For the sake of peace and quiet Denis had retired earlier on this
same afternoon to his bedroom. He wanted to work, but the hour
was a drowsy one, and lunch, so recently eaten, weighed heavily
on body and mind. The meridian demon was upon him; he was
possessed by that bored and hopeless post-prandial melancholy
which the coenobites of old knew and feared under the name of
"accidie." He felt, like Ernest Dowson, "a little weary." He
was in the mood to write something rather exquisite and gentle
and quietist in tone; something a little droopy and at the same
time--how should he put it?--a little infinite. He thought of
Anne, of love hopeless and unattainable. Perhaps that was the
ideal kind of love, the hopeless kind--the quiet, theoretical
kind of love. In this sad mood of repletion he could well
believe it. He began to write. One elegant quatrain had flowed
from beneath his pen:
"A brooding love which is at most
The stealth of moonbeams when they slide,
Evoking colour's bloodless ghost,
O'er some scarce-breathing breast or side..."
when his attention was attracted by a sound from outside. He
looked down from his window; there they were, Anne and Gombauld,
talking, laughing together. They crossed the courtyard in front,
and passed out of sight through the gate in the right-hand wall.
That was the way to the green close and the granary; she was
going to sit for him again. His pleasantly depressing melancholy
was dissipated by a puff of violent emotion; angrily he threw his
quatrain into the waste-paper basket and ran downstairs. "The
stealth of moonbeams," indeed!
In the hall he saw Mr. Scogan; the man seemed to be lying in
wait. Denis tried to escape, but in vain. Mr. Scogan's eye
glittered like the eye of the Ancient Mariner.
"Not so fast," he said, stretching out a small saurian hand with
pointed nails--"not so fast. I was just going down to the flower
garden to take the sun. We'll go together."
Denis abandoned himself; Mr. Scogan put on his hat and they went
out arm in arm. On the shaven turf of the terrace Henry Wimbush
and Mary were playing a solemn game of bowls. They descended by
the yew-tree walk. It was here, thought Denis, here that Anne
had fallen, here that he had kissed her, here--and he blushed
with retrospective shame at the memory--here that he had tried to
carry her and failed. Life was awful!
"Sanity!" said Mr. Scogan, suddenly breaking a long silence.
"Sanity--that's what's wrong with me and that's what will be
wrong with you, my dear Denis, when you're old enough to be sane
or insane. In a sane world I should be a great man; as things
are, in this curious establishment, I am nothing at all; to all
intents and purposes I don't exist. I am just Vox et praeterea
Denis made no response; he was thinking of other things. "After
all," he said to himself--"after all, Gombauld is better looking
than I, more entertaining, more confident; and, besides, he's
already somebody and I'm still only potential..."
"Everything that ever gets done in this world is done by madmen,"
Mr. Scogan went on. Denis tried not to listen, but the tireless
insistence of Mr. Scogan's discourse gradually compelled his
attention. "Men such as I am, such as you may possibly become,
have never achieved anything. We're too sane; we're merely
reasonable. We lack the human touch, the compelling enthusiastic
mania. People are quite ready to listen to the philosophers for
a little amusement, just as they would listen to a fiddler or a
mountebank. But as to acting on the advice of the men of reason
--never. Wherever the choice has had to be made between the man
of reason and the madman, the world has unhesitatingly followed
the madman. For the madman appeals to what is fundamental, to
passion and the instincts; the philosophers to what is
superficial and supererogatory--reason."
They entered the garden; at the head of one of the alleys stood a
green wooden bench, embayed in the midst of a fragrant continent
of lavender bushes. It was here, though the place was shadeless
and one breathed hot, dry perfume instead of air--it was here
that Mr. Scogan elected to sit. He thrived on untempered
"Consider, for example, the case of Luther and Erasmus." He took
out his pipe and began to fill it as he talked. "There was
Erasmus, a man of reason if ever there was one. People listened
to him at first--a new virtuoso performing on that elegant and
resourceful instrument, the intellect; they even admired and
venerated him. But did he move them to behave as he wanted them
to behave--reasonably, decently, or at least a little less
porkishly than usual? He did not. And then Luther appears,
violent, passionate, a madman insanely convinced about matters in
which there can be no conviction. He shouted, and men rushed to
follow him. Erasmus was no longer listened to; he was reviled
for his reasonableness. Luther was serious, Luther was reality--
like the Great War. Erasmus was only reason and decency; he
lacked the power, being a sage, to move men to action. Europe
followed Luther and embarked on a century and a half of war and
bloody persecution. It's a melancholy story." Mr. Scogan
lighted a match. In the intense light the flame was all but
invisible. The smell of burning tobacco began to mingle with the
sweetly acrid smell of the lavender.
"If you want to get men to act reasonably, you must set about
persuading them in a maniacal manner. The very sane precepts of
the founders of religions are only made infectious by means of
enthusiasms which to a sane man must appear deplorable. It is
humiliating to find how impotent unadulterated sanity is.
Sanity, for example, informs us that the only way in which we can
preserve civilisation is by behaving decently and intelligently.
Sanity appeals and argues; our rulers persevere in their
customary porkishness, while we acquiesce and obey. The only
hope is a maniacal crusade; I am ready, when it comes, to beat a
tambourine with the loudest, but at the same time I shall feel a
little ashamed of myself. However"--Mr. Scogan shrugged his
shoulders and, pipe in hand, made a gesture of resignation--"It's
futile to complain that things are as they are. The fact remains
that sanity unassisted is useless. What we want, then, is a sane
and reasonable exploitation of the forces of insanity. We sane
men will have the power yet." Mr. Scogan's eyes shone with a
more than ordinary brightness, and, taking his pipe out of his
mouth, he gave vent to his loud, dry, and somehow rather fiendish
"But I don't want power," said Denis. He was sitting in limp
discomfort at one end of the bench, shading his eyes from the
intolerable light. Mr. Scogan, bolt upright at the other end,
"Everybody wants power," he said. "Power in some form or other.
The sort of power you hanker for is literary power. Some people
want power to persecute other human beings; you expend your lust
for power in persecuting words, twisting them, moulding them,
torturing them to obey you. But I divagate."
"Do you?" asked Denis faintly.
"Yes," Mr. Scogan continued, unheeding, "the time will come. We
men of intelligence will learn to harness the insanities to the
service of reason. We can't leave the world any longer to the
direction of chance. We can't allow dangerous maniacs like
Luther, mad about dogma, like Napoleon, mad about himself, to go
on casually appearing and turning everything upside down. In the
past it didn't so much matter; but our modern machine is too
delicate. A few more knocks like the Great War, another Luther
or two, and the whole concern will go to pieces. In future, the
men of reason must see that the madness of the world's maniacs is
canalised into proper channels, is made to do useful work, like a
mountain torrent driving a dynamo..."
"Making electricity to light a Swiss hotel," said Denis. "You
ought to complete the simile."
Mr. Scogan waved away the interruption. "There's only one thing
to be done," he said. "The men of intelligence must combine,
must conspire, and seize power from the imbeciles and maniacs who
now direct us. They must found the Rational State."
The heat that was slowly paralysing all Denis's mental and bodily
faculties, seemed to bring to Mr. Scogan additional vitality. He
talked with an ever-increasing energy, his hands moved in sharp,
quick, precise gestures, his eyes shone. Hard, dry, and
continuous, his voice went on sounding and sounding in Denis's
ears with the insistence of a mechanical noise.
"In the Rational State," he heard Mr. Scogan saying, "human
beings will be separated out into distinct species, not according
to the colour of their eyes or the shape of their skulls, but
according to the qualities of their mind and temperament.
Examining psychologists, trained to what would now seem an almost
superhuman clairvoyance, will test each child that is born and
assign it to its proper species. Duly labelled and docketed, the
child will be given the education suitable to members of its
species, and will be set, in adult life, to perform those
functions which human beings of his variety are capable of
"How many species will there be?" asked Denis.
"A great many, no doubt," Mr. Scogan answered; "the
classification will be subtle and elaborate. But it is not in
the power of a prophet to go into details, nor is it his
business. I will do more than indicate the three main species
into which the subjects of the Rational State will be divided."
He paused, cleared his throat, and coughed once or twice, evoking
in Denis's mind the vision of a table with a glass and water-
bottle, and, lying across one corner, a long white pointer for
the lantern pictures.
"The three main species," Mr. Scogan went on, "will be these:
the Directing Intelligences, the Men of Faith, and the Herd.
Among the Intelligences will be found all those capable of
thought, those who know how to attain a certain degree of
freedom--and, alas, how limited, even among the most intelligent,
that freedom is!--from the mental bondage of their time. A
select body of Intelligences, drawn from among those who have
turned their attention to the problems of practical life, will be
the governors of the Rational State. They will employ as their
instruments of power the second great species of humanity--the
men of Faith, the Madmen, as I have been calling them, who
believe in things unreasonably, with passion, and are ready to
die for their beliefs and their desires. These wild men, with
their fearful potentialities for good or for mischief, will no
longer be allowed to react casually to a casual environment.
There will be no more Caesar Borgias, no more Luthers and
Mohammeds, no more Joanna Southcotts, no more Comstocks. The
old-fashioned Man of Faith and Desire, that haphazard creature of
brute circumstance, who might drive men to tears and repentance,
or who might equally well set them on to cutting one another's
throats, will be replaced by a new sort of madman, still
externally the same, still bubbling with a seemingly spontaneous
enthusiasm, but, ah, how very different from the madman of the
past! For the new Man of Faith will be expending his passion,
his desire, and his enthusiasm in the propagation of some
reasonable idea. He will be, all unawares, the tool of some
Mr. Scogan chuckled maliciously; it was as though he were taking
a revenge, in the name of reason, on enthusiasts. "From their
earliest years, as soon, that is, as the examining psychologists
have assigned them their place in the classified scheme, the Men
of Faith will have had their special education under the eye of
the Intelligences. Moulded by a long process of suggestion, they
will go out into the world, preaching and practising with a
generous mania the coldly reasonable projects of the Directors
from above. When these projects are accomplished, or when the
ideas that were useful a decade ago have ceased to be useful, the
Intelligences will inspire a new generation of madmen with a new
eternal truth. The principal function of the Men of Faith will
be to move and direct the Multitude, that third great species
consisting of those countless millions who lack intelligence and
are without valuable enthusiasm. When any particular effort is
required of the Herd, when it is thought necessary, for the sake
of solidarity, that humanity shall be kindled and united by some
single enthusiastic desire or idea, the Men of Faith, primed with
some simple and satisfying creed, will be sent out on a mission
of evangelisation. At ordinary times, when the high spiritual
temperature of a Crusade would be unhealthy, the Men of Faith
will be quietly and earnestly busy with the great work of
education. In the upbringing of the Herd, humanity's almost
boundless suggestibility will be scientifically exploited.
Systematically, from earliest infancy, its members will be
assured that there is no happiness to be found except in work and
obedience; they will be made to believe that they are happy, that
they are tremendously important beings, and that everything they
do is noble and significant. For the lower species the earth
will be restored to the centre of the universe and man to pre-
eminence on the earth. Oh, I envy the lot of the commonality in
the Rational State! Working their eight hours a day, obeying
their betters, convinced of their own grandeur and significance
and immortality, they will be marvellously happy, happier than
any race of men has ever been. They will go through life in a
rosy state of intoxication, from which they will never awake.
The Men of Faith will play the cup-bearers at this lifelong
bacchanal, filling and ever filling again with the warm liquor
that the Intelligences, in sad and sober privacy behind the
scenes, will brew for the intoxication of their subjects."
"And what will be my place in the Rational State?" Denis drowsily
inquired from under his shading hand.
Mr. Scogan looked at him for a moment in silence. "It's
difficult to see where you would fit in," he said at last. "You
couldn't do manual work; you're too independent and unsuggestible
to belong to the larger Herd; you have none of the
characteristics required in a Man of Faith. As for the Directing
Intelligences, they will have to be marvellously clear and
merciless and penetrating." He paused and shook his head. "No,
I can see no place for you; only the lethal chamber."
Deeply hurt, Denis emitted the imitation of a loud Homeric laugh.
"I'm getting sunstroke here," he said, and got up.
Mr. Scogan followed his example, and they walked slowly away down
the narrow path, brushing the blue lavender flowers in their
passage. Denis pulled a sprig of lavender and sniffed at it;
then some dark leaves of rosemary that smelt like incense in a
cavernous church. They passed a bed of opium poppies, dispetaled
now; the round, ripe seedheads were brown and dry--like
Polynesian trophies, Denis thought; severed heads stuck on poles.
He liked the fancy enough to impart it to Mr. Scogan.
"Like Polynesian trophies..." Uttered aloud, the fancy seemed
less charming and significant than it did when it first occurred
There was a silence, and in a growing wave of sound the whir of
the reaping machines swelled up from the fields beyond the garden
and then receded into a remoter hum.
"It is satisfactory to think," said Mr. Scogan, as they strolled
slowly onward, "that a multitude of people are toiling in the
harvest fields in order that we may talk of Polynesia. Like
every other good thing in this world, leisure and culture have to
be paid for. Fortunately, however, it is not the leisured and
the cultured who have to pay. Let us be duly thankful for that,
my dear Denis--duly thankful," he repeated, and knocked the ashes
out of his pipe.
Denis was not listening. He had suddenly remembered Anne. She
was with Gombauld--alone with him in his studio. It was an
"Shall we go and pay a call on Gombauld?" he suggested
carelessly. It would be amusing to see what he's doing now."
He laughed inwardly to think how furious Gombauld would be when
he saw them arriving.
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