[A paper read on March 21st, 1918.]
"When we survey the world around, the wondrous things which there abound"—especially the developments of these last years—there must come to some of us a doubt whether this civilisation of ours is to have a future. Mr. Lowes Dickenson, in an able book, "The Choice Before Us," has outlined the alternate paths which the world may tread after the war—"National Militarism" or "International Pacifism." He has pointed out with force the terrible dangers on the first of these two paths, the ruinous strain and ultimate destruction which a journey down it will inflict on every nation. But, holding a brief for International Pacifism, he was not, in that book, at all events, concerned to point out the dangers which beset Peace. When, in the words of President Wilson, we have made the world safe for democracy, it will be high time to set about making it safe against civilisation itself.
The first thing, naturally, is to ensure a good long spell of peace. If we do not, we need not trouble ourselves for a moment over the future of civilisation—there will be none. But a long spell of peace is probable; for, though human nature is never uniform, and never as one man shall we get salvation; sheer exhaustion, and disgust with its present bed-fellows—suffering, sacrifice, and sudden death—will almost surely force the world into international quietude. For the first time in history organised justice, such as for many centuries has ruled the relations between individuals, may begin to rule those between States, and free us from menace of war for a period which may be almost indefinitely prolonged. To perpetuate this great change in the life of nations is very much an affair of getting men used to that change; of setting up a Tribunal which they can see and pin their faith to, which works, and proves its utility, which they would miss if it were dissolved. States are proverbially cynical, but if an International Court of Justice, backed by international force, made good in the settlement of two or three serious disputes, allayed two or three crises, it would with each success gain prestige, be firmer and more difficult to uproot, till it might at last become as much a matter of course in the eyes of the cynical States as our Law Courts are in the eyes of our enlightened selves.
Making, then, the large but by no means hopeless assumption that such a change may come, how is our present civilisation going to "pan out"?
In Samuel Butler's imagined country, "Erewhon," the inhabitants had broken up all machinery, abandoned the use of money, and lived in a strange elysium of health and beauty. I often wonder how, without something of the sort, modern man is to be prevented from falling into the trombone he blows so loudly, from being destroyed by the very machines he has devised for his benefit. The problem before modern man is clearly that of becoming master, instead of slave, of his own civilisation. The history of the last hundred and fifty years, especially in England, is surely one long story of ceaseless banquet and acute indigestion. Certain Roman Emperors are popularly supposed to have taken drastic measures during their feasts to regain their appetites; we have not their "slim" wisdom; we do not mind going on eating when we have had too much.
I do not question the intentions of civilisation—they are most honourable. To be clean, warm, well nourished, healthy, decently leisured, and free to move quickly about the world, are certainly pure benefits. And these are presumably the prime objects of our toil and ingenuity, the ideals to be served, by the discovery of steam, electricity, modern industrial machinery, telephony, flying. If we attained those ideals, and stopped there—well and good. Alas! the amazing mechanical conquests of the age have crowded one on another so fast that we have never had time to digest their effects. Each as it came we hailed as an incalculable benefit to mankind, and so it was, or would have been, if we had not the appetites of cormorants and the digestive powers of elderly gentlemen. Our civilisation reminds one of the corpse in the Mark Twain story which, at its own funeral, got up and rode with the driver. It is watching itself being buried. We discover, and scatter discovery broadcast among a society uninstructed in the proper use of it. Consider the town-ridden, parasitic condition of Great Britain—the country which cannot feed itself. If we are beaten in this war, it will be because we have let our industrial system run away with us; because we became so sunk in machines and money-getting that we forgot our self-respect. No self-respecting nation would have let its food-growing capacity and its country life down to the extent that we have. If we are beaten—which God forbid—we shall deserve our fate. And why did our industrial system get such a mad grip on us? Because we did not master the riot of our inventions and discoveries. Remember the spinning jenny—whence came the whole system of Lancashire cotton factories which drained a countryside of peasants and caused a deterioration of physique from which as yet there has been no recovery. Here was an invention which was to effect a tremendous saving of labour and be of sweeping benefit to mankind. Exploited without knowledge, scruple, or humanity, it also caused untold misery and grievous national harm. Read, mark, and learn Mr. and Mrs. Hammond's book, "The Town Labourer." The spinning jenny and similar inventions have been the forces which have dotted beautiful counties of England with the blackest and most ill-looking towns in the world, have changed the proportion of country- to town-dwellers from about 3 as against 2 in 1761 to 2 as against 7 in 1911; have strangled our powers to feed ourselves, and so made us a temptation to our enemies and a danger to the whole world. We have made money by it; our standard of wealth has gone up. I remember having a long talk with a very old shepherd on the South Downs, whose youth and early married life were lived on eight shillings a week; and he was no exception. Nowadays our agricultural wage averages over thirty shillings, though it buys but little more than the eight. Still, the standard of wealth has superficially advanced, if that be any satisfaction. But have health, beauty, happiness among the great bulk of the population?
Consider the mastery of the air. To what use has it been put, so far? To practically none, save the destruction of life. About five years before the war some of us in England tried to initiate an international movement to ban the use of flying for military purposes. The effort was entirely abortive. The fact is, man never goes in front of events, always insists on disastrously buying his experience. And I am inclined to think we shall continue to advance backwards unless we intern our inventors till we have learned to run the inventions of the last century instead of letting them run us. Counsels of perfection, however, are never pursued. But what can we do? We can try to ban certain outside dangers internationally, such as submarines and air-craft, in war; and, inside, we might establish a Board of Scientific Control to ensure that no inventions are exploited under conditions obviously harmful.
Suppose, for instance, that the spinning jenny had come before such a Board, one imagines they might have said: "If you want to use this peculiar novelty, you must first satisfy us that your employees are going to work under conditions favourable to health"—in other words, the Factory Acts, Town Planning, and no Child Labour, from the start. Or, when rubber was first introduced: "You are bringing in this new and, we dare say, quite useful article. We shall, however, first send out and see the conditions under which you obtain it." Having seen, they would have added: "You will alter those conditions, and treat your native labour humanely, or we will ban your use of this article," to the grief and anger of those periwig-pated persons who write to the papers about grandmotherly legislation and sickly sentimentalism.
Seriously, the history of modern civilisation shows that, while we can only trust individualism to make discoveries, we cannot at all trust it to apply discovery without some sort of State check in the interests of health, beauty, and happiness. Officialdom is on all our nerves. But this is a very vital matter, and the suggestion of a Board of Scientific Control is not so fantastic as it seems. Certain results of inventions and discoveries cannot, of course, be foreseen, but able and impartial brains could foresee a good many and save mankind from the most rampant results of raw and unconsidered exploitation. The public is a child; and the child who suddenly discovers that there is such a thing as candy, if left alone, can only be relied on to make itself sick.
Let us stray for a frivolous moment into the realms of art, since the word art is claimed for what we know as the "film." This discovery went as it pleased for a few years in the hands of inventors and commercial agents. In these few years such a raging taste for cowboy, crime, and Chaplin films has been developed, that a Commission which has just been sitting on the matter finds that the public will not put up with more than a ten per cent. proportion of educational film in the course of an evening's entertainment. Now, the film as a means of transcribing actual life is admittedly of absorbing interest and great educational value; but, owing to this false start, we cannot get it swallowed in more than extremely small doses as a food and stimulant, while it is being gulped down to the dregs as a drug or irritant. Of the film's claim to the word art I am frankly sceptical. My mind is open—and when one says that, one generally means it is shut. But art is long: the Cro-Magnon men of Europe decorated the walls of their caves quite beautifully, some say twenty-five, some say seventy, thousand years ago; so it may well require a generation to tell us what is art and what is not among the new experiments continually being made. Still, the film is a restless thing, and I cannot think of any form of art, as hitherto we have understood the word, to which that description could be applied, unless it be those Wagner operas which I have disliked not merely since the war began, but from childhood up. During the filming of the play "Justice" I attended at rehearsal to see Mr. Gerald du Maurier play the cell scene. Since in that scene there is not a word spoken in the play itself, there is no difference in kind between the appeal of play or film. But the live rehearsal for the filming was at least twice as affecting as the dead result of that rehearsal on the screen. The film, of course, is in its first youth, but I see no signs as yet that it will ever overcome the handicap of its physical conditions, and attain the real emotionalising powers of art. The film sweeps up into itself, of course, a far wider surface of life in a far shorter space of time; but the medium is flat, has no blood in it; and experience tells one that no amount of surface and quantity in art ever make up for lack of depth and quality. Who would not cheerfully give the Albert Memorial for a little figure by Donatello! Since, however, the film takes the line of least resistance, and makes a rapid, lazy, superficial appeal, it may very well oust the drama. And, to my thinking, of course, that will be all to the bad, and intensely characteristic of machine-made civilisation, whose motto seems to be: "Down with Shakespeare and Euripides—up with the Movies!" The film is a very good illustration of the whole tendency of modern life under the too-rapid development of machines; roughly speaking, we seem to be turning up yearly more and more ground to less and less depth. We are getting to know life as superficially as the Egyptian interpreter knew language, who, [as we read in the Manchester Guardian,] when the authorities complained that he was overstaying his leave, wrote back: "My absence is impossible. Some one has removed my wife. My God, I am annoyed."
There is an expression—"high-brow"—maybe complimentary in origin, but become in some sort a term of contempt. A doubter of our general divinity is labelled "high-brow" at once, and his doubts drop like water off the public's back. Any one who questions our triumphant progress is tabooed for a pedant. That will not alter the fact, I fear, that we are growing feverish, rushed, and complicated, and have multiplied conveniences to such an extent that we do nothing with them but scrape the surface of life. We were rattling into a new species of barbarism when the war came, and unless we take a pull, shall continue to rattle after it is over. The underlying cause in every country is the increase of herd-life, based on machines, money-getting, and the dread of being dull. Every one knows how fearfully strong that dread is. But to be capable of being dull is in itself a disease.
And most of modern life seems to be a process of creating disease, then finding a remedy which in its turn creates another disease, demanding fresh remedy, and so on. We pride ourselves, for example, on scientific sanitation; well, what is scientific sanitation if not one huge palliative of evils, which have arisen from herd-life, enabling herd-life to be intensified, so that we shall presently need even more scientific sanitation? The old shepherd on the South Downs had never come in contact with it, yet he was very old, very healthy, hardy, and contented. He had a sort of simple dignity, too, that we have most of us lost. The true elixirs vitŠ—for there be two, I think—are open-air life and a proud pleasure in one's work; we have evolved a mode of existence in which it is comparatively rare to find these two conjoined. In old countries, such as Britain, the evils of herd-life are at present vastly more acute than in a new country such as America. On the other hand, the further one is from hell the faster one drives towards it, and machines are beginning to run along with America even more violently than with Europe.
When our Tanks first appeared they were described as snouting monsters creeping at their own sweet will. I confess that this is how my inflamed eye sees all our modern machines—monsters running on their own, dragging us along, and very often squashing us.
We are, I believe, awakening to the dangers of this "Gadarening," this rushing down the high cliff into the sea, possessed and pursued by the devils of—machinery. But if any man would see how little alarmed he really is—let him ask himself how much of his present mode of existence he is prepared to alter. Altering the modes of other people is delightful; one would have great hope of the future if we had nothing before us but that. The medieval Irishman, in Froude, indicted for burning down the cathedral at Armagh, together with the Archbishop, defended himself thus: "As for the cathedral, 'tis true I burned it; but indeed an' I wouldn't have, only they told me himself was inside." We are all ready to alter our opponents, if not to burn them. But even if we were as ardent reformers as that Irishman we could hardly force men to live in the open, or take a proud pleasure in their work, or enjoy beauty, or not concentrate themselves on making money. No amount of legislation will make us "lilies of the field" or "birds of the air," or prevent us from worshipping false gods, or neglecting to reform ourselves.
I once wrote the unpopular sentence, "Democracy at present offers the spectacle of a man running down a road followed at a more and more respectful distance by his own soul." I am a democrat, or I should never have dared. For democracy, substitute "Modern Civilisation," which prides itself on redress after the event, agility in getting out of the holes into which it has snouted, and eagerness to snout into fresh ones. It foresees nothing, and avoids less. It is purely empirical, if one may use such a "high-brow" word.
Politics are popularly supposed to govern the direction, and statesmen to be the guardian angels, of Civilisation. It seems to me that they have little or no power over its growth. They are of it, and move with it. Their concern is rather with the body than with the mind or soul of a nation. One needs not to be an engineer to know that to pull a man up a wall one must be higher than he; that to raise general taste one must have better taste than that of those whose taste he is raising.
Now, to my indifferent mind, education in the large sense—not politics at all—is the only agent really capable of improving the trend of civilisation, the only lever we can use. Believing this, I think it a thousand pities that neither Britain nor America, nor, so far as I know, any other country, has as yet evolved machinery through which there might be elected a supreme Director, or, say, a little Board of three Directors, of the nation's spirit, an Educational President, as it were, with power over the nation's spirit analogous to that which America's elected political President has over America's body. Our Minister of Education is as a rule an ordinary Member of the Government, an ordinary man of affairs—though at the moment an angel happens to have strayed in. Why cannot education be regarded, like religion in the past, as something sacred, not merely a department of political administration? Ought we not for this most vital business of education to be ever on the watch for the highest mind and the finest spirit of the day to guide us? To secure the appointment of such a man, or triumvirate, by democratic means, would need a special sifting process of election, which could never be too close and careful. One might use for the purpose the actual body of teachers in the country to elect delegates to select a jury to choose finally the flower of the national flock. It would be worth any amount of trouble to ensure that we always had the best man or men. And when we had them we should give them a mandate as real and substantial as America now gives to her political President. We should intend them not for mere lay administrators and continuers of custom, but for true fountain-heads and initiators of higher ideals of conduct, learning, manners, and taste; nor stint them of the means necessary to carry those ideals into effect. Hitherto, the supposed direction of ideals—in practice almost none—has been left to religion. But religion as a motive force is at once too personal, too lacking in unanimity, and too specialised to control the educational needs of a modern State; religion, as I understand it, is essentially emotional and individual; when it becomes practical and worldly it strays outside its true province and loses beneficence. Education as I want to see it would take over the control of social ethics, and learning, but make no attempt to usurp the emotional functions of religion. Let me give you an example: Those elixirs vitŠ—open-air life and a proud pleasure in one's work—imagine those two principles drummed into the heads and hearts of all the little scholars of the age, by men and women who had been taught to believe them the truth. Would this not gradually have an incalculable effect on the trend of our civilisation? Would it not tend to create a demand for a simple and sane life; help to get us back to the land; produce reluctance to work at jobs in which no one can feel pride and pleasure, and so diminish the power of machines and of commercial exploitation? But teachers could only be inspired with such ideals by master spirits. And my plea is that we should give ourselves the chance of electing and making use of such master spirits. We all know from everyday life and business that the real, the only problem is to get the best men to run the show; when we get them the show runs well, when we don't there is nothing left but to pay the devil. The chief defect of modern civilisation based on democracy is the difficulty of getting best men quickly enough. Unless Democracy—government by the people—makes of itself Aristocracy—government by the best people—it is running steadily to seed. Democracy to be sound must utilise not only the ablest men of affairs, but the aristocracy of spirit. The really vital concern of such an elected Head of Education, himself the best man of all, would be the discovery and employment of other best men, best Heads of Schools and Colleges, whose chief concern in turn would be the discovery and employment of best subordinates. The better the teacher the better the ideals; quite obviously, the only hope of raising ideals is to raise the standard of those who teach, from top to toe of the educational machine. What we want, in short, is a sort of endless band—throwing up the finest spirit of the day till he forms a head or apex whence virtue runs swiftly down again into the people who elected him. This is the principle, as it seems to me, of the universe itself, whose symbol is neither circle nor spire, but circle and spire mysteriously combined.
America has given us an example of this in her political system; perhaps she will now oblige in her educational. I confess that I look very eagerly and watchfully towards America in many ways. After the war she will be more emphatically than ever, in material things, the most important and powerful nation of the earth. We British have a legitimate and somewhat breathless interest in the use she will make of her strength, and in the course of her national life, for this will greatly influence the course of our own. But power for real light and leading in America will depend, not so much on her material wealth, or her armed force, as on what the attitude towards life and the ideals of her citizens are going to be. Americans have a certain eagerness for knowledge; they have also, for all their absorption in success, the aspiring eye. They do want the good thing. They don't always know it when they see it, but they want it. These qualities, in combination with material strength, give America her chance. Yet, if she does not set her face against "Gadarening," we are all bound for downhill. If she goes in for spreadeagleism, if her aspirations are towards quantity not quality, we shall all go on being commonised. If she should get that purse-and-power-proud fever which comes from national success, we are all bound for another world flare-up. The burden of proving that democracy can be real and yet live up to an ideal of health and beauty will be on America's shoulders, and on ours. What are we and Americans going to make of our inner life, of our individual habits of thought? What are we going to reverence, and what despise? Do we mean to lead in spirit and in truth, not in mere money and guns? Britain is an old country, still in her prime, I hope; but America is as yet on the threshold. Is she to step out into the sight of the world as a great leader? That is for America the long decision, to be worked out, not so much in her Senate and her Congress, as in her homes and schools. On America, after the war, the destiny of civilisation may hang for the next century. If she mislays, indeed, if she does not improve the power of self-criticism—that special dry American humour which the great Lincoln had—she might soon develop the intolerant provincialism which has so often been the bane of the earth and the undoing of nations. If she gets swelled-head the world will get cold-feet. Above all, if she does not solve the problems of town life, of Capital and Labour, of the distribution of wealth, of national health, and attain to a mastery over inventions and machinery—she is in for a cycle of mere anarchy, disruption, and dictatorships, into which we shall all follow. The motto "noblesse oblige" applies as much to democracy as ever it did to the old-time aristocrat. It applies with terrific vividness to America. Ancestry and Nature have bestowed on her great gifts. Behind her stand Conscience, Enterprise, Independence, and Ability—such were the companions of the first Americans, and are the comrades of American citizens to this day. She has abounding energy, an unequalled spirit of discovery; a vast territory not half developed, and great natural beauty. I remember sitting on a bench overlooking the Grand Canyon of Arizona; the sun was shining into it, and a snow-storm was whirling down there. All that most marvellous work of Nature was flooded to the brim with rose and tawny-gold, with white, and wine-dark shadows; the colossal carvings as of huge rock-gods and sacrificial altars, and great beasts, along its sides, were made living by the very mystery of light and darkness, on that violent day of spring—I remember sitting there, and an old gentleman passing close behind, leaning towards me and saying in a sly, gentle voice: "How are you going to tell it to the folks at home?" America has so much that one despairs of telling to the folks at home, so much grand beauty to be to her an inspiration and uplift towards high and free thought and vision. Great poems of Nature she has, wrought in the large, to make of her and keep her a noble people. In our beloved Britain—all told, not half the size of Texas—there is a quiet beauty of a sort which America has not. I walked not long ago from Worthing to the little village of Steyning, in the South Downs. It was such a day as one too seldom gets in England; when the sun was dipping and there came on the cool chalky hills the smile of late afternoon, and across a smooth valley on the rim of the Down one saw a tiny group of trees, one little building, and a stack, against the clear-blue, pale sky—it was like a glimpse of Heaven, so utterly pure in line and colour, so removed, and touching. The tale of loveliness in our land is varied and unending, but it is not in the grand manner. America has the grand manner in her scenery and in her blood, for over there all are the children of adventure and daring, every single white man an emigrant himself or a descendant of one who had the pluck to emigrate. She has already had past-masters in dignity, but she has still to reach as a nation the grand manner in achievement. She knows her own dangers and failings, her qualities and powers; but she cannot realise the intense concern and interest, deep down behind our provoking stolidities, with which we of the old country watch her, feeling that what she does reacts on us above all nations, and will ever react more and more. Underneath surface differences and irritations we English-speaking peoples are fast bound together. May it not be in misery and iron! If America walks upright, so shall we; if she goes bowed under the weight of machines, money, and materialism, we, too, shall creep our ways. We run a long race, we nations; a generation is but a day. But in a day a man may leave the track, and never again recover it!
Democracies must not be content to leave the ideals of health and beauty to artists and a leisured class; that is the way into a treeless, waterless desert. It has struck me forcibly that we English-speaking democracies are all right underneath, and all wrong on the surface; our hearts are sound, but our skin is in a deplorable condition. Our taste, take it all round, is dreadful. For a petty illustration: Ragtime music. Judging by its popularity, one would think it must be a splendid discovery; yet it suggests little or nothing but the comic love-making of two darkies. We ride it to death; but its jigging, jogging, jumpy jingle refuses to die on us, and America's young and ours grow up in the tradition of its soul-forsaken sounds. Take another tiny illustration: The new dancing. Developed from cake-walk, to fox-trot, by way of tango. Precisely the same spiritual origin! And not exactly in the grand manner to one who, like myself, loves and believes in dancing. Take the "snappy" side of journalism. In San Francisco a few years ago the Press snapped a certain writer and his wife, in their hotel, and next day there appeared a photograph of two intensely wretched-looking beings stricken by limelight, under the headline: "Blank and wife enjoy freedom and gaiety in the air." Another writer told me that as he set foot on a car leaving a great city a young lady grabbed him by the coat-tail and cried: "Say, Mr. Asterisk, what are your views on a future life?" Not in the grand manner, all this; but, if you like, a sign of vitality and interest; a mere excrescence. But are not these excrescences symptoms of a fever lying within our modern civilisation, a febrility which is going to make achievement of great ends and great work more difficult? We Britons, as a breed, are admittedly stolid; we err as much on that score as Americans on the score of restlessness; yet we are both subject to these excrescences. There is something terribly infectious about vulgarity; and taste is on the down-grade following the tendencies of herd-life. It is not a process to be proud of.
Enough of Jeremiads, there is a bright side to our civilisation.
This modern febrility does not seem able to attack the real inner man. If there is a lamentable increase of vulgarity, superficiality, and restlessness in our epoch, there is also an inspiring development of certain qualities. Those who were watching human nature before the war were pretty well aware of how, under the surface, unselfishness, ironic stoicism, and a warm humanity were growing. These are the great Town Virtues; the fine flowers of herd-life. A big price is being paid for them, but they are almost beyond price. The war has revealed them in full bloom. Revealed them, not produced them! Who, in the future, with this amazing show before him, will dare to talk about the need for war to preserve courage and unselfishness? From the first shot these wonders of endurance, bravery, and sacrifice were shown by the untrained citizens of countries nearly fifty years deep in peace! Never, I suppose, in the world's history, has there been so marvellous a display, in war, of the bedrock virtues. The soundness at core of the modern man has had one long triumphant demonstration. Out of a million instances, take that little story of a Mr. Lindsay, superintendent of a pumping station at some oil-wells in Mesopotamia. A valve in the oil-pipe had split, and a fountain of oil was being thrown up on all sides, while, thirty yards off, and nothing between, the furnaces were in full blast. To prevent a terrible conflagration and great loss of life, and to save the wells, it was necessary to shut off those furnaces. That meant dashing through the oil-stream and arriving saturated at the flames. The superintendent did not hesitate a moment, and was burnt to death. Such deeds as this men and women have been doing all through the war.
When you come to think, this modern man is a very new and marvellous creature. Without quite realising it, we have evolved a fresh species of stoic, even more stoical, I suspect, than were the old Stoics. Modern man has cut loose from leading-strings; he stands on his own feet. His religion is to take what comes without flinching or complaint, as part of the day's work, which an unknowable God, Providence, Creative Principle, or whatever it shall be called, has appointed. Observation tells me that modern man at large, far from inclining towards the new, personal, elder-brotherly God of Mr. Wells, has turned his face the other way. He confronts life and death alone. By courage and kindness modern man exists, warmed by the glow of the great human fellowship. He has re-discovered the old Greek saying: "God is the helping of man by man"; has found out in his unselfconscious way that if he does not help himself, and help his fellows, he cannot reach that inner peace which satisfies. To do his bit, and to be kind! It is by that creed, rather than by any mysticism, that he finds the salvation of his soul. His religion is to be a common-or-garden hero, without thinking anything of it; for, of a truth, this is the age of conduct.
After all, does not the only real spiritual warmth, not tinged by Pharisaism, egotism, or cowardice, come from the feeling of doing your work well and helping others; is not all the rest embroidery, luxury, pastime, pleasant sound and incense? Modern man, take him in the large, does not believe in salvation to beat of drum; or that, by leaning up against another person, however idolised and mystical, he can gain support. He is a realist with too romantic a sense, perhaps, of the mystery which surrounds existence to pry into it. And, like modern civilisation itself, he is the creature of West and North, of atmospheres, climates, manners of life which foster neither inertia, reverence, nor mystic meditation. Essentially man of action, in ideal action he finds his only true comfort; and no attempts to discover for him new gods and symbols will divert him from the path made for him by the whole trend of his existence. I am sure that padres at the front see that the men whose souls they have gone out to tend are living the highest form of religion; that in their comic courage, unselfish humanity, their endurance without whimper of things worse than death, they have gone beyond all pulpit-and-death-bed teaching. And who are these men? Just the early manhood of the race, just modern man as he was before the war began and will be when the war is over.
This modern world, of which we English and Americans are perhaps the truest types, stands revealed, from beneath its froth, frippery, and vulgar excrescences, sound at core—a world whose implicit motto is: "The good of all humanity." But the herd-life, which is its characteristic, brings many evils, has many dangers; and to preserve a sane mind in a healthy body is the riddle before us. Somehow we must free ourselves from the driving domination of machines and money-getting, not only for our own sakes but for that of all mankind.
And there is another thing of the most solemn importance: We English-speaking nations are by chance as it were the ballast of the future. It is absolutely necessary that we should remain united. The comradeship we now feel must and surely shall abide. For unless we work together, and in no selfish or exclusive spirit—good-bye to Civilisation! It will vanish like the dew off grass. The betterment not only of the British nations and America, but of all mankind, is and must be our object.
When from all our hearts this great weight is lifted; when no longer in those fields death sweeps his scythe, and our ears at last are free from the rustling thereof—then will come the test of magnanimity in all countries. Will modern man rise to the ordering of a sane, a free, a generous life? Each of us loves his own country best, be it a little land or the greatest on earth; but jealousy is the dark thing, the creeping poison. Where there is true greatness, let us acclaim it; where there is true worth, let us prize it—as if it were our own.
This earth is made too subtly, of too multiple warp and woof, for prophecy. When he surveys the world around, the wondrous things which there abound, the prophet closes foolish lips. Besides, as the historian tells us: "Writers have that undeterminateness of spirit which commonly makes literary men of no use in the world." So I, for one, prophesy not. Still, we do know this: All English-speaking peoples will go to the adventure of peace with something of big purpose and spirit in their hearts, with something of free outlook. The world is wide and Nature bountiful enough for all, if we keep sane minds. The earth is fair and meant to be enjoyed, if we keep sane bodies. Who dare affront this world of beauty with mean views? There is no darkness but what the ape in us still makes, and in spite of all his monkey-tricks modern man is at heart further from the ape than man has yet been.
To do our jobs really well and to be brotherly! To seek health, and ensue beauty! If, in Britain and America, in all the English-speaking nations, we can put that simple faith into real and thorough practice, what may not this century yet bring forth? Shall man, the highest product of creation, be content to pass his little day in a house, like unto Bedlam?
When the present great task in which we have joined hands is ended; when once more from the shuttered mad-house the figure of Peace steps forth and stands in the sun, and we may go our ways again in the beauty and wonder of a new morning—let it be with this vow in our hearts: "No more of Madness—in War, in Peace!"