent. Moreover, behind the mother and
readily available, must be a highly-skilled medical man.

Not to have these things means a handicap. Not to have that very
watchful feeding and attention at first means a loss of nutrition, a
retarding of growth, that will either never be recovered or will
be recovered later at the expense of mental development or physical
strength. The early handicap may also involve a derangement of the
digestion, a liability to stomachic and other troubles, that may last
throughout life. Not to have the singing and talking, and the varied
interest of coloured objects and toys, means a falling away from the
best mental development, and a taciturn nurse, or a nurse with a base
accent, means backwardness and needless difficulty with the beginning of
speech. Not to be born within reach of abundant changes of clothing and
abundant water, means--however industrious and cleanly the instincts of
nurse and mother--a lack of the highest possible cleanliness and a
lack of health and vitality. And the absence of highly-skilled
medical advice, or the attentions of over-worked and under-qualified
practitioners, may convert a transitory crisis or a passing ailment into
permanent injury or fatal disorder.

It is very doubtful if these most favourable conditions fall to the
lot of more than a quarter of the children born to-day even in England,
where infant mortality is at its lowest. The rest start handicapped.
They start handicapped, and fail to reach their highest possible
development. They are born of mothers preoccupied by the necessity
of earning a living or by vain occupations, or already battered and
exhausted by immoderate child-bearing; they are born into insanity and
ugly or inconvenient homes, their mothers or nurses are ignorant and
incapable, there is insufficient food or incompetent advice, there is,
if they are town children, nothing for their lungs but vitiated air, and
there is not enough sunlight for them. And accordingly they fall away
at the very outset from what they might be, and for the most part they
never recover their lost start.

Just what this handicap amounts to, so far as it works out in physical
consequences, is to be gauged by certain almost classical figures, which
I have here ventured to present again in graphic form. These figures
do not present our total failure, they merely show how far the less
fortunate section of the community falls short of the more fortunate.
They are taken from Clifford Allbutt’s _System of Medicine_ (art.
“Hygiene of Youth,” Dr. Clement Dukes). 15,564 boys and young men were
measured and weighed to get these figures. The black columns indicate
the weight (+9 lbs. of clothes) and height respectively of youths of the
town artisan population, for the various ages from ten to twenty-five
indicated at the heads of the columns. The white additions to these
columns indicate the additional weight and height of the more favoured
classes at the same ages. Public school-boys, naval and military cadets,
medical and university students, were taken to represent the more
favoured classes. It will be noted that while the growth in height of
the lower class boy falls short from the very earliest years, the strain
of the adolescent period tells upon his weight, and no doubt upon his
general stamina, most conspicuously. These figures, it must be borne in
mind, deal with the living members of each class at the ages given. The
mortality, however, in the black or lower class is probably far higher
than in the upper class year by year, and if this could be allowed for
it would greatly increase the apparent failure of the lower class.
And these matters of height and weight are only coarse material
deficiencies. They serve to suggest, but they do not serve to gauge, the
far graver and sadder loss, the invisible and immeasurable loss through
mental and moral qualities undeveloped, through activities warped and
crippled and vitality and courage lowered.

Moreover, defective as are these urban artisans, they are, after
all, much more “picked” than the youth of the upper classes. They are
survivors of a much more stringent process of selection than goes on
amidst the more hygienic upper and middle-class conditions. The
opposite three columns represent the mortality of children under five
in Rutlandshire, where it is lowest, in the year 1900, in Dorsetshire, a
reasonably good county, and in Lancashire, the worst in England, for the
same year. Each entire column represents 1,000 births, and the blackened
portion represents the proportion of that 1,000 dead before the fifth
birthday. Now, unless we are going to assume that the children born in
Lancashire are inherently weaker than the children born in Rutland or
Dorset--and there is not the shadow of a reason why we should believe
that--we must suppose that at least 161 children out of every 1,000 in
Lancashire were killed by the conditions into which they were born.
That excess of blackness in the third column over that in the first
represents a holocaust of children, that goes on year by year, a
perennial massacre of the innocents, out of which no political capital
can be made, and which is accordingly outside the sphere of practical
politics altogether as things are at present. The same men who spouted
infinite mischief because a totally unforeseen and unavoidable epidemic
of measles killed some thousands of children in South Africa, who, for
some idiotic or wicked vote-catching purpose, attempted to turn that
epidemic to the permanent embitterment of Dutch and English, these
same men allow thousands and thousands of avoidable deaths of English
children close at hand to pass absolutely unnoticed. The fact that more
than 21,000 little children died needlessly in Lancashire in that very
same year means nothing to them at all. It cannot be used to embitter
race against race, and to hamper that process of world unification which
it is their pious purpose to delay.

It does not at all follow that even the Rutland 103 represents
the possible minimum of infant mortality. One learns from the
Register-General’s returns for 1891 that among the causes of death
specified in the three counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, and Hereford,
where infant mortality is scarcely half what it is in the three vilest
towns in England in this respect, Preston, Leicester, and Blackburn, the
number of children killed by injury at birth is three times as great
as it is in these same towns. Unclassified “violence” also accounts for
more infant deaths in the country than in towns. This suggests pretty
clearly a delayed and uncertain medical attendance and rough conditions,
and it points us to still better possibilities. These diagrams and these
facts justify together a reasonable hope that the mortality of infants
under five throughout England might be brought to less than one-third
what it is in child-destroying Lancashire at the present time, to a
figure that is well under ninety in the thousand.

A portion of infant and child mortality represents no doubt the
lingering and wasteful removal from this world of beings with inherent
defects, beings who, for the most part, ought never to have been born,
and need not have been born under conditions of greater foresight.
These, however, are the merest small fraction of our infant mortality.
It leaves untouched the fact that a vast multitude of children of
untainted blood and good mental and moral possibilities, as many,
perhaps, as 100 in each 1,000 born, die yearly through insufficient
food, insufficient good air, and insufficient attention. The plain and
simple truth is that they are born needlessly. There are still too many
births for our civilisation to look after, we are still unfit to be
trusted with a rising birth-rate. [Footnote: It is a digression from
the argument of this Paper, but I would like to point out here a very
popular misconception about the birth-rate which needs exposure. It is
known that the birth-rate is falling in all European countries--a fall
which has a very direct relation to a rise in the mean standard of
comfort and the average age at marriage--and alarmists foretell a time
when nations will be extinguished through this decline. They ascribe
it to a certain decay in religious faith, to the advance of science
and scepticism, and so forth; it is a part, they say, of a general
demoralization. The thing is a popular cant and quite unsupported by
facts. The decline in the birth-rate is--so far as England and Wales
goes--partly a real decline due to a decline in gross immorality, partly
to a real decline due to the later age at which women marry, and partly
a statistical decline due to an increased proportion of people too old
or too young for child-bearing. Wherever the infant mortality is falling
there is an apparent misleading fall in the birth-rate due to the
“loading” of the population with children. Here are the sort of figures
that are generally given. They are the figures for England and Wales for
two typical periods.

           Period 1846-1850     33 8 births per 1000
           Period 1896-1900     28 0 births per 1000
                                 5.8 fall in the birth-rate.

This as it stands is very striking. But if we take the death-rates of
these two periods we find that they have fallen also.

           Period 1846-1850     23 3 deaths per 1000
           Period 1896-1900     17 7 deaths per 1000
                                 5.6 fall in the death-rate.

Let us subtract death-rate from birth-rate and that will give the
effective rate of increase of the population.

           Period 1846-1850    10 5 effective rate of increase
           Period 1896-1900    10 3 effective rate of increase
                                 .2 fall in the rate of increase.

But now comes a curious thing that those who praise the good old
pre-Board School days--the golden age of virtuous innocence--ignore. The
_Illegitimate births_ in 1846-1850 numbered 2.2 per 1000, in 1896-1900
they numbered 1.2 per 1000. So that if it were not for this fall in
illegitimate births the period 1896-1900 would show a positive rise in
the effective rate of increase of .8 per thousand. The eminent persons
therefore who ascribe our falling birth-rate to irreligion and so forth,
either speak without knowledge or with some sort of knowledge beyond my
ken. England is, as a matter of fact, becoming not only more hygienic
and rational, but more moral and more temperate. The highly moral,
healthy, prolific, pious England of the past is just another poetical
delusion of the healthy savage type.]

These poor little souls are born, amidst tears and suffering they gain
such love as they may, they learn to feel and suffer, they struggle and
cry for food, for air, for the right to develop; and our civilisation at
present has neither the courage to kill them outright quickly, cleanly,
and painlessly, nor the heart and courage and ability to give them what
they need. They are overlooked and misused, they go short of food
and air, they fight their pitiful little battle for life against the
cruellest odds; and they are beaten. Battered, emaciated, pitiful, they
are thrust out of life, borne out of our regardless world, stiff little
life-soiled sacrifices to the spirit of disorder against which it is
man’s preeminent duty to battle. There has been all the pain in their
lives, there has been the radiated pain of their misery, there has been
the waste of their grudged and insufficient food, and all the pain
and labour of their mothers, and all the world is the sadder for them
because they have lived in vain.

§ 2

Now, since our imaginary New Republic, which is to set itself to the
making of a better generation of men, will find the possibility of
improving the race by selective breeding too remote for anything but
further organised inquiry, it is evident that its first point of attack
will have to be the wastage of such births as the world gets to-day.
Throughout the world the New Republic will address itself to this
problem, and when a working solution has been obtained, then the New
Republican on press and platform, the New Republican in pulpit and
theatre, the New Republican upon electoral committee and in the ballot
box, will press weightily to see that solution realised. Upon the theory
of New Republicanism as it was discussed in our first paper an effective
solution (effective enough, let us say, to abolish seventy or eighty per
cent.) of this scandal of infantile suffering would have precedence over
almost every existing political consideration.

The problem of securing the maximum chance of life and health for every
baby born into the world is an extremely complicated one, and the reader
must not too hastily assume that a pithy, complete recipe is attempted
here. Yet, complicated though the problem is, there does not occur any
demonstrable impossibility such as there is in the question of selective
breeding. I believe that a solution is possible, that its broad lines
may be already stated, and that it could very easily be worked out to an
immediate practical application.

Let us glance first at a solution that is now widely understood to be
incorrect. Philanthropic people in the past have attempted, and many are
still striving, to meet the birth waste by the very obvious expedients
of lying-in hospitals, orphanages and foundling institutions, waifs’
homes, Barnardo institutions and the like, and within certain narrow
limits these things no doubt serve a useful purpose in individual cases.
But nowadays there is an increasing indisposition to meet the general
problem by such methods, because nowadays people are alive to certain
ulterior consequences that were at first overlooked. Any extensive
relief of parental responsibility we now know pretty certainly will
serve to encourage and stimulate births in just those strata of society
where it would seem to be highly reasonable to believe they are least
desirable. It is just where the chances for a child are least that
passions are grossest, basest, and most heedless, and stand in the
greatest need of a sense of the gravity of possible consequences to
control their play, and to render it socially innocuous. If we were
to take over or assist all the children born below a certain level of
comfort, or, rather, if we were to take over their mothers before the
birth occurred, and bring up that great mass of children under the best
conditions for them--supposing this to be possible--it would only leave
our successors in the next generation a heavier task of the same sort.
The assisted population would grow generation by generation relatively
to the assisting until the Sinbad of Charity broke down. And quite early
in the history of Charities it was found that a very grave impediment to
their beneficial action lay in one of the most commendable qualities to
be found in poor and poorish people, and that is pride. While Charities,
perhaps, catch the quite hopeless cases, they leave untouched the
far more extensive mass of births in non-pauper, not very prosperous
homes--the lower middle-class homes in towns, for example, which supply
a large proportion of poorly developed adults to our community. Mr.
Seebohm Rowntree, in his “Poverty” (that noble, able, valuable book),
has shown that nearly thirty per cent. at least of a typical English
town population goes short of the physical necessities of life. These
people are fiercely defensive in such matters as this, and one may no
more usurp and share their parental responsibility, badly though they
discharge it, than one may handle the litter of a she-wolf.

These considerations alone would suffice to make us very suspicious of
the philanthropic method of direct assistance, so far as the remedial
aspect goes. But there is another more sweeping and comprehensive
objection to this method. Philanthropic institutions, as a matter of
fact, rarely succeed in doing what they profess and intend to do.

I do not allude here to the countless swindlers and sham institutions
that levy a tremendous tribute upon the heedless good. Quite apart
from that wastage altogether, and speaking only of such _bonâ fide_
institutions as would satisfy Mr. Labouchere, they do not work. It
is one thing for the influential and opulent inactive person of good
intentions to provide a magnificent building and a lavish endowment
for some specific purpose, and quite another to attain in reality the
ostensible end of the display. It is easy to create a general effect of
providing comfort and tender care for helpless women who are becoming
mothers, and of tending and training and educating their children, but,
in cold fact, it is impossible to get enough capable and devoted people
to do the work. In cold fact, lying-in hospitals have a tendency
to become austere, hard, unsympathetic, wholesale concerns, with a
disposition to confuse and substitute moral for physical well-being. In
cold fact, orphanages do not present any perplexing resemblance to an
earthly paradise. However warm the heart behind the cheque, the human
being at the other end of the chain is apt to find the charity no more
than a rather inhuman machine. Shining devotees there are, but able,
courageous, and vigorous people are rare, and the world urges a thousand
better employments upon them than the care of inferior mothers and
inferior children. Exceptionally good people owe the world the duty of
parentage themselves, and it follows that the rank and file of those in
the service of Charity falls far below the standard necessary to
give these poor children that chance in the world the cheque-writing
philanthropist believes he is giving them. The great proportion of the
servants and administrators of Charities are doing that work because
they can get nothing better to do--and it is not considered remarkably
high-class work. These things have to be reckoned with by every
philanthropic person with sufficient faith to believe that an enterprise
may not only look well, but do well. One gets a Waugh or a Barnardo
now and then, a gleam of efficiency in the waste, and for the rest this
spectacle of stinted thought and unstinted giving, this modern Charity,
is often no more than a pretentious wholesale substitute for retail
misery and disaster. Fourteen million pounds a year, I am told, go to
British Charities, and I doubt if anything like a fair million’s worth
of palliative amelioration is attained for this expenditure. As for any
permanent improvement, I doubt if all these Charities together achieve
a net advance that could not be got by the discreet and able expenditure
of ten or twelve thousand pounds.

It is one of the grimmest ironies in life, that athwart the memory of
sainted founders should be written the most tragic consequences. The
Foundling Hospital of London, established by Coram--to save infant
lives!--buried, between 1756 and 1760, 10,534 children out of 14,934
received, and the Dublin Foundling Hospital (suppressed in 1835) had a
mortality of eighty per cent. The two great Russian institutions are,
I gather, about equally deadly with seventy-five per cent., and the
Italian institutes run to about ninety per cent. The Florentine boasts a
very beautiful and touching series of _putti_ by Delia Robbia, that does
little or nothing to diminish its death-rate. So far from preventing
infant murder these places, with the noblest intentions in the world,
have, for all practical purposes, organized it. The London Foundling, be
it noted, in the reorganized form it assumed after its first massacres,
is not a Foundling Hospital at all. An extremely limited number of
children, the illegitimate children of recommended respectable but
unfortunate mothers, are converted into admirable bandsmen for the
defence of the Empire or trained to be servants for people who feel the
need of well-trained servants, at a gross cost that might well fill the
mind of many a poor clergyman’s son with amazement and envy. And this is
probably a particularly well-managed charity. It is doing all that can
be expected of it, and stands far above the general Charitable average.

Every Poor Law Authority comes into the tangles of these perplexities.
Upon the hands of every one of them come deserted children, the children
of convicted criminals, the children of pauper families, a miscellaneous
pitiful succession of responsibilities. The enterprises they are forced
to undertake to meet these charges rest on taxation, a financial basis
far stabler than the fitful good intentions of the rich, but apart from
this advantage there is little about them to differentiate them from
Charities. The method of treatment varies from a barrack system, in
which the children are herded in huge asylums like those places between
Sutton and Banstead, to what is perhaps preferable, the system of
boarding-out little groups of children with suitable poor people.
Provided such boarded-out children are systematically weighed, measured
and examined, and at once withdrawn when they drop below average
mental and bodily progress, it would seem more likely that a reasonable
percentage should grow into ordinary useful citizens under these latter
conditions than under the former.

It is well, however, to anticipate a very probable side result if we
make the boarding out of pauper children a regular rural industry. There
will arise in many rural homes a very strong pecuniary inducement to
limit the family. Side by side will be a couple with eight children--of
their own, struggling hard to keep them, and another family with, let
us say, two children of their own blood and six “boarded-out,” living in
relative opulence. That side consequence must be anticipated. For my own
part and for the reasons given in the second of these papers, I do not
see that it is a very serious one so far as the future goes, because I
do not think there is much to choose between the “heredity” of the rural
and the urban strain. It is nonsense to pretend that we shall get the
fine flower of the cottage population to board pauper children; we shall
induce respectable inferior people living in healthy conditions to take
care of an inferior sort of children rescued from unhealthy disreputable
conditions--that is all. The average inherent quality of the resultant
adults will be about the same whichever element predominates.

Possibly this indifference may seem undesirable. But we must bear in
mind that the whole problem is hard to cope with, it is an aspect
of failure, and no sentimental juggling with facts will convert the
business into a beautiful or desirable thing. Somehow or other we have
to pay. All expedients must be palliatives, all will involve sacrifices;
we must, no doubt, adopt some of them for our present necessities, but
they are like famine relief works, to adopt them in permanence is a
counsel of despair.

Clearly it is not along these lines that the capable men-makers we
suppose to be attacking the problem will spend much of their energies.
All the experiences of Charities and Poor-Law Authorities simply confirm
our postulate of the necessity of a standard of comfort if a child is
to have a really good initial chance in the world. The only conceivable
solution of this problem is one that will ensure that no child, or only
a few accidental and exceptional children, will be born outside these
advantages. It is no good trying to sentimentalize the issue away. This
is the end we must attain, to attain any effectual permanent improvement
in the conditions of childhood. A certain number of people have to be
discouraged and prevented from parentage, and a great number of homes
have to be improved. How can we ensure these ends, or how far can we go
towards ensuring them?

The first step to ensuring them is certainly to do all we can to
discourage reckless parentage, and to render it improbable and
difficult. We must make sure that whatever we do for the children,
the burden of parental responsibility must not be lightened a
feather-weight. All the experience of two hundred years of charity
and poor law legislation sustains that. But to accept that as a first
principle is one thing, and to apply it by using a wretched little child
as our instrument in the exemplary punishment of its parent is another.
At present that is our hideous practice. So long as the parents are not
convicted criminals, so long as they do not practise indictable cruelty
upon their offspring, so long as the children themselves fall short of
criminality, we insist upon the parent “keeping” the child. It may be
manifest the child is ill-fed, harshly treated, insufficiently clothed,
dirty and living among surroundings harmful to body and soul alike, but
we merely take the quivering damaged victim and point the moral to the
parent. “This is what comes of your recklessness,” we say. “Aren’t
you ashamed of it?” And after inscrutable meditations the fond parent
usually answers us by sending out the child to beg or sell matches or
by some equally effective retort. Now a great number of excellent people
pretend that this is a dilemma. “Take the child away,” it is argued,
“and you remove one of the chief obstacles to the reckless reproduction
of the unfit. Leave it in the parents’ hands and you must have the
cruelty.” But really this is not a dilemma at all. There is a quite
excellent middle way. It may not be within the sphere of practical
politics at present--if not, it is work for the New Republic to get it
there--but it would practically settle all this problem of neglected
children. This way is simply to make the parent the debtor to society on
account of the child for adequate food, clothing, and care for at least
the first twelve or thirteen years of life, and in the event of parental
default to invest the local authority with exceptional powers of
recovery in this matter. It would be quite easy to set up a minimum
standard of clothing, cleanliness, growth, nutrition and education, and
provide, that if that standard was not maintained by a child, or if the
child was found to be bruised or maimed without the parents being able
to account for these injuries, the child should be at once removed from
the parental care, and the parents charged with the cost of a suitable
maintenance--which need not be excessively cheap. If the parents failed
in the payments they could be put into celibate labour establishments
to work off as much of the debt as they could, and they would not be
released until their debt was fully discharged. Legislation of this type
would not only secure all and more of the advantages children of the
least desirable sort now get from charities and public institutions, but
it would certainly invest parentage with a quite unprecedented gravity
for the reckless, and it would enormously reduce the number of births
of the least desirable sort. Into this net, for example, every habitual
drunkard who was a parent would, for his own good and the world’s, be
almost certain to fall. [Footnote: Mr. C. G. Stuart Menteath has favored
me with some valuable comments upon this point. He writes: “I agree
that calling such persons as have shown themselves incapable of parental
duties debtors to the State, would help to reconcile popular ideas of
the ‘liberty of the subject’ with the enforcement as well as the passing
of such laws. But the notions of drastically enforcing parental duties,
and of discouraging and even prohibiting the marriages of those unable
to show their ability to perform these duties, has long prevailed. See
Nicholl’s _History of the Poor Law_ (1898, New Edition), i. 229, and ii.
140, 278, where you will find chargeable bastardy has been punishable
in the first offence by one year’s imprisonment, and in the second,
by imprisonment until sureties are given, which thus might amount to
imprisonment for life. See also, J. S. Mill, _Political Economy_, Bk.
II., ch. ii., for extreme legislation on the Continent against the
marriage of people unable to support a family. In Denmark there seem
to be very severe laws impeding the marriage of those who have
been paupers. The English law was sufficiently effective to produce
infanticide, so that a law was passed making concealment of birth almost

So much for the worst fringe of this question, the maltreated children,
the children of the slum, the children of drunkards and criminals, and
the illegitimate. But the bulk of the children of deficient growth,
the bulk of the excessive mortality, lies above the level of such
intervention, and the method of attack of the New Republican must
be less direct. Happily there already exists a complicated mass of
legislation that without any essential change of principle could be
applied to this object.

The first of the expedients which would lead to a permanent improvement
in these matters is the establishment of a minimum of soundness and
sanitary convenience in houses, below which standard it shall be illegal
to inhabit a house at all. There should be a certain relation between
the size of rooms and their ventilating appliances, a certain minimum
of lighting, certain conditions of open space about the house and sane
rules about foundations and materials. These regulations would vary with
the local density of population--many things are permissible in Romney
marsh, for example, which the south-west wind sweeps everlastingly, that
would be deadly in Rotherhithe. At present in England there are local
building regulations, for the most part vexatious and stupid to an
almost incredible degree, and compiled without either imagination or
understanding, but it should be possible to substitute for these a
national minimum of habitability without any violent revolution. A house
that failed to come up to this minimum--which might begin very low and
be raised at intervals of years--would, after due notice, be pulled
down. It might be pulled down and the site taken over and managed by
the local authority--allowing its owner a portion of its value in
compensation--if it was evident his failure to keep up to the standard
had an adequate excuse. In time it might be possible to level up the
minimum standard of all tenements in towns and urban districts at any
rate to the possession of a properly equipped bathroom for example,
without which, for hardworking people, regular cleanliness is a
practical impossibility. This process of levelling-up the minimum
tenement would be enormously aided by a philanthropic society which
would devote itself to the study of building methods and materials,
to the evolution of conveniences, and the direction of invention to
lessening the cost and complication of building wholesome dwellings.

The state of repair of inhabited buildings is also already a matter of
public concern. All that is needed is a slow, persistent tightening-up
of the standard. This would ensure, at any rate, that the outer shell
of the child’s surroundings gave it a fair chance in life. In the next
place comes legislation against overcrowding. There must be a maximum
number of inhabitants to any tenement, and a really sane law will be
far more stringent to secure space and air for young children than
for adults. There is little reason, except the possible harbouring of
parasites and infectious disease, why five or six adults should not
share a cask on a dust heap as a domicile--if it pleases them. But
directly children come in we touch the future. The minimum permissible
tenement for a maximum of two adults and a very young child is one
properly ventilated room capable of being heated, with close and easy
access to sanitary conveniences, a constant supply of water and easy
means of getting warm water. More than one child should mean another
room, and it seems only reasonable if we go so far as this, to go
further and require a minimum of furniture and equipment, a fire-guard,
for instance, and a separate bed or cot for the child. In a civilized
community little children should not sleep with adults, and the killing
of children by “accidental” overlaying should be a punishable offence.
[Footnote: In the returns I have quoted from Blackburn, Leicester, and
Preston the number of deaths from suffocation per 100,000 infants born
was 232 in the first year of life. ]

If a woman does not wish to be dealt with as a half-hearted murderess
she should not behave like one. It should also be punishable on the part
of a mother to leave children below a certain age alone for longer than
a certain interval. It is absurd to punish people as we do, for the
injuries inflicted by them upon their children during uncontrollable
anger, and not to punish them for the injuries inflicted by uncontrolled
carelessness. Such legislation should ensure children space, air and
attention. [Footnote: It is less within the range of commonly grasped
ideas, it is therefore less within the range of practical expedients,
to point out that a graduated scale of building regulation might be
contrived for use in different localities. Districts could be classed
in grades determined by the position of each district in the scale
of infant mortality, and in those in which the rate was highest the
hygienic standard could be made most stringent and onerous upon the
house owner. This would force up the price of house-room, and that would
force up the price of labour, and this would give the proprietors of
unwholesome industries a personal interest in hygienic conditions
about them. It would also tend to force population out of districts
intrinsically unhealthy into districts intrinsically healthy. The
statistics of low-grade districts could be examined to discover the
distinctive diseases which determine their lowness of grade, and if
these were preventable diseases they could be controlled by special
regulations. A further extension of these principles might be made.
Direct inducements to attract the high birth-rates towards exceptionally
healthy districts could be contrived by a differential rating of sound
families with children in such districts, the burthen of heavy rates
could be thrown upon silly and selfish landowners who attempted to
stifle sound populations by using highly habitable areas as golf links,
private parks, game preserves, and the like, and public-spirited people
could combine to facilitate communications that would render life in
such districts compatible with industrial occupation. Such deliberate
redistribution of population as this differential treatment of districts
involves, is, however, quite beyond the available power and intelligence
of our public control at present, and I suggest it here as something
that our grandchildren perhaps may begin to consider. But if in the
obscurity of this footnote I may let myself go, I would point out that,
in the future, a time may come when locomotion will be so swift and
convenient and cheap that it will be unnecessary to spread out the homes
of our great communities where the industrial and trading centres are
gathered together; it will be unnecessary for each district to sustain
the renewal and increase of its own population. Certain wide regions
will become specifically administrative and central--the home lands, the
mother lands, the centres of education and population, and others will
become specifically fields of action. Something of this kind is to a
slight degree already the case with Scotland, which sends out its
hardy and capable sons wherever the world has need of them; the Swiss
mountains, too, send their sons far and wide in the world; and on the
other hand, with regard to certain elements of population, at any rate,
London and the Gold Coast and, I suspect, some regions in the United
States of America, receive to consume.]

But it will be urged that these things are likely to bear rather
severely on the very poor parent. To which a growing number of people
will reply that the parent should not be a parent under circumstances
that do not offer a fair prospect of sound child-birth and nurture. It
is no good trying to eat our cake and have it; if the parent does not
suffer the child will, and of the two, we, of the New Republic, have no
doubt that the child is the more important thing.

It may be objected, however, that existing economic conditions make life
very uncertain for many very sound and wholesome kinds of people, and
that it is oppressive and likely to rob the State of good citizens to
render parentage burthensome, and to surround it with penalties. But
that directs our attention to a second scheme of expedients which have
crystallized about the expression, the Minimum Wage. The cardinal idea
of this group of expedients is this, that it is unjust and cruel in the
present and detrimental to the future of the world to let any one be
fully employed at a rate of payment at which a wholesome, healthy, and,
by the standards of comfort at the time, a reasonable happy life is
impossible. _It is better in the long run that people whose character
and capacity will not render it worth while to employ them at the
Minimum Wage should not be employed at all._ The sweated employment of
such people, as Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb show most conclusively in
their great work, “Industrial Democracy,” arrests the development of
labour-saving machinery, replaces and throws out of employment superior
and socially more valuable labour, enables these half capables to
establish base families of inadequately fed and tended children (which
presently collapse upon public and private charity), and so lowers and
keeps down the national standard of life. As these writers show very
clearly, an industry that cannot adequately sustain sound workers is
not in reality a source of public wealth at all, but a disease and a
parasite upon the public body. It is eating up citizens the State
has had the expense of educating, and very often the indirect cost of
rearing. Obviously the minimum wage for a civilized adult male should
be sufficient to cover the rent of the minimum tenement permissible
with three or four children, the maintenance of himself and his wife and
children above the minimum standard of comfort, his insurance against
premature or accidental death or temporary economic or physical
disablement, some minimum provision for old age and a certain margin for
the exercise of his individual freedom. [Footnote: An excellent account
of experiments already tried in the establishment of a Minimum Wage
will be found in W.P. Reeves’ _State Experiments in Australia and New
Zealand_, vol. ii., p. 47 _et seq_.]

So that while those who are bent on this conception of making economy
in life and suffering the guiding principle of their public and social
activity, are seeking to brace up the quality of the home on the one
hand, they must also do all they can to bring about the realization of
this ideal of a minimum wage on the other. In the case of government and
public employment and of large, well-organized industries, the way is
straight and open, and the outlook very hopeful. Wherever licenses,
tariffs, and any sort of registration occurs there are practicable means
of bringing in this expedient. But where the employment is shifting and
sporadic, or free from regulation, there we have a rent in our social
sieve, and the submissive, eager inferior will still come in, the
failures of our own race, the immigrant from baser lands, desperately
and disastrously underselling our sound citizens. Obviously we must
use every contrivance we can to mend these rents, by promoting the
organization of employments in any way that will not hamper progress in
economic production. And if we can persuade the Trade Unions--and there
is every sign that the old mediaeval guild conception of water-tight
trade limitations is losing its hold upon those organizations--to
facilitate the movement of workers from trade to trade under the
shifting stress of changing employment and of changing economy of
production, we shall have gone far to bring the possibilities of the
rising operative up to the standard of the minimum home permissible for

These things--if we could bring them about--would leave us with a sort
of clarified Problem of the Unemployed on our hands. Our Minimum Wage
would have strained these people out, and, provided there existed what
is already growing up, an intelligent system of employment bureaus, we
should have much more reason to conclude than we have at present, that
they were mainly unemployed because of a real incapacity in character,
strength, or intelligence for efficient citizenship. Our raised
standards of housing, our persecution of overcrowding, and our
obstruction of employment below the minimum wage, would have swept out
the rookeries and hiding-places of these people of the Abyss. They would
exist, but they would not multiply--and that is our supreme end. They
would be tramping on roads where mendicity laws would prevail, there
would be no house-room for them, no squatting-places. The casual wards
would catch them and register them, and telephone one to the other about
them. It is rare that children come into this world without a parent or
so being traceable. Everything would converge to convince these people
that to bear children into such an unfavourable atmosphere is an
extremely inconvenient and undesirable thing. They would not have many
children, and such children as they had would fall easily into our
organized net and get the protection of the criticised and improved
development of the existing charitable institutions. [Footnote: “I
wonder whether there is any legal flaw in the second section of the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act of 1894, which may have been
_specially_ aimed at beggars with offspring. It is specially punishable
to beg having an infant in their arms, quite apart from teaching the
infant in question to beg. Or is this law insufficiently enforced
through popular apathy?”--C. G. STUART MENTEATH.] This is the best we
can do for those poor little creatures. As for that increasing section
of the Abyss that will contrive to live childless, these papers have no
quarrel with them. A childless wastrel is a terminating evil, and it may
be, a picturesque evil. I must confess that a lazy rogue is very much
to my taste, provided there is no tragedy of children to smear the joke
with misery. And if he or she neither taints nor tempts the children,
who are our care, a childless weakling we may freely let our pity and
mercy go out to. To go childless is in them a virtue for which they
merit our thanks.

These are the first necessities, then, in the Making of Men and the
bettering of the world, this courageous interference with what so many
people call “Nature’s methods” and “Nature’s laws,” though, indeed, they
are no more than the methods and laws of the beasts. By such expedients
we may hope to see, first, a certain fall in the birth-rate, a fall
chiefly in the birth-rate of improvident, vicious, and feeble types, a
continuation, in fact, of that fall that is already so conspicuous
in illegitimate births in Great Britain; secondly, a certain, almost
certainly more considerable fall in the death-rate of infants and
young children, and that fall in the infantile death-rate will serve to
indicate, thirdly, a fall no statistics will fully demonstrate in what
I may call the partial death-rate, the dwarfing and limiting of that
innumerable host of children who do, in an underfed, meagre sort of a
way, survive. This raising of the standard of homes will do a work that
will not end with the children; the death-line will sag downward for
all the first twenty or thirty years of life. Dull-minded, indolent,
prosperous people will say that all this is no more than a proposal to
make man better by machinery, that you cannot reform the world by Board
of Trade Regulations and all the rest of it. They will say that such
work as this is a scheme of grim materialism, and that the Soul of
Man gains no benefit by this “so-called Progress,” that it is not
birth-rates that want raising but Ideals. We shall deal later with
Ideals in general. Here I will mention only one, and that is, unhappily,
only an Ideal Argument. I wish I could get together all these people
who are so scornful of materialistic things, out of the excessively
comfortable houses they inhabit, and I wish I could concentrate them in
a good typical East London slum--five or six together in each room, one
lodging with another, and I wish I could leave them there to demonstrate
the superiority of high ideals to purely material considerations for
the rest of their earthly career while we others went on with our sordid
work unencumbered by their ideality.

Think what these dry-looking projects of building and trade regulation,
and inspection and sanitation, mean in reality! think of the promise
they hold out to us of tears and suffering abolished, of lives
invigorated and enlarged!

[Endnote 1

I am greatly obliged to Mr. J. Leaver for a copy of the following



“Attention is drawn to the frequency with which the death of young
children is caused owing to their clothing taking fire at unprotected
firegrates. During the years 1899 and 1900 inquests were held on the
bodies of 1684 YOUNG CHILDREN whose death had resulted from burning,
and in 1425 of these cases the fire by which the burning was caused was
unprotected by a guard.

“With a view to prevent such deplorable loss of life it is suggested to
Parents and Guardians, who have the care of young children, that it is
very desirable that efficient fire-guards should be provided, in
order to render it impossible for children to obtain access to the


“The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

“Metropolitan Police Office,

“New Scotland Yard,

“January 28th, 1902.”]


§ 1

The newborn child is at first no more than an animal. Indeed, it is
among the lowest and most helpless of all animals, a mere vegetative
lump; assimilation incarnate--wailing. It is for the first day in its
life deaf, it squints blindly at the world, its limbs are beyond its
control, its hands clutch drowningly at anything whatever that drifts
upon this vast sea of being into which it has plunged so amazingly. And
imperceptibly, subtly, so subtly that never at any time can we mark with
certainty the increment of its coming, there creeps into this soft and
claimant little creature a mind, a will, a personality, the beginning of
all that is real and spiritual in man. In a little while there are eyes
full of interest and clutching hands full of purpose, smiles and frowns,
the babbling beginning of expression and affections and aversions.
Before the first year is out there is obedience and rebellion, choice
and self-control, speech has commenced, and the struggle of the newcomer
to stand on his feet in this world of men. The process is unanalyzable;
given a certain measure of care and protection, these things come
spontaneously; with the merest rough encouragement of things and voices
about the child, they are evoked.

But every day the inherent impulse makes a larger demand upon the
surroundings of the child, if it is to do its best and fullest.
Obviously, quite apart from physical consequences, the environment of
a little child may be good or bad, better or worse for it in a thousand
different ways. It may be distracting or over-stimulating, it may evoke
and increase fear, it may be drab and dull and depressing, it may be
stupefying, it may be misleading and productive of vicious habits
of mind. And our business is to find just what is the best possible
environment, the one that will give the soundest and fullest growth, not
only of body but of intelligence.

Now from the very earliest phase the infant stands in need of a
succession of interesting things. At first these are mere vague sense
impressions, but in a month or so there is a distinct looking at
objects; presently follows reaching and clutching, and soon the
little creature is urgent for fresh things to see, handle, hear, fresh
experiences of all sorts, fresh combinations of things already known.
The newborn mind is soon as hungry as the body. And if a healthy wellfed
child cries, it is probably by reason of this unsatisfied hunger,
it lacks an interest, it is bored, that dismal vacant suffering that
punishes the failure of living things to live fully and completely.
As Mr. Charles Booth has pointed out in his _Life and Labour of the
People_, it is probable that in this respect the children of the
relatively poor are least at a disadvantage. The very poor infant
passes its life in the family room, there is a going and coming, and
interesting activity of domestic work on the part of its mother, the
preparation of meals, the intermittent presence of the father, the whole
gamut of its mother’s unsophisticated temper. It is carried into crowded
and eventful streets at all hours. It participates in pothouse soirées
and assists at the business of shopping. It may not lead a very hygienic
life, but it does not lead a dull one. Contrast with its lot that of
the lonely child of some woman of fashion, leading its beautifully
non-bacterial life in a carefully secluded nursery under the control of
a virtuous, punctual, invariable, conscientious rather than emotional
nurse. The poor little soul wails as often for events as the slum baby
does for nourishment. Into its grey nursery there rushes every day,
or every other day, a breathless, preoccupied, excessively dressed,
cleverish, many-sided, fundamentally silly, and universally incapable
woman, vociferates a little conventional affection, slaps a kiss or so
upon her offspring, and goes off again to collect that daily meed of
admiration and cheap envy which is the gusto of her world. After that
gushing, rustling, incomprehensible passage, the child relapses into the
boring care of its bored hireling for another day. The nurse writes her
letters, mends her clothes, reads and thinks of the natural interests of
her own life, and the child is “good” just in proportion to the extent
to which it doesn’t “worry.”

That, of course, is an extreme case. It assumes a particularly bad
mother and a particularly ill-chosen nurse, and what is probably only
a transitory phase of sexual debasement. The average nurse of the
upper-class child is often a woman of highly developed motherly
instincts, and it is probable that our upper class and our upper
middle-class is passing or has already passed through that phase of
thought which has made solitary children so common in the last decade
or so. The effective contrast must not take us too far. We must remember
that all women do not possess the passion for nursing, and that some of
those who are defective in this direction may be, for all that, women
of exceptional gifts and capacity, and fully capable of offspring.
Civilization is based on the organized subdivision of labour, and, as
the able lady who writes as “L’amie Inconnue” in the _County Gentleman_
has pointed out in a very helpful criticism of the original version
of this paper, it is as absurd to require every woman to be a nursery
mother as it is, to require every man to till the soil. We move from
homogeneous to heterogeneous conditions, and we must beware of every
generalization we make.

For all that, one is inclined to think the ideal average environment
should contain the almost constant presence of the mother, for no one
is so likely to be continuously various and interesting and untiring as
she, and only as an exception, for exceptional mothers and nurses, can
we admit the mother-substitute. When we admit her we admit other
things. It is entirely on account of such an ideal environment, we
must remember, that monogamy finds its practical sanction; it claims to
ensure the presiding mother the maximum of security and self-respect. A
woman who enjoys the full rights of a wife to maintenance and exclusive
attention, without a complete discharge of the duties of motherhood,
profits by the imputation of things she has failed to perform. She may
be justified by other things, by an effectual co-operation with her
husband in joint labours for example, but she has altered her footing
none the less. To secure an ideal environment for children in as many
cases as possible is the second of the two great practical ends--the
first being sound births, for which the restrictions of sexual morality
exist. In addition there is the third almost equally important matter
of adult efficiency; we have to adjust affairs, if we can, to secure
the maximum of health, sane happiness and vigorous mental and physical
activity, and to abolish, as far as possible, passionate broodings,
over-stimulated appetites, disease, and destructive indulgence. Apart
from these aspects, sexual morality is outside the scope of the New
Republican altogether. . . . Do not let this passage be misunderstood.
I do not mean that a New Republican ignores sexual morality except on
these grounds, but so far as his New Republicanism goes he does, just
as a member of the Aeronautical Society, so far as his aeronautical
interests go, or as an ecclesiastical architect, so far as his
architecture goes.

The ideal environment should, without any doubt at all, centre about
a nursery--a clean, airy, brightly lit, brilliantly adorned room, into
which there should be a frequent coming and going of things and people;
but from the time the child begins to recognize objects and individuals
it should be taken for little spells into other rooms and different
surroundings. In the homely, convenient, servantless abode over which
the able-bodied, capable, skilful, civilized women of the ordinary sort
will preside in the future, the child will naturally follow its mother’s
morning activities from room to room. Its mother will talk to it, chance
visitors will sign to it. There should be a public or private garden
available where its perambulator could stand in fine weather; and its
promenades should not be too much a matter of routine. To go along a
road with some traffic is better for a child than to go along a secluded
path between hedges; a street corner is better than a laurel plantation
as a pitch for perambulators.

When a child is five or six months old it will have got a certain use
and grip with its hands, and it will want to handle and examine and test
the properties of as many objects as it can. Gifts begin. There seems
scope for a wiser selection in these early gifts. At present it is
chiefly woolly animals with bells inside them, woolly balls, and so
forth, that reach the baby’s hands. There is no reason at all why a
child’s attention should be so predominantly fixed on wool. These toys
are coloured very tastefully, but as Preyer has advanced strong reasons
for supposing that the child’s discrimination of colours is extremely
rudimentary until the second year has begun, these tasteful arrangements
are simply an appeal to the parent. Light, dark, yellow, perhaps red
and “other colours” seem to constitute the colour system of a very
young infant. It is to the parent, too, that the humorous and realistic
quality of the animal forms appeal. The parent does the shopping and has
to be amused. The parent who ought to have a doll instead of a child is
sufficiently abundant in our world to dominate the shops, and there is a
vast traffic in facetious baby toys, facetious nursery furniture, “art”
 cushions and “quaint” baby clothing, all amazingly delightful things for
grown-up people. These things are bought and grouped about the child,
the child is taught tricks to complete the picture, and parentage
becomes a very amusing afternoon employment. So long as convenience
is not sacrificed to the æsthetic needs of the nursery, and so long as
common may compete with “art” toys, there is no great harm done, but it
is well to understand how irrelevant these things are to the real needs
of a child’s development.

A child of a year or less has neither knowledge nor imagination to see
the point of these animal resemblances--much less to appreciate either
quaintness or prettiness. That comes only in the second year. He is much
more interested in the crumpling and tearing of paper, in the crumpling
of chintz, and in the taking off and replacing of the lid of a little
box. I think it would be possible to devise a much more entertaining
set of toys for an infant than is at present procurable, but, unhappily,
they would not appeal to the intelligence of the average parent. There
would be, for example, one or two little boxes of different shapes and
substances, with lids to take off and on, one or two rubber things that
would bend and twist about and admit of chewing, a ball and a box
made of china, a fluffy, flexible thing like a rabbit’s tail, with the
vertebræ replaced by cane, a velvet-covered ball, a powder puff, and so
on. They could all be plainly and vividly coloured with some non-soluble
inodorous colour. They would be about on the cot and on the rug where
the child was put to kick and crawl. They would have to be too large to
swallow, and they would all get pulled and mauled about until they were
more or less destroyed. Some would probably survive for many years as
precious treasures, as beloved objects, as powers and symbols in the
mysterious secret fetichism of childhood--confidants and sympathetic

§ 2

While the child is engaged with its first toys, and with the collection
of rudimentary sense impressions, it is also developing a remarkable
variety of noises and babblements from which it will presently
disentangle speech. Day by day it will show a stronger and stronger bias
to associate definite sounds with definite objects and ideas, a bias so
comparatively powerful in the mind of man as to distinguish him from
all other living creatures. Other creatures may think, may, in a sort
of concrete way, come almost indefinably near reason (as Professor Lloyd
Morgan in his very delightful _Animal Life and Intelligence_ has shown);
but man alone has in speech the apparatus, the possibility, at any rate,
of being a reasoning and reasonable creature. It is, of course, not
his only apparatus. Men may think out things with drawings, with little
models, with signs and symbols upon paper, but speech is the common way,
the high road, the current coin of thought.

With speech humanity begins. With the dawn of speech the child ceases to
be an animal we cherish, and crosses the boundary into distinctly
human intercourse. There begins in its mind the development of the most
wonderful of all conceivable apparatus, a subtle and intricate keyboard,
that will end at last with thirty or forty or fifty thousand keys. This
queer, staring, soft little being in its mother’s arms is organizing
something within itself, beside which the most wonderful orchestra one
can imagine is a lump of rude clumsiness. There will come a time when,
at the merest touch upon those keys, image will follow image and emotion
develop into emotion, when the whole creation, the deeps of space,
the minutest beauties of the microscope, cities, armies, passions,
splendours, sorrows, will leap out of darkness into the conscious being
of thought, when this interwoven net of brief, small sounds will form
the centre of a web that will hold together in its threads the universe,
the All, visible and invisible, material and immaterial, real and
imagined, of a human mind. And if we are to make the best of a child, it
is in no way secondary to its physical health and growth that it should
acquire a great and thorough command over speech, not merely that it
should speak, but, what is far more vital, that it should understand
swiftly and subtly things written and said. Indeed, this is more than
any physical need. The body is the substance and the implement; the
mind, built and compact of language, is the man. All that has gone
before, all that we have discussed of sound birth and physical growth
and care, is no more than the making ready of the soil for the mind that
is to grow therein. As we come to this matter of language, we come a
step nearer to the intimate realities of our subject--we come to the
mental plant that is to bear the flower and the ripe fruit of the
individual life. The next phase of our inquiry, therefore, is to examine
how we can get this mental plant, this foundation substance, this
abundant mastered language best developed in the individual, and how far
we may go to ensure this best development for all children born into the

From the ninth month onward the child begins serious attempts to talk.
In order that it may learn to do this as easily as possible, it requires
to be surrounded by people speaking one language, and speaking it with
a uniform accent. Those who are most in the child’s hearing
should endeavour to speak--even when they are not addressing the
child--deliberately and clearly. All authorities are agreed upon
the mischievous effect of what is called “baby talk,” the use of an
extensive sham vocabulary, a sort of deciduous milk vocabulary that will
presently have to be shed again. Froebel and Preyer join hands on
this. The child’s funny little perversions of speech are really genuine
attempts to say the right word, and we simply cause trouble and hamper
development if we give back to the seeking mind its own blunders again.
When a child wants to indicate milk, it wants to say milk, and not
“mooka” or “mik,” and when it wants to indicate bed, the needed word is
not “bedder” or “bye-bye,” but “bed.” But we give the little thing no
chance to get on in this way until suddenly one day we discover it
is “time the child spoke plainly.” Preyer has pointed out very
instructively the way in which the quite sufficiently difficult matter
of the use of I, mine, me, my, you, yours, and your is made still more
difficult by those about the child adopting irregularly the experimental
idioms it produces. When a child says to its mother, “Me go mome,” it
is doing its best to speak English, and its remark should be received
without worrying comment; but when a mother says to her child, “Me go
mome,” she is simply wasting an opportunity of teaching her child its
mother-tongue. One sympathizes with her all too readily, one understands
the sweetness to her of these soft, infantile mispronunciations; but,
indeed, she ought to understand; it is her primary business to know
better than her feelings in this affair.

In learning to speak, the children of the more prosperous classes are
probably at a considerable advantage when compared with their poorer
fellow children. They hear a clearer and more uniform intonation than
the blurred, uncertain speech of our commonalty, that has resulted from
the reaction of the great synthetic process, of the past century upon
dialects. But this natural advantage of the richer child is discounted
in one of two ways: in the first place by the mother, in the second by
the nurse. The mother in the more prosperous classes is often much more
vain and trivial than the lower-class woman; she looks to her children
for amusement, and makes them contributors to her “effect,” and, by
taking up their quaint and pretty mispronunciations, and devising
humorous additions to their natural baby talk, she teaches them to be
much greater babies than they could ever possibly be themselves. They
specialise as charming babies until their mother tires of the pose, and
then they are thrust back into the nursery to recover leeway, if they
can, under the care of governess or nurse.

The second disadvantage of the upper-class child is the foreign nurse
or nursery governess. There is a widely diffused idea that a child is
particularly apt to master and retain languages, and people try and
inoculate with French and German as Lord Herbert of Cherbury would have
inoculated children with antidotes, for all the ills their flesh was
heir to--even, poor little wretches, to an anticipatory _regimen_ for
gout. The root error of these attempts to form infantile polyglots
is embodied in an unverified quotation from Byron’s _Beppo,_ dear to
pedagogic writers--

“Wax to receive and marble to retain”

runs the line--which the curious may discover to be a description of
the faithful lover, though it has become as firmly associated with the
child-mind as has Sterne’s “tempering the wind to the shorn lamb” with
Holy Writ. And this idea of infantile receptivity and retentiveness is
held by an unthinking world, in spite of the universally accessible fact
that hardly one of us can remember anything that happened before the age
of five, and very little that happened before seven or eight, and that
children of five or six, removed into foreign surroundings, will in a
year or so--if special measures are not taken--reconstruct their idiom,
and absolutely forget every word of their mother-tongue. This foreign
nurse comes into the child’s world, bringing with her quite weird
errors in the quantities, the accent and idiom of the mother-tongue, and
greatly increasing the difficulty and delay on the road to thought and
speech. And this attempt to acquire a foreign language prematurely at
the expense of the mother-tongue, to pick it up cheaply by making the
nurse an informal teacher of languages, entirely ignores a fact upon
which I would lay the utmost stress in this paper--which, indeed, is
the gist of this paper--that only a very small minority of English or
American people have more than half mastered the splendid heritage of
their native speech. To this neglected and most significant limitation
the amount of public attention given at present is quite surprisingly
small. [Footnote: My friend, Mr. L. Cope Cornford, writes _apropos_
of this, and I think I cannot do better than print what he says as
a corrective to my own assertions: “All you say on the importance of
letting a child hear good English cleanly accented is admirable; but
we think you have perhaps overlooked the importance of ear-training
as such, which should begin by the time the child can utter its first
attempts at speech. By ear-training I mean the differentiation of
sounds--articulate, inarticulate, and musical--fixing the child’s
attention and causing it to _imitate_. As every sound requires a
particular movement of the vocal apparatus, the child will soon be able
to adapt its apparatus unconsciously and to distinguish accurately. And
if it does not so learn before the age of five or six, it probably will
never do so. By the age of two--or less--the child should be able to
_imitate_ exactly any speech-sound. Our youngsters can do so; and,
consequently, the fact that they had a nurse with a Sussex accent ceased
to matter, because they learned to distinguish her talk from correct
English. So in the case of a foreign nurse; the result of a foreigner’s
influence would be good in this way, that it would train a child to a
_new series of speech-sounds_, thus enlarging its ear capacity. Nor need
it necessarily adopt these speech-sounds as those which it should use;
it merely knows them; and if the foreigner have a good accent, and
speaks her own tongue well, the child’s ear is trained for life,
_irrespective of expression_. Experience shows that a child can keep
separate in its mind two or three languages--at first the speech-sounds,
later the expression. _Modes of expression_ need not begin till after
five, or later. With regard to music, every child should begin to
undergo a simple course of ear-training on the sol-fa system as
elaborated and taught by McNaught, because the faculty of so learning
is lost--atrophied--by the age of twelve or fourteen. But, beginning
early--as early as possible--every child, ‘musical’ or not, can be
trained, just as every child, ‘artistic’ or not, may be taught to draw
accurately up to a certain point.”]

There can be little or no dispute that the English language in its
completeness presents a range too ample and appliances too subtle for
the needs of the great majority of those who profess to speak it. I do
not refer to the half-civilized and altogether barbaric races who are
coming under its sway, but to the people we are breeding of our own
race--the barbarians of our streets, our suburban “white niggers,” with
a thousand a year and the conceit of Imperial destinies. They live
in our mother-tongue as some half-civilized invaders might live in a
gigantic and splendidly equipped palace. They misuse this, they waste
that, they leave whole corridors and wings unexplored, to fall into
disuse and decay. I doubt if the ordinary member of the prosperous
classes in England has much more than a third of the English language
in use, and more than a half in knowledge, and as we go down the social
scale we may come at last to strata having but a tenth part of our full
vocabulary, and much of that blurred and vaguely understood. The speech
of the Colonist is even poorer than the speech of the home-staying
English. In America, just as in Great Britain and her Colonies, there is
the same limitation and the same disuse. Partly, of course, this is due
to the pettiness of our thought and experience, and so far it can only
be remedied by a general intellectual amplification; but partly it is
due to the general ignorance of English prevailing throughout the world.
It is atrociously taught, and taught by ignorant men. It is atrociously
and meanly written. So far as this second cause of sheer ignorance
goes, the gaps in knowledge are continually resulting in slang and the
addition of needless neologisms to the language. People come upon ideas
that they know no English to express, and strike out the new phrase in a
fine burst of ignorant discovery. There are Americans in particular who
are amazingly apt at this sort of thing. They take an enormous pride in
the jargon they are perpetually increasing--they boast of it, they give
exhibition performances in it, they seem to regard it as the culminating
flower of their continental Republic--as though the Old World had never
heard of shoddy. But, indeed, they are in no better case than that
unfortunate lady at Earlswood who esteems newspapers stitched with
unravelled carpet and trimmed with orange peel, the extreme of human
splendour. In truth, their pride is baseless, and this slang of theirs
no sort of distinction whatever. Let me assure them that in our heavier
way we in this island are just as busy defiling our common inheritance.
We can send a team of linguists to America who will murder and
misunderstand the language against any eleven the Americans may select.

Of course there is a natural and necessary growth and development in
a living language, a growth that no one may arrest. In appliances,
in politics, in science, in philosophical interpretation, there is a
perpetual necessity for new words, words to express new ideas and new
relationships, words free from ambiguity and encumbering associations.
But the neologisms of the street and the saloon rarely supply any
occasion of this kind. For the most part they are just the stupid
efforts of ignorant men to supply the unnecessary. And side by side
with the invention of inferior cheap substitutes for existing words
and phrases, and infinitely more serious than that invention, goes on a
perpetual misuse and distortion of those that are insufficiently known.
These are processes not of growth but of decay--they distort, they
render obsolete, and they destroy. The obsolescence and destruction of
words and phrases cuts us off from the nobility of our past, from the
severed masses of our race overseas, far more effectually than any
growth of neologisms. A language may grow--our language must grow--it
may be clarified and refined and strengthened, but it need not suffer
the fate of an algal filament, and pass constantly into rottenness and
decay whenever growth is no longer in progress. That has been the
fate of languages in the past because of the feebler organization, the
slenderer, slower intercommunication, and, above all, the insufficient
records of human communities; but the time has come now--or, at the
worst, is rapidly coming--when this will cease to be a fated thing.
We may have a far more copious and varied tongue than had Addison or
Spenser--that is no disaster--but there is no reason why we should not
keep fast hold of all they had. There is no reason why the whole fine
tongue of Elizabethan England should not be at our disposal still.
Conceivably Addison would find the rich, allusive English of George
Meredith obscure; conceivably we might find a thousand words and phrases
of the year 2000 strange and perplexing; but there is no reason why a
time should ever come when what has been written well in English since
Elizabethan days should no longer be understandable and fine.

The prevailing ignorance of English in the English-speaking communities,
enormously hampers the development of the racial consciousness. Except
for those who wish to bawl the crudest thoughts, there is no means of
reaching the whole mass of these communities to-day. So far as material
requirements go it would be possible to fling a thought broadcast like
seed over the whole world to-day, it would be possible to get a book
into the hands of half the adults of our race. But at the hands and
eyes one stops--there is a gap in the brains. Only thoughts that can be
expressed in the meanest commonplaces will ever reach the minds of the
majority of the English-speaking peoples under present conditions.

A writer who aims to be widely read to-day must perpetually halt, must
perpetually hesitate at the words that arise in his mind; he must ask
himself how many people will stick at this word altogether or miss the
meaning it should carry; he must ransack his memory for a commonplace
periphrase, an ingenious rearrangement of the familiar; he must omit
or overaccentuate at every turn. Such simple and necessary words as
“obsolescent,” “deliquescent,” “segregation,” for example, must be
abandoned by the man who would write down to the general reader; he must
use “impertinent” as if it were a synonym for “impudent” and “indecent”
 as the equivalent of “obscene.” And in the face of this wide ignorance
of English, seeing how few people can either read or write English
with any subtlety, and how disastrously this reacts upon the general
development of thought and understanding amidst the English-speaking
peoples, it would be preposterous even if the attempt were successful,
to complicate the first linguistic struggles of the infant with the
beginnings of a second language. But people deal thus lightly with the
mother-tongue because they know so little of it that they do not even
suspect their own ignorance of its burthen and its powers. They speak a
little set of ready-made phrases, they write it scarcely at all, and all
they read is the weak and shallow prose of popular fiction and the daily
press. That is knowing a language within the meaning of their minds, and
such a knowledge a child may very well be left to “pick up” as it may.
Side by side with this they will presently set themselves to erect a
similar “knowledge” of two or three other languages. One is constantly
meeting not only women but men who will solemnly profess to “know”
 English and Latin, French, German and Italian, perhaps Greek, who are in
fact--beyond the limited range of food, clothing, shelter, trade, crude
nationalism, social conventions and personal vanity--no better than the
deaf and dumb. In spite of the fact that they will sit with books in
their hands, visibly reading, turning pages, pencilling comments, in
spite of the fact that they will discuss authors and repeat criticisms,
it is as hopeless to express new thoughts to them as it would be to
seek for appreciation in the ear of a hippopotamus. Their linguistic
instruments are no more capable of contemporary thought than a tin
whistle, a xylophone, and a drum are capable of rendering the Eroica

In being also ignorant of itself, this wide ignorance of English
partakes of all that is most hopeless in ignorance. Except among a few
writers and critics, there is little sense of defect in this matter.
The common man does not know that his limited vocabulary limits his
thoughts. He knows that there are “long words” and rare words in the
tongue, but he does not know that this implies the existence of definite
meanings beyond his mental range. His poor collection of everyday words,
worn-out phrases and battered tropes, constitute what he calls “plain
English,” and speech beyond these limits he seriously believes to be no
more than the back-slang of the educated class, a mere elaboration and
darkening of intercourse to secure privacy and distinction. No doubt
there is justification enough for his suspicion in the exploits of
pretentious and garrulous souls. But it is the superficial justification
of a profound and disastrous error. A gap in a man’s vocabulary is a
hole and tatter in his mind; words he has may indeed be weakly connected
or wrongly connected--one may find the whole keyboard jerry-built, for
example, in the English-speaking Baboo--but words he has not signify
ideas that he has no means of clearly apprehending, they are patches of
imperfect mental existence, factors in the total amount of his personal
failure to live.

This world-wide ignorance of English, this darkest cloud almost upon
the fair future of our confederated peoples, is something more than a
passive ignorance. It is active, it is aggressive. In England at any
rate, if one talks beyond the range of white-nigger English, one commits
a social breach. There are countless “book words” well-bred people
never use. A writer with any tenderness for half-forgotten phrases, any
disposition to sublimate the mingling of unaccustomed words, runs as
grave a risk of organized disregard as if he tampered with the improper.
The leaden censures of the _Times,_ for example, await any excursion
beyond its own battered circumlocutions. Even nowadays, and when they
are veterans, Mr. George Meredith and Mr. Henley get ever and again a
screed of abuse from some hot champion of Lower Division Civil Service
prose. “Plain English” such a one will call his desideratum, as one
might call the viands on a New Cut barrow “plain food.” The hostility
to the complete language is everywhere. I wonder just how many homes may
not be witnessing the self-same scene as I write. Some little child
is struggling with the unmanageable treasure of a new-found word, has
produced it at last, a nice long word, forthwith to be “laughed out”
 of such foolish ambitions by its anxious parent. People train their
children not to speak English beyond a threadbare minimum, they
resent it upon platform and in pulpit, and they avoid it in books.
Schoolmasters as a class know little of the language. In none of our
schools, not even in the more efficient of our elementary schools, is
English adequately taught. And these people expect the South African
Dutch to take over their neglected tongue! As though the poor partial
King’s English of the British Colonist was one whit better than the
Taal! To give them the reality of what English might be: that were a
different matter altogether.

These things it is the clear business of our New Republicans to alter.
It follows, indeed, but it is in no way secondary to the work of
securing sound births and healthy childhoods, that we should secure a
vigorous, ample mental basis for the minds born with these bodies. We
have to save, to revive this scattered, warped, tarnished and neglected
language of ours, if we wish to save the future of our world. We should
save not only the world of those who at present speak English, but the
world of many kindred and associated peoples who would willingly enter
into our synthesis, could we make it wide enough and sane enough and
noble enough for their honour.

To expect that so ample a cause as this should find any support among
the festering confusion of the old politics is to expect too much. There
is no party for the English language anywhere in the world. We have
to take this problem as we took our former problem and deal with it as
though the old politics, which slough so slowly, were already happily
excised. To begin with, we may give our attention to the foundation of
this foundation, to the growth of speech in the developing child.

From the first the child should hear a clear and uniform pronunciation
about it, a precise and careful idiom and words definitely used. Since
language is to bring people together and not to keep them apart, it
would be well if throughout the English-speaking world there could be
one accent, one idiom, and one intonation. This there never has been
yet, but there is no reason at all why it should not be. There is
arising even now a standard of good English to which many dialects and
many influences are contributing. From the Highlanders and the Irish,
for example, the English of the South are learning the possibilities of
the aspirate _h_ and _wh_, which latter had entirely and the former very
largely dropped out of use among them a hundred years ago. The drawling
speech of Wessex and New England--for the main features of what people
call Yankee intonation are to be found in perfection in the cottages of
Hampshire and West Sussex--are being quickened, perhaps from the same
sources. The Scotch are acquiring the English use of _shall_ and _will,_
and the confusion of reconstruction is world-wide among our vowels. The
German _w_ of Mr. Samuel Weller has been obliterated within the space
of a generation or so. There is no reason at all why this natural
development of the uniform English of the coming age should not be
greatly forwarded by our deliberate efforts, why it should not be
possible within a little while to define a standard pronunciation of
our tongue. It is a less important issue by far than that of a uniform
vocabulary and phraseology, but it is still a very notable need.

We have available now for the first time, in the more highly evolved
forms of phonograph and telephone, a means of storing, analyzing,
transmitting, and referring to sounds, that should be of very
considerable value in the attempt to render a good and beautiful
pronunciation of English uniform throughout the world. It would not be
unreasonable to require from all those who are qualifying for the work
of education, the reading aloud of long passages in the standard accent.
At present there is no requirement of this sort in England, and too
often our elementary teachers at any rate, instead of being missionaries
of linguistic purity, are centres of diffusion for blurred and vicious
perversions of our speech. They must read and recite aloud in their
qualifying examinations, it is true, but under no specific prohibition
of provincial intonations. In the pulpit and the stage, moreover, we
have ready to hand most potent instruments of dissemination, that need
nothing but a little sharpening to help greatly towards this end. At the
entrance of almost all professions nowadays stands an examination that
includes English, and there would be nothing revolutionary in adding to
that written paper an oral test in the standard pronunciation. By active
exertion to bring these things about the New Republican could do much
to secure that every child of our English-speaking people throughout the
world would hear in school and church and entertainment the same clear
and definite accent. The child’s mother and nurse would be helped
to acquire almost insensibly a sound and confident pronunciation. No
observant man who has lived at all broadly, meeting and talking
with people of diverse culture and tradition, but knows how much our
intercourse is cumbered by hesitations about quantity and accent, and
petty differences of phrase and idiom, and how greatly intonation and
accent may warp and limit our sympathy.

And while they are doing this for the general linguistic atmosphere, the
New Republicans could also attempt something to reach the children in

By instinct nearly every mother wants to teach. Some teach by instinct,
but for the most part there is a need of guidance in their teaching. At
present these first and very important phases in education are guided
almost entirely by tradition. The necessary singing and talking to very
young children is done in imitation of similar singing and talking; it
is probably done no better, it may possibly be done much worse, than
it was done two hundred years ago. A very great amount of permanent
improvement in human affairs might be secured in this direction by the
expenditure of a few thousand pounds in the systematic study of the most
educational method of dealing with children in the first two or three
years of life, and in the intelligent propagation of the knowledge
obtained. There exist already, it is true, a number of Child Study
Associations, Parents’ Unions, and the like, but for the most part these
are quite ineffectual talking societies, akin to Browning Societies,
Literary and Natural History Societies: they attain a trifling amount
of mutual improvement at their best, the members read papers to
one another, and a few medical men and schools secure a needed
advertisement. They have no organization, no concentration of their
energy, and their chief effect seems to be to present an interest in
education as if it were a harmless, pointless fad. But if a few men of
means and capacity were to organize a committee with adequate funds,
secure the services of specially endowed men for the exhaustive study of
developing speech, publish a digested report, and, with the assistance
of a good writer or so, produce very cheaply, advertise vigorously, and
disseminate widely a small, clearly printed, clearly written book of
pithy instructions for mothers and nurses in this matter of early speech
they would quite certainly effect a great improvement in the mental
foundations of the coming generation. We do not yet appreciate the fact
that for the first time in the history of the world there exists a state
of society in which almost every nurse and mother reads. It is no longer
necessary to rely wholly upon instinct and tradition, therefore, for
the early stages of a child’s instruction. We can reinforce and organize
these things through the printed word.

For example, an important factor in the early stage of speech-teaching
is the nursery rhyme. A little child, towards the end of the first year,
having accumulated a really very comprehensive selection of sounds and
noises by that time, begins to imitate first the associated motions, and
then the sounds of various nursery rhymes--“Pat-a-cake,” for example. In
the book I imagine, there would be, among many other things, a series of
little versicles, old and new, in which, to the accompaniment of simple
gestures, all the elementary sounds of the language could be easily and
agreeably made familiar to the child’s ears. [Footnote: Messrs. Heath of
Boston, U.S.A., have sent me a book of Nursery Rhymes, arranged by Mr.
Charles Welsh, which is certainly the best thing I have seen in this
way. It is worthy of note that the neglect of pedagogic study in Great
Britain is forcing the intelligent British parent and teacher to rely
more and more upon American publishers for children’s books. The work of
English writers is often very tasteful and pretty, but of the smallest
educational value. ]

And the same book I think might well contain a list of foundation things
and words and certain elementary forms of expression which the child
should become perfectly familiar with in the first three or four
years of life. Much of each little child’s vocabulary is its personal
adventure, and Heaven save us all from system in excess! But I think it
would be possible for a subtle psychologist to trace through the easy
natural tangle of the personal briar-rose of speech certain necessary
strands, that hold the whole growth together and render its later
expansion easy and swift and strong. Whatever else the child gets, it
must get these fundamental strands well and early if it is to do its
best. If they do not develop now their imperfection will cause delay
and difficulty later. There are, for example, among these fundamental
necessities, idioms to express comparison, to express position in space
and time, elementary conceptions of form and colour, of tense and mood,
the pronouns and the like. No doubt, in one way or another, most of
these forms are acquired by every child, but there is no reason why
their acquisition should not be watched with the help of a wisely framed
list, and any deficiency deliberately and carefully supplied. It would
have to be a wisely framed list, it would demand the utmost effort of
the best intelligence, and that is why something more than the tradesman
enterprise of publishers is needed in this work. The publisher’s ideal
of an author of an educational work is a clever girl in her teens
working for pocket-money. What is wanted is a little quintessential
book better and cheaper than any publisher, publishing for gain, could
possibly produce, a book so good that imitation would be difficult, and
so cheap and universally sold that no imitation would be profitable.

Upon this foundation of a sound accent and a basic vocabulary must be
built the general fabric of the language. For the most part this must
be done in the school. At present in Great Britain a considerable
proportion of schoolmasters and schoolmistresses--more particularly
those in secondary and private schools--are too ill-educated to do this
properly; there is excellent reason for supposing things are very little
better in America; and, to begin with, it must be the care of every
good New Republican to bring about a better state of things in this
most lamentable profession. Until the teacher can read and write, in the
fullest sense of these words, it is idle to expect him or her to teach
the pupil to do these things. As matters are at present, the attempt is
scarcely made. In the elementary and lower secondary schools ill-chosen
reading-books are scampered through and abandoned all too soon in favour
of more pretentious “subjects,” and a certain preposterous nonsense
called English Grammar is passed through the pupil--stuff which happily
no mind can retain. Little girls and boys of twelve or thirteen, who
cannot understand, and never will understand anything but the vulgarest
English, and who will never in their lives achieve a properly punctuated
letter, are taught such mysteries as that there are eight--I believe it
is eight--sorts of nominative, and that there is (or is not) a gerundive
in English, and trained month after month and year after year to perform
the oddest operations, a non-analytical analysis, and a ritual called
parsing that must be seen to be believed. It is no good mincing the
truth about all this sort of thing. These devices are resorted to by the
school teachers of the present just as the Rules of Double and Single
Alligation and Double Rule of Three, and all the rest of that solemn
tomfoolery, were “taught” by the arithmetic teachers in the academies
of the eighteenth century, because they are utterly ignorant, and know
themselves to be utterly ignorant, of the reality of the subject, and
because, therefore, they have to humbug the parent and pass the time
by unreal inventions. The case is not a bit better in the higher grade
schools. They do not do so much of the bogus teaching of English, but
they do nothing whatever in its place.

Now it is little use to goad the members of an ill-trained, ill-treated,
ill-organized, poorly respected and much-abused [Footnote: _Peccavi._]
profession with reproaches for doing what they cannot do, or to clamour
for legislation that will give more school time or heavier subsidies to
the pretence of teaching what very few people are able to teach. We all
know how atrociously English is taught, but proclaiming that will
not mend matters a bit, it will only render matters worse by making
schoolmasters and schoolmistresses shameless and effortless, unless we
also show how well English may be taught. The sane course is to begin by
establishing the proper way to do the thing, to develop a proper method
and demonstrate what can be done by that method in a few selected
schools, to prepare and render acceptable the necessary class-books, and
then to use examination and inspector, grant in aid, training college,
lecture, book and pamphlet to spread the sound expedients. We want an
English Language Society, of affluent and vigorous people, that will
undertake this work. And one chief duty of that society will be to
devise, to arrange and select, to print handsomely, to illustrate
beautifully and to sell cheaply and vigorously _everywhere,_ a series
of reading books, and perhaps of teachers’ companions to these reading
books, that shall serve as the basis of instruction in Standard English
throughout the whole world. These books, as I conceive them, would begin
as reading primers, they would progress through a long series of subtly
graded stories, passages and extracts until they had given the complete
range of our tongue. They would be read from, recited from, quoted in
exemplification and imitated by the pupils. Such splendid matter as
Henley and Whibley’s collection of Elizabethan Prose, for example, might
well find a place toward the end of that series of books. There would
be an anthology of English lyrics, of all the best short stories in our
language, of all the best episodes. From these readers the pupil would
pass, still often reading and reciting aloud, to such a series of
masterpieces as an efficient English Language Society could force upon
every school. At present in English schools a library is an exception
rather than a rule, and your clerical head-master on public occasions
will cheerfully denounce the “trash” reading, “snippet” reading
habits of the age, with that defect lying like a feather on his expert
conscience. A school without an easily accessible library of at least a
thousand volumes is really scarcely a school at all--it is a dispensary
without bottles, a kitchen without a pantry. For all that, if the
inquiring New Republican find two hundred linen-covered volumes of the
_Eric, or Little by Little_ type, mean goody-goody thought dressed in
its appropriate language, stored away in some damp cupboard of his son’s
school, and accessible once a week, he may feel assured things are above
the average there. My imaginary English Language Society would make it a
fundamental duty, firstly to render that library of at least a thousand
volumes or so specially cheap and easily procurable, and secondly, by
pamphlets and agitation, to render it a compulsory minimum requirement
for every grade of school. It is far more important, and it would be
far less costly even as things are, than the cheapest sort of chemical
laboratory a school could have, and it should cost scarcely more than a
school piano.

I know very little of the practical teaching of English, my own very
fragmentary knowledge of the more familiar clichés of our tongue was
acquired in a haphazard fashion, but I am inclined to think that in
addition to much reading aloud and recitation from memory the work of
instruction might consist very largely of continually more extensive
efforts towards original composition. Paraphrasing is a good exercise,
provided that it does not consist in turning good and beautiful English
into bad. I do not see why it should not follow the reverse direction.
Selected passages of mean, stereotyped, garrulous or inexact prose might
very well be rewritten, under the direction of an intelligent master.
Retelling a story that has just been read and discussed, with a change
of incident perhaps, would also not be a bad sort of exercise, writing
passages in imitation of set passages and the like. Written descriptions
of things displayed to a class should also be instructive. Caught at
the right age, most little girls, and many little boys I believe,
would learn very pleasantly to write simple verse. This they should
be encouraged to read aloud. At a later stage the more settled poetic
forms, the ballade, the sonnet, the rondeau, for example, should afford
a good practice in handling language. Pupils should be encouraged to
import fresh words into their work--even if the effect is a little
startling at times--they should hunt the dictionary for material. A good
book for the upper forms in schools dealing in a really intelligent and
instructive way with Latin and Greek, so far as it is necessary to know
these languages in order to use and manipulate technical English freely,
would, I conceive, be of very great service. It must be a good exercise
to write precise definitions of words. Logic also is an integral portion
of the study of the mother-tongue.

But to throw out suggestions in this way is an easy task. The
educational papers are full of this sort of thing, educational
conferences resound with it. What the world is not full of is the
capacity to organize these things, to drag them, struggling and clinging
to a thousand unanticipated difficulties, from the region of the counsel
of perfection to the region of manifest practicability. For that there
is needed attention, industry, and an intelligent use of a fair sum of
money. We want an industrious committee, and we want one or two rich
men. A series of books, a model course of instruction, has to be planned
and made, tried over, criticised, revised and altered. When the right
way is no longer indicated by prophetic persons pointing in a mist, but
marked out, levelled, mapped and fenced, then the scholastic profession,
wherever the English language is spoken, has to be lured and driven
along it. The New Republican must make his course cheap, attractive,
easy for the teacher and good for the teacher’s pocket and reputation.
Just as there are plays that, as actors say, “act themselves,” so, with
a profession that is rarely at its best and often at its worst, and
which at its worst consists of remarkably dull young men and remarkably
dreary young women, those who want English well taught must see to it
that they provide a series of books and instructors that will teach by
themselves, whatever the teacher does to prevent them.

Surely this enterprise of text-books and teachers, of standard
phonographs and cheaply published classics, is no fantastic impossible
dream! So far as money goes--if only money were the one thing needful--a
hundred thousand pounds would be a sufficient fund from first to last
for all of it. Yet modest as its proportions are, its consequences,
were it done by able men throwing their hearts into it, might be of
incalculable greatness. By such expedients and efforts as these we might
enormously forward the establishment of that foundation of a world-wide
spacious language, the foundation upon which there will arise for our
children subtler understandings, ampler imaginations, sounder judgments
and clearer resolutions, and all that makes at last a nobler world of

But in this discussion of school libraries and the like, we wander a
little from our immediate topic of mental beginnings.

§ 3

At the end of the fifth year, as the natural outcome of its instinctive
effort to experiment and learn, acting amidst wisely ordered
surroundings, the little child should have acquired a certain definite
foundation for the educational structure. It should have a vast variety
of perceptions stored in its mind, and a vocabulary of three or four
thousand words, and among these, and holding them together, there should
be certain structural and cardinal ideas. They are ideas that will have
been gradually and imperceptibly instilled, and they are necessary as
the basis of a sound mental existence. There must be, to begin with,
a developing sense and feeling for truth and for duty as something
distinct and occasionally conflicting with immediate impulse and desire,
and there must be certain clear intellectual elements established
already almost impregnably in the mind, certain primary distinctions
and classifications. Many children are called stupid, and begin their
educational career with needless difficulty through an unsoundness
of these fundamental intellectual elements, an unsoundness in no
way inherent, but the result of accident and neglect. And a starting
handicap of this sort may go on increasing right through the whole life.

The child at five, unless it is colour blind, should know the range
of colours by name, and distinguish them easily, blue and green not
excepted; it should be able to distinguish pink from pale red and
crimson from scarlet. [Footnote: There could be a set of colour bands in
the book that the English Language Society might publish.] Many children
through the neglect of those about them do not distinguish these colours
until a very much later age. I think also--in spite of the fact that
many adults go vague and ignorant on these points--that a child of five
may have been taught to distinguish between a square, a circle, an oval,
a triangle and an oblong, and to use these words. It is easier to keep
hold of ideas with words than without them, and none of these words
should be impossible by five. The child should also know familiarly by
means of toys, wood blocks and so on, many elementary solid forms. It
is matter of regret that in common language we have no easy, convenient
words for many of these forms, and instead of being learnt easily and
naturally in play, they are left undistinguished, and have to be studied
later under circumstances of forbidding technicality. It would be
quite easy to teach the child in an incidental way to distinguish cube,
cylinder, cone, sphere (or ball), prolate spheroid (which might be
called “egg”), oblate spheroid (which might be called “squatty ball”),
the pyramid, and various parallelepipeds, as, for example, the square
slab, the oblong slab, the brick, and post. He could have these things
added to his box of bricks by degrees, he would build with them and
combine them and play with them over and over again, and absorb an
intimate knowledge of their properties, just at the age when such
knowledge is almost instinctively sought and is most pleasant and easy
in its acquisition. These things need not be specially forced upon
him. In no way should he be led to emphasize them or give a priggish
importance to his knowledge of them. They will come into his toys and
play mingled with a thousand other interests, the fortifying powder of
clear general ideas, amidst the jam of play.

In addition the child should be able to count, [Footnote: There can be
little doubt that many of us were taught to count very badly, and that
we were hampered in our arithmetic throughout life by this defect.
Counting should be taught be means of small cubes, which the child can
arrange and rearrange in groups. It should have at least over a hundred
of these cubes--if possible a thousand; they will be useful as toy
bricks, and for innumerable purposes. Our civilization is now wedded
to a decimal system of counting, and, to begin with, it will be well to
teach the child to count up to ten and to stop there for a time. It is
suggested by Mrs. Mary Everest Boole that it is very confusing to have
distinctive names for eleven and twelve, which the child is apt to class
with the single numbers and contrast with the teens, and she proposes
at the beginning (_The Cultivation of the Mathematical Imagination_,
Colchester: Benham & Co.) to use the words “one-ten,” “two-ten,”
 thirteen, fourteen, etc., for the second decade in counting. Her
proposal is entirely in harmony with the general drift of the admirably
suggestive diagrams of number order collected by Mr. Francis
Gallon. Diagram after diagram displays the same hitch at twelve, the
predominance in the mind of an individualized series over quantitatively
equal spaces until the twenties are attained. Many diagrams also display
the mental scar of the clock face, the early counting is overmuch
associated with a dial. One might perhaps head off the establishment
of that image, and supply a more serviceable foundation for memories
by equipping the nursery with a vertical scale of numbers divided into
equal parts up to two or three hundred, with each decade tinted. When
the child has learnt to count up to a hundred with cubes, it should be
given an abacus, and it should also be encouraged to count and check
quantities with all sorts of things, marbles, apples, bricks in a wall,
pebbles, spots on dominoes, and so on; taught to play guessing games
with marbles in a hand, and the like. The abacus, the hundred square
and the thousand cube, will then in all probability become its cardinal
numerical memories. Playing cards (without corner indices) and dominoes
supply good recognizable arrangements of numbers, and train a child to
grasp a number at a glance. The child should not be taught the Arabic
numerals until it has counted for a year or more. Experience speaks
here. I know one case only too well of a man who learnt his Arabic
numerals prematurely, before he had acquired any sound experimental
knowledge of numerical quantity, and, as a consequence, his numerical
ideas are incurably associated with the peculiarities of the figures.
When he hears the word seven he does not really think of seven or
seven-ness at all, even now, he thinks of a number rather like four
and very unlike six. Then again, six and nine are mysteriously and
unreasonably linked in his mind, and so are three and five. He confuses
numbers like sixty-three and sixty-five, and finds it hard to keep
seventy-four distinct from forty-seven. Consequently, when it came
to the multiplication table, he learnt each table as an arbitrary
arrangement of relationships, and with an extraordinary amount of
needless labour and punishment. But obviously with cubes or abacus
at hand, it would be the easiest thing in the world for a child to
construct and learn its own multiplication table whenever the need
arose.] it should be capable of some mental and experimental arithmetic,
and I am told that a child of five should be able to give the _sol-fa_
names to notes, and sing these names at their proper pitch. Possibly in
social intercourse the child will have picked up names for some of the
letters of the alphabet, but there is no great hurry for that before
five certainly, or even later. There is still a vast amount of things
immediately about the child that need to be thoroughly learnt, and
a premature attack on letters divides attention from these more
appropriate and educational objects. It should, for the reason given
in the footnote, be still ignorant of the Arabic numerals. It should
be able to handle a pencil and amuse itself with freehand of this
sort:--and its mind should be quite uncontaminated by that imbecile
drawing upon squared paper by means of which ignorant teachers destroy
both the desire and the capacity to sketch in so many little children.
Such sketching could be enormously benefited by a really intelligent
teacher who would watch the child’s efforts, and draw with the child
just a little above its level. For example, the teacher might stimulate
effort by rejoining to such a sketch as the above, something in this

The child will already be a great student of picture-books at five,
something of a critic (after the manner of the realistic school), and
it will be easy to egg it almost imperceptibly to a level where copying
from simple outline illustrations will become possible. About five, a
present of some one of the plastic substitutes for modelling clay
now sold by educational dealers, _plasticine_ for example, will be a
discreet and acceptable present to the child--if not to its nurse.

The child’s imagination will also be awake and active at five. He will
look out on the world with anthropomorphic (or rather with pædomorphic)
eyes. He will be living on a great flat earth--unless some officious
person has tried to muddle his wits by telling him the earth is round;
amidst trees, animals, men, houses, engines, utensils, that are all
capable of being good or naughty, all fond of nice things and hostile to
nasty ones, all thumpable and perishable, and all conceivably esurient.
And the child should know of Fairy Land. The beautiful fancy of the
“Little People,” even if you do not give it to him, he will very
probably get for himself; they will lurk always just out of reach of
his desiring curious eyes, amidst the grass and flowers and behind the
wainscot and in the shadows of the bedroom. He will come upon their
traces; they will do him little kindnesses. Their affairs should
interweave with the affairs of the child’s dolls and brick castles
and toy furniture. At first the child will scarcely be in a world of
sustained stories, but very eager for anecdotes and simple short tales.

This is the hopeful foundation upon which at or about the fifth year the
formal education of every child in a really civilized community ought to
begin. [Footnote: One may note here, perhaps, the desirability too often
disregarded by over-solicitous parents, and particularly by the parents
of the solitary children who are now so common, of keeping the child a
little out of focus, letting it play by itself whenever it will, never
calling attention to it in a manner that awakens it to the fact of an
audience, never talking about it in its presence. Solitary children
commonly get too much control, they are forced and beguiled upward
rather than allowed to grow, their egotism is over-stimulated, and they
miss many of the benefits of play and competition. It seems a pity, too,
in the case of so many well-to-do people, that having equipped nurseries
they should not put them to a fuller use--if in no other way than by
admitting foster children. None of this has been very fully analyzed, of
course (there are enormous areas of valuable research in these matters
waiting for people of intelligence and leisure, or of intelligence and
means), but the opinion that solitary children are handicapped by their
loneliness is very strong. It is nearly certain that as a rule they make
less agreeable boys and girls, but to me at any rate it is not nearly so
certain that they make adult failures. It would be interesting to learn
just what proportion of solitary children there is on the roll of
those who have become great in our world. One thinks of John Ruskin,
a particularly fine specimen of the highly focussed single son. Prig
perhaps he was, but this world has a certain need of such prigs.
A correspondent (a schoolmistress of experience) who has collected
statistics in her own neighbourhood, is strongly of opinion not only
that solitary children are below the average, but that all elder
children are inferior in quality. I do not believe this, but it would
be interesting and valuable if some one could find time for a wide and
thorough investigation of this question.]


So far we have concerned ourselves with the introductory and foundation
matter of the New Republican project, with the measures and methods that
may be resorted to, firstly, if we would raise the general quality
of the children out of whom we have to make the next generation,
and, secondly, if we would replace divergent dialects and partial
and confused expression by a uniform, ample and thorough knowledge of
English throughout the English-speaking world. These two things are
necessary preliminaries to the complete attainment of the more essential
nucleus in the New Republican idea. So much has been discussed. This
essential nucleus, thus stripped, reveals itself as the systematic
direction of the moulding forces that play upon the developing citizen,
towards his improvement, with a view to a new generation of individuals,
a new social state, at a higher level than that at which we live to-day,
a new generation which will apply the greater power, ampler knowledge
and more definite will our endeavours will give it, to raise its
successor still higher in the scale of life. Or we may put the thing
in another and more concrete and vivid way. On the one hand imagine an
average little child let us say in its second year. We have discussed
all that can be done to secure that this average little child shall be
well born, well fed, well cared for, and we will imagine all that can
be done has been done. Accordingly, we have a sturdy, beautiful healthy
little creature to go upon, just beginning to walk, just beginning to
clutch at things with its hands, to reach out to and apprehend things
with its eyes, with its ears, with the hopeful commencement of speech.
We want to arrange matters so that this little being shall develop into
its best possible adult form. That is our remaining problem.

Is our contemporary average citizen the best that could have been made
out of the vague extensive possibilities that resided in him when he was
a child of two? It has been shown already that in height and weight
he, demonstrably, is not, and it has been suggested, I hope almost
as convincingly, that in that complex apparatus of acquisition and
expression, language, he is also needlessly deficient. And even upon
this defective foundation, it is submitted, he still fails, morally,
mentally, socially, aesthetically, to be as much as he might be. “As
much as he might be,” is far too ironically mild. The average citizen
of our great state to-day is, I would respectfully submit, scarcely more
than a dirty clout about his own buried talents.

I do not say he might not be infinitely worse, but can any one believe
that, given better conditions, he might not have been infinitely better?
Is it necessary to argue for a thing so obvious to all clear-sighted
men? Is it necessary, even if it were possible, that I should borrow the
mantle of Mr. George Gissing or the force of Mr. Arthur Morrison, and
set myself in cold blood to measure the enormous defect of myself and my
fellows by the standards of a remote perfection, to gauge the extent
of this complex muddle of artificial and avoidable shortcomings through
which we struggle? Must one, indeed, pass in review once more, bucolic
stupidity, commercial cunning, urban vulgarity, religious hypocrisy,
political clap-trap, and all the raw disorder of our incipient
civilization before the point will be conceded? What benefit is there in
any such revision? rather it may overwhelm us with the magnitude of what
we seek to do. Let us not dwell on it, on all the average civilized man
still fails to achieve; admit his imperfection, and for the rest let us
keep steadfastly before us that fair, alluring and reasonable conception
of all that, even now, the average man might be.

Yet one is tempted by the effective contrast to put against that clean
and beautiful child some vivid presentation of the average thing, to
sketch in a few simple lines the mean and graceless creature of our
modern life, his ill-made clothes, his clumsy, half-fearful, half-brutal
bearing, his coarse defective speech, his dreary unintelligent work, his
shabby, impossible, bathless, artless, comfortless home; one is provoked
to suggest him in some phase of typical activity, “enjoying himself” on
a Bank Holiday, or rejoicing, peacock feather in hand, hat askew, and
voice completely gone, on some occasion of public festivity--on the
defeat of a numerically inferior enemy for example, or the decision of
some great international issue at baseball or cricket. This, one would
say, we have made out of that, and so point the New Republican question,
“Cannot we do better?” But the thing has been done so often without ever
the breath of a remedy. Our business is with remedies. We mean to do
better, we live to do better, and with no more than a glance at our
present failures we will set ourselves to that.

To do better we must begin with a careful analysis of the process of
this man’s making, of the great complex of circumstances which mould the
vague possibilities of the average child into the reality of the citizen
of the modern state.

We may begin upon this complex most hopefully by picking out a few of
the conspicuous and typical elements and using them as a basis for an
exhaustive classification. To begin with, of course, there is the home.
For our present purpose it will be convenient to use “home” as a general
expression for that limited group of human beings who share the board
and lodging of the growing imperial citizen, and whose personalities are
in constant, close contact with his until he reaches fifteen or sixteen.
Typically, the chief figures of this group are mother, brothers and
sisters, and father, to which are often added nursemaid, governess,
and other servants. Beyond these are playmates again. Beyond these
acquaintances figure. Home has indeed nowadays, in our world, no very
definite boundaries--no such boundaries as it has, for example, on the
veldt. In the case of a growing number of English upper middle-class
children, moreover, and of the children of a growing element in the life
of the eastern United States, the home functions are delegated in a very
large degree to the preparatory school. It is a distinction that needs
to be emphasized that many so-called schools are really homes, often
very excellent homes, with which schools, often very inefficient
schools, are united. All this we must lump together--it is, indeed,
woven together almost inextricably--when we speak of home as a formative
factor. The home, so far as its hygienic conditions go, we have already
dealt with, and we have dealt, too, with the great neglected necessity,
the absolute necessity if our peoples are to keep together, of making
and keeping the language of the home uniform throughout our world-wide
community. Purely intellectual development beyond the matter of language
we may leave for a space. There remains the distinctive mental and
moral function of the home, the determination by precept, example,
and implication of the cardinal habits of the developing citizen, his
general demeanour, his fundamental beliefs about all the common and
essential things of life.

This group of people, who constitute the home, will be in constant
reaction upon him. If as a whole they bear themselves with grace and
serenity, say and do kindly things, control rage, and occupy themselves
constantly, they will do much to impose these qualities upon the
new-comer. If they quarrel one with another, behave coarsely and
spitefully, loiter and lounge abundantly, these things will also stamp
the child. A raging father, a scared deceitful mother, vulgarly acting,
vulgarly thinking friends, all leave an almost indelible impress.
Precept may play a part in the home, but it is a small part, unless it
is endorsed by conduct. What these people do, on the whole, believe in
and act upon, the child will tend to believe in and act upon; what they
believe they believe, but do not act upon, the child will acquire also
as a non-operative belief; their practices, habits, and prejudices will
be enormously prepotent in his life. If, for example, the parent talks
constantly of the contemptible dirtiness of Boers and foreigners, and
of the extreme beauty of cleanliness and--even obviously--rarely washes,
the child will grow to the same professions and the same practical
denial. This home circle it is that will describe what, in modified
Herbartian phraseology, one may call the child’s initial circle of
thought; it is a circle many things will subsequently enlarge
and modify, but of which they have the centering at least and the
establishment of the radial trends, almost beyond redemption. The
effect of home influence, indeed, constitutes with most of us a sort
of secondary heredity, interweaving with, and sometimes almost
indistinguishable from, the real unalterable primary heredity, a
moral shaping by suggestion, example, and influence, that is a sort of
spiritual parallel to physical procreation.

It is not simply personalities that are operative in the home influence.
There is also the implications of the various relations between one
member of the home circle and another. I am inclined to think that the
social conceptions, for example, that are accepted in a child’s home
world are very rarely shaken in afterlife. People who have been brought
up in households where there is an organized under-world of servants are
incurably different in their social outlook from those who have passed
a servantless childhood. They never quite emancipate themselves from
the conception of an essential class difference, of a class of beings
inferior to themselves. They may theorise about equality--but theory
is not belief. They will do a hundred things to servants that between
equals would be, for various reasons, impossible. The Englishwoman and
the Anglicised American woman of the more pretentious classes honestly
regards a servant as physically, morally, and intellectually different
from herself, capable of things that would be incredibly arduous to
a lady, capable of things that would be incredibly disgraceful, under
obligations of conduct no lady observes, incapable of the refinement
to which every lady pretends. It is one of the most amazing aspects of
contemporary life, to converse with some smart, affected, profoundly
uneducated, flirtatious woman about her housemaid’s followers. There is
such an identity; there is such an abyss. But at present that contrast
is not our concern. Our concern at present is with the fact that the
social constitution of the home almost invariably shapes the fundamental
social conceptions for life, just as its average temperament shapes
manners and bearing and its moral tone begets moral predisposition. If
the average sensual man of our civilization is noisy and undignified in
his bearing, disposed to insult and despise those he believes to be his
social inferiors, competitive and disobliging to his equals; abject,
servile, and dishonest to those he regards as his betters; if his wife
is a silly, shallow, gossiping spendthrift, unfit to rear the children
she occasionally bears, perpetually snubbing social inferiors and
perpetually cringing to social superiors, it is probable that we have
to blame the home, not particularly any specific class of homes, but our
general home atmosphere, for the great part of these characteristics.
If we would make the average man of the coming years gentler in manner,
more deliberate in judgment, steadier in purpose, upright, considerate,
and free, we must look first to the possibility of improving the tone
and quality of the average home.

Now the substance and constitution of the home, the relations and order
of its various members, have been, and are, traditional. But it is
a tradition that has always been capable of modification in each
generation. In the unlettered, untravelling past, the factor of
tradition was altogether dominant. Sons and daughters married and set
up homes, morally, intellectually, economically, like those of their
parents. Over great areas homogeneous traditions held, and it needed
wars and conquests, or it needed missionaries and persecutors and
conflicts, or it needed many generations of intercourse and filtration
before a new tradition could replace or graft itself upon the old. But
in the past hundred years or so the home conditions of the children of
our English-speaking population have shown a disposition to break from
tradition under influences that are increasing, and to become much more
heterogeneous than were any home conditions before. The ways in which
these modifications of the old home tradition have arisen will indicate
the means and methods by which further modifications may be expected and
attempted in the future.

Modification has come to the average home tradition through two
distinct, though no doubt finally interdependent channels. The first of
these channels is the channel of changing economic necessities, using
the phrase to cover everything from domestic conveniences at the one
extreme to the financial foundation of the home at the other, and
the next is the influx of new systems of thought, of feeling, and of
interpretation about the general issues of life.

There are in Great Britain three main interdependent systems of home
tradition undergoing modification and readjustment. They date from the
days before mechanism and science began their revolutionary intervention
in human affairs, and they derive from the three main classes of the old
aristocratic, agricultural, and trading state, namely, the aristocratic,
the middle, and the labour class. There are local, there are even racial
modifications, there are minor classes and subspecies, but the rough
triple classification will serve. In America the dominant home
tradition is that of the transplanted English middle class. The English
aristocratic tradition has flourished and faded in the Southern States;
the British servile and peasant tradition has never found any growth in
America, and has, in the persons of the Irish chiefly, been imported in
an imperfect condition, only to fade. The various home traditions of
the nineteenth century immigrants have either, if widely different,
succumbed, or if not very different assimilated themselves to the
ruling tradition. The most marked non-British influence has been the
intermixture of Teutonic Protestantism. In both countries now the old
home traditions have been and are being adjusted to and modified by
the new classes, with new relationships and new necessities, that the
revolution in industrial organization and domestic conveniences has

The interplay of old tradition and new necessities becomes at times very
curious. Consider, for example, the home influences of the child of
a shopman in a large store, or those of the child of a skilled
operative--an engineer of some sort let us say--in England. Both these
are new types in the English social body; the former derives from
the old middle class, the class that was shopkeeping in the towns and
farming in the country, the class of the Puritans, the Quakers, the
first manufacturers, the class whose mentally active members become
the dissenters, the old Liberals, and the original New Englanders. The
growth of large businesses has raised a portion of this class to the
position of Sir John Blundell Maple, Sir Thomas Lipton, the intimate
friend of our King, and our brewer peers; it has raised a rather more
numerous section to the red plush glories of Wagon-Lit trains and their
social and domestic equivalents, and it has reduced the bulk of the
class to the status of employees for life. But the tradition that our
English shopman is in the same class as his master, that he has been
apprentice and improver, and is now assistant, with a view to presently
being a master himself, still throws its glamour over his life and his
home, and his child’s upbringing. They belong to the middle class, the
black coat and silk-hat class, and the silk hat crowns the adolescence
of their boys as inevitably as the toga made men in ancient Rome. Their
house is built, not for convenience primarily, but to realize whatever
convenience is possible after the rigid traditional requirements have
been met; it is the extreme and final reduction of the plan of a better
class house, and the very type of its owner. As one sees it in the
London suburbs devoted to clerks and shopmen, it stands back a yard or
so from the road, with a gate and a railing, and a patch, perhaps two
feet wide, of gravel between its front and the pavement. This is the
last pathetic vestige of the preliminary privacies of its original type,
the gates, the drive-up, the front lawn, the shady trees, that gave a
great impressive margin to the door. The door has a knocker (with an
appeal to realities, “ring also”) and it opens into a narrow passage,
perhaps four feet wide, which still retains the title of “hall.” Oak
staining on the woodwork and marbled paper accentuate the lordly memory.
People of this class would rather die than live in a house with a front
door, even had it a draught-stopping inner door, that gave upon the
street. Instead of an ample kitchen in which meals can be taken and one
other room in which the rest of life goes on, these two covering the
house site, the social distinction from the servant invades the house
space first by necessitating a passage to a side-door, and secondly
by cutting up the interior into a “dining-room” and a “drawing-room.”
 Economy of fuel throughout the winter and economy of the best furniture
always, keeps the family in the dining-room pretty constantly, but there
you have the drawing-room as a concrete fact. Though the drawing-room is
inevitable, the family will manage without a bath-room well enough. They
may, or they may not, occasionally wash all over. There are probably
not fifty books in the house, but a daily paper comes and _Tit Bits_
or _Pearson’s Weekly,_ or, perhaps, _M.A.P.,_ _Modern Society,_ or some
such illuminant of the upper circles, and a cheap fashion paper, appear
at irregular intervals to supplement this literature.

The wife lives to realize the ideal of the “ladylike”--lady she resigns
to the patrician--and she insists upon a servant, however small. This
poor wretch of a servant, often a mere child of fourteen or fifteen,
lives by herself in a minute kitchen, and sleeps in a fireless attic. To
escape vulgar associates, the children of the house avoid the elementary
schools--the schools called in America public schools--where there
are trained, efficient teachers, good apparatus, and an atmosphere of
industry, and go to one of those wretched dens of disorderly imposture,
a middle-class school, where an absolute failure to train or educate
is seasoned with religious cant, lessons in piano-playing, lessons in
French “made in England,” mortarboard caps for the boys, and a high
social tone. And to emphasize the fact of its social position, this
bookless, bathless family tips! The plumber touches his hat for a tip,
the man who moves the furniture, the butcher-boy at Christmas, the
dustman; these things also, the respect and the tip, at their minimum
dimensions. Everything is at its minimum dimensions, it is the last
chipped, dwarfed, enfeebled state of a tradition that has, in its time,
played a fine part in the world. This much of honour still clings to
it, it will endure no tip, no charity, no upper-class control of its
privacy. This is the sort of home in which the minds of thousands
of young Englishmen and Englishwomen receive their first indelible
impressions. Can one expect them to escape the contagion of its cramped
pretentiousness, its dingy narrowness, its shy privacy of social
degradation, its essential sordidness and inefficiency?

Our skilled operative, on the other hand, will pocket his tip. He is on
the other side of the boundary. He presents a rising element coming
from the servile mass. Probably his net income equals or exceeds the
shopman’s, but there is no servant, no black coat and silk hat, no
middle-class school in his scheme of things. He calls the shopman
“Sir,” and makes no struggle against his native accent. In his heart he
despises the middle class, the mean tip-givers, and he is inclined
to overrate the gentry or big tippers. He is much more sociable, much
noisier, relatively shameless, more intelligent, more capable, less
restrained. He is rising against his tradition, and almost against his
will. The serf still bulks large in him. The whole trend of circumstance
is to substitute science for mere rote skill in him, to demand
initiative and an intelligent self-adaptation to new discoveries and new
methods, to make him a professional man and a job and pieceworker after
the fashion of the great majority of professional men. Against all these
things the serf element in him fights. He resists education and clings
to apprenticeship, he fights for time-work, he obstructs new inventions,
he clings to the ideal of short hours, high pay, shirk and let the
master worry. His wife is a far more actual creature than the clerk’s;
she does the house herself in a rough, effectual fashion, his children
get far more food for mind and body, and far less restraint. You can
tell the age of the skilled operative within a decade by the quantity of
books in his home; the younger he is the more numerous these are likely
to be. And the younger he is the more likely he is to be alive to
certain general views about his rights and his place in the social
scale, the less readily will his finger go to his cap at the sight
of broad-cloth, or his hand to the proffered half-crown. He will have
listened to Trade Union organizers and Socialist speakers; he will have
read the special papers of his class. The whole of this home is, in
comparison with the shopman’s, wide open to new influences. The
children go to a Board School, and very probably afterwards to evening
classes--or music-halls. Here again is a new type of home, in which
the English of 1920 are being made in thousands, and which is forced
a little way up the intellectual and moral scale every year, a
little further from its original conception of labour, dependence,
irresponsibility, and servility.

Compare, again, the home conditions of the child of a well-connected
British shareholder inheriting, let us say, seven or eight hundred a
year, with the home of exactly the same sort of person deriving from
the middle class. On the one hand, one will find the old aristocratic
British tradition in an instructively distorted state. All the
assumptions of an essential lordliness remain--and none of the duties.
All the pride is there still, but it is cramped, querulous, and
undignified. That lordliness is so ample that for even a small family
the income I have named will be no more than biting poverty, there will
be a pervading quality of struggle in this home to avoid work, to frame
arrangements, to discover cheap, loyal servants of the old type, to
discover six per cent. investments without risk, to interest influential
connections in the prospects of the children. The tradition of the
ruling class, which sees in the public service a pension scheme for poor
relations, will glow with all the colours of hope. Great sacrifices will
be made to get the boys to public schools, where they can revive and
expand the family connections. They will look forward as a matter of
course to positions and appointments, for the want of which men of gifts
and capacity from other social strata will break their hearts, and they
will fill these coveted places with a languid, discontented incapacity.
Great difficulty will be experienced in finding schools for the girls
from which the offspring of tradesmen are excluded. Vulgarity has to be
jealously anticipated. In a period when Smartness (as distinguished from
Vulgarity) is becoming an ideal, this demands at times extremely subtle
discrimination. The art of credit will be developed to a high level.

Now in the other family economically indistinguishable from this,
a family with seven or eight hundred a year from investments, which
derives from the middle class, the tradition is one that, in spite of
the essential irresponsibility of the economic position, will urge this
family towards exertion as a duty. As a rule the resultant lies in the
direction of pleasant, not too arduous exertion, the arts are attacked
with great earnestness of intention, literature, “movements” of many
sorts are ingredients in these homes. Many things that are imperative
to the aristocratic home are regarded as needless, and in their
place appear other things that the aristocrat would despise, books,
instruction, travel in incorrect parts of the world, _games_, that
most seductive development of modern life, played to the pitch of
distinction. Into both these homes comes literature, comes the Press,
comes the talk of alien minds, comes the observation of things without,
sometimes reinforcing the tradition, sometimes insidiously glossing upon
it or undermining it, sometimes “letting daylight through it”; but
much more into the latter type than into the former. And slowly the
two fundamentally identical things tend to assimilate their superficial
difference, to homologize their traditions, each generation sees a
relaxation of the aristocratic prohibitions, a “gentleman” may tout for
wines nowadays--among gentlemen--he may be a journalist, a fashionable
artist, a schoolmaster, his sisters may “act,” while, on the other
hand, each generation of the ex-commercial shareholder reaches out
more earnestly towards refinement, towards tone and quality, towards
etiquette, and away from what is “common” in life.

So in these typical cases one follows the strands of tradition into the
new conditions, the new homes of our modern state. In America one
finds exactly the same new elements shaped by quite parallel economic
developments, shopmen in a large store, skilled operatives, and
independent shareholders developing homes not out of a triple strand of
tradition, but out of the predominant home tradition of an emancipated
middle class, and in a widely different atmosphere of thought and
suggestion. As a consequence, one finds, I am told, a skilled operative
already with no eye (or only an angry eye) for tips, sociable shopmen,
and shareholding families, frankly common, frankly intelligent, frankly
hedonistic, or only with the most naïve and superficial imitation of
the haughty incapacity, the mean pride, the parasitic lordliness of the
just-independent, well-connected English.

These rough indications of four social types will illustrate the quality
of our proposition, that home influence in the making of men resolves
itself into an interplay of one substantial and two modifying elements,

(1) Tradition.

(2) Economic conditions.

(3) New ideas, suggestions, interpretations, changes in the general
atmosphere of thought in which a man lives and which he mentally

The net sum of which three factors becomes the tradition for the next

Both the modifying elements admit of control. How the economic
conditions of homes may be controlled to accomplish New Republican
ends has already been discussed with a view to a hygienic minimum, and
obviously the same, or similar, methods may be employed to secure less
materialistic benefits. You can make a people dirty by denying them
water, you can make a people cleaner by cheapening and enforcing
bath-rooms. Man is indeed so spiritual a being that he will turn every
materialistic development you force upon him into spiritual growth. You
can aerate his house, not only with air, but with ideas. Build, cheapen,
render alluring a simpler, more spacious type of house for the clerk,
fill it with labour-saving conveniences, and leave no excuse and no
spare corners for the “slavey,” and the slavey--and all that she means
in mental and moral consequence--will vanish out of being. You will beat
tradition. Make it easy for Trade Unions to press for shorter hours
of work, but make it difficult for them to obstruct the arrival of
labour-saving appliances, put the means of education easily within the
reach of every workman, make promotion from the ranks, in the Army, in
the Navy, in all business concerns, practicable and natural, and
the lingering discolouration of the serf taint will vanish from the
workman’s mind. The days of mystic individualism have passed, few
people nowadays will agree to that strange creed that we must deal
with economic conditions as though they were inflexible laws. Economic
conditions are made and compact of the human will, and by tariffs, by
trade regulation and organization, fresh strands of will may be woven
into the complex. The thing may be extraordinarily intricate and
difficult, abounding in unknown possibilities and unsuspected dangers,
but that is a plea for science and not for despair.

Controllable, too, is the influx of modifying suggestions into our
homes, however vast and subtle the enterprise may seem. But here we
touch for the first time a question that we shall now continue to touch
upon at other points, until at last we shall clear it and display it as
the necessarily central question of the whole matter of man-making so
far as the human will is concerned, and that is the preservation and
expansion of the body of human thought and imagination, of which
all conscious human will and act is but the imperfect expression and
realization, of which all human institutions and contrivances, from
the steam-engine to the ploughed field, and from the blue pill to
the printing press, are no more than the imperfect symbols, the rude
mnemonics and memoranda.

But this analysis of the modifying factors in the home influence, this
formulation of its controllable elements, has now gone as far as the
purpose of this paper requires. It has worked out to this, that the
home, so far as it is not traditional organization, is really only on
the one hand an aspect of the general economic condition of the state,
and on the other of that still more fundamental thing, its general
atmosphere of thought. Our analysis refers back the man-maker to these
two questions. The home, one gathers, is not to be dealt with separately
or simply. Nor, on the other hand, are these questions to be dealt with
merely in relation to their home application. As the citizen grows
up, he presently emerges from his home influences to a more direct and
general contact with these two things, with the Fact of the modern state
and with the Thought of the modern state, and we must consider each of
these in relation to his development as a whole.

The next group of elements in the man-making complex that occurs to one
after the home, is the school. Let me repeat a distinction already drawn
between the home element in boarding-schools and the school proper.
While the child is out of the school-room, playing--except when it
is drilling or playing under direction--when it is talking with its
playmates, walking, sleeping, eating, it is under those influences that
it has been convenient for me to speak of as the home influence. The
schoolmaster who takes boarders is, I hold, merely a substitute for the
parent, the household of boarders merely a substitute for the family.
What is meant by school here, is that which is possessed in common by
day school and boarding-school--the schoolroom and the recess playground
part. It is something which the savage and the barbarian distinctively
do not possess as a phase in their making, and scarcely even its
rudimentary suggestion. It is a new element correlated with the
establishment of a wider political order and with the use of written

Now I think it will be generally conceded that whatever systematic
intellectual training the developing citizen gets, as distinguished from
his natural, accidental, and incidental development, is got in school or
in its subsequent development of college, and with that I will put aside
the question of intellectual development altogether for a later, fuller
discussion. My point here is simply to note the school as a factor in
the making of almost every citizen in the modern state, and to point
out, what is sometimes disregarded, that it is only one of many factors
in that making. The tendency of the present time is enormously to
exaggerate the importance of school in development, to ascribe to it
powers quite beyond its utmost possibilities, and to blame it for evils
in which it has no share. And in the most preposterous invasions of the
duties of parent, clergyman, statesman, author, journalist, of duties
which are in truth scarcely more within the province of a schoolmaster
than they are within the province of a butcher, the real and necessary
work of the school is too often marred, crippled, and lost sight of
altogether. We treat the complex, difficult and honourable task of
intellectual development as if it were within the capacity of any
earnest but muddle-headed young lady, or any half-educated gentleman in
orders; we take that for granted, and we demand in addition from
them the “formation of character,” moral and ethical training and
supervision, aesthetic guidance, the implanting of a taste for the Best
in literature, for the Best in art, for the finest conduct; we demand
the clue to success in commerce and the seeds of a fine passionate
patriotism from these necessarily very ordinary persons.

One might think schoolmasters and schoolmistresses were inaccessible
to general observation in the face of these stupendous demands. If we
exacted such things from our butcher over and above good service in
his trade, if we insisted that his meat should not only build up
honest nerve and muscle, but that it should compensate for all that was
slovenly in our homes, dishonest in our economic conditions, and slack
and vulgar in our public life, he would very probably say that it took
him all his time to supply sound meat, that it was a difficult
and honourable thing to supply sound meat, that the slackness of
business-men and statesmen in the country, the condition of the arts and
sciences, wasn’t his business, that however lamentable the disorders of
the state, there was no reasonable prospect of improving it by upsetting
the distribution of meat, and, in short, that he was a butcher and not a
Cosmos-healing quack. “You must have meat,” he would say, “anyhow.” But
the average schoolmaster and schoolmistress does not do things in that

What a school may do for the developing citizen, the original and the
developed function of the school, and how its true work may best be
accomplished, we shall discuss later. But it may be well to expand a
little more fully here the account of what the school has no business
to attempt, and what the scholastic profession is, as a whole, quite
incapable of doing, and to point to the really responsible agencies in
each case.

Now, firstly, with regard to all that the schoolmaster and
schoolmistress means by the “formation of character.” A large proportion
of the scholastic profession will profess, and a still larger proportion
of the public believes, that it is possible by talk and specially
designed instruction, to give a boy or girl a definite bias towards
“truth,” towards acts called “healthy” (a word it would puzzle the
ordinary schoolmaster or schoolmistress extremely to define, glib as
they are with it), towards honour, towards generosity, enterprise,
self-reliance, and the like. The masters in our public schools are far
from blameless in this respect, and you may gauge the quality of many
of these gentlemen pretty precisely by their disposition towards the
“school pulpit” line of business. Half an hour’s “straight talk to the
boys,” impromptu vague sentimentality about Earnestness, Thoroughness,
True Patriotism, and so forth, seems to assuage the conscience as
nothing else could do, for weeks of ill-prepared, ill-planned teaching,
and years of preoccupation with rowing-boats and cricket. The more
extreme examples of this type will say in a tone of manly apology,
“It does the boys good to tell them plainly what I think about serious
things”--when the simple fact of the case is too often that he does
all he can not to think about any things of any sort whatever, except
cricket and promotion. Schoolmistresses, again, will sometimes come near
boasting to the inquiring parent of our “ethical hour,” and if you probe
the facts you will find that means no more and no less than an hour
of floundering egotism, in which a poor illogical soul, with a sort of
naive indecency, talks nonsense about “Ideals,” about the Higher and the
Better, about Purity, and about many secret and sacred things, things
upon which wise men are often profoundly uncertain, to incredulous
or imitative children. All that is needed to do this sort of thing
abundantly and freely is a certain degree of aggressive egotism, a
certain gift of stupidity, good intentions, and a defective sense of
educational possibilities and limitations.

In addition to moral discussions, that at the best are very second-rate
eloquence, and at the worst are respect destroying, mind destroying
gabble, there are various forms of “ethical” teaching, advocated and
practised in America and in the elementary schools of this country.
For example, a story of an edifying sort is told to the children, and
comments are elicited upon the behaviour of the characters. “Would you
have done that?” “Oh, _no_, teacher!” “Why not?” “Because it would be
mean.” The teacher goes into particulars, whittling away at the verdict,
and at last the fine point of the lesson stands out. Now it may
be indisputable that such lessons can be conducted effectively and
successfully by exceptionally brilliant teachers, that children may be
given an excellent code of good intentions, and a wonderful skill in the
research for good or bad motives for any given course of action they may
or may not want to take, but that they can be systematically trained by
the average teacher at our disposal in this desirable “subject” is quite
another question. It is one of the things that the educational
reformer must guard against most earnestly, the persuasion that what an
exceptional man can do ever and again for display purposes can be done
successfully day by day in schools. This applies to many other
things besides the teaching of ethics. Professor Armstrong can give
delightfully instructive lessons in chemistry according to the heuristic
method, but in the hands of the average teacher by whom teaching _must_
be done for the next few years the heuristic system will result
in nothing but a pointless fumble. Mr. Mackinder teaches
geography--inimitably--just to show how to do it. Mr. David Devant--the
brilliant Egyptian Hall conjuror--will show any assembly of parents how
to amuse children quite easily, but for some reason he does not present
his legerdemain as a new discovery in educational method.

To our argument that this sort of teaching is not within the capacity
of such teachers as we have, or are likely to have, we can, fortunately
enough, add that whatever is attempted can be done far better through
other agencies. More or less unknown to teachers there exists a
considerable amount of well-written literature, true stories and
fiction, in which, without any clumsy insistence upon moral points, fine
actions are displayed in their elementary fineness, and baseness is seen
to be base. There are also a few theatres, and there might be more, in
which fine action is finely displayed. Now one nobly conceived and
nobly rendered play will give a stronger moral impression than the best
schoolmaster conceivable, talking ethics for a year on end. One great
and stirring book may give an impression less powerful, perhaps,
but even more permanent. Practically these things are as good as
example--they are example. Surround your growing boy or girl with a
generous supply of good books, and leave writer and growing soul to
do their business together without any scholastic control of their
intercourse. Make your state healthy, your economic life healthy and
honest, be honest and truthful in the pulpit, behind the counter, in the
office, and your children will need no specific ethical teaching; they
will inhale right. And without these things all the ethical teaching in
the world will only sour to cant at the first wind of the breath of the

Quite without ethical pretension at all the school is of course bound
to influence the moral development of the child. That most important
matter, the habit and disposition towards industry, should be acquired
there, the sense of thoroughness in execution, the profound belief that
difficulty is bound to yield to a resolute attack--all these things are
the necessary by-products of a good school. A teacher who is punctual,
persistent, just, who tells the truth, and insists upon the truth, who
is truthful, not merely technically but in a constant search for exact
expression, whose own share of the school work is faultlessly done,
who is tolerant to effort and a tireless helper, who is obviously more
interested in serious work than in puerile games, will beget essential
manliness in every boy he teaches. He need not lecture on his virtues. A
slack, emotional, unpunctual, inexact, and illogical teacher, a fawning
loyalist, an incredible pietist, an energetic snob, a teacher as
eager for games, as sensitive to social status, as easy, kindly, and
sentimental, and as shy really of hard toil as--as some teachers--is
none the better for ethical flatulence. There is a good deal of cant
in certain educational circles, there is a certain type of educational
writing in which “love” is altogether too strongly present; a reasonably
extensive observation of school-children and school-teachers makes
one doubt whether there is ever anything more than a very temperate
affection and a still more temperate admiration on either side. Children
see through their teachers amazingly, and what they do not understand
now they will understand later. For a teacher to lay hands on all
the virtues, to associate them with his or her personality, to smear
characteristic phrases and expressions over them, is as likely as not
to give the virtues unpleasant associations. Better far, save through
practice, to leave them alone altogether.

And what is here said of this tainting of moral instruction with the
personality of the teacher applies still more forcibly to religious
instruction. Here, however, I enter upon a field where I am anxious to
avoid dispute. To my mind those ideas and emotions that centre about the
idea of God appear at once too great and remote, and too intimate and
subtle for objective treatment. But there are a great number of people,
unfortunately, who regard religion as no more than geography, who
believe that it can be got into daily lessons of one hour, and
adequately done by any poor soul who has been frightened into conformity
by the fear of dismissal. And having this knobby, portable creed, and
believing sincerely that lip conformity is alone necessary to salvation,
they want to force every teacher they can to acquire and impart its
indestructible, inflexible recipes, and they are prepared to enforce
this at the price of inefficiency in every other school function. We
must all agree--whatever we believe or disbelieve--that religion is the
crown of the edifice we build. But it will simply ruin a vital part of
the edifice and misuse our religion very greatly if we hand it over to
the excavators and bricklayers of the mind, to use as a cheap substitute
for the proper intellectual and ethical foundations; for the ethical
foundation which is schooling and the ethical foundation which is habit.
I must confess that there is only one sort of man whose insistence
upon religious teaching in schools by ordinary school teachers I can
understand, and that is the downright Atheist, the man who believes
sensual pleasure is all that there is of pleasure, and virtue no more
than a hood to check the impetuosity of youth until discretion is
acquired, the man who believes there is nothing else in the world but
hard material fact, and who has as much respect for truth and religion
as he has for stable manure. Such a man finds it convenient to profess
a lax version of the popular religion, and he usually does so, and
invariably he wants his children “taught” religion, because he so
utterly disbelieves in God, goodness, and spirituality that he cannot
imagine young people doing even enough right to keep healthy and
prosperous, unless they are humbugged into it.

Equally unnecessary is the scholastic attempt to take over the relations
of the child to “nature,” art, and literature. To read the educational
journals, to hear the scholastic enthusiast, one would think that no
human being would ever discover there was any such thing as “nature”
 were it not for the schoolmaster--and quotation from Wordsworth. And
this nature, as they present it, is really not nature at all, but a
factitious admiration for certain isolated aspects of the universe
conventionally regarded as “natural.” Few schoolmasters have discovered
that for every individual there are certain aspects of the universe
that especially appeal, and that that appeal is part of the
individuality--different from every human being, and quite outside their
range. Certain things that have been rather well treated by poets and
artists (for the most part dead and of Academic standing) they regard
as Nature, and all the rest of the world, most of the world in which we
live, as being in some way an intrusion upon this classic. They propound
a wanton and illogical canon. Trees, rivers, flowers, birds, stars--are,
and have been for many centuries Nature--so are ploughed fields--really
the most artificial of all things--and all the apparatus of the
agriculturist, cattle, vermin, weeds, weed-fires, and all the rest of
it. A grassy old embankment to protect low-lying fields is Nature, and
so is all the mass of apparatus about a water-mill; a new embankment
to store an urban water supply, though it may be one mass of splendid
weeds, is artificial, and ugly. A wooden windmill is Nature and
beautiful, a sky-sign atrocious. Mountains have become Nature and
beautiful within the last hundred years--volcanoes even. Vesuvius, for
example, is grand and beautiful, its smell of underground railway most
impressive, its night effect stupendous, but the glowing cinder heaps
of Burslem, the wonders of the Black Country sunset, the wonderful
fire-shot nightfall of the Five Towns, these things are horrid and
offensive and vulgar beyond the powers of scholastic language. Such a
mass of clotted inconsistencies, such a wild confusion of vicious mental
practices as this, is the stuff the schoolmaster has in mind when he
talks of children acquiring a love of Nature. They are to be trained,
against all their mental bias, to observe and quote about the canonical
natural objects and not to observe, but instead to shun and contemn
everything outside the canon, and so to hand on the orthodox Love of
Nature to another generation. One may present the triumph of scholastic
nature-teaching, by the figure of a little child hurrying to school
along the ways of a busy modern town. She carries a faded cut-flower,
got at considerable cost from a botanical garden, and as she goes she
counts its petals, its stamens, its bracteoles. Her love of Nature, her
“powers of observation,” are being trained. About her, all unheeded,
is a wonderful life that she would be intent upon but for this precious
training of her mind; great electric trains loom wonderfully round
corners, go droning by, spitting fire from their overhead wires; great
shop windows display a multitudinous variety of objects; men and women
come and go about a thousand businesses; a street-organ splashes a spray
of notes at her as she passes, a hoarding splashes a spray of colour.

The shape and direction of one’s private observation is no more the
schoolmaster’s business than the shape and direction of one’s nose. It
is, indeed, possible to certain gifted and exceptional persons that they
should not only see acutely, but abstract and express again what they
have seen. Such people are artists--a different kind of people from
schoolmasters altogether. Into all sorts of places, where people have
failed to see, comes the artist like a light. The artist cannot create
nor can he determine the observation of other men, but he can, at any
rate, help and inspire it. But he and the pedagogue are temperamentally
different and apart. They are at opposite poles of human quality. The
pedagogue with his canon comes between the child and Nature only to
limit and obscure. His business is to leave the whole thing alone.

If the interpretation of nature is a rare and peculiar gift, the
interpretation of art and literature is surely an even rarer thing.
Hundreds of schoolmasters and schoolmistresses who could not write one
tolerable line of criticism, will stand up in front of classes by the
hour together and issue judgments on books, pictures, and all that is
comprised under the name of art. Think of it! Here is your great artist,
your great exceptional mind groping in the darknesses beneath the
surface of life, half apprehending strange elusive things in those
profundities, and striving--striving sometimes to the utmost verge of
human endeavour--to give that strange unsuspected mystery expression,
to shape it, to shadow it in form and wonder of colour, in beautiful
rhythms, in phantasies of narrative, in gracious and glowing words.
So much in its essential and precious degree is art. Think of what
the world must be in the wider vision of the great artist. Think,
for example, of the dark splendours amidst which the mind of Leonardo
clambered; the mirror of tender lights that reflected into our world
the iridescent graciousness of Botticelli! Then to the faint and faded
intimations these great men have left us of the things beyond our scope,
comes the scholastic intelligence, gesticulating instructively, and in
too many cases obscuring for ever the naive vision of the child. The
scholastic intelligence, succulently appreciative, blind, hopelessly
blind to the fact that every great work of art is a strenuous, an almost
despairing effort to express and convey, treats the whole thing as some
foolish riddle--“explains it to the children.” As if every picture was
a rebus and every poem a charade! “Little children,” he says, “this
teaches you”--and out comes the platitude!

Of late years, in Great Britain more particularly, the School has been
called upon to conquer still other fields. It has become apparent
that in this monarchy of ours, in which honour is heaped high upon
money-making, even if it is money-making that adds nothing to the
collective wealth or efficiency, and denied to the most splendid public
services unless they are also remunerative; where public applause is the
meed of cricketers, hostile guerillas, clamorous authors, yacht-racing
grocers, and hopelessly incapable generals, and where suspicion and
ridicule are the lot of every man working hard and living hard for any
end beyond a cabman’s understanding; in this world-wide Empire whose
Government is entrusted as a matter of course to peers and denied as a
matter of course to any man of humble origin; where social pressure of
the most urgent kind compels every capable business manager to sell out
to a company and become a “gentleman” at the very earliest opportunity,
the national energy is falling away. That driving zeal, that practical
vigour that once distinguished the English is continually less apparent.
Our workmen take no pride in their work any longer, they shirk toil and
gamble. And what is worse, the master takes no pride in the works; he,
too, shirks toil and gambles. Our middle-class young men, instead of
flinging themselves into study, into research, into literature, into
widely conceived business enterprises, into so much of the public
service as is not preserved for the sons of the well connected, play
games, display an almost oriental slackness in the presence of work and
duty, and seem to consider it rather good form to do so. And seeking for
some reason and some remedy for this remarkable phenomenon, a number of
patriotic gentlemen have discovered that the Schools, the Schools are
to blame. Something in the nature of Reform has to be waved over our

It would be a wicked deed to write anything that might seem to imply
that our Schools were not in need of very extensive reforms, or that
their efficiency is not a necessary preliminary condition to general
public efficiency, but, indeed, the Schools are only one factor in a
great interplay of causes, and the remedy is a much ampler problem
than any Education Act will cure. Take a typical young Englishman, for
example, one who has recently emerged from one of our public schools,
one of the sort of young Englishmen for whom all commissions in the Army
are practically reserved, who will own some great business, perhaps, or
direct companies, and worm your way through the tough hide of style
and restraint he has acquired, get him to talk about women, about his
prospects, his intimate self, and see for yourself how much of him, and
how little of him, his school has made. Test him on politics, on the
national future, on social relationships, and lead him if you can to
an utterance or so upon art and literature. You will be astonished how
little you can either blame or praise the teaching of his school for
him. He is ignorant, profoundly ignorant, and much of his style and
reserve is draped over that; he does not clearly understand what he
reads, and he can scarcely write a letter; he draws, calculates and
thinks no better than an errand boy, and he has no habit of work; for
that much perhaps the school must answer. And the school, too, must
answer for the fact that although--unless he is one of the small
specialized set who “swat” at games--he plays cricket and football quite
without distinction, he regards these games as much more important than
military training and things of that sort, spends days watching his
school matches, and thumbs and muddles over the records of county
cricket to an amazing extent. But these things are indeed only symptons,
and not essential factors in general inefficiency. There are much wider
things for which his school is only mediately or not at all to blame.
For example, he is not only ignorant and inefficient and secretly aware
of his ignorance and inefficiency, but, what is far more serious,
he does not feel any strong desire to alter the fact; he is not only
without the habit of regular work, but he does not feel the defect
because he has no desire whatever to do anything that requires work in
the doing. And you will find that this is so because there is woven into
the tissue of his being a profound belief that work and knowledge “do
not pay,” that they are rather ugly and vulgar characteristics, and that
they make neither for happiness nor success.

He did not learn that at school, nor at school was it possible he should
unlearn it. He acquired that belief from his home, from the conversation
of his equals, from the behaviour of his inferiors; he found it in the
books and newspapers he has read, he breathed it in with his native
air. He regards it as manifest Fact in the life about him. And he is
perfectly right. He lives in a country where stupidity is, so to speak,
crowned and throned, and where honour is a means of exchange; and he
draws his simple, straight conclusions. The much-castigated gentleman
with the ferule is largely innocent in this account.

If, too, you ransack your young Englishman for religion, you will be
amazed to find scarcely a trace of School. In spite of a ceremonial
adhesion to the religion of his fathers, you will find nothing but a
profound agnosticism. He has not even the faith to disbelieve. It is not
so much that he has not developed religion as that the place has been
seared. In his time his boyish heart has had its stirrings, he has
responded with the others to “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” the earnest
moments of the school pulpit, and all those first vague things. But
limited as his reading is, it has not been so limited that he does not
know that very grave things have happened in matters of faith, that the
doctrinal schemes of the conventional faith are riddled targets, that
creed and Bible do not mean what they appear to mean, but something
quite different and indefinable, that the bishops, socially so much in
evidence, are intellectually in hiding.

Here again is something the school did not cause, the school cannot

And in matters sexual, in matters political, in matters social, and
matters financial you will find that the flabby, narrow-chested,
under-trained mind that hides in the excellent-looking body of the
typical young Englishman is encumbered with an elaborate duplicity.
Under the cloak of a fine tradition of good form and fair appearances
you will find some intricate disbeliefs, some odd practices. You will
trace his moral code chiefly to his school-fellows, and the intimates
of his early manhood, and could you trace it back you would follow
an unbroken tradition from the days of the Restoration. So soon as he
pierces into the realities of the life about him, he finds enforcement,
ample and complete, for the secret code. The schoolmaster has not
touched it; the school pulpit has boomed over its development in vain.
Nor has the schoolmaster done anything for or against the young man’s
political views, his ideas of social exclusiveness, the peculiar code
of honour that makes it disgraceful to bilk a cabman and permissible to
obtain goods on credit from a tradesman without the means to pay. All
this much of the artificial element in our young English gentleman was
made outside the school, and is to be remedied only by extra-scholastic

School is only one necessary strand in an enormous body of formative
influence. At first that mass of formative influence takes the outline
of the home, but it broadens out as the citizen grows until it reaches
the limits of his world. And his world, just like his home, resolves
itself into three main elements. First, there is the traditional
element, the creation of the past; secondly, there is the contemporary
interplay of economic and material forces; and thirdly, there is
literature, using that word for the current thought about the world,
which is perpetually tending on the one hand to realize itself and to
become in that manner a material force, and on the other to impose fresh
interpretations upon things and so become a factor in tradition. Now
the first of these elements is a thing established. And it is the
possibility of intervening through the remaining two that it is now our
business to discuss.


We left the child whose development threads through this discussion
ripe to begin a little schooling at the age of five. We have cleared the
ground since then of a great number of things that have got themselves
mixed up in an illegitimate way with the idea of school, and we can now
take him on again through his “schooling” phases. Let us begin by asking
what we require and then look to existing conditions to see how far
we may hope to get our requirements. We will assume the foundation
described in the fourth paper has been well and truly laid, that we
have a number of other similarly prepared children available to form
a school, and that we have also teachers of fair average intelligence,
conscience, and aptitude. We will ask what can be done with such
children and teachers, and then we may ask why it is not universally

Even after our clarifying discussion, in which we have shown that
schooling is only a part, and by no means the major part, of the
educational process, and in which we have distinguished and separated
the home element in the boarding-school from the schooling proper, there
still remains something more than a simple theme in schooling. After all
these eliminations we remain with a mixed function and mixed traditions,
and it is necessary now to look a little into the nature of this

The modern school is not a thing that has evolved from a simple germ, by
a mere process of expansion. It is the coalescence of several things. In
different countries and periods you will find schools taking over
this function and throwing out that, and changing not only methods but
professions and aims in the most remarkable manner. What has either been
teachable or has seemed teachable in human development has played a
part in some curriculum or other. Beyond the fact that there is class
instruction and an initial stage in which the pupil learns to read and
write, there is barely anything in common. But that initial stage is to
be noted; it is the thing the Hebrew schoolboy, the Tamil schoolboy, the
Chinese schoolboy, and the American schoolboy have in common. So much,
at any rate, of the school appears wherever there is a written language,
and its presence marks a stage in the civilizing process. As I have
already pointed out in my book “Anticipations,” the presence of a
reading and writing class of society and the existence of an organized
nation (as distinguished from a tribe) appear together. When tribes
coalesce into nations, schools appear. This first and most universal
function of the school is to initiate a smaller or greater proportion of
the population into the ampler world, the more efficient methods, of the
reading and writing man. And with the disappearance of the slave and
the mere labourer from the modern conception of what is necessary in the
state, there has now come about an extension of this initiation to the
whole of our English-speaking population. And in addition to reading
and writing the vernacular, there is also almost universally in schools
instruction in counting, and wherever there is a coinage, in the values
and simpler computation of coins.

In addition to the vernacular teaching, one finds in the schools--at
any rate the schools for males--over a large part of the world, a second
element, which is always the language of what either is or has been a
higher and usually a dominant civilization. Typically, there is a low or
imitative vernacular literature or no literature at all, and this second
language is the key to all that literature involves--general views,
general ideas, science, poetic suggestion and association. Through this
language the vernacular citizen escapes from his parochial and national
limitations to a wide commonweal of thought. Such was Greek at one time
to the Roman, such was Latin to the Bohemian, the German, the Englishman
or the Spaniard of the middle ages, and such it is to-day to the Roman
Catholic priest; such is Arabic to the Malay, written Chinese to the
Cantonese or the Corean, and English to the Zulu or the Hindoo. In
Germany and France, to a lesser degree in Great Britain, and to a still
lesser degree in the United States, we find, however, an anomalous
condition of things. In each of these countries civilization has long
since passed into an unprecedented phase, and each of these countries
has long since developed a great living mass of literature in which its
new problems are, at any rate, approached. There is scarcely a work left
in Latin or Greek that has not been translated into and assimilated and
more or less completely superseded by English, French, and German works;
but the schoolmaster, heedless of these things, still arrests the pupil
at the old portal, fumbles with the keys, and partially opens the door
into a ransacked treasure-chamber. The language of literature and of
civilized ideas is, for the English-speaking world to-day, English--not
the weak, spoken dialect of each class and locality, but the rich and
splendid language in which and with which our literature and philosophy
grow. That, however, is by the way. Our point at present is that the
exhaustive teaching of a language so that it may serve as a key to
culture is a second function in the school.

We find in a broad survey of schools in general that there has also been
a disposition to develop a special training in thought and expression
either in the mother tongue (as in the Roman schools of Latin oratory),
or in the culture tongue (as in Roman schools of Greek oratory), and we
find the same element in the mediaeval trivium. Quintilian’s conception
of education, the reader will remember, was oratory. This aspect of
school work was the traditional and logical development of the culture
language-teaching. But as in Europe the culture language has ceased to
be really a culture language but merely a reasonless survival, and
its teaching has degenerated more and more into elaborate formalities
supposed to have in some mystical way “high educational value,” and
for the most part conducted by men unable either to write or speak the
culture language with any freedom or vigour, this crown of cultivated
expression has become more and more inaccessible. It is too manifestly
stupid--even for our public schoolmasters--to think of carrying the
“classical grind” to that pitch, and, in fact, they carry no part of the
education to that pitch. There is no deliberate and professed training
at all in logical thought--except for the use of Euclid’s Elements to
that end--nor in expression in any language at all, in the great mass
of modern schools. This is a very notable point about the schools of the
present period.

But, on the other hand, the schools of the modern period have developed
masses of instruction that were not to be found in the schools of the
past. The school has reached downward and taken over, systematized, and
on the whole, I think, improved that preliminary training of the senses
and the observation that was once left to the spontaneous activity of
the child among its playmates and at home. The kindergarten department
of a school is a thing added to the old conception of schooling, a
conversion of the all too ample school hours to complete and rectify the
work of the home, to make sure of the foundation of sense impressions
and elementary capabilities upon which the edifice of schooling is
to rise. In America it has grown, as a wild flower transferred to the
unaccustomed richness of garden soil will sometimes do, rankly and in
relation to the more essential schooling, aggressively, and become
a highly vigorous and picturesque weed. One must bear in mind that
Froebel’s original thought was rather of the mother than of the
schoolmistress, a fact the kindergarten invaders of the school find it
convenient to forget. I believe we shall be carrying out his intentions
as well as the manifest dictates of common sense if we do all in our
power by means of simply and clearly written books for nurses and
mothers to shift very much of the kindergarten back to home and playroom
and out of the school altogether. Correlated with this development,
there has been a very great growth in our schools of what is called
manual training and of the teaching of drawing. Neither of these
subjects entered into the school idea of any former period, so far as my
not very extensive knowledge of educational history goes.

Modern, too, is the development of efficient mathematical teaching; so
modern that for too many schools it is still a thing of tomorrow. The
arithmetic (without Arabic numerals, be it remembered) and the geometry
of the mediaeval quadrivium were astonishingly clumsy and ineffectual
instruments in comparison with the apparatus of modern mathematical
method. And while the mathematical subjects of the quadrivium were
taught as science and for their own sakes, the new mathematics is a sort
of supplement to language, affording a means of thought about form and
quantity and a means of expression, more exact, compact, and ready than
ordinary language. The great body of physical science, a great deal
of the essential fact of financial science, and endless social and
political problems are only accessible and only thinkable to those who
have had a sound training in mathematical analysis, and the time may not
be very remote when it will be understood that for complete initiation
as an efficient citizen of one of the new great complex world-wide
states that are now developing, it is as necessary to be able to
compute, to think in averages and maxima and minima, as it is now to
be able to read and write. This development of mathematical teaching is
only another aspect of the necessity that is bringing the teaching of
drawing into schools, the necessity that is so widely, if not always
very intelligently perceived, of clearheadedness about quantity,
relative quantity, and form, that our highly mechanical, widely
extended, and still rapidly extending environments involve.

Arithmetic and geometry were taught in the mediaeval school as sciences,
in addition the quadrivium involved the science of astronomy, and now
that the necessary fertilizing inundation of our general education by
the classical languages and their literatures subsides, science of a new
sort reappears in our schools. I must confess that a lot of the science
teaching that appears in schools nowadays impresses me as being a very
undesirable encumbrance of the curriculum. The schoolman’s science came
after the training in language and expression, late in the educational
scheme, and it aimed, it pretended--whatever its final effect was--to
strengthen and enlarge the mind by a noble and spacious sort of
knowledge. But the science of the modern school pretends merely to be a
teaching of useful knowledge; the vistas, the tremendous implications of
modern science are conscientiously disregarded, and it is in effect too
often no more than a diversion of school energies to the acquisition
of imperfectly analyzed misstatements about entrails, elements, and
electricity, with a view--a quite unjustifiable view--to immediate
profitable hygienic and commercial application. Whether there is any
educational value in the school-teaching of science we may discuss
later. For the present we may note it simply as a revived and developing

On the other hand, while these things expand in the modern school, there
are declining elements, once in older schemes of scholastic work much
more evident. In the culture of the mediaeval knight, for example, and
of the eighteenth-century young lady, elegant accomplishments, taught
disconnected from the general educational scheme and for themselves,
played a large part. The eighteenth-century young lady was taught
dancing, deportment, several instruments of music, how to pretend to
sketch, how to pretend to know Italian, and so on. The dancing still
survives--a comical mitigation of high school austerities--and there
is also a considerable interruption of school work achieved by the
music-master. If there is one thing that I would say with certainty has
no business whatever in schools, it is piano-teaching. The elementary
justification of the school is its organization for class-teaching and
work in unison, and there is probably no subject of instruction that
requires individual tuition quite so imperatively as piano-playing;
there is no subject so disadvantageously introduced where children
are gathered together. But to every preparatory and girls’ school
in England--I do not know if the same thing happens in America--the
music-master comes once or twice a week, and with a fine disregard of
the elementary necessities of teaching, children are called one by
one, out of whatever class they happen to be attending, to have their
music-lesson. Either the whole of the rest of the class must mark time
at some unnecessary exercise until the missing member returns, or
one child must miss some stage, some explanation that will involve a
weakness, a lameness for the rest of the course of instruction. Not
only is the actual music-lesson a nuisance in this way, but all day the
school air is loaded with the oppressive tinkling of racked and rackety
pianos. Nothing, I think, could be more indicative of the real value
the English school-proprietor sets on school-teaching than this easy
admission of the music-master to hack and riddle the curriculum into
rags. [Footnote 1: Piano playing as an accomplishment is a nuisance and
encumbrance to the school course and a specialization that surely lies
within the private Home province. To learn to play the piano properly
demands such an amount of time and toil that I do not see how we can
possibly include it in the educational scheme of the honourable citizens
of the coming world state. To half learn it, to half learn anything, is
a training in failure. But it is probable that a different sort of
music teaching altogether--a teaching that would aim, not at
instrumentalization, but at intelligent appreciation--might find a place
in a complete educational scheme. The general ignorance that pervades,
and in part inspires these papers, does, in the matter of music, become
special, profound, and distinguished. It seems to me, however, that
what the cultivated man or woman requires is the ability to read a score
intelligently rather than to play it--to distinguish the threads, the
values, of a musical composition, to have a quickened ear rather than a
disciplined hand. I owe to my friend, Mr. Graham Wallas, the suggestion
that the piano is altogether too exacting an instrument to use as the
practical vehicle for such instruction, and that something simpler and
cheaper--after the fashion of the old spinet--is required. Possibly some
day a teacher of genius will devise and embody in a book a course of
class lessons, sustained by simple practice and written work, that would
attain this end. But, indeed, after all is said and done, music is
the most detached and the purest of arts, the most accessory of
attainments.] Apart from the piano work, the special teaching of elegant
accomplishments seems just at present on the wane. And on the whole I
think what one might call useful or catchpenny accomplishments are
also passing their zenith--shorthand lessons, book-keeping lessons, and
such-like impostures upon parental credulity.

There is, however, a thing that was once done in schools as a convenient
accomplishment, and which has--with that increase in communication which
is the salient material fact of the nineteenth century--developed in
Western Europe to the dimensions of a political necessity, and that
is the teaching of one or more modern foreign languages. The
language-teaching of all previous periods has been done with a view
to culture, artistic, as in the case of Elizabethan Italian, or
intellectual as with English Latin. But the language-teaching of to-day
is deliberately, almost conscientiously, not for culture. It would, I am
sure, be a very painful and shocking thought indeed to an English parent
to think that French was taught in school with a view to reading
French books. It is taught as a vulgar necessity for purposes of vulgar
communication. The stirring together of the populations that is going
on, the fashion and facilities for travel, the production of the radii
from the trading foci, are rapidly making a commonplace knowledge of
French, German, and Italian a necessity to the merchant and tradesman,
and the ever more extensive travelling class. So that so far as Europe
goes, one may very well regard this modern modern-language teaching
as--with the modern mathematics--an extension of the _trivium_, of the
apparatus, that is, of thought and expression. [Footnote: In the United
States there is less sense of urgency about modern languages, but
sooner or later the American may wake up to the need of Spanish in
his educational schemes.] It is an extension and a very doubtful
improvement. It is a modern necessity, a rather irksome necessity, of
little or no essential educational value, an unavoidable duty the school
will have to perform. [Footnote: In one way the foreign language may be
made educationally very useful, and that is as an exercise in writing
translations into good English.]

There are two subjects in the modern English school that stand by
themselves and in contrast with anything one finds in the records
of ancient and oriental schools, as a very integral part of what is
regarded as our elementary general education. They are of very doubtful
value in training the mind, and most of the matter taught is totally
forgotten in adult life. These are history and geography. These two
subjects constitute, with English grammar and arithmetic, the four
obligatory subjects for the very lowest grade of the London College of
Preceptors’ examinations, for example. The examination papers of this
body reveal the history as an affair of dated events, a record of
certain wars and battles, and legislative and social matters quite
beyond the scope of a child’s experience and imagination. Scholastic
history ends at 1700 or 1800, always long before it throws the faintest
light upon modern political or social conditions. The geography is,
for the most part, topography, with a smattering of quantitative facts,
heights of mountains, for example, populations of countries, and lists
of obsolete manufactures and obsolete trade conditions. Any one who
will take the trouble to run through the text-books of these subjects
gathered together in the library of the London Teachers’ Guild, will
find that the history is generally taught without maps, pictures,
descriptive passages, or anything to raise it above the level of an
arid misuse of memory; and the highest levels to which ordinary school
geography has attained are to be found in the little books of the late
Professor Meiklejohn. These two subjects are essentially “information”
 subjects. They differ in prestige rather than in educational quality
from school chemistry and natural history, and their development marks
the beginning of that great accumulation of mere knowledge which is so
distinctive of this present civilization.

There are, no doubt, many minor subjects, but this revision will at
least serve to indicate the scope and chief varieties of school work.
Out of some such miscellany it is that in most cases the student passes
to specialization, to a different and narrower process which aims at
a specific end, to the course of the College. In some cases this
specialized course may be correlated with a real and present practice,
as in the case of the musical, medical, and legal faculties of our
universities; it may be correlated with obsolete needs and practices
and regardless of modern requirements, as in the case of the student
of divinity who takes his orders and comes into a world full of the
ironical silences that follow great controversies, nakedly ignorant of
geology, biology, psychology, and modern biblical criticism; or it may
have no definite relation to special needs, and it may profess to be an
upward prolongation of schooling towards a sort of general wisdom and
culture, as in the case of the British “Arts” degrees. The ordinary
Oxford, Cambridge, or London B.A. has a useless smattering of Greek,
he cannot read Latin with any comfort, much less write or speak that
tongue; he knows a few unedifying facts round and about the classical
literature, he cannot speak or read French with any comfort; he has an
imperfect knowledge of the English language, insufficient to write it
clearly, and none of German, he has a queer, old-fashioned, and quite
useless knowledge of certain rudimentary sections of mathematics, and
an odd little bite out of history. He knows practically nothing of the
world of thought embodied in English literature, and absolutely nothing
of contemporary thought; he is totally ignorant of modern political
or social science, and if he knows anything at all about evolutionary
science and heredity it is probably matter picked up in a casual
way from the magazines. Art is a sealed book to him. Still, the
inapplicability of his higher education to any professional or practical
need in the world is sufficiently obvious, it seems, to justify the
claim that it has put him on a footing of thought and culture above the
level of a shopman. It is either that or nothing. And without deciding
between these alternatives, we may note here for our present purpose,
that the conception of a general upward prolongation of schooling beyond
adolescence, as distinguished from a specific upward prolongation into
professional training, is necessary to the complete presentation of the
school and college scheme in the modern state.

There has always been a tendency to utilize the gathering together of
children in schools for purposes irrelevant to schooling proper, but of
some real or fancied benefit. Wherever there is a priestly religion,
the lower type of religious fanatic will always look to the schools as
a means of doctrinal dissemination; will always be seeking to replace
efficiency by orthodoxy upon staff and management; and, with an
unconquerable, uncompromising persistency, will seek perpetually either
to misconduct or undermine; and the struggle to get him out and keep him
out of the school, and to hold the school against him, will be one
of the most necessary and thankless of New Republican duties. I have,
however, already adduced reasons that I think should appeal to every
religious mind, for the exclusion of religious teaching from school
work. The school gathering also affords opportunity for training in
simple unifying political conceptions; the salutation of the flag, for
example, or of the idealized effigies of King and Queen. The quality of
these conceptions we shall discuss later. The school also gives scope
for physical training and athletic exercises that are, under the
crowded conditions of a modern town, almost impossible except by its
intervention. And it would be the cheapest and easiest way of raising
the military efficiency of a country, and an excellent thing for the
moral tone and public order of a people, to impose upon the school
gathering half an hour a day of vigorous military drill. The school,
too, might very easily be linked more closely than it is at present
with the public library, and made a means of book distribution; and its
corridors may easily be utilized as a loan picture gallery, in which
good reproductions of fine pictures might bring the silent influence of
the artist mind to bear. But all these things are secondary applications
of the school gathering; at their best they are not conducted by the
school-teacher at all, and I remark upon them here merely to avoid any
confusion their omission might occasion.

Now if we dip into this miscellany of things that figure and have
figured in schools, if we turn them over and look at them, and seek to
generalize about them, we shall begin to see that the most persistently
present, and the living reality of it all, is this: to expand, to add
to and organize and supplement that apparatus of understanding and
expression the savage possesses in colloquial speech. The pressing
business of the school is _to widen the range of intercourse_.
[Footnote: This way of putting it may jar a little upon the more or less
explicit preconceptions of many readers, who are in reality in harmony
with the tone of thought of this paper. They will have decided that the
school work is to “train the mind,” to “teach the pupil to think,” or
upon some similar phrase. But I venture to think that most of these
phrases are at once too wide and too narrow. They are too wide
because they ignore the spontaneous activity of the child and the
extra-scholastic forces of mind-training, and they are too narrow
because they ignore the fact that we do not progress far with our
thoughts unless we throw them out into objective existence by means of
words, diagrams, models, trial essays. Even if we do not talk to others
we must, silently or vocally or visibly, talk to ourselves at least to
get on. To acquire the means of intercourse is to learn to think, so
far as learning goes in the matter.] It is only secondarily--so far as
schooling goes--or, at any rate, subsequently, that the idea of shaping,
or, at least, helping to shape, the expanded natural man into a citizen,
comes in. It is only as a subordinate necessity that the school is a
vehicle for the inculcation of facts. The facts come into the school not
for their own sake, but in relation to intercourse. It is only upon a
common foundation of general knowledge that the initiated citizens of an
educated community will be able to communicate freely together. With the
net of this phrase, “widening the range of intercourse,” I think it
is possible to gather together all that is essential in the deliberate
purpose of schooling. Nothing that remains outside is of sufficient
magnitude to be of any importance in the small-scale sketch of human
development we are now making:--

If we take this and hold to it as a guide, and explore a scheme of
school work, in the direction it takes us, we shall find it shaping
itself (for an English-speaking citizen) something after this fashion:

 _A_. Direct means of understanding and expression.
      1. Reading.
      2. Writing.
      3. Pronouncing English correctly.

      Which studies will expand into--

      4. A thorough study of English as a culture language, its origin,
         development, and vocabulary, and
      5. A sound training in English prose composition and
       And in addition--

      6. Just as much of mathematics as one can get in.

      7. Drawing and painting, not as “art,” but to train and develop
         the appreciation of form and colour, and as a collateral
         means of expression.

    8. Music [perhaps] to the same end.

 _B._ To speak the ordinary speech, read with fair intelligence,
   and write in a passably intelligible manner the foreign language
   or languages, the social, political, and intellectual necessities
   of the time require.

 And _C._ A division arising out of A and expanding in the later
       stages of the school course to continue and replace A: the
       acquisition of the knowledge (and of the art of acquiring
       further knowledge from books and facts) necessary to participate
       in contemporary thought and life.

Now this project is at once more modest in form and more ambitious in
substance than almost any school scheme or prospectus the reader is
likely to encounter. Let us (on the assumption of our opening paragraph)
inquire what is needed to carry it into execution. So far as 1 and 2
in this table go, we have to recognize that since the development of
elementary schools in England introduced a spirit of endeavour into
teaching, there has been a steady progress in the art of education.
Reading and writing are taught somehow or other to most people nowadays,
they are frequently taught quickly and well, especially well, I think,
in view of the raw material, in many urban Board Schools in England, and
there is nothing to do here but to inquire if anything can be done to
make this teaching, which is so exceptional in attaining its goal, still
quicker and easier, and in bringing the average up to the level of the
present best. We have already suggested as the work of an imaginary
English Language Society, how much might be done in providing
everywhere, cheaply and unavoidably, the best possible reading-books,
and it is manifest that the standard of copy-books for writing might
also be pressed upward by similar methods. In addition, we have to
consider--what is to me a most uncongenial subject--the possible
rationalization of English spelling. I will frankly confess I know
English as much by sight as by sound, and that any extensive or striking
alteration, indeed that almost any alteration, in the printed appearance
of English, worries me extremely. Even such little things as Mr. Bernard
Shaw’s weakness for printing “I’ve” as “Ive,” and the American “favor,”
 “thro,” and “catalog” catch at my attention as it travels along the lane
of meaning, like trailing briars. But I have to admit this habit of the
old spelling, which I am sure most people over four-and-twenty share
with me, will trouble neither me nor any one else who reads books now,
in the year 1990. I have to admit that the thing is an accident of my
circumstances. I have learnt to read and write in a certain way, and I
am concerned with the thing said and not with the vehicle, and so it
is that it distresses me when the medium behaves in an unusual way and
distracts my attention from the thing it conveys. But if it is true--and
I think it must be true--that the extremely arbitrary spelling of
English--and more especially of the more familiar English words--greatly
increases the trouble of learning to read and write, I do not think
the mental comfort of one or two generations of grown-up people must be
allowed to stand in the way of a permanent economy in the educational
process. I believe even that such a reader as I might come to be
very easy in the new way. But whatever is done must be done widely,
simultaneously, all over the English-speaking community, and after
the fullest consideration. The local “spelling reform” of a few
half-educated faddists here and there, helps not at all, is a mere
nuisance. This is a thing to be worked out in a scientific way by the
students of phonetics; they must have a complete alphabet settled for
good, a dictionary ready, reading-books well tested, the whole system
polished and near perfection before the thing passes out of the
specialists’ hands. The really practical spelling-reformer will devote
his guineas to endowing chairs of phonetics and supporting publication
in phonetic science, and his time to study and open-minded discussion.
Such organisations as the _Association Phonétique Internationale_, may
be instanced. Systems concocted in a hurry, in a half-commercial or
wholly commercial and in a wholly presumptuous manner, pushed like
religious panaceas and advertised like soap--Pitman’s System, Barnum’s
System, Quackbosh the Gifted Postman’s System, and all that sort of
thing--do nothing but vulgarize, discredit, and retard this work.

Before a system of phonetic spelling can be established, it is advisable
that a standard pronunciation of English should exist. With that
question also these papers have already dealt. But for the sake of
emphasis I would repeat here the astonishment that has grown upon me as
I have given my mind to these things, that, save for local exceptions,
there should be no pressure even upon those who desire to become
teachers in our schools or preachers in our pulpits, to attain a
qualifying minimum of correct pronunciation.

Now directly we pass beyond these first three elementary matters,
reading, writing, and pronunciation, and come to the fourth and fifth
items of our scheme, to the complete mastery of English that is, we come
upon a difficulty that is all too completely disregarded in educational
discussions--always by those who have had no real scholastic experience,
and often by those who ought to know better. It is extremely easy for
a political speaker or a city magnate or a military reformer or an
irresponsible writer, to proclaim that the schoolmaster must mend his
ways forthwith, give up this pointless Latin of his, and teach his
pupils the English language “_thoroughly_”--with much emphasis on the
“thoroughly,” but it is quite another thing for the schoolmaster to obey
our magnificent directions. For the plain, simple, insurmountable fact
is this, that no one knows how to teach English as in our vague way
we critics imagine it taught; that no working schoolmaster alive can
possibly give the thing the concentrated attention, the experimental
years necessary for its development, that it is worth nobody’s while,
and that (except in a vein of exalted self-sacrifice) it will probably
not be worth any one’s while to do so for many years unless some New
Republicans conspire to make it so. The teaching of English requires its
Sturm, its energetic modern renascence schoolmasters, its set of school
books, its branches and grades, before it can become a discipline,
even to compare with the only subject taught with any shadow of orderly
progressive thoroughness in secondary schools, namely, Latin. At present
our method in English is a foolish caricature of the Latin method; we
spend a certain amount of time teaching children classificatory bosh
about the eight sorts of Nominative Case, a certain amount of time
teaching them the “derivation” of words they do not understand,
glance shyly at Anglo-Saxon and at Grimm’s Law, indulge in a specific
reminiscence of the Latin method called parsing, supplement with a more
modern development called the analysis of sentences, give a course of
exercises in paraphrasing (for the most part the conversion of good
English into bad), and wind up with lessons in “Composition” that must
be seen to be believed. Essays are produced, and the teacher noses
blindly through the product for false concords, prepositions at the end
of sentences, and, if a person of peculiarly fine literary quality, for
the word “reliable” and the split infinitive. These various exercises
are so little parts of an articulate whole that they may be taken in
almost any order and any relative quantity. And in the result, if
some pupil should, by a happy knack of apprehension, win through this
confusion to a sense of literary quality, to the enterprise of even
trying to write, the thing is so rare and wonderful that almost
inevitably he or she, in a fine outburst of discovered genius, takes to
the literary life. For the rest, they will understand nothing but
the flattest prose; they will be deaf to everything but the crudest
meanings; they will be the easy victims of the boom, and terribly shy
of a pen. They will revere the dead Great and respect the new Academic,
read the living quack, miss and neglect the living promise, and
become just a fresh volume of that atmosphere of _azote_, in which our
literature stifles.

Now the schoolmaster is not to blame for this any more than he is to
blame for sticking to Latin. It is no more possible for schoolmasters
and schoolmistresses, whose lives are encumbered with a voluminous mass
of low-grade mental toil and worries and reasonable and unreasonable
responsibilities, to find the energy and mental freedom necessary to
make any vital changes in the methods that text-books, traditions,
and examinations force upon them, than it is for a general medical
practitioner to invent and make out of the native ore the steel
implements some operation of frequent occurrence in his practice
may demand. If they are made, and accessible by purchase and not too
expensive, he will get them; if they are not he will have to fumble
along with the next best thing; and if nothing that is any good can be
got, then there is nothing for it, though he be the noblest character,
the finest intelligence that ever lived behind a brass plate, but either
to shirk that operation altogether or to run the chance of making a
disastrous mess of it.

Scolding the schoolmaster, gibing at the schoolmaster, guying,
afflicting and exasperating the schoolmaster in every conceivable way,
is an amusement so entirely congenial to my temperament that I do not
for one moment propose to abandon it. It is a devil I have, and I admit
it. He insults schoolmasters and bishops in particular, and I do not
cast him out, but at the same time I would most earnestly insist that
all that sort of thing does nothing whatever to advance education, that
it is a mere outbreak of personal grace-notes so far as this discussion
goes. The real practical needs in the matter are a properly worked-out
method, a proper set of school books, and then a progressive alteration
of examinations in English, to render that method and that set of school
books imperative. These are needs the schoolmaster and schoolmistress
can do amazingly little to satisfy. Of course, when these things are
ready and the pressure to enforce them begins to tell on the schools,
schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, having that almost instinctive dread
of any sort of change that all hard-worked and rather worried people
acquire, will obstruct and have to be reckoned with, but that is a
detail in the struggle and not a question of general objective. And to
satisfy those real practical needs, what is wanted is in the first place
an organizer, a reasonable sum of money, say ten thousand pounds for
ten years, and access for experimental purposes to a variety of schools.
This organizer would set himself to secure the whole time and energy and
interest of a dozen or so of good men; they would include several expert
teachers, a clear-headed pedagogic expert or so, a keen psychologist
perhaps with a penetrating mind--for example, one might try and
kidnap Professor William James in his next Sabbatical year--one or two
industrious young students, a literary critic perhaps, a philologist,
a grammarian, and set them all, according to their several gifts and
faculties, towards this end. At the end of the first year this organizer
would print and publish for the derision of the world in general and
the bitter attacks of the men he had omitted from the enterprise in
particular, for review in the newspapers and for trial in enterprising
schools, a “course” in the English language and composition. His team of
collaborators, revised perhaps, probably weeded by a quarrel or so and
supplemented by the ablest of the hostile critics, would then, working
with all their time and energy, revise the course for the second year.
And you would repeat the process for ten years. In the end at the cost
of £100,000--really a quite trivial sum for the object in view--there
would exist the scheme, the method, the primers and text-books, the
School Dictionary, the examination syllabus, and all that is now needed
for the proper teaching of English. You would have, moreover, in the
copyrights of the course an asset that might go far to recoup those who
financed the enterprise.

It is precisely this difficulty about text-books and a general
scheme that is the real obstacle to any material improvement in our
mathematical teaching. Professor Perry, in his opening address to the
Engineering Section of the British Association at Belfast, expressed
an opinion that the average boy of fifteen might be got to the
infinitesimal calculus. As a matter of fact the average English boy of
fifteen has only just looked at elementary algebra. But every one
who knows anything of educational science knows, that by the simple
expedient of throwing overboard all that non-educational, mind-sickening
and complex rubbish about money and weights and measures, practice,
interest, “rule of three,” and all the rest of the solemn clap-trap
invented by the masters of the old Academy for Young Gentlemen to fool
the foolish predecessors of those who clamour for commercial education
to-day, and by setting aside the pretence in teaching geometry, that
algebraic formulae and the decimal notation are not yet invented, little
boys of nine may be got to apply quadratic equations to problems, plot
endless problems upon squared paper, and master and apply the geometry
covered by the earlier books of Euclid with the utmost ease. But to do
this with a class of boys at present demands so much special thought,
so much private planning, so much sheer toil on the part of the teacher,
that it becomes practically impossible. The teacher must arrange the
whole course himself, invent his examples, or hunt them laboriously
through a dozen books; he must be not only teacher, but text-book. I
know of no School Arithmetic which does not groan under a weight of sham
practical work, and that does not, with an absurd priggishness, exclude
the use of algebraic symbols. Except for one little volume, I know of no
sane book which deals with arithmetic and elementary algebra under
one cover or gives any helpful exercises or examples in squared
paper calculations. Such books, I am told, exist in the seclusion of
publishers’ stock-rooms, but if I, enjoying as I do much more leisure
and opportunity of inquiry than the average mathematical master, cannot
get at them, how can we expect him to do so? And the thing to do now is
obviously to discover or create these books, and force them kindly but
firmly into the teachers’ hands.

The problem is much simpler in the case of mathematical teaching than in
the case of English, because the educational theory and method have
been more thoroughly discussed. There is no need for the ten years of
experiment and trial I have suggested for the organization of English
teaching. The mathematical reformer may begin now at a point the English
language reformer will not reach for some years. Suppose now a suitably
authenticated committee were to work out--on the basis of Professor
Perry’s syllabus perhaps--a syllabus of school mathematics, and then
make a thorough review of all the mathematical textbooks on sale
throughout the English-speaking world, admitting some perhaps as of real
permanent value for teaching of the new type, provisionally recognizing
others as endurable, but with clear recommendations for their revision
and improvement, and condemning the others specifically _by name_. Let
them make it clear that this syllabus and report will be respected by
all public examining bodies; let them spend a hundred pounds or so
in the intelligent distribution of their report, and the scholastic
profession will not be long before it is equipped with the recommended
books. Meanwhile, the English and American scholastic publishers will
become extremely active, the warned books will be revised, and new books
will be written in competition for the enormous prize of the committee’s
final approval, an activity that a second review, after an interval of
five or six years, will recognize and reward.

Such measures as these will be worth reams of essays in educational
papers and Parents’ Reviews, worth thousands of inspiring and suggestive
lectures at pedagogic conferences. If, indeed, such essays and such
lectures do any good at all. The more one looks into scholastic affairs
the more one is struck not only by the futility but the positive
mischievousness of much of what passes for educational liberalism. The
schoolmaster is criticised vehemently for teaching the one or two poor
useless subjects he can in a sort of way teach, and practically nothing
is done to help or equip him to teach anything else. By reason of this
uproar, the world is full now of anxious muddled parents, their poor
brains buzzing with echoes of Froebel, Tolstoy, Herbert Spencer, Ruskin,
Herbart, Colonel Parker, Mr. Harris, Matthew Arnold, and the _Morning
Post_, trying to find something better. They know nothing of what is
right, they only know very, very clearly that the ordinary school is
extremely wrong. They are quite clear they don’t want “cram” (though
they haven’t the remotest idea what cram is), and they have a pretty
general persuasion that failure at examination is a good test of a sound
education. And in response to their bleating demand there grows a
fine crop of Quack Schools; schools organized on lines of fantastic
extravagance, in which bee-keeping takes the place of Latin, and
gardening supersedes mathematics, in which boys play tennis naked to be
cured of False Shame, and the numerical exercises called bookkeeping and
commercial correspondence are taught to the sons of parents (who can pay
a hundred guineas a year), as Commercial Science. The subjects of study
in these schools come and go like the ravings of a disordered mind;
“Greek History” (in an hour or so a week for a term) is followed by
“Italian Literature,” and this gives place to the production of a
Shakesperian play that ultimately overpowers and disorganizes the whole
curriculum. Ethical lessons and the school pulpit flourish, of course.
A triennial walk to a chalk-pit is Field Geology, and vague half-holiday
wanderings are Botany Rambles. “Art” of the copper punching variety
replaces any decent attempt to draw, and an extreme expressiveness in
music compensates for an almost deliberate slovenliness of technique.
Even the ladies’ seminaries of the Georgian days could scarcely have
produced a parallel to the miscellaneous incapacity of the victim of
these “modern” schools, and it becomes daily more necessary for those
who have the interests of education at heart to disavow with the most
unmistakable emphasis these catch-parent impostures.

With the other subjects under the headings of _A_ and _B_, it is not
necessary to deal at any length here. Drawing begins at home, and a
child should have begun to sketch freely before the formal schooling
commences. It is the business of the school to teach drawing and not
to teach “art,” which, indeed, is always an individual and spontaneous
thing, and it need only concern itself directly with those aspects of
drawing that require direction. Of course, an hour set aside from the
school time in which boys or girls may do whatever they please with
paper, ink, pens, pencils, compasses, and water-colour would be a most
excellent and profitable thing, but that scarcely counts (except in the
Quack Schools) as teaching. As a matter of fact, teaching absolutely
spoils all that sort of thing. A course in model drawing and in
perspective, however, is really a training in seeing things, it demands
rigorous instruction and it must be the backbone of school drawing, and,
in addition, studies may be made from flowers that would not be made
without direction: topography (and much else) may be learnt by copying
good explicit maps; chronology (to supplement the child’s private
reading of history) by the construction of time charts; and much history
also by drawing and colouring historical maps. With geometrical drawing
one passes insensibly into mathematics. And so much has been done not
only to revolutionize the teaching of modern languages, but also to
popularize the results, that I may content myself with a mere mention of
the names of Rippmann, S. Alge, Hölzel, and Gouin as typical of the new

There remains the question of _C_, the amount of Information that is to
take a place in schooling. Now there is one “subject” that it would be
convenient to include, were it only for the sake of the mass of exercise
and illustration it supplies to the mathematical course, and that is
the science of Physics. In addition, the science of physics, since it
culminates in a clear understanding and use of the terminology of
the aspects of energy and a clear sense of adequate causation, is
fundamentally necessary to modern thought. Practical work is, no doubt,
required for the proper understanding of physical science, and so far it
must enter into schooling, but it may be pointed out here that in many
cases the educational faddist is overdoing the manual side of science
study to a ridiculous extent. Things have altered very much at the Royal
College of Science, no doubt, since my student days, but fifteen years
ago the courses in elementary physics and in elementary geology were
quite childishly silly in this respect. Both these courses seemed to
have been inspired by that eminent educationist, Mr. Squeers, and
the sequel to spelling “window” was always to “go and clean one.” The
science in each course in those days could have been acquired just as
well in a fortnight as in half a year. One muddled away three or four
days etching a millimetre scale with hydrofluoric acid on glass--to no
earthly end that I could discover--and a week or so in making a needless
barometer. In the course in geology, days and days were spent in drawing
ideal crystalline forms and colouring them in water-colours, apparently
in order to get a totally false idea of a crystal, and weeks in the
patient copying of microscopic rock sections in water-colours. Effectual
measures of police were taken to prevent the flight of the intelligent
student from these tiresome duties. The mischief done in this way is
very great. It deadens the average students and exasperates and
maddens the eager ones. I am inclined to think that a very considerable
proportion of what passes as “practical” science work, for which costly
laboratories are built and expensive benches fitted, consists of
very similar solemnities, and it cannot be too strongly urged that
“practical” work that does not illuminate is mere waste of the student’s

This physics course would cover an experimental quantitative treatment
of the electric current, it would glance in an explanatory way at many
of the phenomena of physical geography, and it would be correlated with
a study of the general principles of chemistry. A detailed knowledge of
chemical compounds is not a part of general education, it keeps better
in reference books than in the non-specialized head, and it is only the
broad conceptions of analysis and combination, and of the relation of
energy to chemical changes, that have to be attained. Beyond this, and
the application of map drawing to give accurate ideas and to awaken
interest in geography and history, it is open to discussion whether
any Fact subject need be taught as schooling at all. Ensure the full
development of a man’s mental capacity, and he will get his Fact as he
needs it. And if his mind is undeveloped he can make no use of any fact
he has. The subject called “Human Physiology” may be at once dismissed
as absurdly unsuitable for school use. One is always meeting worthy
people who “don’t see why children should not know something about
their own bodies,” and who are not apparently aware that the medical
profession after some generations of fairly systematic inquiry knows
remarkably little. Save for some general anatomy, it is impossible to
teach school-children anything true about the human body, because the
explanation of almost any physiological process demands a knowledge of
physical and chemical laws much sounder and subtler than the average
child can possibly attain. And as for botany, geology, history, and
geography (beyond the range already specified), these are far better
relegated to the school library and the initiative of each child.
Every child has its specific range of interest, and its specific way of
regarding things. In geology, for example, one boy may be fascinated
by the fossil hunting, another will find his interest in the effects of
structure in scenery, and a third, with more imagination, will give his
whole mind to the reconstruction of the past, and will pore over maps of
Pleistocene Europe and pictures of Silurian landscape with the keenest
appreciation. Each will be bored, or at least not greatly interested,
by what attracts the others. Let the children have an easily accessible
library--that is the crying need of nine hundred and ninety-nine out
of a thousand schools to-day, a need every school-seeking parent may do
something to remedy--and in that library let there be one or two good
densely illustrated histories, illustrated travels, bound volumes
of such a publication as Newnes’ _Wide World Magazine_ (I name these
publications haphazard--there are probably others as good or better),
Hutchinson and Co.’s _Living Animals of the World_, the Rev. H. N.
Hutchinson’s _Extinct Monsters_, the Badminton volumes on big game
shooting, mountaineering, and yachting, Kerner’s “Botany,” collections
of “The Hundred Best Pictures” sort, collections of views of towns and
of scenery in different parts of the world, and the like. Then let the
schoolmaster set aside five hours a week as the minimum for reading, and
let the pupils read during that time just whatever they like,
provided only that they keep silence and read. If the schoolmaster
or schoolmistress comes in at all here, it should be to stimulate
systematic reading occasionally by setting a group of five or six pupils
to “get up” some particular subject--a report on “animals that
might still be domesticated,” for example--and by showing them
conversationally how to read with a slip of paper at hand, gathering
facts. This sort of thing it is impossible to reduce to method and
system, and, consequently, it is the proper field for the teacher’s
initiative. It is largely in order to leave time and energy for this
that I am anxious to reduce the more rigorous elements in schooling to
standard and text-book.

Now all this schooling need not take more than twenty hours a week for
its backbone or hard-work portion, its English, mathematics, science,
and exact drawing, and twelve hours a week for its easier, more
individual employments of sketching, painting, and reading, and this
leaves a large margin of time for military drill and for physical
exercises. If we are to get the best result from the child’s
individuality, we must leave a large portion of that margin at the
child’s own disposal, it must be free to go for walks, to “muck about,”
 as schoolboys say, to play games, and (within limits) to consort with
companions of its own choosing--to follow its interests in short. It
is in this direction that British middle-class education fails most
signally at the present time. The English schoolboy and schoolgirl are
positively hunted through their days. They do not play--using the word
to indicate a spontaneous employment into which imagination enters--at
all. They have games, but they are so regulated that the imagination is
eliminated; they have exercises of various stereotyped sorts. They are
taken to and fro to these things in the care of persons one would call
ushers unhesitatingly were it not that they also pretended to teach.
The rest of their waking time is preparation or supervised reading
or walking under supervision. Their friendships are watched. They are
never, never left alone. The avowed ideal of many boarding schoolmasters
is to “send them to bed tired out.” Largely this is due to a natural
dread of accidents and scrapes, that will make trouble for the school,
but there is also another cause. If I may speak frankly and entirely as
an unauthoritative observer, I would say it is a regrettable thing that
so large a proportion of British secondary schoolmasters and mistresses
are unmarried. The normal condition of a healthy adult is marriage, and
for all those who are not defective upon this side (and that means an
incapacity to understand many things) celibacy is a state of unstable
equilibrium and too often a quite unwholesome condition. Wherever
there are celibate teachers I am inclined to suspect a fussiness, an
unreasonable watchfulness, a disposition to pry, an exaggeration of what
are called “Dangers,” a painful idealization of “Purity.” It is a
part of the normal development of the human being to observe with some
particularity certain phenomena, to entertain certain curiosities,
to talk of them to trusted equals--_never_, be it noted, except by
perversion to parents or teachers--and there is not the slightest harm
in these quite natural things, unless they are forced back into an
abashed solitude or associated by suggestion with conceptions of shame
and disgust. That is what happens in too many of our girls’ schools and
preparatory schools to-day, and it is to that end mainly that youthful
intimacies are discouraged, youthful freedom is restricted, and
imagination and individuality warped and crippled. It is astonishing how
much of their adolescence grown-up people will contrive to forget.

So much for schooling and what may be done to better it in this New
Republican scheme of things. The upward continuation of it into a
general College course is an integral part of a larger question that
we shall discuss at a later stage, the larger question of the general
progressive thought of the community as a whole.


There can be few people alive who have not remarked on occasion that
men are the creatures of circumstances. But it is one thing to state a
belief of this sort in some incidental application, and quite another to
realize it completely. Towards such a completer realization we have been
working in these papers, in disentangling the share of inheritance and
of deliberate schooling and training, in the production of the civilized
man. The rest we have to ascribe to his world in general, of which his
home is simply the first and most intimate aspect. In every
developing citizen we have asserted there is a great mass of fluid and
indeterminate possibility, and this sets and is shaped by the world
about him as wax is shaped by a mould. It is rarely, of course, an
absolutely exact and submissive cast that ensues; few men and women are
without some capacity for question and criticism, but it is only
very rare and obdurate material--only, as one says, a very original
personality--that does not finally take its general form and direction
in this way. And it is proposed in this paper to keep this statement
persistently in focus, instead of dismissing it as a platitude and
thinking no more about it at all after the usual fashion, while we
examine certain broad social and political facts and conventions which
constitute the general framework of the world in which the developing
citizen is placed. I would submit that at the present time with regard
to such things as church and kingdom, constitution and nationality, we
are altogether too much enslaved by the idea of “policy,” and altogether
too blind to the remoter, deeper, and more lasting consequences of our
public acts and institutions in moulding the next generation. It
will not, I think, be amiss to pass beyond policy for a space, and to
insist--even with heaviness--that however convenient an institution
may be, however much it may, in the twaddle of the time, be a “natural
growth,” and however much the “product of a long evolution,” yet, if it
does not mould men into fine and vigorous forms, it has to be destroyed.
We “save the state” for the sake of our children, that, at least, is the
New Republican view of the matter, and if in our intentness to save the
state we injure or sacrifice our children, we destroy our ultimate for
our proximate aim.

Already it has been pointed out, with certain concrete instances, how
the thing that is, asserts itself over the thing that is to be; already
a general indication has been made of the trend of the argument we are
now about to develop and define. That argument, briefly, is this, that
to attain the ends of the New Republic, that is to say the best results
from our birth possibilities, we must continually make political
forms, social, political and religious formulæ, and all the rules and
regulations of _life the clearest, simplest, and sincerest expression
possible of what we believe about life and hope about life;_ that
whatever momentary advantage a generation may gain by accepting what
is known to be a sham and a convention, by keeping in use the detected
imposture and the flawed apparatus, is probably much more than made up
for by the reaction of this acquiescence upon the future. As the typical
instance of a convenient convention that I am inclined to think is now
reacting very badly upon our future, the Crown of the British Empire,
considered as the symbolical figurehead of a system of hereditary
privilege and rule, serves extremely well. One may deal with this
typical instance with no special application to the easy, kindly,
amiable personality this crown adorns at the present time. It is a
question that may be dealt with in general terms. What, we would ask,
are the natural, inseparable concomitants of a system of hereditary
rulers in a state, looking at the thing entirely with an eye to the
making of a greater mankind in the world? How does it compare with the
American conception of democratic equality, and how do both stand with
regard to the essential truth and purpose in things? . . .

To state these questions is like opening the door of a room that has
long been locked and deserted. One has a lonely feeling. There are quite
remarkably no other voices here, and the rusty hinges echo down empty
passages that were quite threateningly full of men seventy or eighty
years ago. But I am only one very insignificant member of a class of
inquirers in England who started upon the question “why are we becoming
inefficient?” a year or two ago, and from that starting point it is
I came to this. . . . I do not believe therefore that upon this dusty
threshold I shall stand long alone. We take most calmly the most
miraculous of things, and it is only quite recently that I have come
to see as amazing this fact, that while the greater mass of our
English-speaking people is living under the profession of democratic
Republicanism, there is no party, no sect, no periodical, no teacher
either in Great Britain or America or the Colonies, to hint at a
proposal to abolish the aristocratic and monarchical elements in the
British system. There is no revolutionary spirit over here, and very
little missionary spirit over there. The great mass of the present
generation on both sides of the Atlantic takes hardly any interest
in this issue at all. It is as if the question was an impossible one,
outside the range of thinkable things. Or, as if the last word in this
controversy was said before our grandfathers died.

But is that really so? It is permissible to suggest that for a time the
last word had been said, and still to reopen the discussion now. All
these papers, the very conception of New Republicanism, rests on the
assumption--presumptuous and offensive though it must needs seem to
many--that new matter for thought altogether, new apparatus and methods
of inquiry, and new ends, have come into view since the early seventies,
when the last Republican voices in England died away. We are enormously
more aware of the Future. That, we have already defined as the essential
difference of our new outlook. Our fathers thought of the Kingdom as it
was to them, they contrasted with that the immediate alternative, and
within these limits they were, no doubt, right in rejecting the latter.
So, to them at any rate, the thing seemed judged. But nowadays when we
have said the Kingdom is so and so, and when we have decided that we do
not wish to convert it into a Republic upon the American or any other
existing pattern before Christmas, 1904, we consider we have only begun
to look at the thing. We have then to ask what is the future of the
Kingdom; is it to be a permanent thing, or is it to develop into and
give place to some other condition? We have to ask precisely the same
question about the American democracy and the American constitution.
Is that latter arrangement going to last for ever? We cannot help being
contributory to these developments, and if we have any pretensions to
wisdom at all, we must have some theory of what we intend with regard to
these things; political action can surely be nothing but folly,
unless it has a clear purpose in the future. If these things are not
sempiternal, then are we merely to patch the fabric as it gives way, or
are we going to set about rebuilding--piecemeal, of course, and without
closing the premises or stopping the business, but, nevertheless, on
some clear and comprehensive plan? If so, what is the plan to be? Does
it permit us to retain in a more or less modified form, or does it urge
us to get rid of, the British Crown? Does it permit us to retain or does
it urge us to modify the American constitution? That is the form, it
seems to me, in which the question of Republicanism as an alternative
to existing institutions, must presently return into the field of public
discussion in Great Britain; not as a question of political stability
nor of individual rights this time, but as an aspect of our general
scheme, our scheme to make the world more free and more stimulating
and strengthening for our children and our children’s children; for the
children both of our bodies and of our thoughts.

It is interesting to recall the assumptions under which the last
vestiges of militant Republicanism died out in Great Britain. As late
as the middle years of the reign of Queen Victoria, there were many
in England who were, and who openly professed themselves to be,
Republicans, and there was a widely felt persuasion that the country was
drifting slowly towards the constitution of a democratic republic. In
those days it was that there came into being a theory, strengthened
by the withdrawal of the Monarch from affairs, which one still hears
repeated, that Great Britain was a “crowned republic,” that the crown
was no more than a symbol retained by the “innate good sense” of the
British people, and that in some automatic way not clearly explained,
such old-time vestiges of privilege as the House of Lords would
presently disappear. One finds this confident belief in Progress towards
political equality--Progress that required no human effort, but was
inherent in the scheme of things--very strong in Dickens, for example,
who spoke for the average Englishman as no later writer can be said to
have done. This belief fell in very happily with that disposition
to funk a crisis, that vulgar dread of vulgar action which one must
regretfully admit was all too often a characteristic of the nineteenth
century English. There was an idea among Englishmen that to do anything
whatever of a positive sort to bring about a Republic was not only
totally unnecessary but inevitably mischievous, since it evidently meant
street fighting and provisional government by bold, bad, blood-stained,
vulgar men, in shirt sleeves as the essential features of the process.
And under the enervating influence of this great automatic theory--this
theory that no one need bother because the thing was bound to come, was
indeed already arriving for all who had eyes to see--Republicanism
did not so much die as fall asleep. It was all right, Liberalism told
us--the Crown was a legal fiction, the House of Lords was an interesting
anachronism, and in that faith it was, no doubt, that the last of the
Republicans, Mr. Bright and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, “kissed hands.”
 Then, presently, the frantic politics of Mr. Gladstone effected what
probably no other human agency could have contrived, and restored the
prestige of the House of Lords.

Practically the Crown has now gone unchallenged by press, pulpit, or
platform speaker for thirty years, and as a natural consequence there
is just now a smaller proportion of men under forty who call themselves
Republicans even in private than there ever was since Plutarch entered
the circle of English reading. To-day the Aristocratic Monarchy is an
almost universally accepted fact in the British Empire, and it has so
complete an air of unshakable permanence to contrast with its condition
in the early nineteenth century that even the fact that it is the only
really concrete obstacle to a political reunion of the English-speaking
peoples at the present time, seems merely a fact to avoid.

There are certain consequences that must follow from the unchallenged
acceptation of an aristocratic monarchy, consequences that do not seem
to be sufficiently recognized in this connection, and it is to these
that the reader’s attention is now particularly drawn. There are a great
number of British people who are more or less sincerely seeking the
secret of national efficiency at present, and I cannot help thinking
that sooner or later, in spite of their evident aversion, they will be
forced to look into this dusty chamber of thought for the clue to the
thing they need. The corner they will have to turn is the admission
that no state and no people can be at its maximum efficiency until every
public function is discharged by the man best able to perform it, and
that no Commonweal can be near efficiency until it is endeavouring very
earnestly to bring that ideal condition of affairs about. And when
they have got round that corner they will have to face the fact that an
Hereditary Monarchy is a state in which this principle is repudiated
at a cardinal point, a state in which one position, which no amount of
sophistication will prevent common men and women regarding as the most
honourable, powerful, and responsible one of all, which is indeed by
that very fact alone a great and responsible one, is filled on
purely genealogical grounds. In a state that has also an aristocratic
constitution this repudiation of special personal qualities is carried
very much further. Reluctantly but certainly the seeker after national
efficiency will come to the point that the aristocracy and their friends
and connections _must_ necessarily form a caste about the King, that
their gradations _must_ set the tone of the whole social body, and
that their political position must enable them to demand and obtain a
predominating share in any administration that may be formed. So long,
therefore, as your constitution remains aristocratic you must expect
to see men of quite ordinary ability, quite ordinary energy, and
no exceptional force of character, men frequently less clever and
influential than their wives and lady friends, controlling the public
services, a Duke of Norfolk managing so vital a business as the Post
Office and succeeded by a Marquis of Londonderry, and a Marquis of
Lansdowne organizing military affairs, and nothing short of a change
in your political constitution can prevent this sort of thing. No one
believes these excellent gentlemen hold these positions by merit or
capacity, and no one believes that from them we are getting anything
like the best imaginable services in these positions. These positions
are held by the mere accident of birth, and it is by the mere accident
of birth the great mass of Englishmen are shut out from the remotest
hope of serving their country in such positions.

And this evil of reserved places is not restricted by any means to
public control. You cannot both have a system and not have a system,
and the British have a system of hereditary aristocracy that infects the
whole atmosphere of English thought with the persuasion that what a man
may attempt is determined by his caste. It is here, and nowhere else,
that the clue to so much inefficiency as one finds it in contemporary
British activity lies. The officers of the British Army instead of being
sedulously picked from the whole population are drawn from a really
quite small group of families, and, except for those who are called
“gentleman rankers,” to enlist is the very last way in the world to
become a British officer. As a very natural corollary only broken men
and unambitious men of the lowest class will consent to become ordinary
private soldiers, except during periods of extreme patriotic excitement.
The men who enter the Civil Service also, know perfectly well that
though they may possess the most brilliant administrative powers and
develop and use themselves with relentless energy, they will never win
for themselves or their wives one tithe of the public honour that comes
by right to the heir to a dukedom. A dockyard hand who uses his brains
and makes a suggestion that may save the country thousands of pounds
will get--a gratuity.

Throughout all English affairs the suggestion of this political system
has spread. The employer is of a different caste from his workmen,
the captain is of a different caste from his crew, even the Teachers’
Register is specially classified to prevent “young gentlemen” being
taught by the only men who, as a class, know how to teach in England,
namely, the elementary teachers; everywhere the same thing is to be
found. And while it is, it is absurd to expect a few platitudes about
Freedom, and snobbishness, and a few pious hopes about efficiency, to
counteract the system’s universal, incessant teaching, its lesson of
limited effort within defined possibilities. Only under one condition
may such a system rise towards anything that may be called national
vigour, and that is when there exists a vigorous Court which sets the
fashion of hard work. A keen King, indifferent to feminine influence,
may, for a time, make a keen nation, but that is an exceptional state of
affairs, and the whole shape of the fabric gravitates towards relapse.
Even under such an influence the social stratification will still, in
the majority of cases, prevent powers and posts falling to the best
possible man. In the majority of cases the best that can be hoped
for, even then, will be to see the best man in the class privileged in
relation to any particular service, discharging that service. The most
efficient nation in the world to-day is believed to be Germany, which
is--roughly speaking--an aristocratic monarchy, it is dominated by a
man of most unkingly force of character, and by a noble tradition of
educational thoroughness that arose out of the shames of utter defeat,
and, as a consequence, a great number of people contrive to forget that
the most dazzling display of national efficiency the world has ever seen
followed the sloughing of hereditary institutions by France. One credits
Napoleon too often with the vigour of his opportunity, with the force
and strength it was his privilege to misdirect and destroy. And one
forgets that this present German efficiency was paralleled in the
eighteenth century by Prussia, whose aristocratic system first winded
Republicans at Valmy, and showed at Jena fourteen years after how much
it had learnt from that encounter.

Now our main argument lies in this: that the great mass of a generation
of children born into a country, all those children who have no more
than average intelligence and average moral qualities, will accept the
ostensible institutions of that country at their face value, and will
be almost entirely shaped and determined by that acceptance. Only a
sustained undertone of revolutionary protest can prevent that happening.
They will believe that precedences represent real superiority, and they
will honour what they see honoured, and ignore what they see treated
as of no account. Pious sentiment about Equality and Freedom will enter
into the reality of their minds as little as a drop of water into a
greasy plate. They will act as little in general intercourse upon the
proposition that “the man’s the gowd for a’ that,” as they will upon the
proposition that “man is a spirit” when it comes to the alternative of
jumping over a cliff or going down by a ladder.

If, however, your children are not average children, if you are so happy
as to have begotten children of exceptional intelligence, it does not
follow that this fact will save them from conclusions quite parallel to
those of the common child. Suppose they do penetrate the pretence
that there is no intrinsic difference between the Royal Family and the
members of the peerage on the one hand, and the average person in any
other class on the other; suppose they discover that the whole scale of
precedence and honour in their land is a stupendous sham;--what
then? Suppose they see quite clearly that all these pretensions of an
inviolate superiority of birth and breeding vanish at the touch of
a Whitaker Wright, soften to a glowing cordiality before the sunny
promises of a Hooley. Suppose they perceive that neither King nor lords
really believe in their own lordliness, and that at any point in the
system one may find men with hands for any man’s tip, provided it is
only sufficiently large! Even then!--How is that going to react upon our
children’s social conduct?

In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred they will accept the system still,
they will accept it with mental reservations. They will see that to
repudiate the system by more than a chance word or deed is to become
isolated, to become a discontented alien, to lose even the qualified
permission to do something in the world. In most cases they will take
the oaths that come in their way and kiss the hands--just as the British
elementary teachers bow unbelieving heads to receive the episcopal
pat, and just as the British sceptic in orders will achieve triumphs of
ambiguity to secure the episcopal see. And their reason for submission
will not be absolutely despicable; they will know there is no employment
worth speaking of without it. After all, one has only one life, and it
is not pleasant to pass through it in a state of futile abstinence
from the general scheme. Life, unfortunately, does not end with heroic
moments of repudiation; there comes a morrow to the Everlasting Nay.
One may begin with heroic renunciations and end in undignified envy and
dyspeptic comments outside the door one has slammed on one’s self. In
such reflections your children of the exceptional sort, it may be after
a youthful fling or two, a “ransom” speech or so, will find excellent
reasons for making their peace with things as they are, just as if they
were utterly commonplace. They know that if they can boast a knighthood
or a baronetcy or a Privy Councillorship, they will taste day by day and
every day that respect, that confidence from all about them that no one
but a trained recluse despises. And life will abound in opportunities.
“Oh, well!” they will say. Such things give them influence,
consideration, power to do things.

The beginning of concessions is so entirely reasonable and easy! But
the concessions go on. Each step upward in the British system finds that
system more persistently about them. When one has started out under
a King one may find amiable but whom one may not respect, admitted a
system one does not believe in, when one has rubbed the first bloom off
one’s honour, it is infinitely easier to begin peeling the skin. Many
a man whose youth was a dream of noble things, who was all for splendid
achievements and the service of mankind, peers to-day, by virtue of such
acquiescences, from between preposterous lawn sleeves or under a tilted
coronet, sucked as dry of his essential honour as a spider sucks a fly.

But this is going too far, the reader will object! There must be
concessions, there must be conformities, just as there must be some
impurity in the water we drink and flaws in the beauty we give our
hearts to, and that, no doubt, is true. It is no reason why we should
drink sewage and kneel to grossness and base stupidity. To endure the
worst because we cannot have the best is surely the last word of folly.
Our business as New Republicans is not to waste our lives in the pursuit
of an unattainable chemical purity, but to clear the air as much as
possible. Practical ethics is, after all, a quantitative science. In
the reality of life there are few absolute cases, and it is foolish to
forego a great end for a small concession. But to suffer so much
Royalty and Privilege as an Englishman has to do before he may make any
effectual figure in public life is not a small concession. By the time
you have purchased power you may find you have given up everything that
made power worth having. It would be a small concession, I admit, a
mere personal self-sacrifice, to pretend loyalty, kneel and kiss hands,
assist at Coronation mummeries, and all the rest of it, in order, let us
say, to accomplish some great improvement in the schools of the country,
were it not for the fact that all these things must be done in the sight
of the young, that you cannot kneel to the King without presenting a
kneeling example to the people, without becoming as good a teacher
of servility as though you were servile to the marrow. There lies the
trouble. By virtue of this reaction it is that the shams and ceremonies
we may fancy mere curious survivals, mere kinks and tortuosities, cloaks
and accessories to-day, will, if we are silent and acquiescent, be
halfway to reality again in the course of a generation. To our children
they are not evidently shams; they are powerful working suggestions.
Human institutions are things of life, and whatever weed of falsity lies
still rooted in the ground has the promise and potency of growth. It
will tend perpetually, according to its nature, to recover its old
influence over the imagination, the thoughts, and acts of our children.

Even when the whole trend of economic and social development sets
against the real survival of such a social and political system as
the British, its pretensions, its shape and implications may survive,
survive all the more disastrously because they are increasingly
insincere. Indeed, in a sense, the British system, the pyramid of King,
land-owning and land-ruling aristocracy, yeomen and trading middle-class
and labourers, is dead--it died in the nineteenth century under
the wheels of mechanism [Footnote: I have discussed this fully in
_Anticipations_, Chapter III., Developing Social Elements.]--and the
crude beginnings of a new system are clothed in its raiment, and greatly
encumbered by that clothing. Our greatest peers are shareholders,
are equipped by marriage with the wealth of Jews and Americans, are
exploiters of colonial resources and urban building enterprises; their
territorial titles are a mask and a lie. They hamper the development of
the new order, but they cannot altogether prevent the emergence of
new men. The new men come up to power one by one, from different
enterprises, with various traditions, and one by one, before they can
develop a sense of class distinction and collective responsibility, the
old system with its organized “Society” captures them. If it finds the
man obdurate, it takes his wife and daughters, and it waylays his sons.
[Footnote: It is not only British subjects that are assimilated in this
way, the infection of the British system, the annexation of certain
social strata in the Republic by the British crown, is a question
for every thoughtful American. America is less and less separate from
Europe, and the social development of the United States cannot be
a distinct process--it is inevitably bound up in the general social
development of the English-speaking community. The taint has touched the
American Navy, for example, and there are those who discourage promotion
from the ranks--the essential virtue of the democratic state--because
men so promoted would be at a disadvantage when they met the officers
of foreign navies, who were by birth and training “gentlemen.” When
they met them socially no doubt was meant; in war the disadvantage
might prove the other way about.] Because the hereditary kingdom and
aristocracy of Great Britain is less and less representative of economic
reality, more and more false to the real needs of the world, it does
not follow that it will disappear, any more than malarial fever will
disappear from a man’s blood because it is irrelevant to the general
purpose of his being. These things will only go when a sufficient number
of sufficiently capable and powerful people are determined they shall
go. Until that time they will remain with us, influencing things about
them for evil, as it lies in their nature to do.

Before, however, any sufficiently great and capable body of men can be
found to abolish these shams, these shams that must necessarily hamper
and limit the development of our children, it is necessary that they
should have some clear idea of the thing that is to follow, and the real
security of these obsolete institutions lies very largely in the fact
that at present the thing that is to follow does not define itself.
It is too commonly assumed that the alternative to a more or less
hereditary government is democratic republicanism of the American type,
and the defence of the former consists usually in an indictment of the
latter, complicated in very illogical cases by the assertion (drawn from
the French instance) that Republics are unstable. But it does not follow
that because one condemns the obvious shams of the British system that
one must accept the shams of the United States. While in Great Britain
we have a system that masks and hampers the best of our race under
a series of artificial inequalities, the United States theory of the
essential equality of all men is equally not in accordance with the
reality of life. In America, just as in England, the intelligent
child grows up to discover that the pretensions of public life are not
justified, and quite equally to be flawed in thought and action by that

The American atmosphere has one great and indisputable superiority
over the British: it insists upon the right of every citizen, it almost
presents it as a duty, to do all that he possibly can do; it holds out
to him even the highest position in the state as a possible reward for
endeavour. Up to the point of its equality of opportunity surely no
sane Englishman can do anything but envy the American state. In
America “presumption” is not a sin. All the vigorous enterprise that
differentiates the American from the Englishman in business flows quite
naturally from that; all the patriotic force and loyalty of the common
American, which glows beside the English equivalent as the sun beside
the moon, glows even oppressively. But apart from these inestimable
advantages I do not see that the American has much that an Englishman
need envy. There are certainly points of inferiority in the American
atmosphere, influences in development that are bad, not only in
comparison with what is ideally possible, but even in comparison with
English parallels.

For example, the theory that every man is as good as his neighbour, and
possibly a little better, has no check for fools, and instead of the
respectful silences of England there seems--to the ordinary English
mind--an extraordinary quantity of crude and unsound judgments in
America. One gets an impression that the sort of mind that is passively
stupid in England is often actively silly in America, and, as a
consequence, American newspapers, American discussions, American social
affairs are pervaded by a din that in England we do not hear and do not
want to hear. The real and steady development of American scientific men
is masked to the European observer, and it must be greatly hampered by
the copious silliness of the amateur discoverer, and the American crop
of new religions and new enthusiasms is a horror and a warning to
the common British intelligence. Many people whose judgments are not
absolutely despicable hold a theory that unhampered personal freedom for
a hundred years has made out of the British type, a type less deliberate
and thorough in execution and more noisy and pushful in conduct,
restless rather than indefatigable, and smart rather than wise. If
ninety-nine people out of the hundred in our race are vulgar and unwise,
it does seem to be a fact that while the English fool is generally a shy
and negative fool anxious to hide the fact, the American fool is a loud
and positive fool, who swamps much of the greatness of his country to
many a casual observer from Europe altogether. American books, American
papers, American manners and customs seem all for the ninety and nine.

Deeper and graver than the superficial defects of manner and execution
and outlook to which these charges point, there are, one gathers, other
things that are traceable to the same source. There is a report of
profounder troubles in the American social body, of a disease of
corruption that renders American legislatures feeble or powerless
against the great business corporations, and of an extreme
demoralization of the police force. The relation of the local political
organization to the police is fatally direct, and that sense of ordered
subordination to defined duties which distinguishes the best police
forces of Europe fails. Men go into the police force, we are told, with
the full intention of making it pay, of acquiring a saleable power.

There is probably enough soundness in these impressions, and enough
truth in these reports and criticisms, to justify our saying that all
is not ideally right with the American atmosphere, and that it is not
to present American conditions we must turn in repudiating our British
hereditary monarchy. We have to seek some better thing upon which
British and American institutions may converge. The American personal
and social character, just like the English personal and social
character, displays very grave defects, defects that must now be
reflected upon, and must be in course of acquisition by the children who
are growing up in the American state. And since the American is still
predominantly of British descent, and since he has not been separated
long enough from the British to develop distinct inherited racial
characteristics, and, moreover, since his salient characteristics are in
sharp contrast with those of the British, it follows that the difference
in his character and atmosphere must be due mainly to his different
social and political circumstances. Just as the relative defects of the
common British, their apathy, their unreasoning conservatism, and
their sordid scorn of intellectual things is bound up with their
politico-social scheme, so, I believe, the noisiness, the mean
practicalness, and the dyspeptic-driving restlessness that are the
shadows of American life, are bound up with the politico-social
condition of America. The Englishman sticks in the mud, and the
American, with a sort of violent meanness, cuts corners, and in both
cases it is quite conceivable that the failure to follow the perfect way
is really no symptom of a divergence of blood and race, but the
natural and necessary outcome of the mass of suggestion about them that
constitutes their respective worlds.

The young American grows up into a world pervaded by the theory of
democracy, by the theory that all men must have an equal chance of
happiness, possessions, and power, and in which that theory is expressed
by a uniform equal suffrage. No man shall have any power or authority
save by the free consent and delegation of his fellows--that is the
idea--and to the originators of this theory it seemed as obvious as
anything could be that these suffrages would only be given to those who
did really serve the happiness and welfare of the greatest number. The
idea was reflected in the world of business by a conception of free
competition; no man should grow rich except by the free preference of
a great following of customers. Such is still the American theory, and
directly the intelligent young American grows up to hard facts he finds
almost as much disillusionment as the intelligent young Englishman. He
finds that in practice the free choice of a constituency reduces to two
candidates, and no more, selected by party organizations, and the free
choice of the customer to the goods proffered by a diminishing number
of elaborately advertised businesses; he finds political instruments
and business corporations interlocking altogether beyond his power of
control, and that the two ways to opportunity, honour, and reward are
either to appeal coarsely to the commonest thoughts and feelings of the
vulgar as a political agitator or advertising trader, or else to make
his peace with those who do. And so he, too, makes his concessions. They
are different concessions from those of the young Englishman, but they
have this common element of gravity, that he has to submit to conditions
in which he does not believe, he has to trim his course to a conception
of living that is perpetually bending him from the splendid and
righteous way. The Englishman grows up into a world of barriers and
locked doors, the American into an unorganized, struggling crowd. There
is an enormous premium in the American’s world upon force and dexterity,
and force in the case of common men too often degenerates into
brutality, and dexterity into downright trickery and cheating. He has
got to be forcible and dexterous within his self-respect if he can.
There is an enormous discount on any work that does not make money or
give a tangible result, and except in the case of those whose lot has
fallen within certain prescribed circles, certain oases of organized
culture and work, he must advertise himself even in science or
literature or art as if he were a pill. There is no recognition for him
at all in the world, except the recognition of--everybody. There will
be neither comfort nor the barest respect for him, however fine his
achievement, unless he makes his achievement known, unless he can
make enough din about it, to pay. He has got to shout down ninety-nine
shouting fellow-citizens. That is the cardinal fact in life for the
great majority of Americans who respond to the stirrings of ambition.
If in Britain capacity is discouraged because honours and power go by
prescription, in America it is misdirected because honours do not
exist and power goes by popular election and advertisement. In certain
directions--not by any means in all--unobtrusive merit, soundness of
quality that has neither gift nor disposition for “push,” has a better
chance in Great Britain than in America. A sort of duty to help and
advance exceptional men is recognized at any rate, even if it is not
always efficiently discharged, by the privileged class in England, while
in America it is far more acutely felt, far more distinctly impressed
upon the young that they must “hustle” or perish.

It will be argued that this enumeration of American and British defects
is a mere expansion of that familiar proposition of the logic textbooks,
“all men are mortal.” You have here, says the objector, one of
two alternatives, either you must draw your administrators, your
legislators, your sources of honour and reward from a limited,
hereditary, and specially-trained class, who will hold power as a right,
or you must rely upon the popular choice exercised in the shop and at
the polling booth. What else can you have but inheritance or election,
or some blend of the two, blending their faults? Each system has its
disadvantages, and the disadvantages of each system may be minimized by
education; in particular by keeping the culture and code of honour of
your ruling class high in the former case and by keeping your common
schools efficient in the latter. But the essential evils of each system
are--essential evils, and one has to suffer them and struggle against
them, as one has to struggle perpetually with the pathogenic bacteria
that infest the world. The theory of monarchy is, no doubt, inferior to
the democratic theory in stimulus, but the latter fails in qualitative
effect, much more than the former. There, the objector submits, lies the
quintessence of the matter. Both systems need watching, need criticism,
the pruning knife and the stimulant, and neither is bad enough to
justify a revolutionary change to the other. In some such conclusion as
this most of the English people with whom one can discuss this question
have come to rest, and it is to this way of looking at the matter that
one must ascribe the apathetic acquiescence in the British hereditary
system, upon which I have already remarked. There is a frank and
excessive admission of every real and imaginary fault of the American
system, and with the proposition that we are on the horns of a dilemma,
the discussion is dismissed.

But are we indeed on the horns of a dilemma, and is there no alternative
to hereditary government tempered by elections, or government by the
ward politician and the polling booth? Cannot we have that sense and
tradition of equal opportunity for all who are born into this world,
that generous and complete acknowledgment of the principle of promotion
from the ranks that is the precious birthright of the American,
without the political gerrymandering, the practical falsification, that
restricts that general freedom at last only to the energetic, and that
subordinates quality to quantity in every affair of life? It is evident
that for the New Republican to admit that the thing is indeed a dilemma,
that there is nothing for it but to make the best of whichever bad thing
we have at hand, that we cannot have all we desire but only a greater
or a lesser moiety, is a most melancholy and hampering admission.
And, certainly, no New Republican will agree without a certain mental
struggle, without a thorough and earnest inquiry into the possibility of
a third direction.

This matter has two aspects, it presents itself as two questions; the
question first of all of administration, and the question of honour and
privilege. What is it that the New Republican idea really requires in
these two matters? In the matter of administration it requires that
every child growing up in a state should feel that he is part owner of
his state, completely free in his membership, and equal in opportunity
to all other children--and it also wants to secure the management of
affairs in the hands of the very best men, not the noisiest, not the
richest or most skilfully advertised, but the best. Can these two things
be reconciled? In the matter of honour and privilege, the New Republican
idea requires a separation of honour from notoriety; it requires some
visible and forcible expression of the essential conception that there
are things more honourable than getting either votes or money; it
requires a class and distinctions and privileges embodying that
idea--and also it wants to ensure that through the whole range of life
there shall not be one door locked against the effort of the citizen to
accomplish the best that is in him. Can these two things be reconciled

I have the temerity to think that in both cases the conflicting
requirements can be reconciled far more completely than is commonly

Let us take, first of all, the question of the reconciliation as it is
presented in the administration of public affairs. The days have come
when the most democratic-minded of men must begin to admit that the
appointment of all rulers and officials by polling the manhood, or most
of the manhood, of a country does not work--let us say perfectly--and at
no level of educational efficiency does it ever seem likely to work in
the way those who established it hoped. By thousands of the most varied
experiments the nineteenth century has proved this up to the hilt. The
fact that elections can only be worked as a choice between two selected
candidates, or groups of candidates, is the unforeseen and unavoidable
mechanical defect of all electoral methods with large electorates.
Education has nothing to do with that. The elections for the English
University members are manipulated just as much as the elections in the
least literate of the Irish constituencies. [Footnote: There is a very
suggestive book on this aspect of our general question, _The Crowd_, by
M. Gustave le Bon, which should interest any one who finds this paper
interesting. And the English reader who would like a fuller treatment
of this question has now available also Ostrogorski’s great work,
_Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties_.] It is not a
question of accidentals, but a question of the essential mechanism. Men
have sought out and considered all sorts of devices for qualifying the
present method by polling; Mills’s plural voting for educated men will
occur to the reader; Hare’s system of vote collection, and the negative
voting of Doctor Grece; and the defects of these inventions have been
sufficiently obvious to prevent even a trial. The changes have been
rung upon methods of counting; cumulative votes and the prohibition of
plumping, and so on, have been tried without any essential modification
of the results. There are various devices for introducing “stages” in
the electoral process; the constituency elects electors, who elect the
rulers and officers, for example, and there is also that futile attempt
to bring in the non-political specialist, the method of electing
governing bodies with power to “co-opt.” Of course they “co-opt”
 their fellow politicians, rejected candidates, and so on. Among other
expedients that people have discussed, are such as would make it
necessary for a man to take some trouble and display some foresight to
get registered as a voter or to pass an examination to that end, and
such as would confront him with a voting paper so complex, that only a
very intelligent and painstaking man would be able to fill it up without
disqualification. It certainly seems a reasonable thing to require that
the voter should be able at least to write out fully and spell correctly
the name of the man of his choice. Except for the last, there is
scarcely any of these things but its adoption would strengthen the power
of the political organizer, which they aim to defeat. Any complication
increases the need and the power of organization. It is possible
to believe--the writer believes--that with all this burthen of
shortcomings, the democratic election system is still, on the whole,
better than a system of hereditary privilege, but that is no reason for
concealing how defective and disappointing its practical outcome has
been, nor for resting contented with it in its present form. [Footnote:
The statement of the case is not complete unless we mention that, to the
method of rule by hereditary rulers and the appointment of officials
by noble patrons on the one hand, and of rule by politicians exercising
patronage on the other, there is added in the British system the Chinese
method of selecting officials by competitive examination. Within its
limits this has worked as a most admirable corrective to patronage;
it is one of the chief factors in the cleanhandedness of British
politicians, and it is continually importing fresh young men from
outside to keep officialdom in touch with the general educated world.
But it does not apply, and it does not seem applicable, to the broader
issues of politics, to the appointment and endorsement of responsible
rulers and legislators, where a score of qualities are of more
importance than those an examination can gauge.]

Is polling really essential to the democratic idea? That is the question
now very earnestly put to the reader. We are so terribly under the spell
of established conditions, we are all so obsessed by the persuasion that
the only conceivable way in which a man can be expressed politically is
by himself voting in person, that we do all of us habitually overlook
a possibility, a third choice, that lies ready to our hands. There is
a way by means of which the indisputable evils of democratic
government may be very greatly diminished, without destroying or even
diminishing--indeed, rather enhancing--that invigorating sense of
unhampered possibilities, that the democratic idea involves. There is
a way of choosing your public servants of all sorts and effectually
controlling public affairs on perfectly sound democratic principles,
_without ever having such a thing as an election, as it is now
understood, at all_, a way which will permit of a deliberate choice
between numerous candidates--a thing utterly impossible under the
current system--which will certainly raise the average quality of our
legislators, and be infinitely saner, juster, and more deliberate than
our present method. And, moreover, it is a way that is typically the
invention of the English people, and which they use to-day in another
precisely parallel application, an application which they have
elaborately tested and developed through a period of at least seven or
eight hundred years, and which I must confess myself amazed to think
has not already been applied to our public needs. This way is the Jury
system. The Jury system was devised to meet almost exactly the same
problem that faces us to-day, the problem of how on the one hand to
avoid putting a man’s life or property into the hands of a Ruler, a
privileged person, whose interest might be unsympathetic or hostile,
while on the other protecting him from the tumultuous judgments of a
crowd--to save the accused from the arbitrary will of King and Noble
without flinging him to the mob. To-day it is exactly that problem
over again that our peoples have to solve, except that instead of one
individual affair we have now our general affairs to place under a
parallel system. As the community that had originally been small enough
and intimate enough to decide on the guilt or innocence of its members
grew to difficult proportions, there developed this system of selecting
by lot a number of its common citizens who were sworn, who were
then specially instructed and prepared, and who, in an atmosphere of
solemnity and responsibility in absolute contrast with the uproar of
a public polling, considered the case and condemned or discharged the
accused. Let me point out that this method is so universally recognized
as superior to the common electoral method that any one who should
propose to-day to take the fate of a man accused of murder out of the
hands of a jury and place it in the hands of any British or American
constituency whatever, even in the hands of such a highly intelligent
constituency as one of the British universities, would be thought to be
carrying crankiness beyond the border line of sanity.

Why then should we not apply the Jury system to the electoral riddle?

Suppose, for example, at the end of the Parliamentary term, instead of
the present method of electing a member of Parliament, we were, with
every precaution of publicity and with the most ingeniously impartial
machine that could be invented, to select a Jury by lot, a Jury
sufficiently numerous to be reasonably representative of the general
feeling of the community and sufficiently small to be able to talk
easily together and to do the business without debating society
methods--between twenty and thirty, I think, might be a good working
number--and suppose we were, after a ceremony of swearing them and
perhaps after prayer or after a grave and dignified address to them
upon the duty that lay before them, to place each of these juries in
comfortable quarters for a few days and isolated from the world, to
choose its legislator. They could hear, in public, under a time limit,
the addresses of such candidates as had presented themselves, and they
could receive, under a limit of length and with proper precautions for
publicity, such documents as the candidates chose to submit. They could
also, in public, put any questions they chose to the candidates to
elucidate their intentions or their antecedents, and they might at any
stage decide unanimously to hear no more of and to dismiss this or that
candidate who encumbered their deliberations. (This latter would be
an effectual way of suppressing the candidature of cranks, and of
half-witted and merely symbolical persons.) The Jury between and after
their interrogations and audiences would withdraw from the public room
to deliberate in privacy. Their deliberations which, of course, would
be frank and conversational to a degree impossible under any other
conditions, and free from the dodges of the expert vote manipulator
altogether, would, for example, in the case of several candidates of
the same or similar political colours, do away with the absurdity of
the split vote. The jurymen of the same political hue could settle that
affair among themselves before contributing to a final decision.

This Jury might have certain powers of inquest. Provision might be made
for pleas against particular candidates; private individuals or the
advocates of vigilance societies might appear against any particular
candidate and submit the facts about any doubtful affair, financial or
otherwise, in which that candidate had been involved. Witnesses might be
called and heard on any question of fact, and the implicated candidate
would explain his conduct. And at any stage the Jury might stop
proceedings and report its selection for the vacant post. Then, at the
expiration of a reasonable period, a year perhaps, or three years
or seven years, another Jury might be summoned to decide whether the
sitting member should continue in office unchallenged or be subjected to
a fresh contest.

This suggestion is advanced here in this concrete form merely to show
the sort of thing that might be done; it is one sample suggestion, one
of a great number of possible schemes of Election by Jury. But even in
this state of crude suggestion, it is submitted that it does serve to
show the practicability of a method of election more deliberate and
thorough, more dignified, more calculated to impress the new generation
with a sense of the gravity of the public choice, and infinitely more
likely to give us good rulers than the present method, and that it would
do so without sacrificing any essential good quality whatever inherent
in the Democratic Idea. [Footnote: There are excellent possibilities,
both in the United States and in this Empire, of trying over such a
method as this, and of introducing it tentatively and piecemeal. In
Great Britain already there are quite different methods of election for
Parliament existing side by side. In the Hythe division of Kent, for
example, I vote by ballot with elaborate secrecy; in the University
of London I declare my vote in a room full of people. The British
University constituencies, or one of them, might very readily be used as
a practical test of this jury suggestion. There is nothing, I believe,
in the Constitution of the United States to prevent any one State
resorting to this characteristically Anglo-Saxon method of appointing
its representatives in Congress. It is not only in political
institutions that the method may be tried. Any societies or institutions
that have to send delegates to a conference or meeting might very easily
bring this conception to a practical test. Even if it does not prove
practicable as a substitute for election by polling, it might be found
of some value for the appointment of members of the specialist type, for
whom at present we generally resort to co-option. In many cases where
the selection of specialists was desirable to complete public bodies,
juries of educated men of the British Grand Jury type might be highly
serviceable.] The case for the use of the Jury system becomes far
stronger when we apply it to such problems as we now attempt to solve by
co-opting experts upon various administrative bodies.

The necessity either of raising the quality of representative bodies
or of replacing them not only in administration but in legislation by
bureaucracies of officials appointed by elected or hereditary rulers, is
one that presses on all thoughtful men, and is by no means an academic
question needed to round off this New Republican theory. The necessity
becomes more urgent every day, as scientific and economic developments
raise first one affair and then another to the level of public or
quasi-public functions. In the last century, locomotion, lighting,
heating, education, forced themselves upon public control or public
management, and now with the development of Trusts a whole host of
businesses, that were once the affair of competing private concerns,
claim the same attention. Government by hustings’ bawling, newspaper
clamour, and ward organization, is more perilous every day and more
impotent, and unless we are prepared to see a government _de facto_
of rich business organizers override the government _de jure_, or to
relapse upon a practical oligarchy of officials, an oligarchy that
will certainly decline in efficiency in a generation or so, we must set
ourselves most earnestly to this problem of improving representative
methods. It is in the direction of the substitution of the Jury method
for a general poll that the only practicable line of improvement known
to the present writer seems to lie, and until it has been tried it
cannot be conceded that democratic government has been tried and
exhaustively proved inadequate to the complex needs of the modern state.

So much for the question of administration. We come now to a second need
in the modern state if it is to get the best result from the citizens
born into it, and that is the need of honours and privileges to reward
and enhance services and exceptional personal qualities and so to stir
and ennoble that emulation which is, under proper direction, the most
useful to the constructive statesman of all human motives. In the United
States titles are prohibited by the constitution, in Great Britain they
go by prescription. But it is possible to imagine titles and privileges
that are not hereditary, and that would be real symbols of human worth
entirely in accordance with the Republican Idea. It is one of the
stock charges against Republicanism that success in America is either
political or financial. In England, in addition, success is also
social, and there is, one must admit, a sort of recognition accorded to
intellectual achievement, which some American scientific men have found
reason to envy. In America, of course, just as in Great Britain,
there exists that very enviable distinction, the honorary degree of a
university; but in America it is tainted by the freedom with which bogus
universities can be organized, and by the unchallenged assumptions of
quacks. In Great Britain the honorary degree of a university, in spite
of the fact that it goes almost as a matter of course to every casual
Prince, is a highly desirable recognition of public services.
Beyond this there are certain British distinctions that might very
advantageously be paralleled in America, the Fellowship of the Royal
Society, for example, and that really very fine honour, as yet untainted
by the class of men who tout for baronetcies and peerages, the Privy

There are certain points in this question that are too often overlooked.
In the first place, _honours and titles need not be hereditary_; in the
second, _they need not be conferred by the political administration_;
and, in the third, they are not only--as the French Legion of Honour
shows--entirely compatible with, but _they are a necessary complement to
the Republican Idea_.

The bad results of entrusting honours to the Government are equally
obvious in France and Great Britain. They are predominantly given, quite
naturally, for political services, because they are given by politicians
too absorbed to be aware of men outside the political world. In Great
Britain the process is modified rather than improved by what one knows
as court influence. And in spite of the real and sustained efficiency of
the Royal Society in distinguishing meritorious scientific workers, the
French Academy, which has long been captured by aristocratic dilettanti,
and the English Royal Academy of Arts, demonstrate the essential defects
and dangers of a body which fills its own gaps. But there is no reason
why a national system of honours and titles should not be worked upon
a quite new basis, suggested by these various considerations. Let
us, simply for tangibleness, put the thing as a concrete plan for the
reader’s consideration.

There might, for example, be a lowest stage which would include--as
the English knighthood once included--almost every citizen capable
of initiative, all the university graduates, all the men qualified to
practice the responsible professions, all qualified teachers, all
the men in the Army and Navy promoted to a certain rank, all seamen
qualified to navigate a vessel, all the ministers recognized by properly
organized religious bodies, all public officials exercising command;
quasi-public organizations might nominate a certain proportion of their
staffs, and organized trade-unions with any claim to skill, a certain
proportion of their men, their “decent” men, and every artist or writer
who could submit a passable diploma work; it would be, in fact, a mark
set upon every man or woman who was qualified to do something or who had
done something, as distinguished from the man who had done nothing in
the world, the mere common unenterprising esurient man. It might carry
many little privileges in public matters--for instance, it might qualify
for certain electoral juries. And from this class the next rank might
easily be drawn in a variety of ways. _In a modern democratic state
there must be many fountains of honour._ That is a necessity upon
which one cannot insist too much. There must be no court, no gang,
no traditional inalterable tribunal. Local legislative bodies, for
example,--in America, state legislatures and in England, county
councils,--might confer rank on a limited number of men or women yearly;
juries drawn from certain special constituencies, from the roll of the
medical profession, or from the Army, might assemble periodically to
nominate their professional best, the Foreign or Colonial Office might
confer recognition for political services, the university governing
bodies might be entrusted with the power--just as in the middle ages
many great men could confer knighthood. From among these distinguished
gentlemen of the second grade still higher ranks might be drawn. Local
juries might select a local chief dignitary as their “earl,” let us say,
from among the resident men of rank, and there is no reason why certain
great constituencies, the medical calling, the engineers, should not
specify one or two of their professional leaders, their “dukes.” There
are many occasions of local importance when an honourable figure-head is
needed. The British fall back on the local hereditary peer or invite a
prince, too often some poor creature great only by convention--and what
the Americans do I do not know, unless they use a Boss. There are
many occasions of something more than ceremonial importance when
a responsible man publicly honoured and publicly known, and not a
professional politician, is of the utmost convenience. And there are
endless affairs, lists, gatherings, when the only alternative to rank is
scramble. For myself I would not draw the line at such minor occasions
for precedence. A Second Chamber is an essential part of the political
scheme of all the English-speaking communities, and almost always it is
intended to present stabler interests and a smaller and more selected
constituency than the lower house. From such a life nobility as I
have sketched a Second Chamber could be drawn much as the Irish
representative peers in the House of Lords are drawn from the general
peerage of Ireland. It would be far less party bound and far less
mercenary than the American Senate, and far more intelligent and capable
than the British House of Lords. And either of these bodies could be
brought under a process of deliberate conversion in this direction with
scarcely any revolutionary shock at all. [Footnote: In the case of the
House of Lords, for example, the process of conversion might begin by
extending the Scotch and Irish system to England, and substituting a
lesser number of representative peers for the existing English peerage.
Then it would merely revive a question that was already under discussion
in middle Victorian times, to create non-hereditary peerages in the
three kingdoms. The several Privy Councils might next be added to the
three national constituencies by which and from which the representative
peers were appointed, and then advisory boards might be called from the
various Universities and organized professions, and from authoritative
Colonial bodies to recommend men to be added to the voting peerage. Life
peers already exist. The law is represented by life peers. The lords
spiritual are representative life peers--they are the senior bishops,
and they are appointed to represent a corporation--the Established
Church. So a generally non-hereditary functional nobility might come
into being without any violent break with the present condition of
things. The conversion of the American Senate would be a more
difficult matter, because the method of appointment of Senators is more
stereotyped altogether, and, since 1800, unhappily quite bound up with
the political party system. The Senate is not a body of varied and
fluctuating origins into which new elements can be quietly inserted. An
English writer cannot estimate how dear the sacred brace of Senators for
each State may or may not be to the American heart. But the possibility
of Congress delegating the power to appoint additional Senators to
certain non-political bodies, or to juries of a specific constitution,
is at least thinkable as the beginning of a movement that would come at
last into parallelism with that in the British Empire.]

When these issues of public honour and efficient democratic
administration have begun to move towards a definite solution, the
community will be in a position to extend the operation of the new
methods towards a profounder revolution, the control of private
property. “We are all Socialists nowadays,” and it is needless,
therefore, to argue here at any length to establish the fact that beyond
quite personal belongings all Property is the creation of society, and
in reality no more than an administrative device. At present, in spite
of some quite hideous and mischievous local aspects, the institution
of Property, even in land and the shares of quasi-public businesses,
probably gives as efficient a method of control, and even it may be
a more efficient method of control than any that could be devised to
replace it under existing conditions. We have no public bodies and
no methods of check and control sufficiently trustworthy to justify
extensive expropriations. Even the municipalization of industries
needs to go slowly until municipal areas have been brought more into
conformity with the conditions of efficient administration. Areas too
cramped and areas that overlap spell waste and conflicting authorities,
and premature municipalization in such areas will lead only to the
final triumph of the private company. Political efficiency must precede
Socialism. [Footnote: See Appendix I. ] But there can be no doubt that
the spectacle of irresponsible property is a terribly demoralizing force
in the development of each generation. It is idle to deny that
Property, both in Great Britain and America, works out into a practical
repudiation of that equality, political democracy so eloquently asserts.
There is a fatalistic submission to inferiority on the part of an
overwhelming majority of those born poor, they hold themselves cheap in
countless ways, and they accept as natural the use of wealth for wanton
pleasure and purposes absolutely mischievous, they despair of effort in
the public service, and find their only hope in gambling, sharp greedy
trading, or in base acquiescences to the rich. The good New Republican
can only regard our present system of Property as a terribly
unsatisfactory expedient and seek with all his power to develop a better
order to replace it.

There are certain lines of action in this matter that cannot but be
beneficial, and it is upon these that the New Republican will, no doubt,
go. One excellent thing, for example, would be to insist that beyond
the limits of a reasonable amount of personal property, the community
is justified in demanding a much higher degree of efficiency in the
property-holder than in the case of the common citizen, to require him
or her to be not only sane but capable, equal mentally and bodily to a
great charge. The heir to a great property should possess a satisfactory
knowledge of social and economic science, and should have studied with
a view to his great responsibilities. The age of twenty-one is scarcely
high enough for the management of a great estate, and to raise the
age of free administration for the owners of great properties, and to
specify a superannuation age would be a wise and justifiable measure.
[Footnote: Something of the sort is already secured in France by the
power of the _Conseil de Famille_ to expropriate a spendthrift.]
There should also be a possibility of intervention in the case of
maladministration, and a code of offences--habitual drunkenness, for
example, assaults of various kinds--offences that established the fact
of unfitness and resulted in deposition, might be drawn up. It might be
found desirable in the case of certain crimes and misdemeanours, to add
to existing penalties the transfer of all real or share properties to
trustees. Vigorous confiscation is a particularly logical punishment for
the proven corruption of public officers by any property owner or group
of property owners. Rich men who bribe are a danger to any state. Beyond
the limits of lunacy it might be possible to define a condition of
malignancy or ruthlessness that would justify confiscation, attempts to
form corners in the necessities of life, for example, could be taken
as evidence of such a condition. All such measures as this would be
far more beneficial than the immediate improvement they would effect
in public management. They would infect the whole social body with the
sense that property was saturated with responsibility and was in effect
a trust, and that would be a good influence upon rich and poor alike.

Moreover, as public bodies became more efficient and more trustworthy,
the principle already established in British social polity by Sir
William Vernon Harcourt’s Death Duties, the principle of whittling great
properties at each transfer, might be very materially extended. Every
transfer of property might establish a state mortgage for some fraction
of the value of that property. The fraction might be small when the
recipient was a public institution, considerable in the case of a son or
daughter, and almost all for a distant relative or no kindred at all. By
such devices the evil influence of property acquired by mere accidents
would be reduced without any great discouragement of energetic,
enterprising, and inventive men. And a man ambitious to found a family
might still found one if he took care to marry wisely and train and
educate his children to the level of the position he designed for them.

While the New Republican brings such expedients as this to bear upon
property from above, there will also be the expedients of the Minimum
Wage and the Minimum Standard of Life, already discussed in the third of
these papers, controlling it from below. Limited in this way, property
will resemble a river that once swamped a whole country-side, but has
now been banked within its channel. Even when these expedients have been
exhaustively worked out, they will fall far short of that “abolition of
property” which is the crude expression of Socialism. There is a certain
measure of property in a state which involves the maximum of individual
freedom. Either above or below that Optimum one passes towards slavery.
The New Republican is a New Republican, and he tests all things by their
effect upon the evolution of man; he is a Socialist or an Individualist,
a Free Trader or a Protectionist, a Republican or a Democrat just so
far, and only so far, as these various principles of public policy
subserve his greater end.

This crude sketch of a possible scheme of honour and privilege, and
of an approximation towards the socialization of property will, at any
rate, show that in this matter, as in the matter of political control,
the alternative of the British system or the American system does not
exhaust human possibilities. There is also the Twentieth Century System,
which we New Republicans have to discover and discuss and bring to the
test of experience. And for the sake of the education of our children,
which is the cardinal business of our lives, we must refuse all
convenient legal fictions and underhand ways, and see to it that the
system is as true to the reality of life and to right and justice as we
can, in our light and generation, make it. The child must learn not only
from preacher and parent and book, but from the whole frame and order
of life about it, that truth and sound living and service are the only
trustworthy ways to either honour or power, and that, save for the
unavoidable accidents of life, they are very certain ways. And then
he will have a fair chance to grow up neither a smart and hustling
cheat--for the American at his worst is no more and no less than
that--nor a sluggish disingenuous snob--as the Briton too often
becomes--but a proud, ambitious, clean-handed, and capable man.


§ 1

In the closing years of the school period comes the dawn of the process
of adolescence, and the simple egotism, the egotistical affections of
the child begin to be troubled by new interests, new vague impulses, and
presently by a flood of as yet formless emotions. The race, the species,
is claiming the individual, endeavouring to secure the individual for
its greater ends. In the space of a few years the almost sexless boy
and girl have become consciously sexual, are troubled by the still
mysterious possibilities of love, are stirred to discontent and
adventure, are reaching out imaginatively or actively towards what is at
last the recommencement of things, the essential fact in the perennial
reshaping of the order of the world. This is indeed something of a
second birth. At its beginning the child we have known begins to
recede, the new individuality gathers itself together with a sort of shy
jealousy, and withdraws from the confident intimacy of childhood into a
secret seclusion; all parents know of that loss; at its end we have an
adult, formed and determinate, for whom indeed the drama and conflict
of life is still only beginning, but who is, nevertheless, in a very
serious sense finished and made. The quaint, lovable, larval human being
has passed then into the full imago, before whom there is no further
change in kind save age and decay.

This development of the sexual being, of personal dreams, and the adult
imagination is already commencing in the early teens. It goes on through
all the later phases of the educational process, and it ends, or,
rather, it is transformed by insensible degrees into the personal
realities of adult life.

Now this second birth within the body of the first differs in many
fundamental aspects from that first. The first birth and the body
abound in inevitable things; for example, features, gestures aptitudes,
complexions, and colours, are inherited beyond any power of perversion;
but the second birth is the unfolding not of shaped and settled things
but of possibilities, of extraordinarily plastic mental faculties. No
doubt there are in each developing individual dispositions towards this
or that--tendencies, a bias in the texture this way or that--but
the form of it all is extraordinarily a matter of suggestion and the
influence of deliberate and accidental moulding forces. The universal
Will to live is there, peeping out at first in little curiosities,
inquiries, sudden disgusts, sudden fancies, the stumbling, slow
realization that for this in a mysteriously predominant way we live, and
growing stronger, growing presently, in the great multitude of cases, to
passionate preferences and powerful desires. This flow of sex comes like
a great river athwart the plain of our personal and egoistic schemes, a
great river with its rapids, with its deep and silent places, a river of
uncertain droughts, a river of overwhelming floods, a river no one who
would escape drowning may afford to ignore. Moreover, it is the very
axis and creator of our world valley, the source of all our power
in life, and the irrigator of all things. In the microcosm of each
individual, as in the microcosm of the race, this flood is a cardinal

And from its very nature this is a discussion of especial difficulty,
because it touches all of us--except for a few peculiar souls--so
intimately and so disturbingly. I had purposed to call this paper “Sex
and the Imagination,” and then I had a sudden vision of the thing that
happens. The vision presented a casual reader seated in a library,
turning over books and magazines and casting much excellent wisdom
aside, and then suddenly, as it were, waking up at that title, arrested,
displaying a furtive alertness, reading, flushed and eager, nosing
through the article. That in a vignette is the trouble in all this
discussion. Were we angels--! But we are not angels; we are all
involved. If we are young we are deep in it, whether we would have it
so or not; if we are old, even if we are quite old, our memories still
stretch out, living sensitive threads from our tender vanity to the
great trouble. Detachment is impossible. The nearest we can get to
detachment is to recognize that.

About this question the tragi-comic web of human absurdity thickens to
its closest. When has there ever been a lucid view or ever will be of
this great business? Here is the common madness of our species, here is
all a tissue of fine unreasonableness--to which, no doubt, we are in the
present paper infinitesimally adding. One has a vision of preposterous
proceedings; great, fat, wheezing, strigilated Roman emperors, neat
Parisian gentlemen of the latest cult, the good Saint Anthony rolling
on his thorns, and the piously obscene Durtal undergoing his expiatory
temptations, Mahomet and Brigham Young receiving supplementary
revelations, grim men babbling secrets to schoolgirls, enamoured errand
boys, amorous old women, debauchees dreaming themselves thoroughly
sensible men and going about their queer proceedings with insane
self-satisfaction, beautiful witless young persons dressed in the
most amazing things, all down the vista of history--a Vision of Fair
Women--looking their conscious queenliest, sentimentalists crawling over
every aspect and leaving tracks like snails, flushed young blockheads
telling the world “all about women,” intrigue, folly--you have as much
of it as one pen may condense in old Burton’s Anatomy--and through it
all a vast multitude of decent, respectable bodies pretending to have
quite solved the problem--until one day, almost shockingly, you get
their secret from a careless something glancing out of the eyes. Most
preposterous of all for some reason is a figure--one is maliciously
disposed to present it as feminine and a little unattractive, goloshed
for preference, and saying in a voice of cultivated flatness, “Why
cannot we be perfectly plain and sensible, and speak quite frankly about
this matter?” The answer to which one conceives, would be near the last
conclusions of Philosophy.

So much seethes about the plain discussion of the question of sexual
institutions. One echoes the intelligent inquiry of that quite
imaginary, libellously conceived lady in goloshes with a smile and a
sigh. As well might she ask, “Why shouldn’t I keep my sandwiches in
the Ark of the Covenant? There’s room!” “Of course there’s room,” one
answers, “but--As things are, Madam, it is inadvisable to try. You
see--for one thing--people are so peculiar. The quantity of loose stones
in this neighbourhood.”

The predominant feeling about the discussion of these things is, to
speak frankly, Fear. We know, very many of us, that our present state
has many evil aspects, seems unjust and wasteful of human happiness, is
full of secret and horrible dangers, abounding in cruelties and painful
things; that our system of sanctions and prohibitions is wickedly
venial, pressing far more gravely on the poor than on the rich, and
that it is enormously sapped by sentimentalities of various sorts
and undermined and qualified by secret cults; it is a clogged and
an ill-made and dishonest machine, but we have a dread, in part
instinctive, in part, no doubt, the suggestion of our upbringing and
atmosphere, of any rash alterations, of any really free examination of
its constitution. We are not sure or satisfied where that process of
examination may not take us; many more people can take machines to
pieces than can put them together again. Mr. Grant Allen used to call
our current prohibitions Taboos. Well, the fact is, in these matters
there is something that is probably an instinct, a deeply felt necessity
for Taboos. We know perhaps that our Taboos were not devised on
absolutely reasonable grounds, but we are afraid of just how many
may not collapse before a purely reasonable inquiry. We are afraid of
thinking quite freely even in private. We doubt whether it is wise to
begin, though only in the study and alone. “Why should we--? Why should
we not--?” And the thought of a public discussion without limitations
by a hasty myriad untrained to think, does, indeed, raise an image of
consequences best conveyed perhaps by that fine indefinite phrase,
“A Moral Chaos.” These people who are for the free, frank, and open
discussion assume so much; they either intend a sham with foregone
conclusions, or they have not thought of all sorts of things inherent in
the natural silliness of contemporary man.

On the whole I think a man or woman who is no longer a fabric of pure
emotion may, if there is indeed the passion for truth and the clear
sight of things to justify research, venture upon this sinister seeming
wilderness of speculation, and I think, too, it is very probable the
courageous persistent explorer will end at last not so very remote from
the starting-point, but above it, as it were, on a crest that will
give a wider view, reaching over many things that now confine the lower
vision. But these are perilous paths, it must always be remembered. This
is no public playground. One may distrust the conventional code, and
one may leave it in thought, long before one is justified in leaving it
either in expressed opinion or in act. We are social animals; we cannot
live alone; manifestly from the nature of the question, here, at
any rate, we must associate and group. For all who find the accepted
righteousness not good enough or clear enough for them, there is the
chance of an ironical destiny. We must look well to our company, as we
come out of the city of the common practice and kick its dust from
our superior soles. There is an abominable riff-raff gone into those
thickets for purposes quite other than the discovery of the right thing
to do, for quite other motives than our high intellectual desire. There
are ugly rebels and born rascals, cheats by instinct, and liars to
women, swinish unbelievers who would compromise us with their erratic
pursuit of a miscellaneous collection of strange fancies and betray us
callously at last. Because a man does not find the law pure justice,
that is no reason why he should fake his gold to a thieves’ kitchen;
because he does not think the city a sanitary place, why he should pitch
his tent on a dust-heap amidst pariah dogs. Because we criticize the old
limitations that does not bind us to the creed of unfettered liberty.
I very much doubt if, when at last the days for the sane complete
discussion of our sexual problems come, it will give us anything at all
in the way of “Liberty,” as most people understand that word. In the
place of the rusty old manacles, the chain and shot, the iron yoke,
cruel, ill-fitting, violent implements from which it was yet possible to
wriggle and escape to outlawry, it may be the world will discover only
a completer restriction, will develop a scheme of neat gyves, light
but efficient, beautifully adaptable to the wrists and ankles, never
chafing, never oppressing, slipped on and worn until at last, like
the mask of the Happy Hypocrite, they mould the wearer to their own
identity. But for all that--gyves!

Let us glance for a moment or so now, in the most tentative fashion, at
some of the data for this inquiry, and then revert from this excursion
into general theory to our more immediate business, to the manner
in which our civilized community at present effects the emotional
initiation of youth.

The intellectual trouble in the matter, as it presents itself to me,
comes in upon this, that the question does not lie in one plane. So many
discussions ignore this fact, and deal with it on one plane only. For
example, we may take the whole business on the plane of the medical man,
ignoring all other considerations. On that plane it would probably be
almost easy to reason out a working system. It never has been done by
the medical profession, as a whole, which is fairly understandable, or
by any group of medical men, which is the more surprising, but it
would be an extremely interesting thing to have done and a material
contribution to the sane discussion of this problem. It would not solve
it but it would illuminate certain aspects. Let the mere physiological
problem be taken. We want healthy children and the best we can get. Let
the medical man devise his scheme primarily for that. Understand we
are shutting our eyes to every other consideration but physical or
quasi-physical ones. Imagine the thing done, for example, by a
Mr. Francis Galton, who had an absolutely open mind upon all other
questions. Some form of polygamy, marriage of the most transient
description, with reproduction barred to specified types, would probably
come from such a speculation. But, in addition, a number of people who
can have only a few children or none are, nevertheless, not adapted
physiologically for celibacy. Conceive the medical man working that
problem out upon purely materialistic lines and with an eye to all
physiological and pathological peculiarities. The Tasmanians (now
extinct) seem to have been somewhere near the probable result.

Then let us take one step up to a second stage of consideration,
remaining still materialistic, and with the medical man still as our
only guide. We want the children to grow up healthy; we want them to
be taken care of. This means homes, homes of some sort. That may not
abolish polygamy, but it will qualify it, it will certainly abolish any
approach to promiscuity that was possible at the lowest stage, it will
enhance the importance of motherhood and impose a number of limits upon
the sexual freedoms of men and women. People who have become parents, at
any rate, must be tied to the children and one another. We come at once
to much more definite marriage, to an organized family of some sort, be
it only Plato’s state community or something after the Oneida pattern,
but with at least a system of guarantees and responsibilities. Let
us add that we want the children to go through a serious educational
process, and we find at once still further limitations coming in.
We discover the necessity of deferring experience, of pushing back
adolescence, of avoiding precocious stimulation with its consequent
arrest of growth. We are already face to face with an enlarged case for
decency, for a system of suppressions and of complicated Taboos.

Directly we let our thoughts pass out of this physical plane and rise
so high as to consider the concurrent emotions--and I suppose to a
large number of people these are at least as important as the physical
aspects--we come to pride, we come to preference and jealousy, and so
soon as we bring these to bear upon our physical scheme, crumpling
and fissures begin. The complications have multiplied enormously. More
especially that little trouble of preferences. These emotions we may
educate indeed, but not altogether. Neither pride nor preference nor
jealousy are to be tampered with lightly. We are making men, we are
not planning a society of regulated slaves; we want fine upstanding
personalities, and we shall not get them if we break them down to
obedience in this particular--for the cardinal expression of freedom
in the human life is surely this choice of a mate. There is indeed no
freedom without this freedom. Our men and women in the future must feel
free and responsible. It seems almost instinctive, at least in the
youth of the white races, to exercise this power of choice, not simply
rebelling when opposition is offered to it, but _wanting to rebel_; it
is a socially good thing, and a thing we are justified in protecting if
the odds are against it, this passion for making the business one’s very
own private affair. Our citizens must not be caught and paired; it will
never work like that. But in all social contrivances we must see to it
that the freedoms we give are real freedoms. Our youths and maidens
as they grow up out of the protection of our first taboos, grow into
a world very largely in the hands of older people; strong men and
experienced women are there before them, and we are justified in any
effectual contrivance to save them from being “gobbled up”--against
their real instincts. That works--the reflective man will
discover--towards whittling the previous polygamy to still smaller
proportions. Here, indeed, our present arrangements fail most
lamentably; each year sees a hideous sacrifice of girls, mentally
scarcely more than children--to our delicacy in discussion. We
give freedom, and we do not give adequate knowledge, and we punish
inexorably. There are a multitude of women, and not a few men, with
lives hopelessly damaged by this blindfold freedom. So many poor girls,
so many lads also, do not get a fair chance against the adult world.
Things mend indeed in this respect; as one sign the percentage of
illegitimate births in England has almost halved in fifty years, but
it is clear we have much to revise before this leakage to perdition of
unlucky creatures, for the most part girls no worse on the average, I
honestly believe--until our penalties make them so--than other women,
ceases. If our age of moral responsibility is high enough, then our age
of complete knowledge is too high. But nevertheless, things are better
than they were, and promise still to mend. All round we raise the age,
the average age at marriage rises, just as, I believe, the average age
at misconduct has risen. We may not be approaching a period of universal
morality, but we do seem within sight of a time when people will know
what they are doing.

That, however, is something of a digression. The intelligent inquirer
who has squared his initially materialistic system of morals with
the problems arising out of the necessity of sustaining pride and
preference, is then invited to explore an adjacent thicket of this
tortuous subject. It is, we hold, of supreme importance in our state to
sustain in all our citizens, women as well as men, a sense of personal
independence and responsibility. Particularly is this the case with
mothers. An illiterate mother means a backward child, a downtrodden
mother bears a dishonest man, an unwilling mother may even hate her
children. Slaves and brutes are the sexes where women are slaves.
The line of thought we are following out in these papers necessarily
attaches distinctive importance to the woman as mother. Our system of
morals, therefore, has to make it worth while and honourable to be a
mother; it is particularly undesirable that it should be held to be
right for a woman of exceptional charm or exceptional cleverness to
evade motherhood, unless, perhaps, to become a teacher. A woman evading
her high calling, must not be conceded the same claim upon men’s toil
and service as the mother-woman; more particularly Lady Greensleeves
must not flaunt it over the housewife. And here also comes the question
of the quality of jealousy, whether being wife of a man and mother
of his children does not almost necessarily give a woman a feeling of
exclusive possession in him, and whether, therefore, if we are earnest
in our determination not to debase her, our last shred of polygamy does
not vanish. From first to last, of course, it has been assumed that a
prolific polygamy alone can be intended, for long before we have plumbed
the bottom of the human heart we shall know enough to imagine what the
ugly and pointless consequences of permitting sterile polygamy must be.

Then into all this tangle, whether as a light or an added confusion it
is hard to say, comes the fact that while we are ever apt to talk of
what “a woman” feels and what “a man” will do, and so contrive our code,
there is, indeed, no such woman and no such man, but a vast variety of
temperaments and dispositions, monadic, dyadic, and polymeric souls, and
this sort of heart and brain and that. It is only the young fool and the
brooding mattoid who believe in a special separate science of “women,”
 there are all sorts of people, and some of each sort are women and some
are men. With every stage in educational development people become more
varied, or, at least, more conscious of their variety, more sensitively
insistent upon the claim of their individualities over any general
rules. Among the peasants of a countryside one may hope to order
homogeneous lives, but not among the people of the coming state. It is
well to sustain a home, it is noble to be a good mother, and splendid to
bear children well and train them well, but we shall get no valid rules
until we see clearly that life has other ways by which the future may
be served. There are laws to be made and altered, there are roads
and bridges to be built, figuratively and really; there is not only a
succession of flesh and blood but of thought that is going on for ever.
To write a fruitful book or improve a widely used machine is just as
much paternity as begetting a son.

The last temporary raft of a logical moral code goes to pieces at this,
and its separated spars float here and there. So I will confess they
float at present in my mind. I have no System--I wish I had--and I never
encountered a system or any universal doctrine of sexual conduct that
did not seem to me to be reached by clinging tight to one or two of
these dissevered spars and letting the rest drift disregarded, making
a law for A, B, and C, and pretending that E and F are out of the
question. That motherhood is a great and noble occupation for a good
woman, and not to be lightly undertaken, is a manifest thing, and so
also that to beget children and see them full grown in the world is the
common triumph of life, as inconsequence is its common failure. That to
live for pleasure is not only wickedness but folly, seems easy to admit,
and equally foolish, as Saint Paul has intimated, must it be to waste
a life of nervous energy in fighting down beyond a natural minimum our
natural desires. That we must pitch our lives just as much as we can
in the heroic key, and hem and control mere lasciviousness as it were
a sort of leprosy of the soul, seems fairly certain. And all that
love-making which involves lies, all sham heroics and shining snares,
assuredly must go out of a higher order of social being, for here more
than anywhere lying is the poison of life. But between these data there
are great interrogative blanks no generalization will fill--cases,
situations, temperaments. Each life, it seems to me, in that
intelligent, conscious, social state to which the world is coming, must
square itself to these things in its own way, and fill in the details of
its individual moral code according to its needs. So it seems, at least,
to one limited thinker.

To be frank, upon that common ground of decent behaviour, pride and
self-respect, health and the heroic habit of thinking, we need for
ourselves not so much rules as wisdom, and for others not, indeed, a
foolish and indiscriminate toleration but at least patience, arrests
of judgment, and the honest endeavour to understand. Now to help the
imagination in these judgments, to enlarge and interpret experience, is
most certainly one of the functions of literature. A good biography may
give facts of infinite suggestion, and the great multitude of novels at
present are, in fact, experiments in the science of this central field
of human action, experiments in the “way of looking at” various cases
and situations. They may be very misleading experiments, it is true,
done with adulterated substances, dangerous chemicals, dirty flasks and
unsound balances; but that is a question of their quality and not of
their nature, they are experiments for all that. A good novel may become
a very potent and convincing experiment indeed. Books in these matters
are often so much quieter and cooler as counsellors than friends. And
there, in truth, is my whole mind in this matter.

Meanwhile, as we work each one to solve his own problems, the young
people are growing up about us.

§ 2

How do the young people arrive at knowledge and at their interpretation
of these things? Let us for a few moments at least, put pretence and
claptrap aside, and recall our own youth. Let us recognize that this
complex initiation is always a very shy and secret process, beyond
the range of parent and guardian. The prying type of schoolmaster or
schoolmistress only drives the thing deeper, and, at the worst, blunders
with a hideous suggestiveness. It is almost an instinct, a part of the
natural modesty of the growing young, to hide all that is fermenting in
the mind from authoritative older people. It would not be difficult to
find a biological reason for that. The growing mind advances slowly,
intermittently, with long pauses and sudden panics, that is the law of
its progress; it feels its way through three main agencies, firstly,
observation, secondly, tentative, confidential talk with unauthoritative
and trusted friends, and thirdly, books. In the present epoch
observation declines relatively to books; books and pictures, these dumb
impersonal initiators, play a larger and a larger part in this great
awakening. Perhaps for all but the children of the urban poor, the
furtive talk also declines and is delayed; a most desirable thing in a
civilizing process that finds great advantage in putting off adolescence
and prolonging the average life.

Now the furtive talk is largely beyond our control, only by improving
the general texture of our communal life can we effectually improve the
quality of that. But we may bear in mind that factor of observation, and
give it a casting vote in any decision upon public decency. That is
all too often forgotten. Before Broadbeam, the popular humorist, for
example, flashes his glittering rapier upon the County Council for
suppressing some vulgar obscenity in the music-halls, or tickles the
ribs of a Vigilance Association for its care of our hoardings, he should
do his best to imagine the mental process of some nice boy or girl he
knows, “taking it in.” To come outright to the essential matter of this
paper, we are all too careless of the quality of the stuff that
reaches the eyes and ears of our children. It is not that the stuff
is knowledge, but that it is knowledge in the basest and vulgarest
colourings, knowledge without the antiseptic quality of heroic
interpretation, debased, suggestive, diseased and contagious knowledge.

How the sexual consciousness of a great proportion of our young people
is being awakened, the curious reader may see for himself if he will
expend a few pennies weekly for a month or so upon the halfpenny or
penny “comic” papers which are bought so eagerly by boys. They begin
upon the facts of sex as affairs of nodding and winking, of artful
innuendo and scuffles in the dark. The earnest efforts of Broadbeam’s
minor kindred to knock the nonsense out of even younger people may be
heard at almost any pantomime. The Lord Chamberlain’s attempts to stem
the tide amaze the English Judges. No scheme for making the best of
human lives can ignore this system of influences.

What could be done in a sanely ordered state to suppress this sort of

There immediately arises the question whether we are to limit art and
literature to the sphere permissible to the growing youth and “young
person.” So far as shop windows, bookstalls, and hoardings go, so far
as all general publicity goes, I would submit the answer is Yes. I am on
the side of the Puritans here, unhesitatingly. But our adults must not
walk in mental leading strings, and were this world an adult world
I doubt if there is anything I would not regard as fit to print and
publish. But cannot we contrive that our adult literature shall be
as free as air while the literature and art of the young is sanely

There is in this matter a conceivable way, and as it is the principal
business of these papers to point out and discuss such ways, it may be
given here. It will be put, as for the sake of compact suggestion so
much of these papers is put, in the form of a concrete suggestion, a
sample suggestion as it were. This way, then, is to make a definition
of what is undesirable matter for the minds of young people, and to make
that cover as much suggestive indecency and coarseness as possible, to
cover everything, indeed, that is not _virginibus puerisque_, and to
call this matter by some reasonably inoffensive adjective, “adult,” for
example. One might speak of “adult” art, “adult” literature, and “adult”
 science, and the report of all proceedings under certain specified
laws could be declared “adult” matter. In the old times there was an
excellent system of putting “adult” matter into Latin, and for
many reasons one regrets that Latin. But there is a rough practical
equivalent to putting “adult” matter into Latin even now. It depends
upon the fact that very few young people of the age we wish to protect,
unless they are the children of the imbecile rich, have the spending of
large sums of money. Consequently, it is only necessary to state a high
minimum price for periodicals and books containing “adult” matter or
“adult” illustrations, and to prosecute everything below that limit, in
order to shut the flood-gates upon any torrent of over-stimulating and
debasing suggestions there may be flowing now. It should be more clearly
recognized in our prosecutions for obscenity, for example, that the
gravity of the offence is entirely dependent upon the accessibility of
the offensive matter to the young. The application of the same method
to the music-hall, the lecture-theatre, and the shelves of the public
library, and to several other sources of suggestion would not be
impossible. If the manager of a theatre saw fit to produce “adult”
 matter without excluding people under the age of eighteen, let us say,
he would have to take his chance, and it would be a good one, of a
prosecution. This latter expedient is less novel than the former, and it
finds a sort of precedent in the legislative restriction of the sale of
drink to children and the protection of children’s morals under specific
unfavourable circumstances.

There is already a pretty lively sense in our English-speaking
communities of the particular respect due to the young, and it is
probable that those who publish these suggestive and stimulating prints
do not fully realize the new fact in our social body, that the whole
mass of the young now not only read but buy reading matter. The last
thirty or forty years have established absolutely new relations for
our children in this direction. Legislation against free art and free
writing is, and one hopes always will be, intensely repugnant to our
peoples. But legislation which laid stress not on the indecorum but on
the accessibility to the young, which hammered with every clause upon
that note, is an altogether different matter. We want to make the
pantomime writer, the proprietor of the penny “comic,” the billsticker,
and the music-hall artist extremely careful, punctiliously clean, but we
do not want, for example, to pester Mr. Thomas Hardy.

Yet there is danger in all this. The suppression of premature and base
suggestions must not overleap itself and suppress either mature thought
(which has been given its hemlock not once but many times on this
particular pretext) or the destruction of necessary common knowledge. If
we begin to hunt for suggestion and indecency it may be urged we shall
end by driving all these things underground. Youth comes to adult life
now between two dangers, vice, which has always threatened it, and
morbid virtue, which would turn the very heart of life to ugliness and
shame. How are we, or to come closer to the point, how is the average
juryman going to distinguish between these three things; between
advisable knowledge and corruptingly presented knowledge, and
unnecessary and undesirable knowledge? In practice, under the laws I
have sketched, it is quite probable the evil would flourish extremely,
and necessary information would be ruthlessly suppressed. Many of our
present laws and provisions for public decency do work in that manner.
The errand-boy may not look at the Venus de Medici, but he can cram his
mind with the lore of how “nobs” run after ballet girls, and why Lady
X locked the door. One can only plead here, as everywhere, no law, no
succinct statement can save us without wisdom, a growing general wisdom
and conscience, coming into the detailed administration of whatever law
the general purpose has made.

Beside our project for law and the state, it is evident there is scope
for the individual. Certain people are in a position of exceptional
responsibility. The Newsagents, for example, constitute a fairly strong
trade organization, and it would be easy for them to think of the
boy with a penny just a little more than they do. Unfortunately such
instances as we have had of voluntary censorship will qualify the
reader’s assent to this proposition. Another objection may be urged to
this distinction between “adult” and general matter, and that is the
possibility that what is marked off and forbidden becomes mysterious and
attractive. One has to reckon with that. Everywhere in this field one
must go wisely or fail. But what is here proposed is not so much
the suppression of information as of a certain manner of presenting
information, and our intention is at the most delay, and to give the
wholesome aspect first.

Let us leave nothing doubtful upon one point; the suppression of
stimulus must not mean the suppression of knowledge. There are things
that young people should know, and know fully before they are involved
in the central drama of life, in the serious business of love. There
should be no horrifying surprises. Sane, clear, matter-of-fact books
setting forth the broad facts of health and life, the existence of
certain dangers, should come their way. In this matter books, I would
insist, have a supreme value. The printed word may be such a quiet
counsellor. It is so impersonal. It can have no conceivable personal
reaction with the reader. It does not watch its reader’s face, it is
itself unobtrusively unabashed and safer than any priest. The power of
the book, the possible function of the book in the modern state is still
but imperfectly understood. It need not be, it ought not, I think, to
be, a book specifically on what one calls delicate questions, that would
be throwing them up in just the way one does not want them thrown up;
it should be a sort of rationalized and not too technical handbook of
physiological instruction in the College Library--or at home. Naturally,
it would begin with muscular physiology, with digestion, and so on.
Other matters would come in their due place and proportion. From first
to last it would have all that need be known. There is a natural and
right curiosity on these matters, until we chase it underground.

Restriction alone is not half this business. It is inherent in the
purpose of things that these young people should awaken sexually, and
in some manner and somewhere that awakening must come. To ensure they do
not awaken too soon or in a fetid atmosphere among ugly surroundings
is not enough. They cannot awaken in a void. An ignorance kept beyond
nature may corrupt into ugly secrecies, into morose and sinister
seclusions, worse than the evils we have suppressed. Let them awaken as
their day comes, in a sweet, large room. The true antiseptic of the
soul is not ignorance, but a touch of the heroic in the heart and in the
imagination. Pride has saved more men than piety, and even misconduct
loses something of its evil if it is conceived upon generous lines.
There lurks a capacity for heroic response in all youth, even in
contaminated youth. Before five-and-twenty, at any rate, we were all
sentimentalists at heart.

And the way to bring out these responses?

Assuredly it is not by sermons on Purity to Men Only and by nasty little
pamphlets of pseudo-medical and highly alarming information stuffed into
clean young hands [Footnote: See Clouston’s _Mental Diseases_, fifth
edition, p. 535, for insanity caused by these pamphlets; see also p. 591
_et seq._ for “adolescent” literature.]--ultra “adult” that stuff should
be--but in the drum and trumpet style the thing should be done. There
is a mass of fine literature to-day wherein love shines clean and
noble. There is art telling fine stories. There is a possibility in the
Theatre. Probably the average of the theatre-goer is under rather than
over twenty-two. Literature, the drama, art; that is the sort of food
upon which the young imagination grows stout and tall. There is the
literature and art of youth that may or may not be part of the greater
literature of life, and upon this mainly we must depend when our
children pass from us into these privacies, these dreams and inquiries
that will make them men and women. See the right stuff is near them and
the wrong stuff as far as possible away, chase cad and quack together,
and for the rest, in this matter--_leave them alone._


When we digressed to the general question of the political, social, and
moral atmosphere in which the English-speaking citizen develops, we left
the formal education of the average child, whose development threads
through these papers and holds them together, at about the age of
fifteen and at the end of the process of Schooling. We have now to carry
on that development to adult citizenship. It is integral in the New
Republican idea that the process of Schooling, which is the common
atrium to all public service, should be fairly uniform throughout the
social body, that although the average upper-class child may have all
the advantages his conceivably better mental inheritance, his better
home conditions, and his better paid and less overworked teachers may
give him, there shall be no disadvantages imposed upon the child of any
class, there shall be no burking of the intellectual education for
any purpose whatever. To keep poor wretches in serfdom on the land by
depriving them of all but the most rudimentary literary education, as
a very considerable element in the new Nature Study Movement certainly
intends, is altogether antagonistic to New Republican ideas, and there
must be no weeding out of capable and high-minded teachers by filtering
them through grotesque and dishonouring religious tests--dishonouring
because compulsory, whatever the real faith of the teacher may be. And
at the end of the Schooling period there must begin a process of sorting
in the mass of the national youth--as far as possible, regardless
of their social origins--that will go on throughout life. For the
competition of public service must constitute the Battle for Existence
in the civilized state. All-round inferiority in school life--failure
not simply at this or that or at the total result (which, indeed, may be
due very often to the lopsidedness of exceptional gifts) but failure all
along the line--is a mark of essential inferiority. A certain proportion
of boys and girls will have shown this inferiority, will have done
little with any of their chances in or out of school during their
school life, and these--when they are poorer-class children--will very
naturally drop out of the educational process at this stage and pass
into employment suited to their capacity, employment which should not
carry with it any considerable possibility of prolific marriage.
A really well-contrived leaving-school examination--and it must be
remembered that the theory and science of examinations scarcely exists
as yet--an examination which would take account of athletic development
and moral influence (let us say provisionally by the vote of
fellow-pupils) and which would be so contrived as to make specially high
quality in one department as good as all-round worth--could effect this
first classification. It would throw out the worst of the duffers and
fools and louts all along the social scale. What is to become of the
rejected of the upper and wealthy class is, I admit, a difficult problem
as things are to-day. At present they carry a loutish ingredient to the
public schools, to the Army, to Oxford and Cambridge, and it is open to
question whether it would not be well to set aside one public school,
one especially costly university, and one gentlemen’s regiment of an
attractively smart type, into which this mass of expensive slackness
might be drained along a channel of specially high fees, low standards,
and agreeable social conditions. That, however, is a quite subsidiary
question in this discussion. A day may come, as I have already
suggested, when it will be considered as reasonable to insist upon a
minimum mental qualification for the administration of property as
for any other form of power in the state. Pride and their many
advantages--of which one is quite conceivably an average essential
superiority--will probably ensure a satisfactory result from the
Schooling process in the case of a much greater proportion of
better-class than of lower-class boys and girls. [Footnote: In most big
public schools, I am told, there is a system of superannuation about
sixteen, but I know nothing of the provision for those who are weeded

From the mass who show a satisfactory result at the end of the Schooling
process, the functional manhood and womanhood of our peoples have to be
developed, and we have now to discuss the nature of the second phase
of education, the phase that should be the mental parallel and
accompaniment of physical adolescence in all the citizens who are
to count for strength in the state. There is a break in the whole
development of the human being at this age, and it may very well be
paralleled by a break in methods and subjects of instruction. In Great
Britain, in the case of the wealthier classes, schooling and puerile
discipline is prolonged altogether too far, largely through the gross
incapacity of our secondary teachers. These men are unable, boring away
day after day, week after week, year after year, with vain repetitions,
imbecile breaks and new beginnings, through all the vast period from
eleven or twelve until twenty, to achieve that mastery of Latin and
Greek which was once the necessary preliminary to education, and which
has become at last, through the secular decline in scholastic energy
and capacity due to the withdrawal of interest in these studies, the
unattainable educational ideal. These classical pedagogues,
however, carry the thing up to three or four and twenty in the
Universities--though it is inconceivable that any language spoken
since the antediluvian age of leisure, can need more than ten years to
learn--and if they could keep the men until forty or fifty they would
still be fumbling away at the keys to the room that was ransacked long
ago. But with educated men as teachers and practical handbooks to help,
and practical examiners to guide them, there is no reason whatever why
the great mass of the linguistic training of the citizen, in the use of
his own and any other necessary language, should not be done for good
and all by fourteen, why he should not have a fairly complete mastery of
form and quantity through mathematical training and drawing, and why the
way should not be clear and immediate for the development of that adult
mental edifice of which this is the foundation.

By fourteen the power of abstract reasoning and of an analytical
treatment of things is in existence, the learner is now less to be
moulded and more to be guided than he was. We want now to give this mind
we have established, the most stimulating and invigorating training we
can, we want to give it a sane coherent view of our knowledge of the
universe in relation to itself, and we want to equip it for its own
special work in the world. How, on the basis of the Schooling we have
predicated, are these ends to be attained?

Now let us first have it perfectly clear that this second stage in
development lies no more completely within the idea of College than
the former lay completely within the idea of School. In the general
discussion of these things we are constantly faced by the parallel error
to that we have tried to dissipate in regard to schools, the error that
the Professor and his Lecture and (in the case of experimental sciences)
his Laboratory make, or can make, the man, just precisely in the same
way that the Schoolmaster or Schoolmistress is supposed to be omnipotent
in the education of the boy or girl. And, unhappily, the Professor,
unless he is a man of quite exceptional mental power for a Professor,
shares this groundless opinion. The Schoolmaster is under-educated in
regard to his work, and incapable of doing it neatly; the Professor
is too often over-specialized and incapable of forming an intelligent,
modest idea of his place in education; and the same consequence flows
from the defect of either, an attempt to use an improperly large portion
of the learner’s time and energy. Over-direction, and what one may call
intellectual sectarianism, are faults from which few College courses
are free to-day. The Professor stands between his students and books,
he says in lectures in his own way what had far better be left for other
men’s books to tell, he teaches his beliefs without a court of appeal.
Students are kept writing up their notes of his not very brilliant
impromptus, and familiarizing themselves with his mental constitution
instead of the subject of study. They get no training in the use of
books as sources of knowledge and ideas, albeit such a training is one
of the most necessary of all acquisitions for an efficient citizen,
and whatever discussion the modern student indulges in is all too
often treated rather as presumption to be discouraged than as the most
necessary and hopeful of mental processes. Our Universities and Colleges
are still but imperfectly aware of the recent invention of the Printed
Book; and its intelligent use in this stage of education has made little
or no headway against their venerable traditions. That things are only
understood by being turned over in the mind and looked at from various
points of view is, of course, altogether too modern a conception for
our educationists. At the London Royal College of Science, for example,
which is an exceptionally new and efficient College, there is no
properly organized escape from the orthodoxy of the lecture-theatre, no
circulating library whatever available to the students, no library, that
is, which will ensure a copious supply and exchange of the best books on
each subject, and, consequently, even to look up an original paper that
has been quoted or discussed, involves an expenditure of time that is
practically prohibitive of the thing as a general practice. [Footnote:
There are three very fine libraries in the adjacent South Kensington
Museum, especially available to students, but, like almost all existing
libraries, they are managed in most respects on lines conceived when
a copy of a book was an almost unique thing made specially by the
copyist’s hand. However much a book is in demand, however cheap its
price of publication may be, no library in England, unless it is a
modern subscription library, ever gets duplicate copies. This is the
cause of the dearness of serious books; they are bought as rarities, and
have to be sold in the same spirit. But when libraries learn to buy by
the dozen and the hundred, there is no reason why the sort of book
now published at 10s. 6d. should not be sold at a shilling from the
beginning.] The Professors, being busy and important men, lecture from
their particular standpoints, and having lectured, bolt; there is no
provision whatever for the intelligent discussion of knotty points, and
the only way to get it is to buttonhole a demonstrator and induce him to
neglect his task of supervising prescribed “practical” work in favour of
educational talk. Let us, therefore, in view of this state of affairs,
deal with the general question how a branch of thought and knowledge may
be most beneficially studied under modern conditions, before discussing
the more particular question what subjects should or should not be

Now the full statement not only of what is known of a subject, but
of its difficulties, dark places, and conflicting aspects should be
luminously set forth in the College text-books, large, well-written,
well-illustrated books by one or several hands, continually revised and
kept abreast of the advance of knowledge by capable and critical-minded
young men. Such books are essential and cardinal in proper modern
teaching. The country may be speckled with universities until they are
as thick as public-houses, and each may be provided with its score or so
of little lecturers, and if it does not possess one or more good general
text-books in each principal subject then all this simply means that
a great number of inadequate, infertile little text-books are being
dictated, one by each of these lecturers. Not the course of lectures,
but the sound, full text-book should be the basis of College
instruction, and this should be supplemented by a greater or lesser
number of more or less controversial pamphlets or books, criticising,
expanding or correcting its matter or putting things in a different
and profitable way. This text-book should be paralleled in the case
of experimental science by a hand-book of illustrative and explanatory
laboratory work. Portions of the book could be set for preparation at
each stage in the course with appropriate experiments, students could
submit difficulties in writing to be dealt with by the Professor in
conversational lectures, and the reading of the students could be
checked by periodic examinations upon cardinal parts, and supplemented,
if these examinations showed it to be necessary, by dissertations upon
special issues of difficulty. Upon the matters that were distinctively
his “subject,” or upon his points of disagreement with the general
issues of the book, the Professor might lecture in the accepted way.
This is surely the proper method of work for adolescent students in any
subject, in philology just as much as in comparative anatomy, and in
history just as much as in economics. The cheapening of printing, paper,
and, above all, of illustration has done away with the last excuse for
the vocal course of instruction and the lecturer’s diagrams. But it has
not done away with them.

It is one of the most curious of human phenomena, this persistence of
tradition against what one might have imagined the most destructive
facts, and in no connection is this aspect more remarkable than in
all that concerns the higher stages of education. One might think that
somewhere in the seventeenth century it would have been recognized
at the Seats of Learning that thought and knowledge were progressive
things, and that a periodic revision of courses and syllabuses, a
periodic recasting of work and scope, a re-arrangement of chairs and
of the appliances of the faculties, was as necessary to the continued
healthy existence of a University as periodic meals and sleep and
exercise are necessary to a man. But even today we are founding
Universities without any provision for this necessary change, and the
chances are that in a century or so they will present just as much
backwardness and illiteracy as do the ordinary graduation organizations
of Oxford and Cambridge today, that a hundred years from now the past
graduates of ripe old Birmingham, full of spite against newfangled
things “no fellow can understand,” will be crowding up to vote against
the substitution of some more modern subject for “Huxley”--“Huxley”
 they will call the subject, and not Comparative Anatomy, on the model
of “Euclid”--or for the retention of compulsory “Commercial Geography
of the Nineteenth Century,” or “Longhand Bookkeeping” in the Little
Go. (And should any germinating noble founder read these pages I would
implore him with all the earnestness that is possible in printed
matter, to provide that every fifty years, let us say, the whole of his
prospective foundation shall go into solution, shall re-apportion its
funds and reorganize the entire mechanism of its work.)

The idea that a text-book should be regularly reset and reprinted is
still quite foreign to the Professorial mind, as, indeed, is the idea
that the care of text-books and publications is a University function at
all. No one is startled by a proposal to apply £800 or £1000 a year to
a new chair in any subject, but to apply that sum yearly as a standing
charge to the revision and perfection of a specific text-book would
seem, even today, quite fantastically extravagant to most University
men. Yet what could be more obviously helpful to sound and thorough
teaching than for a University, or a group of Universities, to sustain
a Professor in each of the chief subjects of instruction, whose business
would be neither teaching as it is now understood, nor research, but the
critical and exhaustive editing of the College textbook of his subject,
a text-book which would stand in type at the University Press, which
would be revised annually and reprinted annually, primarily for the
use of the matriculated students of the University and incidentally for
publication. His business would be not only to bring the work up to date
and parallel with all the newest published research and to invite and
consider proposals of contributions and footnotes from men with new
views and new matter, but also to substitute for obscure passages fuller
and more lucid expositions, to cut down or relegate to smaller type
passages of diminishing importance and to introduce fresh and
more efficient illustrations, and his work would be carried on in
consultation with the General Editor of the University Press who would
also be a specialist in modern printing and book-making, and who
would be constantly taking up, trying, and adopting fresh devices of
arrangement, and newer, better, and cheaper methods of printing and
illustration. It would not merely raise the general efficiency of
the College work of adolescents very greatly to have this series of
textbooks living and growing in each subject at one or (better) at
several Universities or grouped Universities, but in each subject the
periodic change in these books would afford a most valuable corrective
to the influence of specialized work by keeping the specialist worker
easily in touch with the current presentation of his science as a whole.

The text-book, however good, and the lecturer, however able, are only
one of two necessary factors in College work, the reciprocal element
is the students’ activity. Unless the students are actively engaged not
simply in taking in what they are told, but in rearranging it, turning
it over, trying and testing it, they are doing little good. We recognize
this quite abundantly in the laboratory nowadays, but we neglect it
enormously in the more theoretical study of a subject. The facts of a
subject if it is a science may be got at in the most thorough way by
handling in the laboratory, but the ideas of a subject must be handled
in discussion, reproduction and dispute. Examinations, examinations
by teachers who understand this very fine art, in which the student is
obliged to restate, apply, and use the principles of his subject, are
of the utmost value in keeping the mind active and not simply receptive.
They are just as good and as vitally necessary as examination papers
which merely demand definitions and lists and bald facts are bad. And
then there might be discussions--if the Professor were clever enough
to conduct them. If the students of a class could be induced to submit
propositions for discussion, from which a topic could be selected, and
could then be made to prepare for a disputation to which all would have
to contribute, with the Professor as a controlling influence in the
chair to check facts and logic and to conclude, it would have the value
of a dozen lectures. But Professors who are under the burthen of perhaps
ninety or a hundred lectures a year cannot be expected to do anything
of this sort. Directed reading, conferences on knotty points, special
lectures followed by the questioning of the lecturer, discussions upon
matters of opinion, laboratory work when needful, fairly frequent
test examinations, and a final examination for places, are the proper
ingredients of a good modern College course, and in the necessity of
leaving the Professor’s energies free for the direction of all this
really educational work, lies another reason for that complete,
explicit, well-arranged text-book upon which I am insisting.

Coming back now from these general propositions about books and teaching
to our mass of young people about fifteen years old, our adolescent
nation, who have accomplished their Schooling and are ready for the
College phase, we have to consider what subjects they are to be taught,
and how far they are to go with these subjects. Whether they are to give
all or part of their time to these College studies, whether they are
going to pursue them in evening classes or before breakfast in
the morning or during the livelong day is a question of secondary
conveniences that may very well be disregarded here. We are concerned
with the general architecture now, and not with the tactical necessities
of the clerk of the works. [Footnote: But I may perhaps point out here
how integral to a sane man-making scheme is the raising of the minimum
age at which children may work. A day will come, I hope, when even the
partial employment of children under fifteen will be prohibited, and
when, as Mr. Sidney Webb suggested some time ago, employment up to the
age of twenty-one will be limited to so few hours a week--his suggestion
was thirty--as to leave a broad margin for the more or less compulsory
college work and physical training that are becoming essential to the
modern citizen.]

We need waste little time nowadays, I submit, in disposing of
Encyclopaedic conceptions of College Education, conceptions that
played a part in almost all educational schemes--Bentham’s stupendous
Chrestomathia is the fearful example--before the middle nineteenth
century. We are all agreed in theory, at any rate, that to know one
subject or group of subjects exhaustively is far better than a universal
smattering, that the ideal of education is more particularly “all about
something” with “something about everything” in a very subordinate
place. The fact remains that the normal curriculum of our higher schools
and colleges is a pointless non-educational miscellany, and the
average graduate in Arts knows something, but not enough, of science,
mathematics, Latin, Greek, literature, and history; he has paid tribute
to several conflicting schemes of education, and is a credit to none. We
have to get rid of this state of affairs, and we have to provide (i)
a substantial mental training which shall lead at last to a broad
and comprehensive view of things, and which shall be a training
in generalization, abstraction, and the examination of evidence,
stimulating and disciplining the imagination and developing the habit of
patient, sustained, enterprising and thorough work, and (ii) we have
to add a general culture, a circle of ideas about moral, aesthetic,
and social matters that shall form a common basis for the social and
intellectual life of the community. The former of these two elements
must at some stage develop--after two or five or seven or some such
period of years, which may be different in different cases--into the
special training for the definite function of the individual in the
social body, whether as engineer, business manager, doctor, priest,
journalist, public administrator, professional soldier, or what not.
And before we ask what must constitute (i) it may be well to define the
relation between the first and the second section of the College stage
of education.

It is (i) that will constitute the essential _work_ of the College,
which will be the especial concern of the Professorial staff, which will
“count” in examinations, and I conceive it as occupying typically four
full working days in the week, four good, hard-driving days, and no
more, of the students’ time. The remaining three, so far as they are
not engaged by physical exercise, military training, and mere amusement,
must be given to (ii), which I imagine an altogether more general,
discursive, various, and spontaneous series of activities. To put the
thing briefly, with the use of a convenient slang word (i), is “grind,”
 and (ii) is general culture, elements that are altogether too greatly
confused in adolescent education. A large number of people will consider
it right and proper that (ii) on the seventh day of the week should
become devotional exercise or religious thought and discussion. I would
submit that under (ii) there should be formally recognized certain
extremely valuable educational influences that are at present too often
regarded as irregular or improper invasions of school and college
work, the collegiate debating society, for example, private reading,
experimental science outside the curriculum, and essays in various arts.
It should be possible to provide a certain definite number of hours
weekly in which the student should be required merely to show that he
was doing something of a developmental kind, he would have his choice
between the Library--every College ought to have a good and not too
priggishly conceived Library, in which he might either read or write--or
the music master, the debating society, the museum, the art studio,
the dramatic society, or any concern of the sort that the College
authorities had satisfactory reason for supposing to be alive and
efficient. In addition (ii) should include certain minor but necessary
studies not included in (i), but pursued for all that with a certain
insistence, taught or directed, and controlled perhaps by examinations.
If, for example, the acquisition of a foreign language was a part of the
preliminary schooling, it could be kept alive by a more fastidious study
in the higher grade. For the making of the good, all-round, average
citizen (i) will be the essential educational factor, but for the boy or
girl with a dash of genius (ii) will rise from the level of culture to
that of a great opportunity.

What subject or group of subjects is to constitute (i)? There are at
least three, and quite probably beyond the very limited range of my
knowledge there are other, arrangements of studies that can be contrived
to supply this essential substantial part of the College course. Each
suffices completely, and I would hesitate to express any preference for
one or the other. Each has its special direction towards certain sorts
of adult function, and for that reason it may be suggested that the
secondary education of an English-speaking country might very well
afford all three (or more) types of secondary course. The small schools
might specialize upon the type locally most desirable, the larger might
group its triplicate (or quadruplicate) system of sustained and serious
courses about a common Library and the common arrangements for Section
ii. of the College scheme.

The first of these possible College courses, and the one most likely to
be useful and fruitful for the mass of the male population in a modern
community, is an expansion of the Physics of the Schooling stage. It may
be very conveniently spoken of as the Natural Philosophy, course. Its
backbone will be an interlocking arrangement of Mathematics, Physics,
and the principles of Chemistry, and it will take up as illustrative and
mind-expanding exercises, Astronomy, Geography, and Geology conceived as
a general history of the Earth. Holding the whole together will be the
theory of the Conservation of Energy in its countless aspects and a
speculative discussion of the constitution of matter. A certain minimum
of Historical and Political reading and of general “Library” would
be insisted upon in Section ii. This could be made a quite noble and
spacious course of instruction extending over from three to five years,
from fourteen or fifteen up to eighteen or twenty-one (or even longer
in the case of those partially employed); its less successful products
would drop out--it might be before completion--to take up the work
of more or less skilled artisans and technical workers, and its more
successful ones would pass some of them into the technical colleges for
special industries with a view to business direction, into special study
for the engineering trades, for the profession of soldiering, [Footnote:
I may perhaps explain that my conception of military organization is a
universal service of citizens--non-professional soldiers--who will be
trained--possibly in boyhood and youth, to shoot very well indeed,
to ride either horses or bicycles, and to take up positions and move
quickly and easily in organized bodies, and, in addition, a special
graduated profession of soldiers who will be in their various ranks
engineers, gunners, special-force men of various sorts, and, in the
higher ranks, masters of all the organization and methods necessary for
the rapid and effective utilization of the non-professional manhood of
the country, of volunteers, militia, or short-service enlistment
levies, drawn from this general supply, and of all the machinery of
communication, provisioning, and so forth. They will not be necessarily
the “social superiors” of their commands, but they will naturally
exercise the same authoritative command in warfare that a doctor does in
a sick-room.] or for the naval and mercantile services, or into research
and the literature of science. Some also would pass on to study for
the profession of medicine through more special work in Chemistry and
Physiology, and some with a proclivity for drawing and design would
become architects, designers of appliances, and the like. The idea of
the ordinary development of this course is not so very remote from what
already exists in Great Britain as the Organized Science School, but,
as with all these courses, it would be done in varying degrees of
thoroughness and extension under varying conditions. This is the first
of my three alternative College courses.

The second course will probably seem less acceptable to many readers,
but all who are qualified to speak will testify to its enormous
educational value. It is what one may speak of as the Biological Course.
Just as the conception of Energy will be the central idea of the Natural
Philosophy course, so the conception of Organic Evolution will be the
central idea of the Biological Course. A general review of the whole
field of Biology--not only of the Natural History of the present but
of the geological record--in relation to the known laws and the various
main theories of the evolutionary process will be taken, and in
addition some special department, either the Comparative Anatomy of
the Vertebrata chiefly, or of the plants chiefly, or of several
Invertebrated groups chiefly, will be exhaustively worked out in
relation to these speculations. The first of these alternatives is not
only probably the most invigorating mental exercise of the three but
bears also more directly upon the practical concerns of life. Physiology
will be taken up in relation to this special exhaustive study, and the
“Elementary Physics of the Schooling” stage will be prolonged up into a
treatment of Chemistry with especial reference to biological problems.
Through such a course as this students might pass to the study of
medicine just as well as through Natural Philosophy, and the medical
profession would profit by the clash of the two types of student. The
biological course, with its insistence upon heredity and physiological
facts, would also give the very best and gravest preparation in the
world for the practical concerns of motherhood. From it students would
pass on illuminated to the study of psychology, philosophical science,
and educational method. The training in the discussion of broad
generalization, and much of the fact involved, would be a most excellent
preliminary to special theological study and also to the advanced study
of economics and political science. From this course also artists of
various sorts would escape through the avenue of Section ii. which, by
the by, would have to involve Historical Reading. So much for my second
suggested College course.

The third of these three alternative courses is the History course, done
extensively in relation to general geography, economic theory, and the
general evolution of the world, and intensively in relation to British
or American history, and perhaps to some particular period. Out of it
would spring a thorough study of the development of English literature
and also of the legal systems of the English-speaking peoples. This
course also would be a way of approach to philosophical science, to
theology, to the thorough study of economic and political science, and
possibly it would contribute a larger proportion of its students to
imaginative literature than either of the two preceding courses. It
would also be the natural preliminary course to the special study of
law and so a source of politicians. In the Section ii. of this course a
light but lucid treatment of the great generalizations of physical and
biological science would be desirable. And from this course also the
artist would break away.

Conceivably there are other courses. The course in Mathematics as
one sees it given to the Cambridge Tripos men, and what is called the
Classical course, will occur to the reader. Few people, however, are to
be found who will defend the exclusively mathematical “grind” as a sound
intellectual training, and so it need not be discussed here. The case,
however, is different with the classical course. It is alleged by those
who have had the experience that to learn Latin and Greek more or
less thoroughly and then to stumble through one or two Latin and Greek
authors “in the original” has an educational value surpassing any
conceivable alternative. There is a mysterious benefit from one’s
private translation however bad that no other translation however good
can impart. Plato, for example, who has certainly in the very best
translations, quite perceptibly no greater mind than Lord Bacon, Newton,
Darwin, or Adam Smith, becomes god-like to all who pass beyond the
Little-Go. The controversy is as old as the Battle of the Books, a quite
interminable wrangle, which I will not even attempt to summarize here.
For my own part I believe all this defence of the classics on the part
of men with classical education is but one more example of that human
weakness that splashes Oxford metaphysical writings with needless tags
and shreds of Greek and set Demetrius the silversmith bawling in the
streets. If the reader is of another opinion there is no need to convert
him in this present argument, provided only that he will admit the
uselessness of his high mystery for the training of the larger mass of
modern men. By his standards they are beneath it. A convention upon this
issue between the two parties therefore is attainable. Let us admit the
classical course for the parents who like and can afford this sort of
thing for their sons and daughters. Let us withdraw all objections to
its endowment, unless it is quite excessive endowment. Let the classical
be the senior service, and the classical professor, to use his own queer
way of putting things, _primus inter pares_. That will make four courses
altogether, the Classical, the Historical, the Biological, and the
Physical, for one or more of which all the secondary schools and
colleges in that great English-speaking community at which the New
Republic aims should be organized. [Footnote: One may, however, suggest
one other course as possible under special conditions. There is one sort
of art that requires not only a very rigorous and exhaustive training,
but also an early commencement, and that is music, at once the most
isolated and the most universal of arts. Exceptional gifts in the
direction of music will have appeared in the schooling stage, and it is
quite conceivable that the college phase for those who are destined for
a musical career should have as its backbone a “grind” in the theory
and practice of music, with languages and general culture relegated to a
Section ii.]

It may be objected that this is an idealized proposal, and that
existing conditions, which are, of course, the material out of which new
conditions are to be made do not present anything like this form. As a
matter of fact, if only the reader will allow for a certain difference
in terminology, they do. What I have here called Schooling is, so far as
the age of the pupils go, typically presented in Great Britain by what
is called the elementary school, and in America by the public school,
and certain schools that unanalytical people in England, mistaking
a social for an educational difference, seem disposed to class with
secondary schools, the inferior Grammar Schools, the cheaper private
schools, and what are called Preparatory Schools, [Footnote: As things
are, there is no doubt a considerable advantage in the child from a good
home going on to a good preparatory school instead of entering a public
elementary school, and the passage above must not be misread as
a sweeping condemnation of such establishments.] are really also
elementary schools. The latter have more social pretension and sometimes
far less efficiency than a Government Elementary School, but that is all
the difference. All these schools admit of a gradual approximation to
the ideal of schooling already set forth in the sixth of these papers.
Some are already within a measureable distance of that ideal. And above
these elementary schools, above the School grade proper, and answering
to what is here called College, there is a great variety of day and
evening schools of the most varied description which agree all of
them in the presentation of a second phase in the educational process
beginning about the age of thirteen to sixteen and going on to nineteen
and twenty. In Great Britain such institutions are sometimes called
secondary schools and sometimes colleges, and they have no distinct
boundary line to separate them from the University proper, on the
one hand, or the organized Science Schools and the Higher Grade Board
Schools and evening classes of the poorer sort. The Universities and
medical schools are, indeed, hampered with work quite similar to that of
secondary schools and which the secondary schools have failed to do,
the Cambridge undergraduate before his Little-Go, the London University
medical student before his Preliminary Scientific Examination, are
simply doing the belated work of this second stage. And there is, I
doubt not, a similar vague complexity in America. But through the fog
something very like the boundary line here placed about fourteen
is again and again made out; not only the general requirements for
efficient education, but the trend of present tendency seems to be
towards a scheme of three stages in which a first stage of nine or ten
years of increasingly serious Schooling (Primary Education), from a very
light beginning about five up to about fourteen, is to be followed by a
second stage of College education (Secondary Education), from fourteen
or sixteen to an upward boundary determined by class and various
facilities, and this is to be succeeded by a third stage, which we will
now proceed to consider in detail.

Let us make it clear at once that this third stage is a much ampler
thing than the graduation or post graduation work of a university. It
may or it may not include that as an ingredient. But the intention is to
express all those agencies (other than political, social, and economic
forces, and the suggestions that arise from them), that go to increase
and build up the mental structure of the man or woman. This includes the
pulpit, so far as it is still a vehicle for the importation of ideas
and emotions, the stage, books that do anything more than pass the time,
newspapers, the Grove and the Agora. These all, in greater or lesser
degrees, work powerfully together to make the citizen. They work most
powerfully, of course, in those plastic unsettled years that last from
adolescence to the middle twenties, but often in very slowly diminishing
intensity right into the closing decades of middle age. However things
may have been in the quieter past when newspapers did not exist, when
creeds were rigid, plays mere spectacles to be seen only “in Town,” and
books rare, the fact remains that to-day everybody goes much further and
learns far more than any of the professedly educational agencies can be
held accountable for. There was a time, perhaps, when a man really did
“settle down” intellectually, at the end of his days of learning, when
the only way--outside the libraries and households of a few princely
personages--to go on thinking and to participate in the secular
development of ideas, was to go to a University and hear and dispute.
But those days have gone for a hundred years at least. They have gone
by, and the strange thing is that a very large proportion of those who
write and talk about education have not discovered they have gone by,
and still think and talk of Universities as though they were the only
sources and repositories of wisdom. They conjure up a vision in my mind
of an absent-minded water-seller, bearing his precious jars and crying
his wares knee-deep, and going deeper into a rising stream. Or if
that does not seem just to the University in the past, an image of a
gardener, who long ago developed a novel variety of some great flower
which has now scattered its wind-borne seed everywhere, but who still
proffers you for sale in a confidential, condescending manner a very
little, very dear packet of that universal commodity. Until the advent
of Mr. Ewart (with his Public Libraries’ Act), Mr. Passmore Edwards, and
Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the stream of endowment for research and teaching
flowed just as exclusively to the Universities as it did in Tudor times.

Let us deal, then, first with the finally less important and more formal
portion of the third stage in the educational process; that is to say,
with the University Course. One may conceive that so far as positive
teaching and learning go, a considerable proportion of the population
will never pass beyond the second stage at all. They will fail to keep
up in the course of that stage, or they will branch off into the special
development of some special aptitude. The failures will gravitate into
positions a little better perhaps, but analogous to those taken up
by the failures of the Schooling phase. The common clerks and common
shop-hands, for example, would come out here. The others, who fall out
without completing their College course, but who may not be College
failures at all, will be all sorts of artists and specializing persons
of that type. A great many girls, for economic and other reasons, will
probably never get beyond the College stage. They will pass from the
Biological and Historical courses into employment, or marry, or enter
domestic life. But what may finally become a much larger proportion
of New Republican citizens will either from the beginning, taking the
College course in the evening, or after a year or so of full attendance
at the College course, start also upon the third-grade work, the
preparation for the upper ranks of some technical and commercial
employment, for the systematic and liberal instruction that will replace
the old rule-of-thumb apprenticeship. One can imagine a great variety of
methods of combining the apprenticeship phase of serious occupation with
the College course. Many waking up to the demands of life may do better
for themselves with a desperately clutched College course of evening
classes than others who will have progressed comfortably in day
Colleges. There should be opportunity by means of scholarship openings
for such cases of a late awakening to struggle back into the higher
education. There may be every gradation from such students to those who
will go completely and exhaustively through the College and who will
then go on at one and twenty or two and twenty to equally complete and
exhaustive work in the third grade. One imagines the third grade in its
completeness as a most varied choice of thorough studies carried on for
three or four years after eighteen or twenty-one, special schools
of medicine, law, engineering, psychology, and educational science,
economics and political science, economics and commercial science,
philosophy and theology, and physical science. Quite apart from the
obvious personal limitation, the discussion of the method of dealing
specifically with each of these subjects would be too diversified and
special a theme to occupy me now. The larger fact to which attention has
to be given is this: that all these studies and all the technical study
and such like preparation at lower levels of the third stage must be
as it were floating in a common body of Thought, which is the unifying
principle, the common initiative, the real common life of the truly
civilized state, and that this body of Thought is no longer to be
contained within the form of a University. It is the larger of the two
things. And the last question, therefore, in these speculations is
the general organization of that body of Thought, that is to say of
contemporary literature, using the word in its widest sense to cover all
that is good in journalism, all untechnical speculative, philosophical
writing, all that is true and new in the drama, in poetry, fiction or
any other distinctly literary form, and all scientific publication
that is not purely a matter of recording or technical working out, all
scientific publication that is, that deals with general ideas.

There was a time when the higher education was conceived of as entirely
a matter of learning. To endow chairs and teachers, and to enable
promising scholars to come and hear the latter was the complete
organization of the higher education. It is within quite recent years
that the conception of endowing research for its own sake, leaving the
Research Professor free altogether from direct teaching or with only a
few good pupils whose work consisted chiefly in assimilating his ideas
and helping with his researches, has become at all widely acceptable.
Indirectly, of course, the Research Professor is just as much a teacher
as the Teaching Professor, because his results become accessible as he
writes them. Our work now is to broaden both the conception of research
and of teaching, to recognize that whatever imports fresh and valid
ideas, fresh and valid aspects--not simply of chemical and physical
matters, but of aesthetic, social, and political matters, partakes of
the honour and claims of research--and that whatever conveys ideas and
aspects vividly and clearly and invigoratingly, not simply by word of
mouth but by book or picture or article, is teaching. The publication
of books, the whole business of bringing the contemporary book most
efficiently home to the general reader, the business of contemporary
criticism, the encouragement and support of contemporary writers, _is
just as vitally important in the modern state as the organisation of
Colleges and Schools_, and just as little to be left to the enterprise
of isolated individuals working primarily upon commercial lines for

There are two aspects of this question. There is the simpler one of
getting an abundance of good books, classical and contemporary, and of
good publications distributed everywhere through the English-speaking
world, and there is the more subtle and complex problem of getting,
stimulating, and sustaining the original writers and the original
critics and investigators upon whom the general development of
contemporary thought, upon whom indeed the progress of the world finally
depends. The latter problem may be reserved for the next paper, and here
we will deal simply with the question of access and distribution.

For the present we must assume the quality of the books; all that sort
of question must be deferred for our final discussion. We will simply
speak of good books, serious books, on the one hand, and of light and
merely amusing books on the other, in an intentionally vague way.
The former sort of books is our present concern; pleasure as an end,
pleasure except as necessary recuperation, is no affair for the state.

Books are either bought or borrowed for reading, and we have to consider
what can be done to secure the utmost efficiency in the announcement,
lending and selling of books. We have also to consider the best possible
means of distributing periodicals. We have particularly to consider how
books specifically “good,” or “thorough,” or “serious,” and periodicals
that are “sound” and “stimulating” are to be made as widely and
invitingly accessible as possible. The machinery we have in hand are
the booksellers and the newsvendors, the circulating libraries,
the post-office, and the free public libraries that are now being
energetically spread throughout the land [by men who, in this aspect,
answer very closely to the conception of New Republicans as it is here
unfolded], and to bring and keep all this machinery to the very
highest level of efficiency is integral to the New Republican scheme of

It may be objected that the organization of bookselling and publishing
is the discussion of trivial details in the intellectual life of a
people, but indeed that is not so. It is a constant trouble, a perpetual
drain upon the time and energy of every man who participates in that
life, to get the books that are necessary to the development of his
thoughts. The high price of books, burthensome as it is, is the lesser
evil, the great trouble is the trouble of access. There are a great
number of people now who read nothing at all, or only promiscuous
fiction, who would certainly become real readers were books of any other
sort attractively available. These things are not trivial. The question
of book distribution is as vitally important to the intellectual health
of a modern people as are open windows in cases of phthisis. No nation
can live under modern conditions unless its whole population is mentally
aerated with books.

That allusion to the predominance of fiction brings one round to the
question of the Public Library. One is constantly reading attacks on
these new and most promising institutions, and always these attacks base
themselves on the fact that the number of novels taken out was so many
times, so many hundred times greater than the number of “serious books.”
 Follows nonsense about “scrappy” reading, shallowness of the public
mind, and so forth. In Great Britain public pomposities take up the
strain and deliver large vague, foolish discourses on our intellectual
decline. It occurs to none of these people--nothing, indeed, ever does
seem to occur to this sort of people--to inquire if a man or woman _can_
get serious reading from a public library. An inspection of a Public
Library Catalogue reveals, no doubt, a certain proportion of “serious”
 books available, but, as a rule, that “serious side” is a quite
higgledy-piggledy heap of fragments. Suppose, for example, an
intelligent mechanic has a proclivity for economic questions, he will
find no book whatever to guide him to what literature there may be upon
those questions. He will plunge into the catalogue, and discover perhaps
a few publications of the Cobden Club, Henry George’s _Progress and
Poverty_, J. S. Mill’s _Autobiography_, Ruskin’s _Unto This Last, The
Statesman’s Year Book for 1895_, and a text-book specially adapted
to such and such an examination by the tutors of some Correspondence
College. What can you expect from such a supply but a pitiful mental
hash? What is the most intelligent of mechanics likely to secure for
himself from this bran pie? Serious subjects are not to be read in this
wild disorderly way. But fiction can be. A novel is fairly complete in
itself, and in sticking to novels, the Public Library readers show, I
submit, a better literary sense and a finer intellectual feeling than
the muddle-headed, review-inspired, pretentious people who blame them.

But manifestly the Public Libraries ought to be equipped for serious
reading. Too many of them are covers without meat, or, at least, with
nothing to satisfy a respectable mind hunger. And the obvious direct
method to equip them is to organize an Association, to work, if
possible, with the Librarians, and get this “serious” side of the
Libraries, this vitally important side, into better order. A few men
with a little money to spend could do what is wanted for the whole
English-speaking world. The first business of such an Association would
be to get “Guides” to various fields of human interest written, guides
that should be clear, explicit Bibliographies, putting all the various
writers into their relationships one to another, advising what books
should be first taken by the beginner in the field, indicating their
trend, pointing out the less technical ones and those written obscurely.
Differential type might stamp the more or less important works. These
Guides ought to go to every Public Library, and I think also that all
sorts of people would be eager to buy them if they were known to be
comprehensive, intelligent, and inclusive. They might even “pay.” Then I
would suggest this Association should make up lists of books to present
an outline course or a full course corresponding to each Guide. Where
books were already published in a cheap edition, the Association would
merely negotiate with the publisher for the special supply of a
few thousand copies of each. Where books were modern and dear the
Association would negotiate with publisher and author, for the printing
of a special Public Library Edition. They would then distribute these
sets of books either freely or at special rates, three or four sets or
more to each Library. In many cases the Association would probably
find it preferable to print its editions afresh, with specially written
introductions, defining the relationship of each book to the general
literature of the subject. [Footnote: In America Mr. George Iles is
already organizing the general appraisement of books for the public
library reader in a most promising manner. _The Bibliography of the
Literature of American History_, with an appraisal of each book, which
has appeared under his direction, is edited by Mr. Larned, and is a most
efficient performance; it is to be kept up to date by Mr. P. P. Wells,
librarian of the Yale Law School. It includes an appendix by Professor
Channing, of Harvard, which is on the lines of the “Guides” I suggest,
though scarcely so full as I should like them. This appendix is
reprinted separately for five cents, and it is almost all English public
librarians and libraries need so far as American history goes. The
English Fabian Society, I may note, publishes a sixpenny bibliography of
social and economic science, but it is a mere list for local librarians,
and of little use to the uninitiated reader.]

Such an Association in the present state of publishing would become--in
Great Britain, at any rate--quite inevitably a Publishing Association.
A succession of vigorous, well-endowed Voluntary Publishing Associations
is a quite vital necessity in the modern state. A succession is needed
because each age has its unexpected new needs and new methods, and it
would not be a bad idea to endow such associations with a winding-up
clause that would plump them, stock, unspent capital, and everything
except perhaps a pension fund for the older employés, into the funds of
some great Public Library at the end of thirty or forty years. Several
such Associations have played, or are still playing a useful part in
British affairs, but most of them have lost the elasticity of youth.
Lord Brougham’s Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was one
of the earliest, and we have today, for example, the Society for the
Promotion of Christian Knowledge, the Catholic Truth Society, the
Rationalist Press Association, and the Fabian Society. There is a
real need to-day for one--indeed there is room for several--Publishing
Associations that would set themselves to put bright modern lights into
these too often empty lanterns, the Public Libraries. So lit, Great
Britain and America would have in them an instrument of public
education unparalleled in the world, infinitely better adapted to the
individualistic idiosyncracy of our peoples than any imitation of German
colleges can possibly be. Propaganda of all sorts could be diverted to
this purpose. Persons of imperialistic tendencies might well consider
the advisability of Guides to good geographical and historical reading
and sets of travel books, and of geographical and historical works.
Americanisers might consider the possibility of sets that would help
the common British to a clearer idea of America, and Americans to a
realization that the British Islands are something more than three
obscure patches of land entirely covered by a haughty peerage and
a slightly absurd but historically interesting Crown. . . . Indeed,
whatever you want thought or believed, I would say, _give books!_

But the good New Republican would have a wider scope for his Publishing
Association than to subdue it to this specific doctrine or that. It is
not the opinion makes the man; it is not the conclusion makes the
book. We live not in the truth, but in the promise of the truth. Sound
thinking, clearly and honestly set forth, that is the sole and simple
food of human greatness, the real substance and the real wealth of
nations; the key that will at last unlock the door to all we can dream
of or desire.


These speculations upon the possibilities and means of raising
the average human result have brought us at last to the problem of
increasing the amount of original intellectual activity in the state, as
a culminating necessity. That average child who threads our speculations
has been bred and fed, we now suppose, educated in school and college,
put under stimulating political and social conditions and brought within
reach and under the influence of the available literature of the time,
and he is now emerging into adult responsibility. His individual thought
and purpose has to swim in and become part of the general thought and
purpose of the community. If that general flow of thought is meagre, his
individual life will partake of its limitations. As the general thought
rises out of its pools and narrow channels towards a wide flood, so
each individual becomes more capable of free movements and spacious
co-operations towards the general end. We have bred our citizen and
trained him only to waste all his energy at last; he is no better than
the water in an isolated dry-season pool in the bed of a tropical river,
unless he can mingle in the end with the general sea of thought and

Thought is the life, the spontaneous flexibility of a community. A
community that thinks freely and fully throughout its population is
capable of a thousand things that are impossible in an unthinking mass
of people. The latter, collectively considered, is a large rigid thing,
a lifeless thing, that will break rather than bend, that will die rather
than develop. Its inevitable end is dust and extinction. Look at the
thing from the baser level of political conceptions, and still that
floating tide of thought is a necessity. With thought and gathered
knowledge things that mean tumult, bloodshed, undying hatreds, schisms
and final disaster to uncivilized races, are accomplished in peace;
constitutional changes, economic reorganizations, boundary modifications
and a hundred grave matters. Thought is the solvent that will make a
road for men through Alpine difficulties that seem now unconquerable,
that will dissolve those gigantic rocks of custom and tradition that
loom so forbiddingly athwart all our further plans. For three thousand
years and more the Book has been becoming more and more the evident
salvation of man. If our present civilization collapse, it will collapse
as all previous civilizations have collapsed, not from want of will
but from the want of organization for its will, for the want of that
knowledge, that conviction, and that general understanding that would
have kept pace with the continually more complicated problems that arose
about it. [Footnote: Dr. Beattie Crozier, in his most interesting and
suggestive _History of Intellectual Development_, terms the literary
apparatus that holds a people together to a common purpose, the “Bible”
 of that people, and suggests that the “Bible” of a modern people should
be the History of Civilization. His work expresses by very different
phrases and methods a line of thought closely akin to the thesis of this

One writes “our present civilization” and of previous civilizations, but
indeed no civilizations have yet really come into existence. Tribes have
aggregated into nations, nations have aggregated into empires, and then,
after a struggle, has come a great confusion of thought, a failure to
clarify a common purpose, and disintegration. Each successive birth has
developed a more abundant body of thought, a more copious literature
than the last, each has profited by the legacy of the previous failure,
but none have yet developed enough. Mankind has been struggling to win
this step of a permanent civilized state, and has never yet attained
any sort of permanency--unless perhaps in China. And that sole imperfect
permanency was based primarily upon a literature. A literature is the
triumphant instrument of the invincible culture of the Jews. Through the
whole volume of history the thoughtful reader cannot but exclaim,
again and again, “But if they had only understood one another, all this
bloodshed, all this crash, disaster, and waste of generations could
have been avoided!” Our time has come, and we of the European races are
making our struggle in our turn. Slavery still fights a guerilla war in
factory and farm, cruelty and violence peep from every slum, barbaric
habits, rude barbaric ways of thinking, grossness and stupidity are
still all about us. And yet in many ways we seem to have got nearer to
the hope of permanent beginnings than any of those previous essays in
civilization. Collectively we know a great deal more, and more of us are
in touch with the general body of knowledge than was ever the case at
any earlier stage. Assuredly we know enough to hope that we have
passed the last of the Dark Ages. But though we hope, we deal with no
certainties, and it is upon the broadening and increase of the flow of
ideas that our hope depends.

At present this stream of thought and common understanding is not nearly
so wide and deep as it might conceivably become, as it must become if
indeed this present civilization is to be more than another false start.
Our society [Footnote: _Anticipations_, Chapter III. Developing
Social Elements.] has ceased to be homogeneous, and it has become a
heterogeneous confusion without any secure common grounds of action,
under the stress of its own material achievements. For the lack of
a sufficient literature we specialize into inco-ordinated classes.
A number of new social types are developing, ignorant of each other,
ignorant almost of themselves, full of mutual suspicions and mutual
misunderstandings, narrow, limited, and dangerously incapable of
intelligent collective action in the face of crises. The medical man
sees nothing beyond his profession; he misunderstands the artist,
the divine, and the engineer. The engineer hates and despises the
politician, the lawyer misses the aims of the medical man, the artist
lives angrily in a stuffy little corner of pure technique; none of them
read any general literature at all except perhaps a newspaper. Each
thinks parochially in his own limits, and, except for his specialty,
is an illiterate man. It is absolutely necessary to the progress of
our civilization that these isolations should be overcome, that the
community should become aware of itself collectively and should think as
a whole. And the only thing that can overcome these isolations and put
the mass of intelligent men upon a common basis of understanding, is an
abundant and almost universally influential contemporary literature.

We have already discussed the possibility of developing the innervation
of the state, the distribution of books, the stimulation and direction
of reading, and all the peripheral aspects of literature, and we
come now to the difficult and intricate problem of whether we can do
anything, and what it is we may do, to stimulate the central thought.
Can we hope to improve the conditions of literary production, to make
our literature more varied, quintessential and abundant, to enforce it
with honour and help, to attract to its service every man and woman with
gifts of value, and to make the most of these gifts?

Quite a number of people will assert that those things that constitute
literature come and go beyond the control and will of man, they will
speak of Shakespeare as being a sort of mystical consequence, of Roger
Bacon or Newton as men independent of circumstances, inevitably great.
And if they are by way of being comic writers--the word “humorist,” as
Schopenhauer long since pointed out, is a stolen lion’s skin for these
gentry--they will become extremely facetious about the proposed school
for Bacons and Shakespeares. But a little reflection will convince
the reader that none of the great figures of the past appeared without
certain conditions being added to their inherent powers. In the first
place, they had to be reasonably sure of a sympathetic and intelligent
atmosphere, however limited in extent--there was no Plato in the heroic
age, and no Newton during the Heptarchy--and in the second, the medium,
language or what not, had to be ready for their use. In the third place
they needed personally a certain minimum of training and preparation,
and in the fourth they had to feel that for some reason--not necessarily
a worldly one--the thing was “worth while.” Given a “developer” of these
ingredients, and they appeared. But without this developer they would
not have appeared, and it is therefore reasonable to suppose, first,
that a great number of men of a quality as rare as were those who
constitute the unparalleled roll of English intellectual greatness,
lived and died undeveloped before ever the developer was compounded
at all, and that even in the last few hundred years the necessary
combination has fallen upon so small an area of our racial life as to
have missed far more than it has hit. The second of these papers is,
indeed, an attempt to present quite convincingly what the comic man
will probably regard as his effectual objection, that inherent tendency
cannot be produced at will. But that the developer may conceivably be
made in much greater quantities and spread much wider than it is at
present is an altogether different thing. There are, one submits,
enormous reserves of intellectual force unworked and scarcely touched,
even to-day.

We have already discussed the means and possibilities of a net of
education that should sweep through the whole social body, and of the
creation of an atmosphere more alert and active than our present one.
We have now to consider how the greatest proportion of those born with
exceptional literary powers may be picked out and induced to exercise
those powers to the utmost. Let us admit at once that this is a research
of extraordinary subtlety and complexity, that there are ten thousand
ways of going wrong, and perhaps mischievously wrong. That one may
submit, is not a sufficient reason for abandonment and despair. To take
an analogous case, it may be a complex and laborious thing to escape out
of a bear-pit into which one has fallen, but few people will consider
that a reason for inaction. Even if they had small hope of doing
anything effectual they might find speculation and experiments in
escape, a congenial way of passing the time. It is the sort of project
one should only abandon at the final and conclusive proof of its
impossibility. Exactly the same principle applies to human destinies
and the saving of other lives than our own. As a matter of fact, the
enterprise is not at all a hopeless one if it is undertaken honestly,
warily, and boldly.

Let us consider the lines upon which men must go to ensure the greatest
possible growth of original thought in the state, original thought of
which what scientific men call Research is only one phase.

Before we can consider how we may endow him and equip him and help him,
we have to consider how we may find the original thinker, and we have,
if we can, to define him and to discover whatever we can of his
methods and habits, his natural history as it were. We are attempting
generalization about a class of remarkably peculiar and difficult
persons. They are persons either of great intellectual power or simply
of great imaginative power, whose bias and quality it is to apply these
exceptional powers not directly and simply to their personal advancement
and enrichment, but primarily through philosophical, scientific, or
artistic channels, to the increase of knowledge or of wisdom or of both.
And here is the peculiar point in this problem, they are men who put,
or who wish to put the best of themselves and most of themselves into
occupations and interests that do not lead to practical results, that
often for the individual in open competition and the market fail more or
less completely to “pay.” Their activities, of course, pay tremendously
at last for the race, but that is not their personal point of
application. They take their lives and their splendid powers, they waste
themselves in remote and inaccessible regions and bring back precious
things that immediately any sharp commercial-minded man will turn into
current coin for himself and the use of the world.

There are certain things follow naturally from this remote
concentration, and we must persistently keep them in mind. These men
of exceptional mental quality, if they are really to do what they are
specially fitted to do, with all their power, will be unable to give
their personal affairs, their personal advancement, sustained attention.
In a democratic community whose principle is “hustle,” in a leisurely
monarchy where only opulence, a powerful top-note, and conspicuous
social gifts succeed, they will have either to neglect or taint their
special talent in order to survive. It does not follow that because
a man’s special qualities and inclinations are towards, let us say,
illuminating inquiries into the constitution of matter, or profound and
beautiful or simply beautiful renderings of his individual vision of
life, that he is indifferent to or independent of honour, of all the
freedoms to do and to rest from doing that come with wealth, or of
the many lures and pleasures of life. Posthumous Fame is losing its
attractiveness in an age which has discovered excellent reasons for
doubting whether after all _ære perennius_ was not rather too strong
a figure. However powerful the impulse to think, to state and create,
there comes a point--often a point a long way from starvation--at
which a genius will stop working. Your man of scientific, literary,
or artistic genius will not work below his conception of the endurable
minimum, the minimum of hope and honour and attention as well as of
material things, any more than a coal-heaver will--and we live in a
period when the Standard of Life tends to rise. To secure these things
which most men make the entire objective of their lives is, or should
be, an irrelevancy to the man of exceptional gifts. This means an
enormous handicap for him. Unless, therefore, we endow him and make life
easy for him so long as he does his proper work, he will have either to
pervert his powers more or less completely to these irrelevant ends, or
if his powers do not admit of such perversion, he will have no use for
them whatever. He will take some subordinate place in the world as a
rather less than average man and, it may be, find the leisure to give
just an amateurish ineffectual expression of the thing he might have

Now this is the case with a great deal of scientific and artistic work,
and with nearly all literature at the present time, throughout the
English-speaking community. There are a few sciences slightly endowed,
there are a few arts patronized with some intelligence and generosity,
and for the rest there is nothing for it, for the man who wants to do
these most necessary and vital things, but to hammer some at least of
his precious gold into the semblance of a brass trumpet and to devote
a certain proportion of his time and energy to blowing that trumpet and
with that air of conscious modesty the public is pleased to consider
genuine, proclaiming the value of his wares. Some men seem able to do
this sort of thing without any deterioration in quality and some with
only a partial deterioration, but the way of self-advertisement is on a
slippery slope, and it has brought many a man of indisputable gifts to
absolute vulgarity and ineffectiveness of thought and work. At the best
it is a shameful business, this noise and display, for all that Scott
and Dickens were past masters in the art. And some men cannot do it at
all. Moreover, what the good man may do with an effort, the energetic
quack, whose only gift is simulation, can do infinitely better. It is
only in the unprofitable branches of intellectual work that the best now
holds the best positions unchallenged. In the really popular branches
of artistic work every honourable success draws a parasitic swarm of
imitators like fish round bread in a pool. In the world of thought, far
more than in the world of politics, the polling method, the democratic
method has broken down, the method that will only permit an author to
write--unless his subject is one that allows him to hold a Professorial
Chair--on condition that he can get a publisher to induce the public to
buy a certain minimum number of copies of each of his works, a
method that will give him no rest, once he is in the full swing of
“production,” until the end, no freedom to change his style or matter,
lest he should lose that paying following by the transition or the

Now before we can discuss how else we can deal with those who constitute
the current thought of the community, we must consider how we are to
distinguish what is worth sustaining from what is not.

This is the public aspect of Criticism. It is the mineralogy of
literature and art. At present Criticism, as a public function,
is discharged by private persons, usually anonymous and frequently
mysterious, and it is discharged with an astonishing ineffectiveness.
Nowhere in the whole English-speaking world is there anything one can
compare to a voice and a judgment--much less any discussion between
reputable voices. There are periodicals professing criticism, but
most of them have the effect of an omnibus in which disconnected
heterogeneous people are continually coming and going, while the
conductor asks first one of his fluctuating load and then another
haphazard for an opinion on this or that. The branch of literature
that has first to be put on a sound footing is critical literature. The
organization into efficiency of the criticism of contemporary work one
is forced to believe an almost necessary preliminary to the hopeful
treatment of the rest of the current of thought.

There is, of course, also the suggestion that an English Academy of
Letters might be of great service in discounting vulgar “successes” and
directing respect and attention to literary achievements. One may doubt
whether such an Academy as a Royal Charter would give the world would
be of any service at all in this connection. But Mr. Herbert Trench has
suggested recently that it might be possible to organize a large Guild
of literary men and women, which would include all capable writers, and
from which a sort of Academy could be elected, either by a general
poll or, I would suggest, by a Jury of Election or successive Juries
confirming one another. The New Republican would like to see such a
Guild not purely English, but Anglo-American, or in duplicate for the
two countries. With a very carefully chosen nucleus and some little
elaboration in the admission of new members--whose works might be
submitted to the report of a critical jury--such a Guild might be made
fairly representative of literary capacity. Election, one may suggest,
should be involuntary. There would be a number of literary men, one
fears--great men some of them--who would absolutely refuse to work with
any such body, and from the first the Guild would have to determine to
make such men unwilling members, members to whom all the honours and
privileges of the Guild would be open whenever they chose to abandon
their attitude of scorn or distrust. Such a Guild would furnish a useful
constituency, a useful jury-list. It could be used to recommend writers
for honours, to check the distribution of public pensions for literary
services, perhaps even to send a member or so to the Upper Chamber. It
is, at any rate, an experiment worth trying.

But such a Guild at best is only one of many possible expedients in this
matter. Another is for a few people of means to subsidize a magazine for
the exhaustive criticism of contemporary work for a few years. Quite a
small number of people, serious in this matter, a couple of thousand or
so, could float such a magazine by the simple expedient of guaranteeing
subscriptions. [Footnote: It may be suggested that among other methods
of putting the criticism of contemporary literature upon a better
footing is one that might conceivably be made to pay its own expenses.
There is so much room for endowments nowadays that where one can get at
the purse of the general public one should certainly prefer it to that
of the generous but overtaxed donor. The project would require a strong
endowment, but that endowment might be of the nature of a guarantee
fund, and might in the end return unimpaired to the lender. The
suggestion is the establishment of a well-planned and reasonably cheap
monthly or weekly critical magazine, written on a level at present
unattainable--chiefly because of the low rate of payment for all
literary criticism. There can be no doubt among those who read much
among literary and quasi-literary periodicals in English that there is a
very considerable amount of high critical ability available. Buried and
obscured to an ineffectual degree among much that is formal, foolish,
and venial, there is to be found to-day a really quite remarkable number
of isolated reviews, criticisms and articles in which style is
apparent, in which discrimination shines fitfully, in which there is the
unmistakable note of honest enthusiasm for good work. For the most part,
such criticism bears also the marks of haste--as, indeed, it must do
when a review as long as the column of a daily paper, a day’s work, that
is, of steady writing, earns scarcely a pound. But the stuff is there.
Scarcely a number of the _Academy_, or the _Spectator_, scarcely a week
of the _Morning Post_, the _Daily News_, or the _Daily Chronicle_, but
there is a review, or a piece of a review, that has the stigmata of
literature. And this suggestion is that some of these writers shall
be got together, shall be paid at least as well as popular short-story
writers are paid, shall each have a definite department marked out under
a trustworthy editor, and be pledged to limit their work to the pages of
this new critical magazine. Their work would be signed, and there they
would be, conspicuously urged to do the best that was in them, _apropos_
of more or less contemporary books and writers. They would have leisure
for deliberate judgments, for the development of that consistency of
thought which the condition of journalism renders so impossible. This
review would mean for them status, reputation, and opportunity. They
would deal with contemporary fiction, with contemporary speculative
literature, and with the style, logic, methods and vocabulary of
scientific and philosophical writers. Their work would form the mass of
the magazine, but there would also be (highly paid) occasional writers,
towards whose opinions the regular staff would very carefully define
their attitude. The project, of course, in foolish hands, might be very
foolishly misinterpreted. It might be quite easy to drive a team of
egregious asses in this way over contemporary work, leaving nothing but
hoof-marks and injuries, but we are assuming the thing to be efficiently
done. It is submitted that such a magazine, patiently and generously
sustained for a few years, would at last probably come to pay its way.
Unless the original selection of the staff was badly done, it would by
sheer persistent high quality win its way to authority with the reading
public, and so fill its covers with a swelling mass of advertisement
pages. And once it paid, then forthwith a dozen rivals would be in the
field, all of them, of course, also paying highly for critical matter
and competing for critics of standing. Such an enterprise would be a
lever for criticism through the whole of our literary world.]

Then it should also be possible to endow university lectureships and
readerships in contemporary criticism, lectureships and readerships in
which questions of style and method could be illustrated by quotation
(not necessarily of a flattering sort) from contemporary work.
Why should there not be an endowment which would enable a man of
indisputable critical capacity to talk through an illuminating course,
to sit before a little pile of marked books and reading sometimes here
and sometimes there and talking between, to distinguish the evil from
the good? What a wholesome thing to have Mr. Henley, for example, at
that in the place of some of the several specialists who will lecture
you so admirably on the Troubadours! How good to hear Mr. Frederic
Harrison (with some one to follow) adjusting all our living efforts
to the scale of the divine Comte, and Mr. Walkley and Mr. Herbert Paul
making it perfectly clear that a dead dog is better than a living lion,
by demonstrations on the lion. Criticism to-day is all too much in
the case of that doctor whose practice was deadly, indeed, but his
post-mortems admirable! No doubt such lectures would consist at times
of highly contentious matter, but what of that? There could be several
chairs. It would not be an impossible thing to set a few Extension
Lecturers afloat upon the same channel. We have now numerous courses of
lectures on the Elizabethan Dramatists and the evolution of the Miracle
Play, and the people who listen to this sort of thing will depart
straight away to recreate their souls in the latest triumph of vehement
bookselling. Why not base the literary education of people upon the
literature they read instead of upon literature that they are scarcely
more in touch with than with Chinese metaphysics? A few carefully
chosen pages of contemporary rubbish, read with a running comment, a few
carefully chosen pages of what is, comparatively, not rubbish, a little
lucid discussion of effects and probabilities, would do more to quicken
the literary sense of the average person than all the sham enthusiasm
about Marlowe and Spenser that was ever concocted. There are not a few
authors who would be greatly the better and might even be subsequently
grateful for a lecture upon themselves in this style. Let no one say
from this that the classics of our tongue are depreciated here. But
the point is, that for people who know little of history, little of
our language, whose only habitual reading is the newspaper, the popular
novel, and the sixpenny magazine, to plunge into the study of works
written in the language of a different period, crowded with obsolete
allusions, and saturated with obsolete ideas and extinct ways of
thinking, is pretentious and unprofitable, and that most of such
Extension Lecturing is fruitless and absurd. And I appeal to these two
facts in confirmation, to the thousands of people who every year listen
to such lectures and to the hundreds of thousands of copies of our
national classics sold by the booksellers, on the one hand, and on the
other to the absolute incapacity of our public to judge any new literary
thing or to protect itself in any way from violently and vulgarly
boomed rubbish of the tawdriest description. Without a real and popular
criticism of contemporary work as a preliminary and basis, the criticism
and circulation of the classics is quite manifestly vain.

By such expedients very much might be done for the literary atmosphere.
By endowing a critical review or so, by endowing a few chairs and
readerships in contemporary criticism, by organizing a Guild of
Literature and a system of exemplary honours for literature, by
stimulating the general discussion of contemporary work through lectures
and articles, criticism could, I believe, be made “worth while” to an
extent that is now scarcely imaginable, and there might be created an
atmosphere of attention, appreciation, and judgment that would be in
itself extraordinarily stimulating to all forms of literary effort.
Of course all this sort of thing may be done cheaply, stupidly,
dishonestly, and vulgarly, and one imagines the shy and exquisite
type of mind recoiling from the rude sanity of these suggestions. But,
indeed, they need not be done any other way than finely and well. People
whose conception of what is good in art and literature is inseparable
from rarity ought, I submit, to collect stamps. At an earlier phase in
this series of discussions there was broached a project for an English
Language Society, which would set itself to do or get done a number of
services necessary to the teaching and extension of the language of our
universal peoples. With such a Society those who undertook this project
for the habilitation of criticism would necessarily co-operate and

It is upon this basis of an organized criticism and of a well-taught and
cherished language that the English literature of the Twentieth Century,
the literature of analysis and research, and the literature of creative
imagination, has to stand. Upon such a basis it becomes possible to
consider the practicability of the endowment of general literature.
For to that at last we come. I submit that it is only by the payment of
authors, and if necessary their endowment in a spacious manner, and in
particular by the entire separation of the rewards of writing from the
accidents of the book market, that the function of literature can be
adequately discharged in the modern state. The laws of supply and demand
break down altogether in this case. We have to devise some means of
sustaining those who discharge this necessary public function in the
progressive state.

There are several general propositions in this matter that it may be
worth while to state at this point. The first is that both scientific
generalization and literature proper have been and are and must continue
to be the product of a quite exceptionally heterogeneous aggregation of
persons. They are persons of the most various temperaments, of the most
varied lop-sidedness, of the most various special gifts, and the most
various social origins, having only this in common, the ability to add
to the current of the world’s thought. They are not to be dealt with
as though they were a class of persons all of exceptional general
intelligence, of exceptional strength of character, or of exceptional
sanity. To do that, would be to hand over literature from the man of
genius to the man of talent. A single method of selection, help, honour,
and payment, measurement by one general standard cannot, therefore, be
accepted as a solution. There must not be any one single central body,
any authoritative single control, for such a body or authority would
inevitably develop a “character” in its activity and greet with especial
favour (or with especial disfavour) certain types. In this case, at any
rate, organization is not centralization, and it is also not uniformity.
The proposition may indeed be thrown out that the principle of Many
Channels (a principle involving the repudiation both of the monarchical
and the democratic idea) is an essential one to go upon in all questions
of honour and promotion in the modern state. And not only Many Channels,
but Many Methods. Whatever the value of that as a universally valuable
proposition, it certainly applies here.

And next we may suggest that we must take great care that we pay for the
thing we need and not for some subsidiary qualification of less value.
The reward must be directly related to the work, and independent of
all secondary considerations. It must have no taint of charity. The
recipient must not have to show that he is in want. Because a writer or
investigator is a sober, careful body and quite solvent in a modest
way, that is no reason why we should not pay him stimulatingly for his
valuable contributions to the general mind, or because he is a shiftless
seeker of misfortunes, why we should pay him in excess. But pay him
anyhow. Almost scandalous private immorality, I submit, should not bar
the literary worker from his pay any more than it justifies our stealing
his boots. We must deal with immorality as immorality, and with work as
work. Above all, at the present time, we must keep clearly in view that
popularity has no relation to literary, philosophic or scientific value,
it neither justifies nor condemns. At present, except in the case
of certain forms of research and in relation to the altogether too
charitable-looking British Civil List, we make popularity the sole
standard by which a writer may be paid. The novelist, for example,
gets an income extraordinarily made up of sums of from sixpence to two
shillings per person sufficiently interested to buy his or her books.
The result is entirely independent of real literary merit. The sixpences
and shillings are, of course, greatly coveted, and success in getting
them on anything like a magnificent scale makes a writer, good or bad,
vehemently hated and abused, but the hatred and abuse--unaccompanied as
they are by any proposals for amelioration--are hardly less silly than
the system. And for our present purpose it really does not matter if the
fortunate persons who interest the great public are or are not overpaid.
Our concern is with the underpaid, and with all this affair of mammoth
editions and booming only as it affects that aspect. We are concerned
with the exceptional man’s necessities and not with his luxuries. The
fly of envy in the True Artist’s ointment may, I think, very well stop
there until magnanimity becomes something more of a cult in the literary
and artistic worlds than it is at the present time.

This, perhaps, is something of a digression from our second general
proposition, that we must pay directly for the work itself. But it leads
to a third proposition. The whole history of literature and science
abundantly shows that no critical judgment is more than an approximation
to the truth. Criticism should be equal to the exposure of the imitator
and the pure sham, of course, it should be able to analyze and expose
these types, but above that level is the disputed case. At the present
time in England only a very few writers or investigators hold high
positions by anything approaching the unanimous verdict of the
intelligent public--of that section of the public that counts. In the
department of fiction, for example, there is a very audible little
minority against Mr. Kipling, and about Mr. George Moore or Mr. Zangwill
or Mr. Barrie one may hear the most diverse opinions. By the test
of blackballing, only the unknown would survive. The valuation is as
erratic in many branches of science. The development of criticism will
diminish, but it certainly will not end, this sort of thing, and since
our concern is to stimulate rather than punish, we must do just exactly
what we should not do if we were electing men for a club, we must
include rather than exclude. I am told that Americans remark in relation
to University endowments, “we speculate in research,” and that will
serve for only a slight exaggeration of this third proposition. So long
as we get most of the men of exceptional mental gifts in the community
under the best conditions for their work, it scarcely matters if, for
each one of them, we get four or five shams or mere respectabilities
upon our hands. Respectabilities and shams have a fatal facility for
living on the community anyhow, and there is no more reason in not doing
these things on their account than there would be in burning a house
down to get rid of cockroaches and rats. The rat poison of sound
criticism--to follow that analogy--is the remedy here. And if the
respectability lives, his work at any rate dies.

But if the reward must be directly for the work, it must not have any
quantitative relation to the output of work. It is quality we want, not
quantity; we want absolutely to invert the abominable conditions of
the present time by which every exercise of restraint costs an author a
fine. It is my personal conviction that almost every well-known
living writer is or has been writing too much. “No book, no income” is
practically what the world says to an author, and the needy authors make
a pace the independent follow; there is no respect for fine silences, if
you cease you are forgotten. The literature of the past hundred years
is unparalleled in the world’s history in this feature that the greater
portion of it is or has been written under pressure. It was the case
with Scott, the case with Dickens, Tennyson, even with Browning, and
a host of other great contributors to the edifice. No one who loves
Dickens and knows anything of the art he practised but deplores that
evil incessant demand that never permitted him to revise his plans,
to alter, rearrange and concentrate, that never released him from the
obligation to touch dull hearts and penetrate thick skins with obtrusive
pathos and violent caricature.

Once embarked upon his course, he never had a moment for reconstruction.
He had no time to read, no time to think. A writer nowadays has to think
in books and articles; to read a book he must criticize or edit it; if
he dare attempt an experiment, a new departure, comes his agent in a
panic. Every departure from the lines of his previous success involves
chaffering, unless he chance to be a man of independent means. When one
reflects on these things it is only amazing that the average book is not
more copious and crude and hasty than it is, and how much in the way of
comprehensive and unifying work is even now in progress. There are all
too many books to read. It would be better for the public, better
for our literature, altogether better, if this obligation to write
perpetually were lifted. Few writers but must have felt at times the
desire to stop and think, to work out some neglected corner of their
minds, to admit a year’s work as futile and thrust it behind the fire,
or simply to lie fallow, to camp and rest the horses. Let us, therefore,
pay our authors as much not to write as though they wrote; instead of
that twenty or thirty volumes, which is, I suppose, the average product,
let us require a book or so, worth having. Which means, in fact, that we
must find some way of giving an author, once he has proved his quality,
a fixed income quite irrespective of what he does. We might, perhaps,
require evidence that he was doing some work now and then, we might
prohibit alien occupations, but for my own part I do not think even that
is necessary. Most authors so sustained will write, and all will have
written. We are presupposing, be it remembered, the stimulus of honours
and criticism and of further honours and further emoluments.

Finally, in making schemes for the endowment of original mental
activity, we must not ignore the possibility of a perversion that has
already played its part in the histories of painting and music, and
that is the speculative financing of promising candidates for these
endowments. If we are going to make research, criticism, and creation
“worth while” we must see to it that in reality we are not simply making
it worth while for Solomons and Moses to “spot” the early promise, to
stimulate its modesty, to help it to its position, and to draw the major
profits of the enterprise. The struggling young man of exceptional gifts
who is using his brains not to make his position but to do his destined
work, is by that at a great disadvantage in dealing with the business
man, and it is to the interest of the community that he should be
protected from his own inexperience and his own self-distrust. The
average Whitechapel Jew could cheat a Shakespeare into the workhouse in
no time, and our idea is rather to make the world easy for Shakespeares
than to hand it over to the rat activities of the “smart” business man.

Freedom of Contract is an idea no one outside a debating society dreams
of realizing in the state. We protect tenants from landlords in all
sorts of ways, our law overrides all sorts of bargains, and in the
important case of marriage we put almost all the conditions outside
bargaining and speculative methods altogether by insisting upon one
universal contract or none. We protect women who are physically and
economically weak in this manner, not so much for their own good as the
good of the race. The state already puts literary property into a class
apart by limiting its duration. At a certain point, which varies in
different circumstances, copyright expires. It is possible for an
author, whose fame comes late, to be present as a row of dainty volumes
in half the comfortable homes in the world, while his grandchildren
beg their bread. The author’s blood is sacrificed to the need the whole
world has of cheap access to his work. And since we do him this injury
for the sake of our intellectual life, it is surely not unreasonable to
interfere for his benefit also if that subserves the greater end.

Now there are two ways at least in which the author may be and should be
protected from the pressure of immediate necessities. The first of these
is to render his copyright in his work inalienably his, to forbid him to
make any bargain by which the right to revise, abbreviate, or alter what
he has written passes out of his hands, and to make every such bargain
invalid. He would be free himself to alter or to endorse alterations,
but to yield no _carte blanche_ to others. He would be free also to make
whatever bargain he chose for the rights of publication. But, and this
is the second proposal, no bargain he made should be valid for a longer
period than seven years from the date of its making. Every seven years
his book would come back into his control, to suppress, revise, resell,
or do whatever he liked to do with it. Only in one way could he escape
this property, and that would be by declaring it void and making his
copyright an immediate present to the world. And upon this proposal it
is possible to base one form--and a very excellent form--of paying for
the public service of good writing and so honouring men of letters
and thought, and that is by buying and, more or less, completely
extinguishing their copyrights, and so converting them into contemporary

Throughout these papers a disposition to become concrete has played
unchecked. Always definite proposals have been preferred to vague
generalizations, and here again it will be convenient to throw out an
almost detailed scheme--simply as an illustration of the possibilities
of the case. I am going to suggest to the reader that to endow a
thousand or so authors, as authors, would be a most wise and admirable
proceeding for a modern statesman, and I would ask him before he
dismisses this suggestion as absurd and impossible, to rest contented
with no vague rejection but to put to himself clearly why the thing
should under present conditions be absurd and impossible. Always in the
past the need of some organ for the establishment and preservation of a
common tone and substance of thought in the state has been recognized;
commonly this organ has taken the form of a Church, a group of Churches
(as in America) or an educational system (as in China). But all previous
schemes of social and political organization have been static, have
aimed at a permanent state. Our modern state we know can only live by
adaptation, and we have to provide not a permanent but a developing
social, moral and political culture. Our new scheme must include not
only priests and teachers but prophets and seekers. Literature is a
vitally necessary function of the modern state.

Let us waive for the moment the subtle difficulty that arises when we
ask who are the writers of literature, the guides and makers of opinion,
the men and women of wisdom, insight, and creation, as distinguished
from those who merely resonate to the note of the popular mind; let us
assume that this is determined, and let us make a scheme in the air to
support these people under such conditions as will give us their best.
Suppose the thing done boldly, and that for every hundred thousand
people in our population we subsidize an author--if we can find as many.
Suppose we give him some sort of honour or title and the alternative
of going on writing under copyright conditions--which many popular
favourites would certainly prefer--or of giving up his copyrights to the
public and receiving a fixed income, a respectable mediocre income, £800
or £1000 for example.

That means four hundred or more subsidized authors for Great Britain,
which would work out, perhaps, as eighteen or twenty every year, and a
proportionate number for America and the Colonial States of the British
Empire. Suppose, further, that from this general body of authors we
draw every year four or five of the seniors to form a sort of Academy,
a higher stage of honour and income; this would probably give something
under a hundred on this higher stage. Taking the income of the two
stages as £1000 and £2000 respectively, this would work out at about
£500,000 a year for Great Britain--a quite trivial addition to what
is already spent on educational work. A scheme that would provide for
widows and children whose education was unfinished, and for the official
printing and sale of correct texts of the books written, would still
fall within the dimensions of a million pounds. I am assuming this will
be done quite in addition to the natural growth of Universities and
Colleges, to the evolution of great text-books and criticism, and to the
organization and publication of special research in science and letters.
This is to be an endowment specifically for unspecialized literature,
for untechnical philosophy that is, and the creative imagination.

It must not be imagined that such an endowment would be a new payment,
by the community. In all probability we are already paying as much,
or more, to authors, in the form of royalties, of serial fees, and the
like. We are paying now with an unjust unevenness--we starve the new and
deep and overpay the trite and obvious. Moreover, the community would
have something in exchange for its money; it would have the copyright
of the works written. It may be suggested that by a very simple device a
large proportion of these payments could be recovered. Suppose that
all books, whether copyright or not, and all periodicals sold above a
certain price--sixpence, let us say--had to bear a defaced stamp of--for
example--a halfpenny for each shilling of price. This would probably
yield a revenue almost sufficient to cover these literary pensions. In
addition the books of the pensioned authors might bear an additional
stamp as the equivalent of the present royalty.

The annual selection of eighteen or twenty authors might very well be
a dispersed duty. One or two each might be appointed in some way by
grouped Universities, or by three or four of the Universities taken in
rotation, by such a Guild of Authors as we have already considered, by
the British Academy of History and Philosophy, by the Royal Society,
by the British Privy Council. The Jury system would probably be of very
great value in making these appointments.

That is a rough sketch of a possible scheme--presented in the most
open-minded way. It would not meet all conceivable cases, so it would
need to be supplemented in many directions; moreover, it is presented
with hideous crudity, but for all that, would not something of the
sort work well? How would it work? There would certainly be a great
diminution in the output of written matter from the thousand or more
recognized writers this would give us, and almost as certainly a great
rise in effort and deliberation, in distinction, quality, and value
in their work. This would also appear in the work of their ambitious
juniors. Would it extinguish anything? I do not see that it would. Those
who write trivially for the pleasure of the public would be just as well
off as they are now, and there would be no more difficulty than there is
at present for those who begin writing. Less, indeed; for the thousand
subsidized writers, at least, would not be clamorously competing to fill
up magazines and libraries; they might set a higher and more difficult
standard, but they would leave more space about them. The thing would
scarcely affect the development of publishing and book distribution,
nor injure nor stimulate--except by raising the standard and ideals of
writing--newspapers, magazines, and their contributors in any way.

I do not believe for one moment the thing would stop at such a
subsidized body of authors, such a little aristocracy of thought, as
this project presents. But it would be an efficient starting-point.
There are those who demand a thinking department for Army and Navy; and
that idea admits of extension in this direction, this organized general
literature of mine would be the thinking organization of the race. Once
this deliberate organization of a central ganglion of interpretation and
presentation began, the development of the brain and nervous system in
the social body would proceed apace. Each step made would enable the
next step to be wider and bolder. The general innervation of society
with books and book distributing agencies would be followed by the
linking up of the now almost isolated mental worlds of science, art,
and political and social activity in a system of intercommunication and

We have now already in the history of the world one successful
experiment in the correlation of human endeavour. Compare all that was
accomplished in material science by the isolated work of the great men
before Lord Verulam, and what has been done since the system of
isolated inquiry gave place to a free exchange of ideas and collective
discussion. And this is only one field of mental activity and one
aspect of social needs. The rest of the intellectual world is still
unorganized. The rest of the moral and intellectual being of man is
dwarfed and cowed by the enormous disproportionate development of
material science and its economic and social consequences. What if we
extend that same spirit of organization and free reaction to the whole
world of human thought and emotion? That is the greater question at
which this project of literary endowment aims.

It may seem to the reader that all this insistence upon the supreme
necessity for an organized literature springs merely from the obsession
of a writer by his own calling, but, indeed, that is not so. We who
write are not all so blinded by conceit of ourselves that we do not know
something of our absolute personal value. We are lizards in an empty
palace, frogs crawling over a throne. But it is a palace, it is a
throne, and, it may be, the reverberation of our ugly voices will
presently awaken the world to put something better in our place. Because
we write abominably under pressure and for unhonoured bread, none the
less we are making the future. We are making it atrociously no doubt;
we are not ignorant of that possibility, but some of us, at least, would
like to do it better. We know only too well how that we are out of touch
with scholarship and contemplation. We must drive our pens to live
and push and bawl to be heard. We must blunder against men an ampler
training on either side would have made our allies, we must smart and
lose our tempers and do the foolish things that are done in the heat of
the day. For all that, according to our lights, we who write are trying
to save our world in a lack of better saviours, to change this mental
tumult into an order of understanding and intention in which great
things may grow. The thought of a community is the life of that
community, and if the collective thought of a community is disconnected
and fragmentary, then the community is collectively vain and weak. That
does not constitute an incidental defect, but essential failure. Though
that community have cities such as the world has never seen before,
fleets and hosts and glories, though it count its soldiers by the army
corps and its children by the million, yet if it hold not to the reality
of thought and formulated will beneath these outward things, it will
pass, and all its glories will pass, like smoke before the wind, like
mist beneath the sun; it will become at last only one more vague and
fading dream upon the scroll of time, a heap of mounds and pointless
history, even as are Babylon and Nineveh.


In this manner it is that the initial proposition of New Republicanism
works itself out. It shapes into the rough outline of an ideal new
state, a New Republic, a great confederation of English-speaking
republican communities, each with its non-hereditary aristocracy,
scattered about the world, speaking a common language, possessing a
common literature and a common scientific and, in its higher stages at
least, a common educational organization, and it indicates in crude,
broad suggestions the way towards that state from the present condition
of things. It insists as a cardinal necessity, not indeed as an end but
as an indispensable instrument by which this world state must be
made and sustained, upon a great, a contemporary, and a universally
accessible literature, a literature not simply of thought and science
but of power, which shall embody and make real and living the sustaining
dreams of the coming time, and which shall draw together and bring into
intelligent correlation all those men and women who are working now
discontentedly and wastefully towards a better order of life. For,
indeed, a great number of men and women are already working for this
New Republic, working with the most varied powers and temperaments and
formulæ, to raise the standard of housing and the standard of living,
to enlarge our knowledge of the means by which better births may be
attained, to know more, to educate better, to train better, to write
good books for teachers, to organize our schools, to make our laws
simpler and more honest, to clarify our political life, to test and
reorganize all our social rules and conventions, to adjust property to
new conditions, to improve our language, to increase intercourse of
all sorts, to give our ideals the justice of a noble presentation; at a
thousand points the New Republic already starts into being. And while
we scattered pioneers and experimenters piece together our scattered
efforts into a coherent scheme, while we become more and more clearly
conscious of our common purpose, year by year the old order and those
who have anchylosed to the old order, die and pass away, and the
unhampered children of the new time grow up about us.

In a few years this that I call New Republicanism here, under I know not
what final name, will have become a great world movement conscious of
itself and consistent within itself, and we who are making now the crude
discovery of its possibility will be working towards its realization in
our thousand different ways and positions. And coming to our help, to
reinforce us, to supersede us, to take the growing task out of our hands
will come youth, will come our sons and daughters and those for whom we
have written our books, for whom we have taught in our schools, for whom
we have founded and ordered libraries, toiled in laboratories, and in
waste places and strange lands; for whom we have made saner and cleaner
homes and saner and cleaner social and political arrangements, foregoing
a hundred comfortable acquiescences that these things might be done.
Youth will come to take over the work from us and go on with it in a
bolder and ampler manner than we in these limited days dare to attempt.

Assuredly youth will come to us, if this is indeed to be the dawn of
a new time. Without the high resolve of youth, without the constant
accession of youth, without recuperative power, no sustained forward
movement is possible in the world. It is to youth, therefore, that this
book is finally addressed, to the adolescents, to the students, to those
who are yet in the schools and who will presently come to read it, to
those who being still plastic can understand the infinite plasticity of
the world. It is those who are yet unmade who must become the makers.
After thirty there are few conversions and fewer fine beginnings; men
and women go on in the path they have marked out for themselves. Their
imaginations have become firm and rigid even if they have not withered,
and there is no turning them from the conviction of their brief
experience that almost all that is, is inexorably so. Accomplished
things obsess us more and more. What man or woman over thirty in Great
Britain dares to hope for a republic before it is time to die? Yet the
thing might be. Or for the reunion of the English-speaking peoples? Or
for the deliverance of all of our blood and speech from those fouler
things than chattel slavery, child and adolescent labour? Or for an
infantile death-rate under ninety in the thousand and all that would
mean in the common life? These and a hundred such things are coming now,
but only the young know how near they may be brought to us. As for us
others, we plant a tree never believing we shall eat the fruit, we build
a house never hoping to live therein. The desert, we believe in our
hearts, is our home and our destined grave, and whatever we see of the
Promised Land we must see through the eyes of the young.

With each year of their lives they come more distinctly into conscious
participation with our efforts. Those soft little creatures that we have
figured grotesquely as dropping from an inexorable spout into our
world, those weak and wailing lumps of pink flesh more helpless than any
animal, for whom we have planned better care, a better chance of life,
better conditions of all sorts, those laval souls who are at first
helpless clay in our hands, presently insensibly have become helpers
beside us in the struggle. In a little while they are beautiful
children, they are boys and girls and youths and maidens, full of the
zest of new life, full of an abundant, joyful receptivity. In a little
while they are walking with us, seeking to know whither we go, and
whither we lead them, and why. Our account of the men-makers is not
complete until we add to birth and school and world, the increasing
element of deliberate co-operation in the man or woman we are seeking to
make. In a little while they are young men and women, and then men and
women, save for a fresher vigour, like ourselves. For us it comes
at last to fellowship and resignation. For them it comes at last to
responsibility, to freedom, and to introspection and the searching of
hearts. We must if we would be men-makers, as the first and immediate
part of the business, correct and finish ourselves. The good New
Republican must needs ask and ask repeatedly: What have I done and what
am I doing with myself while I tamper with the lives of others? His
self-examination will be no monstrous egotism of perfectibility, indeed,
no virtuosity of virtue, no exquisite retreat and slinking “out of the
race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and
heat.” But he will seek perpetually to gauge his quality, he will watch
to see himself the master of his habits and of his powers; he will take
his brain, blood, body, and lineage as a trust to be administered for
the world. To know all one can of one’s self in relation to the world
about one, to think out all one can, to take nothing for granted except
by reason of one’s unavoidable limitations, to be swift, indeed, but not
hasty, to be strong but not violent, to be as watchful of one’s self as
it is given one to be, is the manifest duty of all who would subserve
the New Republic. For the New Republican, as for his forerunner the
Puritan, conscience and discipline must saturate life. He must be ruled
by duties and a certain ritual in life. Every day and every week he must
set aside time to read and to think, to commune with others and himself,
he must be as jealous of his health and strength as the Levites of
old. Can we in this generation make but a few thousands of such men and
women, men and women who are not afraid to live, men and women with a
common faith and a common understanding, then, indeed, our work will be
done. They will in their own time take this world as a sculptor takes
his marble and shape it better than all our dreams.




{Footnote: I am indebted to Mr. E. R. Pease for some valuable
corrections.--H. G. W.}

Let me begin this paper upon the question of Scientific Administrative
areas in relation to municipal undertakings by defining the sort of
Socialism I profess. Because, you know, it is quite impossible to
conceal that there are very many different sorts of socialism, and your
society is, and has long been, a remarkably representative collection of
the various types. We have this much in common, however, that we insist
upon and hammer home and never lose sight of the fact that Property is
a purely provisional and law-made thing, and that the law and the
community which has given may also, at its necessity, take away. The
work which the Socialist movement has done is to secure the general
repudiation of any idea of sacredness about property. But upon the
extent to which it is convenient to sanction a certain amount of
property, and the ways in which existing excesses of property are to
be reduced, Socialists differ enormously. There are certain extreme
expressions of Socialism that you will connect with the names of Owen
and Fourier, and with Noyes’s “History of American Socialism,” in which
the abolition of monopoly is carried out with logical completeness to
the abolition of marriage, and in which the idea seems to be to extend
the limits of the Family and of intimate intercourse to include all
humanity. With these Socialisms I have nothing in common. There are a
large number of such questions concerning the constitution of the family
upon which I retain an open and inquiring mind, and to which I find the
answers of the established order, if not always absolutely incorrect, at
any rate glaringly incomplete and totally inadequate; but I do not
find the answers of these Socialistic Communities in any degree more

There are, however, more limited Socialisms, systems which deal mainly
with economic organizations, which recognize the rights of individuals
to possessions of a personal sort, and which assume without detailed
discussion the formation of family groups within the general community.
There are limited socialisms whose repudiation of property affects
only the common interests of the community, the land it occupies,
the services in which all are interested, the necessary minimum of
education, and the sanitary and economic interaction of one person or
family group upon another; socialisms which, in fact, come into touch
with an intelligent individualism, and which are based on the attempt
to ensure equality of opportunity and freedom for complete individual
development to every citizen. Such socialists look not so much to the
abolition of property as to the abolition of inheritance, and to the
intelligent taxation of property for the services of the community. It
is among such moderate socialists that I would number myself. I would
make no hard and fast rule with regard to any portion of the material
and apparatus used in the service of a community. With regard to any
particular service or concern, I would ask, Is it more convenient, more
likely to lead to economy and efficiency, to let this service rest in
the hands of some single person or group of persons who may offer to do
the service or administer the concern, and whom we will call the owners,
or to place it in the hands of some single person or group of persons,
elected or chosen by lot, whom we will call the official or group of
officials? And if you were to suggest some method of election that would
produce officials that, on the whole, were likely to manage worse than
private owners, and to waste more than the private owner’s probable
profits, I should say then by all means leave the service or concern in
private hands.

You see upon this principle the whole question of the administration
of any affair turns upon the question, Which will give the maximum
efficiency? It is very easy to say, and it stirs the heart and produces
cheering in crowded meetings to say, “Let everything be owned by all and
controlled by all for the good of all,” and for the general purposes of
a meeting it is quite possible to say that and nothing more. But if you
sit down quietly by yourself afterwards and try and imagine things
being “owned by all and controlled by all for the good of all,” you
will presently arrive at the valuable discovery in social and political
science that the phrase means nothing whatever. It is also very
striking, on such rhetorical occasions, to oppose the private owner to
the community or the state or the municipality, and to suppose all the
vices of humanity concentrated in private ownership, and all the virtues
of humanity concentrated in the community, but indeed that clear and
striking contrast will not stand the rough-and-tumble of the workaday
world. A little examination of the matter will make it clear that the
contrast lies between private owners and public officials--you must
have officials, because you can’t settle a railway time-table or make a
bridge by public acclamation--and even there you will find it is not
a simple question of the white against black order. Even in our state
to-day there are few private owners who have absolute freedom to do what
they like with their possessions, and there are few public officials
who have not a certain freedom and a certain sense of proprietorship in
their departments, and in fact, as distinguished from rhetoric, there is
every possible gradation between the one thing and the other. We have
to clear our minds of misleading terms in this affair. A clipped and
regulated private ownership--a private company, for example, with
completely published accounts, taxed dividends, with a public
representative upon its board of directors and parliamentary powers--may
be an infinitely more honest, efficient, and controllable public service
than a badly elected or badly appointed board of governors of officials.
We may--and I for one do--think that a number of public services, an
increasing number of public services, can be best administered as public
concerns. Most of us here to-night are, I believe, pretty advanced
municipalizers. But it does not follow that we believe that any sort
of representative or official body pitched into any sort of area is
necessarily better than any sort of private control. The more we are
disposed to municipalize, the more incumbent it is upon us to search
out, study, and invent, and to work to develop the most efficient
public bodies possible. And my case to-night is, that the existing local
government bodies, your town councils, borough councils, urban district
boards, and so forth, are, for the purposes of municipalization, far
from being the best possible bodies, and that even your county councils
fall short, that by their very nature all these bodies must fall far
short of the highest possible efficiency, and that as time goes on they
must fail even more than they do now to discharge the duties we Fabians
would like to thrust upon them. And the general reason upon which I
would have you condemn these bodies and seek for some newer and ampler
ones before you press the municipalization of public concerns to its
final trial, is this--that their areas of activity are impossibly small.

The areas within which we shape our public activities at present,
derive, I hold, from the needs and conditions of a past order of things.
They have been patched and repaired enormously, but they still preserve
the essential conceptions of a vanished organization. They have been
patched and repaired first to meet this urgent specific necessity and
then that, and never with any comprehensive anticipation of coming
needs, and at last they have become absolutely impossible. They are
like fifteenth-century houses which have been continuously occupied by
a succession of enterprising but short-sighted and close-fisted owners,
and which have now been, with the very slightest use of lath-and-plaster
partitions and geyser hot-water apparatus, converted into modern
residential flats. These local government areas of to-day represent
for the most part what were once distinct, distinctly organized, and
individualized communities, complete minor economic systems, and they
preserve a tradition of what was once administrative convenience and
economy. To-day, I submit, they do not represent communities at all, and
they become more wasteful and more inconvenient with every fresh change
in economic necessity.

This is a double change. Let me first of all say a word in justification
for my first assertion that existing areas do not represent communities,
and then pass to a necessary consequence or so of this fact. I submit
that before the railways, that is to say in the days in which the
current conception of local government areas arose, the villages,
and still more the boroughs, and even the counties, were practically
complete minor economic systems. The wealth of the locality was, roughly
speaking, local; rich people resided in contact with their property,
other people lived in contact with their work, and it was a legitimate
assumption that a radius of a mile or so, or of a few miles,
circumscribed most of the practical interests of all the inhabitants
of a locality. You got rich and poor in visible relationships; you got
landlord and tenant, you got master and workman all together. But now,
through a revolution in the methods of locomotion, and chiefly through
the making of railways, this is no longer true. You can still see
the villages and towns separated by spaces of fields and physically
distinct, but it is no longer the case that all who dwell in these old
limits are essentially local inhabitants and mutually interdependent as
once they would have been. A large proportion of our population to-day,
a large and an increasing proportion, has no localized interests at all
as an eighteenth-century person would have understood locality.

Take for example Guildford, or Folkestone, and you will find that
possibly even more than half the wealth in the place is non-local
wealth--wealth, that is, having no relation to the local production of
wealth--and that a large majority of the more educated, intelligent and
active inhabitants derive their income, spend their energies, and find
their absorbing interests outside the locality. They may rent or own
houses, but they have no reality of participation and little illusion
of participation in any local life. You will find in both towns a
considerable number of hotels, inns, and refreshment places which,
although they are regulated by local magistrates upon a basis of one
license to so many inhabitants, derive only a small fraction of their
profits from the custom of the inhabitants. You find too in Folkestone,
as in most seaside places, a great number of secondary schools, drawing
scarcely a pupil from the neighbourhood. And on the other hand you will
find labour in both towns, coming in by a morning train and going out at
night. And neither of these instances is an extreme type. As you come
in towards London you will find the proportion of what I would call
non-local inhabitants increasing until in Brixton, Hoxton, or West Ham
you will find the really localized people a mere thread in the mass of
the population. Probably you find the thinnest sham of a community
in the London boroughs, where a clerk or a working man will shift his
sticks from one borough to another and move on to a third without ever
discovering what he has done. It is not that all these people do not
belong to a community, but that they belong to a larger community of a
new type which your administrators have failed to discover, and which
your working theory of local government ignores. This is a question I
have already written about with some completeness in a book published
a year or so ago, and called “Anticipations,” and in that book you
will find a more lengthy exposition than I can give here and now of
the nature of this expansion. But the gist of the argument is that the
distribution of population, the method of aggregation in a community,
is determined almost entirely by the available means of locomotion. The
maximum size of any community of regular daily intercourse is determined
by the length of something that I may best suggest to your mind by the
phrase--the average possible suburban journey in an hour. A town,
for example, in which the only method of progression is on foot along
crowded ways, will be denser in population and smaller in area than one
with wide streets and a wheeled traffic, and that again will be denser
and compacter than one with numerous tubes, trams, and light railways.
Every improvement in locomotion forces the suburban ring of houses
outward, and relieves the pressure of the centre. Now, this principle of
expanding communities holds not only in regard to towns, but also on the
agricultural country side. There, also, facilities for the more rapid
collection of produce mean finally the expansion and coalescence of what
were previously economic unities.

Now if, while this expansion of the real communities goes on, you keep
to the old boundary lines, you will find an increasing proportion of
your population straddling those lines. You will find that many people
who once slept and worked and reared their children and worshipped and
bought all in one area, are now, as it were, delocalized; they have
overflowed their containing locality, and they live in one area, they
work in another, and they go to shop in a third. And the only way in
which you can localize them again is to expand your areas to their new

This is a change in human conditions that has been a very distinctive
event in the history of the past century, and it is still in progress.
But I think there is excellent reason for supposing that for practical
purposes this change, made by the railway and the motor, this
development of local locomotion, will reach a definite limit in the next
hundred years. We are witnessing the completion of a great development
that has altered the average possible suburban journey in an hour from
one of four or five miles to one of thirty miles, and I doubt very much
whether, when every tendency of expansion has been reckoned with, this
average hour journey will ever get much beyond sixty or seventy miles an
hour. A radius of four or five miles marked the maximum size of the old
community. A radius of a hundred miles will certainly mark the maximum
of the new community. And so it is no effectual answer to my general
argument to say that a revision of administrative areas always has been
and always will be a public necessity. To a certain extent that always
has been and always will be true, but on a scale in no way comparable
to the scale on which it is true to-day, because of these particular
inventions. This need in its greatness is a peculiar feature of the
present time, and a peculiar problem of the present time. The municipal
areas that were convenient in the Babylonian, ancient Egyptian, or Roman
empires were no larger and no smaller than those that served the purpose
of seventeenth-century Europe, and I believe it is highly probable--I
think the odds are in favour of the belief--that the most convenient
administrative areas of the year 2000 will be no larger and no smaller
than those for many subsequent centuries. We are, in this respect, in
the full flow of a great and permanent transition. And the social and
political aspect of the change, is this steadily increasing proportion
of people--more especially in our suburban areas--who are, so far as our
old divisions go, delocalized. They represent, in fact, a community of a
new sort, the new great modern community, which is seeking to
establish itself in the room of the dwindling, little, highly localized
communities of the past.

Now what are the practical consequences of this large and increasing
non-local element in your old local government areas? First, there is
this. The non-local people do not follow, have neither the time, nor
the freedom, nor the stimulus of sufficient interests to follow, local
politics. They are a sort of Outlanders. Local politics remain therefore
more and more in the hands of the dwindling section of people whose
interests really are circumscribed by the locality. These are usually
the small local tradesmen, the local building trade, sometimes a doctor
and always a solicitor; and the most energetic and active and capable
of these, and the one with the keenest eye to business, is usually
the solicitor. Whatever you put into the hands of a local
authority--education, lighting, communications--you necessarily put into
the hands of a group of this sort. Here and there, of course, there may
be variations; an organized labour vote may send in a representative,
or some gentleman of leisure and philanthropic tastes, like Mr. Bernard
Shaw, may confer distinction upon local deliberations, but that will not
alter the general state of affairs. The state of affairs you must expect
as the general rule, is local control by petty local interests, a state
of affairs that will certainly intensify in the years to come,
unless some revision of areas can be contrived that will overtake the
amplifying interests of the delocalized section of the population.

Let me point out what is probably the result of a dim recognition of
this fact by the non-local population, and that is the extreme jealousy
of rates and municipal trading by the less localized paying classes in
the community. That is a question we Socialists, believing as we do
all of us at least in the abstract theory of municipalization, must
particularly consider. The easy exasperation of the £1000-a-year man
at the rates and his extreme patience under Imperial taxation is
incomprehensible, unless you recognize this fact of his delocalization.
Then at once it becomes clear. He penetrates the pretences of the
system to a certain extent; and he is infuriated by the fact of taxation
without representation, tempered by a mysteriously ineffective voting
paper left at his door. I myself, as one of the delocalized class, will
confess he has my sympathy. And those who believe in the idea of the
ultimate municipalization of most large industries, will continue to
find in this non-localized class, working especially through the medium
of Parliament, a persistent and effective obstruction to all such
projects, unless such a rectification of areas can be contrived as will
overtake the delocalization and the diffusion of interests that has
been and is still going on. I will confess that it seems to me that this
opposition between the localized and the non-localized classes in the
future, or to be more correct, the opposition between the man whose
ideas and life lie in a small area, and the man whose ideas and life lie
in a great area, is likely to give us that dividing line in politics for
which so many people are looking to-day. For this question of areas
has its Imperial as well as its local side. You have already seen the
Liberal party split upon the Transvaal question; you yourselves have--I
am told--experienced some slight parallel tendency to fission, and it
is interesting to note that this was, after all, only another aspect of
this great question of areas, which I would now discuss in relation to
municipal trading. The small communities are fighting for existence and
their dear little ways, the synthetic great communities are fighting to
come into existence, and to absorb the small communities. And curiously
enough at our last meeting you heard Mr. Belloc, with delightful wit
and subtlety, expounding the very antithesis of the conceptions I
am presenting to-night. Mr. Belloc--who has evidently never read his
Malthus--dreams of a beautiful little village community of peasant
proprietors, each sticking like a barnacle to his own little bit of
property, beautifully healthy and simple and illiterate and Roman
Catholic and _local_, local over the ears. I am afraid the stars in
their courses fight against such pink and golden dreams. Every tramway,
every new twopenny tube, every light railway, every improvement in your
omnibus services, in your telephonic services, in your organization of
credit, increases the proportion of your delocalized class, and sucks
the ebbing life from your old communities into the veins of the new.

Well, you may say, no doubt this is right so far as it goes; existing
local government areas do not represent real countries, but still these
local government devices are of service for cutting up and distributing
administrative work. But that is exactly what they are not. They are
worse when you consider them in regard to function, than when you
consider them in regard to representation. Since our conceptions of what
constitutes a local administrative area were developed there has arisen
the problems of water supply and of organized sewage, of railways,
tramways, and communications generally, and of lighting and telephonic
intercourse; there hangs over us, though the average local authority has
no eyes to see it, the necessity of adapting our roads to accommodate an
increasing new traffic of soft-tyred vehicles, and it is not improbable
that heating by wholesale, either by gas or electricity, will presently
be also possible and desirable. For all these things we need wide views,
wide minds and wide areas, and still more do we want wide views for the
business of education that is now also coming into the sphere of local

It happens that I have had an object-lesson in this matter of local
government; and indeed it is my object-lesson that has led to this paper
to-night. I live upon the boundary line of the Sandgate Urban District
Board, a minute authority with a boundary line that appears to have been
determined originally about 1850 by mapping out the wanderings of
an intoxicated excursionist, and which--the only word is
interdigitates--with the borough of Folkestone, the Urban District of
Cheriton, and the borough of Hythe. Each of these bodies is by way of
being a tramway authority, each is at liberty to secure powers to set up
generating stations and supply electricity, each is a water authority,
and each does its own little drainage, and the possibilities of friction
and litigation are endless. The four places constitute an urban
area greatly in need of organized intercommunication, but the four
authorities have never been able to agree upon a scheme; and now
Folkestone is concerning itself with the project of a little internal
tramway system all of its very own. Sandgate has succumbed to the spell
of the South Eastern Railway Company, and has come into line with
a project that will necessitate a change of cars at the Folkestone
boundary. Folkestone has conceded its electrical supply to a company,
but Sandgate, on this issue, stands out gallantly for municipal trading,
and proposes to lay down a plant and set up a generating station all
by itself to supply a population of sixteen hundred people, mostly
indigent. In the meanwhile, Sandgate refuses its inhabitants the
elementary convenience of the electric light, and when, quite
inadvertently, I connected across the convolutions of the boundary with
the Folkestone supply, my life was darkened by the threat of impossible
litigation. But if Folkestone repudiates municipal enterprise in
the matter of lighting, I gather it does not do so in the matter
of telephones; and there has been talk of a neat little Folkestone
telephonic system competing against the National Telephone Company,
a compact little conversazione of perhaps a hundred people, rate
sustained. And how is the non-local inhabitant to come into these
things? The intelligent non-local inhabitant can only save his two or
three pounds of contribution to this folly or that by putting in twenty
or thirty pounds’ worth of work in local politics. He has no local
connections, no local influence, he hasn’t a chance against the plumber.
When the house I occupy was built, it was a mere interposition of
Providence that the drain did not go southward into a Folkestone
sewer instead of northward into Sandgate. Heaven knows what would have
happened if it had! I and my neighbours are by a special concession
permitted to have water from the Folkestone source. By incessant
vigilance we do, I believe, usually succeed in deducting the Folkestone
water rate from the Sandgate general rate which covers water, but the
wear and tear is enormous. However, these are details, dear to my heart,
but the merest marginal comments to my argument. The essential fact is
the impracticable silliness of these little divisions, the waste of men,
the waste of nervous energy, the waste of administrative energy they
involve. I am convinced that in the case of almost any public service in
the Folkestone district with our present boundaries, the administrative
waste will more than equal the profit of a private company with
parliamentary powers overriding our local authorities; that if it is
simply a choice between these little bodies and a company (of the common
type even), then in lighting, locomotion, and indeed in almost any
general public service, I would say, “give me the company.” With
companies one may hope to deal later; they will not stand in the way
of developing saner areas, but an obstinate little authority clutching
everything in its hands, and led by a clerk naturally interested
in litigation, and who is also something of an expert in political
organization, will be an altogether harder thing to supersede.

This difficulty in greater or lesser degree is everywhere. In the
case of poor law administration in particular, and also in the case of
elementary education, the whole country displays what is another aspect
of this same general phenomenon of delocalization; the withdrawal of all
the wealthier people from the areas that are specializing as industrial
centres, and which have a rising population of poor workers, to areas
that are specializing as residential, and which have, if anything,
a falling proportion of poor labourers. In a place like West Ham
or Tottenham you find starved schools and an abundant delocalized
industrial population, and, by way of contrast, at Guildford or Farnham
for example, you will find enormously rich delocalized people, belonging
to the same great community as these workers, who pay only the most
trivial poor rate and school rate for the benefit of their few immediate
neighbours, and escape altogether from the burthens of West Ham.
By treating these places as separate communities you commit a cruel
injustice on the poor. So far as these things go, to claim convenience
for the existing areas is absurd. And it is becoming more and more
evident that with tramways, with lighting, with electric heating and
force supply, and with the supply of water to great populations, there
is an enormous advantage in large generating stations and large areas;
that these things must be handled in areas of hundreds of square miles
to be efficiently done.

In the case of secondary and higher education one discovers an equal
stress and incompatibility. At present, I must point out, even the
boundaries of the projected educational authority for London are
absurdly narrow. For example, in Folkestone, as in every town upon
the south coast, there are dozens of secondary schools that are purely
London schools, and filled with London boys and girls, and there are
endless great schools like Tonbridge and Charterhouse outside the London
area that are also London schools. If you get, for example, a vigorous
and efficient educational authority for London, and you raise a fine
educational system in the London area, you will find it incomplete in an
almost vital particular. You will give the prosperous middle class and
the upper class of London the alternative of good teaching and bad air,
or of what very probably, under tolerant local authorities, will be
relatively bad teaching and open air and exercise out of London. You
will have to tax this influential class of people for the magnificent
schools they in many cases will be unable to use. As a consequence, you
will find again all the difficulties of their opposition, practically
the same difficulties that arise so naturally in the way of municipal
trading. I would suggest that it would be not only logical but politic,
for the London Educational Authority, and not the local authority, to
control every secondary school wherever it happened to be, which in
an average of years drew more than half its attendance from the London
area. That, however, by the way. The point more material to my argument
here is that the educational organization of the London area, the Thames
valley, and the southern counties are inseparable; that the question of
local locomotion is rapidly becoming impossible upon any smaller basis
than such an area; that roads, light railways, drainage, water, are all
clamouring now to be dealt with on the big scale; and that the more
you cut this great area up, the more you leave it in the hands of the
localized men, the more you sin against efficiency and the light.

I hope that you will consider this first part of my case proved. And
now I pass on to the more debatable question--the nature of the new
divisions that are to replace the old. I would suggest that this is a
matter only to be answered in detail by an exhaustive analysis of the
distribution of population in relation to economic standing, but I may
perhaps just indicate roughly what at a first glance I imagine would be
one suitable local government area. Let me remind you that some years
ago the Conservative party, in an outbreak of intelligence, did in
a sort of transitory way see something of what I have been trying to
express to-night, and created the London County Council--only to quarrel
with it and hate it and fear it ever since. Well, my proposal would
be to make a much greater area even than the London County, and try to
include in it the whole system of what I might call the London-centred
population. I believe If you were to take the whole valley of the Thames
and its tributaries and draw a line along its boundary watershed, and
then include with that Sussex and Surrey, and the east coast counties up
to the Wash, you would overtake and anticipate the delocalizing process
almost completely. You would have what has become, or is becoming very
rapidly, a new urban region, a complete community of the new type, rich
and poor and all sorts and aspects of economic life together. I would
suggest that watersheds make excellent boundaries. Let me remind you
that railways, tramways, drain-pipes, water-pipes, and high-roads
have this in common--they will not climb over a watershed if they can
possibly avoid doing so, and that population and schools and poor tend
always to distribute themselves in accordance with these other things.
You get the minimum of possible overlap--such overlap as the spreading
out of the great midland city to meet London must some day cause--in
this way. I would suggest that for the regulation of sanitation,
education, communications, industrial control, and poor relief, and for
the taxation for these purposes, this area should be one, governed by
one body, elected by local constituencies that would make its activities
independent of imperial politics. I propose that this body should
replace your county councils, boards of guardians, urban and rural
district councils, and all the rest of them altogether; that you should
elect it, perhaps triennially, once for all. For any purpose of a more
local sort, local water-supply systems, local tramway systems--the
tramways between Brighton and Shoreham, for example--this body might
delegate its powers to subordinate committees, consisting, it has
been suggested to me by Mrs. Sidney Webb, of the members for the
local constituencies concerned, together with another member or so to
safeguard the general interests, or perhaps with an appointed expert or
so in addition. These committees would submit their detailed schemes for
the approval of committees appointed by the general body, and they would
be controllable by that body. However, there is no need for detailed
scheming here and now. Let us keep to the main idea.

I submit that such a mammoth municipality as this will be, on the one
hand, an enormously more efficient substitute for your present little
local government bodies, and on the other hand, will be able to take
over a considerable proportion of the detailed work and a considerable
proportion of the detailed machinery, of your overworked and too
extensive central machinery, your local government board, education
department, and board of trade. It will be great enough and fine enough
to revive the dying sentiment of local patriotism, and it will be a body
that will appeal to the ambition of the most energetic and capable men
in the community. They will be picked men, to a much greater extent than
are your guardians, your urban district councillors and town councillors
and so on, at present, because there will be perhaps a hundred or a
couple of hundred of them in the place of many thousands. And I
venture to think that in such a body you may confidently hope to find a
collective intelligence that may be pitted against any trust or board of
directors the world is likely to produce.

I suggest this body as a sort of concrete sample of the thing I have
in mind. I am quite open to hear and accept the most far-reaching
modification of this scheme; it is _the idea of the scale_ that I wish
particularly to enforce. Municipalize on this scale, I would say, and
I am with you altogether. Here is something distinctly and clearly
subserving that making of mankind upon which all sane social and
political proposals must ultimately base themselves. But to put
more power, and still more power in the hands of these petty little
administrative bodies that we have to-day, is, I submit, folly and
darkness. If the existing areas are to remain the same, then, on the
whole, my vote is against municipal trading, and on the whole, with
regard to light, to tramways and communications, to telephones, and
indeed to nearly all such public services, I would prefer to see these
things in the hands of companies, and I would stipulate only for the
maximum publicity for their accounts and the fullest provision for
detailed regulation through the Board of Trade.

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