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Title: Nights with the Gods
Author: Reich, Emil
Language: English
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NIGHTS WITH THE GODS..


[Illustration]


NIGHTS WITH THE GODS

by

EMIL REICH

Doctor Juris

Author of
"Foundations of Modern Europe"
"Success among Nations" etc.


[Illustration]



London
T. Werner Laurie
Cliffords Inn, Fleet Street

The Riverside Press Limited, Edinburgh.



CONTENTS


                                                                  PAGE

  THE FIRST NIGHT

  ARISTOTLE ON SPECIALISM IN ENGLAND                                1


  THE SECOND NIGHT

  DIOGENES AND PLATO ON TOLSTOY, IBSEN, SHAW, ETC.                 32


  THE THIRD NIGHT

  ALCIBIADES ON WOMEN IN ENGLAND                                   65


  THE FOURTH NIGHT

  ALCIBIADES--CONTINUED                                           101


  THE FIFTH NIGHT

  CÆSAR ON THE HOUSE OF COMMONS                                   134


  THE SIXTH NIGHT

  APOLLO AND DIONYSUS IN ENGLAND                                  160


  THE SEVENTH NIGHT

  SOCRATES, DIOGENES, AND PLATO ON RELIGION                       182



FOREWORD


The great spirits of the past, chiefly Hellenes, recently revisited
England. With a view to an exchange of ideas on English contemporary
life, they met at night in various towns of Italy, where, by the favour
of Dionysus, the author was allowed to be present, and to take notes
at the proceedings. The following pages contain some of the speeches
delivered in the Assembly of the Gods and Heroes.

  THE AUTHOR.

  33 ST LUKE'S ROAD,
  NOTTING HILL,
  LONDON, W.



NIGHTS WITH THE GODS



THE FIRST NIGHT

ARISTOTLE ON SPECIALISM IN ENGLAND


The first night the gods and heroes assembled on the heights around
Florence. From the magnificent town there came only a faint glimmer of
artificial light, and the Arno rolled its waves melodiously towards the
sea. On a height full of convenient terraces, offering a view on the
Lily of the Arno, on Fiesole, and on the finely undulating outlines of
the Apennine Mountains, the Assembly sat down. From afar one could see
the bold lines of the copy of Michelangelo's David on the hill. The
evening was lovely and balmy. Zeus opened the meeting with a request
directed to Alexander, King of Macedon, to ask his teacher Aristotle
to entertain them with his experiences at the seats of modern learning
and study. Alexander did so, and the grave Stagirite, mellowed by the
years, addressed the Assembly as follows:

"All my mortal life I have tried, by reading, by making vast
collections of natural objects and animals, and by the closest thinking
on the facts furnished to me by men of all sorts of professions and
crafts, to get at some unity of knowledge. I held, and still hold,
that just as Nature is one, so ought Knowledge too to be. I have
written a very large number of treatises, many of which, thanks to Thy
Providence, O Zeus, have escaped the smallpox called commentaries, in
that the little ones never got possession of those works. But while
always loving detail and single facts, I never lost sight of the
connection of facts. As a coin, whether a penny or a sovereign, has
no currency unless the image of the prince is cut out on it, even so
has no fact scientific value unless the image of an underlying general
principle is grafted thereon. This great truth I taught all my pupils,
and I hoped that men would carefully observe it in all their studies.
When then I went amongst the little ones, I expected them to do as I
had taught their teachers to do. However, what I found was, O Zeus, the
funniest of all things.

"On my visit to what they call Universities I happened to call, in the
first place, on a professor who said he studied history. In my time I
believed that history was not as suggestive of philosophical truths as
is poetry. Since then I have somewhat altered my view. Naturally enough
I was curious to know what my Professor of History thought of that, and
I asked him to that effect. He looked at me with a singular smile and
said: 'My young friend (--I had assumed the appearance of a student--),
my young friend, history is neither more nor less than a science. As
such it consists of a long array of specialities.' 'And which,' I asked
timidly, 'is your special period?' Whereupon the professor gravely
said: 'The afternoons of the year 1234 A.D.'" While everybody present
in the Assembly, including even St Francis of Assisi, laughed at this
point of Aristotle's narrative, Diogenes exclaimed: "Why has the good
man not selected the nights of that year? It would greatly reduce his
labours."

A peal of laughter rewarded the lively remark. Aristotle resumed his
tale, and said: "When the professor saw that I was a little amused
at his statement, he frowned on me and exclaimed in a deep voice,
if with frequent stammerings, which as I subsequently learnt is the
chief attraction of their diction, 'My young friend, you must learn
to understand that we modern historians have discovered a method so
subtle, and so effective, that, with all deference be it said, we are
in some respects stronger even than the gods. For the gods cannot
change the past; but we modern historians can. We do it every day of
our lives, and some of us have obtained a very remarkable skill at it.'"

At this point of Aristotle's narrative Homeric laughter seized all
present, and Aristophanes patted the Stagirite on the back, saying:
"Pray, consider yourself engaged. At the next performance of my best
comedy you will be my protagonist." Aristotle thanked him with much
grace, and continued: "I was naturally very curious to learn what my
Professor of History thought of the great Greeks of my own time and of
that of my ancestors. I mentioned Homer. I had barely done so but what
my professor burst into a coarse and disdainful guffaw.

"'Homer?' he exclaimed; 'Homer?--but of whom do you speak?
Homer is nothing more nor less than a multiple syndicate of
street-ballad-singers who, by a belated process of throwing back the
"reflex" of present and modern events to remote ages, and by the
well-known means of literary contamination, epical syncretism, and
religious, mythopoeic, and subconscious impersonation have been hashed
into the appearance of one great poet.

"'Our critical methods, my young friend, are so keen that, to speak by
way of simile, we are able to spot, from looking at the footprints of a
man walking in the sand, what sort of buttons he wore on his cuffs.

"'Poor Cuvier--otherwise one of my revered colleagues--used to say:
"Give me a tooth of an animal and I will reconstruct the rest of the
animal's body." What is Cuvier's feat as compared with ours? He still
wanted a tooth; he still was in need of so clumsy and palpable a thing
as a tooth; perhaps a molar. We, the super-Cuviers of history, we do
not want a tooth any more than toothache; we want nothing. No tooth,
no footprint even, simply nothing. Is it not divine? We form, as it
were, an _Ex Nihilo_ Club. We have nothing, we want nothing, and yet
give everything. Although we have neither leg to stand on, nor tooth to
bite with, we staunchly prove that Homer was not Homer, but a lot of
Homers. Is that not marvellous? But even this, my young friend, is only
a trifle. We have done far greater things.

"'These ancient Greeks (quite clever fellows, I must tell you, and some
of them _could_ write grammatical Greek), these ancient Greeks had,
amongst other remarkable men, one called Aristotle. He wrote quite a
number of works; of course, not quite as many as he thought he did. For
we have proved by our _Ex Nihilo_ methods that much of what he thought
he had written was not written by him, but dictated. We have gone even
so far (I myself, although used to our exploits, stand sometimes agape
at our sagacity), we have gone so far as to prove that in the dictation
of some of his writings Aristotle was repeatedly interrupted by letters
or telephonic messages, which accounts for gaps and other shortcomings.

"'Well, this man Aristotle (for, we have not yet pluralised him,
although I--but this would pass your horizon, my young friend)--this
clever man has left us, amongst other works, one called "Politics." It
is not wanting in quality, and it is said, if with certain doubts, that
there are a few things to be learnt from it. It is, of course, also
said that no professor has ever learnt them. But this is mere calumny.
Look at their vast commentaries. Of course, how can one accept some of
the glaring fallacies of Aristotle? Imagine, that man Aristotle wants
us to believe that nearly all Greek states were founded, equipped with
a constitution, and in a word, completely fitted out by _one_ man in
each case. Thus, that Sparta was founded, washed, dressed, fed, and
educated by one Lycurgus. How ridiculous!

"'Having proved, as we have, that Homer's poetry, a mere book, was
made by a Joint Stock Company, Unlimited, how can we admit that a big
and famous state like Sparta was ordered, cut out, tailored, stuffed
and set on foot by one man? Where would be Evolution? If a state like
Sparta was made in the course of a few months by one man, what would
Evolution do with all the many, many years and ages she has to drag
along? Why, she would die with _ennui_, bored to death. Can we admit
that? _Can one let Evolution die?_ Is she not a nice, handy, comely
Evolution, and so useful in the household that we cannot be happy
until we get her? To believe in a big, important state like Sparta
having been completely established by one man is like saying that
my colleague, the Professor of Zoology, taking a shilling bottle of
Bovril, has reconstituted out of its contents a live ox walking stately
into his lecture-room. Hah-hah-hah! Very good joke. (Secretary! Put it
into my table-talk! Voltairian joke! serious, but not grave.)

"'Now, you see, my young friend, in that capital point Aristotle was
most childishly mistaken; and even so in many another point. We have
definitely done away with all state-founders of the ancients. Romulus
is a myth; so is Theseus; so is Moses; so is Samson (not to speak of
Delilah); so is everybody who pretended to have founded a city-state.
Since he never existed, how could he have founded anything? Could I
found a city-state? Or any state, except a certain state of mind, in
which I say that no single man can found a city-state? Could I? Of
course, I could not. Well then, how could Lycurgus? Was he a LL.D.?
Was he a member of the British Academy? Was he a professor at Oxford?
Had he written numerous letters to _The Times_? Was he subscriber to
so respectable a paper as _The Spectator_? It is ridiculous to speak
of such a thing. Lycurgus founding Sparta! It is too amusing for
words. These are all myths. Whatever we cannot understand, we call a
myth; and since we do not understand many things, we get every day a
richer harvest of myths. We are full of them. We are the real living
mythology.'

"To this long oration," Aristotle continued, "I retorted as calmly
as I could, that we Greeks had states totally different from those
of the moderns, just as the latter had a Church system absolutely
different from our religious institutions; so that if anyone had tried
to persuade an Athenian of my time that a few hundred years later there
would be Popes, or single men claiming and obtaining the implicit
obedience of all believers in all countries, the Athenian would sooner
have gone mad than believe such stuff. For, to him, as a Greek, it must
have seemed hopelessly incredible that an office such as that of the
universal Pope should ever be tolerated; or, in other words, that a
single man should ever be given such boundless spiritual power. I said
all that with much apparent deference; but my professor got more and
more out of control.

"'What,' said he, 'what do you drag in Popes for? We talk of Lycurgus,
not of Popes. Was Lycurgus a Christian? Let us stick to the point. The
point is that Lycurgus never existed, since so many professors, who do
exist beyond doubt, deny his historical existence. Now, either you deny
the existence of these professors, which you can't; or you deny that
of Lycurgus, which you must. Existence cannot include non-existence.
For, non-existence is, is it not?--the negation of existence. And since
the professors exist, their non-existence would involve us in the
most exasperating contradictions with them, with ourselves, and with
the daily Press. This, however, would be a disaster too awful to be
seriously thought of. Consequently, Lycurgus did not exist; nor did any
other state-founding personality in Greek or Roman times.

"'In fact when you come to think of it, nobody ever existed except
ourselves. Adam was not; he will be at the end of ends. The whole
concept of the world is wrong as understood by the vulgar. Those old
Greek and Roman heroes, like Aristomenes, Coriolanus, Cincinnatus,
never existed for a day. Nor did the Doric Migration, the Twelve
Tables, and lots of other so-called events. They have been invented
by schoolmasters for purposes of exams. Did Draco's laws ever exist?
Ridiculous. That man Aristotle speaks of them, but it is as evident as
soap that he invented them for mods. or other exams. of his.

"'The vulgar constantly ask me whether or no history repeats itself.
What, for goodness' sake, does that matter to me? It is sufficient
for all purposes that historians repeat each other, for it is in
that way that historical truth is established. Or do not the great
business-princes thus establish their reputation? They go on repeating
"Best furniture at Staple's," "Best furniture at Staple's," three
hundred and sixty-five times a year, in three hundred and sixty-five
papers a day. By repetition of the same thing they establish truth. So
do we historians. That's business. What, under the circumstances, does
it matter, whether history itself does or does not repeat itself?

"'One arrogant fellow who published a wretched book on "General
History," thought wonders what he did not do by saying, that
"_History does repeat itself in institutions, but never in events or
persons._" Can such drivel be tolerated! Why, the repetition by and
through persons (read: historians) is the very soul of history. We in
this country have said and written in and out of time and on every
sort of paper, that the "Decline and Fall of the Burmese Empire"
is the greatest historical work ever written by a Byzantine, or a
post-Byzantine. We have said it so frequently, so incessantly, that at
present it is an established truth. Who would dare to say that it is
not? Why, the very _Daily Nail_ would consider such a person as being
beneath it.

"'We real historians go for facts only. Ideas are sheer dilettantism.
Give us facts, nothing but single, limited, middle-class facts. In the
Republic of Letters we do not suffer any lordly ideas, no more than the
idea of lords. One fact is as good as another, and far worse. Has not
our greatest authority taught that the British Empire was established
in and by absent-mindedness, that is, without a trace of reasoned
ideas? As the British Empire, even so the British historians, and,
_cela vo sang dir_, all the other historians. Mind is absent. "Mind" is
a periodical; not a necessity. We solid researchers crawl from one fact
to another for crawling's sake.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

The gods and heroes were highly amused with the tale of Aristotle,
and it was with genuine delight that they saw him resume the story of
his experiences at the seats of learning. "When I left the Professor
of History," continued Aristotle, "I felt somewhat heavy and dull.
I could not easily persuade myself that such utter confusion should
reign in the study of history after so many centuries of endless
research. I hoped that the little ones might have made more real
advance in philosophy; and with a view to ascertain the fact, I entered
a lecturing hall where a professor was even then holding forth on my
treatise 'De Anima.' He had just published a thick book on my little
treatise, although (or perhaps because?...) another professor, a
Frenchman, had recently published a much thicker book on it.

"I listened very attentively, but could not understand a word
of what he said. He treated me text-critically, philologically,
hermeneutically,--everything, except understandingly. I felt that my
treatise was not mine at all. It was his. At a given moment I could
not help uttering aloud a sarcastic remark about the professor's
explanations. Down he came on me like thunder, and with a triumphant
sneer he proved to me that what I had said I had not said at all.
In that I differed entirely from a great statesman of theirs, who
_had_ said what he had said. The professor put me under a regular
examination, and after twenty minutes formally ploughed me in 'De
Anima.'

"This was a novel experience for me. In the Middle Ages, it is true,
I had repeatedly had the same experience, and Albertus Magnus and St
Thomas Aquinas had done me the same honour. But in modern times I had
not yet experienced it. The next day I called upon the professor, who
lived in a beautiful house, filled with books, amongst which I saw a
great number of editions of my own works.

"I asked him whether he had ever cared to study the _anima_, or what
they call the psychology of animals. I added that Aristotle had
evidently done so, as his works explicitly prove, and that after he
had surveyed all sorts of souls in the vegetable, animal and human
kingdom, both normal and pathological, he wrote his treatise 'De
Anima,' the real sense of which must escape him who has not taken such
a wide range of the question. Ah--you ought to have seen the professor!
He jumped from his seat, took another whisky and soda and said: 'My
young friend, the first thing in science is to distinguish well. _Bene
docet qui bene distinguit._ You speak of animals. What have they to do
with human psychology? Their souls are studied by my colleague who goes
in for comparative psychology; or rather by several of my colleagues,
one of whom studies the comparative psychology of the senses; the
other that of the emotions; the third that of memory; the fourth--the
fifth--the sixth, etc., etc., etc.

"'I, I stick to my point. I have my speciality. You might think that
my speciality is psychology, or Aristotle's psychology. Not at all.
This is all too vague, too general. My speciality is quite special; a
particularly singular speciality: the text of Aristotle's psychology.
And even that goes too far; for what I really call my speciality
is _my_ version of the text which is said to have been written by
Aristotle.

"'Now at last we are on firm ground. What under those conditions need
I trouble about cats and rats? The latter, the rats, have, I admit,
some little importance for me. They have in their time devoured parts
of Aristotle's manuscripts, and I have now to reconstitute what they
have swallowed. I am to them a kind of literary Beecham's Pill. But
as to cats, mules or donkeys? What have they to do with me? Can they
influence my version of the text? Hardly.

"'My young friend, if Aristotle himself came to me, I should tell him:
"My good man, unless you accept my version of your text, you are out of
court. I am a professor, and you are only an author. Worse than that--a
Greek author. As theologians fix the value and meaning of gospel-words;
as the State makes a piece of worthless paper worth five pounds
sterling by a mere declaration; even so we say what you Aristotle did
say. What _you_ said or meant is indifferent; what we say you said or
meant is alone of consequence." How then could even Aristotle refute me
regarding my view of his views? It is logically impossible.

"'Don't you see, this is why we have invented our beautiful system
of excessive specialisation. Where each of us studies only one very
small thing, there he need not fear much competition, but may hope for
exclusive authority. We shall soon establish chairs for professors of
philosophy, who will study, each of them, just a mere splinter of a
twig of one branch of the tree of philosophy; or better still, just
one leaf of such a twig of such a branch; and finally, just a dewdrop
on such a leaf of such a twig of such a branch. Then we shall have
completed our network of authority.

"'Our contemptible enemies say that our talk about Aristotle and
Plato is like the gossip of lackeys in the pot-house about their
noble masters. We know better. You are a young man. I will give you a
bit of profound advice. If you want to make your way in the literary
world rapidly and with ease, hitch on your name to some universally
acknowledged celebrity. Do not write on obscure, if great authors or
heroes; but pick out Homer, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, or
Napoleon. Write constantly on some speciality of these men; thus,
on the adjectives in Homer; on the neutral article in Plato; on the
conjunctions in Dante; on the plant-lore in Shakespeare; on the names
of women in Goethe; or on the hats of Napoleon.

"'Your name will then incessantly be before the public together with
that of Homer or Shakespeare or Napoleon. After a time, by a natural
association of ideas, something of the lustre of the immortal will
fall on you. Note how the most elaborate writers on, say Shakespeare,
are almost invariably men of the most sincere mediocrity. They are,
nevertheless, exceedingly clever tacticians. They become "authorities."
We are not authorities because we are specialists; we have, on the
contrary, introduced the system of specialities in order to pass
for authorities. To use Plato's terms: our whole business spells
_effectology_, and nothing else. Take this to heart and be successful.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"On leaving the professor," Aristotle said, "I felt that I had
made several steps forward in the comprehension of that system
of specialisation which I heard praised and admired in all the
Universities. I need not tell you, my friends, how utterly wrong
that system is. As humans do not think in words, but in whole
sentences, so Nature does not act in particulars, but in wholes. The
particulars are ours, not Nature's. In making them we act arbitrarily.
Why should dentistry be one speciality? Why should there not be
thirty-two different specialist dentists for our thirty-two teeth?
All specialisation in the realm of knowledge is rank arbitrariness.
Without exception, the great leading ideas in all organised thought
have invariably been made by wholesale thinkers like Pythagoras, Plato,
I venture to add: myself, Lionardo da Vinci, Kepler, Newton, Pascal,
Leibniz, Darwin. That is precisely where humans differ from animals.
All animals are the most conceited specialists."

Here Diogenes interrupted: "Does the converse hold good, O Aristotle?"

"I will leave," Aristotle replied with a smile, "the consideration of
this case to your own discretion. I do repeat it, that each animal is
an out-and-out specialist. It troubles about nothing else than the two
or three things it takes a professional interest in. It eats, sleeps,
and propagates; occasionally it adds a tightly circumscribed activity
of some kind. That's why animals do not talk. It is not part of their
speciality. They do not talk for the same reason that the English do
not produce fine music, nor the Prussians tactful behaviour. In all
these cases the interest of the specialist lies elsewhere.

"Does a modern specialist in heart-diseases study the kidneys? Does
a specialist in surgery care to study the nerves? Even so an animal
does not care to speak. It is a specialist; it restricts itself to
its 'business,' to 'the point.' The little ones say that animals have
no general ideas, and that is why they cannot speak. But have human
specialists any general ideas of anything, and yet--do they not speak?
The argument is too foolish for words.

"Why, Nature created men in order to have a few _generalists_, if I may
say so, amongst all the specialists called animals or plants; just as
amongst men she created Homers and Platos and Galileos and Leibnizes,
in order to save the rest of humans from their evil tendency to
over-specialisation. It is a plan as plain as transparent glass.

"Thousands of years ago Nature found out that, with all these endless
vegetal and animal specialists on hand, she would soon have to declare
herself bankrupt. One specialist ignored the other; or hampered, hurt,
and paralysed the other; they could not understand one another, because
they had no common interest. In her predicament, Nature created human
beings for the same reason that men invented the locomotive or the
telegraph. She could no longer be without him. Man was, by his very
needs, obliged to drop over-specialisation. He interested himself,
for a variety of ends and reasons, in stones as much as in plants and
animals. By exterminating some of the most damaging species of animals,
he saved the life of millions of specimens of other animals that would
otherwise have been killed out by ferocious specialists, such as the
tiger, the leopard, and the wolf. The same he did to plants, and partly
to rivers and lakes. He brought a little order into this pandemonium of
specialists in Nature.

"Look at the sea. There man was unable to exert his power for order
by general ideas. Look at the indescribable disorder and chaos and
monstrosity of life and living beings in the sea. They are hideous,
like an octopus; short-lived, nay, of a few minutes' duration, like
the jelly-fish; fearful and yet cowardly like a shark; abominably
under-sized or over-sized; incapable of any real passion, except that
of eating and drinking. This liquid mass of fanatic and unsystematised
specialists render the sea as inferior to the land as is Thibet to Holy
Athens. People travelling in that ocean of specialists are exasperated
by foul sea-sickness; and empires built on it have repeatedly been
destroyed in a single week; ay, in one day.

"The dread of being swamped by specialists has driven Nature into
creating the most grotesque compositions of beings half plant and half
animal, or half stone and half plant; or again half male and half
female; or half land-animal, half fish. Another way adopted by Nature
in her attempt to obviate the ravages of specialists was by giving
them exceedingly short shrift, and just a mere speck of existence; or
again by forcing them to form big corporations and societies, such as
forests, prairies, meadows, swarms, troupes.

"In fact Nature is a free lance fighting incessantly the evil done by
the specialists. Ask Poseidon what trouble the sea gives him; ask Æolus
how his life is made a misery through the mad freaks of the various
specialists in winds. And what is the deep, underlying reason of all
this insane race for specialism? I will tell you that in one word. It
is Envy and Jealousy. In certain countries Envy and Jealousy are the
inextinguishable and ubiquitous hydra of life.

"Take England. She is a democracy, if a masked one. Hence Jealousy is
the dominating trait of her citizens. Jealousy has, thousands of years
ago, invented railways, telegraphs, wired and wireless ones, telephones
and Röntgen-rays, and all the rest of the infernal machines whereby
Space, Time, and Work is shortened, curtailed, annihilated. Jealousy
has at all times sent wireless messages over and through all the houses
of a town or an entire country. It has Röntgenised the most hidden
interiors; and its poison runs more quickly through all the veins and
nerves of men than does the electric spark.

"Look at the customs, social prejudices, or views of that nation. Over
one half of them was introduced to disarm the ever-present demon of
Jealousy. Why is a man a specialist? Because in that way he disarms
Jealousy more quickly and more surely than by any other expedient. It
gives him an air both of modesty and of strength by concentration.
In reality it does neither. It is only an air. The so-called Reality
consists of nothing but unrealities, of shams, and masks. A specialist
is not a master of his subject; he is a master of the art than which
there is no greater, the art of making other people believe that you
are not what you are, but what _they_ want you to be.

"Nature has a horror of specialists; and she will reveal her secrets to
an insane poet rather than to a specialist. Most great inventions were
made either by 'outsiders,' or by young men who had not yet had the
time to harden into specialists. In specialisation there is nothing but
a total misunderstanding of Nature.

"Nature acts by instantaneous correlation and co-operation of different
parts to one end; and to specialise is tantamount to taking a clock
to pieces, putting them separately in a row on the table, and then
expecting them to give you the exact time.

"In Nature there is no evolution, but only co-evolution; there is no
differentiation but only co-differentiation. The little ones have
quite overlooked all that; and that is why so many of the statements
of co-differentiation in my zoology can be neither confirmed nor
refuted by them. Who dare say which is a 'part' in Nature? Is the hand
a 'part,' that is, something that might legitimately be told off as a
speciality? Or must it be studied in connection with the arm, or with
its homologies in the nether part of the body?

"In the same way: what constitutes a 'period' in history? Any division
of a hundred or a thousand years by two, three, or four? Or by a
division of twenty-five or thirty only? Who can tell? A man who says
he is a specialist in the thirteenth century, is he not like a man who
pretends that he is a specialist in respiration in the evening?

"Nature does specialise; witness her innumerable specialists. But do
we know, do we possess the slightest idea as to how she does it? Can
we prove why a goose has its peculiar head and not that of a stork?
Evidently not, because we do not know what Nature calls a part, a
speciality. She abhors specialists, just because they know so little of
_her_ way of specialising."

       *       *       *       *       *

At this point of Aristotle's speech, Aristophanes asked for leave to
protest. Having obtained it from Zeus, he commenced forthwith: "O
Father of Nature and Man, I can no longer stand the invective of the
Stagirite. In his time he was prudent enough to postpone his birth
till after my mortal days; otherwise I should have treated him as I
did Meton and Socrates, and other philosophers. But here he shall not
escape me. Just imagine, this man wants to deprive creation of the best
fun that is offered to the thinking beings amongst animals and humans.

"I wish he had overheard, as I have, when the other night I passed
through an old forest near Darlington, a conversation between an old
owl, a black woodpecker, and a badger. The owl sat, somewhat lower than
usual on a birch-tree, while the woodpecker stopped his work at the
bark of the groaning tree, and the badger had left his hole in order
to enjoy the cool breath of the night. The owl said: 'Good-evening,
Mr Woodpecker, how is business? Many worms beneath the bark?' The
woodpecker replied: 'Thanks, madam, there is a slump, but one must put
up with what one can get.'

"The badger then complained that he passed tedious hours in the ground,
and he wished he could again see the exciting times of a few hundred
thousand years ago when earthquakes and other catastrophes made
existence more entertaining. 'Quite so,' said the owl, 'the forest is
getting too civilised, and too calm. But you see, my friends, I have
provided for much solid amusement for my old days. I used to visit a
human's room, who read a great number of books. I asked him to teach
me that art. I found it easy enough, only that these humans will read
in a straight line from left to right, and I am accustomed to circular
looks all round.

"'When I had quite acquired the art, I read some of his books. They
were all about us folk in the forest. Once I chanced upon a chapter on
owls. You may easily imagine how interested I was. I had not yet read
a few pages, when I was seized with such a laughter that the professor
became very indignant and told me to leave him. This I did; but
whenever he read his books, I read them too, perched on a tree not far
from his study. I cannot tell you how amusing it was.

"'These humans tell stories about us owls, and about you, Mr
Woodpecker, and Mr Badger, that would cause a sloth to dance with joy.
They imagine they know how we see, how we fly, how we get our food, and
how we make our abodes. As a matter of fact they have hopelessly wrong
notions about all these things. They want, as my venerated father used
to say, to tap the lightning off into nice little flasks, in order to
study it conveniently. This they call Evolution.

"'The idea was mostly developed in England, in a country where they
are proud of thinking that they always "muddle through somehow." These
three words they apply to Nature, and call it Evolution. Once upon a
time, they say--it does not matter whether 200,000 or 300,000 years,
or perchance 645,789 years ago--there was my ancestor who, by mere
accident, had an eye that enabled him to see more clearly at night than
other birds did. This eye enabled him to catch more prey, thus to live
longer, and to transmit his _nocturne_ of an eye to his progeny. And
so by degrees we muddled into owlship.

"'Is that not charming? My father used to laugh at that idea until all
the cuckoos came to inquire what illness had befallen him. He told me,
that an owl's eye was in strict correlation with definite and strongly
individual formations of the ears, of the neck, of the feet, and of
the intestines, and that accordingly a mere accidental change in the
supposed ancestor's eye was totally insufficient to account for the
corresponding and correlative formations just mentioned.

"'Such correlative and simultaneous changes in various organs can
be the consequences only of a violent and, as it were, fulgurous
shock to the whole system of a bird. Such shocks are not a matter of
slow growth. As all individual animal life at present is called into
existence by one shock of fulgurant forces, even so it arose originally.

"'But the English think that Nature is by birth an Englishman who
adopts new organisms as Englishmen adopt new systems of measures,
calendars, inventions, or laws,--_i.e._ hundreds of years after someone
else has fulgurated them out.

"'They imagine Nature to be, by rank and profession, a middle-class
man and muddler; by religion, a Nonconformist; and by politics, a
Liberal. However, we know better. Nature is, by rank and profession,
a free lance and a genius; by religion, a Roman Catholic; and by
politics, a Tory of the Tories. Now this being so, you may imagine, Mr
Woodpecker and Mr Badger, what capital fun it is to read these learned
lucubrations about birds and other animals as written by humans.

"'The other day I called on Master Fox in the neighbourhood. He was
ill and, in order to amuse him, I told him what they say of him in
human books. He fairly burst with laughter. He told me later on, that
by narrating all the Don Quixote stories told of him by man, to a big
brown bear, he became the court-favourite of that dreaded king of the
place.

"'I have sent the swiftest bat, to whom I gave a safe conduct, to all
the birds and animals of this country, to meet at a given time on
one of the peaks of the Hartz Mountains, where I mean to entertain
them with the stories told by specialists on each of them, on their
structure, functions, and mode of life. It will be the greatest fun
we have had these two thousand years. I charged the nightingales, the
larks, and the mocking birds of America to open the meeting with the
most wonderful chorus that they have ever sung, and I am sure that I
will deserve well of the whole community of birds and other animals by
offering them this the most exhilarating amusement imaginable.'

"So spake the owl. And now, O Zeus, can you really brook Aristotle's
attempt to demolish and to remove men who furnish pleasure and intense
amusement to so many animals holy to men and even to the gods? I
cannot believe it. You know how necessary it is to provide carefully
for the amusement of people. To neglect Dionysus is to court hideous
punishment. If the specialists in Nature should disappear, you will,
O Zeus, have endless anarchy on all sides. Birds, insects, snakes,
and reptiles, lions, felines, and bears--they will all rise in bored
discontent, in the waters, on land, in the air. You will never have a
free moment for calm repose.

"They will worry all the gods incessantly. They will make the most
annoying conspiracies and plots and intrigues against all of us. Let
us not take Aristotle seriously. He means well, and is no doubt quite
right, as far as reason goes. But does reason go very far? Can he now
deny the eternal rights of unreason? To remove the specialists in
biology and natural history is to remove the comedy from Athens. The
Athenians, in order to be ruled, must be entertained. But for me and
the like of me, the Athenians could never have held out as long as they
did hold out. It is even so with animals. They want their Aristophanes.
They must have their specialists. Pray, Artemis, you who in your
hunts over dales and mountains have heard and observed everything
that concerns animals, join me in protesting against the onslaught of
Aristotle on men so necessary for the well-being of animated Nature."

       *       *       *       *       *

Artemis Diana laughed melodiously and nodded consent. The other gods,
amidst great hilarity, passed a vote against Aristotle, and the sage
smilingly bowed acceptance of the censure.

"I will abide," he exclaimed, "by your decision. But, pray, let me
make just one more remark which, I have no doubt, the master-minds of
the unique city, over which we are hovering at present, will gladly
approve. I call upon you Lionardo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and
you magnificent Lorenzo, whether I am exceeding the limits of truth.
I do maintain that while the little ones have, in religion, gone from
Polytheism to Monotheism, they pretend that in matters of knowledge
time is constantly increasing the number of gods to be worshipped.

"At present they affect to believe no longer in the numerous gods and
goddesses of the Olympus, but only in one God. In point of knowledge,
on the other hand, they declare that each little department thereof
is endless, requiring the study and devotion of a whole lifetime,
and controlled, each of them, by a god whom they call an authority.
Now, nothing can be more evident than the fact that knowledge, real
knowledge, becomes increasingly more stenographic in expression, and
sensibly easier of acquisition. The Chinese write encyclopædias in
6000 volumes; the modern Europeans do so in twenty-four or thirty-six
volumes."

Here Diogenes interrupted the Stagirite and said: "I am afraid, O
Aristotle, that your argument has little real force to boast of. It
does not prove at all that the Chinese have only crude, empirical, and
unorganised knowledge, while the little ones in Europe have a reasoned
and systematised, and hence a less cumbrous one. This is owing to quite
a different cause.

"The little ones have of late invented a method of publishing
encyclopædias in a manner so well adapted to tempt, threaten, bully,
or wire each member of the general public into the purchase of an
entire copy, that if their encyclopædias consisted of 6000 or 10,000
volumes each, the people of England, for instance, would have to
conquer Norway, Sweden, and Iceland first. Norway they would be
obliged to conquer, in order to possess themselves of sufficient
wood for the cases; Sweden, in order to appoint all Swedish gymnasts
for the acrobatic feat of fetching a volume from the fiftieth row of
a bookcase; and Iceland, in order to place excited readers of the
encyclopædia in a cool place. But for this circumstance, I am sure the
little ones in Europe would fain publish an encyclopædia in 15,000
volumes."

       *       *       *       *       *

When the laughter of the Assembly had subsided, Aristotle continued:
"Nothing has struck me more forcibly in my visit to their seats of
learning than this universal belief in the infinitude of each tiny
department or speciality. They do most gravely assert that 'nowadays'
it is impossible to embrace more than one speciality; and they look
upon me or Leibniz with a certain knowing smile as if in our times all
knowledge would have consisted of a few jugs full of water, whereas
now it is no less than an ocean. But when you ask them the simplest
questions, they are at a loss how to answer them.

"I asked one of their most famous specialists why the eyebrows of men
are shorter than the moustaches. He did not know it. How could he?
It takes the knowledge of at least five so-called specialities to
answer such a question. I asked their most learned specialist in their
language, why the English have dropped the use of 'thou,' although no
other European nation has done so. He did not know it.

"They study a given subject when death has driven out all life from it.
They do not trouble about language as a living organism, full of fight,
of movement, of ruses, of intrigues, of sins and graces; but only of
language when it lies motionless, a veritable corpse, on the table
of the anatomical dissector and dictionary-fiend. They do not study
a butterfly when it is in full life, flirting, pilfering, gossiping,
merrymaking; but only when it is motionless, lifeless, pierced by a
pin. This is how they get their specialities.

"Death indeed is the greatest of all specialisers. As soon as a man is
dead, each hair or bone on or in his body takes up a separate line of
decay, caring nothing for the other, full of scorn for its immediate
neighbour, sulking by itself, wandering to the Styx alone and sullen.

"In England they have pushed that belief in specialities to a funereal
degree. I wonder they allow a man to play one of their instruments,
called the piano, with both his hands at a time. I wonder they do not
insist that a given piece by Chopin be played by two men, one of whom
should first play the part for the right hand, and afterwards the
other man the part for the left hand. To play both parts at a time,
and to have that done by one single man too,--what presumption! How
superficial!

"In law they have long acted in this sense. There is one man, called
the solicitor (--a very good name--), who plays the bass, or left-hand
part with a vengeance, for several weeks. When that is done; when the
'hearer' or client lies prostrate on the ground from the infernal noise
made by the solicitor's music, the solicitor hands over the whole case
to the other man, the barrister, who plays the most tortuous treble, in
a manner likely to madden Pan himself.

"The idea, accepted by all the other nations of Europe, that the whole
prejudicial business of a legal contention might very well be left to
one man, to a lawyer proper,--what presumption! How superficial!

"But when you tell them that they browbeat their own principle of
specialisation by taking their judges from amongst late barristers,
then they wax into an august anger. Yet no other nation does that. The
function of a judge is radically different from that of a barrister.
After a man has been a barrister for twenty years; after all his mind
has taken the creases and folds of barristerdom; after he has quite
specialised himself in that particular line, he is unlikely to have the
best qualities of a judge. If a barrister cannot be a solicitor; why
should he be at once, and suddenly able to become judge?

"Their arguments to that effect are most amusing. They dance a real
war-dance round the truth that they mean to scalp.

"The truth of course is that all the three have one and the same
speciality: that of running England. That country is lawyer-ridden, as
Egypt was priest-ridden, or Babylonia scribe-ridden. The English being
too proud to be stingy or petty in money matters, do not mind their
rulers, the solicitors-barristers-judges, because these deprive them
eventually only of what the English do not hold in great esteem, small
sums of money. In France, where people cling fanatically to a penny,
the barristers have not been allowed to become judges. In France
specialisation in law has triumphed, where in England it has failed.

"Does that not show that specialisation is done, not in obedience to
the behests of truth, but to those of interests?

"We Hellenes specialised on small city-states; we did not want to
widen out indefinitely into huge states; just because we wanted to
give each citizen a chance of coining out all his human capital, and
not to become, like our slaves, a limited specialist. In a huge state
specialisation becomes inevitable. In such states they must, more or
less, sterilise the human capital of millions of citizens, just as we
Hellenes sterilised the political capital of thousands of slaves.

"Specialisation _is_ enslaving, if not downright slavery. It furthers
truth very little; it cripples man.

"Just as a man who talks several languages well, will write his own
idiom better than do his less accomplished compatriots; even so the
man who keeps his mind open to more than one aspect of things, to more
than one 'speciality' will be by far more efficient than his less
broad-minded colleagues. Man may and shall invent, as I have long
predicted it, highly specialised machines doing the work of the weaver,
or the baker. But he himself must not become a machine. This is what
happens 'now,' as the little ones say all over Europe and America.

"Not only have they formed states with many, many millions of
people each. Worse than that, they have agglomerated the majority
of these millions into a few towns of unwieldy size. In those towns
specialisation is carried into every fibre of men and women. This
desiccates them, disemotions them, sterilises them. We Hellenes gladly
admit that the Europeans of the last four centuries have excelled us in
one art: in music. But their period for this exceeding excellence is
now gone.

"By over-specialisation of thought and heart, caused chiefly by
over-urbanisation, the very wells of music begin to dry up. The music
of the day is hysterical, neurasthenic, and false. It is the cry,
not of an aching heart, but of an aching tooth, of a gouty toe, or a
rheumatic nerve. It does not weep; it coughs phthisically. It does not
sigh; it sneezes. It is a blend of what we used to call Phrygian and
Corybantic rhapsodies.

"And as in music, even so in character. Where each individual distorts
himself or herself into a narrow speciality, there people must needs
become as angular, lop-sided, and grotesque as possible. They are, when
together in a room, like the words on a page of a dictionary: they have
nothing to communicate to one another. There they stand, each in his
cage, uncommunicative, sulky, and forbidding. One thinks in F major;
the other in F sharp minor. Harmony amongst them is impossible. Every
one of them is hopelessly right in every one of his ideas; and of all
mental processes, that of doubt or hesitation in judgment is the last
they practise.

"A specialist does not doubt. Why should he? To him the most
complicated things human appear as mere specialities, that is, as mere
fragments. A woman is only a specialist in parturition. A physician
is only a specialist in writing Latin words on small slips of paper.
A barrister is only a man who wears neither moustache nor beard. A
clergyman is practically a collar buttoning behind, and supported by a
sort of man inside it. In that way everything is so simplified that no
difficulty of comprehending it remains.

"All this clearly proves, O Empedocles, how right and, at the same
time, how wrong you were in your view of the origin of things. Perhaps
you were right in saying that the parts or organs of our bodies arose
singly, or, as it were, as specialists. In times long before us there
arose, as you taught, heads without necks; arms wandering alone in
space; eyes, without foreheads, roaming about by themselves. But
when you say that all this happened only at the beginning of things,
you are, I take it, sorely mistaken. Indeed it is still going on in
countries where specialism reigns supreme; at anyrate it is going on
in the moral world. In such countries you still see arms wandering
alone in space, or eyes roaming about without foreheads, as well as
heads without brains flying about in space. Not literally, of course.
But what else is a character-specialist cultivating exclusively _one_
quality of the human soul than an arm wandering about alone? The little
ones must come back to the Hellenic idea of seeing things as a whole,
and not, as do wretched flies, as mere chips of things."

       *       *       *       *       *

The divine Assembly had listened deferentially to the great sage. Zeus
now charged Hermes to fetch some of the masterpieces from the room
called the _Tribuna_ at the Uffizi in Florence. Hermes, aided by a
number of nymphs, fetched them and, placing them in the midst of the
Assembly, exhibited their perfect beauty to the gods and heroes. This
refreshed their souls sickened with the story of the serfdom of modern
over-specialism.



THE SECOND NIGHT

DIOGENES AND PLATO ON TOLSTOY, IBSEN, SHAW, ETC.


On the second night the Olympians assembled at Pompeii. It was a balmy,
starry night. The ruins of the old town, white in their marble dresses,
shone with a spectral brightness against the mountains, bays, and
meadows surrounding them. From Stabiæ and Gragnano opposite one could
hear the pipe of Pan and the laughter of his nymphs, and on the dark
water there were magic boats carrying Circe and her maids to their blue
grotto in Capri. Selene sent her mildest rays over the scene, and grass
and stone were as if steeped in silvery dreams. The place selected for
the meeting was the amphitheatre. At a move of Zeus' right hand the
seats and alleys, which had long since disappeared under the pressure
of the ugly lava, rose from the ground. The orchestra and stage took
up their old shape, and the whole graceful space with its incomparable
view was again full of beauty, comfort, and pleasurableness. Zeus, and
his wife Juno, sat down on the central seat, and around them the other
gods and heroes. When everyone had found his or her seat, Zeus spake:
"We have heard with much contentment the experiences of Aristotle in
the country which the little ones below call England. We should now
like to hear something about the theatres in that strange land. If
life itself is so uncommon and funny in that part of the non-Grecian
world, their theatre, reflecting life, must be unusually entertaining.
Perhaps you Aristotle, as the most renowned critic of poetry and the
drama, will be good enough to give us an idea of the thing they call
drama in England."

Whereupon Aristotle rose from his seat, and treated the immortals to
a sight which no one had as yet enjoyed: he smiled. And smilingly he
said to the almighty son of Kronos, ruler of the world: "O Zeus, your
wish is a behest, and if you insist I will of course obey. But pray,
kindly consider that I have, with your consent, withheld from these
people, who call themselves moderns, and who might better be called
_afterlings_, the second book of my 'Poetics,' in which I treat of
the comedy, the farce, the burlesque, and similar _phlyakes_, as we
term them. If now I should reveal my thoughts on the _phlyakes_ of
the English, several of their sophists, whom they call University
professors, might still add to the lava which my commentators have
spurted out upon my works, just as we see here the lava of angry
Vesuvius cover the beauteous fields in and around Pompeii.

"May I propose the proper person to entertain us about that sort of
comedy of the English which, at present, is more or less generally
considered to be their most valuable dramatic output? If so," Aristotle
continued at a sign from Zeus, "I propose him who over there at the
right entrance of the stage lies carelessly on the ground and seems
to heed us as little as in his time he heeded the Athenians and the
Corinthians." Aristotle, raising his hand, pointed to the shabby,
untidy figure of Diogenes. When the gods and heroes heard the name
and looked at the person of the Cynic, they all burst out in immortal
laughter, and the sea, catching the gay ripple, laughed as far as
Sorrento.

       *       *       *       *       *

Diogenes, without moving from his position, and putting one of his
legs comfortably on one of the low statues of a satyr, turned his head
towards Zeus and exclaimed: "Verily, I tell you, you only confirm me in
my old belief, that there is nothing sadder than laughter. Why should
you laugh? Are we not here to enjoy ourselves? Is not this lovely spot
one where even we might and ought to feel perfectly happy? Why, then,
laugh? I mean, of course, laugh at me.

"I _do_ pooh-pooh all your glories. Olympus to me is not a whit more
agreeable than my tub at Corinth. This is, you understand, the reason
of my predilection for the English. They, alone of all these Europeans,
live at least for five seconds each day in a tub.

"I also pooh-pooh your feasts, your ambrosia and nectar. For having
passed a few months in a large village they call London, I have so
completely lost my palate and taste, that for the next two thousand
years, at anyrate, I shall not be able to distinguish nectar from stale
ale, nor ambrosia from cabbage.

"Yes, I still pooh-pooh, disdain and neglect most of the things that
you and your worshippers hold in great esteem. Alcibiades raved about
the beauty of women now limping about in the various cities of the
barbarians, and more particularly in the towns of the English. A woman!
A mere woman! What is the good of a woman unless one is rid of her? I
still think what I used to teach, that between a man and a woman there
is only a slight difference, one that is scarcely worth considering.

"You may laugh until Vesuvius again vomits scorn upon you, but I tell
you here, at Pompeii, what I used to tell everybody at Corinth: your
glories are all gone, or ought to go. Just look at Venus. There she
sits displaying to eager-looking Pans and Sileni the loveliness of her
head and neck and figure. But what does it mean after all? Repentance
and wormwood. Look at Ares--(Mars). Does he not look as if he ruled
the world? Does he not behave as if all great things were achieved
through and by him? And what is it in reality? Mere butchery--cowardly
butchery. You laugh; of course, you do. But I mean to show you that all
that I have ever taught is nothing less than strictly true; the only
truth; truth the one.

"Aristotle, in pointing me out as the person who can best tell you
what this new Shavian drama of England really is; Aristotle, I say,
may have acted with malice. He has, nevertheless, acted with great
wisdom. I am indeed the only man out of the world (there is none in
it), who does clearly and fully understand my little disciple who calls
himself Bernard Shaw. Of the other friends and admirers of his, he
might very well say what that great German philosopher Hegel said in
his last moments: 'One man alone has understood me well,--and even he
misunderstood me entirely.' He might with reference to my Cynic lady
friend Hipparchia also say: 'One man alone understood me well,--and she
was a woman.'

"The fact is, Shaw, the son of Pooh-Pooh, is simply a goody disciple
of my school, of the Cynics. When I was still within that mortal
coil which men call skin and flesh, I did take all my sputterings
and utterings very seriously, or as they say in cultured Mayfair:
'_Oh grant serio_.' I really thought, as undoubtedly thinks my brave
disciple in London, that my criticism of social, political, or
religious things went deep into the essence of all that maintains
Society, the State, and the Temples. Good old Plato, it is true, hinted
at my vanity and conceit more than once, and I still feel the sting of
his remark when once, soaked all through by the rain, I was surrounded
by pitying folk: 'If you want to feel pity for Diogenes,' Plato said,
'then leave him alone.'

"But I then did not heed any satire directed against me, being fully
occupied with satirising others all day long. However, since that time,
and since I have been given a corner in the palace of the immortals,
lying on one of the steps like a dog, as that Italian dauber, whom they
call Raphael, painted me in his 'School of Athens' (--a fresco which
might be much better had Raphael wisely chosen his age and appeared as
a Præ-Raphaelite--); ever since I have learnt a great deal, not only
about others, but also about myself.

"While you superior people drink nectar and partake of ambrosia, I
enjoy with infinite zest the malicious pleasure of studying the capers,
antics, and poses of my posthumous selfs, the Diogeneses of that
speck on the mirror of eternity which the little ones below call 'our
time.' Could anything be more amusing to a Cynic of about twenty-two
centuries' standing like myself, who has heard and taught all the most
nerve-rasping eccentricities imaginable, than to hear Tolstoy, Shaw,
Ibsen, and _tutti quanti_, teach with thunderous ponderosity, and
with penurious fulguration their doctrines as the latest and hitherto
unheard-of delivery of the human or inhuman mind? I beg to assure you
it is excruciatingly funny. But I feel I must tell you the whole story
in due order. It happened thus.

"I learnt from Momus that another posthumous self of mine had arisen
and, accordingly, I forthwith repaired to the place called London.
(By the way, it is a queer place. It is neither a village, nor a
town; neither a country, nor a desert; it is something of all, and
much of neither.) In one of the streets I saw an inscription over a
door--'Agency for amusements, theatres, blue bands, green bands, etc.'
I did not quite understand what blue bands had to do with amusement,
but I entered.

"Behind the counter was a middle-aged man working busily at papers. I
addressed him: 'Be cheerful!'

"He looked at me in a curious fashion, evidently doubting the sanity
of my mind. As a matter of fact, after a little while I could not help
seeing that he was right. How _could_ I imagine him to be cheerful?

"I asked him for the means of seeing a theatrical piece by Shaw. He
offered a ticket, and wanted to know my name. I said 'Diogenes.'

"He became impatient, and said: 'Diogenes--which? I mean, your family
name?'

"'I have no other name,' I said; 'don't you know, I am Diogenes who cut
Alexander the Great?'

"'Alexander the Great?' he said--'Why, I only know of a tailor, called
Alexander the Great. Do you mean to tell me you cut him?'

"'No,' I said; 'I do not. I mean Alexander, King of Macedon.'

"Whereupon he contemptuously said: 'I never heard of the gentleman,
and if he was a king of Macedon he has made a jolly fine mess of his
country--just read about the Macedonian question in to-day's _Daily
Telegraph_.' I wanted to ask him whether he was perchance Professor of
History, but other people came in, and so I left.

       *       *       *       *       *

"On the same evening I was shown the way to a theatre, and I understood
that the piece given was _Arms and the Man_. I enjoyed myself immensely.

"It is all very well to share the pleasures of Olympus with the gods.
Yet, by all the Graces, whenever I hear or read reminiscences of my
early youth, those unforgettable events and ideas of the time when
I walked in the streets of Athens in the wake of my revered master
Antisthenes, it gives me a thrill of pleasure,--I might almost say, a
new shiver.

"Just fancy, here I was sitting in far-off Britannia, over two
thousand years after my mortal existence, listening to an oration--of
Antisthenes, my master, which we used to call 'Kyros.' I see very well,
O Ares, you remember the famous oration directed against you, against
all the glories of War, because even now you frown on me, and I must
ask Venus to keep you in check. I have received too many a whipping
while I was at Athens and Corinth--pray let me in peace here in our
temporary Olympus.

"At present, as you well know, I have quite changed my ideas about war,
and much as I may have disliked you before, at present I know that
Apollo, Venus, you Ares, and Dionysus keep all mortal things agoing.
But let us amuse ourselves with the contemplation of an oration of
Antisthenes in modern Britannic.

"Antisthenes hated war so much that he attacked the greatest and least
doubted military glory of the Athenians, their victories over the
Persians. He attacked it with serious arguments, he sneered at it, he
tried to reduce it to a mere sham. Did Antisthenes not say, that the
victory of the Athenians over the Persians at Salamis would have been
something admirable, had the Persians excelled the Athenians in point
of virtue and capability? For in that case the Athenians would have
proved even more virtuous and more capable. However, the Persians,
Antisthenes elaborately proves, were altogether inferior. Nor did they
have a true king, Xerxes being a mere sham king with a high and richly
jewelled cap on his head, sitting on a golden throne, like a doll.
Had Xerxes not to whip his soldiers into battle? What, then, is the
glory of the Athenians? None! Salamis, like all battles, was a mere
butchery, and soldiers are mere cowards, beating inferiors and running
away from superiors. So far Antisthenes.

"The Britannic version of Antisthenes' sally against war, soldiers, and
the whole of the military spirit, I found comical in the extreme. 'Well
done' I repeatedly exclaimed within myself, when I saw the old capers
of the Cynics of my mortal time brought up again for the consumption of
people who had never heard of Cynics. That man Shaw out-Cynics many a
Cynic. He brings upon the stage a number of persons, each of whom is,
in turn, a good soul first, and then a viper; an enthusiast, and then a
liar; a virtue, and then vice itself.

"Take the girl Raina. She begins by being ideal and enthusiastic;
ideal, because she is pure, young, and in love with her own _fiancé_;
enthusiastic, because she is in raptures over the military glory of
her _fiancé_, as would be in all truth and reality a hundred out of
each hundred girls in most countries of the sub-Shavian world. Not the
slightest inkling or fact is indicated that she is not pure, ideal,
or genuinely enthusiastic. In the next scene she is suddenly made out
to be a vicious girl, a coldly calculating minx, and we are given to
understand that she has had no end of general and particular adventures
behind her, as she hopes to have a good many in front of her.

"Why? Why are we now to assume or believe that Raina of yesterday is
not Raina of to-day? Where is the motive, I asked myself with grim
satisfaction with the brave Cynicism of the author. Why? Simply, for
nothing. The comedy as such does not require it; no fact alleged to
have happened, substantiates it; no situation growing out of the piece
makes it a dramatic necessity. It is done simply and exclusively, in
true Cynic fashion, for the sake of ridiculing a person that began by
being enthusiastic for War.

"It is the old story of the ugly sorceress in the child's book of
fables. 'If you praise the beauty of yonder little girl in the garden,
I will transform you into a guinea-pig; and if you still continue
doing so, I will make an old cock of you.' Even so Raina is changed
into a viper, a liar, a dissimulator, a senseless changer of lovers,
an--anything, without the slightest inner coherence, or what the
philosophers call, psychological connection.

"The same old witch's wand is used, with the freedom of a clown, with
regard to the _fiancé_ of Raina, the young military hero. He had by a
bold cavalry charge captured a battery or two of the enemy's artillery.
How can he be forgiven such an execrable deed? How dare he succeed?
Out with the old sauce of Antisthenes! It is, of course, exceedingly
stale by this time. But the English, it appears, are so thoroughly
used to stale sauces. They will not notice it at all. And thus all the
threadbare arguments of Antisthenes are dished up again. I jubilated in
my pride.

"The _fiancé_, Sergius, took the batteries of cannon because, we are
told, by a mistake of their commander, they were--not charged. How
witty! How clever! Antisthenes merely said that the Persians were much
inferior to the Athenians, so the latter easily got the better of the
former. But this twentieth-century dapper little Cynic goes one better.
He says, as it were, the Persians had no weapons to strike with. Who
would have thought of such an ingenious satire?

"Please, Hermes (Mercury), do not interrupt me! I know very well what
you mean to say. In all actions of men, victory depends more on the
shortcomings of their rivals and competitors than on their own genius.
It is no special feature of military victories. Of two grocers in the
same street, one succeeds mainly because the other is neglectful and
unbusinesslike. Of two dramatists in the same country, one succeeds
because he gives the people what _they_ want, and not, as does the
other, what dramatic Art wants. And so forth _ad infinitum_.

"But my Cynical Shavian does not heed these inconsistencies; he knows
the public will not notice them. He wants simply to ridicule War, and
the whole military spirit. Accordingly out with the witch's wand, and
let us change the hero first into a whimpering calf, and then suddenly
into a lewd he-goat, and then, for no reason whatever, into the most
mendacious magpie flying about, and finally into a little mouse caught
in a trap laid by a kitchen-maid. For this is precisely what happens to
the hero Sergius.

"Returning from war, he is sick of it with a nauseating sea-sickness.
Why? Unknown; or, as Herbert Spencer, the next best replica of
Antisthenes in Britannia, would have said, _unknowable_.

"Sergius is sentimentally idiotic about the nullity of his military
glory. A few moments later he cannot resist the rustic beauties of a
kitchen-maid, one minute after he had disentangled himself out of the
embraces of his beautiful, young, and worshipped _fiancé_. The he-goat
is upon him. Why? Unknown, unknowable.

"Here in our fourth dimension we know very well (do we not, Ares?) that
soldiers have done similar _escapades_? But have barristers done less?
Have all solicitors proved bosom-proof? Has no dramatist ever been
sorely tempted by buxomness and vigorous development of youthful flesh?
One wonders.

"Why then bring up such stuff, without the slightest reason, without
the slightest need, internal or external? But the soldier, do you not
see, must be run down. He must be ridiculed. It must be shown that he
is only a cowardly mouse caught in the trap laid for him by that very
kitchen-maid whom at first he treats merely as a well-ordered mass of
tempting flesh, and whom in the end he--marries.

"This trait is delicious. I have frequently been in Mysia, or what
these people now call Bulgaria, where Shaw's scene is laid. The idea of
a Bulgarian gentleman of the highest standing marrying a kitchen-maid
gave me a fit of laughter. In eccentric England a high-born gentleman
may very well marry a barmaid. In Bulgaria a nobleman will no more
marry a servant-girl than his own mother. He has known too many of
them; he can study her carefully, encyclopædically, without marrying
her in the least. For, _she_ will never love _him_.

"Of course, my acolyte full well knows that the English are not at all
conversant with any nation south of Dover Straits, and that one may
tell them anything one pleases about nations other than themselves,
They will believe it. And so Sergius marries the girl by the same
necessity that a mouse may be said to have married the trap into which
it drops.

"Is not this fun indeed? To call marrying what simple people call
getting morally insane? How clever! How bright!

"This is precisely what we Cynics used to do in ancient Greece. We
turned humanity inside out, and then I walked in day-time in the
streets with a lamp in my hand in search of a normal man, of a human
being. If you vitriole a person's face or character first, how can you
expect him to have unscathed features? But that is precisely the point
with us Cynics. We take human nature; we then vitriole it out of all
shape, and afterwards cry out in sheer indignation, 'How awful!' 'How
absurd!' This reminds me of my lawyer pupil who once, in the defence of
a fellow who had murdered his parents, pathetically exclaimed to the
jury: 'And finally, gentlemen, have pity on this poor, orphaned boy!'

"Not content with Sergius, another 'type' of soldier is dragged up to
the stage; a Swiss. Now I do not here mean to repeat our old Greek
jokes about people similar to the Swiss, such as the Paphlagonians or
Cilicians. I will only remark that the French, who have for over four
hundred years had intimate knowledge of the Swiss, put the whole of
Swiss character into the famous _mot_: 'Which animal resembles a human
being most?' Answer: 'A Swiss.'

"From a Swiss you may expect anything. He talks three languages; all in
vile German. He is to his beautiful country like a wart on a perfect
face. In the midst of paradise he is worse than a Prussian yokel born
in the dreary heaths of North Germany. He is a Swiss. He has been a
mercenary soldier to Popes and Lutheran princes alike. His aim was
money; is money; will always be nothing but money. He sells his blood
as he does the milk of his cows, by the _litre_ or the _decilitre_;
preferably by the latter. He likes war well enough; but he prefers
truces and cessation of arms. He thinks the best part of death is the
avoidance thereof. He is, when a mercenary, a military Cynic.

"I like him dearly; he does me honour. Whenever I see him on the grand
staircase in the Vatican, I grin 'way down in my heart. Here is a Cynic
dressed up like a parrot in gorgeous plumage. Diogenes in Rococo-dress!
It is intensely amusing.

"Now this Swiss is made by Shaw a 'type' of a soldier. This is quite
in accordance with the procedure of the Cynical School. First, all
real soldierly qualities are vitrioled out of the man by making
him a Swiss mercenary; and then he is shown up in all his callous
indifference to Right, Love, or Justice; which is tantamount to saying
'a distinguished Belgian lady patrolling Piccadilly after midnight.'
That Swiss mercenary proves no more against the worth of soldiers,
than that Belgian woman proves anything in disgrace of the women of
Belgium. If Shaw's figure proves anything, it proves the worthlessness
of mercenaries in general, and of Swiss mercenaries in particular. That
is, it proves something quite different from what it means to prove.
This too is arch-Cynical. Why, who knows it better than I, that we
Cynics were not infrequently instrumental in bringing about the very
reverse of what we were aiming at? But the more perverse, the better
the fun.

"And the fun is excellent beyond words. It is, in fact, as grim as the
grimmest Welshman. On my way home from the theatre I thought of it,
and started laughing in the street with such violence that a policeman
wanted to take me to the station. The grimness of the fun was this:
inquiring about the author, I learnt that he was an Irishman. I had
no sooner made sure of the truth of this statement than I could not
control myself for laughter.

"An Irishman reviling war, and soldiers, and the military spirit! How
unutterably grim,--how unspeakably grimy! The Irish, endowed by nature
with gifts of the body as well as the mind incomparably superior to
those of the English, have made the most atrocious failure of their
history, of their possibilities, of their chances, for that one and
only reason, that they never found means of character and endurance
to fight for their rights and hopes in bitter and unrelenting wars.
Not having made a single effort in any way comparable to the sustained
armed resistance of the Scotch, the Dutch, the Hungarians, or the
Boers, in the course of over three hundred years, they have fallen
under the yoke of a nation whom they detest. This naturally demoralised
them, as it demoralises a mere husband when he is yoked to a hated
wife. Being demoralised, they have never, oh never, reached that
balance of internal powers without which nothing great can be achieved.
The English with lesser powers, being undemoralised, got their powers
into far greater balance. So did the Scot through sustained, reckless
fighting for their ideals. Hence the misery of the Irish, who are
like their fairies, enchanting, but fatal to themselves and to others;
unbalanced, unsteady in mind and resolution to a sickening degree;
fickle, and resembling altogether sweet kisses from one's lady-love
intermingled with knocks in the face from one's vilest creditors.

"Their recoiling from making resolute war on the enemy being the great
cause of the failure of the Irish, what can be more grimly Cynical than
an Irishman's indignation at all that appertains to war? We Cynics
always do that. Moderation having been the soul of all things Hellenic,
we Cynics told the Greeks that the one fatal excess that man can commit
is moderation. Of music we taught that its only beauties are in the
pauses; and of man we held that he is perfect only by making himself
into a beast.

"We taught people to contemplate everything in a convex mirror and then
to fall foul of the image so distorted. This the idlers and the mob
greatly admire. They deem it marvellous originality. And what can be
nearer to the origin of new things than to take man and nature always
in the last agonising stage of final decomposition?

"In my own dramas I did all that with a vengeance; so did Crates, my
revered colleague. What was a plot to us? What does a plot matter?
The other day when I sauntered through the Champs Elysées of Paris, I
overheard a conversation between little girls playing at ladies. By
Antisthenes, that was the real model of the plot and dialogue of all
Cynic dramas!

"Said one little girl to the other: 'How are you, madame?'

"'Thanks,' said the other, 'very well. I am watching my children.'

"'How many have you?'

"'Seventy-five, please.'

"'And how old are you?'

"'Twenty years, madame.'

"'And how is your husband?'

"'_Y pensez-vous?_ My husband? Fancy that! Why, I have none!'

"This is precisely the plot and dialogue in Shaw's _Candida_.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I enjoyed _Candida_ so intensely; I could have kissed the author. How
entirely like my own dramas! How closely modelled on the dialogue of
the little girls!

"A husband of forty, vigorous, brave, honest, hard-working in a noble
cause, loving and loved, father of two children, befriends a boy of
eighteen, who is as wayward and conceited and inconsistent as only
boys of eighteen can be. That boy suddenly tells the husband that he,
the boy, loved Candida, the wife of the said husband. The boy, not
satisfied with this amenity, becomes intolerably impudent, and the
husband, acting on his immediate and just sentiment, wants to throw him
out of the house.

"But this is too much of what ninety-nine out of a hundred husbands
would do. So instead of kicking the impertinent lad into the street,
the husband--invites him to lunch.

"I was so afraid the husband would in the end bundle the youth out of
the room. To my intense delight the author did not forget the rules of
the Cynic drama, and the boy remained for lunch.

"Bravo! Bravo! I secretly hoped the husband would solemnly charge
the interesting youth to fit Candida with the latest corset. To my
amazement that did not take place. But yet there was some relief for me
in store: the husband invites the boy to pass the evening with his wife
alone.

"This is, of course, precisely what most husbands would do.

"This is what another disciple of mine in Paris (a man called Anatole,
and misnamed France), did do in an even worse case. In Anatole's story,
the husband arrives in the most inopportune moment that a forgetful
wife can dread. He looks at the scene with much self-control, takes up
the _Petit Parisien_ lying on the floor, and withdraws gracefully into
another room, there to make sundry reflections on the _Petit Parisien_
and on the 'Petite Parisienne.'

"How classically Cynical! How Bion, Metrocles, Menippus, and all the
rest of our sect would have enjoyed that! Here is a true comedy! Here
is something truly realistic, and realistically true. That's why
Anatole is so much admired by Englishmen. He too is, as we Cynics have
been called, a philosopher of the proletariate.

"Much, O Zeus, as I enjoy the honour and pleasure of being allowed
to crouch on one of the steps of your divine halls, I do also keenly
appreciate the pleasure of meeting my disciples of the hour. One of
these next days I will ask Momus to invite Tolstoy, Ibsen, Shaw,
Anatole, and a few others to a lunch, to meet me in a Swiss hotel.
Plato, you better come and listen behind a screen. You might perhaps
improve upon your _Gorgias_ in which dialogue you attempt to sketch
the superman and super-cynic. Ibsen will stammer and jerk his best
in deathly hatred of all Authority. Shaw will pinprick to death the
foundations of Marriage and Family. Anatole will try to upset, by
throwing little mud-pellets at them, ideal figures such as Joan of
Arc" (--Diogenes had barely uttered this name, when Zeus and all the
other gods rose from their seats, and bowed towards Pallas Athene, who
held Joan in her holy arms--). "Tolstoy, with a penny trumpet in his
toothless mouth, will bray against war; Oh, it will be glorious.

"Of course, by this time I know very well that the controlling
principle of all mundane and supramundane things is Authority. As we
here all bow to Zeus, so mortals must always bow to some authority.
Nothing more evident can be imagined nor shown. It is the broadest
result of all history, of all experience. Just because this is so, and
unmistakably so, my disciples must naturally say the reverse. They
do not look at facts by a microscope or a telescope; they telescope
train-loads of facts into a mass of pulverised debris.

"Instead of saying that in England, through her social caste system,
there are many, too many, _parvenus_ or tactless upstarts, my disciples
must say: 'The greatness of England is owing to her tactlessness.' This
is the real merchandise which I sold at Corinth over two thousand years
ago.

"Tolstoy thunders against War. I wonder he does not thunder against
mothers' breasts feeding their babies. Why, War made everything that
is worth having. First of all, it made Peace. Without war there is no
peace; there is only stagnation. The greater the ideal, the greater the
price we have to pay for it. And since we always crave for the sublime
ideals of Liberty, Honour, Wealth, Power, Beauty, and Knowledge, we
must necessarily pay the highest price for it--ourselves, our lives
in war. There is no Dante without the terrible wars of the Guelfs and
the Ghibellines. There could have been no ideal superman like Raphael
without the counter-superman called Cesare Borgia. It is only your
abominable Philistine who squeaks: 'Oh, we might have many a nice slice
from the ham of Ideals without paying too dearly for it.' What do you
think of that, Hercules? Did you win Hebe by avoiding conflicts and
disasters?"

Hercules groaned deeply and looked first at his battered club and
then at charming Hebe. The gods laughed aloud and Apollo, taking up
his lyre, intoned a grand old Doric song in praise of the heroes of
war who, by their valour, had prepared the _palæstra_ for the heroes
of thought and beauty. He was soon joined by a thousand harmonious
voices from the temple of Isis, and from his own majestic sanctuary at
Pompeii. Vesuvius counterpointed the lithe song with his deep bass;
and, with Dionysus at the head of them, Pan and the nymphs came wafting
through the air, strewing buds of melodies on to the Olympian wreaths
of tones sung by Phoebus Apollo in praise of War.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the song had subsided, Zeus, in a voice full of serenity and
benign music, addressed the gods and heroes as follows: "We are very
much beholden to Diogenes for his bright and amusing story of the
Cynical ants that at present run about the woods and cottages of men,
biting each other and their friends. Their epigrams and other eccentric
utterances can affect none of us here assembled. You very well know
that I have not allowed Apollo, or Reason to reign alone and unaided by
Unreason, or Dionysus. The Cynical critics of men want to bring about
the Age of Reason, or as these presumptuous half-knowers call it, the
Age of Science. This, I have long since laid down, shall never be.

"At the gate of the Future, at Delphi, Apollo is associated with
Dionysus, and so it has been ever since I came to rule this Universe.
Just as good music consists of tones and rhythms, and again of the
cessation of all sound, or of measured pauses; even so my Realm
consists of Reason, and of the cessation of all Reason, or of Unreason.
The Cynics who ignore the latter, misjudge the former. This, I take it,
is perfectly clear to all of us.

"But while we here may laugh at the bites of the Cynical ants below,
we do not mean to state that in their occupation there is no point, no
utility at all. These little ants may be, and undoubtedly are largely
sterile mockers. Yet even I have experienced it on myself that the
effects of their doings are not always sterile."

And leaning back on his chryselephantine chair, Zeus lowered his voice
and said almost in a whisper: "See, friends, why do we meet here in
lonely places, in a dead town, during the mysterious hours of night?
You know very well who and what has prevailed upon me to choose this
temporary darkening of our blissful life."

At this moment there came from the rushes near the sea a plaintive song
accompanied by a flute, and a voice of a human sobbed out the cry:
"Pan, the Great Pan is dead!"

A sudden silence fell over the divine Assembly. A cloud of deep sadness
seemed to hover over all.

The three Graces then betook themselves to dancing, and their beauteous
movements and poses so exhilarated the Assembly, that the former
serenity was soon re-established.

Zeus now turned to Plato, calling upon him to give his opinion on the
Cynics. Zeus reminded Plato that hitherto the Cynics had been treated
by him merely incidentally, mostly by hidden allusions to Antisthenes,
or by witty remarks on Diogenes. At present Plato might help the gods
to pass agreeably the rest of the beautiful night by telling them in
connection and fulness what really the ultimate purport of these modern
Cynics, Shavian or other is going to be. Everybody turned his or her
face towards Plato, who rose from his seat, and bowing, with a smile,
towards Diogenes, thus addressed Zeus and the Assembly of gods and
heroes at Pompeii:

       *       *       *       *       *

"It is quite true that in my writings I have not devoted any explicit
discussion to the views and tenets of the Cynics. They appeared to
me at that time far too grotesque to be worth more than a passing
consideration. Of their dramas I had, and still have a very poor
opinion. From what I hear from Diogenes, the modern imitators of Cynic
dramatists are not a whit better. In addition to all their wearying
eccentricities, they add the most unbearable eccentricity of all, to
wit, that their dramas and comedies represent a new departure within
dramatic literature.

"Shaw's dramas are no more dramas than his Swiss, in _Arms and the
Man_, is a soldier; or his clergyman in _Candida_ a husband, or a man.
His pieces are not dramatic in the least; they do not exhibit the most
elementary qualities of a comedy. For, whatever the definition of a
comedy may be, one central quality can never be missing in it: the
persons presented must be types of human beings.

"Shaw's persons are no humans whatever. They are _homunculi_ concocted
in a chemical laboratory of pseudo-science and false psychology. They
crack, from time to time, brave jokes; so do clowns in a circus. That
alone does not make a wax figure into a human.

"There may be very interesting comic scenes amongst bees, wasps, or
beavers; but we cannot appreciate them. We can only appreciate human
comicality, even when it is presented to us in the shape of dialogues
between animals, as Aristophanes, the fabulists, and so many other
writers have done.

"Who would care to sit through a comedy showing the comic aspects of
life in a Bedlam? If madmen have humour, as undoubtedly they have, we
do not want to see it on a public stage. The fact that it is a madman's
humour deprives it of all humour.

"Hedda Gabler can appeal to no sound taste. One never sees why she is
so fearfully unhappy. If she is not in love with her husband, let her
work in the house, in the kitchen, in the garden; let her try to be a
mother; let her adopt a child if the gods deny her one of her own. Let
her do something. Of course, idling all day long as she does, will in
the end demoralise a poker; and far from wondering that she ends badly
at the end of the last act, one only wonders that she did not do away
with herself before the first scene of the first act. By doing so she
would have done a great service to herself, her people, and to dramatic
literature.

"Of the same kind is Raina, in _Arms and the Man_. She is a doll, but
not a young girl. She has neither senses, nor sense. She is made of
cardboard, and fit only to appear in a Punch and Judy show. She is, in
common with most of the figures in the comedies of the modern Cynics,
a mere outline drawing of a human being from whose mouth hang various
slips of paper on which the author conveniently writes his _variorum_
jokes and bright sayings. All these so-called dramatic pieces will
be brushed away by the broom of Time, as happened to the dramas and
travesties of our Greek Cynics. Life eternal is given to things only
through Art, and in these writings of the Cynics, old or modern ones,
there is not the faintest trace either of one of the Graces, or of one
of the Muses.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Having said this much about Shaw's and the other modern Cynics'
alleged dramatic writings, I hasten to add, that when we come to
consider the _effect_ these so-called dramas have, and possibly will
continue to have on the mind of the public, we are bound to speak in
quite a different manner.

"I have had plenty of time, since the days of my Academy at Athens,
to think out the vast difference between such works of the intellect
as aim at nothing but truth and beauty, or what we might call
_alethology_, on the one hand; and such works as aim at effect, or what
may be generally termed as _effectology_.

"It is from this all-important point of view that I say that Tolstoy,
Ibsen, Shaw and the others are, _effectologically_, just as remarkable
as they are _alethologically_ without much significance.

"As to the latter; as to their hitting off great or new truths; as to
their being philosophers; or to put it in my terms, as to their having
any _alethological_ value, Diogenes has already spoken with sufficient
clearness. Just consider this one point.

"Tolstoy, as well as Shaw, wants to reform the abuses of civilisation.
In order to do so they combat with all their might the most powerful
purifier and reformer of men,--War. Can anything be more ludicrous, and
unscientific?

"Who gave the modern Germans that incomparable dash and _élan_, thanks
to which they have in one generation quadrupled their commerce, doubled
their population, quintupled their wealth, and ensured their supremacy
on the Continent?

"Was it done by their thinkers and scholars? The greatest of these died
before 1870.

"Was it done by getting into possession of the mouth of the Rhine, or
of the access to the Danish Sounds, which formerly debarred them from
the sea? They do not possess the mouth of the Rhine, nor Denmark to the
present day.

"Nothing has changed in the material or intellectual world making the
Germany of to-day more advantageous for commerce or power than it had
been formerly.

"Except the victorious wars of 1866 and of 1870.

"Can such an evident connection of fact be overlooked? And would Russia
have introduced the Duma without the battle of Mukden? It is waste of
time even for the immortals to press this point much longer.

"As in this case, so in nearly all the other cases, Cynics revile
abuses the sole remedies for which they violently combat. In their
negative attacks they brandish the keenest edges of the swords, daggers
and pins of Logic; in their positive advices they browbeat every person
in the household of logical thought.

"Yet, worthless, or very nearly so, as they may be as teachers of
truth, they are powerful as writers of pamphlets. For this is what
their literature comes to. They do not write dramas, nor novels.
They can do neither the one, nor the other. But they write effective
pamphlets in the apparent form of dramas and novels.

"They are pamphleteers, and not men of letters.

"In that lies their undeniably great force. They instinctively choose
as eccentric, as loud, and as striking forms and draperies of ideas as
possible, so as to rouse the apathetic Philistine to an interest in
what they say. They are full of absurdities; but which of us here can
now after centuries of experience venture to make light of the power of
the absurd?

"Error and Absurdity are so powerful, so necessary, so inevitable, that
Protagoras was perhaps not quite wrong in saying that Truth herself is
only a particular species of Error.

"Once, many years ago, I despised the Cynics, and my own master
Socrates made light of them. But at present I think differently. When
Socrates said, with subtle sarcasm, to Antisthenes: 'I see your vanity
peeping out through the holes of your shabby garment,' Antisthenes
might have retorted to him: 'And I, O Socrates, see through these very
holes how short-sighted you are.'

"For have we not lived to see that while all revere Socrates in words,
they follow the pupils of Antisthenes in deeds? The Cynics, fathered
by Antisthenes, begot the Stoics; and the Stoics were the main ferment
in the rise and spread of Christianity. Many of the sayings and
teachings and doings of the Cynics, which we at Athens made most fun
of, have long since become the sinews and fibres of Christian ideas
and institutions. There is greater similarity and mental propinquity
between Antisthenes or Diogenes and St Paul, than between Socrates and
St Augustine of Hippo.

"I pray thee, O Zeus, to let us for a moment see this town of Pompeii
as it was a day before its destruction, with all its life in the
streets and the Forum, so as to give us an ocular proof of the truth of
what I just now said about the Cynics and Eccentrics of Antiquity, and
what I am going to apply to the modern Cynics, literary or other."

       *       *       *       *       *

Thereupon Zeus, by a wave of his hand, placed the whole Assembly in the
shadow as if encircled by a vast mantle of darkness, and shed a strange
and supramundane light on the town of Pompeii, which grew up at sight
from the ground, putting on life and movement and beauty on all its
houses, narrow streets, gardens, and squares. The ancient population
filled, in ceaseless movement, every part of the charming city. Richly
dressed ladies, carried in sedan-chairs by black slaves; patricians in
spotless togas, followed by crowds of clients; magistrates preceded by
lictors; soldiers recruited from all nations; tradesmen from every part
of the Roman Empire; all these and innumerable others, visitors from
the neighbouring cities, thronged the streets, and the whole population
seemed to breathe nothing but joy and a sense of exuberant life.

In one of the squares there was a hilarious crowd listening, with loud
derision and ironical applause, to a haggard, miserably clad, old
man who, addressing them in Ionian Greek, with the strong guttural
accent of the Asiatics, stood on one of the high jumping-stones of the
pavement, and spoke with fanatic fervour of the nameless sinfulness of
the people of Pompeii. With him were two or three other persons of the
same description, joining him from time to time in his imprecations
against the "doomed town."

The old man told them that their whole life was rotten through and
through, a permanent lie, a contradiction to itself, a sure way to
damnation. He thundered against the soldiers jeering at him in the
crowd, calling them cowards, butchers, wretches, and the sinners of all
sinners. He sneered at one of the priests of Isis present in the crowd,
telling the people that there was only one true belief, and no other.

The more the old man talked, the more the crowd laughed at him; and
when a Greek philosopher, who happened to be there, interpellated and
elegantly refuted the old man in a manner approved by the rules of the
prevalent school of rhetoric and dialectics, the crowd cheered the
philosopher, and the more accomplished amongst the bystanders said to
one another: "This old man is a mere charlatan, or an impostor; it's
waste of time to take him seriously."

One man alone, in the whole crowd, a shy and retiring disciple of
Apollonius of Tyana, waited until the crowd had dispersed, and then
walking up to the old man, asked him what sect of Cynics he belonged to.

The old man said: "I am no Cynic; I am a Christian."

Thereupon the disciple of Apollonius took the old man's hand, pressed
it with emotion, kissed him, and turning away from him, walked off,
plunged in deep thought.

A minute later the supramundane light over Pompeii disappeared, and the
Assembly of the gods and heroes was again in the mild rays of Selene.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Can anyone here," continued Plato, "deny that that crowd together
with the philosopher was quite mistaken in their appreciation of the
eccentric old man, and that the silent pupil of Apollonius alone was
right?

"Cynics and Eccentrics have at all times been the forerunners of vast
popular movements. The flagellants, the Beguins and Lollards, and
countless other Cynics in the latter half of the Middle Ages preceded
the Reformation.

"And was not the French Revolution, or the vastest effort at realising
Ideals ever made by the little ones down here, preceded by a Cynic and
his pamphlets, by Jean Jacques Rousseau?

"No Greek town would have endured within its walls a youth so
completely shattered in all his moral build, as was Rousseau. He was
thoroughly and hopelessly demoralised in character, _décousu_ and
eccentric in thought, and badly tutored in point of knowledge. The
clever woman that was his protectress, mistress, and guide, and who
displayed a marvellous capacity for devising jobs and an inexhaustible
resourcefulness in turning things and persons to practical use, could
yet never discover any usefulness in Jean Jacques.

"He wrote, later on, novels, political treatises, botanical ones,
musical ones. In truth he never wrote a novel; he wrote nothing but
pamphlets; stirring, wild, eccentric, enchanting pamphlets. He was
not, like Beaumarchais, a pamphleteer and yet a writer of a real, and
immortal comedy, itself a political pamphlet. Rousseau was a writing
stump-orator doing anticipative yeoman's work for the Revolution.

"So are all the Cynics. So are Ibsen, Tolstoy; so is Shaw. Their
dramas may be, say _are_ no dramas at all; their novels may be, say
_are_ no novels at all; their serious treatises are neither serious nor
treatises; and yet they are, and always will be great _effectological_
centres. They attack the whole fabric of the extant civilisation;
by this one move they rally round them both the silent and the loud
enemies of WHAT IS, and the eager friends of what OUGHT TO BE. Of these
malcontents there always is a great number; especially in times of
prolonged peace.

"A war, a real, good national war would immediately sweep away all
these social malcontents.

"That's why the leaders of the Cynics, and more especially Tolstoy and
Shaw, hate war. It is their mar-feast, their kill-joy; their microbes
do not prosper in times of war.

"Without the fatal and all but universal peace of the period from 50
A.D. to 190 A.D., Christianity could never have made any headway in the
Roman Empire; just as we got rid of our Cynics by the second Athenian
Empire and its great wars.

"This, then, is in my opinion the true perspective of our modern
Cynics. As literature or truth, they exhibit little of value, except
that Shaw appears to me (--if a Greek may be allowed to pass judgment
on such a matter--) to be the only one amongst living writers in
England who has real literary splendour in his style. As men, however,
exercising an effect on a possible social Revolution, these writers are
of the utmost importance.

"Or to repeat it in my terms: _alethologically_ nil or nearly so,
_effectologically_ very important or interesting; this is the true
perspective of writers like Tolstoy, Shaw, and other modern Cynics.

"Their influence is not on Thought, nor on Art, but on Action.

"They may eventually, if Mars will continue trifling with wood-nymphs
and other well-intended cordials, become a great power. They may beget
Neo-Stoics, who may beget Neo-Christians. They themselves may then
appear only as the tiny drum-pages running in front or beside the
real fighters in battle. Yet their importance will be little impaired
thereby.

"The Church Fathers have frequently endeavoured to honour me with the
name of one of the lay protagonists of Christianity. But I know much
better than that. The true protagonists were Antisthenes or Diogenes;
and that is why the Roman Catholic Church has at no time countenanced
me. And just as we now do not mind the jokes, burlesques and _boutades_
of Diogenes any more, admitting freely, as we do, that behind them was
the _aurora borealis_ of a new creed, a new movement, a new world;
even so we must not mind the grotesque _boutades_ of Tolstoy, Ibsen,
Shaw, Anatole, and other modern Cynics, for behind them is the magnetic
fulguration of new electric currents in the social world.

"This, the public indistinctly feel; that's why they continue to read
and criticise or revile these men. The public feels that while there
may not be much in what these men yield for the present, the future,
possibly, is theirs.

"The little ones below do not as yet know, that there is no future; nor
that all that is or can be, has long been. Therefore they do not turn
to us who might point out to them what things are driving at; but they
want the oldest things in ever new forms.

"We, however, know that _plus cela change, plus c'est la même chose_,
as one of the modern Athenians in Paris has put it.

"Do not frown on me, Heraclitus; I well know that you hold the very
reverse, and that you would say: '_plus c'est la même chose, plus cela
change_.'

"I have gladly accepted that in my earthly time when I made a sharp
distinction between phenomena and super-phenomena, or _noumena_. But I
do no longer make such a distinction.

"We are above time. We Hellenes are alive to-day as we were over
two thousand years ago. We still think aloud or on papyrus the most
beautiful and the truest thoughts of men. Have we not but quite lately
sent down for one of us to while amongst us for ever? He too began as
a Cynic. But having learnt the inanity of the so-called 'future,' he
rose above time and space, and soared on the wings of eagle concepts
to the heights where we welcome him. He has just entered the near port
in a boat rowed by the nymphs of Circe. We cannot close our meeting in
a more condign fashion than by asking Hebe to offer him the goblet of
welcome."

The eyes of all present turned to the shore, where a man of middle age,
who had evidently regained his former vigour, walked up to the steps
of the amphitheatre. When he came quite near to the Assembly, Diogenes
exclaimed: "Hail to thee, Frederick Nietzsche!"



THE THIRD NIGHT

ALCIBIADES ON WOMEN IN ENGLAND


In the third night the gods and heroes assembled at Venice. Where the
Canal Grande almost disappears in the sea, there on mystic gondolas
the divine Assembly met in the town of Love and Passion, at the
whilom centre of Power wedded to Beauty. It was a starlit night of
incomparable charm. The Canal Grande, with its majestic silence; the
dark yet clearly outlined Palaces surrounding the Canal like beautiful
women forming a procession in honour of a triumphant hero; the grave
spires of hundreds of churches standing like huge sentinels of the town
of millions of secrets never revealed, and vainly searched for in her
vast archives; and last not least the invisible Past hovering sensibly
over every stone of the unique city; all this contributed ever new
charms to the meeting of the gods and heroes at Venice.

Zeus, not unforgetful of the Eternal Feminine, asked Alcibiades to
entertain the Assembly with his adventures amongst the women of
England. Alcibiades thereupon rose and spake as follows: "O Zeus and
the other gods and heroes, I am still too much under the fascination
of the women with whom I have spent the last twelve months, to be in
a position to tell you with becoming calmness what kind of beings
they are. In my time I knew the women of over a dozen Greek states,
and many a woman of the Barbarians. Yet not one of them was remotely
similar to the women of England. I will presently relate what I
observed of the beauty of these northern women.

"But first of all, it seems to me, I had better dwell upon one
particular type of womanhood which I have never met before except when
once, eight hundred years ago, I travelled in company with Abelard
through a few towns of Mediæval France. That type is what in England
they call the middle-class woman. She is not always beautiful, and yet
might be so frequently, were her features not spoilt by her soul. She
is the most bigoted, the most prejudiced, and most intolerant piece of
perverted humanity that can be imagined.

"The first time I met her I asked her how she felt that day. To this
she replied, 'Sir-r-r!' with flashing eyes and sinking cheeks. When I
then added: 'I hope, madame, you are well?'--she looked at me even more
fiercely and uttered: 'Sir-r-r!' Being quite unaware of the reason of
her indignation, I begged to assure her that it gave me great pleasure
to meet her. Thereupon she got up from her seat and exclaimed in a most
tragic manner: 'Si-r-r-r, you are _no_ gentleman!!'

"Now, I have been shown out, in my time, from more than one lady's
room; but there always was some acceptable reason for it. In this case
I could not so much as surmise what crime I had committed. On asking
one of my English friends, I learnt that I ought to have commenced
the conversation with remarks on the weather. Unless conversation is
commenced in that way it will never commend itself to that class of
women in England. It is undoubtedly for that reason, Zeus, that you
have given England four different seasons indeed, but all in the course
of one and the same day. But for this meteorological fact, conversation
with middle-class people would have become impossible.

"The women of that class have an incessant itch for indignation;
unless they feel shocked at least ten times a day, they cannot live.
Accordingly, everything shocks them; they are afflicted with permanent
_shockingitis_.

"Tell her that it is two o'clock P.M., and she will be shocked. Tell
her you made a mistake, and that it was only half-past one o'clock, and
she will be even more shocked. Tell her Adam was the first man, and she
will scream with indignation; tell her she had only one mother, and she
will send for the police. The experience of over two thousand years
amongst all the nations in and out of Europe has not enabled me to find
a topic, nor the manner of conversation agreeable or acceptable to an
English middle-class woman.

"At first I thought that she was as puritanic in her virtue as she was
rigid and forbidding in appearance. One of them was unusually pretty
and I attempted to please her. My efforts were in vain, until I found
out that she took me for a Greek from Soho Square, which in London is
something like the poor quarters of our Piræus. She had never heard of
Athens or of ancient history, and she believed that Joan of Arc was the
daughter of Noah.

"When I saw that, I dropped occasionally the remark that my uncle was
Lord Pericles, and that the King of Sparta had reasons to hide from
me his wife. This did it at once. She changed completely. Everything
I said was 'interesting.' When I said, 'Wet to-day,' she swore that
it was a capital joke. She admired my very gloves. She never tired
asking me questions about the 'swell set.' I told her all that I did
not know. The least man of my acquaintance was a lord; my friends were
all viscounts and marquesses; my dog was the son of a dog in the King's
kennels; my motor was one in which three earls and their wives had
broken eleven legs of theirs.

"These broken legs brought me very much nearer to my goal; and when
finally I apprised her that I had hopelessly spoilt my digestion at the
wedding meal of the Duke of D'Ontexist, she implored me not to trifle
any longer with her feelings. I stopped trifling.

"This experience," Alcibiades continued, "did much to enlighten me
about what was behind all that forbidding exterior of the middle-class
woman. I discovered Eve in the Mediæval form of womanhood. I was
reminded of the Spartan women who, at the first meeting, seemed so
proud, unapproachable and Amazonian; at the second meeting they had
lost some of their prohibitive temper; and at the third meeting they
proved to be women, and nothing but women after all.

"Honestly, I preferred the English middle-class woman in her first
stage. It suited the somewhat rigid style of her beauty much better.
In the last or sentimental stage she was much less interesting.
Her tenderness was flabby or childish. Then she cried after every
_rendez-vous_. That annoyed me considerably. One evening I could not
help asking her whether she did not feel like sending five pounds of
conscience-money to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. She drew the line
on that, and cried more profusely. Whereupon I proposed to send fifty
pounds of conscience-money and to be released of any further tears.
This seemed to pacify and to console her; and thus we parted.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A few days after I had been relieved of my first lady friend in
England," Alcibiades continued, "I made the acquaintance of a girl
whose age I was unable to determine. She said she was twenty-nine years
old. However, I soon found that all unmarried girls _d'un certain âge_
in England are exactly twenty-nine years old.

"She was not without certain attractions. She had read much, spoke
fluently, had beautiful auburn hair and white arms. In her technical
terms, which she used very frequently, she was not very felicitous.
She repeatedly mixed up bigotry with bigamy, or with trigonometry. My
presence did not seem to affect her very much, and after two or three
calls I discovered that she was in a chronic state of rebellion against
society and law at large.

"She held that women were in absolute serfdom to men, and that unless
women were given the most valuable of rights, that is, the suffrage,
neither women nor men could render the commonwealth what it ought to
be. I told her that shortly after my disappearance from the political
stage of Athens, about twenty-three centuries ago, the women of that
town, together with those of other towns, clamoured for the same
object. 'What?' she exclaimed. 'Do you mean to say that suffragettes
were already known in those olden times?' I assured her that all that
she had told me about the aims and arguments of herself and her friends
was as old as the comedies of Aristophanes. That seemed to have a
strange effect upon her. I noticed that what she believed to be the
novelty of the movement constituted really its greatest charm for her.
She had thought that suffragettism was the very latest fashion, in
every way brand new.

"But after a time she recovered and said: 'Very well; if our objects
and aims are as old as all that, they are sure to be even more solidly
founded in reason than I thought they were.'

"Reason, Right, Equity, and Fairness were her stock-in-trade. She was
the daughter of Reason; the wife of Right; the mother of Equity; and
the mother-in-law of Fairness. It was in vain that I told her that
this world was not held together by Reason or Right alone, but also
by Unreason and Wrongs. She scoffed at my remarks, and asked me to
come to one of her speeches in Hyde Park on one of the next Sundays. I
came. There was a huge crowd, counting by the hundreds of thousands.
My lady friend stood on a waggon in the midst of about half-a-dozen
other women, who all had preferred single blessedness to coupled bliss.
They were, of course, each of them twenty-nine years old; and yet their
accumulated ages brought one comfortably back to the times of Queen
Elizabeth. When my friend's turn came, she addressed the crowd as
follows:

"'Men and women. Excuse me, ladies, beginning my speech in that way. It
is mere custom, the behests of which I obey. In my opinion there are no
men in this country. There are only cowards and their wives. Who but a
coward would refuse a woman the most elementary right of citizenship?
Who but a wretch and a dastardly runaway would deny women a right
which is given to the scum of men, provided they pay a ridiculous sum
in yearly taxes? There are no men in this country.' (A voice from the
people: 'None for you, m'um, evidently!')

"'I repeat it to you: there are no men. I will repeat it again. I can
never repeat it too frequently. Or, do you call a person a man who is
none? The first and chief characteristic of a true man is his love of
justice. It is so completely and exclusively his, that we women do not
in the least pretend to share in this his principal privilege.

"'But can the present so-called men be called just? Is it justice to
deny justice to more than one half of the nation, to the women? Let
us women have the suffrage, so that men, by thus doing justice, shall
become true men worthy of _their_ suffrage. For are not all their
reasonings against our wishes void of any force?

"'They say that the suffrage of women, by dragging them too much into
the political arena, would defeminise them. Pray look at us here
assembled. Are we unwomanly? Do we look as if we had lost any of that
down which hovers over the soul of domesticated women as does the nap
on a peach?' (Stormy applause.) 'Thanks, many thanks. I knew you would
not think so.

"'No, it is indeed absurd to assume that a waggon can change a woman
into a dragon. Am I changed by entering a 'bus? Or by mounting a taxi?
Why, then, should I be changed by standing on a waggon? I am no more
changed by it, than the waggon is changed by me.' (A voice: 'Good old
waggon!')

"'We want to have a share in legislation. There are a hundred
subjects regarding which we are better informed than are men.
Take food-adulteration--who knows more about it than we do? Take
intemperance--who drinks more in secret than we do? Take the law of
libel and slander--who libels and slanders more than we do? Who can
possibly possess more experience about it?

"'Look at history. Repeatedly there have been periods when a number of
queens and empresses proved to be more efficient than men. Politics,
especially foreign policy, spells simply lies and dissimulation. Who
can do that better than ourselves? People say that if we women get the
suffrage, the House of Commons would soon be filled with mere women.
Let us grant that, for argument's sake. Would the difference be really
so great? Are there not women in trousers? And are there not more
trousers than men?

"'Nowadays most men cry themselves hoarse over Peace, Arbitration,
International Good Will, and similar nostrums. Could we women not do
that too? I ask you men present, could we not do that as well? The men
of this country think that they will bring about the millennium by
preaching and spreading teetotalism, Christian Science, vegetarianism,
or simple lifeism. How ridiculous and petty.

"'Look at the "isms" we propose to preach and spread: (1)
Anti-corsetism; (2) Anti-skirtism; (3) Anti-bonnetism; (4)
Anti-gloveism; (5) Anti-necktieism; (6) Anti-cigarettism; and finally
(7) _Anti-antiism_.

"'On these seven hills of antis, or if you prefer it, on these seven
ant-hills, which are in reality anti-ills, we shall build our New Rome,
the rummiest Rome that ever was, and more eternal than the town of the
Cæsars and the Popes. Give us the suffrage! Do you not see how serious
we are about it? We know very well that the various classes of men
obtained the suffrage only by means of great fights in which, in some
countries, untold thousands of men were killed. But can you seriously
think of putting us women to similar straits?

"'Evidently, what men had to fight for in bitter earnest, ought to be
given to women in jest as a mere gift. Do give us the suffrage! Do not
be pedantic nor naughty. We mean it very seriously; therefore give it
to us as a joke, by sheer politeness, and as a matter of good manners.

"'Come, my male friends, be good boys; let me brush your coat, fix the
necktie in the proper shape and pour a little brilliantine on your
moustaches. There! That's a nice little boy. And now open the safe of
the nation and give us quick the right of rights, the might of mights,
the very thing that you men have been fighting for ever since Magna
Charta in 1215, give us the suffrage as an incidental free gift.

"'If you do so, we will pass a law that all barbers' shops shall be
in the soft, pleasant hands of young she-barbers. Think of the downy
satisfaction that this will give you! Think of the placid snoozes
in a barber's chair when your face is soaped, shaven and sponged by
mellow hands! Is it not a dear little enjoyment? Now, look here my male
friends, this and similar boons we shall shower upon you, provided you
give us the suffrage.

"'Nay, we shall before everything else (provided we have the suffrage!)
pass a law _abolishing breach-of-promise cases_.'

"(Endless hurrahs from all sides--Band--Fire-works--St Vitus' Dances,
until the whole immense crowd breaks out in a song 'She is a jolly good
maiden, etc.')

"'Thanks, you are very kind. Yes, we mean to abolish breach-of-promise
cases. Consider what advantages that would imply for you. A man will be
able to flirt round five different corners at a time, without risking
anything. He will be able to practise letter-writing in all the colours
of the rainbow, without in the least jeopardising his situation, purse
or expectations. He will be in a position to amuse himself thoroughly,
freely, everywhere, and at any time. What makes you men so stiff, so
tongue-tied, so pokery, but the dread of a breach-of-promise case.
Once that dread is removed by the abolition of such cases, you will be
amiable, great orators, full of charming _abandon_, and too lovely for
words. As a natural consequence, women will be more in love with you
than ever before. Your conquests in Sexland will be countless. You will
be like Alcibiades,--irresistible, universally victorious. Now, could
we offer you anything more tempting?

"'I know, of course, that outwardly you affect to be no ladies' men.
But pray, _entre nous_, are you not in reality just the reverse? Man
_is_ polygamous. We women do not in the least care for men, and if all
my female contemporaries should die out, leaving me alone in the world
with 600,000,000 men, I should myself speedily die with boredom. What
are men here for but as mere cards in our game of one woman against the
other? If I cannot martyrise a little the heart of my female friend by
alienating her man from her, what earthly use has her man for me?

"'But you men, you are quite different. You do wish that all the
women, at any rate all the young and beautiful women, shall be at your
order. This of course we cannot legislate for you. But we can do the
next best thing: we can abolish the chief obstacle in your way: the
breach-of-promise cases. This we promise to do, provided you give us
the suffrage. You are, however, much mistaken if you think that that is
all we have in store for you. Far from it.

"'If you give us the franchise, we pledge ourselves _never to publish a
novel or a drama_.'

"(Applause like an earthquake--men embrace one another--elderly
gentlemen cry with joy--a clergyman calls upon people to pray--in the
skies a rainbow appears.)

"'Yes, although with a breaking heart, yet we will make this immense
sacrifice on the altar of our patriotism: we will henceforth not
publish any novels. I cannot say that we will not write any. This would
be more than I or any other woman could promise. We must write novels.
We are subject to a writing itch that is quite beyond our control. The
less a woman has to say the more she will write. She must write; she
must write novels.

"'We write, we publish at present about five novels a day. If you give
us the suffrage, we pledge ourselves not to publish a single novel.'

"(Universal cry: 'Give them the suffrage, for God's sake!')

"'And if you do not give us the suffrage, we shall publish ten novels a
day.'

"(Fearful uproar--fierce cries for the police--twenty publishers
present are mobbed--Miss Cora Morelli present is in imminent danger of
life.)

"'Did I say, ten? What I meant to say is, that if you do not give us
the franchise, we shall publish fifteen novels a day.'

"(Revolution--pistol shots--the fire-brigade comes.)

"'Twenty--thirty--forty novels a day.'

"(The Big Ben is howling--the Thames river floods Middlesex--the House
of Commons suspends the Habeas Corpus Act.)

"'Or even ten novels every hour.'

"(The Albert Memorial leaves its place and takes refuge in the Imperial
Institute--the crowd, in despair, falls on their knees and implores the
speaker to have mercy on them--they promise the suffrage, at once, or
somewhat before that.)

"'There! I told you, we do mean what we mean, and we have all sorts of
means of making you mean what we mean. It is therefore understood that
you will give us the franchise, and we shall stop publishing novels.
But should you change your mind and go back on your present promises,
then I must warn you that we have in store even more drastic means of
forcing your hands. You must not in the least believe that the pressure
we can bring to bear upon you is exhausted with the devices just
enumerated. There are other devices. But for evident reasons of modesty
I prefer calling upon my motherly guide, Mrs Pancake, to tell you more
about them.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"With that my tender friend retired, and up got a middle-aged woman
with hard features and much flabby flesh. She was received with
mournful silence. She began in a strident voice, which she accentuated
by angular gestures cutting segments out of the air. She said:

"'You have, ladies and gentlemen, heard some of the disadvantages that
will inevitably be entailed upon you by not granting us what Justice,
Equity and our Costume render a demand that none but barbarians can
refuse. I am now going to give you just an inkling of what will befall
you should you pertinaciously persist in your obdurate refusal of the
franchise to women. We women have made up our minds to the exclusion of
any imaginable hesitation, change, or vacillation. We shall be firm and
unshakable.

"'We have done everything that could be done by way of persuading you.
We have published innumerable pamphlets; we have trodden countless
streets in countless processions; we have been wearing innumerable
badges and carrying thousands of flags and standards; we have screamed,
pushed, rowdied, boxed, scuffled, gnashed our teeth (even such as were
not originally made for that purpose), and suffered our skirts to be
torn to shreds; we have petitioned, waylaid, interpellated, ambushed,
bullied and memorialised all the ministers, all the editors, all the
clergymen, all the press-men; we have suffered imprisonment, fines,
scorn, ridicule; we have done, with the exception of actual fighting,
everything that men have done for the conquest of the suffrage.

"'Should all these immense sacrifices not avail us any; should it all
be in vain; then we the women of this country, and I doubt not those
of the other countries too, will, as a last resort, take refuge in
the oldest and most powerful ally of our sex. Eternal Time has two
constituents: Day and Night. The Day is man's. The Night is ours.'

"(Deadly silence--men begin looking very serious.)

"'The Night, I repeat it in the sternest manner possible, the Night
is ours. We grant, indeed, that sixteen hours are man's; but the
remaining eight are ours. The stars and the moon; the darkness and
the dream--they are all ours. Should you men persist in refusing us
the franchise, you will wake in vain for the moon and the stars and
the dream. You will see stars indeed, but other ones than you expect.
We shall be inexorable. No moon any more for you; neither crescent,
half nor full moon; neither stars nor milky-way; neither galaxy nor
gallantry.'

"(A salvationist: 'Let us pray!'--A soldier: 'Hope, m'um, that
Saturdays will be off-days?'--Solicitors, teetotallers, and three
editors of Zola's collected works: 'Disgraceful! shocking!'--A
scholar: 'Madame, that's a chestnut, Aristophanes has long proposed
that!'--General uproar--a band of nuns from Piccadilly hurrah the
proposal and raise prices of tickets--Scotland Yard smiles--the _Daily
Nail_ kodaks everybody and interviews Mrs Pancake on the spot--Mrs
Guard, the famous writer, at once founds a counter-League, with the
motto 'Astronomy for the people--Stars and Stripes free--the United
Gates of Love'--the _Daily Crony_ has an attack of moral appendicitis.)

       *       *       *       *       *

"I wish," continued Alcibiades, amidst the laughter of the immortals,
"Aristophanes had been present. I assure you that all that he said in
his comedies called _Ecclesiazusae_ and _Lysistrata_ pale beside the
tumultuous scenes caused by the peroration of Mrs Pancake. Her threat
was in such drastic contrast to the stars and moon she personally could
exhibit to the desires of men, that the comic effect of it became at
times almost unbearable.

"While the pandemonium was at its height a stentorian voice invited
all present to another platform where another woman was holding forth
on Free Love and Free Marriage. I forthwith repaired to the place, and
heard what was in every way a most interesting speech delivered by a
woman who consisted of a ton of bones and an ounce of flesh. She was
between forty and seventy-nine. She talked in a tone of conviction
which seemed to come from every corner of her personal masonry. Her
gestures were, if I may say so, as strident as her voice, which came
out with a peculiar gust of pectoral wind, unimpeded, as it was, by the
fence of too numerous teeth. She said:

"'Gentlemen, all that you have heard over there from the platforms of
the suffragettes is, to put it mildly, the merest rubbish. We women do
not want the suffrage. What we want is quite another thing. All our
misery since the days of Eve comes from one silly, absurd, and criminal
institution, and from that alone. Abolish that cesspool of depravity;
that hotbed of social gangrene; that degradation of men and women; and
we shall be all happy and contented for ever.

"'That institution; that cancerous hotbed; that degradation is:
_Marriage_. As long as we shall endure this scandalous bondage and
prostitution of the most sacred sentiments and desires of human beings,
even so long will our social wretchedness last.

"'Abolish marriage.

"'It has neither sense, nor object, nor right; it is the most hapless
aberration of humanity. How can you uphold such a monstrous thing?

"'Just consider: I do not know, and do not care to know what other
nations are like; I only care for my great nation, for England, for
Englishmen. Now, can anyone here present (or here absent, for the
matter of that), seriously contend that an Englishman is by nature
or education fit for marriage? Why, not one in ten thousand has the
slightest aptitude for it.

"'An Englishman is an island, a solitary worm, morally a hermit,
socially a bear, humanly a Cyclop. He hates company, including his own.
The idea that any person should intrude upon his hallowed circles
for more than a few minutes is revolting to him. When he is ill he
suffers most from the inquiries of friends about his condition. When
he is successful he is too proud to stoop to talking with anyone under
the rank of a lord. When he is unsuccessful, he takes it for granted
that nobody desires to speak to him. He builds his house after his
own character: rooms do not communicate. He chooses his friends among
people that talk as little as possible and call on him once a year. Any
remark about his person he resents most bitterly. Tell him, ever so
mildly, that the colour of his necktie is cryingly out of harmony with
the colour of his waistcoat, and he will hate you for three years.

"'And you mean to tell me, gentlemen, that such a creature is fit for
marriage? That is, fit for a condition of things in which a person,
other than himself, claims the right to be in the same room with him at
any given hour of the day or the night; to pass remarks on his necktie,
or his cuffs, or even on his tobacco; to talk, ay, to talk to him for
an hour, to twit him, or chaff him--good heavens, one might just as
well think of asking the Archbishop of Canterbury by telephone whether
he would not come to the next bar round the corner for a glass of Bass.

"'And as to other still more personal claims of tenderness and intimacy
on the part of the wife, such as embraces and kisses, one shudders
to think how any woman may ever hope to attempt doing them without
imminent risk to her life.

"'Fancy a wife trying to kiss her legal husband! He, prouder of his
collar and cuffs than of his banking account, to stand calmly and
willingly an assault on the immaculate correctness of the said collar
and cuffs!

"'It passes human comprehension. The mere idea thereof is unthinkable.

"'Perhaps in the first few weeks of married life. But after six months;
after a year, or two--by what stretch of imagination shall one reach
the possibility of such an event? After six months, he is indifferent
to the entire astronomy of his wife; after a year or so, he hates her.
It is not so much that he wants another woman, or another man's wife,
or another wife's man; what he wants is to be left alone.

"'He has long since shaken off the State, the Church, the Army, and,
politically, the Nobility. Nothing can be more evident than that he
wants to shake off the last of the old shackles: Marriage. His motive
is: shekels, but no shackles.

"'Some incomprehensibly modest people have proposed marriage to last
ten years only. It appears, they contend, that the critical period of
the modern marriage shows itself at the end of ten years. The scandals
that are usually cropping up at the end of that period, they say, might
very well be avoided by terminating marriage legally at the end of the
tenth year. People proposing such stuff clearly manifest their utter
inability to see through the true character of modern marriage.

"'If marriages were to last only ten years, then be sure that the said
critical period with its inevitable scandals would set in at the end
of the fifth year. The cause, the real cause of these scandals is not
in the length of time, but in the very nature of marriage. If this
iniquitous and barbarous contract were to last only for five years,
then its critical period and its scandals would appear at the end of
two years. And by a parity of reasoning, if marriage were to last one
year only, it would by its inherent vice come to grief at the end of
six months.

"'The only cure for marriage is to abolish it. Does marriage not demand
the very quality that not one English person in a hundred thousand
possesses: yieldingness? Or can anyone deny that no English person has
ever really meant to admit that he or she was wrong?

"'They are all of them infallible. People write such a lot about the
hatred of Popery in English history. What nonsense. English people do
not hate Popery; they despise the idea that there should be only one
infallible Pope, whereas they know that in England alone there are at
present over thirty millions of such infallibles. This being so, how
can marriage be a success?

"'Or take it,' the Free Love lady continued, 'from another standpoint.
Most Englishmen enter married life with little if any experience of
womanhood. Only the other day a young man of twenty-five, who was just
about to marry, asked in my presence whether it was likely that a woman
gave birth to one child early in the month of May, and to the other in
the following month of June? He thought that _The Times_ instalment
system applied to all good things.

"'Other young men inquire seriously about the strategy of marriage, and
the famous song in the _Belle of New York_, in which the girl asks her
_fiancé_ "When we are married what will you do?" was possible only in
countries of Anglo-Saxon stock. In Latin countries the operette could
not have been finished in one evening on account of the interminable
laughter of the public. In London nobody turned a hair, as they say.
Half of the men present had, in their time, asked the same question of
themselves or of their doctors.

"'Now if there is one thing more certain than another in the whole
matter of marriage it is this, that the inexperienced _fiancé_
generally makes the worst husband. Being familiar only with the ways
and manners of men, he misunderstands, misconstrues, and misjudges most
of the actions or words of his young wife. He is positively shocked
at her impetuous tenderness, and takes many a manifestation of her
love for him as mere base flattery or as hypocrisy. Not infrequently
he ceases treating her as his wife, and goes on living with her as
his sister; and, since the wife, more loyal to nature, rarely omits
recouping herself, her husband acts the part of certain gentlemen of
Constantinople. It is thus that the famous _ménage à trois_ does not,
properly speaking, exist in England. In England it is always a _ménage
à deux_.

"'If, then, instead of continuing marriage; if, instead of maintaining
an institution so absurd and so contrary to the nature of an
Englishman, we dropped it altogether; if, instead of compulsory wedding
ceremonies, we introduced that most sacred of all things: FREE LOVE;
the advantages accruing to the nation as a whole, and to each person
constituting that nation, would be immense.

"'Free Love, ay: that is the only solution. Nature knows what she is
after. The blue-eyed crave the black-eyed ones; the fair-haired desire
the dark-haired; the tall ones the small; the thin ones the thick; the
unlettered ones the lettered unfettered ones. This is Nature.

"'If these affinities are given free scope, the result will be a nation
of giants and heroes. Affinities produce Infinities. Free Trade in
wedlock is the great panacea. Since the only justifiable ground for
marriage is--the child, how dare one marry anyone else than the person
with whom he or she is most likely to have the finest babe? That person
is clearly indicated by Nature. How, then, can Society, Law, or the
Church claim the right to interfere in the choice?

"'I know that many of you will say: "Oh, if men should take their wives
only from Free Love, they would take a different one every quarter."
But if you come to think of it, it is not so at all. If men took their
wives out of Free Love, they could not so much as think of taking
another wife every quarter. For, which other wife could they take?
There would be none left for them, since all the other women would,
by the hypothesis, long have been taken up by _their_ Free Lovers.
Moreover, if a man takes a wife out of Free Love, he sticks to her just
because he loves her. Had he not loved her, he would not have taken
her; and if he should cease loving her, he would find no other woman to
join him, owing to his proved fickleness.

"'Last, not least, women and men would form elaborate societies for
the prevention of frivolous breaches of faith. At present no woman has
a serious interest in watching another woman's man. It would be quite
different in Free-Love-Land. The unofficial supervision and control of
men and women would be as rigorous as in monastic orders. As a man
will pay off debts contracted at a card-table with infinitely greater
anxiety than any ordinary debt of his to a tailor or a grocer, just
because such gambling debts are not actionable; even so conjugal debts
would, in Free-Love-Land, be discharged with a punctuality that now is
practically unknown.

"'The commonplace assertion that legal marriage preserves men and women
in a virtuous life has been refuted these six thousand years. To the
present day one is not able to deny the truth of what once a Turkish
woman replied to a Christian lady. The latter asked the Oriental: "How
can you tolerate the fact that your husband has at the same time and
in the same house three other wives of his?" The Turkish lady replied:
"Please, do not excite yourself unduly. The only difference between me
and you is this, that I know the names of my rivals, and you do not."

"'In Free-Love-Land alone is there virtue. Men and women select freely,
obeying only the dictates of infallible Nature. The result is order,
health, joy, and efficiency. How can any person of sense believe in the
present marriage systems, when one considers the countless lives of old
maids sacrificed to the Moloch of modern legal monogamy?

"'In England there are about four times more old maids than in any
other country; except in New England, in the United States, where every
second woman is born an old maid. Has anybody ever seriously pondered
over the great danger to Society and State implied in an excessive
number of old maids? I leave it to you, and I dare say to everyone of
you who has, no doubt, bitterly suffered at the hands of some one old
maid in his or her family.

"'Old maids are either angels of goodness, or devils in human form;
the real proportion of either must be left to the Lord Chancellor
to decide. But who, or what produces old maids? Our legal monogamy.
Give us Free Love, and you shall have heard the last word of old
maids. Refuse Free Love, and we shall have to form our old maids
into regiments and send them against the Germans. Plato said that
the unsatisfied womb of a woman wanders about in all her body like
a ravenous animal and devours everything on his path. Our present
marriage system makes more victims than victors.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"The good bag of bones wanted to continue in the same strain, but was
stopped by a young policeman who threatened to take her into custody
unless she discontinued her oratory. She threatened to love him freely;
whereupon he ran away as speedily as he could manage, but was at once
followed by the valiant she-orator, who nearly overtook him, crying
all the time 'I love you freely'--'I love you freely.' The whole crowd
followed, howling, screaming, laughing, and singing songs of Free Love.
So ended the discourse on Free Love.

       *       *       *       *       *

"A few weeks later," continued Alcibiades, "I made the acquaintance
of what they call a society lady. She was, of course, a specialist.
She had found out that her physical attractions were of a kind to show
off best at the moment of entering a crowded room. She was, to use the
phraseology of the _chef_, an _entrée_ beauty. Her name was Entréa. At
the moment she entered a _salon_, she gave, just for a few minutes, the
impression of being strikingly handsome. She walked well, and the upper
part of her head, her hair, forehead, and eyes were very pretty. She
knew that on entering a room, the upper part of the head is precisely
the one object of general attention. This she utilised in the most
methodic manner. She entered with an innocent smile and lustrous eyes.
The effect was decidedly pretty.

"In order to heighten it she always came late. Her cheeks, which were
ugly; her shoulders, which were uglier; her arms, which were still
uglier, were all cleverly disguised or made to appear secondary, and
as if dominated by her big eyes. She was very successful. Most men
considered her beautiful; and women were happy that her principal
effect did not last very long. She knew some fifteen phrases by heart,
which were meant to meet the conversation of the fifteen different
species into which she had, for daily use, divided the different men
she met in society. Each of these phrases gave her the appearance of
much _esprit_ and of an intelligent interest in the subject. She did
not understand them at all; but she never mixed them up, thanks to her
instinct, which was infallible.

"The last time she had done or said anything spontaneously or
naively was on the day she left her nursery. Ever since she was
the mere manager of her words and acts. In everything there was a
cool intention. As a matter of fact she was meant by Nature to be a
salesgirl at Whiteley's. Failing this, she sold her presence, her
smiles, her manners to the best social advantage. A rabid materialist,
she always pretended to live for nothing but ideals. Sickened by music,
she always gave herself out to be an enthusiast for Wagner. Like many
women that have no natural talent for intellectual pursuits, she was
most eager to read serious books, to attend serious lectures, and to
engage a conversation on philosophy.

"I met her in my quality as Prince of Syracuse. She first thought
that Syracuse was the name of my father; when I had explained to her
that Syracuse was the name of a famous town in Sicily, she asked me
whether I belonged to the great family whose motto was _qui s'excuse,
s'iracuse_.

"On my answering in the negative, she exclaimed: 'But surely you belong
at least to the Maffia? Oh do, it would be so interesting!' In order
to please her I at once belonged to that society of secret assassins.
However, I soon noticed that she thought the Maffia was the Sicilian
form of a society for patriotic Mafficking.

"When we became a little more intimate, she told me that I was
never to speak of anything else than Syracuse. That would give me a
certain _cachet_, as she put it, and distinguish me from the others.
Accordingly I placed all my stories and occasional sallies of talk
at Syracuse. I was the Syracusan. She swore my accent was Syracusan,
and that my entire personality breathed Syracusan air. In society she
presented me as a member of a curious race, the Syracusans, in Sicily,
close to the Riviera.

"One day she surprised me with the question whether the men of Syracuse
were still in the habit of marrying two women at a time. She had read
in some book of the double marriage of Dionysus the Elder in the fourth
century B.C. I calmed her in that respect. I said that since that time
things had changed at Syracuse.

"On the other hand, I was unable to make out whether she was a divorced
virgin, or a deceased sister's wife. It was not clear at all. When
conversing with me alone, she was as dry as a Nonconformist; but in a
drawing-room, full of people, she showered upon me all the sweets of
passionate flirtation.

"One day I told her that I had won great victories in the chariot races
at Olympia. She looked at me with a knowing smile and said: 'Come,
come, why did I not read about it in the _Daily Nail_?' and, showing me
the inside of her hat, she pointed at a slip of paper in it, on which
was printed: 'I am somewhat of a liar myself.' I assured her that I had
really won great prizes at Olympia.

"'Were they in the papers?' she asked.

"I said, we had no papers at that time.

"'No papers?' she exclaimed. 'Why, were you like the negroes? No
papers! What will you tell me next? Had you perhaps no top-hats either?
Do you mean to tell me that this great poet of yours--what you call
him?--ah, Lord Homer, had no top-hat?'

"I assured her that we had no hats whatever.

"'Oh, I see,' she said, 'you were founded like the blue boys,--I see.
But surely you wore gloves?'

"On my denying it, she turned a little pale.

"'No gloves either? Then I must ask you only one more thing: had you no
shoes either?'

"'No,' I said, calmly, 'some of us, like Socrates, went always
barefoot, others in sandals.'

"She smiled incredulously. I told her that in the heyday of Athens men
in the streets went about over one-third nude. She did not mind the
nude, but she stopped at the word heyday.

"She asked me: 'On which day of the year fell your heyday?'

"I did not quite know what to say, until it flashed upon my mind that
she meant 'hay-day.' I soon saw I was right, because she added:

"'Does going barefoot cure hay-fever? And is that the reason why so
many people still talk of Socrates?'

"I stared at her. Was it really possible that she did not know who
Socrates was? I tried to give a short sketch of your life, O Socrates,
but I could not go beyond the time before you were born. For, when I
said that your mother had been a midwife, my lady friend recoiled with
an expression of terror.

"'What,' she exclaimed, 'he was the son of a midwife?--a
midwife?--Pray, do not let us talk about such people! I hoped he was at
least the son of a baronet. How could you ever endure his company?'

"'That was just it,' said I, 'I could not. His charm was so great, that
for fear of neglecting everything else I fled from him like a hunted
stag.'

"'But pray,' she retorted, 'what charm can there be in a son of a
midwife? I can imagine some interest in a clever midwife,--but in her
son? Oh, that is too absurd for words!'

"'My charming friend,' I answered, 'Socrates was, as he frequently
remarked it, himself a sort of midwife, who never pretended to be
parent to a thought, but only to have helped others to produce them.'

"'Oh, is that it,--' she said dryly, 'Socrates did manual services in
midwifery? How lost to all shame your women must have been to engage a
man in their most delicate moments. I now see why so many of my lady
friends deserted a man who had announced lectures on Plato. He also
talked about Socrates, and when it became known that Socrates was a
wretched midwife's clerk, we left the lecture-hall in indignation.
Fancy that man said he talked about Plato, and yet in his discourses
he talked about nurseries, teetotalism, Christian Science and all such
things as date only of yesterday, and of which Plato could have known
nothing.'

"'But my lovely Entréa,' I interrupted, 'Plato does talk of all these
things, and with a vengeance.'

"'How _could_ he talk of them?' she triumphantly retorted. 'Did he ever
read the _Daily Nail_ or _Ladies' Wold_?'

"'No,' I said, 'he never did, which is one of the many reasons of his
divine genius. But he does speak of temperance, and simple life, and
the superman, and all the other so-called discoveries of this age,
with the full knowledge of a sage who has actually experienced those
eccentricities.'

"My fascinating friend could stand it no longer. Interrupting me she
said:

"'Why, every child knows that Plato talked of nothing else than of
Platonic love. We all expected to hear about nothing else than that
curious love which all of us desire, if it is not too long insisted
upon. We went to the course to revive in ourselves long-lost shivers
not only of idealism, but even of bimetallism, or as it were the double
weight of it.

"'We thought, since Plato is evidently named after platinum, which we
know to be the dearest of precious metals, his philosophy must treat of
such emotions as cost us the greatest sacrifice.

"'Platonic love is the most comfortable of subjects to talk or think
about. It makes you look innocent, and yet on its brink there are such
nicely dreadful possibilities of plunging into delightful abysses. Each
thing gets two values; one Platonic, the other,--the naughty value. A
whole nude arm may be Platonic; but a voluptuous wrist peeping out of
fine laces may be only--a tonic.

"'Now these are precisely the subjects of which we desired to hear
in those lectures. Instead of which the man said nothing about them,
nothing about that dear Platonic love; in fact, he said that Plato
never speaks of what is now called Platonic love. And that man calls
himself a scholar? Why, my very chamber-maid knows better. The other
day she saw the lecturer's photo in a paper and, smiling in an
embarrassed way, she said to the cook: "That's the man what talks at
Cliradge's about miscarriages." Was she not right? Is not Platonic love
the cause of so many miscarriages, before, during, or after the wedding
ceremony?

"'And then,' she added with a gasp, 'we all knew that Plato was a
mystic, full of that shivery, half-toney, gruesomely something or other
which makes us feel that even in everyday life we are surrounded by
asterisks, or, as they also call them, astral forces. Was not Plato
an intimate friend of Mrs Blavatsky, the sister of Madame Badarzewska,
who was the composer of "A Maiden's Prayer"? There! why then did that
lecturer not talk about palmistry, auristry, sorcery, witchcraft, and
other itch-crafts? Not a word about them! We were indignant.

"'A friend of mine, Mrs Oofry Blazing, who talks French admirably,
and whose teeth are the envy of her nose, declared: "_Cet homme est
un fumiste_." Of course, he sold us fumes, instead of perfumes. One
amongst us, an American woman of the third sex, told the man publicly
straight into his face, and with inimitable delicacy of touch: "Sir,
what are you here for?" Quite so; what _was_ he there for? We wanted
Plato, and nothing but Plato. One fairly expected him to begin every
sentence with P's, or Pl's. Instead of that he wandered from one
subject to another. One day he talked about the general and the
particular; the other day about the particular and the general. But
what particular is there in a general, I beg of you? Is an admiral not
much more important? We do not trouble about the army at all. And then,
and chiefly, what has a general to do with Plato? The lectures were
not on military matters, but on the most immaterial matters, which yet
matter materially. But, of course, now that you tell me that Socrates,
Plato's master, was a he-midwife, I can very well understand that his
modern disciples are philosophical miscarriages!'"

       *       *       *       *       *

The gods laughed heartily, and Sappho asked Plato how he liked the
remarks of Entréa. Plato smiled and made Sappho blush by reminding
her what the little ones had at all times said of her, although not
a tittle of truth was in it. "No ordinary citizen, nor his wife," he
added, "ever wants to know persons or things as they really are. They
only want to know what they imagine or desire to be the truth. This
is the reason why so many men before the public take up a definite
pose, the one demanded by the public. This they do, not out of sheer
fatuity, but of necessity. A king could not afford to sing in public,
no matter how well he sang; it does not fit the image the public likes
to form about a king. In fact, the better he sang, the more harm it
would do him. I have always impressed the little ones as a mystic, an
enthusiast, a blessed spirit, as you Goethe used to call me. Yet my
principal aim was Apollo, and not Dionysus; clearness, and not the
_clair-obscur_ of trances."

Alcibiades, whose beautiful head added to the charms of Venice, then
continued: "Nothing, O Plato, can be truer than your remark. My lady
friend was a living example of your statement. To me, after so many
hundreds of experiences, her made-up little mask was no hindrance,--I
saw through her within less than a week. She was, at heart, as dry,
as kippered, as intentionalist, and coldly self-conscious as the
driest of Egyptian book-keepers in a great merchant firm at Corinth.
Nothing really interested her; she was only ever running after what she
imagined to be the fashion of the moment. What she really wanted was
to be the earliest in 'the latest.' When she came to the bookshop,
at five in the afternoon, when all the others came, she would ask the
clerk after the latest fashion in novels. She did that so frequently,
and with such exasperating regularity, that one day the clerk, who
could stand it no longer, said to her: 'Madame, be seated for a
few moments--the fashion is just changing.' She, not in the least
disconcerted, eagerly retorted: 'I say, is that "the latest"?' The
clerk gave notice to leave!

"One day I found her in a very bad humour. When pressed for an
explanation, she told me that just at that moment an elegant funeral
was going on, at which she was most anxious to attend. 'Why, then, do
you not go?' I asked.

"'Because,' she replied, 'it is simply impossible. Just fancy, that
good woman died of heart failure!'

"'?'--

"'You cannot see? Heart failure? Can you imagine anybody to die
of heart failure, when the only correct thing to do is to die of
appendicitis? I telephoned in due time to her doctor, imploring him
to declare that she died of that smart disease. But he is a brute. He
would not do it. Now I am for ever compromised by the friendship of
that woman. Oh how true was the remark of your sage Salami, when he
said that nobody can be said to be happy before all his friends have
died!'"

Thereupon the gods and heroes congratulated Solon upon his change of
profession: having been a sage, he was now a sausage.

"The next time I saw my lady friend," Alcibiades continued, "I found
her in tears. Inquiring after the cause of her distress, I learnt:

"'Just imagine! You know my little pet-dog. I bought him of a
lady-in-waiting. He has the most exquisite tact and feels happy only
in genteel society. An hour ago my maid suddenly left my flat, and
expecting, as I did, a lady of very high standing, I did a little
dusting and cleaning in my room. When my Toto saw that; when he watched
me actually doing housemaid's work, he cried bitterly. He could not
bear the idea of my demeaning myself with work unfit for a lady. It
was really too touching for words. When I saw the refined sense of
genteeldom in Toto's eyes, I too began crying. And so we both cried.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"When I had lived through several scenes of the character just
described, I could not help thinking that we Athenians were perhaps
much wiser than the modern men, in that we did not allow our women
to appear in society. They were, it is true, seldom interesting, nor
physically greatly developed. On the other hand they never bored us
with types of what these little ones call society ladies. I cannot
but remember the exquisite evenings which I spent at the house of
Critias, where one of our wittiest _hetairai_, or emancipated women,
imitated the false manners, hypocrisy and inane pomp of the society
ladies of Thebes in Egypt. We laughed until we could see no longer.
What Leontion, that _hetaira_, represented was exactly what I observed
in my lady friend in London. The same disheartening dryness of soul;
the same exasperating superficiality of intellect; the same lack of all
real refinement, that I found a few centuries later in society in the
times of the Roman Cæsars.

"London desiccates; whereas Athens or Paris animates. When I gave
up my relation to Entréa, I met a woman of about thirty-four, whose
head was so perfect that Evænetus himself has never engraved a more
absolutely beautiful one. Her hair was not only golden of the most
lovely tint, but also full of waves, from long curls in Doric _adagio_,
to tantalising Corinthian _pizzicato_ frizzles all round. Her face was
a cameo cut in onyx, and both lovely and severe. Her loveliness was in
the upper part of her face; her severity round the mouth and the chin.
This strange reversal of what is usually the case gave her a character
of her own. Her stark blue eyes were big and cold, yet sympathetic and
intelligent-looking; and her ears were the finest shells that Leucothea
presented her mother with from the wine-coloured ocean, and inside the
shells were the most enchanting pearls, which the sea-nymph then left
in the mouth of the blessed babe as her teeth. She was not tall, but
very neatly made; a _fausse maigre_. She wrote bright articles, in
which from time to time she wrapped up a big truth in _bon-bon_ paper.

"There was in her the richest material for the most enchanting
womanhood; a blend of Musarion and Aspasia; or to talk modern style,
a blend of Mademoiselle l'Espinasse with Madame Récamier. She was
neither. Not that she made any preposterous effort to be, what Paris
calls, a Madame Récamier. But London desiccated her. From dry by
nature, she became drier still by London. Being as dry as she was, she
only cared for mystic things; for what is behind the curtain of things;
for the borderland of knowledge and dream. As sand can never drink in
enough rain, so dry souls want to intoxicate themselves with mystic
alcohol. In vulgarly dry persons that rain from above becomes--mud;
in refinedly dry souls it is atomised into an intellectual spray. Her
whole soul was athirst of that spray.

"When I told her that I was the son of Clinias, she wanted to know
first of all, what had been going on at the mysteries of Eleusis. I
told her that, like all the Hellenes, I had sworn never to reveal what
I had seen at the holy ceremonies. This she could not understand. In
her religion the priests are but too anxious to initiate anybody that
cares for it.

"'Initiate me--oh initiate me--I beg you,' she said, and looked more
beautiful than ever. Her arm trembled; her voice faltered. Even if
I did not respect my oath, I should not have told her the teachings
of Eleusis. They were far too simple for her mystery-craving soul.
So I told her of the Orphic mysteries, and the more she heard of the
extravagant and mind-shaking rites and tenets, the more interested she
became. Her mouth, usually so severe, swung again in pouty lines of
youthful timidity, and her voice got a 'cello down of mellowness.

"'Let us introduce Orphism into this country,' she exclaimed. 'Will you
be honorary treasurer?'

"I accepted," said Alcibiades. "Within three days Orphism was presented
as the _Orphic Science_. The members were called priestesses,
archontes, or acolytes, according to their degree. Within a month
there were 843 members. Jamblichus was sent for and made secretary.
Costumes were invented; pamphlets printed; cures promised; shares
offered. It was declared that trances and mystic shivers would be
procured 'while you wait'; dreams accounted for; inexplicables
explained; the curtain of things raised every Friday at five, after
tea. Finally the Orphics gave their first dinner at the Hotel Cecil.

"That was the worst blow. After that I abandoned Orphism."



FOURTH NIGHT

ALCIBIADES--CONTINUED


Hestia now interrupted Alcibiades with the question whether all the
women in nebulous Britannia were as grotesque as those that he had
described.

Alcibiades smiled and said:

"Not all of them, but all at times. Women must necessarily adapt
themselves to the nature of their men, as clerks do to that of their
patrons, or soldiers to that of their generals and officers. The
Englishman buys his liberty at the expense of much human capital;
which cannot but make him eccentric and grotesque. The women attune
themselves to him, although no foreigner has a clearer nor a more
depreciative idea of Englishmen's angularity than have English women.
As women they do not, as a rule, care for liberty at all, and hence
consider the sacrifices made by men for liberty as superfluous and
uncalled-for. A woman wants in all things the human note, which the
average Englishman hates. Hence the surprising power of Continental men
over English women. A hundred picked Greeks from Athens, Sicyon and
Syracuse could bring half of all English women to book--for Cytherea.
How could it be otherwise? The animated, passionate, direct talk of a
Greek is something so novel to an English woman that she is as it were
hypnotised by it. She thinks it is she and her personality that has
given her Continental admirer that _verve_ of expression which she has
never before experienced in the men of her circle. This alone is such
flattery to her that she loses her head.

"If one resolutely goes on scraping off the man-made chalk from the
manners and actions of English women, one is frequently rewarded
with the pleasure of arriving at last at the woman behind the chalk.
This is more especially the case in women of the higher classes. The
only time in England I felt something of that painful bliss that
mortals call love, was in the case of a lady friend of mine who, under
mountains of London clay, hid away a passionate, loving woman. She
was tall and luxuriously built. Her hands were of perfect shape and
condignly continued by lovely arms, that attached themselves into
majestic shoulders with the ease of a rivulet entering a lake by a
graceful curve. Over her shoulders the minaret of her neck stood
watch. In charming contrast to the _legato cantabile_ of her body was
the _staccato_ of her mind. Her words pecked at things like birds.
Sometimes there appeared amongst the latter an ugly vulture or two; but
there were more colibris and magpies. I had met her for months before
I surmised that there was something behind that London clay. But when
the moment came and the bells began sobbing in her minaret, then I knew
that here was a heart aglow with true passion and with the dawn of hope
divine. Like all women that do truly love, she would not believe me
that I sincerely felt what I said. Doubt is to women what danger is to
men: it sharpens the delight of love. She never became really tender;
ay, she was amazed and moved to tears at my being so. Her heart was
uneducated; it was _gauche_ at the game of love.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Amongst the persons dressed in female attire I also met a number of
beings whom, but for my long stay at Sparta, I should hardly have
recognised as women. A French friend of mine remarked of them: '_Ce ne
sont pas des femmes, ce sont des Américaines_.' The species is very
much in evidence in London. They reminded me violently of the Spartan
women. They are handsome, if more striking than beautiful. I noticed
that in contrast to European women, American females gain in years what
they lose in dress at night. They look older when undressed. They have
excellent teeth, and execrable hands; they jump well, but walk badly.
Their great speciality is their voice, which is strident, top-nasal,
_falsetto_, disheartening. The most beautiful amongst them is murdered
by her voice. It is as if out of the most perfect mouth, set in the
most charming face, an ugly rat would jump at one. That voice, the
English say, comes from the climate of America. (This I do not believe
at all; for I have noticed that in England everything is ascribed to
the climate, as to the thing most talked about by the people. Climate
and weather are the most popular subjects in England; the one that is
never out of fashion.) As a matter of fact it comes from the total lack
of emotionality in the Americans; just as amongst musical instruments
the more emotional ones, like the 'cello, have more pectoral tonality,
whereas the fife, for instance, having no deep emotions at all to
express, is high and thin toned.

"Nothing seemed to me more interesting than the way in which the
American female reminded me of the Spartans and the Amazons.
Could anything be more striking than the coincidence between two
conversations, one of which I had, far over two thousand years ago,
with the Queen of an Amazonian tribe in Thracia, and the other with
the wife of an American flour dealer settled in London? When I called
on Thamyris in her tent, one of her first questions was as to the
latest dramatic piece by Sophocles. I at once saw that the Queen
wanted to impress her _entourage_ with her great literary abilities. I
gave her some news about Sophocles, whereupon she turned round to her
one-breasted she-warriors and said with a superior smile:

"'You must know that Sophocles is the latest star in Athenian comedy.'

"She mixed you up, O Sophocles, with Aristophanes. With the American
flour dealer's wife my experience was as follows: He had made my
acquaintance in a bar-room, and invited me to his house. On the way
there he said to me:

"'My missus is quite a linguist. She talks French like two natives. Do
talk to her French.'

"When we arrived at the house and entered the drawing-room, a rather
handsome woman rose from an arm-chair, and stepping up to me said
something that sounded like '_Monsieur, je suis ravie de faire votre
connaissance_'; I thanked her, also in French, when suddenly she bowed
over me and whispered in American fifes:

"'Don't continue, that's all I know.'

"When I left, the husband accompanied me to the door. Before I took
leave, he twinkled with his right eye, and asked me with a knowing
look, 'Well, sir, what do you think of the linguistic range of my
madame?'

"I did not quite know what to reply. At last I said: 'Like a true
soldier she fights on the borderland.'

"One of the strangest things to note in London society is the
fascination exercised by American women on Englishmen. Many of the
really intelligent men among the English are practically lost as
soon as the American woman begins playing with the little lasso of
thin ropes which she carries about her in the shape of an acquired
brightness and a studied vivacity. The most glaring defects of those
women do not seem to exist for the average Englishman. He takes her
loud brightness for French _esprit_ dished up to him in intelligible
English. Her total lack of self-restraint and modesty he takes for a
charming _abandon_. The real fact is that he is afraid of her. She
may have many a bump: she certainly has not that of reverence. Her
irreverent mind makes light of the _grandezza_ of Englishmen, and thus
cows him by his fear of making himself ridiculous.

"The first American woman (--_sit venia verbo_, as you would say, O
Cicero--) I met in London was one married to an English lord. She was
tall, well-built, with rich arms and hips, an expressive head, very
fond of the arts, more especially of music. Even her head, which was
a trifle square, indicated that. When she learnt that I really was the
famous Alcibiades, her excitement knew no bounds. She was good enough
to explain it to me:

"'Just fancy that! Alcibiades! (They pronounce my name Elkibidees.) I
am simply charmed! I have so far every year introduced some new and
striking personage into drawing-rooms, in order to stun the natives of
this obsolete island. I have brought into fashion one-legged dancers;
three-legged calves; single-minded thought-readers; illusionists;
disillusionists; disemotionists; dancers classical, mediæval, and
hyper-modern; French lectures on the isle of Lesbos, after a series of
discourses on the calves of the legs of Greek goddesses in marble; not
to forget my unique course of lectures given at the drawing-room of the
dearest of all duchesses, on the history of _décolletage_.

"'This year, to be quite frank with you, Mr Elkibidees, I meant to
arrange in the magnificent drawing-room of an Oriental English lady,
the uniquest and at the same time the boldest exhibition ever offered
to the dear nerves of any class of women. I cannot quite tell you what
it was going to be. I can only faintly indicate that it was to be a
collection of all the oldest as well as latest inventions securing the
tranquillity of enjoying just one child in the family. This, I have no
doubt, would have been the greatest sensation of the season.

"'The city of Manchester and the town of Leeds would have publicly
protested against so "immoral" an exhibition. Of course their
councillors would have done so after careful study of the things
exhibited. Three bishops would have threatened to preach publicly in
Hyde Park; while five archdeacons would have volunteered to be the
honorary secretaries of so interesting an exhibition.

"'I communicated the idea to Father Bowan, a virulent Jesuit, who
in the creepiest of _capucinades_, delivered on most Sundays during
the season, gives us the most delightful shivers of repentance, and
likewise many an inkling of charming vice of which we did not know
anything before we learned it from his pure lips. He was delighted.
"Do, my lady, do do it. I am just a little short of horrors, and your
exhibition will give me excellent material for at least four Sundays.
I hope you have not forgotten to illustrate by wax figures certain
methods, far more efficient than any instrument can be, and most
completely enumerated and described in the works of members of our
holy Order, such as Suarez, Sanchez, Escobar, and others. Should you
not have these works, I will send you an accurate abridgment of their
principal statements of facts."

"'When I heard the Rev. Father talk like that, I could scarcely control
myself with enthusiasm in anticipating the huge sensation my exhibition
was sure to make. It would have been the best fed, the best clad, and
the most enlightened sensation ever made in England since the battle of
Hastings. I really thought that nothing greater could be imagined.

"'And yet, when I now come to think what a draw you will be, Mr Elki,
if properly taken in hand, duly advertised, adroitly paragraphed,
constantly interviewed, and occasionally leadered,--when I think of
all that, I cannot but think that I shall have in you the greatest
catch that has ever been in any country under any sun. In fact, I have
my plan quite ready.

"'I will announce a big reception, "to meet" you. Some ladies will,
by request, arrive in Greek dress. The public orator of one of the
great Universities will address you in Greek, and you will reply in
the same language. Then three of the prettiest daughters of earls and
marquesses will dance the dance of the Graces, after which there will
be a dramatic piece made by Hall Caine and Shaw, each of them writing
alternate pages, the subject of which will be the Thirty Years' War, in
which you excelled so much.'

"I interrupted her," said Alcibiades, "remarking that the Thirty Years'
War was two thousand years after my time; my war was the Peloponnesian
War.

"'Very well,' she exclaimed, 'the Peloponnesian War. I do not care
which. Hall Caine will praise everything in connection with war, in his
best _Daily Nail_ style. He is, you know, our leading light. He always
wants to indulge in great thoughts, and would do so too, but for the
awkward fact that he cannot find any.

"'Shaw, on the other hand, will cry down in choicest Gaelic all the
glories of war. It will be the biggest fun out.

"'And then, _entre nous_, could you not bring with you a Lais, a Phryne
or two, in their original costumes as they allured all you naughty
Greeks in times bygone? It would be charmingly revolting. When I dimly
represent to myself how the young eagles of society will tremble with
pleasure at the thought of adding to their lists of conquests, in pink
and white, a Corinthian or Athenian _demi-mondaine_ of two thousand
years ago, I feel that I am a Personality.

"'If I could offer such an unheard-of opportunity I should get first
leaders in the _Manchester Guardian_ and mild rebukes, full of secret
zest, in the godly _Guardian_; let alone other noble papers read by the
goody-goody ones. The _Record_ would send me a testimonial signed by
the leading higher critics. I should be the heroine of the day and of
the night.'"

The gods and heroes encouraged Alcibiades by their gay laughter to tell
them all that happened at the "At Home" of his American lady friend,
and he continued as follows:

"When the evening of the Greek _soirée_ came, I went to the
drawing-room in company with Phryne and Lais, who were most charmingly
dressed as flute-girls. When we entered the large room we saw a vast
assembly of women and men, mostly dressed in the preposterous fashion
of the little ones. The women looked like zoological specimens, some
resembling Brazilian butterflies, others reptiles, others again snakes
or birds of prey. The upper part of their bodies was uncovered,
no matter whether the rest of the body had gone through countless
campaigns enlivened by numerous capitulations, or whether it had just
expanded into the buds of rosy spring. The men looked like the clowns
in our farces. They wore a costume that no Greek slave would have
donned. It was all black and all of the same cut. Instead of looking
enterprising, they all looked like undertakers. Each of them made
a nervous attempt to appear as inoffensive, and as self-effacing as
possible; just like undertakers entering the house where a person had
died.

"When we entered the room the whole assembly rose and cried:
'Cairo--Cairo!' (they were told to cry _Chaire_--but in vain). I
could distinctly hear remarks such as these: 'How weird!'--'Is it not
uncanny?'--'It makes me feel creepy!' After a few minutes there was
a deep silence, and an elderly gentleman came up through the middle
of the room and, bowing first to us and then to the people assembled,
stepped up to the platform and began a speech in a strange language,
which I vaguely remembered having heard before.

"Phryne suddenly began to giggle, and so irresistible was her laughter
that both Lais and I could not but join her, especially when in words
broken by continuous laughter she told us:

"'The old gent pretends to speak Athenian Greek!'

"It was indeed too absurd for words. There was especially that vulgar
sound _i_ constantly recurring where we never dreamt of using such a
sound; and our beautiful _ypsilon_ (γ) he pronounced like the English
_u_, which is like serving champagne in soup-plates. When he stumbled
over an _ou_, he pronounced it with a sound to which dentists are
better accustomed than any Athenian ever was, and our deep and manly
_ch_ (χ) he castrated down to a lisping _k_. I remember Carians in
Asia Minor who talked like that. Our noble and incomparable language,
orchestral, picturesque, sculptural, became like the Palace of Minos
which they are excavating at present: in its magnificent halls, eaten
by weather and worm, one sees only poor labourers and here and there a
directing mind.

"I imagined that the good man meant by his speech to welcome me back
into the world, and so when my turn to answer him came, I got up and,
leaning partly on Phryne and partly on Lais, who stood near me, I
replied as follows, after speaking for a little while in Attic, in the
language of the country:

"'It is indeed with no ordinary satisfaction that I beg to thank
you, O Sophist, and you here present for the pleasant reception that
you have given us. My lot has on the whole not been altogether bad.
Your studious men, it is true, affect to condemn me, my policy,
and my private life. Perhaps they will allow me to remark that the
irregularity of my past morals is a matter of temptations. Diogenes
used to tell us that one of my sternest historian-critics in Syracuse
left his wife, children and house on being for once tempted by the
chamber-maid of one of my passing caprices; and the historians of your
race who so gravely decry a Madame de Montespan would, did Madame only
smile at them, incontinently fall into a fit of hopeless moral collapse.

"'But if your men write against me, irrespective of what they really
feel about me, I am sure your women take a much more lenient view of
the case.'

"(Discreet applause.)

"'They feel that ambition did not eat up all the forces of my soul, and
that in worshipping Ares (Mars), I never forgot the cult of Aphrodite
(Venus) either. We Hellenes ventured to be humans, and that is why now
we have become demi-gods. You, my friends, do not even venture to be
humans, and that is why you remain the little ones.

"'I notice in the northern countries of Europe men do not, or to a
very small degree care for women. Perhaps that is the reason why the
Roman Catholic idea of the Holy Virgin has had no lasting hold on these
nations.

"'I have seen,' continued Alcibiades, 'too many faces, masks, and
pretences to be much impressed by the apparent indifference of the
northerner to the charms of women. It never meant more than either an
unavowed inclination towards his own sex, or sheer boorishness. Even we
Hellenes had very much to suffer from our political and social neglect
of women outside emancipated ones. The Romans acted much more wisely in
that respect; while the nation of our hostess has practically become
what we called a _gynæcocracy_ or women's rule, where man is socially
what our Greek women used to be: relegated to the background. I hear,
this is the privilege of Englishmen. I understand. When I was young I
learnt but too much about that privilege.

"'But if I should be asked for advice I would tell your men to take
your women much more seriously. I know that Englishmen are much more
grave than serious; yet with regard to women they ought to be much more
intent on considering them in everything their mates, and in several
things their superiors. Of course, this is an unmilitary nation; and
such nations will always remain boors in Sunday dress.

"'One of your great writers who, being outside the academic clique,
has always been maligned by the officials, has written a beautiful
essay on the influence of women. Poor Buckle--he treated the problem
as a schoolroom paper. He came to the result that women encourage the
deductive mode of thinking. However, women are more seductive than
deductive, and their real influence is to charm the young, to warm the
mature, and not to alarm the old.

"'I, being now above the changes of time, I only, contemplate their
charm. And what greater potentialities of charm could one wish for
than those that your women possess? If those magnificently cut and
superbly coloured eyes learned to be expressive; if the muscles of
those fine cheeks knew how to move with speedier grace; if that purely
outlined mouth were more animated--what possibilities of fascination,
like so many fairies, might rise over the dispassionate surface of
those silent lakes! As they are, their several organs are positively
hostile, or coldly indifferent to one another. The forehead, instead
of being the ever-changing capital of the human column, setting off
their beautiful hair, as ivory sets off gold; the shoulders, the seat
of human grace, instead of giving to the head the pedestal of the
Charites; and the arms and hands, instead of giving by their movements
the proper lilt and cadence to everything said or done;--all these
hate one another respectively. The arms do not converse with the face;
theirs is like other conversations: after a few remarks on the weather
all communication stops. So sullen is the antipathy of the arms, that
as a rule they hide on the back, as if begrudging the face or the bust
their company. It is in that way that English women who might be as
beautiful and charming as the maidens of Thebes or of Tanagra, have
made themselves into walking Caryatides, whom we invariably represented
as doing a slavish labour, with their arms on their backs, and with a
heavy load on their heads.

"'Remove the arms, O women of England, from your badly swung back
and bring them into play in front of your well-shaped bust and your
beautiful faces! Let the consciousness of your power electrify your
looks, your dimples, and your gait; and when from musing Graces you
will have changed into graceful Muses, your men too will be much
superior to what they used to be.

"'See how little your influence is, as your language clearly indicates.
Is not your language the only idiom in Europe that has completely
dropped that fine shade of sweet intimacy which the use of _thou_ and
_thy_ is giving to the other languages? Is not a new world of tenderest
internal joy permeating the French, German or Italian woman who for
the first time dares to _tutoyer_ her lover? You women of England, the
natural priestesses of all warmth and intimacy, you have suffered all
that to decay.

"'To your men we Hellenes say: "Imitate us!" To you women, we do not
say so. We ask you to exceed us, to go beyond us, and then alone
when women will be what we Hellenic men were, that is, specimens of
all-round humanity, then indeed you too will rise to the higher status,
and the golden age will again fill the world with light and happiness!'

"After that speech of mine," continued Alcibiades, "there was much
applause. I mingled with the public, and was at once interpellated by
one of the American ladies present:

"'Most interesting speech,' she said. 'What I especially liked were
your remarks about thou-ing. And what I want to know most is whether
Caryatides were thou-ing one another?'

"I was a little perplexed, and all that I could answer was: 'Their
dimples did,' and this seemed to satisfy my American lady marvellously
well.

"Another lady asked me how many Muses we had, and on hearing that their
number was nine, she was highly astonished. 'Only nine? Why in London
there are mews in every second street. How strange!'

"A third lady asked me what I meant by shoulders being a pedestal. Her
shoulders, she was sure, were no pedestals, and she would not allow
anyone to stand on them. She added, that she was aware of my having
said that the shoulders were the pedestal of the Charites, but with her
best intention she could not allow even charity to be extended to her
shoulders. I smiled consent.

"A fourth lady, whose name was Valley, but who was a mountain of
otherwise rosy flesh, asked me what I had meant by maidens of Podagra?
She was sure that young maids never suffered from that ugly disease. I
told her that I really meant Chiragra. This satisfied her marvellously
well.

"During that time Phryne and Lais were the heroines of the evening,
lionised by women, and courted by men. The women asked them all sorts
of questions and seemed extraordinarily eager to be instructed. One of
them, a brilliant duchess--(who had three secretaries providing her
with the latest information about everything, the first preparing all
the catch-words from A to G, the second from H to N, and the third from
O to Z)--asked Phryne whether she would not permit her to convince
herself of the accuracy of the estimate in which Hyperides held the
exquisite form of Phryne's bosom. (A middle-class woman thereupon asked
Mr Gox, M.P., what Hyperides meant. Mr Gox told her it was the Greek
for Rufus, son of Abraham.) Phryne volunteered to do so at once, and
the women disappeared in a special room, from where very soon cries
of amazement could be heard. The pure beauty of Phryne enchanted the
women. The sensation was immense, ay immensest.

"The representative of the _Daily Nail_ offered first £2000, then
£3000, finally £5000 for permission to kodak Phryne.

"The _Bad Times_ at once prepared a folio edition of _The Engravers'
Engravings_, payable in 263 instalments, or preferably at once.

"The _Daily Marconigraph_ started a public discussion in its columns:
'Shall the lower part of the upper anatomy of the female trunk be
unveiled?'

"The excitement became so universal that Mr Gigerl See at once convened
a national meeting for the erection of ten new statues to Shakespeare;
and General Booth ordered an absolute fast of 105 hours' duration.

"All the directors of music halls, the next day, stormed Hotel Ritz
where Phryne had a suite of six lovely rooms, and offered impossible
prices for a performance of five minutes. Phryne, after consulting me,
consented to appear at the Palace Theatre, in the immortal scene when,
in presence of the entire population of Athens, she descended into the
sea. Half of the proceeds were to be given to a fund for poor women in
childbed. Endless advertisements soon filled every available space on
London's walls, parks, newspapers, 'buses, railways, and shops. Tickets
sold at tenfold their original prices.

"At last the evening came. In the first two rows there were practically
nothing but clergymen. The following rows were filled with lawyers,
M.P.'s and University professors. In the boxes one could see all the
aristocracy of the country. When Phryne's turn came, the orchestra
played Wagner's 'Pilgrim's Chorus,' toward the end of which the curtain
rolled up, and the scene represented the Piræus with apparently
countless people, all in Greek dress. When the expectation was at its
height, Phryne appeared clad only with the veil of her perfect beauty,
and descended into the sea. Before she entered the water she said her
prayers to Aphrodite, and then slowly went into the waves.

"Everyone in the audience had come to the theatre expecting to be
badly shocked. To their utmost astonishment they found that there
was not only nothing shocking in the scene, but even much to fill
the people with awe. Like all the barbarians, the little ones deem
nudity a shocking sight. What shocked them that night was the fact
that they were not shocked. They felt for a moment that many of their
notions and views must be radically wrong, and that was the only shock
they received. Phryne triumphed over Londoners, as she did over the
Athenians.

"My American lady friend was in raptures. The incredible sensation her
Elki and his Athenian women had caused in _blasé_ London society made
her the centre of all social centres for a fortnight. She received
innumerable letters from innumerable people. The greatest writers
that the world has ever seen, such as Miss Cora Morelli, wrote to her
saying, that:

"'She had from her infancy onward taken a deep interest in Alcibiades
and his time, and that now, having actually seen him, she would
forthwith publish a novel under the attractive title of "The Mighty
Elki," let alone another novel, full of the most delightful shivers,
called "Phry, the Pagan."'

"Mr Hall Caine, in a thundering article, fulminated against the row
made over Phryne, and solemnly declared that the charms of his Manxman
were incomparably greater. One day Mr Caine called on me. He implored
me to become a Christian, and assured me that the shortest way to that
effect would be to attend a performance of his piece of that name. I
thanked him for his kind offer, but politely declined it. Whereupon Mr
Caine remained musing, until at last he surprised me with the question:
'Mr Alcib, you are the man to solve the problem of my life. Do you not
think I bear a remarkable resemblance to Lord Bacon?'

"I answered that I could discern no resemblance between him and the
witty Chancellor, but that I was bound to confess that there was a
striking resemblance between him and Shakespeare.

"Mr Caine smiled a superior smile. 'I wonder,' he said, 'you are not
aware of the fact that Shakespeare was written by Lord Bacon.'

"'Very strange--very strange,' I replied. 'We in Olympus think that
Shakespeare was written by the victory over the Armada, and published
by Elizabeth and Co.'

"'Do you really think such stuff in Olympus?' exclaimed Mr Caine;
'then I do not wonder that I have never been invited to that place.
What has the Armada to do with _Hamlet_ or _King Lear_? You might just
as well say that my novels were written by our victory at Colenso and
Spion Kop. It is revoltingly absurd. A book is a book and not shrapnel
or bombs. Sir, I am ashamed of you; the purple of red indignation
rises swellingly into my distended physiognomy, and my thought-fraught
forehead sinks under the ignominy of such life-bereft incoherences!'

"I advised Mr Caine to drink Perrier; he thanked me profusely, and
assured me that he had always done so. He evidently mixed it up
with the Pierian sources of literature which, I learn, provide the
innumerable papers of the Associated Press with the necessary water
under the name of Perrier.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In my honour my American lady friend gave, a few days later, a
concert. The little ones call a concert a series of instrumental and
vocal pieces played for sheer amusement, and without any relation to
poetry, dance, or religion. I have these three to four hundred years
accustomed myself to their music, which is thoroughly different from
ours, being polyphonous, whereas ours was never so. Dionysus, who
presides at their music, has often told us that he introduced it into
the modern world in order to show his exceeding power even in times
when the men and women have lamentably fallen from the height of our
Grecian culture. Our music was essentially Apollinic; that of the
moderns is Dionysiac. You remember, O Zeus, that even Apollo was moved
when three of the moderns had the honour to perform before him. Even he
praised Mozart, Chopin, and some pieces of Weber. You need not blush,
Frédéric, and you might help me to entertain and charm our holy circle
by playing us one of your compositions in which beauty of form is
married in tender love to truth of feeling."

Thereupon, at a sign of Zeus, Milo of Crotona, the Olympian victor
of all victors, carried a piano on his mighty back, and put it down
gently in one of the mystic barks. Chopin, bowing to the gods, and more
particularly to Juno and Diana, sat down to the instrument and played
the second and the third movement of his E minor _Concerto_. Round
him waved the three Graces, while Dionysus laid an ivy wreath on his
blessed head. Even the gods were moved, and when Frédéric had ended,
they applauded him with passionate admiration.

"I wish, O Chopin," continued Alcibiades, "I had known you in my
mortal time. What Terpander and Thaletas, the great musicians, did for
Sparta, you might have helped me to do for Athens. It was not to be.
The thought saddens me still. More than Sophocles and Aristophanes
or Socrates, your incomparable music would have helped to keep the
_Kosmos_ of Athens in due proportions."

A short pause ensued, and all looked with timidity on Zeus' immovable
face.

"But let us drop these sorrowful reminiscences and return to the London
concert given by my American hostess.

"She had engaged the best-known artists. For the solo songs she engaged
a woman who had to be carried into the room in a motor chair, and was
not allowed to stand up, before three architects had examined the
solidity of the floor. Her range was from the deep _p_ to the high
_l_. She sang baritone, and soprano at the same time, and what her
tone wanted in width her _taille_ amply replaced. She sang nothing but
Wagner, whose music, it would appear, is written for two-ton women
only. No smaller tonnage need apply. While she sang, three dozen
violins executed the tremolos of five hundred whimpering children,
while forty counter-basses gave, every three minutes, a terrible grunt
in _x_ minor. There were also fifteen fifes, and twenty-one different
kinds of brass instruments, some of which had necks much longer than
that of the oldest giraffe. The music was decidedly sensual and
nerve-irritating. It was full of chords, both accords and discords,
and what little melody there was in it was kneaded out into a tapeworm
of prodigious length and such hydralike vitality, that no matter how
frequently the strings throttled off its head, it yet constantly
recurred bulging out a new head.

"The men present liked the singer; the women adored the music. It gave
them all sorts of shivers, and although they did not understand it at
all, they yet felt that here was a new shiver. Or as one of them, the
bright Mrs Blazing, remarked: '_Quel artiste que ce M. Wagner!_ He has
translated into music the grating noise of a comb on silk, the creaking
of a rusty key in an old lock, and the strident rasp of a skidding
sleigh or motor on hard-frozen snow.'

"The next artist was a Belgian violinist. For reasons that you alone,
O Zeus, could tell us, the Belgians are credited with a special gift
for pulling strings in general, and those of the violin in particular.
Being a nation midway between the Germans and the French, they are
believed to possess much of German musical talent and something of
French elegance. This would easily make them good 'cello players.
But not satisfied with the 'cello, in which they have excelled more
than one nation, they must needs be great violinists too. However,
the violin, while not at all the king of instruments, is yet the most
vindictive and jealous amongst them. It is like the Lorelei: it allures
hundreds, only to dash their bones against the rock of Failure. It
wants the delicacy of a woman and the strength of a man. It requires
the soul of spring and the heart of summer to play it well.

"A Belgian is _eo ipso_ debarred from reaching the height of
violin-playing; just as a Chinaman, with his over-specialised mind,
can never well play the orchestral piano. A Belgian heart is moving
in a colourless and slouching _andante_; the violin moves in a
profoundly agitated _adagio_ or _allegro_. The violin is the instrument
of luckless nations, such as were formerly the Italians, the Poles,
and the Hungarians who gave us Paganini, Wienavski and Joachim. The
Belgians have nearly always enjoyed the _embonpoint_ of fat prosperity.
'_Leur jeu bedonne_,' as Mrs Blazing would say.

"The Belgian played your _Chaconne_ in D minor, O Bach."

At these words of Alcibiades all the thinkers and poets present rose
from their seats and bowed to John Sebastian, who stood near Strabo
and Aristotle, being exceedingly fond of geographical lore. Even the
gods applauded and Polyhymnia allowed him to kiss her hands.

"You remember, O John Sebastian, when I met you near Lützen at one of
your solitary walks and you spoke to me of your _Chaconne_. I listened
with rapt attention and told you that your composition, which you
then played to me on a violin which the old inn-keeper lent you and
which had just arrived from Steiner in Tyrol, rendered as perfectly
as possible the sentiments I had felt when for the first time in my
life I went to the Oracle at Dodona, where the winds rush through the
high oak-trees with a fierce power such as can be heard in no other
spot in Europe. I re-imagined my awe-struck meditations in the holy
grove; I heard the stormy music of Zeus' winds in Zeus' trees; I again
felt all through me the soul-moving chorus of the priests which ends
in a jubilating mood, and finally I left with deep regret at having
to re-enter my life of stress after having spent a day in sacred and
mystic seclusion.

"When the Belgian artist played it, I listened in vain for Dodona. What
I heard was the rustling of silken tones through the wood of the chairs
and tables at the Carlton. Where was the Oracle? Where the chorus of
the priests? Where their jubilation? The only thing that I found were
my regrets. But the public was charmed. It is imperative to admire the
_Chaconne_, chiefly because it is played Violin _solo_. Mrs Blazing
explained the matter to me with her wonted rapidity of mind: 'Why
wonder at our admiration of the _Chaconne_? Do we not say: "_Chacun à
son goût_?"'

"The next artist was a pianist, whose name sounded like Pianowolsky
or Forterewsky. He was of course a Pole. The English have long found
out that -welsky or -ewsky goes with the name of a great pianist, as
the pedal goes with the piano. It was for this reason that Liszt, the
Orpheus of the last century, never had any success in England. He ought
to have called himself Franzescowitch Lisztobulszky, and then, no
doubt, he would have scored heavily. Rubinstein had indeed much success
in England, but it is patent that most English took his official name
as a mere abbreviation of Ruben Ishnajewich Stonehammercrushowsky.
The English taste in music is remarkable; it is somewhat like their
taste in fruit. They prefer hothouse grapes to natural ones. In the
same way they prefer the piano music of Mendelmeier, called Bartholdy,
to that of Stephen Heller or Volkmann. What they more particularly
like are the 'Songs without Words' of that composer, which in reality
are _Words without Songs_. His piano music is nothing but congealed
respectability, or frozen _shockingitis_."

Aristoxenus, interrupting Alcibiades, exclaimed: "Do not, O son of
Clinias, forget the man's marvellous compositions for the violin as
well as for the orchestra. Diana frequently commands his _Midsummer
Night's Dream_ when she dwells with her nymphs in the mystic forest
near Farnham Common, where Bartholdy composed it under the trees of
Canute."

"You are quite right, O master of all Harmony, and I want to speak
only of his piano music. The pianist at the concert had a very fine
profile and beautiful hair. This helped him very much in a country
where the sense of stylishness is exceedingly acute. A coachman must
have a broad back; a pianist, a fine profile; a violinist, long legs;
a 'cellist, beautiful hands; and a lady singer, a vast promontory.
Once these indispensable qualities are given, his or her music is
practically a matter of indifference.

"The pianist then performing played well, as long as he played _forte_
and _staccato_; but he had neither a _legato_ nor, what was fatal, a
_piano_, let alone a _pianissimo_. Fortunately his sense of rhythm was
very well developed; otherwise he did not rise above a first prizeman
of a conservatory.

"He played a transcription or two by Liszt. This the English condemn;
it appears unlegitimate to them. To please them, one must play one
of the last sonatas of Beethoven, preferably those composed after
his death, that is, those that the man wrote when he had long lost
the power of moulding his ideas in the cast of a sonata, and when
his vitality had been ebbing away for years. A transcription stands
to the original as does an engraving of an oil-colour picture or a
statue to its original. Most people will enjoy a fine engraving of
the _Transfiguration_ or of Our Lady of Milo much more readily than
they would the original; just as I now know that you gave us, O Zeus,
great artists like Scopas, Praxiteles, Lionardo, or Domenichino,
because we could not bear, nor comprehend the sight of the originals
of their divine art, as long as we still move in our mortal coil. The
transcription of some of the ideas of Mozart's _Don Juan_ by Liszt is
the best and most illuminating commentary on that incomparable opera.

"More interesting than the play were the remarks which I overheard
from among the public. The men dwelt exclusively on the big sums of
money the pianist made by his 1526 recitals in 2000 towns of the
United States. The profits they credited him with ranged from £15,000
to £100,000. A Viennese banker present drily remarked that he wished
he could play the difference between the real and the imagined profits
of the virtuoso on a fine Erard piano. The women made quite different
remarks. Said one:

"'Herr Pianoforterewsky has been painted by royalty.'

"'Is that so?' said her neighbour. 'What an interesting face! I wish I
could procure a photo of the picture.'

"'Do you know,' said a third, 'that Herr Pinaforewsky practises
twenty-three hours a day? I know it on the best authority; his tuner
told me so.'

"'Which tuner? Herr Pinacothekowsky, my dear, has three tuners: one for
the high notes, the second for the middle ones, and the third for the
low notes.'

"'How interesting! But suppose one of the tuners falls ill. What does
he do then?'

"'Why, it's simple enough. In that case he only plays pieces requiring
two of the three ranges of notes.'

"'How intensely interesting! But pray, if you do not take it amiss, my
dear, I learnt that Herr Pedalewsky has only two tuners: one for the
black keys, the other for the white ones.'

"'My dear, that was so in bygone times when he played sometimes a whole
concert on the black keys alone, being 231 variations on Chopin's
_Etude_ on the black keys. But it made such a sad impression that some
nasty critics said his piano was in mourning black; other critics said
that he was paid to do so by Mr Jay of Regent Street.'

"'How excruciatingly interesting! Do you know, my dear, I was told
that Herr Polonorusky plays practically all the time, and even when
he travels he carries with him a dumb piano on which he practises
incessantly.'

"'How touching! I have heard that too, and believed it, until that
atrocious man who writes for the _Bad Times_ destroyed all my
illusions. He said that if Herr Pantyrewsky did that, he would for ever
spoil his touch. Just fancy that! It is not the touch, but the pose of
that languid, Chopinesque profile over a dumb piano in a rattling car
that was so interesting. And now that horrid journalist spoils it all.
Nay, he added that the whole story was deliberately invented by the
artist's manager.'

"'How distressingly interesting! You know, my dear, I will not believe
the story about the manager. I know too much about the wonderful
pianist. I have learnt at Marienbad that he had ten teachers at a time,
one for each of his fingers, and that for five years he lived in a tiny
village in Bavaria, because, don't you see, it was so central for the
ten different cities where his teachers lived. For the thumb he rushed
off to Frankfort on the Maine. There is no town like Frankfort for the
study of the thumb. That's why they make such excellent sausages there
which resemble a thumb to perfection. For the index he went to Rome.
And so forth and so on. It is most marvellous.'

"All during that time," Alcibiades continued, "the pianist was playing
the moonlight sonata of Beethoven. At the end of the piece, the ladies
who had carried on the lively conversation applauded wildly. 'Was
it not marvellous?' said one to the other. 'Oh--delightful!' was the
answer.

"So ended the concert. On leaving my seat I met Mrs Blazing.

"'_O mon cher_,' she said, 'why do all these women pretend to enjoy
music? They very well know that not one of them cares for it in the
least. I frankly admit that music to me is the anarchy of air, the
French Revolution of sounds, acoustic bankruptcy. All our lives we have
been taught to suppress our emotions, and to consider it ungenteel
to express them in any way whatever. We were told that we must hide
and suppress them--which we have done so successfully that after some
time we resemble to a nicety the famous safe of Madame Humbert. And
then, in flagrant contradiction to all this genteel education, we are
supposed to accept with joy the moanings, cries, sobs, sighs, and other
unsuppressed emotions of some middle-class Dutchman or Teuton dished up
to us in the form of a sonata. It is too absurd for words.

"'If that lower-middle-class Dutchman Beethoven (or as my Cynthia
calls him: "_Bête au vent_") wants to exhale his moral distress and
sentimental indigestion, let him do so by all means, but in a lonely
room. Why does he interfere with the even tenor of our well-varnished
life? If my charming Japanese china figures, or my pretty girls and
shepherds in _vieux Saxe_ suddenly began to roar out their sentiments,
I should have them destroyed or sold without any further ado. Why
should I accept such roarings from an ugly, beer-drinking, unmannered
Teuton? Why, I ask you?'

"'Music is the art of poor nations and poor classes. Outside a few
Jews, no great musician came from among the rich classes; and Jews
are socially impoverished. I can understand the attraction of ditties
nursed in the music halls. They fan one with a gentle breeze of
light tones, and here and there tickle a nerve or two. But what on
earth shall we do with such _plesiosauri_ as the monsters they call
symphonies, in which fifty or sixty instruments go amuck in fifty
different ways? The flute tries to serpentine round the bassoon in
order to instil in it drops of deadly poison; the violins gallop
recklessly _à la_ Mazeppa against and over the violas and 'celli, while
the brass darts forth glowing bombs falling with cruelty into the
finest flower-beds of oboes and harps. It is simply the hoax of the
century. Would you at Athens ever have endured such a pandemonium?'

"'You are quite right, _ma très charmante dame_,' I said, 'we never
had such music and we should have little cared for it. Our way of
making symphonies was to write epics, crowded with persons, divine and
human, and with events and incidents of all colours and shades. The
Continental nations have lost the epic creativeness proper, and must
therefore write epics in sound. Just as your languages do not allow you
to write very strictly metred poetry such as we have written without
impairing the fire and glamour of poetry, and the only way left for you
of imitating the severe metres of Archilochus, Alcæus or Sappho is in
the form of musical canons, fugues, or other counterpointed music. It
seems to me that you English have not done much by way of music epics,
because, like ourselves, you were busily engaged in writing epics of
quite a different kind: the epic of your Empire. The nations that have
written musical epics, did do so at a time when these were the only
epics they could write,--the symphony of Empire being refused them.'

"'I see,' said Mrs Blazing. 'You mean to say that our Mozarts and
Beethovens are Lord Chatham, Clive, Nelson and Wellington?'

"'In a manner, yes. Few nations, if any, can excel both in arts and in
Empire-making, and had you English been able to hold in your imperial
power considerable parts of Europe, say, of France, Germany or Spain,
you would never have had either Walter Scott or Byron, Shelley or
Tennyson. For the efforts required to conquer and hold European
territory would have taxed all your strength so severely that no
resources would have been left for conquests in the realm of the arts
and literature.

"'This is why the Romans, who conquered, not coloured races, but the
mightiest white nations, could never write either great epics or great
dramas. They wrote only one epic, one drama of first and to this day
unparalleled magnitude: the Roman Empire. I meant to do a similar thing
for Athens, but I failed. I now know why. My real enemies were not in
the camp of my political adversaries, but in the theatre of Dionysus
and in the schools of the philosophers. Do not, therefore, _ma chère
amie_, begrudge the Germans their great musicians. They are really very
great, and not even your greatest minds surpass, perhaps do not even
equal them. Your consolation may be in this, that the Germans too will
soon cease writing music worth the hearing. They now want to write
quite different epics. And no nation can write two sorts of epics at a
time.'

"'I am so glad to hear you say so,' said Mrs Blazing. 'It relieves me
of a _corvée_ that I hitherto considered to be a patriotic duty. I
mean, I will henceforth never attend the representations of the new
school of _soi-disant_ English music. Inwardly I never liked it; it
always appeared to me like an Englishwoman who tries to imitate the
_grâce_ and _verve_ of a Parisian woman, with all her easy gestures,
vivacious conversation, and delicate coquetry. It will not do.

"'We English women do not shine in movement; our sphere is repose. We
may be troublesome, but never _troublante_.

"'Even so is English academic music. And I now see why it must be so.
It is not in us, because another force takes its place. Like all people
we like to shine in that wherein we are most deficient, and the other
day I was present at a scene that could hardly be more painful. At the
house of a rich and highly distinguished city man I met the famous Sir
Somebody Hangar, the composer. The question arose who was the greatest
musician? Thereupon Sir Somebody, looking up to the beautiful ceiling
of the room, exclaimed dreamily: "Music is of _very_ recent origin...."
One of the gentlemen present then asked Sir Somebody whether he had
ever heard the reply given to that question by the great Gounod? Sir
Somebody contemptuously uttered: "Gounod? It is not worth hearing." I
was indignant, and pointedly asked the gentleman to tell us Gounod's
reply. The gentleman, looking at Sir Somebody with a curious smile,
related:

"'Gounod, on being asked who in his opinion was the greatest musician,
said: "When I was a boy of twenty, I said: _moi_. Ten years later I
said: _moi et Mozart_. Again ten years later I said: _Mozart et moi_.
And now I say: _Mozart_."'

"This reply," said Alcibiades, "has Attic perfume in it. Having
suffered so much, as I have, at the hands of musicians in my time, when
dramatic writers were as much musicians as dramatists, I have in my
Olympian leisure carefully inquired into the real causes of the rise of
modern music.

"'You said a few moments ago, _ma très spirituelle dame_, that
music is the art of poor classes. There is this much truth in that,
that modern music has indeed been almost entirely in the hands of
middle-class people. This being so, everything depends on the nature
and dispositions of the middle class in a given country. In England,
for instance, the middle class is totally different from that of
France or that of South Germany, the home of German music. The English
middle class is cold, dry, _gaffeur_ to the extreme, afflicted with a
veritable rage for outward respectability, unsufferably formalist, and
deeply convinced of its social inferiority. In such a class nothing
remotely resembling German or French music can ever possibly arise.
Such a class furnishes excellent business men, and reliable sergeants
to the officers of imperial work. But music can no more grow out of it
than can a rose out of a poker.

"'This middle class is the result of British Imperialism, and this is
how Imperialism has prevented and will, as long as it lasts, always
prevent the rise of really fine music in the higher sense of the term.
This is also why we Hellenes never achieved greater results in music.
Like the English, or the Americans, we never had a real _bourgeoisie_,
or the only possible foster-earth of great music. However,
_bourgeoisie_ is only a historic phenomenon, one that is destined to
disappear, and with it will disappear all music. Mr Richard Strauss is
singing its dirge.'"

When Alcibiades had finished his entertaining tale of women and
music in England, the gods and heroes congratulated him warmly, and
Zeus ordered that, under the direction of Mozart, all the nymphs and
goddesses of the forests and seas shall sing one of the motets of Bach.
This they did, and all Venice was filled with the magic songs, which
were as pure as those produced by the nymph Echo in the Baptistry at
Pisa. All the palaces and the churches of Venice seemed to listen with
melancholy pleasure, and St Mark's hesitated to sound the hour lest the
spell should be broken. When the motet was ended, the gods and heroes
rose and disappeared in the heavens.



THE FIFTH NIGHT

CÆSAR ON THE HOUSE OF COMMONS


On the fifth night the gods and heroes assembled in the city of Rome.
Their meeting-place was the Forum. The eternal city lay dormant
around them, and Zeus, who had for the time recalled into existence
the magnificent temple built in his honour, which used to adorn the
incomparable centre of Roman might and splendour, sat in front of it,
surrounded by the Flamines and the last Pontifex Maximus aided by the
last Vestal Virgins. On the _via sacra_ there was an unending flow of
thronging Romans and Greeks, and Cicero was seen talking with great
animation with Julius Cæsar, while Augustus seemed to chide Tacitus
with mild irony. Cornelius Scipio Africanus was deeply engaged in a
conversation with Pericles, and Marcus Antistius Labeo discussed law
with Plato. From afar the wind brought the sounds of the bells of the
Vatican, at the hearing of which all conversation stopped; and when
a few minutes later a choir intoned a hymn in a neighbouring church,
the Pontifex and the Flamines veiled their heads in dumb resignation,
and the Vestal Virgins looked up to Zeus as if imploring him for help.
A pause followed. But soon the moon rose over the majestic Palatine
hill; the Graces performed a soulful dance, and finally Zeus asked
Caius Julius Cæsar to entertain them with his experiences during his
third travel in England which, as he said, he had, in addition to his
two landings during his mortal life, recently made after nearly two
thousand years.

Cæsar, standing near the house of the Senate of ancient Rome, thus
addressed the divine Assembly:

"It is, O Jupiter and all the other gods and heroes, a singular
pleasure and honour to me to address you on a topic so important and
interesting. When I arrived in England for the third time (--I started
from Dunkerque to avoid giving offence to the 112 scholars who have,
each to his complete satisfaction, proved 112 different spots on the
French coast between Boulogne and Calais wherefrom I am supposed to
have started for England in my mortal time--) I was received by no
wilder tribe than a few customs officials, who asked me whether I had
any cigars in my toga. On my denying it, they searched me, and finding
none they let me go. Two hours later I arrived in London, which I found
ugly beyond words. I can understand that you, O Canova, cried on seeing
it. What struck me most was its surprising silence, which contrasted
very strongly with the noise of Rome, or Paris. I mentioned this to a
casual acquaintance, who stared at me in despair, exclaiming: 'Silence,
sir? Why, the noises of London drive half of us to madness. Here, take
that (--he handed me a bunch of printed papers--) read it carefully
and join us.' On looking into the papers I found that they contained
a prospectus of a vast 'Society for the Abatement of Street-Noises in
London.'

"This made me somewhat thoughtful. It was quite clear to me that the
unattractiveness of London is owing chiefly to its lack of animation,
to its silence. I soon found out that silence is the dominating
institution of that country. To talk is to infringe the principal law
of their language. They want to see their language noiselessly, and
not to hear it. Hence they constantly read printed language on wooden
paper, in a wooden style, on wooden matters. This they call 'the
daily Press.' I met one of the chief writers on their most popular
paper, and he assured me that the editor solemnly warns each of his
contributors not to indulge in any attempt at _esprit_ or brilliancy of
any sort; for, should he do so, the editor would be forced to dismiss
him forthwith. All that the contributor is allowed to do is to make
startling headlines, such as:

  'Delicious puddings made out of wood.'

  'New aqueducts full of milk for the people.'

  'Discovery of wireless telegraphy among the
  ancient Egyptians.'

  'Discovery of the pin-cushion to Cleopatra's
  needles.'

  'Trunk murder: a man assassinates his widow.'

That same editor, on my asking him why he allowed such crying
stupidities in the headlines, and nothing but the most platitudinous
stuff in the body of the article, gave me the following answer:

"'My dear sir, our public has nerves but no intellect. Hence we work
for sudden, rapid shocks to their nerves, and no fatigue to their
intellect. They not only do not think; they do not want to think.
They are practically convinced that thinking is the perdition of
all common-sense. Just let me give you an example. There is among
the younger writers one whose mind is singularly suggestive and
nimble. He really has something to say, and can say it well. However,
unfortunately, he says it in what are, apparently, contradictory and
circuitous terms. This my readers cannot grasp; it fatigues them. They
complain of that man's writings as being "heavy," "hard to follow."
This is the consequence of the vogue of music halls. One may say that
the popular University of this country, where the average man gets most
of his ideas from, is the music hall. What, then, can we editors do
better than imitate the style and substance of the music hall? Shocks
to the nerves--and no fatigue to the intellect. _Voilà!_'

       *       *       *       *       *

"On my way home I met Columbus. He told me, and no man ever spoke with
more solid right, that he was the greatest benefactor to England. But
for him, who by discovering the New World placed England in the very
centre of the intelligent and wealthy nations, while formerly England
was somewhere on the 'other end of all the world'; but for him, he
said, England could never have had her unique leverage. 'You, Cæsar,'
he added, 'discovered England, as the Vikings discovered America; I did
not discover it, I made it. But would you believe me that thousands
and thousands of Englishmen have scarcely ever heard my name? They
constantly talk of their race as born to rule. But what would they
have ruled without me? The ponds in Lincolnshire. You wonder at their
tongue-tiedness. I will tell you what it means. The English are neither
talkers nor thinkers; they are almost exclusively men of action; or
used to be. They have no intellectual initiative. They have started
neither the Renascence, nor the Great Discoveries of my time, nor the
Reformation, or the three greatest factors in the formation of modern
Europe. All this was first started by us Italians. We can both talk
and think and create; but we are not good at actions. The English are
good only at action. This is the be-all and end-all of their history.
Have you ever seen their Parliament? Do not omit attending it. You will
there learn something that no other Assembly can teach you. It rarely
contains a great orator, for oratory is of little use in an Assembly
with an iron party discipline, and with members every one of whom is
amenable to no argument that has not had the august privilege of being
born in his own mind. And since his mind brings forth none, he moves in
a vicious circle!'

"'Would you not,' I asked Columbus, 'accompany me to the House of
Commons?'

"'Readily,' said the great Genoese. And next day we repaired to the
'first club of the country.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"The hall was curiously unfit for the business of a national Assembly.
It is neither large, nor light enough. The acoustics are fair, but
superfluous. For, who cares very much what any member other than
himself is saying? In the midst there is a porter's lodge, in which
sits a gentleman in the attire of the eighteenth century. This, as
behoves a conservative Roman, did not meet with my disapproval.
The only objection I made was that in my opinion he ought to have
been clothed in all the various costumes in use since Magna Charta.
The English, and the rest of the little ones, in utter contrast to
ourselves, constantly vary their dress. We preferred to vary our inner
selves.

"The subject of discussion, or rather of a score or so of monologues,
was one of which in my time I have had the amplest experience. They
proposed to give weekly a certain sum of money to anyone of their
citizens who on reaching his seventieth year had arrived at the end
of his financial tether. In my day I had given away millions to
the populace, and my imperial successors had gone even very much
further. The common people was thereby demoralised as is everybody,
even parents, who accepts, year in year out, free gifts from a third
person or his children. Being demoralised, such a recipient of
donations becomes inevitably the most cruel enemy of his donor. Nothing
contributed more to the downfall of Rome. A nation must consist of free
and financially independent citizens, or it loses its most precious
asset. How frequently, O Pericles, have you said to me, how much you
regretted having introduced the same injurious donations into Athens.
But this is the melancholy truth of all history: one learns from
history one thing only, to wit, that no statesman has ever learned
anything from history.

"In the midst of my sad reflections I could yet not help being amused
by the speech of one member of the governing party, who belonged to
that formidable mixture of faddists, formalists, cocksure-ists, and
moral precisians who have in this country an influence that we should
not have given to the members of the most exalted among the Roman
patricians. Much as they are laughed at, they yet have the power of
striking dread into the public and instilling hesitation into the
feeble nerves of statesmen. The name of the orator in question was, if
I am right, Harold Gox. He said:

"'Mr Speaker, it is with a satisfaction and self-complacency new even
to me that I beg to submit my remarks on a subject than which there is
no greater one; a subject, sir, that has no predicate except that of
immensity; an immensity, sir, that exceeds infinitude itself; and last
not least, an infinitude vaster than all other infinitudes: a moral
infinity. This country, sir, was built up by morals and righteousness.
Righteousness, I say, sir; and I will repeat it: righteousness. How did
we come by our Empire? By righteousness. How did our colonists occupy
vast continents? By righteousness. What was the guiding principle even
of our national debt? Righteousness, in that we contracted it mainly
by paying the foreigner to help us in beating our immoral enemies.
Righteousness is the A and the Z of our glorious polity.

"'We cannot help being righteous; it is in us, over us, beside,
beneath, and all through us. We have sometimes tried to be unrighteous;
but, sir, we could not. It is not given to us, and we have only what is
given to us.

"'Well then, sir, if that be so, as it undoubtedly is, beyond the
shadow of a doubt; then I venture to say that any person that opposes
the present bill of Old Age Pensions cannot but be an enemy of England,
in that he is an enemy of righteousness.

"'What indeed, sir, can be fairer, juster, and more equitable than that
they who have laboriously saved up a few sovereigns, should share them
with those that have done everything in their power to have none?

"'Where there is nothing, there is death. Can a country introduce
death as a regular constituent organ of its life? What in that case
would righteousness do? She would blush green with shame, sir. Nothing
would remain for her but to leave this country and to go to Germany or
Turkey. Could we allow such a disaster? Would it not be necessary to
hold or haul her back by ropes, strings, or any other instrument of our
party machinery?

"'Just, pray, represent to yourself, sir, or to any other person, the
actualities of the case. Here is a man of seventy. It is a noble feat
of honourable perseverance to reach that age. It is, I make bold to
submit, an evident proof of the favour and countenance of The Principle
of All RIGHTEOUSNESS that the man was allowed to proceed so far.

"'He has worked all such days of his long life as he did not spend in
reverential contemplation of the works of the Almighty. Who can blame
him for that?

"'I go much further: who can possibly blame him for having focussed his
attention rather on the liquid than on the solid bodies of Creation?

"'Each man has his own way of saying prayers.

"'Now, after having thus spent a long life in what has at all times
been considered the essence of life; or as the ancient Romans used to
formulate it, after having acted upon the noble doctrine of _ora et
labora_ (pray and work), he finds himself landed, or rather stranded
in the wilderness of penury. Sir, such a state of things is untenable,
unbearable, and unrighteous.

"'I know full well that people who have never given righteousness the
slightest chance persist in repeating the old fallacy, that a labourer
ought to save up for a rainy day. But, pray, sir, is it not perfectly
clear that this principle is of Egyptian origin, and comes therefore
from a country where there is no rain?

"'In England, sir, there are 362 rainy days a year; therefore 3620
rainy days in ten years, 18,100 rainy days in fifty years. How shall, I
ask you, that unfortunate labourer, or grocer, or author, save up for
18,100 days? That takes a capital of at least £25,000. Well, who has
that capital? No one. The nation alone has it. Ergo, the nation must
pay for the rain.

"'I have, sir, in my locker a great many shots like the preceding,
but I will, out of modesty, not use them all. I will only dwell on
one point. Sir, our opponents contend that the money needed for Old
Age Pensions is not available unless it be taken from funds much more
necessary for the public welfare. Now I ask, which are those funds?
The answer I receive is that the nation needs more defensive measures
against possible invasions on the part of a Continental power.

"'Sir, on hearing such nonsense one is painfully reminded of what Lord
Bacon used to say: "_Difficile est satiram non scribere_."' (A voice
from the Irish bench: 'Juvenal, and not Lord Bacon!') 'Well, Lord
Percival, and not Lord Bacon, it amounts to the same.

"'An invasion? Sir, an invasion? How, for goodness' sake, do our
opponents imagine such a thing to be possible? I know they say that
Lord Roberts has declared an invasion of England a feasible thing. But
has Lord Roberts ever invaded England? How can he know? How can anyone
know?

"'They refer me to William the Conqueror. But, sir, is it not evident
that William could not have done it had he not been the Conqueror?
Being the Conqueror, he was bound to do it. Is there any such William
amongst the Williams of the day? I looked them all up in the latest
_Who's Who_--but not one of them came up to the requisite conditions.'
(A voice: 'William Whiteley!') 'I hear, sir, the name of William
Whiteley; and I reply that he is now too "Ltd." to undertake such a
grand enterprise.

"'And more than anything else militating in my favour is the fact that
the Germans do not so much as dream of doing this country the slightest
harm. Look at the relationship between the Kaiser and the King; nephew
and uncle. Who has ever heard that a nephew made war on an uncle? Take
into consideration how the Kaiser behaved when lately visiting England.
Did he not leave huge tips at Windsor? Did he not stroke children's
cheeks? Did he not admire our houses? Who else has ever done that? He
talked English all day long, and during part of the night. He read
the _Daily Telegraph_ and took his tub every morning. Can there be
stronger symptoms of his Anglophile soul?

"'A few weeks after he left England he went so far in his predilection
of everything English that he even curtailed his moustaches.

"'His moustaches, sir, these the beacons of the German Empire, the
hirsute hymn of Teutonia, her anchor, her lightning rod, her salvation!

"'To talk of such a man's hostile intentions against England is to
accuse Dover Cliff, High Cliffe, or Northcliffe, or any other Cliff of
base treachery. No, sir, there is no need of new expenses for defence
on land; and as to the sea, we have only to follow the Chief Admiral's
advice and go to sleep. Our principal force consists of our power to
sleep on land as well as on sea. Once asleep, we can spend nothing.
In that way there remains plenty of money for the Old Age Pensions,
that glorious corrective of misery, that ventilator of property, and
distillator of other men's pockets. I have not a word to add; the
subject itself talks to every person of sense in a thousand tongues.'

"When the man had ended," Cæsar continued, "I asked one of the
officials whether the orator was the clown of the house. The official
looked daggers at me. He explained in a solemn voice that the orator
was a staunch Liberal and Cobraite. The latter name was, I learnt,
a little mistake in pronunciation; it ought to have been Cobdenite.
Cobden, I was told, was a very great man. He succeeded in passing a
measure which under the circumstances of his time was not altogether
bad, although it drove the people away from the plough to the factories.

"However, he, like our Gracchi, imagined that what was good for
his time must necessarily be good for all times. On the basis of a
complete ignorance of the Continent, that is, of the Power that has
always been and always will be the real regulator of the fundamental
policy of England, Cobden thought he had got hold of an absolute truth,
instead of a merely passing and temporary measure. Like all nations
that have never gone through social and political cataclysms and are
necessarily highly conservative, the English are totally lacking in
historic perspective. Men of the class of Cobden, or such as the orator
I had heard, are like their most renowned thinker, Herbert Spencer,
absolutely devoid of historic thinking. They think in categories of
quantity and matter; never in quality made by history.

"Columbus, who was with me, said:

"'You need not be unusually excited over what you see. Each nation cuts
a different caper to the riddles and problems of life. The French, who
used to be _des hommes_, while at present alas! they are only _des
omelettes_, were in their prime of an aggressive attitude to all that
touched them; the Germans were of an idealising temper, while their
present mood is rather a tampering ideal; the Americans are full of
the exploiting fever; and the English invariably take up a posture of
expectativeness.

"'They pretend to believe what the Spartan King Archidamus always
said: "One cannot by reasoning disentangle the future." This attitude
pays the English best. First they let it be proved by the Spanish,
Portuguese, Dutch, and more particularly by the French that India can
be conquered, and then--they take it. Even so with Egypt, Canada, the
West Indies, and South Africa. Expectativeness is their motto.

"'When I came to England trying to persuade them to help me in the
discovery of America, they acted the wise Archidamus, and would not
give me linen for one sail. When I had discovered it, then they took
as much of it, and more than they could swallow. This method of
expectativeness has had much historic quality, to use your words, O
Cæsar, for a time. But I am afraid it is beginning to be worn out.

"'I for one know (and have you, and Pericles, and Joan of Arc, and
Napoleon, and so many others not told me the same thing when we used to
meet, at the wish of Joan, at Rheims Cathedral?), I for one know what
these little ones do not even dream of, so infatuated are they with the
power of Reason and Science and similar machinery, namely, that our
force to forefeel things of the future is far greater, at least in some
of us, than our capacity to analyse or comprehend things of the present
or the past. Our whole being is not so much an upshot of the past as
a projection of the future. Hence the astounding assurance with which
all of us now assembled in Olympus felt in advance what later on we
actually did carry out. I should have discovered America had it never
existed; as I actually discovered it thinking that I discovered the
eastern side of Asia.'

"I very well see," said Cæsar, "what you mean. The English have no
forefeeling of things to come. They do not note that their whole
situation in historic space has in the last generation completely
changed, and that therefore their old method of expectativeness, which
lived mainly on the blunders of other nations, has become quite
obsolete. They are where we were after Zama, after the end of the
Second Punic War, or the end of the third century B.C., as they say.
So they are at the end of their second Hundred Years' War with France.
But while we distinctly felt that after the Carthaginians, whom we
had defeated, we were inevitably compelled to reduce the Macedonians,
and not shrinking from our heavy task we did defeat them, though with
tremendous effort; the English do shrink from doing what the uncommon
sense of the future as well as the common sense of the present but too
clearly tell them to do.

"The blunder of France and Spain which was the chief ally of England in
former times, I mean, the blunder of these great nations in making war
on England only at times when they had four to ten other wars on hand;
that capital blunder the dominating Power of this moment will never
commit.

"Germany will not embroil herself in any Continental war while fighting
England. This is indisputable.

"For the first time in modern times England will be at grips with a
first-class Continental Power which is in a position to concentrate
all her strength on England. This completely novel situation requires
completely novel methods of meeting it. Yet, the average Englishman
is quite unaware of all that. What ruined mighty Macedon? Not the
lack of a powerful army, since our oldest generals, such as Æmilius
Paulus, trembled at the thunderlike onslaught of the famous Macedonian
_phalanx_, or infantry. But instead of joining the Carthaginians
full-heartedly while we smarted under the scourge of Hannibal, they
misread the whole situation and waited, and waited, until--we were able
to concentrate upon them, even to incorporate the best Greek forces in
our armies, and the end was disaster for Macedon.

"Just listen to the speech now going on. The Leader of the Opposition
is speaking.

       *       *       *       *       *

"'Mr Speaker, I am broadly astonished at the statements of the hon.
member for Alarmville, who has just painted the international horizon
in tints of Indian ink. I cannot imagine where he takes his tints from.
Does he want to pose as a political Tintoretto?'

"(Much applause--most members send for the _Encyclopædia Imperialis_ to
find out what _Tintoretto_ means.)

"'The horizon, as everybody knows, is only an imaginary line, and each
man has his own horizon. If therefore the horizon of the hon. member be
as black as jet, I have not much to say against it, and will send him
my condolences. But why should he obtrude his horizon on that of all
the rest of peace-loving humanity? I also have my horizon.'

"(The hon. member: 'Horizons, if you please.')

"'Horizons? More than one horizon? Perhaps; it probably needs more than
one to descend to that of the hon. member.'

"(Opposition members: 'Deucedly clever, by Jove!')

"'On my horizon I see no cloud, no vapours, no foundations of any
belief in storms or tempests of any kind. What conceivable reason
should the Germans have for attacking us? I fail, I utterly fail to see
it. I know that my adversaries say that whatever reasons Germany may or
may not have to attack us, we, these people say, we have a plethora of
motives to attack them. This point, this argument is so devoid of point
or argument, that I cannot waste the time of the House in refuting
it. It refutes itself. Why should we attack the Germans? Because we
have no reasons to do so. That is all that one can advance. Do we
want their colonies? Why, we are eternally obliged to them for having
taken them and so rid us of a sterile investment. Do we want part
of Germany? Neither parts nor the whole of it. Have we not ceded to
them Heligoland? Sir, it is, as I said, impossible to detect a single
argument in favour of our attacking Germany. The minds that counsel
such a violent measure are influenced by apprehensions arising out of
future developments. They are anticipative souls to whom the secrets
of the future have been revealed by the timorousness of the present. I
respect souls; I respect timorousness; but I refuse to attribute to it
any oracular wisdom. The future is dark, three shades darker than the
present, which is impenetrable enough as it is.

"'There remains, then, only the other alternative: Germany seriously
means to attack us. Well, sir, let us analyse this statement. What
earthly good would such an attack do to the Germans? I hear they covet
Denmark and Holland, as the natural outlets of their Empire which at
present is like a muffled head; and since England cannot permit their
taking possession of Denmark and Holland, the Germans must fight
England. This argument, sir, lacks all the elements of truth. It lacks
geographical force, historical momentum, political sense. Denmark, we
all know, is quite in the east of Germany between the Elbe river and
the Lake of Baikal.'

"(Uproarious hilarity in parts of the House. A voice: 'Lake Baikal is
in Siberia!')

"'I hear, sir, Lake Baikal is in Siberia. As if I had not known it,
sir! I say Baikal as the scientific term of Baltic, which is in reality
Bi-Kalic, or rapidly speaking: Baikal.'

"(Opposition members: 'Deucedly clever--he got out of _that_ scrape!')

"'Denmark which, as I said, is in the east of Germany does not muffle
her at all. It is a highly artistic country and in the Bay of Catgut
are fished the best strings for violins.'

"(A voice: 'Sound of Kattegat!')

"'I hear, sir, that it is the Sound of Kattegat, but I think every
patriotic Englishman says Catgut. But to return to my argument: the
Germans being very musical, love violins, and consequently love the
Kattegat, as the hon. voice says, and love the Danes. As long as the
Danes give their fine catguts, the Germans will certainly not think of
doing them any harm.'

"(An angry voice: 'But Denmark is in the north of Germany!')

"'I hear, sir, that Denmark has moved from her ancient moorings. If
that be so, then I can only conclude that Germany has still less reason
to covet the possession of Denmark. For, is it not clear, or _luce
clarius_, that Denmark is a sort of nightcap to Germany? The Germans
themselves typify their nation as a _Deutscher Michel_ (Teuton Michael)
with a nightcap on his head. Why, this nightcap is Denmark. The Teuton
likes a nightcap.'

"(General laughter.)

"'All Teutons do.'

"(Renewed laughter.)

"'Need I say more?

"'And as to Holland, I am bound to say that it passes my comprehension
how anyone can seriously maintain that Germany covets Holland. I hear
that she covets Holland because it is exasperating to a great Power
like Germany that the entire delta of her greatest river, the Rhine,
belongs to a small and hostile Power. It is asked of me, how I, or
for the matter of that any Englishman, would like to see the mouth
of the Thames in the power of the Belgians? Sir, I should not like
to see that, to be sure. But the case is quite different. We English
have no river like the Rhine, which in its upper course gives the
most generous wine, and in its lower course is nothing but a vile
combination of hydrogen and oxygen, commonly called water. If, for
better illustration, the Thames in her upper course gave the finest
whisky----'

"(Great uproar among two-thirds of the members, all teetotallers.)

"'Or, I beg your pardon, ginger beer or cyder, we should not greatly
mind to whom the lower course belonged. But, sir, it is a well-known
and a most patriotic fact that the Thames river contains nothing else
than water. Water, sir, is the panacea of this nation!'

"(Violent applause from two-thirds of the House.)

"'Yes, the panacea, the salvation, the resurrection, and the
rehabilitation of this country.'

"(Cries: 'Righteousness!--Righteousness!')

"'We cannot get enough of it. Water in our throats--in our papers,
books, and speeches. Water in our dramas, novels, drugs; water,
water--three kingdoms for water!'

"(Wild and frantic applause of the whole House.)

"'Now, sir, I maintain all this does not hold good with our friends
the Germans. They do drink wine and beer and schnapps. They cannot be
without them. Their Rhine gives them wine in plenty in that part of its
course which belongs to them. What does it, what can it matter to them
to whom the lower part of the Rhine, full of mere water, does or does
not belong?'

"('Hear! Hear!')

"'The Germans are a practical nation. Does any person; I say more than
that, _can_ any person say that the Germans will wage a great war in
order to possess themselves of water, when all that time they already
have excellent wine? I could understand, sir, that if the Germans
occupied the watery mouth of the Rhine only, and not its middle and
upper course full of noble wine----'

"(Several voices: 'Order! Order! Retract noble.')

"'Well, well, the House will allow me to say "noble" wine, inasmuch as
wine has not only four or fourteen quarters, but innumerable ones.'

"(Opposition cries: 'Excellent! deucedly clever!')

"'To return to my argument: I could understand that the Germans, if
they had only the lower course of the Rhine, would forthwith wage war
to acquire the middle and upper course of the river. We learn from
Tacitus that they are a very thirsty nation, and this authentic news
is, as readers of more modern authors tell me, not given the lie by the
contemporary Germans either. But under the existing circumstances the
Rhine--or Hock--argument, meant to prove German hostility, falls into
the water near the Dutch border, wherever that may be.

"'There is finally, sir, another so-called argument _re_ Holland and
Germany. It is stated that the Germans covet Holland on account of the
Dutch colonies in Asia and South America. These colonies, as everybody
knows, are exiguous.'

"(An angry voice: 'About 800,000 English square miles.')

"'I hear, sir, the Dutch colonies are about 800,000 English square
miles. Of course, my information is taken from Tacitus; and no doubt
since his time some additions have been made to the colonial microcosm
of the Dutch. But even if that were so, and if the Dutch actually
possessed 800,000 square miles of colonies, it is quite patent that
these colonies, if not exiguous in extent, are exiguous in value:
otherwise they would long ago have been governed from Downing Street.'

"(Approving laughter--half of the members smile knowingly, while the
other half pat themselves on the backs of their neighbours.)

"'Do you mean to tell me that the Germans will wage an immense war for
the sake of what we have not deigned to pick up? They are, I know, past
masters in the use of offals for purposes of food and drink. But surely
in matters of politics they want more than offals.

"'At the risk of wearying hon. members I should like to add just a
remark or two on another argument of the alarmists. We have seen the
Danish argument; the Hock argument; and the Dutch colonies argument.
There remains one more: the aerial argument. I hear from my valet that
one Chaplin or Zebraline has made a flight or two through the air.'

"(Voices: 'Zeppelin!')

"'I hear, sir, his name is Zeppelin; probably an abbreviation of
Mazeppaline, whom Lord Byron has sung so well.'

"(Opposition members: 'Deucedly clever!')

"'The flight of Mazeppa has naturally much agitated the Germans, all of
whom can read English. If they could not, what else would they read? I
have never heard of a German literature.

"'But to resume: the Germans, excited by _Mazeppa_ behold in Herr
Zeppelin an aerial Mazeppa. That is all, as the French say. But, sir,
is it likely that Herr Zeppelin will so perfect his balloon or airship
as to make it available for the transportation of an army corps or
two to England? Suppose he could do so; what would be simpler than to
render his aerial landing in this country impossible? We have simply to
refuse him a patent for the British Empire, and lo! he can never set
foot on the clouds of England.

"'But the alarmists say that even if Zeppelin's airship could not carry
over whole army corps, they might very well serve for German scouts and
spies, who might explore the secret preparations and defensive measures
made by this country on land.

"'Well, sir, this apparently strong argument has not an atom of
vitality in it; and for the simplest of reasons too. The Germans might
send their trustiest Zeppelin No. 10 or No. 50, with their best trained
scouts in it. These scouts might pry into anything in the shape of
military preparations in England; but they will never discover anything.

"'Why, sir, this is why we make no preparations. We do that simply to
nullify any possible Zeppelin.'

"('Hear! Hear! Deucedly clever.')

"'Some critics say that we have lost the old bold imperialist spirit.
But, sir, is it not evident that we are to-day of a greater military
spirit than we ever were formerly? Feeble nations, in order to secure
peace, constantly prepare for war; or as the Latin adage holds it: "_Si
vis pacem para bellum_." We, on the other hand, make no preparations
for war, because we are so strong as to consider war or peace with
equal equanimity. To sum up: the aerial argument has no more force in
it than the other arguments of the alarmists. If a modern William the
Conqueror should be able to conquer the air, and by a modern battle of
Hazetings (deucedly clever!) enter the mid-air of this country, he will
find Heroes and not Harolds to contest every square inch of Margate
winds, of Lincolnshire rain, or of London smoke. This country, sir, can
be subjugated neither by land, nor by sea, nor by air. Over these three
elements hovers and reigns supreme the indomitable spirit of the race.'

"(Tremendous applause.)

       *       *       *       *       *

"When the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was ended, Columbus
turned to me," continued Cæsar, "and said: 'I have no doubt, O Cæsar,
that you are fairly sickened by that speech. But, pray, consider that
every word of it was framed and uttered, not to discuss seriously the
German danger, but to get back into power. The speaker is neither so
ignorant nor so foolish as he appears. He made a special effort to
appear absolutely ignorant of geography, because the party in power has
won great renown by an imposing ignorance in that subject. You must not
smile. I say deliberately, imposing. The English hate geography, maps,
atlases, globes. Even in the examinations for the diplomatic service
they do not admit geography as a subject.

"'Being convinced of the exclusive importance of their own country,
they are simply bored with geographical considerations of any other
country. Some time ago it occurred that not one member of the House
knew whether British Guiana was an island or a peninsula. Of course,
it is neither. It belongs to the _bon ton_ to be ignorant of all
geography; that is, to treat Germany or Denmark or Russia as if one
spoke of some internal province of the Chinese Empire. For similar
reasons, the speaker affected not to see the slightest danger from
Germany. The party in power was elected by the people mainly on the
ground that with the Goody-Goody ones "in," and the Imperialists "out,"
the people were safe not to be embroiled in a European war. In order to
take the wind out of the tattered sail of Pacifism the speaker acted as
if the Germans did not so much as dream of doing England any harm.'

"All this is most disheartening," said Cæsar. "To treat foreign policy
merely as a card in the little game of electioneering is most injurious
to the interests of a great country. England, like every other country
in Europe, has been made in her Downing Street rather than at the polls
or in Committee-rooms. European currents determine the minor currents
of the home policies of the several countries. You say, and with the
utmost right, O Columbus, that you have given the English their most
powerful leverage. But would you have thought of doing what you did do,
had not a vast event in South-eastern Europe, the coming of the Turk,
driven your countrymen to the discovery of a western route, the eastern
being closed by the Turk?

"I wish the Parthians in mid-Asia, in my time, had been as strong as
the Turks were in your time. We should have had you while I lived, and
by the discovery of America over fifteen hundred years before you did
discover it, the whole trend of the world's history would have been
different. For you would have given this immense new leverage to the
Roman Empire instead of to little England. It is rather amusing to hear
the English talk of the 'Unspeakable Turk,' a nation to whom they are,
if indirectly, more obliged than to any other nation of the past or
present, excepting the French.

"The truth is, that no nation makes itself. It is made by itself only
in so far as it reacts against the powerful influence of the others,
its neighbours and their neighbours. If these neighbours are feeble,
and second-rate nations, the reacting nation itself will remain feeble
and second-rate. The greatness of the present Germans is a veritable
godsend to the English, since the decadence of the French. By reacting
against it properly, England will be newly invigorated.

"The scribblers of the little ones ascribe the downfall of the Empire
which I founded to the rottenness of my Romans. How untrue! My Empire
decayed because, comprising as it did all the then known civilised
nations, it lacked a great adversary by reacting against whom it might
have reinvigorated itself from time to time. They say the Barbarians,
chiefly the Teutons, overpowered us. Alas! I wish they had been much
stronger than they were. They never overpowered us. Had the Greeks and
Macedonians been able to concert great military measures against us, we
should have been forced to give up the fatal idea of an all-compassing
Empire, and should have finally arrived at a fine and vitalising
balance of power in the Mediterranean.

"The English ought to welcome, although to combat the rise of Germany.
They imagine that their principal force comes from their colonies. It
will come, not from their colonies, which is geographically impossible,
but from their perennial rivalry with great Continental Powers. These
rivalries made England, made her colonies. To give up these rivalries,
to cease combating great Continental Powers, will be the end both of
England and her Empire. In my time I, together with all my friends,
gloried in my long-drawn conquest of Gaul, and my final victory over
the leader of the Gauls, Vercingetorix. I now wish I had been defeated
at Alesia, and a strong and united Gaul had been established under my
unlucky adversary. What inestimable centre of healthy rivalry would
Gaul not have been for us! To try to conquer it was right; to have
definitely deprived it of independence was a disaster. Strifeless bliss
prospers only in Olympus."



THE SIXTH NIGHT

APOLLO AND DIONYSUS IN ENGLAND[1]


It is many years ago that in the Bodleian at Oxford I was shown into
the beautiful room where John Selden's noble library is placed. It is a
lofty, well-proportioned room, and on the walls are arrayed the silent
legions of the great scholar's books.

At that time I was still fonder of books than of realities, and with
breathless haste I ran over the title-pages and contents of the grand
folios in over fifteen languages, written by scholars of all the
Western nations and of many an Oriental people.

Then I paused before the fine oil-painting near the entrance of the
room representing the face and upper body of the scholar-patriot. The
face is singularly, touchingly beautiful. The delicately swung lines of
the lips tell at once, more especially in their discreet corners, of
the deep reticence and subtle tact of the man. No wonder my Lady Kent
loved him. The combination of political power, boundless erudition, and
charming male beauty could not but be pleasing to a knowing woman of
the world. His eyes, big and lustrous, yet veil more than they reveal.
He evidently was a man who saw more than he expressed, and felt more
than he cared to show. Living in the troublous times of James the First
and Charles the First, he worked strenuously for the liberties of
his country, while all the time pouring forth works of the heaviest
erudition on matters of ancient law, religions, and antiquities.

His printed works are, in keeping with the custom of his day, like
comets: a small kernel of substance, appended to a vast tail of
quotations from thousands of authors. Like the unripe man I was,
I liked the tail more than the kernel. Yet I had been in various
countries and had acquired a little knowledge of substance.

And as I gazed with loving looks at the mild beauty of the scholar,
I fell slowly into a reverie. I had read him and about him with such
zeal that it seemed to me I knew the man personally. Then also I had
walked over the very streets and in the very halls where he had walked
and talked to Camden, Cotton, Archbishop Ussher, Sir Mathew Hale, Lord
Ellesmere, Coke, Cromwell. It was the period that we, in Hungary, had
been taught to admire most in all English history.

And there was more particularly one maxim of Selden's, which he
carefully wrote on every one of the books of his library, which had
always impressed me most.

It ran: "Liberty above everything"; or as he wrote it, in Greek: περἱ
παντὁς τἡν ἑλευθερἱαν.

Yes, liberty--that is, political liberty--above everything else. I had,
like all people born in the fifties of the last century, believed in
that one idea as one believes in the goodness and necessity of bread
and wine. I could not doubt it; I thought, to doubt it was almost
absurd. And so I had long made up my mind to go one day to Oxford and
to make my reverent bow to the scholar who had adorned the shallowest
book of his vast collection by writing on it the Greek words in praise
of liberty.

However, before I could carry out my pilgrimage to the Bodleian, I had
been five years in the States. There indeed was plenty of political
liberty, but after a year or so I could not but see that the sacrifices
which the Americans had to make for their political liberty were heavy,
very heavy, not to say crushing.

And I began to doubt.

I conceived that it was perhaps not impossible to assume that in
Selden's maxim there were certain "ifs" and certain drawbacks. My soul
darkened; and when finally I arrived at the Bodleian, I went into
Selden's room, and to his portrait, prompted by an unarticulated hope
that in some way or other I might get a solution of the problem from
the man whose maxim I had held in so great esteem for many a long year.

So I gazed at him, and waited. The room became darker; the evening
shadows began spreading about the shelves. The portrait alone was still
in a frame of strangely white light. It was as if Apollo could not tear
himself away from the face of one who had been his ardent devotee.

After a while I observed, or thought I did, with a sensation of mingled
horror and delight, that the eyes of the portrait were moving towards
me. I took courage and uttered my wish, and asked Selden outright
whether now, after he had spent centuries in the Elysian fields with
Pericles and Plato, whether he still was of opinion that liberty,
political liberty, is the chief aim of a nation, an aim to be secured
at all prices.

Thereupon I clearly saw how his eyes deepened, and how the surface of
their silent reserve began to ripple, as it were, and finally a mild
smile went over them like a cloud over a Highland lake.

That smile sent a shiver through my soul. Selden, too, doubts his
maxim? Can political liberty be bought at too great a price? Are there
goods more valuable than political liberty?

After I recovered from my first shock, I boldly approached the smiling
portrait, and implored Selden to help me.

And then, in the silence of the deserted room, I saw how his lips
moved, and I heard English sounds pronounced in a manner considerably
different from what they are to-day. They sounded like the bass notes
of a clarionet, and there was much more rhythm and cadence in them than
one can hear to-day. They were also of exquisite politeness, and the
words were, one imagined, like so many courtiers, hat in hand, bowing
to one another, yet with a ready sword at the side.

To my request he replied: "If it should fall out to be your fervent
desire to know the clandestine truth of a matter so great and weighty,
I shall, for the love of your devotion, be much pleased to be your
suitor and help. Do not hesitate to follow me."

With that he stepped out from the frame and stood before me in the
costume of the time of the Cavaliers. He took me by the hand, and in
a way that seemed both natural and supernatural, so strangely did I
feel at that moment, we left unseen and unnoticed the lofty room, and
arrived almost immediately after that at a place in the country that
reminded me of Kenilworth, or some other part of lovely Warwickshire.

It was night, and a full moon shed her mysteries over trees, valleys,
and mountains. On a lawn, in the midst of a fine wood of alders, Selden
halted.

There were several persons present. They struck me as being Greeks;
their costume was that of Athenians in the time of Alcibiades. I soon
saw that I was right, for they talked ancient Greek. Selden explained
to me that they had left Elysium for a time, in order to see how the
world beneath was going on. In their travels they had come to England,
and were anxious to meet men of the past as well as men of the present,
and to inquire into the nature and lot of the nation of which they had
heard, by rumour, that it had something of the nature of the Athenians,
much of the character of the Spartans, a good deal of the people of
Syracuse and Tarentum, and also a trait or two of the Romans.

Of those Greeks I at once recognised Pericles, the son of Xanthippus;
Alcibiades, the son of Clinias; Plato, the son of Ariston; Euripides,
the son of Mnesarchos; moreover, a man evidently an _archon_ or
high official of the oracle of Delphi; and in the retinue I saw
sculpturesque maidens of Sparta and charming women of Argos, set off by
incomparably formed beauties of Thebes, and girls of Tanagra smiling
sweetly with stately daintiness.

Selden was received by them with hearty friendliness, and conversation
was soon at its best, just as if it had been proceeding in the cool
groves of the Academy at Athens.

The first to speak was Pericles. He expressed to Selden his great
amazement at the things he had seen in England.

"Had I not governed the city of holy Athena for thirty years," he
said, "I should be perhaps pleased with what I see in this strange
country. But having been at the head of affairs of a State which in my
time was the foremost of the world; and having always availed myself
of the advice and wisdom of men like Damon, the musician-philosopher,
Anaxagoras, the thinker, Protagoras, the sophist, and last, not least,
Aspasia, my tactful wife and friend, I am at a loss to understand the
polity that you call England.

"What has struck me most in this country is the sway allowed to what we
used to call Orphic Associations. In Athens we had, in my time, a great
number of private societies the members of which devoted themselves to
the cult of extreme, unnatural, and un-Greek ideas and superstitions.
Thus we had _thiasoi_, as we called them, the members of which were
fanatic vegetarians; others, again, who would not allow their adherents
to partake of a single drop of Chian or any other wine; others, again,
who would under no circumstances put on any woollen shirt or garment.

"But if any of these Orphic mystagogues had arrogated to themselves the
right of proposing laws in the Public Assembly, or what this nation
calls the Parliament, with a view of converting the whole State of
Athens into an Association of Orphic rites and mysteries, then, I am
sure, my most resolute antagonists would have joined hands with me to
counteract such unholy and scurrilous attempts.

"I can well understand that the Spartans, who are quite unwilling to
vest any real power whatever in either their kings, their assembly,
their senate, or their minor officials, are consequently compelled
to vest inordinate power in their few Ephors, and in the constantly
practised extreme self-control of each individual Spartan. In a
commonwealth like Sparta, where the commune is allowed very little,
or no, power; where there are neither generals, directors of police,
powerful priests or princes, nor any other incumbents of great coercive
powers; in such a community the individual himself must needs be his
own policeman, his own priest, prince, general, and coercive power.
This he does by being a vegetarian, a strict Puritan, teetotaller,
melancholist, and universal killer of joy."

Here Pericles was interrupted by the suave voice of Selden, who, in
pure Attic, corroborated the foregoing statements by a reference to the
people called Hebrews in Palestine. "These men," Selden said, "were
practically at all times so fond of liberty that they could not brook
any sort of government in the form of officials, policemen, soldiers,
princes, priests, or lords whatever. In consequence of which they
introduced a system of individual self-control called ritualism, by
means of which each Hebrew tied himself down with a thousand filigree
ties as to eating, drinking, sleeping, merrymaking, and, in short, as
to every act of ordinary life. So that, O Pericles, the Hebrews are
one big Orphic Association of extremists, less formidable than the
Spartans, but essentially similar to them."

Selden had scarcely finished his remarks, when Alcibiades, encouraged
by a smile from Plato, joined the discussion, and, looking at
Pericles, exclaimed:

"My revered relative, I have listened to your observations with close
attention; and I have also, in my rambles through this country, met a
great number of men and women. It seems to me that but for their Orphic
Associations, which here some people call Societies of Cranks and
Faddists, the population of this realm would have one civil war after
the other.

"Surely you all remember how, in my youth, misunderstanding as I did
the Orphic and mystery-craving nature of man, I made fun of it, and
was terribly punished for it at the hands of Hermes, a god far from
being as great as Zeus, Apollo, or Dionysus. Little did I know at that
time that the exuberance of vitality, which I, owing to my wealth and
station in life, could gratify by gorgeous chariot races at Olympia
under the eyes of all the Hellenes, was equally strong, but yet
unsatisfied, in the average and less dowered citizens of my State.

"My chequered experience has taught me that no sort of people can quite
do without Orphic mysteries, and when I sojourned among the Thracians,
I saw that those barbarians, fully aware of the necessity of Mysteries
and Orphic Trances, had long ago introduced festivals at which their
men and women could give free vent to their subconscious, vague, yet
powerful chthonic craving for impassioned daydreaming and revelry. They
indulge in wild dances on the mountains, at night, invoking the gods
of the nether world, indulging freely in the wildest form of boundless
hilarity, and rivalling in their exuberance the mad sprouting of trees
and herbs in spring.

"You Laconian maidens, usually so proud and cold and Amazonian, I call
upon you to say whether in your strictly regulated polity of Sparta
you do not, at times, rove in the wildest fashion over the paths,
ravines, and clefts of awful Mount Taygetus, in reckless search of the
joy of frantic vitality which your State ordinarily does not allow
you to indulge in? And you women of Argos, are you too not given to
wild rioting at stated times? Have I not watched you in your religious
revivals of fierce joy?"

Both the Laconian and Argive women admitted the fact, and one of them
asked: "Do the women of this country not observe similar festivals? I
pity them if they don't."

And a Theban girl added: "The other day we passed over Snowdon and
other mounts in a beauteous land which they call Wales. It is much
like our own holy Mount Kithæron. Why, then, do the women of this
country not rove, in honour of the god, over the Welsh mountains,
free and unobserved, as we do annually over wild Kithæron? They would
do it gracefully, for I have noticed that they run much better than
they walk, and they would swing the _thyrsus_ in their hand with more
elegance than the sticks they use in their games."

At that moment there arose from the haze and clouded mystery of the
neighbouring woods a rocket of sounds, sung by female voices and soon
joined in the distance by a chorus of men. The company on the lawn
suddenly stopped talking, and at the bidding of the Delphic archon,
whom they called Trichas, they all went in search of ivy, and, having
found it, wreathed themselves with it. The music, more and more
passionate, came nearer and nearer.

From my place I could slightly distinguish, in mid-air, a fast
travelling host of women in light dresses, swinging the _thyrsus_,
dancing with utter freedom of beautiful movement, and singing all the
time songs in praise of Dionysus, the god of life and joy.

Trichas solemnly called upon us to close our eyes, and he intoned a
_pæan_ of strange impressiveness, imploring the god to pardon our
presence and to countenance us hereafter as before.

But the Laconian, Theban, and Argive maidens left us, and soaring into
air, as it were, joined the host of revelling women.

After a time the music subsided far away, and nothing could be heard
but the melodious soughing of the wind through the lank alder-trees.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then, at a sign of Trichas, Plato took the word and said:

"You are aware, my friends, that whatever I have taught in my Athenian
days regarding the punishment of our faults at the hands of the Powers
of the Netherworld, all that has been amply visited upon me in the
shape of commentaries written on my works by learned teachers, after
the fashion of savages who tattoo the beautiful body of a human being.

"I may therefore say that I have at last come to a state of
purification and castigation which allows one to see things in their
right proportion. Thus, with regard to this curious country in which we
are just at present, I cannot but think that while there is much truth
in what all of you have remarked, yet you do not seem to grasp quite
clearly the essence, or, as we used to say, the οὑσἱα of the whole
problem.

"This nation, like all of us Hellenes, has many centuries ago made up
its mind to keep its political liberty intact and undiminished. For
that purpose it always tried to limit, and in the last three hundred
years actually succeeded in limiting, or even destroying, most of the
coercive powers of the State, the Church, the nobility, the army.
Selden not improperly compared them to the Jews. And as in the case
of the Jews, so in the case of the English, the lack of the coercive
powers of State, Church, nobility, and army inevitably engendered
coercive powers of an individual or private character.

"This is called, in a general word, Puritanism. Our Spartans, who
would not tolerate public coercive corporate powers any more than
do the English, were likewise driven into an individual Puritanism,
called their ἁγωγἡ, which likewise consisted of fanatic teetotalism,
_mutisme_, anti-intellectualism, and other common features.

"This inevitable Puritanism in England assumed formerly what they call
a Biblical form; now it feeds on teetotalism--that is, it has become
liquid Puritanism. I have it on the most unquestionable authority, that
the contemporary Britons are, in point of consumption of spirits and
wine, the most moderate consumers of all the European nations; and the
average French person, for example, drinks 152 times more wine per
annum than the average Englishman. Even in point of beer, the average
Belgian, for instance, drinks twice as much as the average Englishman;
while the average Dane drinks close on five times more spirits than the
average Briton.

"Yet all these facts will convert no one. For, since the Puritan wants
Puritanism and not facts, he can be impressed only by inducing him to
adopt another sort of Puritanism, but never by facts.

"Accordingly, they have introduced Christian Science, or one of
the oldest Orphic fallacies, which the Mediæval Germans used to
call 'to pray oneself sound.' They have likewise inaugurated
anti-vivisectionism, vegetarianism, anti-tobacconism, Sabbatarianism,
and a social class system generally, which combines all the features of
all the kinds of Puritanism.

"We in Athens divided men only on lines of the greater or lesser
political rights we gave them; but we never drew such lines in matters
social and purely human. The freest Athenian readily shook hands with
a _metic_ or denizen; and we ate all that was eatable and good. In
England the higher class looks upon the next lower as the teetotaller
looks upon beer, the vegetarian upon beef, or the Sabbatarian upon what
they call the Continental Sunday.

"Moreover, there is in England, in addition to the science of zoology
or botany, such as my hearer Aristotle founded it, a social zoology and
botany, treating of such animals and plants as cannot, according to
English class Puritanism, be offered to one's friends at meals. Thus,
mussels and cockles are socially ostracised, except in unrecognisable
form; bread is offered in homoeopathic doses; beer at a banquet is
simply impossible; black radishes, a personal insult.

"In the same way, streets, squares, halls, theatres,
watering-places--in short, everything in the material universe is
or is not 'class'; that is, it is subject or not subject to social
Puritanism. All this, as in the case of the Hebrews, who have an
infinitely developed ritualism of eatables and drinkables, of things
'pure' or 'impure'; all this, I say, is the inevitable consequence of
the unwillingness of the English to grant any considerable coercive
power to the State, the Church, the nobility, the army, or any other
organised corporate institution.

"They hate the idea of conscription, because they hate to give power to
the army, and prefer to fall into the snares of faddists.

"The coercive power which they will not grant in one form, they must
necessarily admit in another form. They destroy Puritanism as wielded
by State or Church, and must therefore, since coercive powers are
always indispensable, accept it as Puritanism of fads.

"What are the Jews other than a nation of extreme faddists? Being
quite apolitical, as we call it, they must necessarily be extremely
Orphic--that is, extreme Puritans.

"Political liberty is bought at the expense of social freedom. Nobody
dares to give himself freely and naively; he must needs watch with
sickly self-consciousness over every word or act of his, as a policeman
watches over the traffic of streets. And lest he betray his real
sentiments, he suppresses all gestures, because gestures give one away
at once. One cannot make a gesture of astonishment without being really
astonished at all, and _vice versâ_.

"And so slowly, by degrees, the whole of the human capital is
repressed, disguised, unhumanised, and, in a word, sacrificed at the
altar of political liberty.

"The Romans, much wiser than the Spartans, gave immense coercive power
both to corporate bodies, such as the Roman Senate, and to single
officials, such as a Consul, a Censor, a Tribune, or a Prætor. They
therefore did not need any grotesque private coercive institutions or
fads.

"The English, on the other hand, want to wield such an empire as the
Roman, and yet build up their polity upon the narrow plane of a Spartan
ἁγωγἡ. In this there is an inherent contradiction. They hamper their
best intentions, and must at all times, and against their better
convictions, legislate for faddists, because they lack the courage of
their Imperial mission.

"Empires want Imperial institutions, that is, such as are richly
endowed in point of political power. Offices ought to be given by
appointment, and not by competitive examinations, if only for five or
ten years. The police ought to have a very much more comprehensive
power, and the schools ought to be subject to a national committee.
Parliament must be Imperial, and not only British. Very much more might
be said about the necessity of rendering this Realm more _apotelestic_,
as we have called it, but I see that Euripides is burning to make his
remarks, and I am sure that he is able to give us the final expression
of the whole difficulty in a manner that none of us can rival."

       *       *       *       *       *

Thereupon Euripides addressed the company as follows:

"For many, many a year I have observed and studied the most
life-endowed commonwealth that the world has ever seen, Athens. I
watched the Athenians in their homes, in the market-place, in the law
courts, in peace and war, in the theatre and in the temple, at the holy
places of Eleusis and Delphi, their men as well as their women.

"Personally I long inclined towards a view of the world almost
exclusively influenced by Apollo. I thought that as the sun is
evidently the great life-giver of all existence, so light, reason,
system, liberty, and consummately devised measures constitute the
highest wisdom of the community.

"In all I wrote or said I worked for the great god of Light, and
Reason, and Progress. I could not find words and phrases trenchant
enough to express my disdain for sentiments and ideas discountenanced
by Apollo. I persecuted and fiercely attacked all those dark, chthonic,
and mysterious passions of which man is replete to overflowing. I hated
Imperialism, I adored Liberty; I extolled Philosophy, and execrated
Orphic ideas.

"But at last, when I had gone through the fearful experiences of the
Peloponnesian War, with all its supreme glories and its unrelieved
shames, I learned to think otherwise. I learned to see that as man
has two souls in his breast, one celestial or Apollinic, the other
terrestrial or Dionysiac, so there are two gods, and not one, that
govern this sub-lunar world.

"The two are Apollo and Dionysus.

"One rules the world of light, of political power, of scientific
reason, and of harmonious muses. The other is the god of unreason, of
passion, and wild enthusiasm, of that unwieldy Heart of ours which is
fuller of monsters, and also of precious pearls, than is the wide ocean.

"Unless in a given commonwealth the legislator wisely provides for the
cult of both gods, in an orderly and public fashion, Dionysus or Apollo
will take fearful revenge for the neglect they suffer at the hands of
short-sighted statesmen and impudent unbelievers.

"In the course of our Great War we have come into contact and
conflict with many a non-Greek nation, or people whom we rightly term
Barbarians. For while some of them sedulously, perhaps over-zealously,
worship Dionysus, they all ignore or scorn Apollo. The consequence is
that the great god blinds them to their own advantages, robs them of
light and moderation, and they prosper enduringly neither as builders
of States nor as private citizens in their towns.

"For Apollo, like all the gods, is a severe god, and his bow he uses as
unerringly as his lyre.

"It is even so with Dionysus.

"The nation that affects to despise him, speedily falls a wretched
victim to his awful revenge. Instead of worshipping him openly and
in public fashion, such a nation falls into grotesque and absurd
eccentricities, that readily degenerate into poisonous vices,
infesting every organ of the body politic and depriving social
intercourse of all its charms. The Spartans, although they allowed
their women a temporary cult of the god Dionysus, yet did not pay
sufficient attention to him, worshipping mainly Apollo. They had, in
consequence, to do much that tends to de-humanisation, and, while many
admired them, no one loved them.

"It was this, my late and hard-won insight into the nature of man,
which I wanted to articulate in the strongest fashion imaginable in
my drama called the _Bacchæ_. I see with bitterness how little my
commentators grasped the real mystery of my work. If Dionysus was to me
only the symbol of wine and merrymaking, why should I have indulged in
the gratuitous cruelty of punishing the neglect of Bacchus by the awful
murder of a son-king at the hands of his own frenzied mother-queen?
All my Hellenic sentiment of moderation shudders at such a ghastly
exaggeration.

"Neither the myth nor my drama refers to wanton, barbarous bloodshed;
and such scholars as assume archaic human sacrifices in honour of
Dionysus, and 'survivals' thereof in Dionysiac rites, ought to be taken
in hand by the god's own Mænads and suffer for their impudence.

"Human sacrifices indeed, but not such as are made by stabbing people
with knives and bleeding them to physical death. Human sacrifices in
the sense of a terrible loss of human capital, of a de-humanisation
caused by the browbeating of the Heart--this and nothing else was the
meaning of my drama.

"And what country is a fuller commentary on the truth of my _Bacchæ_
than England?

"Here is a country that, had Dionysus been properly worshipped by its
people, might be the happiest, brightest of all nations, a model for
all others, and living like the gods in perpetual bliss--that is,
in perfect equilibrium of thought and action, reason and sentiment,
beauty and moderation. They have done much and successfully for Pythian
Apollo; they have established a solid fabric of Liberty and Imperial
Power; various intellectual pursuits they have cultivated with glory;
and in their pæans to Apollo they have shown exquisite beauties of
expression and feeling.

"But Dionysus they persistently want to neglect, to discredit, to oust.

"Instead of bowing humbly and openly to the god of enthusiasm, of
unreasoned lilt of sentiment and passion, and of the intense delight
in all that lives and throbs and vibrates with pleasure and joy; they
affect to suppress sentiments, to rein in all pleasures, and to cast a
slur on joy.

"And then the god, seeing the scorn with which they treat him, avenges
himself, and blinds and maddens them, as he did King Pentheus of
Thebes, King Perseus of Argos, the daughters of Minyas of Orchomenos,
Proitos of Tiryns, and so many others. The god Dionysus puts into their
hearts absurd thoughts and fantastic prejudices, and some of them spend
millions of money a year to stop the use of the Bacchic gifts in a
country which has long been the least drinking country in the white
world, and as a matter of fact drinks far too little good and noble
wine.

"Others again are made by angry Dionysus to μαἱνεσθαι or rage by adding
to the 250 unofficial yearly fogs of the country, fifty-two official
ones, which they call Sundays.

"Again others, instigated by the enraged god Dionysus, drive people
to furor by their intolerable declamations against alleged cruelties
to animals, while they are themselves full of cruel boredom to human
beings.

"There is, I note with satisfaction, one among them who seems to have
an inkling of the anger of the god, and who has tried to restore, in a
fashion, the cult of Dionysiac festivals.

"He calls his Orphic Association the Salvation Army.

"They imitate not quite unsuccessfully the doings of the legs and feet
of the true worshippers of Dionysus; but the spirit of the true cult is
very far off from them.

"And so Dionysus, ignored and looked down upon by the people of this
country, avenges himself in a manner the upshot and sum of which is not
inadequately represented in my _Bacchæ_.

"And yet the example of the Hellas of Hellas, or of the town of Athens,
which all of them study in their schools, might have taught them better
things.

"When, by about the eighth or seventh century B.C. (as they say), the
cult of Dionysus began to spread in Greece, the various States opposed
it at first with all their power. All these States were Apollinic
contrivances. They were ordered by reasoned constitutions, generally by
one man. In them everything was deliberately arranged for light, order,
good rhythm, clearness, and system. It was all in honour of Apollo,
the city-builder. Naturally the leaders of those States hated Dionysus.

"However, they were soon convinced of the might of the new god, and,
instead of scorning, defying or neglecting him, the wise men at the
head of affairs resolved to adopt him officially. In this they followed
(O Trichas, did they not?) the example of Delphi, which, although
formerly purely Apollinic, now readily opened its holy halls to the new
god Dionysus, so that ever after Delphi was as much Dionysiac as it was
Apollinic.

"At Athens they honoured the new god so deeply and fully that, not
content with the ordinary rural sports and processions given in his
honour, the Athenians created the great Tragedy and Comedy as a fit
cult of the mighty god. The Athenians were paid to go to those wondrous
plays, where their Dionysiac soul could and did find ample food,
and was thereby purged and purified, or, in other words, prevented
from falling into the snares of silly faddists of religious or other
impostures. But for those Dionysiac festivals in addition to the cult
of Apollo, the Greeks would have become the Chinese of Europe.

"Why, then, do not the English do likewise? Why do they not build a
mighty, State-kept theatre, or several of them? Why does their State
try to pension decrepit persons, and not rather help to balance young
minds? Why have they no public _agones_ or competitions in singing,
reciting, and dancing? They do officially, next to nothing for music;
and if one of their _strategi_ or ministers was known to be a good
pianist or violinist, as they call their instruments, they would scorn
him as unworthy of his post. Yet few of such _strategi_ are the equals
of Epaminondas, who excelled both in dancing and playing our harp.

"But while they ignore music--that is, Dionysus' chief gift--they
crouch before the unharmonious clamour of any wretched Orphic
teetotaller, vegetarian, or Sabbatarian.

"This is how Dionysus avenges himself.

"I see how uneasy they are with regard to the great might of the
Germans. Why, then, do they not learn to respect Dionysus, who was the
chief help to the powerful consolidation of the German Empire? German
music kept North and South Germans intimately together; it saved them
from wasting untold sums of money, of time, of force, on arid fads; it
paved the way to political intimacy.

"Had the English not neglected Dionysus, had they sung in his honour
those soul-attaching songs which once learned in youth can never be
forgotten, they might have retained the millions of Irishmen, who have
left their shores, by the heart-melting charm of a common music. From
the lack of such a delicate but enduring tie, the Irish had to be held
by sterile political measures only.

"In music there is infinitely more than a mere tinkling of rhythm;
there is Dionysus in it. Their teachers of politics sneer at Aristotle
because he treats solemnly of music in his 'Politics.' But Aristotle
told me himself that he sneers at them, seeing what absurd socialistic
schemes they discuss because they do not want to steady the souls of
their people by a proper cult of Dionysus.

"Socialism is doomed to the fate of Pentheus at the terrible hands of
Dionysus. Socialism despises Dionysus; the god will speedily drive it
to madness.

"See, friends, we must leave--yonder Apollo is rising; he wants to join
Dionysus, who passed us a little while ago. Should both stay in this
country, and should they both be properly worshipped, we might from
time to time come back again. At present I propose to leave forthwith
for the Castalian springs."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: Reprinted, with permission, from the _Nineteenth Century
and After_ for July 1908.]



THE SEVENTH NIGHT

SOCRATES, DIOGENES, AND PLATO ON RELIGION


During the seventh night the gods and heroes met again at Rome in the
Coliseum. The splendid moon hung deep from the sky like a huge lantern,
and shed her mild and plaintive rays over all the immense building.
The immortals, in their light dresses and lighter movements, formed a
gorgeous contrast to the sombre stones of the vast edifice. When all
had taken their seats, Zeus rose in all his majesty and spake:

"Gods and heroes! We have derived much exquisite distraction from the
stories of Alcibiades, Diogenes, Plato, Aristotle, Columbus and Cæsar
about the various features of lay-life in England. If now I call upon
you, Socrates, to tell us something about the religious life of the
English, it is, I need hardly assure you, not in a spirit of mockery
that I do so. What we here think about it all, we know, and need not
utter it. When Athena in her indignation more than once asked me to
hurl my lightning into her former abode at Athens, into the remains of
the Parthenon, I told her something in secret--she knows what,--and did
not touch the holy temple. Even so shall I deal with the temples of
the little ones. We shall listen to you, Socrates, with sympathy and
attention."

Up rose the sturdy figure of the sage. His features had become even
more illuminated with humanity, and thus more divine, and over his face
erred a mild smile. He spoke as follows:

"O Zeus and the other gods and heroes! In my mortal time I frequently
listened to the marvellous stories of Herodotus, and while I never
permitted myself to question his honesty, as later on Plutarch did, yet
I could not help doubting some of his tales about the religions of the
various peoples he describes. Had I then known and learnt what I have
learnt since in England, I should not have felt the slightest doubt
regarding his statements.

"I had been in England for some time before I began to understand
something of their curious religions. For, they have not one religion,
but quite a number of such. At first I thought they had different
religions according to the boundaries of their different counties. I
fancied that such a neat geographical distribution might render the
whole matter more methodic. But I found that that was not the case.
In the same way I tried to find out whether their religions were not
distributed according to their sixty different social classes. This too
did not work. I then tried their professions; after that, their dress;
after that, their income-tax; then, their private games.

"In that way I finally came to reach the true lines of cleavage between
their numerous religions. For, to put it briefly, their religions are
parallel to and dependent on each man's hobbies.

"If, for instance, an Englishman dislikes wine, and thus leans towards
Puritanic ideas, he will be much inclined to adopt the religion of one
Calvin, who taught to enjoy life by killing all its joys.

"Another Englishman, being very partial to tobacco and to smoking, will
have a natural bent towards the High Church, in which much incense is
burnt and much smoke produced.

"Another, being very methodical and punctilious, will regard Methodism
with much sympathy.

"A fourth, being afflicted with great susceptibility to moral shocks,
goes among the Quakers.

"In that way I began to feel my way through the maze of their
religions. The strangest thing, however, was that all these
multifarious believers staunchly maintained that they took their
divergent creeds from one and the same book: from the Bible. In that
respect they reminded me of my whilom adversaries at Athens, the
Sophists, who could prove the pro and con of any given assertion with
equal volubility.

"In order to imbue myself fully with the spirit of their beliefs, I
frequently went to church on Sundays.

"To be quite frank, I do not very well see why in England they call
that day a Sunday. There is no sun in it, and otherwise it resembles
night more than anything else. It ought to be called Un-day. I
concluded that everything arranged for that day was done in order to
bring out its resemblance to night ever so strongly. Thus, lest people
should forego sleep on that drowsy day, the people of England have
introduced thousands of soporifics in the shape of sermons. What other
use that drug may have I could never see.

"To me as an old Hellene it seemed a thing quite beyond comprehension,
why people should go out of their way to salary a person for making
them feel creepy at the same place, and on the same day of the week,
by repeating the same admonitions in nearly the same words hundreds
of times a year. Evidently their lives on the other days of the week
are so spiritless, dull and dry, that they want to get at least on
Sundays some moral hair-friction with spiritual _eau de Cologne_. We
Hellenes never thought of doing such things. It would have struck us as
a personal insult to suppose that we needed such perpetual moralisation
at stated times.

"Hippocrates told me that some constitutions do need the constant use
of purgative waters. But do all people suffer from ethical constipation?

"I could not help smiling at the idea of my preaching like that to the
Athenians of my time. They would have handed me the goblet with hemlock
long before they did do it. Each householder would have considered my
pretensions to moralise them as a slander on his private life. Each of
them tried to make his own house a chapel full of constantly practised
piety, dutifulness, and humanity. What need had he of my sermons? When
he joined the great festivals of the city, it was to do his duty by the
other Athenians, just as he joined the army on land, or the navy on
sea, for the same purpose.

"We knew of no dogmas. We did not think that a man need stake all his
soul on the belief in certain abstract dogmas. If he did not feel
inclined to linger on one story told of Zeus, he might lovingly dwell
on any other of the numberless stories told of him. If some said that
Zeus was born in Crete, others maintained that he was born elsewhere.
It seemed to us immaterial whether this fact or that was or was not
historically exact.

"Not so the little ones. For them religion is viewed as a matter of
documentary evidence, like a bill of sale. They constantly clamour
for 'evidence,' 'proofs' and 'verifications.' Their theologians are
solicitors and barristers, but not religious men. If I had asked
Pericles for 'evidences' of the religious cult practised by his family
or _gens_, the Alcmæonidæ, he would have indignantly told his slaves
to put me out of the house, just as if I had asked him to give me
'evidences' of his wife's virtue.

"We held that Religion is not a matter of 'evidences,' any more than
Life, Health, Sleep, or Dreams stand in need of being 'proved' by
'evidences.' We know that we live, or that we are in good health; we do
not care to listen to long-winded arguments proving it.

"On my rambles in England I met many a clergyman. I remember one who
occupied a high position at Canterbury, and was a very learned man.
I was rather curious to learn what he thought of the religion of the
Greeks. He treated me to the following remarks:

"'The Religion of the Greeks? Why, my dear sir, they had none. The
Greeks were pagans, heathens. They believed in all sorts of immoral
stories about immoral gods and goddesses; they were sunk in wholesale
corruption and rottenness. Their vices smelt to heaven. Did ever any
Greek say that he who smiteth you on your left cheek, ought to be
offered your right cheek too?'

"'No,' I said, continued Socrates, 'we never said that, because we knew
that nobody would ever do it. We did so many noble actions at home
and in war that we never felt the urgency of exaggerating actions in
words, that we never did in fact.'

"'Is that it?' he answered. 'Do you mean to say that we only say such
things, because we never practise them?'

"'Precisely,' said I. '"Incapable of the deed, you try to embrace its
shadow, the word," as Democritus said.'

"'Even if we never practised them, is it not sublime to say them? Is
it not increasing our moral worth when we profess to be gentle and
generous and superhumanly good, not exactly on the day when we make
such professions, but possibly on some subsequent day?'

"'I am afraid,' said I, 'this we used to call the talk of sycophants
and hypocrites.'

"'But for my Religion, sir, I should reply in very offensive terms. We
are no hypocrites. We believe what we say, and all that is required is
to believe. We do not trouble about the application of our beliefs, any
more than the mathematician troubles about the practical application of
his theorems.'

"'This is my very objection to your belief. Religion is not a theorem
but an action, an active sentiment. Our religion was like our language:
all active verbs, all movement and energy, all expression and
sentiment, but no theorems.'

"'But just look at the superstition and downright fiction in all your
mythology! Who has ever seen Apollo, Dionysus, the Graces, Aphrodite,
or any other of your numberless gods? They are all mere phantasies,
meant to amuse, but not to elevate. They belong to the infancy of the
religious sentiment, and are only a more artistic form of Fetishism.'

"'I quite believe you,' I said, 'that you never met the Graces, nor
Aphrodite. Perhaps they avoided you as carefully as you did them.'

"'Sir, this is frivolous. In our Religion there is nothing frivolous.
Allow me to be quite frank with you. It is stated that you confessed to
having felt the touch of some Phryne's beautiful hand on your shoulder
for several days. Sir, this characterises you, and all the heathen
Greeks. My mind staggers at the idea that one of our bishops should
ever confess to such a frivolous sentiment. We too have shoulders; and
there are still alas! Phrynes amongst us. But none of our class would
ever confess to having felt what you admitted to have felt. There you
have precisely the difference between you and us.'

"'You are ashamed of your humanity, and we were not; this is the whole
difference. We were so full of our humanity, that we humanised even our
gods. You are so ashamed of your humanity, that you de-humanise and
supra-humanise your god.'

"'Disgraceful, sir, most disgraceful. Our humanity is _in_ God!'

"'And only in Him; so that none is left in you.'

"At these words," continued Socrates, "the man left me.

"A few days later I was at a place which they call Oxford, and where
dwell and teach many of their Sophists. A young man is there taught to
assume that callous look which is very imposing to Hindoos and negroes.
Nothing surprises him, as nothing stirs him, except the latest shape of
a cuff or a collar. He becomes in due time a curious blend of a monk, a
fop, and a pedant.

"I was led to one of the most renowned of their theologians, whose name
in our language means a coachman. He received me with a curious smile.
Before I could say anything he spoke as follows:

"'I understand, sir, that you pose as the late Socrates. Well,
well--come, come! I must tell you in confidence that I, being a higher
critic, am a perfect adept in the great science of the vanishing trick.
Suppose you bring forward a famous personage of history, and want him
to disappear. Nothing is easier to me. I ask the man first of all very
simple questions, such as:

"'Who asked him to exist?

"'Why did he choose his mother in preference to many other able women?

"'What made him prefer his father to so many other capable men?

"'For what reason did he fix his particular place of birth, let alone
the time of the year, month, week and day where and when he was born?

"'What motive had he in filling the air with his screamings soon after
his birth?

"'Could he give any satisfactory explanation of his various illnesses
as a child? That is, whether he had measles and whooping-cough out of
malice prepense, out of cussedness, or out of any hopes of receiving
more attention?

"'When the man cannot satisfactorily answer these clear and positive
questions, I put him down first as a suspect. Then I proceed to further
questions.

"'If he is said to have won a battle, I ask him why he fought it on
land and not on sea? Or _vice versâ_.

"'Why he did not, while fighting the battle, accurately determine the
degrees of longitude and latitude of the locality of the battle?

"'Or why his chief general's name began with an L and not with an S?

"'If he is said to have been an ancient legislator, I ask him why he
took his laws from his neighbours?

"'What mode of registration and publication of the law he observed?

"'Whether the paper of his code was hand-made, or wood-pulp?

"'Whether the water-marks on it were original or were imitations?

"'Whether he used ink or paint?

"'Whether he wrote them standing or sitting?

"'Whether he used the same pen for writing his nouns and verbs? Or
whether he had different pens for the different parts of speech?

"'Whether he really knew what a noun was? Whether he liked male
terminations, or preferred to revel in female endings? Whether he was
not prejudiced against pronouns, or felt an idiosyncracy against the
letters b, k, and z?

"'If the man cannot satisfactorily answer all these pertinent
questions, I declare him to be a fraud. I tell him straight into his
face that he never existed, and then I revile him as a low character
for pretending an existence that is totally unfounded. Now, as to your
case. You say, you are Socrates. Can you answer any of the questions I
enumerated? Let us take the first question: "Who asked you to exist?"'

"'Athens, I presume,' said Socrates.

"'Athens? To dispose of this answer, we must first of all see whether
Athens existed. I put it to you, sir, can you prove that Athens
existed?'

"'I can; for, it still exists.'

"'Note the glaring fallacy! A thing that now exists, now, that is, on
the brink of the present and the future, can that be said to have _eo
ipso_ existed in the past? I put it to you most seriously, is the brink
of the present, the past? Is the brink of the future, the past? Can,
then, the brink of the present _and_ the future be called the past?
Athens may have existed. That is, a number of houses and streets, once
called Athens, may have existed. But can you say, I put it to you most
mostly, can you say that the houses of Athens asked you to exist? Or
did the streets do so?'

"'By Athens we mean the Athenians.'

"'Oh, I see, the Athenians. Who were they? Two-thirds were
foreign slaves; one-fifth were _metiks_, that is, denizens of
foreign extraction. Consequently, two-thirds and one-fifth being
thirteen-fifteenths, the overwhelming majority of the town being
_uitlanders_, you cannot possibly be said to have been asked into
existence by them. Remain two-fifteenths of Athenians proper. Of these
the great majority were your enemies, who drove you into death. Can
they, who furiously clamoured for your death, be said to have violently
wished for your birth?

"'Remain, therefore, only a handful of Athenians who _may_ have desired
you to exist. How could they give due expression to their wish? In
the Assembly matters were decided by a majority, which they did not
control. In the law courts were hundreds, nay thousands of judges in
each case, of whom, as _per supra_, the great majority were your
enemies, who would have decided against your birth. In the Temples such
decisions were never taken.

"'The intention of your prenatal friends could thus remain but a mere
private wish of a few citizens, but could not possibly be an inherent
tendency or desire of Athens. _Quod erat demonstrandum._ And since you
have been unable to give a satisfactory answer to the first of the
crucial questions, I put you down as a suspect.'

"I did not say anything," said Socrates. "I was amazed beyond
expression that such nonsense could be allowed to pose as searching and
'scientific' analysis of facts. But he triumphantly continued:

"'You say nothing? _Qui tacet consentire videtur_,--silence means
consent. I can see in your face how overawed you are by my sagacity, I
have unmasked you. We unmask everything and anything. We unmask stones,
pyramids, crocodiles, ichneumons, princes, kings, prophets, and heroes.
We strike terror into the common people by our vast erudition and our
penetrating sagacity.

"'We are the Sherlock Holmes of theology.

"'We run down any pretender, any scribe, any man who has the impudence
of posing as a somebody. Given that we are not much; how can he be
anything?

"'If you will stay here for some time, you will soon know a lot about
what did not happen in ancient Israel.

"'Oxford is the Scotland Yard of all those humbugs that pass by the
name of Abraham, Moses, King David, Samson, the Prophets, and other
impostors. We have pin-pricked them out of existence!

"'At present we have proved that all the Religion of Israel was stolen
from Babylon. In a few years we shall prove that the Babylonians stole
it all from the Elamites, farther east. This, once well established,
will give us a welcome means of proving that the Elamites stole it
all from the Thibetans; who stole it from the Chinese; who stole it
from the Japanese; who stole it from the Redskins in America; who
stole it from the Yankees; who stole it from Oxford. And so we shall
return to this great University and provide occupation and fame for the
higher critics of the next three hundred years. Where are you now, O
Pseudo-Socrates?'

"I was unable to say a word for some time. When I collected myself to a
certain extent, I said:

"'O Sophist, if our Religion in ancient Greece had had no other
advantage than that of saving us from the works of "higher critics," it
has deserved well of us. We were immune from that disease, at any rate.
Dion of Prusa and others wrote declamations against the historicity
of the Trojan War; but nobody took them for more than what they were,
for rhetorical exercises. No Hellene would have paid the slightest
attention, nor accorded the slightest recognition to men like yourself.
The English must be suffering from very ugly religious crochets and
spiritual eczemas, to have recourse to drugs and pills offered by such
medicine-men.'

       *       *       *       *       *

"Other friends in England to whom I expressed my profound aversion to
this puny scepticism in matters of Religion, advised me to attend the
sermons given by a relatively young man with white hair in a temple in
the city. They said that in him and his addresses there was religious
sentiment. I accepted their advice and went repeatedly to hear what was
called _The New Religion_.

"The young man talked well and impressively. He told them that two and
two made four, and absolutely refused to make five.

"With much emphasis he declared that he could not believe in miracles,
because of the miraculous way in which they happened. If, he said, a
miracle should happen in an orderly fashion, performed under police
revision, say, in Regent Street in front of Peter Robinson's, the
arrangement and whole sequence of the procedure being duly anticipated
and announced by the _Daily Nail_ or the _Daily X-Rays_, then indeed he
would say: 'O Lord, O Lord, I am convinced.'

"'But,' the white-haired young man said, 'how can you, the rest of the
world, or anyone else suppose that I could believe a miracle, that
pops in from mid-air, in the most disorderly and unreasonable fashion,
without having given notice either to the police or to the editor of
the _Daily Nail_ or the _Daily X-Rays_?

"'Such a miracle is a mere vagrant, a loafer, a _déclassé_ or
_déraciné_, as we say in Burmese. It has neither documents to
legitimate itself with, nor any decent social connections. It disturbs
the professor of physics at that great seat of untaught knowledge, the
London University; it annoys all chemists, and confirms my colleagues
in the other pulpits in their preposterous superstitions.

"'My brethren and _sithren_, I tell you there are no miracles; there
never were any; there never can be any. Just let me tell you an
interesting experience I had the other day with a man who travelled in
the south of France, a country which, but for the fact that England is
good enough to patronise her, would long since have disappeared from
the surface of this or any other planet.

"'The gentleman in question spoke of Lourdes, and the miracles he had
seen there. I listened for a while with patience; at last I could bear
it no longer, and the following dialogue arose between us:

"He: '"Lourdes is the most convincing case of the miraculous power of
the true Church."

"I: '"The true Church is in the city of London, sir, and there is no
miracle going on there whatever."

"He: '"I completely differ, especially if, for argument's sake, I
accept your statement that the temple in the city is the true Church.
If that be so, then the miracles wrought there are even greater than
those observable at Lourdes."

"I: '"I thank you for your rapid conversion. I am glad to see that you
feel the power of my Church. This power comes from the great truths I
teach. But as to miracles proper, I must, if reluctantly, decline the
honour. I repeat it, there are no miracles in my Church, neither taught
nor wrought."

"He: '"Come, come! Not only are there miracles in your Church, but they
are also of the very same type that I noted at Lourdes."

"I: '"Sir, how can you insult me so gratuitously? Lourdes swarms with
so-called miracles, which are no miracles at all, but only the effects
of auto-hypnotisation. A person who can believe in the healing power of
St ----"

"He: '"Steady, steady, my dear sir. I do not allude to that healing
power at all. Again, placing myself on your standpoint, I will, for
argument's sake, admit that the waters at Lourdes have no miraculous
healing power owing to the influence of this saint or that. You might
permit me to remark, nevertheless, that it is just as much of a miracle
as when the drugs prescribed by our doctors happen to cure us. For,
what could be more miraculous than that? But this is only by the way.
I allude to quite another miracle, and I can only express my amazement
that you do not guess it more quickly."

"I: '"I am quite out of touch with miracles."

"He: '"Bravo! This is precisely what the great Lessing used to say: the
greatest of all miracles is the one that people do not notice as such
at all. Just consider: do you not draw vast masses of people to your
sermons? Have you not persuaded most of them that you have founded a
new Religion? What on earth could be more miraculous than that!

"'"In your sermons you dance on a thin rope of logic made out of the
guts of a few anæmic cats dropped from the dissecting table of science.
If therefore you had won a reputation as a rope-dancer, one could
readily understand it. But you have won the reputation of a founder
of a new religion, which is to a logical rope what catguts are to a
great violinist. Is that not marvellous? Savonarola would have charged
you, at best, with blacking his shoes, and yet people take you for a
modern Savonarola. Is that not marvellous? Is it anything short of a
miracle? Is not this the very miracle of Lourdes? Hundreds of thousands
of intelligent Frenchmen believe in the healing power of water in
consequence of its canonisation by a saint. Is this not a miracle in
our time?"

"I: '"If I am to be infinitely less worthy a man than Savonarola
because I believe in the infinity and truth of Science, I gladly forego
the honour. The more light we pour into the human heart, the nobler it
will be."

"He: '"So you believe that your hearers follow you on account of the
light you give them? Pray, abandon any such idea forthwith. They cling
to you because of your interesting personality, and because you give
satisfaction to their vanity. In persuading them that the life-blood of
the 'old' Religion is mere stale water, they congratulate themselves on
their being intellectually superior to the orthodox believers.

"'"Is there no one who has the courage to say aloud that the canker
of all Religions in England is their constant toadying to Reason and
Science? The theory of Evolution, first rightly condemned by the
clergy, is now an established costume without which no bishop would
dare to officiate in sermons or books. Naturalists all over the world
lustily attack and combat Evolution; but no English clergyman ventures
to doubt it. He will and must toady to what he thinks is 'Science.'

"'"Formerly Science was the _ancilla_, or maid of Theology; now
Theology is the mere charwoman of any physiologist or biologist."

"I: '"And so it shall be. I see, my good man, I must talk to you a
little more plainly. We theologians want nothing but authority. We
have long since learned that this world is governed by authority, and
by nothing else; just as is the next world, if there be any. Now, in
former times Science was not imposing enough. Being, as it was, in
its infancy, it had little authority. So we trampled upon it, and
side-tracked it with disdain. At present, on the other hand, Science
has become quite an influential member of society. It goes on doing
marvellous things and inventing incredible feats of physical, chemical,
or biological triumph.

"'"What is more natural than that we now not only receive the _homo
novus_, the man of Science, but that we also try to avail ourselves of
the authority his exploits give him?

"'"Take this nation. It is thoroughly materialist and on its knees
before Science. For the last sixty years Science, and nothing but
physical Science has been knocked into its head. This nation thinks
that any study outside Science proper is pleasant humbugging. They are
completely ignorant of human history. Give us Science! Give us facts,
facts! Of course they say so, because facts save them the trouble of
thinking, and do not allow one to pose as a thinker.

"'"Facts, scientific facts, that is all that they want. Human thought,
they think, is a physical excretion from the brain, just as tears
are from the lachrymal glands, or other liquids from the kidneys.
Hence, they infer, all that is needed is to study, in a physiological
laboratory, the brain.

"'"What's the use of literary history, for instance? If you want to
know it, you have only to study the brain which is the cause of at
least some portions of literature.

"'"What is the use of military history? Study, in a physiological
laboratory, the arm, not arms; since it is the arm that fights.

"'"What is the use of Sociology, say, the study of the Family? Study,
in a physiological laboratory, the nerves of certain organs which
constitute the true cause of families. And similarly with all other
studies relating to the humanities. Science; it is all a matter of
Science proper."

"'Under these conditions,' the white-haired one continued, 'what can
we do but take the requisite authority there where we find it best
developed, in Science? Anything that pleases the _grand seigneur_, we
hasten to acquiesce in while shoe-licking him. Science proper, that is,
Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology disavow Imponderables, Tendencies,
Present Projections of the Future, Incomprehensibles, etc., etc.; so do
we.

"'Science cannot move from certain mathematical principles; speedily we
too cry aloud that we cannot cease hugging these dear principles.

"'Science can never analyse or reconstrue the mystery of all mysteries:
Personality; at once we novel theologians exclaim, beating our worn
breasts, that Personality is no historic force at all.

"'Science cannot possibly so much as approach the problem of
creativeness, creation, or origin of life; hence we gallop after it
like newsboys, screaming at the top of our voices: "Latest news! No
creation! No origins! Bill just passed! Enormous majority! One penny!
Latest news!"

"'Cannot you see that? Can you not grasp that as in Republican
countries we are Republicans, and in Monarchical ones, Monarchists;
even so in an age overawed by the surface-scratchers of physical
Science, we too must feel the itch and scratch away with violence?

"'We cannot possibly afford to forego the authority at present in
the gift of Science. How could I dare to treat Jesus as one of
those mysterious persons that bring to a head both vast and secular
tendencies of the Past, and Present Projections of an immense Future?
He, I hear from a certain humanist, was the heir of all that marvellous
Power of Personality, called Cephalism, which shaped all classical
antiquity; and at the same time He was the Anticipative Projection of a
vast Future.

"'Perhaps.

"'But could any process approved by Science proper be applied to such a
mode of thinking? None. Consequently I am bound to belittle, to ignore
it.

"'As long as Jesus is not amenable to that mode of biography or to that
kind of reflections which we apply to the life of cockroaches or gnats,
we cannot seriously speak of Him.

"'Or is not His preaching like the laying of eggs by a bird, out of
which eggs new birds arise in due time?

"'Is not His Church like the nest of a spotted woodpecker made in the
hollow of some ancient tree?

"'Are not His apostles like the watch-birds amongst wandering cranes?

"'If, then, we want to study Him scientifically, we must treat Him
and His exactly as we treat a hoopoe or a jackdaw. Not that we really
know anything about a hoopoe or a jackdaw. But in treating Him in
that fashion we can use all the sounding terms of Science, and thus,
don't you see, secure all the authority of which Science to-day has so
plentiful a share.

"'I have so far founded the New Religion. But I am not quite satisfied
with it. I feel we need a Newest Religion. Ever since my birth the
world has stepped into a new era. Something has been wrenched from its
former place. I must at once see to it.

"'Meanwhile I am preparing a Life of Jesus on a truly scientific basis.
The Lives hitherto published are completely out of date. They lack the
true scientific spirit.

"'My "Life of Jesus" will have three sections. The first will contain
the Antecedents. I will start with the soil, the air, and the waters
of Palestine. I will investigate the influence which the geology of
Palestine had on Jesus; especially, whether the stratification of that
soil does not correspond to the stratification of the mind of Jesus. In
that way I will obtain the precise nomenclature of the various layers
of the intellect, human and Messianic, of Jesus.

"'Thus, I will determine his palæolithic, neolithic, pliocene, miocene
and other tertiary mental formations. That will be inestimable.

"'I will then proceed to a close analysis of the air in Palestine, and
try to determine how much argon it contains. This, together with the
jargon talked round Bethlehem, and a close study of the remains of the
King Sargon will give me a solid foundation for my researches into
the feelings of Jesus. I will thus make sure whether these feelings
were subconscious, auto-hypnotic, auto-Röntgenising, æroplanesque, or
zeppelinury.

"'Should I find some radium in the stones near Bethlehem or Nazareth,
I shall be enabled to account for the precociousness and light-emitting
gift of Jesus.

"'Once I have thus settled the Antecedents, I will proceed to His life.
In accordance with the method of zoologists and biologists, to whom one
fox is as good as another, and one rabbit as serviceable as another, I
will study the daily life of a modern rabbi in Sichem, or Jerusalem.

"'I will measure his nose, his lips, the width and height of his mouth
when yawning and when asleep, his weight, his rapidity of walk, the
loudness of his voice, his pulse, his heart, his meals, and his drinks.
This will give me valuable data for the life of Jesus. I will reduce
all these data to finely-drawn statistical tables.

"'As soon as I shall be in possession of these tables I will attack
the most important part of my work: I will not tire until I discover
the microbe which imparted to all that Jesus said an extraordinary
power of captivation. That microbe, I have no doubt, can be distilled
from a comparative solution of Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Mahomet
and Jesus. I name it _microbus prophetizans Huxleyi_. I shall, I
trust, isolate it and send specimens to the South Kensington Museum, I
will----'

       *       *       *       *       *

"When the white-haired one," said Socrates, "had arrived at that stage
of his wanderings, I left the hall. I felt sea-sick. These little ones
think that they can triangulate the human personality, because they
have triangulated many of their countries. They never consider that
triangulation, and all scientific methods, refer, and can refer only
to quantity or material quality. There is no geometry of love, hatred,
or spiritual power. It is the old error of the Pythagoreans which you,
O Pythagoras, admitted to me after having whiled in Olympus for a few
hundred years.

"Numbers are not the souls of things.

"Personality is the soul of things.

"We humans are pre-eminently creative. Our chief force is not intellect
nor will-power. We are neither Hegelians nor Schopenhauerians. In point
of sagacity many an animal transcends us; and did you not avow to me, O
Leibniz, that the difference between you and a yokel is not so much in
your being more intellectual, or in your having more brain-power, but
in your having more creative power?

"Intellect, or the force of close thinking, may be found in abundance
in the city of London. Had people devoted as keen an interest to
science or philosophy as city men do to money transactions, we should
be much further than we are.

"But people differ very much less in power of intellect than in
strength of originality.

"The great men of Literature or Science or Art are not very much
cleverer in point of intellect than is the rest of the people. They
exceed them in point of originality; that is, they exceed them because
they devote themselves to digging in unbroken ground. It is in this way
they create.

"It is in this sense that each human is, to a certain extent, new
ground; and consequently, that the Great Humans are absolutely new
phenomena. In other words, they are new creations. They have an X in
them that no x-rays can penetrate into.

"Science can comprehend averages only. _Nova_ she cannot approach.
This is why Great Humans have invariably been disavowed, rejected, and
pooh-poohed by men of Science.

"Why has a lily of the valley bell-like blossoms? Science will never
explain it. Those bells are part of the personality of the lily; and
Science can understand it as little as a crofter could understand a
refined Athenian.

"You may imagine, O gods and heroes, what I felt when I heard so many
clergymen talk so 'scientifically' of The Greatest of Humans, who by
His being so was _eo ipso_ Supra-human too.

"Science is unable to account for a lily of the valley; and yet shall
Science be able to reconstruct Jesus?

"I should have shrunk from the task of reconstructing, in the manner of
men of Science, my Phrygian slave.

"One can re-recreate, as it were, many of the phenomena of Personality,
but not by the methods of Science. Personalities belong to the
Humanities, whose methods are totally different from those of Science
proper.

"It was said of me that in my mortal time I brought Philosophy from
Heaven to Earth. I wish, O Zeus, you would allow me to mix again with
the people in order to raise their Philosophy from Earth to Heaven."

       *       *       *       *       *

When Socrates had finished, a deep silence fell over the Assembly.
In the divine face of Zeus there was no movement to be noticed, and
not an encouraging word fell from his lips. Suddenly one heard a loud
laughter. Everybody turned towards the place where the laughter came
from, and felt relieved to see that Diogenes was preparing to address
the Assembly. Zeus nodded consent, and the whilom Cynic spake as
follows:

"Few things have afforded me greater pleasure than your tale, O
Socrates. Verily I believe that your renewed presence among the little
ones is much less needed than is mine. I am the only man that could set
right the wrenched religious fibres of these mannikins and womenfolk.
But for my respect for you and the Assembly, I should have burst into
an unseemly laughter while you were talking of their New Religion,
which is but a resurrection-pie less the resurrection.

"To talk to them seriously about the incapacity of any physical
Science or its methods to cope with the problems of Religion is to
waste precious time. Let them have their Evolution, Convolution, or
Devolution, by all means. The more they welter in it, the more my
pupils on earth have a welcome chance of success. The official clergy
think wonders of their cleverness in trying to make Religion into a
Centaur, half man, half horse, or half Science and half Belief. While
they are at it, my pupils, infinitely cleverer than all the clergy,
make glorious headway in all directions.

"Is it not side-splitting to note how these clergymen are unable to see
that the more people learn of Science proper; the more they accustom
their minds to the dry biscuits of scientific methods; the more they
will inwardly long for the drinks of Mysticism?

"The Roman clergy, trained by two thousand years, knows all that but
too well.

"Your plain soul, your hard-working, scientifically untutored peasant
or small _bourgeois_ is quite satisfied with a little, hearty Belief,
and is indifferent to Mysticism and religious Extravagancies. It is
your high-strung, modern, scientifically trained mind that impatiently
craves more than sober Science can give it.

"Just look at the Europoids in the western continent. In the United
States everything is reasoned out, systematised, methodised to a
nicety. Their whole life looks like their towns: regular squares;
straight streets, named after the consecutive numbers; labelled,
docketed, built and shaped according to definite rules. In an American
town nothing surprises one, except that the people themselves do not
have each his respective number painted on his back.

"As the streets, so are the Constitution, the Schools, the
Territory,--everything is ruled like a sheet of music. In the 250,000
schools, in the 500,000 Universities, and the 600,000 libraries, all
founded (or confounded?) by a few multis, you hear nothing but Reason,
Reason, Reason. You get Reason boiled, roasted, fried or stewed. You
get it from injectors, from which it will jet out in smaller or larger
jets, so that if it be too much for you, one can, by pulling the piston
backwards, again store it up in the injector.

"Instead of traditions, unarticulated tendencies, latent
_sous-entendus_, and delicate imponderables, there are only machines,
ledgers, and registers, articulated with a vengeance, cryingly
explicit and loud and indelicate. Everything is bound in the leather
of reasonableness, in the hide of method, and in the wooden boards of
Logic. Instead of on the rich soup of sentiments, men and women in the
States are fed on scientific tabloids containing sentiments reduced
to their ultimate chemical essences. A woman laughs at romance; her
relations to men are 'reasonable.' A child laughs at piety; his or
her relations to parents are tanned by 'sense'! A servant sneers at
loyalty; her relations to the masters are macerated in the vinegar of
'inalienable right of reason.'

"All this is excellent--for me. For, what happens?

"The Americans indulging in too many orgies of Reasonableness; the
Americans having thrown over-board all motives of historic truth in
order to live under the banner of reasoned truth only, have long
since become sick of Reason. They resemble a crew on a big ship
that has stored its pantries and larders with nothing else than
meat-extracts and tabloids. That crew, after a month's journey or so,
will unfailingly sink or else eat the most loathsome fish rather than
continue feeding on its scientific food.

"After all, when all is said and done, the Americans too are humans.
They too want more than tabloids and meat-extracts. Tons of tins will
not replace one fresh cabbage. On this eternal truth my disciples go to
work in the States.

"Fully aware, as they are, that the Americans must be and are deadly
'tired' of Reason, they hasten to give the people of the States the
most exciting devices of Unreason. One of them invents Mormonism;
the other, Spiritualism; the third, Zionism; the fourth, Oneidaism,
or general Promiscuity; the fifth, Christian Science; the sixth,
Incarnationism; and so forth, and so on, _ad infinitum_.

"Can my triumph be greater? I will carefully avoid telling them
that by worshipping Apollo extravagantly while neglecting the great
god Dionysus, they have fallen wretched victims to the wrath of the
latter. Just let them go on writing contemptuous reflections on Greek
Mythology, and glory in the 'wonderful century' in which Dionysus
is declared to be a mere myth. As long as they do that, I shall not
lack plenty of successful disciples, and my name will wax greater and
greater, until nobody shall be able to find, even did he use the latest
Edison lamp, a single well-balanced human in all the States.

"Why, then, take so many English clergymen and their evolutions round
Evolution so gravely, O Socrates? They do what the Americans do: they
overdo Reason. Do let them do it, and do not disturb my circles, as
Archimedes said. I promise you, when next they introduce the 'latest'
evolution, I will invite you to the sight, and you will enjoy the
fun as you have rarely enjoyed anything. I have instructed a new set
of pupils of mine to start _The_ new Religion in England. The 'New
Religion' of a year or so ago is out of fashion. What these decadent
vibrants want is another Religion. I have just received a Marconigram
from below, and am in a position to tell you all about the latest
capers of my pupils. May I do so?"

Diana and Aphrodite and Pallas Athena at once applauded, and their
silvery laughter was joined by the rest of the gods and heroes.
Dionysus sent two beautiful nymphs to make the resting-place of
Diogenes more comfortable, and to offer him a cup of the wine of Capri,
shining like gold and full of mirth. Diogenes, deeply bowing to the
Great God, and to Zeus, then proceeded:

"I learn that _The_ Religion now to be started is based on what my
dear disciples have agreed to call _Elysiograms_; a word formed _à la_
'telegram,' 'marconigram,' and meant to denote messages from Elysium.

"It is quite evident that a generation of impatient eels such as the
present instalment of the little ones, cannot possibly wait until
after death for news from the other world. The sub-lunar world they
have ransacked and swallowed, hair and flesh, and all. Before, in the
morning, they have quite recovered from their sleep; and before they
have quite finished their nerve-destroying first cup of Ceylon cabbage,
they have, in their 'papers,' learnt all that has been going on in
every quarter of the globe terrestrial.

"That globe begins to bore them. They must have a daily (or hourly?)
column or two about what is going on in Elysium, let alone in Hades. It
is indispensable for their digestion.

"Just fancy how very much more easily one could swallow one's lunch
with just a little dose of Hades in it! While one tries to make a
tunnel through the stony meat from Patagonia called Scotch beef, one
would read with grim satisfaction how one's late creditor is maltreated
in the torture-chamber of Hades. Why, one would feel so buoyant that
one would even be able to finish a meal at the Cecil.

"You said, O Socrates, that their clergy adopt Evolution because of the
authority it gives them. Surely, they can tarry no longer in adopting
the improved means of communication. If Marconi can wire wirelessly to
New York, how can the clergy stay lagging behind? They must needs go
one better, and wire wirelessly to Elysium. Nothing can be plainer.

"People want it.

"Soon Messrs Wright will ascend the Rainbow and sit astride on it. Even
before that, Herr Zeppelin will land the first German street-band on
Mars; and, probably, ere that is done, Madame Curie will by means of
a rock of Radium as big as St Paul's illumine and read all the vast
depths of the unexplored Heavens.

"How, under these circumstances, can the clergy remain behind? It
is unthinkable. Accordingly, it is understood that the _Daily Nail_
and the _Crony_ will have every day a column called _Elysiograms_.
It will consist of single words, numbers, signs, exclamations, and
pauses, _elysiogrammed_ from over there. Some paragraphs will consist
of commas, colons, semi-colons, and dots only. They will be the most
interesting. These messages will be carefully distinguished from
massages. They will be quite different. They will give the most
astounding news. My principal pupil, Professor Oliver Nodge, just
marconied me the latest _Elysiogram_, which he was fortunate enough to
receive to-day:

    "'Rather hot day to-night.--Feel depressed as if I had exchanged
    ideas with Mr H.C.--4, 0,--:!--Place here somewhat out of date.--Do
    send me _Times_ more regularly.--Can now see that flannels do not
    conduce to health.--Never forget to wind up your watch!--Death is
    a mere incident in Life.--If you can avoid it, don't die!--It is a
    failure.--34, 56, 78, 90, 12....'"

When Diogenes had finished reading the _Elysiogram_ of his pupil, even
Hephæstus (Vulcan), otherwise so grave, broke out in a tremendous
laughter which made one of the tiers of the Coliseum shake like an
elm-tree in a gale.

"I am delighted to see," continued Diogenes, "that my pupils contribute
to your amusement. It is indeed beyond a doubt that without them this
world would be considerably staler and duller than it is. You may
imagine that my pupils will not rest contented with a daily column in a
newspaper.

"They will found Elysiogram papers of their own; found Elysiogram
Churches; build up Elysiogram congregations; deliver Elysiogram
sermons; in short, they will establish _The New Religion_
of--_Elysionism_.

"In this marvellous Religion the believer is given all the shivers,
cardiac vibrations, nervous shocks and prostrate contritions,
pleasantly alternated with ecstatic exuberance, that he may wish for.

"In that respect it is far superior to any music hall.

"These funny clergymen rage against the music halls. But why have they
abolished all public, gay, and variegated Church festivals, such as the
Middle Ages had introduced in plenty? The public do want to have their
shocks and shivers. If the Church does not provide some of them, music
halls will.

"We Hellenes did everything to render Religion attractive and
enjoyable. Our religious processions and public festivals were gorgeous
with colours, fun, art, music, and touching piety.

"How could any Hellene have felt the need of a modern music hall, this
the last degradation of the human intellect, worse than the Roman
gladiatorial games, worse than the Spanish bull-fights, worse than the
worst of French novels.

"If, therefore, the clergy will take our New Religion into the least
consideration, they will forthwith see the immense advantages thereof.
In _Elysionism_ the most languorously delicate of the elegant ladies
will at last find what she has all this time been hankering for.

"In the morning when she gets up between twelve and two o'clock,
she will with religious shivers reach after the Elysiogram press.
With burning eye she will run over the columns in search of the
latest _Elysiogram_. Just think of her excitement on finding, in one
paragraph or another, some indiscretion of one of her departed friends,
male or female, regarding her. Just imagine how she will devoutly
run to the editor of the paper, or to the _Elysiop_, that is, the
chief bishop of the New Religion, offering him £100, £200, nay £500
for the 'tranquillity' of the poor soul in Elysium from whom came
that disquieting par. The _Elysiop_ will promise to do his best and
will--enter the £500 _pour les frais de l'église_. What a delightfully
exciting experience to have!

"Later on in the day, the same lady will enjoy the anxiety of a lady
friend of hers who is waiting for an _Elysiogram_ from her husband who
disappeared a few months before without sending his faithful wife the
correct official statement of his departure. What exquisite moments of
nervous expectation to pass!

"For a few further bank-notes _pour les frais de l'église_, the
liberating _Elysiogram_ appears.

"Imagine the interest with which sermons delivered by the Elysiop,
Elysiarch, or the Elyseacon, will be attended by the _beau monde_. The
preacher after the customary introduction will pull from his pocket
the latest _Elysiograms_, which are notoriously frequent on Saturdays.
Artistically pausing before he begins reading them out, he will
fill all these vibrants with the most dainty nervous wrenchings and
twistings.

"Then slowly he will report to them the latest news from Elysium and
Hades. With that justice so characteristic of the Powers of the Other
World, the pleasant news, full of consolation and comfort, is addressed
to such members as have proved zealous in deed and alms to the Church.
On the other hand, members whose zeal left much to be desired, are
treated to news that makes both kinds of their hair stand on end.

"Where is the music hall or even the theatre that will be in a position
to vie with such a Church in intense attractiveness? Once the classes
as well as the masses are drawn to it, some Oxford or Liverpool
professor will speedily come forward with the new dogmatics of
_Elysionism_; and in less than three years Prof. Harnack of Berlin will
write its history of dogmatics, and publish maps about its geographical
distribution.

"Amongst the innumerable blessings of this Religion there is one the
value of which cannot be exaggerated, let alone properly estimated. I
mean, of course, its vast resources for healing all diseases. It is
patent that once we stand in continuous and direct communication with
Elysium, we can easily inquire from our departed ones what we ought to
do in case of illness. Since a given individual in Elysium who died
of, say, hay-fever has traversed all its stages, and is naturally
more conversant with it than any terrestrial doctor can ever be,
knowing thereof not only the stages passing on earth but also those
going on beyond the Rainbow; he is in the best of positions to advise
a patient what to do and what not to do. Especially, when one takes
into consideration that according to the most authentic _Elysiograms_,
written by Prof. Nodge's own Elysio-typer, all departed people agree
that hay-fever, appendicitis, pneumonia, etc., are only the _noms de
plume_ of Dr Smith, Dr Jones, Dr Jenkinson, and so on.

"We shall, accordingly, in any case of illness, simply communicate the
symptoms to Elysium and ask for detailed instructions from such of the
Elysians as have died of that disease. In that way we are sure to heal
all diseases much more rapidly than even Christian Science or Mahometan
Chemistry could do.

"We shall sell Elysio-pills, with which no Beecham's Pill will be
able to compete; and using the indications we shall receive from over
the Acheron, we shall have _dépôts_ of Elysian Waters triumphing over
Hunyady János, Carlsbad Sprudel, Contrexéville, or Aix-les-Bains.

"In fact, since the Kaiser is well known to be in close relations
to the Upper World, and an intimate friend of Providence, we shall
arrange through him an Elysian Bath, somewhere near Nauheim.

"Then our Religion will be complete.

"It will have its unique Press, its hierarchy, its liturgy, sermons,
pills, waters, and watering-places, let alone its Pleasant Sunday
Afternoons, moral gymnasiums, self-denial weeks, and special wireless
costumes.

"The extant religions will all disappear; religious unity will reign
over the whole world, and if you, O Zeus, will consent to it, I shall
personally preside at my headquarters in Westbourne Park Chapel."

The speech of Diogenes was received with hearty applause, and even
stern Demosthenes congratulated him on his idea of offering a really
new shake-up to the tired nerves of the poor human tremolos of Mayfair
and the East End.

Several of the gods volunteered to send messages for the _Elysian
Times_, and Cæsar proposed that he and Alexander the Great, Pericles,
and other heroes send messages counterdicting the extant Greek and
Roman histories of their exploits, in order to enjoy the huge fun
arising from the confusion amongst scholars.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the hilarity of the Assembly had reached its maximum, Zeus
addressed them as follows:

"Before, O Friends, we part from here repairing to Olympus, and
eventually to Japan and China, I propose that Plato give us his serious
impression of what turn the next religious phase of the little ones
will take. I entitle him even to say, with due moderation, what turn it
shall take."

Plato, rising from his seat near Socrates and Aristotle, first bowed
to Zeus, and then to Apollo whom he requested to allow his priests
to intone the sacred hymn of Delphi. That hymn, Plato said, had been
handed down from hoary antiquity, and was the song best fitted to fill
the hearts of men with the sentiment of religion; the Roman Church,
he added, still retained it. Apollo nodded consent, and forthwith the
archons of Delphi, aided by the great choir of the Parthenon, filled
the still night with mighty harmonies. The simple tunes rose into the
heights like columns upon which the singers finally laid down capitals,
architraves and pediments of serene melodies, until all Rome and the
surrounding plains and valleys seemed changed into one vast musical
temple, while the echo of the Albanian Mountains handed the rhythms and
cadences on to stern Soracte and the Apennines.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I will not undertake," Plato said, "to determine what direction the
new Religion of the little ones will take. That direction depends upon
their whole life in peace and war, which is, and will remain, under
your exclusive control, O Zeus. But if I am to outline what shape and
function their Religion is likely to take in the near future, I feel
more confident of acquitting myself creditably. This applies more
particularly to the negative part of my task. I mean, it is quite
possible to criticise the various schemes of new Religions proposed by
a number of thinkers, and to say why these schemes will not succeed.

"The most numerous schemes of this description have been propounded by
men of otherwise great abilities and accomplishments, such as Auguste
Comte, and his followers in England and elsewhere. They have tried to
establish rational Religions, or such in which Dionysus has no share.
This is a vain attempt.

"Diogenes showed with great justice how all such attempts are doomed to
failure.

"The more rational knowledge spreads both in bulk and in number of
disciples, the more the little ones will need a Dionysiac religion.

"If the State or other ruling classes will not provide it properly,
eccentrics and faddists will do so improperly.

"If the true enthusiasm for Art could really enter the hearts of the
masses, then, and then alone, Religion need not be Dionysiac. However,
this is impossible in nations consisting each of many millions of
people.

"This is the greatness of your work, O Nietzsche. In your _Zarathustra_
you worship Apollo with piety, but you entreat Dionysus too to enter
the temple. However, you restrict your cult to the few, and for this
reason you cannot succeed to a greater extent than did Pythagoras, who
likewise closed the gates of his sanctuary to the Many.

"The question in Europe is how to let the Many feel the Light of Apollo
and the Might of Dionysus. Unless this is done, nothing is done. Can
Protestantism do that? Calvin is fast aging, and his hair is quite
white. Can Roman Catholicism do it?"

At these words of Plato the first matutinal choir came wafted from the
Vatican. Plato made a pause. The Vestal Virgins bowed their heads. On
Cæsar's expressive face there appeared a strange smile, and leaning
over to Cicero, he whispered something into the ear of the great
orator-statesman. Zeus remained immobile.

       *       *       *       *       *

Plato resumed thus: "The Romans of our time were to us Hellenes as
Protestantism is to Catholicism. Will the Rome of this day be absorbed
by the Protestants of the North as we were absorbed by ancient Rome?

"You used to say, O Machiavelli, that this world belongs to the cold
hearts. That is probably quite true with regard to material things. But
is it true with regard to spiritual ones?

"The North of Europe is cold; the South is warm. The former is romantic
at its best, and eccentric at its worst; while the South is classic
at its best, and irreverential at its worst. The North therefore will
worship Apollo only in a haze, and Dionysus in distorted forms; while
the South willingly bows to Apollo full of heavenly light, and accepts
Dionysus only by means of a strict, hierarchical organisation.

"Can any Bach write one 'well-tempered' fugue on both North and South?
Can they in future be united in one belief?

"We have had so far two kinds of Religion only. One, those of small
States, such as we had in Greece or Italy; the other, universal
Religions, such as the Religion of Jesus, based on humans as mere
abstracts, as mere equal atoms; Religions that applied to any person
irrespective of State, race, class, or occupation. There are, however,
now no small States such as we used to found, nor is all European
humanity one vast conglomeration of atomic men.

"There are now new entities: nations.

"Will each of them develop her own Religion?

"Most likely, I think.

"It is with Religions as with Law and Language: each nation, the more
high-strung it becomes, the more it differentiates its Law and its
Language. In the Middle Ages, up to the twelfth century, there were not
fifty languages in Europe. There are now far over a thousand.

"Each nation wants its own way of worshipping and representing Apollo
and Dionysus. In countries full of musical enthusiasm the religious
_rôle_ of Dionysus is different from what it is in countries where
music is not an organ of the national soul. Should Europe ever be
levelled down to one United States of Europe (--at these words one
could see Zeus smile with benignant sarcasm--) then there will arise
new Religions in nearly every county of every country.

"In England we see the process clearly developing. The official Church
is neither quite Apollo nor quite Dionysus; it is a product grown
somewhere between Rome and Geneva, say at Leghorn.

"The unofficial Churches accept Dionysus only as enthusiasm for
unenthusiastic matters, such as Puritanism; while Apollo with them is a
Sunday school teacher.

"And this cannot be otherwise. An Imperialist nation cannot have
an Imperialist Religion too, otherwise the heads of that Religion
would run the Empire. The English, in the interest of their Empire,
disintegrated their ancient Religion. In other words, they were bound
to obscure Apollo and to degrade Dionysus by eccentricities.

"Take the Unitarians. Unable to find place for Dionysus in their
over-rationalised Religion, they rush into moral eccentricities, such
as a wholesale condemnation of war, a sickly philanthropy that yet
seldom leaves the precincts of words, and other morbid habits.

"In England, Religion cannot be allowed its full-fledged growth. Should
the English lose their Empire and, which is doubtful, yet survive as
a small island-state, they will forthwith change their Religions, and
the first of these to be dropped will be Anglicanism; while Methodism,
in one of its extremer forms, is the most likely to replace all the
others, should Catholicism not supplant it.

"The only new Christian Religion likely to arise in the British Empire
is one in India, which will stand to British Christianity as the Greek
Church stands to the Roman. I wonder why one or another of the British
missionaries has not developed it long ago.

"In Great Britain herself a powerful new Religion cannot be devised as
yet.

"It is quite different on the Continent; and it is devoutly to be
hoped that France will shake off her torpor and pour new religious
enthusiasm into the soul of her nation.

"It is also to be hoped that the Japanese will at last adopt a Religion
fitting their new status as a great nation. They will never accept
Protestantism. They may accept some new form of Romanism, in that
the great distance of Rome from Tokio guarantees them from too much
interference, and because their next objective, the thousands of
islands called the Philippines, have long been converted to Romanism.

"I have, in my travels on earth, frequently been asked whether our own
beautiful Religion could not be revived again.

"To this the answer can hardly be doubtful. Our Religion was so
intimately connected with our peculiar polity that unless such polities
should be revived, our Religion cannot be reintroduced into the life of
nations.

"In my Republic I have anticipated most of the political communities
that have arisen after my death; and the Roman Church has fully
confirmed my prediction, that the polity in which philosophers will be
kings will be the most abiding of all. The restrictions which I placed
on the various classes of my ideal Republic have not been literally
observed by the Roman Church; she has laid upon them other restrictions.

"But then as now I say, that the greater the Ideal, the heavier price
we have to pay for it.

"The little ones, listening to arm-chair experts, multi-millionaires
and faddists, indulge in the childish belief that they will be able
to bring Elysium down into their Assemblies, Market-places, and their
Social Life, by removing all severe conflicts, all cruelty, all
relentless punishments, and similar necessities which are only the
inevitable price paid for some great good. They think they will make
the world more humane, by giving up any attempt at weeding out all the
bad herbs among the human grass.

"They will never do it. If they want to have a Religion better than the
one they have, they will have to pay an exceedingly heavy price for it.

"First is Calvary, and then comes the Resurrection.

"Religion is an Ideal, and hence very costly. If ever the general
brotherhood of men should be realised, just for one year, the
sacrifices to be paid for such a sublime ideal would be so immense that
people would at once relapse into the other extreme.

"Nothing wiser ever fell from your lips, O Goethe, than your saying
that 'nothing is more hard to endure than a series of three beautiful
days.'

"We Greeks know it. We realised many an ideal; more than has been
realised by any other people. Accordingly, we did not last very long.
Do not covet the stars! Be satisfied with a little cottage in the midst
of a small garden.

"But you were right, O Spinoza, that the whole essence of Man is
concupiscence. He _will_ desire and aspire after an endless array of
things, all of which he wants to have for nothing.

"It is in vain that we tell him that there is no more expensive shop
than that where gratification of desires is sold.

"In vain have all the Religions essayed to inculcate the lesson of
resignation, one by threatening dire punishments on earth, the other
by menacing eternal pains in yonder world.

"Resignation is the last thing a human thinks of. He thinks he is so
clever, so intelligent, so inventive and especially so 'progressive,'
that he will bend Ideals to his will, as he has done with a few of the
physical forces of Nature. He does not know that while other goods
require only the abnegation of one or a few individuals, Ideals exact
the privation of multitudes.

"Could we free Greeks have been what we were, had we not stood on the
bodies of degraded slaves who relieved us of the drudgery of life? One
cannot be free and a slave at the same time.

"In my deep conviction of the heavy sacrifices demanded for Ideals,
I frequently think that we Greeks, and more particularly myself, who
introduced this thirst for Ideals into the world, have thereby done
Europe more harm than good.

"How many a time has the fate of Prometheus been re-enacted in millions
of ideal-smitten Europeans! There he is, bound to a rock, while an
eagle eats his liver, because he wanted to bring down Olympus to earth.

"The Religion that will teach man serene resignation; that will imbue
him with the sense of the magnitude of Ideals; that will make him feel
that Ideals are not for man, but for gods; that Religion will save him.

"None other.

"The priests of that Religion must be the first to exemplify that
Resignation to the full. They must not preach Resignation while
themselves dressed in purple and clothed in the amplest rights of
Precedence, Authority, and Splendour. Will there ever be such priests?

"I doubt it. What priests want and what they have always wanted, is
nothing but authority.

"They have founded and brought to its most consummate expression the
science of authority-seeking. They know how to impress people. I do not
hope that they will ever give up such a profitable accomplishment; and
consequently no Religion of the future will have a remarkable success
unless it enables its founders to invest many persons with great
authority.

"The scant authority it gives to its incumbents is the chief weakness
of Protestantism as compared with Roman Catholicism. This world is
ruled by Authority; and so far, the other world too has been governed
by the same means. And so at the end, as well as at the outset of our
reflections on Life we start and come back to the same eternal truth,
that practical life wants not truth as such, but only _effectology_.

"Truth proper, and independent of any practical effects, has its place
only at the foot of Your Mighty Throne in Olympus, O Zeus.

"We Hellenes having been on a plane altogether higher than is that of
the little ones, we dared to introduce some truths proper into our
life. We sincerely called a spade a spade. We knew that some women and
men must suffer, in order that others may fully develop their humanity;
and so we instituted slavery, scorning, as we did, the half-measures of
quarter, third, or three quarters liberty in men or women. We openly
talked of the 'Envy of the gods,' which is one of the deepest truths
of life. And thus in many a custom, law, or measure of ours we had the
courage to enshrine truth proper in the prose-frame of ordinary life.

"This emboldened me to think that there might one day be a State, a
Republic, wholly built on eternal truths. And so I wrote my book hoping
it would serve as a beacon-fire for all times and all humans.

"At present I know better. What people want, in Religion or Science, is
_effectological_ truth, and not truth proper. My book, as the rest of
my work, has procured me a place in Olympus, but has not enabled me to
conquer a single town of the nether-world.

"I too have learnt to resign myself.

"Truth, like Beauty, and Goodness, is not meant for the little ones.
And yet they will in all times go on their pilgrimage to our shrines;
through all ages they will worship Athens and mighty Rome as the true
home of humanity; as the age and the men who had the divine courage of
truthfulness, and the saving grace of Beauty."

Zeus and Juno rose from their chryselephantine seats. The shades of
the night became lighter, and at a sign from Mercury, the whole divine
Assembly left their places and moved through the air towards Olympus.


THE END



A Catalogue of the

Publications of T. Werner Laurie.


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    of Paris. A Novel. Crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 6s.





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