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^Ci^ciycJi Hii^o^ 











[AH Righls Reserved] 


" A^ot the sea, only, wrecks the hopes of men. 
Look deeper, there is shipwreck everywhere " ; 
So mourned the exquisite Romanes rich despair. 
Too high in death for that ignoble pen. 
Nero, his zorecker, is amply wrecked since then. 
And all that Rome''s a whif of charriel air ; 
But to subdue Petronius^ mal-de-mer 
Have we found drugs F I pray you, What P and 

When P 
Shipwreck, one grieves to say, retains its vogue : 
Or let the keel win on in stouter fashion. 
And look ! your golden lie of Tir-na-n'Og 
Is sunset and zvaste waters, chill and ashen — 
Faith lasts P Nay, since I knew your yielded 

I am content with sight . . . of Paradise. 


The papers collected here have, for the most part, 
already appeared in various journals and reviews. 
I am indebted to the courtesy of the Morning 
Leader, the New Ireland Review, the Fortnightly 
Review and Messrs. Maunsel & Co., for leave 
to re-publish them. In all cases there has been 
a good deal of revision and re-writing, and an 
attempt has been made to impress a certain 
unity on the constituent materials such as may 
reasonably be looked for in anything that calls 
itself a book. The study of Otto Effertz appears 
for the first time, and is, indeed, as far as I 
know, the only account that has yet been given 
in English of that bizarre but brilliant pioneer. 
Topical articles on Egyptian Nationalism and 
International Socialism have been included 
because they give a glimpse of movements 
which, so far as one can judge, are certain to 
endure, and of leaders whose influence is likely 
to grow rather than to diminish in the immediate 

For title I have ventured to use The Day's 
Burden because that seems to me to be the 
most characteristic thing about the day, and 


because all these essays are concerned with 
" problems" — economic, political, and literary. 
To anyone who, glancing at the foreign names 
which recur in these pages, asks with a sniff of 
contempt, " What has all this got to do with 
Ireland ? " I do not know what reply to make. 
Something like this, perhaps : Ireland, a small 
nation is, none the less, large enough to contain 
all the complexities of the twentieth century. 
Tliere is no ecstasy and no agony of the modern 
soul remote from her experience ; there is none 
of all the difficulties which beset men, eager to 
build at last a wise and stable society, that she 
has not encountered. In some of them she has 
even been the forerunner of the world. If this 
generation has, for its first task, the recovery of 
the old Ireland, it has, for its second, the dis- 
covery of the new Europe. Ireland awaits her 
Goethe — but in Ireland he must not be a 
Pagan — who \nll one day arise to teach her 
that while a strong people has its own self for 
centre, it has the universe for circumference. 
All cultures belong to a nation that has once 
taken sure hold of its own culture. A national 
literature that seeks to found itself in isolation 
from the general life of humanity can only 
produce the pale and waxen growths of a plant 
isolated from the sunhght. In gaining her own 
soul Ireland will gain the whole world. Till that 
Goethe is born, and the new fabric begins to ri?e 
under his inspiration, we must go on shovelling 
together our trivial heaps of sand and rubble. 


That is all I would dare to say in placation 
oi the contemptuous sniff. Originality is a 
toy that no goddess left in my cradle. My 
cnly programme for Ireland consists, in equal 
parts, of Home Rule and the Ten Command- 
ments. My only counsel to Ireland is, that 
in order to become deeply Irish, she must become 

October, 1910. 



Apology vii 

The Philosophy of Politics 3 

On Crossing the Irish Sea 25 

Otto Effertz : Gentleman Socialist . 33 

On Written Constitutions 61 

Body v. Soul : For the Plaintiff, 

Francis Thompson 69 

Reveries of Assize 85 

A New Way of Misunderstanding 

Hamlet 93 

Young Egypt iii 

The Fatigue of Anatole France 119 

International Socialists 135 

A Frenchman's Ireland 143 

Reason in Rhyme 155 

On Saying Good-Bye 161 



^ t ^HE subject I have chosen for my paper is 
almost an insult to your intelligence. I 
could occupy the whole time at my disposal by 
merely reading you a list of writers who have 
devoted themselves to the establishment of a 
science of politics, and among them you would 
find, from Aristotle downwards, the masters and 
shapers of human thought. What then must 
you think of the audacity of an attempt, with the 
inadequate time and the infinitely inadequate 
resources at my command, to give some account 
not merely of political science but of the philo- 
sophical ideas on which it rests ? I know, 
however, that I can count on your indulgence. 
And I would ask you to accept the title of this 
paper in a large and charitable way, and to 
forgive its pretentiousness. 

It does seem to me that a political society 
like this is under the obUgation of taking an 

* Presidential Address before the Young Ireland 
Branch of the United Irish League, December, 1905. 


occasional bath in the sea of fundamental ideas. 
Practical people regard such a proceeding, it 
must be admitted, with extreme distrust. If one 
desires an early and extensive unpopularity there 
is no surer way to it than to insist on analysing 
received principles. Our mothers, you will 
remember, used to have the strangest objection 
to our taking their watches to pieces. They 
rather doubted our competence to put the 
springs and wheels together again. Society 
experiences much the same state of mind with 
regard to the attempt to reduce it to terms of 
mere reason. Society is right, but it is only the 
nineteenth century that has made its attitude 
possible. It needed a long development of 
psychological and historical study to make us 
understand that reason is but one faculty of a 
many-facultied being ; that the forces which used 
to be brusquely dismissed as mere sentiment, 
mere instinct, mere enthusiasm, are inseparable 
elements of human nature. We have come to 
realise, in a word, that life is in comparably vaster, 
more various, and more complex than any 
theory of it. I dwell on this because it has a 
special bearing on our subject. In approaching 
political science we must remember that it does 
not profess to reproduce the rich detail of life in 
society, but stands to it rather as a chart to an 
ocean or a mathematical formula to the path of a 
planet. Still, if reason has abandoned the 
tyranny which it once aimed at, its call can none 
the less be denied. We must render ourselves 


some rational account of the forces by which and 
among which we hve. Among the greatest of 
these is the society, the political framework, in 
which we are born and in which our lives are cast. 
Call yourself a non-politician as loudly as you 
choose, you will never succeed in ignoring 
politics ; therefore of necessity an attempt must 
be made to understa,nd them. What is the 
object of politics, what we are justified in 
expecting it to do and what it cannot do, what 
part it should play in the life of the individual 
modern man, and what is the temper in which 
a wise man will approach it — these are questions 
neither remote nor abstract, but questions that 
come knocking at your door and mine, and that 
have to be answered. All I can hope to do to- 
night is to suggest, in a random and completely 
undogmatic fashion, points of view from which 
politics may be regarded, and principles by 
which the efficiency of institutions may be 

When we speak of politics as a science we must 
remember that the word is used with a difference. 
The characteristic note of a natural science is its 
ability to predict with mathematical accuracy. 
Such prophetic power cannot be attributed to 
politics. The stupendous complexity of the 
subject-matter, the endless chain of action and 
interaction make it impossible to gather all the 
data necessary for certainty. And then that 
unpredictable element called free-will is con- 
stantly interloping to upset the logic of your 


determinist drama. Still there are large 
principles \\hich. seem to approach the certainty 
of physical laws. One can find a ready illustra- 
tion in what we very properly heard a great deal 
about at the Convention the other day, the need 
for unity. That without unity — of action, of 
course, for absolute unity of thought and feeling 
we neither can have, nor should demand — a 
political party must be ineffective is surely just 
as certain as any law of chemistry or physics ? 
The principle it embodies is one implicit in the 
constitution of every state, namely, that the will 
of the majority of duly chosen representatives 
must, as regards action, prevail over the will 
of the minority. Deny principle and you 
cannot pass a single legislative Act ; you 
cannot levy a single tax. In the long history 
of English insolence there is hardly anything else 
so insolent as Mr. Balfour's demand with regard 
to our University Question. He said, you will 
remember, th^t no Bill could be introduced to 
realise this reform unless there was absolute 
unanimity among all interested parties in Ireland. 
Had he applied that maxim consistently to 
English political life, to political life anywhere, 
the result would be that no government could 
continue for twelve hours. In proclaiming it 
Mr. Balfour was proclaiming himself an 
Anarchist. This principle, then, that the will of 
the majority, registered in the due forms and 
under the due safeguards of individual freedom, 
must prevail over the will of the minority affords 


a good example of the sort of established law we 
can hope for in political science, 

I pass on to the fundamental question : What 
is the object of politics ? Politics in its largest 
sense includes the whole control and manage- 
ment of public affairs by the government in 
power, together with the whole process of 
agitation by which the masses of people not in 
power seek to influence and alter the conduct of 
things. Now, if you look in the text- books you 
will find that the object of government is order. 
But what is the object of order ? That is a 
point which ought to be considered by the 
inflamed gentlemen from the West of Ireland 
who write letters signed " A Disgusted Loyalist " 
to the Irish Times demanding the vindication of 
what they call " law and order." Law and order 
are not absolutes, but merely means to an end. 
To mistake them for ends in themselves is to 
regard the shell as the important element in the 
Qgg, the fence as the important element in the 
field. The cry of " Order for Order's sake " is 
as ruinously foolish as that of art for art's sake, or 
money for money's sake. It is for the sake of 
humanity that all these must exist. Behind order 
there is life, and it is only in so far as it tends to 
increase the sum and improve the quality of life 
that any system of government or scheme of 
positive law is ethically justifiable. If you 
analyse the rights commonly regarded as essential 
and inalienable — the right to property, to 
personal safety, to marriage — ^you will find ''.s the 


common source of them all this right to life. 
And by life I mean not merely physical existence, 
but that rich human existence which can be had 
only in community, that sort of life which 
Edmund Burke had in mind when he described 
the State as " a partnership in all science, a 
partnership in all art, a partnership in every 
virtue, and in all perfection." 

You will say, perhaps, that this test of govern- 
ment — Does it forward life F — ^is vague. Life, 
even in the biological sense, has not been defined. 
That is perfectly true. But we do not demand, 
as I have said, in politics the mapped-out 
mathematical certainty of natural science. The 
average man possesses a sufficiently clear notion 
for practical purposes of the conditions that 
make life desirable, beautiful, and worthy to be 
lived. A government is good or bad, the order 
it maintains is the discipline of liberty or that of 
oppression, in so far as it promotes or hinders the 
wide diffusion of these conditions. I think you 
will find this test of life a helpfvJ one in your 
attempt to gather together in some binding idea 
the currents of effort that make up contemporary 
Ireland. Somebody has compared the role of a 
general idea to that of a magnet. If you bring a 
magnet into contact with a glass plate on which 
there is a confused mass of iron filings it 
immediately strains and sets them into regular 
and beautiful patterns. The filings represent 
the chaos of concrete facts that experience brings 
thronging in on us, and the magnetic idea that 


makes them intelligible, as it has created them, 
is that of life. It is the one justificatory word on 
the tongues of the emigrants as they stream 
down to the ships. They " want to see life." 
By no mere accident is it that the Gaelic League 
which started with language has gathered round 
it games, singing, dancing, and all the arts of 
friendly intercourse. These all stand for life, 
joyously realising itself under benign conditions. 
It has been said that all government exists to 
hang a fowl before the Sunday fire of every 
peasant. Dancing is less necessary than eating, 
and more beautiful. It represents the free 
energy of a life that has not merely withstood 
but has conquered the hostility of external 
circumstances, and you will understand the 
sense in which I say that all contemporary 
Irish movements exist in order to set a boy and 
a girl dancing at a Sunday ceilidh. 

Analyse the agitation to break up the grass- 
ranches and to give the land to the people and 
to the plough and you will find that it rests on 
two assumptions — not very daring assumptions ! 
The first is that the life of a human being is more 
precious and worthier to be forwarded by the 
State than that of a bullock. The second is 
that if an individual persists in so using the 
property which society allows him to control, as to 
base his personal comfort and prosperity on 
the misery and degradation of others, while a 
cleaner way of living is open to him, then 
society has both the right and the duty to break 


his selfish monopoly.* For he has declared war 
on society, and has violated the obligations of 
the social bond. 

This test of life changes our attitude towards 
positive law in general. Take the common 
description of life that it is a " continuous 
adjustment of internal to external relations " 
and apply it to human society, and, in its light, 
law loses its old iron absoluteness. It shows 
itself not as something fixed and immutable, but 
as an imperfect transcript of the moral conditions 
necessary to safeguard life, changing continually 
with these conditions. Ethical principles are, 

* Cf. Naudet, Premiers Principes de Sociologie Catho- 
lique. Bloud et Cie, Paris, 1904. P. 31. " The Canon 
Law, as the great historian Janssen tells us, regarded 
property as a fief granted by God. This doctrine, 
founded on Scripture, involves the evident consequence 
that the owner of property is responsible before God 
for the use to which he puts his property. He must not 
use it after his mere caprice ; and the Popes as guardians 
of the law of justice have more than once asserted this 
principle against owners who had disregarded it. Thus 
we find Clement IV., in the thirteenth century, giving 
permission to any stranger to break up the third part of 
an estate which the owner persistently refused to till. 
Sixtus IV., in the fifteenth century, decrees that ' power 
is given in future and always to all and each to till and 
sow in the territory of Rome and the patrimony of St. 
Peter, in Tuscany as well as on the littoral of Campania, 
at the usual and proper times, one third of the uncultivated 
lands, to be chosen at will, whoever the landlord should 
be . . . .' It was held sufficient to have asked the land- 
lord for leave to enter on the lands, even though this 
leave had been refused." Naudet cites Clement VII., Pius 
VI. and Pius VII. as having confirmed and renewed this 
insistence on the social duties of property. 


of course, invariable ; but the formal enactments 
in which they are imperfectly embodied form a 
system, developing, as we hope, towards a fuller 
realisation. It is the thought-climate, called in 
a large way evolution, and so characteristic of the 
nineteenth century, that has given us this new 
point of view. We have applied it to some 
pretensions of the law courts and seen them 
wither up ; we might also extend it to some of 
the commonplaces of popular thought. There is 
not, I suppose, a more insistent and widespread 
demand with regard to Irish questions than that 
they should be " finally " settled. But once 
grasp the idea of a state as a living, developing 
organism, and this expectation of finality is seen 
to be a pure illusion. Popular thought is never 
altogether wrong, and of course there is an 
obvious sense in which, for example, a compre- 
hensive measure of Home Rule might be regarded 
as a " final " settlement of our political status. 
Still, even in this case, the notion is illusory and 
misleading. Life is growth ; growth is change ; 
and the one thing of which Vv'e are certain is that 
society must keep moving on. Freedom is a 
battle and a marLh. It has many bivouacs, but 
no barracks. You remember the counsel given 
by the serving-man in the heroic tale to 
Diarmuid and Grainne. " In the place where 
you catch your food you must not cook it, 
and in the place where you cook it you must 
not eat it, and in the place where you eat it 
you must not sleep : " On society an anal- 


ogous doom — if you call it a doom — has been 

I have dwelt on this illusion of finality because 
one sees it everywhere producing a dogmatic 
conservatism, a feeling of things done and done 
with, than which there is no greater obstacle to 
progress. You go to a statesman and say — " This 
problem of the Congested Districts is terribly 
pressing. You must bring in legislation to deal 
with it." Then he looks up his statute-book 
and says — " Congested Districts ! Oh, that 
question is settled; we passed an Act in 1891." 
It is much the same as if you were to say to a 
starving man — " Dinner ! Oh, you had a dinner 
two months ago." 

The object of politics then is order, and the 
object of order is to increase the sum and improve 
the quality of human life. What, we may next 
ask, is the drift of current opinion as to the means 
that should be used and the psychological forces 
that must be put in harness in order to this end ? 
In other words, what political ideas has the 
experience of the wonderful nineteenth century 
left most clearly defined ? There can be but 
little dispute as to the answer. The two 
supreme facts, the two shaping forces of the 
nineteenth century were Nationality and 
Democracy — the latter come in direct lineage 
from the French Revolution, the former brought 
first to full self-consciousness by the reaction 
against the abstract cosmopolitanism of '89. 
Look to Irish history and you will see at once 


that these have been the shaping forces of the 
last century of her life. But look elsewhere and 
you will see the same ; you will see that in this 
as in so many other things Ireland has been in 
the main stream of European history. The 
opinion of an Irish Nationalist may be suspect. 
I appeal therefore to the authority of Professor 
Bury, formerly of Trinity College, now Regius 
Professor of History at Cambridge. He is 
speaking of the impulse given to historical 
studies by the upsurging of national feeling, for, 
of course, a nation is before all things a spiritual 
principle whose source and charter is to be 
found in history. 

" The saying," he writes, " that the name of 
hope is remembrance was vividly illustrated, on a 
vast scale, by the spirit of resurgent nationality 
which you know has governed, as one of the most 
puissant forces, the political course of the last 
century and is still unexhausted. When the 
peoples, inspired by the national idea, were 
stirred to mould their destinies anew, and 
looking back with longing to the more distant 
past based on it their claims for independence or 
for unity, history was one of the most effective 
weapons in their armouries ; and consequently 
a powerful motive was supplied to historical 
investigation." * 

* Bury. An Inaugural Lecture, 1903. P. 13. That 
great master of common sense and uncommon sanctity, 
St. Thomas Aquinas, has his lesson for modern Im- 
perialism — " It belongs to the study of politics to know 


In Belgium, in Italy, in Hungary, in Germany, 
in Norway, in Poland, in Ireland, nationality has 
been the great formative and disruptive impulse 
of the nineteenth century. Whatever gloomy 
mood we may fall into in the struggle for autonmy 
we have certainly no justification for feeling 
lonely ! There was a school of political philo- 
sophy — it stUl lifts here and there an antique 
voice — which, when it had called nationality a 
mere sentiment, thought that it had dismissed it 
from the arena of practical affairs. That habit of 
mind may have been excusable in the eighteenth 
century, but we understand things better now. 
We realise life in its concrete richness and man 
as a complex of remembrances, instincts, intui- 
tions, and emotional needs. The historical 
studies of the last century, the Romantic Move- 
ment, and the vast development of psychology, 
both in formal studies and in art of every kind, 
especially the novel, have rehabilitated that vast 
area of consciousness which used to be dismissed 

how great should be the mag-nitude of a state and 
whether it should embrace men of one or many races ; 
for the greatness of a state should be such that the 
fertility of its land is sufficient to ils noeds, and that it 
should be able to repel violent enemies. For it ought 
rather to be founded of one race ; some oneness of 
nationality, involving the same manners and customs, 
is that which brings about friendship among citizens 
because of their likeness : whence states that were 
made up of divers nations, by reason of the dissensions 
that they had because of the diversity of their customs, 
were destroyed, since one party joined with the enemy 
for hatred of the other parly." — Cf. H. C. O'Neill, A^ew 
Things and Old in St. Tho7nas Aquinas. 


as " sentiment." There was a time when man 
was conceived as an avaricious machine. If you 
found anything in your mind other than 
calculating selfishness you were outside the pale 
of humanity. But now nobody need be ashamed 
to admit that he detects himself in an occasional 
generous impulse. Louis Kossuth was saying 
the other day that " it is in active national 
sentiment not in political forms that we are to 
look for the secret of government." And there 
is not a Foreign OfBce in Europe but recognises 
that where there is an historic nationality, 
unexpressed so far in the form of a visible state, 
there is a contradiction of human nature which 
cannot last. You will not ask me to analyse the 
idea of Nationality. It has been discussed in this 
country for the last nine or ten years with an 
earnestness amounting often to fury, and nearly 
everything has been said. " The nation," says 
Anstole France, in a fine phrase, " is a communion 
of memories and of hopes." You may well find 
its source in that need for self-realisation which 
is also, in one view, the source of all individual 
morality. But that is a notion drawn from 
German metaphysics, and metaphysics, if we are 
to believe all we read in our weekly papers, is 
the unforgivable sin. But this I will say, that 
if you read any one of the treatises on politics, 
read at Oxford and Cambridge by the young 
gentlemen who afterwards come over to dragoon 
us, you will find that there is not in the most 
exacting of them a single test of nationality 


which Ireland does not satisfy. A distinctive 
language, a characteristic national temperament 
and outlook on life, a history, a sentiment of 
unity in the present, common memories, common 
interests, a geographical area large enough to 
constitute an independent state — is there a 
single one of these elements that we do not 
possess ? If you go even further and examine 
the conditions demanded by these English 
writers to justify rebellion or disruption, adding 
to what has been said as to the satisfaction of 
national sentiment, this — I quote from 
Sidgwick — " Some serious oppression or mis- 
government, some unjust sacrifice or grossly 
incompetent management of their interests, or 
some persistent and harsh opposition to their 
legitimate desires," you will find on the 
principles of these English writers themselves 
that an Irish War of Independence would be 
to-day justifiable if it were possible. 

Side by side with nationality stands democracy. 
It is impossible to define democracy ; it is a 
principle still unrealised, an unfinished process. 
It has been described as " that form of social 
organisation which tends to develop to the 
maximum the conscience and the responsibility 
of the individual citizen." This description 
lays stress on the central characteristic of 
democracy, the belief in individuality and the 
endeavour to foster it. To the feudalistic 
governing mind the citizen, or rather I should 
say the "subject," was an item, a something 


little better than a chattel, committed to the care 
of those whom, as the old jurists said, Providence 
had placed over him. The placing had, as a 
matter of fact, been done by the luck of circum- 
stances. If a man had the wisdom to be born 
well, he sat on the necks of the masses ; if he were 
born badly, his own neck suffered for it. Such a 
tyranny as this, even if it were beneficent, could 
not live in the atmosphere of the modern world. 
We have discovered that nobody is wise enough 
or pure enough to bear the temptation of 
uncontrolled power, and we are endeavouring 
as far as possible to remove such occasions of sin. 
The democratic spirit may be said to be more or 
less expressible in two propositions. The first is 
that government should rest on the active consent 
of the governed. It is this right and necessity of 
human nature that has been behind the demand 
for representative institutions from the beginning 
of the nineteenth century to the end, from the 
Paris barricades of 1830 and the English Reform 
Bill of 1832 to the Russian Revolution and the 
Women Suffrage movement. The second thesis 
of democracy is, roughly, that any one self-support- 
ing and law-abiding citizen is, on the average, as 
well qualified as another for the work of govern- 
ment. I should prefer to put it that no citizen, or 
section of citizens, is as likely to conduct the 
government for the general benefit as the whole 
body of citizens acting in concert. Wherever there 
is a privileged class there is corruption, and a cult 
of sectional to the disregard of wider interests. 


Democracy will, of course, have its governing 
classes, but they will not be fortressed about 
vvith unbreachable privileges. If we now tiirn 
to Irish history it is easy to see that it is a passage 
from feudalism to democracy. Thus, when 
Mr. Michael Davitt came to write the story of the 
Land War, he inevitably called it The Fall of 
Feudalism in Ireland. Under the same title you 
might gather every stream of agitation, every Act 
that could be in any sense called beneficial, from 
the Abolition of Tithes and Catholic Emancipa- 
tion to the Local Government Act. They are 
all parts of a process which is shifting the centre 
of power from privileged, arbitrary classes to 
responsible, representative classes. It is signifi- 
cant also that in that question most remote from 
current politics, higher education, Democracy 
has been taken for the pillar of light. Every- 
where the demand is for a democratic University ; 
and we mean by that not only that the fees must 
be low but that the civic fervour of the institution 
must be high, and that it must be a centre of 
creative democratic thought. 

To speak of politics is necessarily to speak of 
education, at least of education in citizenship. 
A few words must suffice. Public opinion in this 
country has made up its mind that its schools 
shall be places in which love and reverence for 
the motherland shall be fostered. Democracy 
\\dll teach in its schools, as well, love and reverence 
for the State. It is the fashion to disbelieve in 
the practical value of ideas and enthusiasms, but 


a democratised Ireland will understand human 
nature better. The chief channel of instruction 
will naturally be history, modern history. The 
complete neglect of this is the scandal of English 
education. History is not only the true 
scientific method of approach to social problems, 
it is the very substance of citizenship. 

" It is of vital importance," writes Professor 
Bury, " for citizens to have a true knowledge of 
the past and to see it in a dry light in order that 
their influence on the present and future may 
be exerted in right directions. . . ." 

And he adds — 

" It seems inevitable that, as this truth is more 
fully and widely though slowly realised, the place 
which history occupies in national education will 
grow larger and larger." 

" In France, in Germany, in America," writes 
the Regius Professor of History at Oxford, Mr. 
Firth, " nineteenth century history, national 
and European, has a permanent place in historical 
studies. It is not considered unfit for teaching 
or unworthy of study ; nor is it held that historical 
teachers or students are incapable of studying it 
vdthout displays of party feeling." * 

So much for what I believe to be the two main 
ideas explanatory of contemporary Ireland as of 
Europe in general. One word seems to be neces- 
sary as to the limitations of politics. Politics is 
the science of order : it cannot take the place of 

* C. H. Firth. A Plea for the Historical Teaching 
oj History. P. 17. 


the other human activities, but can only keep 
them in their places. Extravagant demands are 
sometimes made on politicians, especially in 
Ireland. Because they are described as " repre- 
sentative," people expect to find incarnate in 
them the whole national life from the making of 
shirts to the making of poetry. But politics, as 
such, is just as much a specialised activity as brick- 
laying. It is not co-extensive with life ; there 
are vast areas of private life into which it would 
be tyranny for it to intrude. It does not claim, 
and you cannot ask it to make shirts or poetry. 
Its duty is to provide the conditions in which the 
greatest number of citizens can live happily, 
whether by making shirts or by making sonnets. 
In what spirit should one approach the actual 
work of politics ? I speak only for myself, but 
I think that one should take enthusiasm for the 
driving force and irony as a refuge against the 
inevitable disappointments. " What I need 
to realise," says Spencer, " is how infinitesimal 
is the importance of anything I can do, and how 
infinitely important it is that I should do it." 
Might not a politician choose a worse motto than 
that ? Disillusionment is so commonly the 
fifth act of political agitation, mainly because of 
the illusive finality upon which I have touched. 
But a wise man soon grows disillusioned of 
disillusionment. The first lilac freshness of life 
will, indeed, never return. The graves are 
sealed, and no hand w^ill open them to give us 
back dead comrades or dead dreams. As we 


look out on the burdened march of humanity, 
as we look in on the leashed but straining passions 
of our unpurified hearts, we can but bow our 
heads and accept the discipline of pessimism. 
Bricriu must have his hour as well as CuchuUin. 
But the cynical mood is one that can be resisted. 
Cynicism, however excusable in literature, is in 
life the last treachery, the irredeemable defeat. 
Politics, let us remember, is the province not of 
the second-best, as has been said, but of the 
second worst. We must be content, or try to 
be content, with little. But we must continue 
loyal to the instinct that makes us hope much ; 
we must believe in all the Utopias. 

If you engage in politics in Ireland, and if 
conditions remain as they are, certain other 
points must be remembered. You would do well 
to study the novitiate through which an idea 
passes before it becomes a law. It arises out of 
the misery, and contains in it the salvation of a 
countryside ; the State welcomes it with a 
policeman's baton. It recovers ; the State puts 
it in jail, on a plank bed, and feeds it on skiUy. 
It becomes articulate in Parliament ; a statesman 
from the moral altitude of j^5,ooo a year 
denounces it as the devilish device of a hired 
demagogue. It grows old, almost obsolete, no 
longer adequate ; the statesman steals it, embodies 
it in an Act, and goes down to British history 
as a daring reformer. From your own side also 
there will be something to be borne. If you 
cannot agree with a colleague as to tactics, even 


though they be but minor tactics, he may found 
a paper, or write a letter, or a lyric, denouncing 
you to*" 'posterity as a traitor, red-handed with 
your country's blood. I see no help for it 
except to take these things as mere bye-play, 
decorative flourishes on the text of politics. 
After all there is the two-edged sword that will 
never fail you, wdth enthusiasm for one of its 
edges and irony for the other. However mired 
and weedy be the current of life there will be 
always joy and loyalty enough left to keep you 
unwavering in the faith that politics is not as it 
seems in clouded moments, a mere gabble and 
squabble of selfish interests, but that it is the 
State in action. And the State is the name by 
which we call the great human conspiracy against 
hunger and cold, against loneliness and ignorance ; 
the State is the foster-mother and warden of the 
arts, of love, of comradeship, of all that redeems 
from despair that strange adventure which we 
call human life. 



/^EOGRAPHY is a prudent science: but 
^^^ one day she will take risks, even the risk 
of being interesting. She wall hang about the 
naked games and gaunt outline of places their due 
garment of romance. When that time comes 
it is not a scientist but a poet that will be chosen 
to evoke the spirits of hatred and tragedy, of 
malice and despair, of irony and disillusion which 
move, with unpausing haste but with no rest, 
over the waters of the Irish Sea. 

Yet there is no outer thing that should awaken 
such a mood. It is a bright, even a radiant day 
as we clear the harbour, which in English is the 
King's Town, but in Irish the Fort of Laoire. 
The sunlight as it falls is shattered into a manifold 
glitter of diamonds. The soft purples and cloudy 
greys of the Wicklow hills shepherd you into the 
fold of dreams. " A pleasant land of drowsihead," 
as the first James Thomson would have called 
it, with the formal romanticism of his formal 
century. A vision before which the soul might 
well forget its anguish, and remember only its 



aspirations. But over it there is a shadow not 
of the sun's casting, the shadow of history. 

A chapter of the New Geography may very 
well open somewhat after this fashion : Ireland 
is a small but insuppressible island half an hour 
nearer the sunset than Great Britain. From 
Great Britain it is separated by the Irish Sea, 
the Act of Union, and the perorations of the 
Tory party. The political philosophy of the last 
of these is even shallower than the physical basin 
of the first. Ireland is discovered from time to 
time by valiant journalists, mostly of a sensitive 
temperament. Their accounts vary. Ireland is, 
however, admitted by all to be unprogressive : 
as witness, when it is half-past twelve in London 
it is only five minutes past twelve in Dublin. 

The people of Ireland are universally described 
as absolutely incapable of united action. At the 
same time the political machine is so mon- 
strously efficient as to suppress all individual 
freedom. Observers are agreed that the Irish 
exhibit no tenacity of purpose or stability of 
character. Indeed, Froude explained the failure 
of Celtic Ireland to develop a native drama by 
this circumstance. No Irishman — he argued — 
has sufficient consistency of character to carry 
him through five acts : and you cannot put a 
man into a play if he insists on becoming some- 
body else at the end of every Act. Infirm of 
purpose and frail of ethical fibre as she is — and 
all her impartial enemies concur as to the fact — 
Ireland has for seven centuries withstood the 


impact of the strongest nation in Western 

Ireland has been finally conquered at least 
three times ; she has died in the last ditch re- 
peatedly ; she has been a convict in the dock, 
a corpse on the dissecting-table, a street-dog 
yapping at the heels of Empire, a geographical 
expression, a misty memory. And with an 
obtuseness to the logic of facts which one can only 
call mulish, she still answers "Adsum." Her in- 
terdicted flag still floats at the mast-head, and, 
brooding over the symbol, she still keeps building 
an impossible future on an imaginary past. 
English parties in turn wipe her for ever off the 
slate of practical politics. She remains wiped off 
for a year or two ; but as the sands slip by, the 
sand-built policies crumble and collapse. New 
battalions loom up to the right wing or the left ; 
and the Tory Press remembers the phrase of the 
Confederate General who saw victory suddenly 
snatched out of his hands by Meagher's Brigade : 
" There comes that damned green flag again ! " 
All this might seem a matter of racial pride, 
and a sign of racial strength. But any Unionist 
can see with half an eye — and people are 
Unionists precisely because they have only half 
an eye to see with — that it is mere obstinacy. 
It is motived by the same folly which leads a 
man to waste his substance in litigation in order 
that he may live for all time as a leading case. 
Ireland clamours incessantly for Home Rule ; 
she wants to sit in her own armchair by her own 


fireside and mind her own business. But the very- 
iteration of this demand is, to any well-con- 
ditioned mind, conclusive proof that it is not 

The unbroken triumph of the same program 
at election after election shows it to be the watch- 
word of a purely artificial agitation. To give 
Ireland what she asks for would clearly be to 
promote discontent and disloyalty. In view of 
the peril of foreign assault and invasion it is an 
indispensable part of military tactics that Great 
Britain and Ireland should be enemies, not friends. 
Unless Irish members of Parliament were com- 
pelled to settle the question of English education, 
and English members of Parliament compelled 
to settle the question of Irish land tenure, the 
whole fabric of civilisation would be com- 

It may very well be that Ireland, as a result, is 
the spectre at the banquet of Empire. But was 
a banquet ever dramatically complete without a 
spectre ? Lord Castlereagh's Act of Union must 
be upheld, so much wiser is it to tie the parts of 
an Empire together with a thread of formal law 
rather than to let them grow together in the 
organic unity which joins the main branch of a 
tree to the trunk. To be sure, Home Rule does 
not involve the repeal even of Lord Castlereagh's 
Act of Union, but it is the duty of every loyal 
citizen to pretend that it means complete 
separation. To tell the truth would shame the 
devil, and where would Imperialism be without 


the devil ? As between England and Ireland, 

Let wisdom, friendship, peace, and commerce die, 
But leave us still the politician's lie. 

These are, perhaps, unpardonable thoughts. 
It would be better to go and sit in the smoking- 
room, or move about amid the lively bustle 
of lawyers, legislators, cattle-dealers, golfers, 
journalists, bat-eved tourists, and hawk-eyed 
commercial travellers who are doing their 
valiant best to annex the Irish Sea in the interest 
of that most greedy of all the Imperialisms, the 

They are doing their best, but they are not 
succeeding. It was Uhland, I think, who paid 
the Rhine boatman a double fare because he 
had carried, unknowingly, the ghost of a dead 
comrade. The Company would be rich, indeed, 
if all the ghosts that hurry restlessly back and 
forward across the Irish Sea were amenable to the 
ticket-office ! Strongbow, the first filibuster, 
with MacMurrough, the first traitor ; Kildare, 
the masterful earl ; Shane O'Neill going in 
saifron pride to greet Elizabeth as a king greets 
a queen ; Sarsfield passing to exile and death 
in France ; the highwaymen-bishops of the 
eighteenth century ; Castlereagh, O'Connell, 
Balfour, Parnell . . . the very names are an 
epic and a litany of desolation. 

But the deck is beginning to experiment in 
positions other than the horizontal. The grey, 


cold, sliding treachery of the sea comes out 
through the surface brightness. One wonders 
if the sea that gives empires may not take them 
suddenly back. At all events, I am going to be 
sea-sick. It wiU be another argument for Home 
Rule. " The Channel," said Grattan, using the 
English name for the Irish Sea, " forbids union, 
as the ocean forbids separation." One should be 
glad to be sea-sick in assertion of so slashing an 
epigram. To-night there will be the million 
globes of London to look at, gleaming through 
the fog like monstrous and sinister oranges in 
some garden of life and death. To-morrow 
afternoon we shall be in the House of Commons 
supping full of old calumnies and hatreds. 
But when is Ireland going to have her chance ? 
When will voyagers, leaning on the deck-rail, 
catch the first purple glimpse of Wicklow with 
eyes innocent of political passion ? 



TJOOKS have their fates ; and it can only be 
-^ an unhappy fate that has prevented Otto 
EfTertz' Les Antagonismes Economiques from 
achieving a brilliant position in the literature 
of Socialism. It is by no means his first appear- 
ance, and he is very far from being a raw 
revolutionary. As long ago as 1888 he made 
public his novel and characteristic thought in 
Arbeit Und Boden. The book was tendered as a 
thesis, Effertz tells us, to every University in 
Germany, and was rejected not sans phrase, but 
on the contrary with many phrases of violent 
and even scurrilous contempt by them all. The 
Social Democrats were no better pleased with a 
writer who claimed to have shattered Marxism 
with a single tap of his new hammer, and none 
of their journals so much as reviewed Arbeit 
Und Boden. But, on the other hand, Adere 
writing in Conrad's great HandwOrterbuch der 
Staatswissenschaften, hailed Effertz as one of the 

* Les Antagonis7nes Econotniques. Otto Effertz. 
Paris, Giard et Briire. 



few theorists of Socialism of whom the Economics 
of the future must take account. M. Charles 
Andler, who contributes a preface to Les 
Aiitagonismes, lectured on him in Paris. M. 
Adolphe Landry, whose text-book is as widely 
used by students in France and Switzerland as 
that of Gide, ranks him consistently as the peer 
of Marshall, Schmoller and Phihpovich. Never- 
theless, he hastens to add, this original German 
is practically unknown, and his work has been 
treated with contemptuous silence. Effertz 
himself seems to ascribe some of his ill-fortune 
to the fact that his first book was written in 
German, which is a local dialect. French is the 
international language of science ; he will, there- 
fore, with the aid of M. Landry, pubhsh himself 
in French, and appeal to an international jury. 
The new departure does not seem to have suc- 
ceeded. Effertz has been neither condemned nor 
commended by that part of the jury which sits 
in these countries. His book, although issued 
so long ago as 1906, seems hardly to have reached 
us. Reach us some day it must, and to bridge 
over the interval that separates us from a more 
competent performance of the task I venture to 
give an outline of the ideas of this strong, subtle 
and adventurous thinker. 

Effertz is a SociaHst, but^he wears his red rie 
with a difference. He is a SociaHst because 
Sociahsm is the only form of economic organisa- 
tion that will allow him to be a gentleman. His 
theory holds out to humanity the promise not 


of a more abundant table, but of more delicate 
table-manners. Remembering a fact which, we 
are seldom suffered to forget — the existence, 
namely, of Mr. Bernard Shaw — one does not go 
so far as to signaHse the haughtiness and daintiness 
of Effertz as representing a new mood in the mind 
of SociaHsm. But there is a wide gulf between 
the two. What to Mr. Shaw is but an elfish 
epigram, flung with wicked exuberance at 
Suburbia, is to Effertz a basal belief, an ultimate 
dogma, a burning passion. Under the stress of 
its attack many familiar lines of interpretation 
and of defence must be abandoned. Socialism, 
many of us had found comfort in saying, is a 
mirage of hunger. It is the economic science, 
or rather the economic poetry of the poor. It 
is the visioned. Fortunate Islands of the disin- 
herited. It is the Sociology of anemia and defeat. 
If the material life of humanity is, in Kropotkin's 
phrase, the conquest of bread, then popular 
Socialism is the wail of those who have been 
shouldered out of the market-place with their 
baskets unfilled. In the philosophy of certain of 
our unstrung capitalists it is something even 
worse. It is the Satanic demand that stones 
should be changed into bread, in order to sustain 
a population swarming beyond all bounds of 
prudence and self-control. " You are pauperised 
by the capitalistic regime," cried out Marx in 
effect to the proletariat. " In the name of the 
bread of which you are defrauded. Workers of 
all countries, Unite ! " To Effertz this hunger- 

B 2 


Socialism, as one may call it, is at once unworthy 
and unscientific. Not by bread alone do men 
live, but by culture and freedom — freedom, above 
all, to speak the truth. He stands for a social 
ideal of four dimensions ; for to Liberie, Egalite, 
Fraternite he has added another watchvv^ord, 
more strident and exacting than any of these, 
Dignite. His case against individualism is not 
that it breaks the bodies of the poor with famine, 
but that it defiles the souls of all men, the rich 
as well as the poor. Like the aged lion in the 
fable he suffers not so much from the pain as 
from the indignity of the donkey's kick. More- 
over, he insists, with a touch of passion, popular 
SociaHsm is dishonest in the prospect which it 
holds out of illimitable han^ests drawn from an 
earth so limited both in area and in fertility. 
His system of Pono-Physiocratic Socialism 
assuredly does not mean food for all under any 
circumstances of increase. It offers no unbroken 
round of banquets, fit for Sybaris. Humanity, 
however wisely and scientifically organised, will 
find itself caught perpetually between the Scylla 
of restrained reproduction and the Charybdis 
of starvation. But if SociaHsm does not promise 
a junketting Utopia, what, then, does it promise ? 
It promises, in the horoscope of Effertz, a world 
in which men, while declining to be angels, will 
be able to be gentlemen. Liberty — that is to 
say, mere personal liberty — already approximates 
to its maximum in modern countries ; under this 
rubric communised States \'\ill have no new 


revelation to expound. Equality cannot but 
widen and greaten with the growing abundance 
of " goods of culture " the biens de culture 
which he sets in such antithetical contrast 
to the biens d'ali??ientation. The general 
" aristocratisation " of the forms of social life 
will bring new kingdoms under the sway of 
Fraternity. When we are all aristocrats it will 
be easy for us all to be brothers. " But 
the great glory of Pono-Physiocratic Socialism 
will centre in the complete abolition of all the 
indignities of the present system. A man will 
no longer be compelled to accept the servilities, 
the brutalities, the lies, the frauds, the 
treacheries, the whole mass of defilements and 
degradations which swarm in the heart of our 
capitalistic society, and which are forced on every 
member of it under the penalty of starvation for 
himself and his family." The rich will be re- 
deemed from that sense of insecurity which, 
more even, and far more, than the appetite for 
actual enjoyment, is the impulse behind their 
unquiet Hves. The worker, with trained hands 
eager to produce wealth for the commodity of 
his fellows, will no longer stand at the factory- 
gate begging work as an alms. The employer 
wlU be free, as now he is not free, not to exploit 
Ids employes. The shopkeeper will be free, as 
now he is not free, not to lie and cheat. We 
shall be able at last to cancel that dictum of 
Cicero's which is now the universal charter of 
the business community ! Nihil enim proficiunt 


mstitores if si nisi admodum mentiantur. " It is 
commonly said," writes Effertz in the last of 
his six hundred vibrating pages, " that the social 
question is a belly-question, or, in more aesthetic 
language, a knife-and-fork question. When 
people preach Socialism they make their appeal 
to the famishing and the tatterdemalions. The 
world is agreed that a rich man can be a Socialist 
only out of condescension, or political ambition, 
or ethical aspiration, or simply, as a joke, but 
never on grounds of personal interest. To accept 
this view is to understand very poorly the essence 
of Socialism. Bread and the promise of bread, 
there you have the weakest point of Socialism ! 
Socialism is before all else a question of culture 
and dignity. When we preach Socialism it is to 
the dignity of mankind that we must primarily 
appeal. Gentlemen of all countries, Unite ! 

Such is the ethos and inspiration of this 
strange book. If Effertz brings a new temper 
to Socialism, he also brmgs a new theory. He 
himself is indeed urgent to disclaim all originality ; 
his only gift is that of fertilising the neglected 
commonplaces of Economics. The professors of 
that science have not understood the value of 
their analyses ; like Balaam's ass they speak great 
words without understanding what they speak. 
They have a Cyclopean power to quarry huge 
blocks of stone, but the lyre of Apollo does not 
sound among them to uprear the walls of Troy. 
The fundamental truths of economic science 
are as old as Petty and Bernouilli : they are ex- 


pounded in every rudimentary manual of the 
subject. But there is a curious flaw in such 
expositions. The basal laws and problems are 
formulated indeed, but not " sacramentally," 
not in sede materiae. This flaw Effertz will 
correct, and therein lies his sole originality. 
His only other novelty is a novelty of arrange- 
ment. He introduces into Sociology the drama- 
turgical principle. The fact of antagonism of 
interest between individual and individual, 
between the individual and society, between 
the present and the future, being ultimate, we 
shall do well to cast our treatment of it into the 
literary form most appropriate to such an order 
of reality. This is obviously the drama, for the 
essential note of drama is the conflict of wills. 
The first section of such a Sociology will corre- 
spond to the Intrigue, the delineation of interests. 
The second will exhibit as Catastrophe the clash 
in actual life of one economic interest with 
another. In the third section, analogous to the 
Intermediate Chorus, the writer will proceed to 
an ethical criticism of a conflict, the economic 
mechanism of which has thus been exhibited. 
This merges into the Denouement, a discussion of 
the legal and political arrangements by which 
the lesion of higher interests may as far as possible 
be avoided ; and our drama of humanity cul- 
minates in the Final Chorus, with a summary of 
those antagonisms which enquiry shows to be 
irreconcilable, and lamentations over the in- 
curable evils of life. The five divisions may 



be rendered into more usual nomenclature as the 
sciences of Pure Economics and Applied Econo- 
mics, the arts of agitation and of statesmanship, 
with a finale of philosophy. The adequate hand- 
ling of this five-fold analysis gives ample play to 
the rich and subtle mind of Effertz. Matha- 
matician, psychologist, pioneer, dandy, and ad- 
mirable classicist, he has a sense of style and a 
feeling for literature unequalled by any German 
thinker since Schopenhauer. Differential equa- 
tions rub shoulders with dashing epigrams. We 
plod with difficult steps through pages of curves 
and graphs, and then suddenly the wilderness of 
X and y blossoms like the rose. Effertz is, as I 
have said, classical in his literary loyalties ; and 
nothing could exceed the wicked delight with 
which he shows us all political economy lying 
folded up in a couplet of Goethe or in three 
threadbare hexameters of Horace. A copious 
creator of new terms, he invents one to charac- 
terise himself. It is the custom of authors to 
publish books in order to educate others : he 
publishes, however, solely to educate himself. 
He is, in scientific matters, a pure egosofhe, who 
expounds his thought in order that it may be 
criticised and thereby made perfect. And if he 
refuses to influence opinion he is even more 
urgent to repel the notion that his theory can 
lead to revolutionary action. University pro- 
fessors — whose attitude towards burning 
questions is ever that of a cat towards hot 
soup — have ignored him because they believed 


that a writer who laid such emphasis on the 
disharmonies and antagonisms of economic life 
must necessarily be a disturber of the peace. 
Such an idea is absurd. Effertz has a particular 
aversion and contempt for bombs and barricades. 
" It is only a partial knowledge of social antago- 
nisms that can lead men to desire a revolution. 
The best way to make revolutions unpopular, 
and to create a sedative temper of reform, is to 
furnish a complete picture of these antagonisms." 
An agitator who has heard of only a single 
" class-war " is in danger of believing that the 
source of this class-war may be swept away for 
ever, and humanity definitively redeemed with 
the flame and fanfare of one great upheaval. 
It is an illusion that still exists, and that must 
be banished. What can be more potent to 
banish it than a Sociology which exhibits 
economic disharmony not as an isolated and 
destructible fortress of privilege, but as a vast 
labyrinth co-extensive with society ? For men 
who respect their intellects only one honourable 
path is open, the path of peaceful reform. 

After such an overture the fundamental ideas 
of Eflfertz must seem bare and simple. His 
system is characterised by M. Andler as the most 
vigorous attempt ever made to constitute a 
science of Pure Economics. By this term he 
understands the analysis and interpretation of 
those economic facts which exist independently 
not alone of the special juridical system of any 
state, but also of the processes of exchange. 


Denuded then to its ultimate skeleton, economic 
life manifests itself as a drama, which, like the 
French stage, has its " eternal triangle." Land, 
labour, and consumption are the three apex- 
points about which all economies function, be 
they primitive or advanced. The collaboration 
of labour with land to produce a utility is the 
foundation of all systems. Every good contains 
a certain quantity of labour and a certain 
quantity of land, but no good contains anything 
else. In the metaphor of Petty labour is the 
father, and land is the mother of all wealth. 
This analysis of production is, we may agree with 
Effertz, the most worn and battered common- 
place of all the text-books. Eveiy theorist has 
seen it, but hardly one has consistently believed 
it. To anybody who grasps it steadily the dictum 
on which Marx builds his whole system comes 
as an amazing counter-sense. " If, then, we 
leave out of consideration the use-value of 
commodities," writes Marx in the indispensable 
first chapter of Das Kafital, '* they have only one 
common property left, that of being products 
of labour." 

Marxian Socialism is by this principle, the 
Ponocratic illusion, involved in strange absur- 
dities. It would, for instance, necessitate the 
exchange of three or four bullocks for one good 
book ; since the " labour certificates," which are 
to be the measure of exchange, would show that 
the named quantities of these ver)- diverse pro- 
ducts embodied equal quantities of labour. 


The ratio between literature and beef might 
indeed be even more favourable to the former 
on the score of the superior skill of the labour 
concerned. Obviously commodities have another 
common property ; each of them embodies a 
certain quantity of land. In any given . process 
of consumption — say that of bread — we bite the 
dust in an unsuspected sense, we are veritable 
eaters of earth. And the earth bemg very far 
from infinite this fact is of dominant importance 
in all economies, Effertz confesses with surprise 
that for once literature fails him. While every 
language has a phrase like manger du travail or 
manger de la sueur in currency, he cannot find 
either in the verses of the learned or in the 
proverbs of the people any locution such as 
manger de la terre. He coins it forthwith, with 
an explanation which affords such a good example 
of what one may term the conscientious nastiness 
of his science that it ought to be quoted here in 
its more or less decent veil of French. " Pour 
eviter les malentendus grossiers, je dois faire 
remarquer que si je dis ' manger de la sueur, de 
la terre,' je ne parle pas en chimiste ; je ne 
parle pas de geophagie, et je ne fais pas allusion 
k la sueur materielle qui est mclangce chimique- 
ment avec presque toutes les denrees coloniales. 
je parle en economiste et je pense a cette sueur 
et a cette terre qui sont renfermees metaphysique- 
ment dans les biens." 

The relation of the three elements engaged 
may be expressed in mathematical or pseudo- 


mathematical form. The final unknowns, 

positive and negative, of economic calculation 

are x = the utilities consumed by an individual 

in the unit of time, and y = the labour expended 

by the individual in the unit of time in the 

acquisition of these utilities. In calculating the 

curves, in which he forecasts the future of 

mankind, Effertz employs an armoury of some 

forty auxiliary symbols. On the technical side 

they constitute, indeed, so large a part of his 

work that his use of them ought to be illustrated. 

Designating, then, by w the utility of a good, 

by a the quantity of labour, and by h the quantity 

of land embodied in it, we are able to formulate 

an absolute value, not dependent on any special 

regime or even on exchange. This absolute value 

varies with the quotient, satisfaction : sacrifice. 

The producti\dty of any exploitation, or more 

generally of any form of economic organisation 

being represented by />, we arrive forthwith at 

the formula /> = — j—,. To maximise />, by 

weighting a and h with appropriate coefficients, 
and by understanding the psychological deter- 
minants of w, is the task laid upon all future 
governments. In discussing further the relation 
of a and h, Effertz makes his sole claim to 
originaHty. He has introduced two new prin- 
ciples into Sociology, the principle of conflict 
and the principle of incitation. Passing by the 
first of these for a moment, I shall try to explain 
the second. All previous economists have treated 


the two factors of production as co-operating 
forces, the resultant of which is represented by 
a diagonal. But in point of fact, Effertz argues, 
the true relation is that of an inciting factor, 
labour, to an incited factor, land ; and the 
economy which results corresponds not to the 
diagonal of the parallelogram of forces, but to 
what he styles a decrochement. One who is not 
an initiate in the Higher Mathematics had best 
seek refuge in the original " La production est 
le proces par lequel I'incitant travail decroche 
une valeur d'usage en incitant de la terre." The 
whip, he says, in a deliberately ludicrous 
image, is the inciting, the cab-horse the incited 
factor : you may manage with a smaller horse by 
using a larger whip ; but no extension of the whip, 
even to infinity, will compensate for the total 
disappearance of the horse. This novel ter- 
minology and the mathemical exercises by 
which it is supplemented are not much dwelt 
upon by M. Landry. But it is difficult to see 
how any specialist in Mathematical Economics 
can, with due regard to his own competence, 
ignore the first section of Les Antagonismes. 
The third of the primordial elements w, or the 
utility of goods, has for Effertz found its final 
formulation in Daniel Bernouilli's De Mensura 
Sortis, published in 1738, Bernouilli's law con- 
tains for him all the truth and none of the con- 
fusion of the " marginal utihty " theory of the 
Austrians. Analogous to the law of Weber and 
Fechner in Psycho-Physics, it asserts that the 


subjective satisfaction produced by the objective 
consumption of a given quantity of any good is in 
inverse ratio to the quantity of the good ah'eady 
consumed. Furnished with this key to the 
variation of needs and desires, and with the co- 
elHcients representng skill, fertility and the like 
which qualify a and h in any concrete case, 
Effert^ undertakes rather vainly to make his 
equations as accurate as those of Physics. Before 
passing from his elaborate analysis of exchange 
one ought, perhaps, to signalise the invention of 
the term monoone, or monoony, to designate a 
form of unilateral competition, which is the 
obverse of monopoly, and is almost as common. 
One seller confronting many buyers gives us a 
phenomenon of monopoly, one buyer confronting 
many sellers gives us a phenomenon of monoony. 
For the rest it is, perhaps, enough to say that in 
Pure Economics Etfertz touches no question that 
he docs not freshen ; his discussions cast novel, 
though perhaps distorting, lights on the whole 
sub-structure of the science. 

Every good is, as all economists have noted, 
a synthesis of labour with land, but the propor- 
tions in which these elements are combined vary 
over a verv wide range. On closer scrutiny 
there emerges a fact which controls the whole 
future of humanit}-, whether under Socialism or 
under Individualism. h is this : generally 
speaking those goods which require for their 
production much land and comparatively little 
labour are articles of food, biens iV alimentation, 


and those vvhicii require much hibour and oin- 
paratively little land are instruments of tuhurc 
or luxury, biens de luxe ou de culture. An 
instance already cited will serve here also- the 
contrast, namely, between bullock and b(K)k9. 

The variations of the quotient involve many 

important consequences. 'J'he first of these is 
enunciated by KfFcrf/. in what he calls the non- 
transformability or non-interchangeability of 
forms of production. Any given form of 
production, that is to say, cannot in general be 
transformed into any other, but only on condi- 
tion that the quotient b : a oi the two is approxi- 
mately the same. Eifert/C in his exposition 
distinguishes, but not quite clearly, between 
quantitative and qualitative variations of the 
land engaged in production. Judas, he points 
out, gave utterance to very feeble though very 
popular Economics in complaining that the 
precious ointment had not been converted into 
food for the poor. In this case the absurdity is 
obvious. Under our system of exchange you can 
substitute one commodity for another, and 
transfer the sin, if there be a sin, of luxury to 
somebody else; but by no chrematistic magic 
can you transform the first product into some- 
thing so different in nature as the second. The 
more plausible fallacy, however, is that which 
regards, not products, but branches of production 
as interchangeable. This illusion beclouds the 
prophetic vision alike of the iVIalthusian pessi- 


mists and the Socialistic optimists. The former 
imagine that when the pressure of over-popula- 
tion begins, every other branch of production 
will be transformed into the production of food, 
and that consequently the debacle to which 
mankind, increasing at its present rate, is in their 
view irredeemably committed will have famine 
only as its last phase. All culture, all luxury will 
have been thrown to the wolves before their 
fangs come abreast of the sleigh. The reply of 
Effertz is that if such a crisis is to come, it will 
not end but begin with hunger. The one 
category of goods of which there need never be a 
scarcity is that category which demands a great 
deal of labour, but little land — namely, goods 
of culture. The Socialists also, when confronted 
with a famihar criticism, reply in terms of the 
same fundamental error. Under your Socialism, 
says a critic, suppose that I call to your com- 
munistic store with a bunch of labour-notes and 
ask for a bottle of bock. They have no bock, but 
they offer me a copy of Marx, of which there is 
a superabundance ! What then ? Nothing 
simpler, reply the Sociahsts. You write to the 
Minister of Production, Department of Trans- 
formations : he gives instructions to divert some 
labour from printing and publishing to agriculture 
and brewing ; and next season there will be no 
shortage of bock. But No ! says Effertz, you are 
working on a groundless assumption. You can 
transform a production of Das Kapital into one 
of Harmonies Economiques, or one of bock into 


one of milk or cider. But you cannot transmute 
a production, in which very little land and a great 
deal of labour are required, into one that demands 
very little labour but a great deal of land. 
Ponocratic Socialism will discover in such a 
juncture, that by founding its currency solely on 
one of the primordial elements, it has exhausted 
the other, it will have eaten up imprudently its 
whole allowance of land. 

In this reiterated sentence we come upon 
EfTertz' reason for positing antagonism of 
interest as an ultimate and unchangeable factor 
in human society. Homo homini lupus is the law 
that emerges from every analysis of consumption. 
Who touches this book, said Whitman, touches a 
man. But with Effertz to eat a potato is to eat 
a man, or at least the potential existence of a 
man. He finds remorse and embarassment 
mixed as ingredients in every plate of soup. " I 
cannot get rid of the thought that in eating I 
am destroying one of my fellows. I say to my- 
self, indeed, that not to eat would be to destroy 
myself, and that I am worth as much as another. 
But I eat it with disgust, as if I had found a 
hair in it." Labour we must also consume, and 
so far forth every consumer is forced to 
" exploit " somebody. But at least there need 
be no remorse if one pays his score by furnishing 
to society as much productive labour as he con- 
sumes. In the world in which we hve this is a 
difiicult counsel. So many pleasant com- 
modities, so many lucrative productions are 


possible to us only on condition that others shall 
be given over to death, servitude, or dishonour. 
You accept, for instance, the Arab proverb that 
the Earthly Paradise is to be found on horseback. 
But since a horse consumes as much earth as 
would sustain three men, to keep a horse is to 
murder a family, to keep a stable is to maintain a 
sort of perpetual massacre. Nor is it to be 
supposed that this sombre halo attaches only to 
articles of luxury. Fishers must, indeed, be 
drowned in order that a rich woman may wear 
a rope of pearls, but fishers must also be drowned 
in order that a beggar may eat a herring. The 
shop-girl, who wears imitation lace, and the 
duchess, who wears real lace, condemn some of 
their sisters to slavery and exploitation with the 
same ruthless certainty. As for dishonour, 
society has grown itself a very rhinoceros hide of 
hypocrisies to protect us from the edged and 
miserable facts which cannot be denied. You 
must not let your right hand know what your 
left hand does, nor whisper in your drawing- 
room what you thunder in your office. Public 
opinion agrees to equate honour with income, 
and to employ between friends the suaver 
synonym. There is a nice gradation in these 
things : — 

Mein Sohn, o lern das Leben kennen ! 
Gar vornehm ist es Schnaps zu brennen ; 
Bedenklich schon ihn zu verkaiifen, 
Und g-anz-erbarmlich ihn zu — saufen. 

If there is, however, a certain ultimate antago- 


nism, woven into the fabric of reality, there are 
many secondary antagonisms which result merely 
from the property basis on which contemporary 
societies agree to stand. In his social pathology 
Effertz proceeds, in his own characteristic way, 
upon certain ideas of Rodbertus. Like the latter 
he finds the main source and cause of economic 
disharmonies in the almost universal clash 
between rentabilite and froductivite. Under our 
regime of exchange the production of com- 
modities is governed not by the needs of men, 
but by the fluctuations of the market. The indi- 
vidual producer obtains his maximum income in 
many cases not by maximising but, on the contrary, 
by restricting production. The earlier strategy 
of the speculator in this regard was brutal and 
elementary : it consisted in the material destruc- 
tion of products. The lesson taught by the 
Sibyl — namely, that a monopolist can exact the 
same price for three as for twelve articles — was 
well learned by Rome, The manipulation of the 
grain market, by the burning of superabundant 
supplies, was so commonly practised as to evoke 
legislation providing severe penalties for this 
crimen dardanariatus, as it was named after 
Dardanarius, its inventor. The Middle Ages 
found themselves still confronted by the 
dardanarius, and burned him alive when occasion 
offered ; and Effertz asserts that even to-day 
in the East the rice market, and in certain Dutch 
colonies the spice market, are subject to the same 
gross and barbaric methods. Modern specula- 


tion is more subtle and more effective : it under- 
stands how to hold back, and hold up supplies, 
without destroying them. No consumer can 
stretch out a hand without coming against one 
mesh or another of the network of quasi- 
dardanariatus in which it has enveloped the 
world. This is the deepest disharmony, but 
there are many others. Present is at war with 
future : the wasteful technique of American 
agriculture, for instance, maximises production 
for one generation, but leaves an exhausted soil 
to the next. There is a war between true interest 
and imaginary interest, even for a man who has 
deliberately chosen egotism for his guide : even 
on his own low plane he is continually deluded by 
our chrematistic, modern habit of mind. Every 
man, labouring under higher ideals, bears about 
in his soul a far fiercer war between the economic 
and the gamic virtues. He has two soul-sides, one 
to cheat, exploit, and subjugate the world with 
in order that the other may shower luxury and 
advancement on his household. The only varia- 
tion is between that struggle in which the object 
is destruction, and that in which the object is 
domination. Competition between one em- 
ployer and another, or one worker and another 
within the same trade, supplies an example of 
the first. Its motto is : Des einen Brod ist des 
anderen Tod, bread to one man is death to 
another. Conflicts between a capitalist and a 
labour syndicate exemplify the second. The 
watchword in this case is : Des einen Brod ist des 


anderen Noth, one man's plenty is another man's 
famine. In one or other of these forms the fact 
of antagonism is written in a flaming and sinister 
scribble over the whole map of our modern 
economy. The masters of that economy, snifhng 
the gold coins in their palms, echo the Caesar's 
non olet. But that is a judgment of chemistry, 
not of ethics. To a mind once shaken out of our 
habitual, dogmatic drowse all money appears 
tainted, every sovereign stinks. We have created 
a civilisation of great and cruel splendour, and 
written over its gate : No gentleman need apply. 
Out of this base labyrinth there is only one 
clew that can be safely followed, that of Pono- 
Physiocratic Socialism. The weakness of popular 
Socialism by no means lies in its supposed inability 
to maintain production at the maximum. In 
comparison with our present industrial system 
it offers a clear superiority, consequent on the 
removal of all conflict between rentabilite and 
productivite, between lucrative and productive 
exploitation. The true and fatal flaw is to be 
found in the proposed mechanism of exchange. 
This flaw is now for the first time removed. The 
impossibility of the Marxian labour-certificates 
having been demonstrated, Effertz proceeds to 
outline what Andler styles a bimetallism of land 
and labour. Under this system all articles are 
to be double-ticketed, so as to show their cost 
in land and their cost in labour ; and no article 
is to be sold in exchange for wage-certificates of 
one kind only. In issuing land certificates, 


which are, so to say, a free bonus given to the 
worker in addition to his labour-certificates, the 
State will keep steadily before its mind the terri- 
torial area at its command, and will be able to 
control the increase of population and to avert 
famine. It will be able further, without invading 
the personal hberty of the citizens, to impel their 
labour, as the need may be, towards production 
for the sake of culture or production for the sake 
of sustenance. The general effect will be to 
equahse the distribution of the necessaries of 
physical life. This will provide — in accordance 
with the only defensible statement of the 
materialistic interpretation of history — the 
negative conditions of culture. Its positive 
reality and richness and the actual distribution 
of biens de culture will foUow a law determined by 
the genius and ideals of individual intellects. 
On the material side Pono-Physiocratic Sociahsm 
will give equality to the equal, on the mental side 
it will give inequahty to the unequal. This 
accords with all our experience. Even in present 
conditions a capitalist consumes little more land 
than a workman : like Napoleon he can dine only 
once in the day. His main consumption is 
labour, his main motive is ostentation, his main 
instrument of acquisition is mere money and the 
chrematistic illusion. His psychology differs 
organically from that of the workman. " The 
worker perishes when he no longer has soup to eat. 
The capitalist perishes when he no longer has 
Sevres ware in which to offer soup to his 


parasites." Under the system of Effertz both of 
them will have soup, since all men need soup ; as 
for the Sevres, it can only be acquired by a 
citizen who is able to supply society with labour 
as skilled and intellectual as that which produced 
it. A larger hope for all unfolds itself in the 
consideration that in a progressive nation, while 
the curve of goods of sustenance no sooner 
climbs to its maximum than it is dragged down 
again by growing weight of population, the 
curve of goods of culture ought to maintain a 
continuous ascent approximating to a straight 
line. Therein lies the rule of hfe of the honour- 
able, and the ambition of the wise. The luxury 
of a Lassalle, little though it may dim the 
brilliance of that splendid and reckless spirit, 
compromises the whole cause of Socialism. If 
you would be master of the future you must 
rather choose for your pattern Spinoza, who 
built his great basilica of metaphysics on two- 
pence a day. 

Effertz, with an amiable weakness not infre- 
quent among his countrymen, admits that he 
may well be regarded as the Kant of Sociology. 
As Kant opened a new path between dogmatism 
and scepticism by posing sacramentally and 
in sede materiae the question of the Hmits of 
attainable human knowledge, so Eifertz, by 
posing in the same solemn fashion the question of 
the Hmits of attainable human happiness, opens a 
new path between optimism and pessimism. 
He founds the Critical School of Sociology. The 



fashion in which he answers his own question has 
already been indicated. But in believing himself 
to be impartial he is deeply wrong : his place is 
with the pessimists. No other judgment is 
possible to any one who has toiled through the 
grey, chill, and intricate galleries of his thought. 
In his vision, even the hght counterfeits a gloom. 
Asking with Faust : Was kann die Welt mir wohl 
gewahren ? he answers with Faust ! Enthehren 
sollst du, sollst enthehren. With Schiller he 
declares that hfe is error and illusion, and that 
only in death do we lay hold on reahty. 
" Humboldt writes somewhere that the greatest 
happiness possible to any human being is to be 
born an imbecile, since only an imbecile can Hve 
without coming to understand the truth of 
things. This observation holds good in general, 
but it is specially apphcable to the study of 
society. Those who have lifted the veil of 
sociological truth, those who have eaten the 
fruit of the tree of Sociology, can never again be 
happy. A veil was thrown over the image of 
Sais, because that image represented — ^Truth." 
It would be easy, and quite true, to say that the 
pessimism of Effertz results from a mistake of fact, 
taken too seriously. High authorities can be cited 
to show that the menace of famine, which 
obsesses him, is so remote as not properly to enter 
into the present thought of humanity. It would 
be easy, and quite idle, to observ^e that the man 
who analyses is lost, and that the only counsel of 
happiness is to feel feeHngs and enjoy enjoyments. 


Optimism and pessimism are, perhaps, primary- 
colours of mind, positive and negative polarities 
which we can only accept without under- 
standing. They are, it may be, the day and 
the night of the human spirit, established for an 
eternal contrast and counterchange ; and Effertz 
fulfils the destiny of a man born under the sun's 
eclipse. Optimist or pessimist matters little in 
a life marshalled under the trumpet of duty : your 
emotions are your own, and you are free to feel 
that all the problems that beset us are insoluble 
on condition that you help to solve them. To 
this task Eflfertz has bent a strong and subtle 
mind. While he has not made Socialism more 
tolerable he has at least made it more acute, and 
his contribution to Pure Economics possesses a 
high value, not at all dependent on his practical 
creed. Les Antagonismes with its keen sense of 
the fundamental, its harsh courage, its store of 
rich and strange observation, cannot fail to 
count for something, nor can any economist afford 
to pass by in complete silence the system of Otto 
Effertz, Gentleman Sociahst. 



I agree that it is most unfortunate that we should 
have to introduce at any time a written provision into 
an unwritten constitution. (Hear, hear). — Mr. Haldane 
in the House of Commons. 

TV/TR- haldane is a formidable rather than 
a popular speaker, an authority but not 
an inspiration. It is, of course, a question of 
personality. He looks like a composite photo- 
graph of six German philosophers, with a varnish 
of Renan, and that is not a had beginning. But 
that singular voice of his which comes piping 
out of rotundity is too thin, light, and meta- 
physical ever to be a trumpet of democracy. 
It is in vain that all men concede him the aureole 
of omniscience. It is in vain that the House 
rejoices to see in his radiant presence a refutation 
of the epigram in which Ecclesiastes declares 
that increase of knowledge means increase of 
sorrow. He stirs the imagination to pleasant 
pictures. To me, he is always some friar of the 
Ingoldsby Legends lilting black-letter Statutes 
and Gothic ideologies to the music of a penny 



But with all that blithe omniscience, he remains 
formidable rather than eflFective. His speech of 
the other night, from which the sentence at the 
head of this column is quoted, ran counter to 
the sense of his own party. It was delivered 
with a sort of taut rectitude, and received in, 
what is called, courteous silence. But that 
particular sentence was greeted, as it always is 
greeted in the House of Commons, with a regular 
musketry-rattle of " Hear, hears." It seems to 
me not inapt to the times to analyse these 
" Hear, hears." 

This prejudice against written constitutions is, 
beyond doubt, one of the best-established super- 
stitions of English politics. Every law student, 
nurtured on that masterpiece of romance, 
Dicey'? Law of the Constitution, has in his 
day written essays in praise of the spontaneous 
and elastic system under which we are supposed 
to live. He has been taught to believe that every 
Continental jurist looks with emy and despair 
from his own miserable paper-guarantees of 
freedom to this organic body which has grown 
with the growth, and strengthened with the 
strength of the British nation. And somehow 
it is suggested that, as Lohengrin had to dis- 
appear on being forced to give his name and 
address, so the magic of the English constitution 
would disappear if it were written down. Hence 
these " Hear, hears." 

Now I wish to submit, and by no means 
respectfully, that this traditional view is little 


better than stately nonsense. Continental 
jurists do not envy England. They say : 
" Truly, my friend, the British constitution 
would, without doubt, be admirable. But, 
alas ! it does not exist." The writing down of 
custom and practice is not a misfortune, but a 
most happy achievement. And in dealing with 
England you are dealing not with an unwritten, 
but with a badly written, constitution. This 
last point demonstrates itself. How do you go 
about to prove the provisions of your unwritten 
Constitution ? By an appeal to Magna Charta. 
But Magna Charta is a document, not a custom. 
By an appeal to the " Indemnity of Parliament " 
of 1407, to the Resolution of 1640, to the Resolu- 
tion of 1671, to the Resolution of 1678. These 
are strange elements to appear in an unwritten 
constitution. Take away the scribe, the 
Commons clerk, and the printer, and neither 
Indemnity nor Resolution would exist or operate 

The amusing truth is that this myth of an 
unwritten English constitution, with its whole 
virtue residing in the fact that it was unwritten, 
was invented by an Irishman. Edmund Burke 
invented it because it happened to give him a good 
debating-point against the French Revolution. 
But why should our radical legatees of the French 
Revolution cling to it as tenderly as to a memory 
of their childhood ? They ought, on the contrary, 
to say : " Since so much has been written, let us 
write the rest, and write it clearly." 


One has no difficulty in believing that Simon 
de Montfort had a certain weakness for unwritten 
constitutions, but that was only because, in all 
probability Simon de Montfort did not him- 
self write or read with anyjcomfort. But the 
whole colour of the times has changed. Writing, 
which in those far-off days was the special magic 
of a small caste, is the common form of modern 
democracy. Before the Print Age, to rely on 
documents rather than on custom would have 
been esoteric. Since the Print Age, to rely on 
custom rather than on documents is mere 
antiquarian pedantry. 

The two opposite mistakes have this in 
common : they are, both of them, modes of 
keeping government separated from the dust, 
the tumult, and the heartiness of common life. 
That is the aim of Toryism ; and Tory constitu- 
tionalists like Mr. Dicey are singing in the key of 
their policy when they sing the praises of tacit 
agreements, accepted conventions, and the other 
elements of unwritten constitutions. But when 
Mr. Haldane joins the chorus, he is, I submit, 
engaging in high treason against those two born 
Progressives, the pen and the printing-press. 
The pen in old days was the jousting lance ; the 
Press in these days is the armoured Dreadnought 
of Radicalism. 

There is nothing peculiarly English in this 
dread of documents. It is a characteristic of all 
primitive societies. You have one form of the 
superstition in the Arab who expects to be cured — 


and often is cured ! — by rolling a piece of paper 
with a doctor's prescription on it up into a ball 
and swallowing it. You have another in the 
contemporary farmer who cannot be induced to 
keep accounts. He prefers to work on an un- 
written constitution, " like his father before 
him." The result is that when he gets to the 
Bankruptcy Covirt he has to go without even 
the poor consolation enjoyed by the rest of us — 
namely, an exact knowledge of how he got there. 
Within the field of law itself the whole movement 
is from ciistom and the spoken word to Statute 
and the written word. If not, why is it that 
when you have made a contract over the tele- 
phone you immediately dictate a letter 
embodying its terms, and send it off by the 
evening post ? 

The same thing holds true of industry and 
commerce. Everywhere the formula, the 
diagram, the blue drawing, the visible, written, 
permanent word have triumphed. In commerce, 
to take an example from history, Venice owed 
her greatness partly, no doubt, to geography, 
but largely also to book-keeping. Venice held 
the Golden East in fee because her merchants 
were the first to abandon the old unwritten 
constitution of hand-to-mouth trading in favour 
of double-entry book-keeping. Her flaming 
pageant, in which life and art mingled their 
frontiers inseparably, was organised by the 
glorious clerks who wrote down her accounts in 
a large, legible hand. The splendour of Titian 


was nothing more than the flowering of a 

Toryism has imaged the vague, unwritten 
regime, which is its opportunity, as a natural 
and organic growth. But change the image. 
Say instead that it is like music-hall patter, made 
up as one goes along. Say that it is like an 
extempore speech, and that extempore speeches 
are always bad. Say that it is, so far, the mere 
nebula and protoplasm of freedom to which 
this age must give clear articulation and definite 
form. All the tides are flowing in that direction. 
Within the last ten years England has made 
constitutions for Australia, for the Transvaal, 
for the Orange River, for United South Africa. 
It is time that she made a Constitution for 
herself, guarding liberty with a quantitative 
formula. And that will help us all to join in 
making a Constitution for Ireland. 



For the Plaintiff : Francis Thompson 

"PRANCIS THOMPSON is known to us as 
perhaps the most wastefully abundant 
imagination of the present day. He has taken 
the sun for patron, and all his poetry welters 
with the sun's fervour and fecundity. They are 
in his very style and wordy vesture, that imperial 
style of his into which he has adopted purple 
Latinities as aptly as the Church has adopted 
the stateliness of the Roman paenula. But we 
must be on our guard against liis splendours ; 
we must not let them betray us into construing 
his work as mere literature. One fears that some 
delusion of the kind has captured many of those 
who praise him. They have praised him as a lord 
of language, a tyrant of images, and it has hardly 
occurred to them to search out the spirit behind 
the grandiose ceremonial. It is possible, it is 
even certain, that many readers of such a poem 
as The Hound of Heaven have exulted in its tidal 
flux without taking it to mean anything in 
particular. But that is not the colour of the 
poet's own mind. He has never spoken for the 


sake of speaking, but always because he had some- 
thing to say. " What, after all," says Brunetiere, 
" is poetry but a metaphysic made manifest 
through sensible images ? " Great poetry surely 
is ; if not a criticism, it is a vision of life, of the 
structure and basal laws of life. When a man's 
eyes have been once opened the common day 
flames and vibrates with bladed chariots. The 
most insignificant object or experience stands 
vested \^ith endless relations, or rather there is 
nothing that can any longer be called insignificant. 
The lightest caprice of love has its metaphysical 
implications, and to salute a primrose is to pro- 
claim a philosophy. W'e all understand this, or 
at least our wise memories do, in their choice of 
what to reject and what to retain. That poetry 
alone lives in us which is so great that it has 
forgotten to be poetic. W^e think of its sincerity, 
its absolute truth, or what other word we grasp 
at to describe what cannot be described, not of 
its technical deftness or even mastery. A some- 
thing has come upon and transmuted it, it shines 
with the light of glorification. Francis Thompson 
has always understood this. Painting the veil of 
life with colours dipped out of the rising and the 
setting of the sun, he has knowm that nothing 
was of any account save what lay behind the 
veil, the spiritual interpretation that can never 
be wholly expressed. Earth and all the business 
of earth have been to him at once a spectacle and 
a sacrament. His work belongs less to literature 
than to mysticism. Do we not think of it as of 


something essentially hieratic, full of costly 
spices, brought out of the East, of figured 
chasubles, and full of the mysteries of grace ? 

It was necessary to bring all this back to mind 
in order to induce the mood in which the little 
book before us must be considered.* For it is 
no casual bye-product of the writer's mind, 
as might possibly be suspected from its appear- 
ance in a series, very aptly called " The Science 
of Life Series." It is thorough Thompson. 
The author has simply picked out a certain drift 
of thought which lies implicit in all his poetry, 
and supported it by instances and considerations 
drawn from many quarters. Such a prosifying 
of intuitions has an interest quite apart from its 
subject matter. It helps to dispel the notion that 
poetry comes irresponsibly out of the air, and 
not reflectively out of the stuff of everyday ; 
and it shows the supreme reasonableness, the 
gross commonsense, of mysticism. But we must 
not stray aside, though it were, like the Crusaders, 
to capture Constantinople. The book is simply 
a brief study of the terms prescribed by ascetical 
tradition to keep the peace between those ally- 
enemies, Soul and Body, with a plea for a new 
Concordat to meet new conditions. Mr. 
Thompson is on the side of the body ; in the 
interests of the spirit itself he demands a more 

* Health and Holiness. A Study of the Relations 
between Brother Ass, the Body, and his Rider, the 
Soul. By Francis Thompson. Burns and Oates. is. 
and 28. 



clement regime and never did cause rejoice in 
an abler advocate. He has the incommunicable 
gift of the phrase, the phrase that is like a key- 
stone to knit together fabrics of experience, like 
a cavalry-charge to drive an argument home. 
The task of summarising him is therefore ex- 
tremely difhcult, and I shall try to do no more 
than convey in general terms the point of view 
from which he justifies and ennobles Brother Ass. 
In so far as he pleads for a mildening of the 
discipline of the religious orders we have no 
concern to follow him. Some have already 
relaxed, others are in the train of relaxing their 
first austerity ; and there must always be some 
that will preserve it to be a refuge for those 
virile and passionate souls who thirst for brimmed 
measures of expiation, and are able to bear them. 
" The weltering problem of secular religion," 
is, as the writer says, quite enough for us. Take 
the unheroic, modern man, with all his aches 
and pains, and ask what is religion to make of 
him. What ascesis must be adopted so as to 
make him an instrument capable of divine 
melodies ? 

For the soul is to the body, as the breath is to the 

Both togfether make the music, either marr«d and all 

is mute. 

And first,'^how does thisTmodern body stand in its 
internal self ? Surely, as Mr. Thompson says, 
it is " an etiolated body of death." The nerves 


of the twentieth century have gone bankrupt. 
Life has become too elaborate and too exacting 
for them ; they have gone down under the iron 
rod of erudition and the whip of practical labour. 
The age's characteristic cry is the cry of disease. 
Men go about making public confession of their 
ailments, or, delivered from them, gather dis- 
ciples to the gospel of the perfect digestion. 
Patent medicines are invested by their sellers 
with an all-sufficiency that would have made 
Paracelsus blush for his modesty. Commissions 
are appointed to enquire into Physical Degenera- 
tion. The army authorities cry out that it is 
impossible to find recruits who are even good 
enough to be food for powder. Schools for 
Physical Culture multiply, in England at least, 
with a rapidity which illustrates, as even the 
three hundred religious sects did not, that great 
people's genius for dissension. No alert man has 
time to consider anything, save what he shall 
eat and what he shall drink, and wherewith 
he shall be clothed. We go about creepily con- 
scious of the iniquities of our livers, and of the 
freaks of our subliminal selves. For alike from 
the physical side and from the mental come 
physicians, Christian Scientists, Hypnotists, Will- 
Developers, Faith-Healers — it is beyond human 
power to name the innumerable brood. 
There is an association in America, whose 
members are pledged to spend an hour every 
week wishing fellow-members good health and 
good fortune. The annual subscription is only 


a dollar, and this will be returned if within a 
year one does feel appreciably better, and obtain 
a " rise." 

It is a Danse Macabre, with an interfusion of 
the crudest farce. But it is difficult to find much 
relief in the humorous mask of it. That mask 
drops off, and abandons us to something not far 
from terror. Cerebral physiology, psychiatry as 
it is pursued, not in shiUing treatises, but in the 
schools, begins to disclose more fuUy the inter- 
relations of mind and body ; and the awful 
delicacy of the instrument on which we play, 
its complex falhbility comes near overwhelming 
us. It is something we have read about in the 
text-books, how " a brain-fever changed a 
straight-walking youth into a flagitious and 
unprincipled wastrel. And recently," adds Mr. 
Thompson, " we had the medicaUy-reported 
case of a model lad, who, after an illness, proved 
a liar and a pilferer," Or it is somebody we 
have known, flaming, impetuous, who was 
pushing on by forced marches to his goal ; and 
then his outraged body turned traitor, and the 
world had come to an end for him. The brain 
has become the theatre of a tragedy which is 
continually renewed. " How remote we are," 
cries out Guyau in his poignant speech " from 
the naive perception of the primitive world 
which located the soul in the breast, or, it may 
be, even in the stomach ! It is, as we know, the 
brain that thinks, it is the brain that suffers, it 
is the brain that throbs with the torment of the 


Unknown, it is the brain that is signed with the 
sacred wound of the Ideal, it is the brain that 
quivers under the beak of the winged and ra- 
vening intellect. In the mountains of Tartary 
the traveller sometimes sees a strange animal leap 
panting by in the greyness of the dawn. The 
great eyes, strained wide with suffering, are 
those of an antelope ; but as the hoofs thud by, 
the ground beneath trembling like a heart in 
agony, two huge wings are seen wildly beating to 
and fro above the head which they seem to lift 
up and on. The antelope dashes madly down 
the winding valley, leaving a red trail on the 
rocks, staggers, falls, and the two great wings 
soar up from the antlers, disclosing the eagle 
which, with talons sunk deep in the skull, had 
been devouring the brain and the life of the 
antelope." The parable would come with a 
familiar air to Mr. Thompson, for it is obvious 
that either from great sympathy or from sharp 
experience he knows all these secrets of the 
prison-house. He is cognisant of lives that have 
become a dread Rosary in which there are only 
sorrowful mysteries. Has not he himself written 
of one who 

Paced the places infamous to tell, 

Where God wipes not the tears from any eyes ? 

He comes in this book to write of these things 
in plain prose, to consider how they can be 
wrought up into religion, and whether sanctity 
may not have in it a tonic quality. The demand 


which he makes of the life, whether of the saint 
or of the rest of us, is simply that it shall live. 
" Holiness energises. The commonest of common 
taunts is that of ' idle monks,' ' lazy saints,' and 
the like. But, most contrary to that superficial 
taunt, a holy man was never yet an idle man 
. . . . and a saintly could never be an effete 
world." But I could not do justice to his 
thought without quoting in full those proud, 
trumpet-pages, in which he celebrates the 
" incidental greatness " of the saints when they 
turned half- disdainfully to secular pursuits — the 
lyric majesty of the Prophets, the Confessions of 
Augustine, the Hymn to the Sun of St. Francis 
of Assisi, the incomparable prose of St, Francis 
de Sales. The problem with us all, then, is to 
evoke from the federation of body and soul the 
fullest stream of energy, and to turn it to the 
highest ends ; and to do this we must respect 
the laws and the limitations of both. The body 
is like a wick immersed in the oU of the spirit — 
it was Heine's image — and " though the oil can 
immensely energise and prolong the life of the 
wick, it is on that corporeal wick, after all, that 
the flame of active energy depends." How then 
is our end to be accompHshed ? 

Not by the heroic maceration of the first or 
the middle ages. The ascesis of these days, 
transmitted to us in the discipline of the Orders, 
was framed for men of robuster mould and un- 
speakably less sensitive nerves. Their obstacle 
was that of opulence ; they served God, as they 


forswore Him, with wasteful thoroughness. Our 
obstacle is that of poverty. Our ancestors put 
out their follies at compound interest and we are 
reaping the harvest. The human frame has, 
Mr. Thompson believes, under this burden and 
under the complications of modern life suffered 
a radical diminution of sheer vital power. No 
faculty has increased except the faculty of 
suffering, for in the elaboration of its nerves it 
has become, as it were, soaked in mind. It cries 
out not for a curb against the excess of its 
passions, but for the energy to be passionate 
at all. '' Merely to front existence, for some, 
is a surrender of self, a choice of ineludibly 
rigorous abnegation." Surely then we must 
treat our bodies after another fashion than that 
of old if we are to make them fit receptacles 
for sanctity ? Mr. Thompson thinks so, and he 
has discovered a wise director of souls, the late 
Archbishop Porter, S.J., who thought wdth him. 
" Better to eat meat on Good Friday," writes 
the Archbishop, " than to live in war with every 
one about us. I fear much you do not take 
enough food and rest. You stand in need of 
both, and it is not wise to starve yourself into 
misery." And he prescribes Vichy and Carlsbad 
against a visitation of evil thoughts. It is an 
ascesis no less than the other, and no less difficult. 
We must study to take our bodies with that 
shrewd and half humorous gravity which we 
find in nearly all the wise, and to rule by obeying 
them. " That the demon could have been 


purged from Saul by medicinal draughts," 
writes Mr. Thompson in a sentence worthy of 
Sir Thomas Browne, " were a supposition too 
much in the manner of the Higher Criticism." 
But Dryden tells us that whenever " he had a 
poem to write " — divine tradesman — he chose 
that method of depurating his spirit. It is 
hardly a point to dwell on. But let us put an 
end to the old boycott of the body. Let us be 
tender and thrifty of its forces. In the strange 
commerce of spirit and matter, a holiday, 
prudently taken, may be not only better than a 
half-done duty, but better even than a wandering 

Such is the drift of Health and Holiness, and 
no one who has any appreciation of the grounds 
on which it rests will be likely to dispute the 
conclusion. As against the practice of certain 
Orders it may be a necessary protest ; and there 
is no head of a convent or college (so long 
engaged in the great Intermediate conspiracy) 
but will profit by reading it. We laymen must 
look to ourselves, and the Church, as we know 
her, is amply indulgent. She does not debihtate 
us with fasts and penances. What is of far 
deeper interest than these special applications 
of it is the noble philosophy which glimpses 
through the book. The temper of Plotinus, 
who was so shamed of his body that he always 
refused to disclose the date or place of his birth, 
possesses, of course, a relative truth, but it has 
been far too dominant within the Church. We 


have forgotten that the Scholastics built 
psychology on the compositum humanum, the 
dual unit of soul and body. We have forgotten 
that the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, 
or remembered it only at catechism time. But 
so it is, and in the light of this interpretation the 
trivialities of every-day shine with an unsuspected 
poetry. It is an interpretation confirmed by all 
our fairest instincts. Most of us have had 
moments when sensations of which we are 
commonly a little ashamed lost their supposed 
grossness, when a cup of milk drunk among the 
mountains had in it a lyric ecstasy, and the 
least spiritual of the senses was transfused with 
spirit. I do not speak of those experiences which 
Coventry Patmore touched with the rapture of 
his vision ; but in his poem To the Body the whole 
essence of Health and Holiness is to be found. As 
men come back to the simplicities of life their 
minds grow more habitable to thoughts like 
these. The growing nausea of cities, the desire 
to live in the nearer intimacy of air and earth, the 
yearning for physical health, of which I have 
spoken, are all symptoms of a veritable rehabili- 
tation of the body. What could be more 
appropriate than that a poet should come at this 
moment to confirm the indispensable truth amid 
many extravagances, and to Christianise what 
otherwise tends to the most naive Paganism ? 

Mr. Thompson has his vision of the future. 
" The remedy for modern lassitude of body, for 
modern weakness of will, is Holiness. . . . 


Of the potency, magisterial, benevolent, even 
tyrannous, which goes forth from the spirit on 
the body, we have but young knowledge. 
Nevertheless, it is in rapid act of blossoming. 
Hypnotism, faith-healing, radium — all these, of 
such seeming multiple divergence, are really 
concentrating their rays upon a common centre. 
When that centre is divined, we shall have 
scientific witness, demonstrated certification, to 
the commerce between body and spirit, the 
regality of will over matter. . . . Then 
vail lie open the truth which now we can merely 
point to by plausibilities, and fortify by instances, 
that sanctity is medicinal, Holiness a healer. . , . 
Health, I have well-nigh said, is Holiness. What 
if Hohness be Health ? . . ." Have we not 
all a forecast of some such perfect marriage of 
soul and body, in which the two will be no more 
at war than thought with word ? It is vouch- 
safed to us here and there in a gracious example, 
some saint whose every action is ordered with a 
divine courtesy, some lady who seems to Hve to 
an ever-sounding, interior music. Perhaps it is 
a dream of the glorified rather than of the 
earthly body ; but let us hear the poets when 
they describe it, lest we should not recognise our 
inheritance when it comes to us. 

It is curious to compare Francis Thompson's 
vision with that of Guyau, most spiritual of 
evolutionists. " Pleasure, even physical pleasure 
growing more and more deHcate, and mingling 
■with moral ideas, will become more and more 


esthetic ; we see as the ideal term of evolution a 
race to which every pleasure will be beautiful, 
every agreeable action artistic. We should then 
be like those instruments, which are so amply 
sonorous, that it is impossible to touch them 
without evoking a sound of musical value ; the 
lightest stimulus would set in vibration the 
depths of our moral life. . . . Art will no 
longer stand severed from life ; our consciousness 
will have grown so vast and so delicate as to be 
ever alert to the harmony of life, and all our 
pleasures will bear the sacred seal of beauty." 

They are alike ideals ; but they help in very 
different ways to keep alive in us that curiosity 
which is the seed of the future, and to remind 
us that man, if not in this life perfectible, is 
capable of endless progress. The superiority of 
the Catholic poet is that he reinforces the natural 
will by waters falling an infinite height from the 
infinite ocean of Spirit. He has two worlds 
against one. If we place our Fortunate Islands 
solely within the walls of space and time, they 
will dissolve into a mocking dream ; for there 
will always be pain that no wisdom can assuage. 
They must lie on the edge of the horizon with 
the glimmer of a strange sea about their shores, 
and their mountain peaks hidden among the 




TT is the last day of the Winter Assizes. If 
you want a metaphor to drape it in, you may 
call it the punitive clearing-house of Society. 
The cheques of crime come in, with sinister 
crinklings and rustlings, to receive the cancelling 
stamp which announces that in six months or 
twenty years — or, it may be, three weeks, with 
a hempen halter at the end — the criminal will 
have cleared his account with the State. He 
may then begin anew . . . if he be sufficiently 
alive. There is no tragic strain in the air as the 
sentenced prisoners pass out of the dock to lose 
their freedom, their clothes, their tobacco, and 
their names for the stated period. They do not, 
as that young reporter racing over the last page 
of his flimsy is sure to write, " appear to realise 
their position." They are only the raw material 
of tragedy. They have never, like you and me, 
read Gorky in bad English. They have not par- 
ticipated in the revival of Greek drama ; nor even, 
with the aid of a free pass, studied the free 
passions of the Stage Society. 

So placed, you would, doubtless, gather about 
you the purple folds of a sorrow so terrible as to 
swallow up all remembrance of its cause, and I 


would mimic wicked marquises who went to the 
tumbrils with a fine phrase and an incomparable 
gesture. But the Enemy of Society now in the 
dock, in course of receiving seven years, is prob- 
ably wondering under his yellow and scrubby 
face how the skilly will taste, and whether they 
will wash him very hard in jail. 

Seven or eight days in an Assize Court help 
one to understand the anarchist and his attitude 
towards crime. The theorists of Anarchism pro- 
pose to sweep away the whole traditional, minute 
machinery of penal law, and leave the criminal 
to the spontaneous justice of his neighbours. 
It may be that the neighbours will lynch a child- 
beater, and, shrouding their faces before a 
supreme anguish, will let a man who has killed 
go free. They will take a human, not a juridical 
view of things. But be that as it may, one does 
feel intensely that these legal forms and moulds 
are too narrow, too icily definite, too blank 
to psychology to contain the passionate chaos 
of life that is poured into them. Think of the 
colossal pretensions of this courthouse — this drab 
granite building, with the unwashed mud on its 
pavements, and the susurrus of crowds that sweat 
and chatter about it ! It is a temple to the 
Problem of Evil. It is a temple to the Problem 
of Evidence. It is a Temple to the Mystery 
of Death. And when you have uttered these 
three words you have called up the whole moral, 
intellectual, and metaphysical life of humanity. 

If it were not contempt of court you would 


rise up and cry out to all these actors — judge, 
jury, counsel, prisoner, policemen — that the 
tragic halo is about their heads. You would 
recall them to the bitter greatness which they 
seem to have forgotten. Sad-robed priests — ^if 
your vision could be made fact — would chant 
prayers around the smoke of consecrated censers 
in the Doric portico of this Temple of Fear. 
And the prisoner, sinner and victim at once, 
would go to his doom covered with pity as with 
sacrificial garlands. 

You may be quite certain that none of these 
things will happen. There is no provision made 
for them in Stephens' Digest of the Criminal 
Law, or in Archbold on Evidence. To imagine 
them is to welcome the decadence. But then, as 
you look up at the bench, your eye is caught by 
a veritable, decadent touch — the judge's Howers. 
I do not know whether it is part of the ritual or 
not, but I have never been at a Criminal Assizes 
without seeing that incongruous bunch of 
flowers — this time they are ragged, white 
chrysanthemums in a vase of blue china — beside 
the inkpot in which the judicial pen is dipped as 
it takes notes of the evidence or records the 
conviction. It reminds one of Baudelaire's 
Fleurs du Mai, Blossoms of Sin. 

But, after all, you may expect anything of the 
judge. He is a wild symbolist. He wears 
scarlet to manifest the wrath of the law, and 
ermine for the purity of the law — a spotted 
purity, to guess from the specimen before us — 


and a black cap by times for the gloom of death. 
Probably there is some guarded mystery in the 
number of curls in his wig of white horse-hair. 
And the policemen — it is in Ireland, but crime 
is as cosmopolitan as money ! — are admirable 
studies in silver and jet ; especially the district 
inspectors, with their braided hussar- jackets and 
the gleam of chains and brooch-buckles upon 
them. It seems an artistic impertinence that 
crime should lift its shaggy head against so many 
perfumed people, dressed out in such splendid 
raiment. But great as are the virtues of uniform, 
they do not quite reach to the total extinction 
of evil. 

You had a sense of utter futility as you listened 
to the steady, infinitesimal drip of evidence. 
It was like the nagging and pecking patter of 
thin rain on a hat. It proved everything with 
absolute conclusiveness except the moral guilt of 
the prisoner. You have the same sense of the 
emptiness of criminology as a pale, sensitive face 
appears above the spikes of the dock. He might 
be a poet, an Assisi peasant turned saint, but 
certainly there is no signature of crime in his 
visage. As a matter of fact, he stabbed a neigh- 
bour to death because of a difference of opinion 
as to the rate of wages in North Carolina. It 
seems a poor reason enough. To act like that 
is to take truth too heavily, and life too lightly. 
Besides, there are plenty of things to quarrel 
about at home without going to Carolina, North 
or South. 


How did the prisoner come to do it ? You 
can see that he is as puzzled to answer the 
question as anybody else. He stands in the 
dock clasping and unclasping the fingers of that 
horrible right hand which held the knife. It 
seems to him a foreign body : it is surely not his ? 
The late Mr. Browning, perhaps, could explain 
it. After all, if any truth is of any importance, 
every truth is of infinite importance. And 
think of the monstrous spectacle before Heaven 
of this dead man riding easily about the country 
sowing stories two dollars a week wrong as to the 
rate of wages in North Carolina ! How many 
destinies he might misshape with his eight-and- 
fourpenny error ! Well, he will propagate no 
more economic blunders. And his slayer will 
wear the yellow and arrowed jacket for ten years 
to come. But will that give back the dead 
disputant to the sunlight or to his wife ? 

The courthouse is somehow growing too small. 
Your brain is growing too small. The world itself 
is too small for these explosive and shattering 
speculations. The judge is doing his best ; 
everybody is doing his best ; even Mr. Gladstone 
who undertakes in his Borstal repair-shops to 
patch up a moral personality, as good as new, for 
all and divers his Majesty's subjects in prison. 
If the thing is to be done at all it must be done 
after this fashion. 

-Certainly, one has no substitute to offer for 
this Judaeo-Roman-English criminal law, and, 
perhaps, equally criminal civilisation. Still, one 


is conscious of a vague protest against it all. 
In crime, in moral evil, the veiled destinies have 
set mankind a problem too hard to understand, 
too heavy to endure. For my part, I can only 
fall back on the serpent and the apple, and an 
obscure something which, as my Penny Catechism 
says, " darkened our understanding, weakened 
our will, and left in us a strong inclination to 






"XX/'HAT one felt most painfully at Mr. 
^ ^ Harvey's recent performance of Hamlet 
was the artistic bankruptcy of the play. Of course 
no decent citizen confessed his boredom, because 
Shakespeare is the keystone of the conventions, 
a " national asset " as is said in England. But 
if art means freshness, words with raw, vivid 
sensation behind them, surprise and an element 
of strangeness ? And what else does it mean ? 
Already a hundred years ago the humane Charles 
Lamb was able to write that all the shining things 
in the play had been " so handled and pawed by 
declamatory boys and men " that for him they 
were " perfect dead members." And since then ! 
The great Law of Ennui has vindicated itself 
even against Shakespeare. He has been mummi- 
fied into an orthodoxy. He is a field for anti- 
quarians, a proud heritage, an excuse for sump- 
tuous scenery, but as an artist in the strict sense 
he hardly exists. Only one thing can restore 
him, a prolonged bath of oblivion. If he is to 


be brought to life again he must be redeemed 
from his immortality, which will be better than 
to redeem his house from the Americans. 
Societies must be started to destroy his works, 
at all events to lose them for a hundred and fifty 
years, and so make it possible for unborn happier 
generations to come to him as to a fresh and 
breathing phenomenon. Failing that he must 
be excluded from all school and university 
courses, and forbidden under heavy penalties 
to any one not having attained his majority. 

The pity is that, with the calamity of so long 
life, he should not have the happiness to be 
understood. The inky Dane, in especial, has had 
as evil fortune in this regard as if he had walked 
the actual earth and devoted himself to politics. 
Critic after critic has arisen to misrepresent him, 
and this secular misrepresentation has so crept 
into the empire of our imagination that direct 
vision of the plav is impossible. Tieck's Hamlet 
we know, and Goethe's and Coleridge's and Mr. 
Tree's and Mr. Harvey's, but Shakespeare's 
Hamlet no man knows. Shakespeare's Hamlet, 
as a painful matter of fact, no man can ever 
know. We know how much sub-meaning and 
personal colour the same set of words takes on 
in different minds, and that these are never 
exactly what they were in the creator's mind. 
And then in Hamlet there is the added barrier 
of Elizabethan English, and the fact that 
Shakespeare is as topical as a pantomime. What 
each of us does is to construct a private under- 


standing of Hamlet (which is certain to be a 
misunderstanding) out of materials furnished 
conjointly by ourselves, Shakespeare, a cloud of 
critics, and the actor who happens to be concrete 
before our eyes at the moment ; and it is in 
confession of this, and not as a poor paradox, 
that the title of this paper has been devised. 

The points I wish modestly to put forward 
here will be most intelligible as a comment on 
the popular reading. That reading has one 
merit at least, that of simplicity. According to 
it the plastic principle of the play, or rather the 
flaw that suffers it to stream down its ruinous 
course, is a vice of character — Hamlet's 
" inability to act." It is Goethe's " oak planted 
in a costly vase which should have only borne 
pleasant flowers " ; it is Coleridge's " man living 
in meditation, called upon to act by every 
motive, human and divine, but the great object 
of whose life is defeated by continually resolving 
to do, yet doing nothing but resolve." These 
are the phrases that have captured the general 
mind, and flowed like a mist over the outlines of 
the play. But consider for a moment. 
Remembering Goethe's paltry performance — 
thanks to his superculture — in the liberation of 
Germany, and the lamentable life story of 
Coleridge, who can doubt that we have here not 
so much the poet's imagination as that of his 
critics ? Quicquid recipitur secundum moduni 
recipientis, we get out of things what we bring to 
them ; and I submit that the apocalypse of 


moral insufficiency discerned by these two 
eminent minds in Hamlet was brought with 
them in the satchels of their conscience. They 
are simply making General Confessions at the ex- 
pense of the unfortunate Prince. Let us analyse 
this interpretation popularised by them. The 
kernel of it is this. It demands in the place of 
Hamlet a crude, gory, gullible, instantaneous 
savage who not only believes in ghosts but 
lacks even the elementary savage's knowledge 
that there are evil as well as good ghosts, and 
whose will is hung on a hair-trigger dischargeable 
by the airiest impulse and subject to no restraint, 
moral or prudential. The commercial blandness 
with which people talk of Hamlet's " plain duty " 
makes one wonder if they recognise such a thing 
as plain morality. The " removal " of an uncle 
without due process of law and on the unsup- 
ported statement of an unsubpoenable ghost ; 
the \vido\\ing of a mother and her casting-off 
as unspeakably vile, are treated as enterprises 
about which a man has no right to hesitate or 
even to feel unhappy. Because, meshed about 
with murder, adultery, usurpation, espionage, 
hypocrisy, and all other natural horrors, rein- 
forced by the still greater horror of the super- 
natural, because in these cheerful conditions 
Hamlet is healthy-minded enough to grow 
" thought-sick," he is marked down as one 
" unstable as water." What be'walders most of 
all is that there lurks in the popular view (and 
I appeal to the general experience) a vague con- 


viction that if Hamlet had only shown himself 
morally-fibrous enough, all the blood and tears 
would somehow have been averted and the 
curtain would fall on a serene Denmark. 

I do not deny that a tragedy derived from 
superculture and a feeble will would be admir- 
able. Indeed if it be wanted it can be found in 
the purest essence in Turgeneff's Rudin. But I 
submit that this is not the true ethos of Hamlet. 
I submit that Hamlet, so far from being the most 
" internal " of Shakespeare's plays, is nearly the 
most " external," and has for plastic principle 
not character but that veiled force which we call 
destiny. What, in fine, is it but a tale of justice, 
bloodily executed through what seem "accidental 
judgments, casual slaughters " ? Such indeed 
was the reading of the Prince himself : — 

" Heaven hath pleased it so 
To punish me with this, and this with me, 
That I must be their scourge and minister." 

The problem is set wholly from the outside. 
It is not a product of Hamlet's superculture, 
but of the sin of his uncle and the lesser sin of 
his mother, and it is a problem so overwhelming 
that, however it be handled and by whatever 
type of character, it must issue in abundant 
tears and blood. What is claimed here for 
Hamlet's solution is, that it is the only one 
justified by the character of the evidence and 
the practical means at his command, and that, 
above all, it is justified by results. The destinies 


approve and aid him, and when the curtain 
falls on a terrible harvest of horror we feel, 
nevertheless, a deep appeasement. The agony 
of Hamlet is over, the due ransom of sin has been 
paid with Hves guilty and innocent, and with 
the inearthing of much moral refuse, the world 
sweeps into pure air again. The roll of 
Fortinbras' drums is not so much the irony as the 
recuperative force of Hfe, lingering with praise 
over the body of him who has made recuperation 

This is a point which must not be ignored : the 
play ends, thanks to Hamlet's course of action, 
in absolutely the best way in which it could end. 
The king, of course, was due to the sword. But 
surely Gertrude also is better out of the world 
than in it ? Had she lived there was nothing but 
the gnawing of the worm, shame and remorse, 
or perhaps — and the closet scene shows her 
capable of it — the triumph of the fouler part of 
her, and the pursuit of her son with hatred and 
vengeance. Does anybody drop tears over 
Laertes, that polished cutter of throats i' the 
church ? There remain Polonius and Ophelia. 
The comic side of Polonius is always played 
with such over-emphasis as to hide the dangerous 
side of him. His complicity in the murder of the 
elder Hamlet may be disputed, although it is 
not easy otherwise to explain his overweening 
influence with Claudius. He certainly con- 
spired with the latter in his usurpation, and we 
cannot say what is the bound to his falseness. 


Suppose he had not been slain behind the arras, 
but had lived to carry his tale to Claudius, what 
course of action would he have counselled ? 
Like son, like father ; his plan would have 
differed from the poisoned rapier only in being, 
perhaps, a little more politic. Polonius helps to 
remind us that we may have comic murderers, 
just as the Burghleys and other contemporary 
statesmen show that we may have pious 
murderers. As for Ophelia, she is one of those 
who are organised for unhappiness. Hamlet's 
disgust with life is so violent, just and incurable 
that the old magic of their love can never return, 
and his straits are such that, however he acts, 
enough misery will be produced to dethrone her 
frail reason. 

I have submitted also that the evidence in 
Hamlet's possession never reaches that daylight 
certainty which justifies private vengeance. 
If Shakespeare had intended to exhibit a mind 
which is at once absolutely sure of itself and 
incapable of action, would he not have brought 
the murder to light by the agency of some 
courtier who had secretly witnessed it ? In fact 
the ghost is the one great blot and uncombining 
ingredient in the play. Had Shakespeare pre- 
served the mental climate of the original story 
the ghost might perhaps have been tolerated, 
but he is quite out of joint with so thorough a 
modern as Hamlet. He complicates the whole 
action, and steeps it in incongruity. Hamlet's 
desire to have more relative grounds than the 


word of this visitant in whom it is impossible to 
believe fully except during his actual presence is 
in the highest degree natural. He therefore 
tries the experiment of the play, and fails. 
What he had hoped was to provoke Claudius to 
" proclaim his malefaction " in the ear of the 
court, for the case that has to be built up is one 
that will convince not only Hamlet, but also the 
pubHc at large. What really is provoked ? A 
temporary indisposition which can be explained 
away in two sentences the next day. It may 
convince Hamlet, but it certainly would not 
secure his acquittal before a jury. 

But even supposing him to be justifiably 
certain, has he the practical means to kill 
Claudius without, by the same act, surrendering 
himself to death ? Claudius was popular enough 
to override Hamlet's claims and have himself 
chosen king. In that office he had shown com- 
petence, his relations with England and Norway 
being most excellent. He had a levy of three 
thousand men in the immediate neighbourhood of 
the court whom he kept in good humour by 
frequent carousals. His courtiers were so loyal 
that the Court-play apparently awoke not the 
least suspicion or hostihty in a single one of them, 
and that, even after Laertes' confession of his 
treachery, when Hamlet plunges his rapier into 
Claudius, they shriek " Treason ! Treason ! " and 
would no doubt have cut the young prince down 
were that not plainly superfluous. As against 
this, Hamlet is a student, just come home, super- 


intelligent and a hater of bores and shams. His 
opinion of the masquerade of royalty may be 
gathered from that one remark of his : " Let's to 
the Court ! for, by my fay, I cannot reason." 
He applies his literary criticism to every-day 
conversation, and analyses received platitudes 
with the most ruthless candour. To crown all, he 
is a Temperance Pioneer ! In short, the situation 
is such that no one would have much chance of 
organising support enough to oust Claudius, but 
that Hamlet, by the sheer force of his superiori- 
ties, has no chance at all. Of course it is always 
possible for him to slay the king and sacrifice his 
own life to his vengeance. But that would be 
something worse even than " hire and salary," 
and he has no enthusiasm for dying. Many 
people assume that he has, but in fact lie is 
philosopher enough to be afraid of death. True, 
like every man of high intellect, he has moments 
of moral nausea, when he almost thinks that the 
best thing is not to be born, the next best to leave 
life as quickly as may be. But he recoils from the 
invisible event ; above all, he never caresses the 
idea of suicide. The great " to be or not to be " 
monologue, sometimes interpreted in this sense, 
is really the precise opposite. It is rather an 
admonition to himself to defy death which he 
sees to be probably bound up with his revenge, 
and not to suffer his great enterprise, to be 
turned away by the fear of death. In short he 
never is absolutely certain of the facts of the 
crime, nur in a position to punish it with safety 


to himself. And, although Shakespeare cannot 
amend this latter circumstance, he does amend 
the former, and with exquisite dramatic courtesy 
allows Hamlet full evidence of the king's guilt 
of another murder before calling his retributive 
sword into action. 

What counts against Hamlet in popular estima- 
tion is his continual self-reproach. But this 
springs just from his exacting ideal of action, for 
he would shorten a straight line to reach his end. 
Religious biography will furnish a parallel ; it is 
not among the actual sinners that we find self- 
contempt and a consciousness of the unforgive- 
able sin, but among the Bunyans and the Saint 
Alphonsus Ligouris. There is another motive 
behind Hamlet's outbursts. He is not certain 
enough to act, but his tense and tortured mind 
must find relief, and words are not irrevocable. 
But after the emotional debauch of his mono- 
logues, the lucid judgment returns, with its 
questionings and firm grasp of difficulties. 
Hamlet is compromised also by the speculative 
embroideries which his mind works over the 
drab stuff of experience. People think with 
Horatio that it is " to inquire too curiously " 
to find the dust of Alexander stopping a beer- 
barrel. But is it ? Is not Hamlet rather the 
avid intellect, which must needs think out of 
things everything that is to be found in them ? 
" Hamlet's obstacles are internal." He cer- 
tainly has internal obstacles. He is hampered 
by conscience, natural affection, an exquisite 


taste and a capacity for metaphysics ; very grave 
obstacles, if what is desired is immediate blood- 
shed. Some critics hold that Shakespeare wrote 
Hamlet to purge his countrymen of these 
qualities which he perceived spreading, to the 
infinite prejudice of Elizabethan Jingoism. It 
may be so, and I am free to confess that, as far as 
public policy goes, his countrymen have reformed 
them indifferently. But it is just because of 
these failings that Hamlet possesses human 
significance. Without them, he might be very 
interesting from the point of view of a tiger, 
but he would never have touched and troubled 
our imagination. As it is, we think of him as 
the noble and courtly prince who passes through 
life, annotating it with a gloss of melancholy 
speculation that has been absorbed into the mind 
of Europe, and who so confronts it practically 
that the destinies adopt him for their minister, 
and, through him, draw, out of unexampled 
horrors, justice and even a certain terrible peace.* 
As a perhaps tedious supplement, I submit 
that the character of Horatio has been as favour- 

* The only sustainable charge that can be made 
agfainst Hamlet is one of over-hasty action — with 
regfard, I mean, to Rosencranz and Guildenstern. He 
sent them to death without anything like decisive 
proof of their complicity in the design to have him 
executed in England. There is nothing to show that 
they knew the contents of the original commission; 
indeed the contrary is established by their continuing 
their journey after losing Hamlet. Most people will 
however, accept the latter's justification of himself as 



ably, as that of Hamlet has been unfavourably, 
misunderstood. He enjoys the reputation of 
being the strong, silent, truly virile man, held 
up in contrast to the gustv and barren meta- 
physician. In support of this there can be 
produced just a single speech of Hamlet's : 
against it there is the whole of Horatio's words 
and actions. The eulogy, Hke so many other 
passages, has, however, never been construed in 
its dramatic context. It is spoken, be it 
remembered, immediately before the play, when 
Hamlet is tense with the most terrible expecta- 
tion. He is about to probe the King's conscience 
to the quick, and naturally wants corroboration 
of his own prejudiced eyes, and perhaps assistance 
in the scene that may follow. In order to induce 
the deplorable Horatio to render even this petty 
service it is necessary to flatter him, and the 
exaggerated courtesy, natural to Hamlet — as in 
the reception of Rosencranz and Guildenstern — 
combines with his immediate need to produce 
superlatives. His own fine taste rebels against 
them, and, as is known, he concludes mth 
" something too much of this ! " (Were I a 
German I would suggest that these words are an 
amending note of Shakespeare on the MS., 
which he is known to have been revising, that he 
meant to recast the lines, and that his private 
note has been interpolated into Hamlet's speech.) 
\^^at, as a matter of fact, is Horatio's record in 
the play ? He is at Elsinore two months before 
he thinks it worth while to call on his old friend 


Hamlet, although he knows the latter to be in the 
most grievous trouble. At the first appearance 
of the ghost he has not wit enough to address it 
in Latin, although that is what he was brought 
there for by Marcellus. At the second appear- 
ance he is not able even to tell Hamlet the time, 
and later is guilty of a much grosser ineptitude. 
Marcellus urges him to come on after the Prince 
and the ghost. " Oh ! " says Horatio, 
" Heaven will direct it ! " and his delegation of 
his duty to Providence has to be crushed by 
Marcellus' " Nay, let's follow him." At what 
stage he comes to know of the King's crime is 
not clear, but he certainly possesses all Hamlet's 
knowledge of it after the Court Play. And what 
does this strong silent man do ? Organise a 
party, as Laertes found friends to organise one, 
to execute vengeance against Claudius? By no 
means. He has nothing better to say than that 
he very well noted the King and that Hamlet 
ought to rhyme the quatrain in which his frenzy 
extravagates. Afterwards, when the Prince is 
sent to England under the most sinister circum- 
stances, does the good Horatio make an attempt 
either to accompany or to liberate him ? As a 
matter of fact he lies conscientiously low, and 
cultivates the best relations with Claudius. His 
next opportunity is at Hamlet's relation of his 
escape from the death intended for him in 
England. Horatio has indeed the grace to admire 
Hamlet's superior firmness of character — " Why, 
what a king is this ! " — but he does his best to 


cancel this hy sympathetic tears over Rosencranz 
and Guildenstern. Before the duel he ad- 
ministers draughts of discouragement and 
superstition, and he has not the sense to see that 
Laertes' rapier is unbated. In fact from begin- 
ning to end he is a wandering ineptitude who 
has never a single suggestion, and whose speech 
consists mainly of " Ay, my Lords," " That is 
most certain," " Is it possible," and other 
helpful phrases. At the last he has one good 
impulse to finish the poisoned cup, but the 
dying Hamlet intervenes, and Horatio addresses 
himself to funeral orations which are certainly 
much more after his heart. He is prayed merely 
to absent himself from fehcity awhile, but we 
may be sure that he does not construe the last as 
the emphatic word, but stands in as an echo to 
Fortinbras and absents himself as long as 
possible. And this is the strong silent man after 
whom Hamlet should have modelled himself ! 
In truth he compares poorly with Osric, who 
was at any rate a stylist. 

I cannot abstain from a word on Hamlet as an 
art critic. His theory that the stage should hold 
the mirror up to nature is of course absurd, at 
least as far as gesture and outer expression of 
emotion goes. I refer rather to his employment 
of art as an oblique moral inquisition — a most 
remarkable anticipation of what Browning has to 
say in the Epilogue of " The Ring and the 
Book ; " and to his delightful prophetic criticism 
of the two great achievements of the modern 


theatre — the musical comedy and the problem 
play. Polonius has grown impatient at the 
length of the fine epic passage recited by the 
players ; Hamlet turns on him with his unfor- 
gettable " Oh, he must have a jig or a tale of 
bawdy, or he falls asleep." 



Geneva, September, 1909. 

T^HE Congress of the Jeunesse Egyptienne 
-*■ is over. The Rue Bartholomy is no 
longer splashed with the crimson and scarlet of 
the tarbouch which one learns is the correct 
term for what we more naturally call the fez. 
And as one sits by the lake shore, drowsed with 
the dim and misted beauty of the Swiss Septem- 
ber, there are no grave, dark faces, no star and 
crescent favours, no cataracts of vowelled Arabic 
to force one back again to the dusty duties of 
political conflict. 

All this is to say that the Congress, as a 
spectacle, was brilliant and picturesque. The 
Jeunesse Egyptienne is, to a large extent, a 
jeunesse doree. It is also a movement of 
intellectuals. The great body of the delegates 
were students — students in law, medicine, or 
arts — who thronged here from Lyons, Paris, 
Dijon, Oxford. The President, M. Mohamed 
Fahmy, is a " free professor " of Mahometan 
law at the University of Geneva, Hamed El 
Alaily, who read perhaps the most brilliant 
paper at the Congress, " A Plea for a Con- 


structive Policy," is at Oxford, and carries 
about him a curious sense at once of the fine 
essence of Oxford and the fine essence of that 
Arab culture which gave us Avicenna and 
Averroes. M. Loutli Goumah, who swept 
the Congress off its feet on the second day with 
a passionate reply to Mr. Keir Hardie, entertains 
me in the evening with a lecture on Eastern 
lyrical poetry. When Egypt is free he assures 
me with a smile that he will at last have time 
to complete a criticism of German philosophy 
from the Arabic point of view. 

Decidedly whatever you may call the Young 
Egyptians, you cannot call them uneducated 
or irresponsible. On the contrary, they manifest 
every sign of wealth, culture, knowledge of 
the world, and a courtesy suave beyond expres- 
sion. There is a wide range of racial types, 
from the noble Arabian profile to something that 
seems almost Ethiopian. In social intercourse 
one is impressed by the fact that they have all 
gone to a good tradition for their manners and 
to a good tailor for their clothes. One is im- 
pressed still more by the evidences of firmness 
of character. Hardly any of them touches 
wine. Most of them do not seem to smoke. 
" You see," says one of the non-smokers, 
" tobacco darkens the complexion. And, mon 
Dieu ! am I not dark enough already ? " 

Whether this abstinence has any religious 
sanction at the present day is a matter difficult 
to determine. One hardly thinks so ; and yet 


I have a picture of a stout and amiable pasha 
at the Congress slipping his Rosary Beads 
through his fingers with incredible industry, 
with a murmur for each bead of " Allah ! " 

For the moment there is one binding idea, 
and only one, dominant in the assembly, and 
that is not a religious but a political idea. Three 
parties are represented, grading down from 
fierce extremists to somewhat timid reformers, 
but let a speaker fling out the cry of " Egypt 
for the Egyptians " and Conservative hands 
clap as loudly as Radical hands to a fusillade 
of " Tres biens " and " Bravos." The Congress 
is inspired by a sincere passion for nationality. 
It has no hatred for England except in so far 
as Egypt cannot belong at the same time to 
the EngHsh and to the Egyptians, 

And here I must signalise the dramatic 
moment of the proceedings. Just as every 
picture has its centre of repose, so every assembly 
has its centre of tension. At Geneva this 
central point was found when M. Loutfi Goumah 
leaped to his feet to reply to some things that 
Mr. Keir Hardie had said, and to other things 
which he had not said. " Mr, Hardie has 
spoken of helping us to achieve ' some effective 
form of self-government.' We do not want 
' some effective form of self-government,' 
Egypt demands a free constitution, flowing to 
her not from the British Parliament but from 
her own monarch, the Khedive. Mr. Hardie 
promises to ask questions in the House of 


Commons. What sort of questions ? He will 
ask whether Cairo has a good drainage system, 
and whether the water is drinkable in Alexandria. 
But we want fundamental questions about 
fundamental matters. We want him to ask 
what is to be the date of the evacuation." 

My duty is not to appraise, but merely to 
chronicle facts, and without discussing the 
strange interpretation which exhibited Mr. 
Hardie as a Conservative, I have only to say that 
as M. Goumah proceeded with his speech, the 
tides of passion rose higher and higher in the 
Congress, and that he resumed his chair amid 
a tumult of cheers. Crimson tarbouches bobbed 
their way to the platform, and groups of students 
flung themselves on the orator, embracing him, 
and kissing his hands. " The Mazzini of 
Egypt ! " shouted somebody beside me in the 

Undoubtedly he is one of the men of the 
future. Small and spare, with a drooping 
moustache, he throbs with such intense energy 
that you expect to see electric sparks leap out 
of his gesturing figure. He speaks French, 
English, and Arabic with the same fluent 
precision. He has the gift of epigram, and, unlike 
his compatriots, a quick sense of humour. With 
Hamed El Alaily, and Mohamed Fahmy — this 
latter a strking figure with countless centuries 
of Oriental shrewdness in his face — he con- 
stitutes the pivot around which this new move- 
ment will revolve. 


Opinions differ, and hopes will be disappointed, 
but for my part I regard this second Congress 
as opening a new epoch in the Egyptian 
Nationalist movement. The actual work of 
the three days, including the foundation of a 
new propagandist journal and the initiation of 
a system of free national schools in Egypt, has 
already been recorded in the newspapers. I am 
concerned only to give some faint sense of the 
tone and atmosphere of the Congress. It was 
alive in every fibre. The paper.< read, although 
somewhat too encyclopaedic for the occasion, 
were the work of cultured men. The few 
differences as to details merely lent relief to the 
keenness and enthusiasm of the assembly. And 
with all this there was behind the whole pro- 
gramme a sincere desire for peace. The so- 
called " violence " of the speeches consisted 
merely in saying what every Englishman has 
heartily said with Simon De Montfort, and 
Hampden, and Locke, and John Stuart Mill. 

Much has happened since the Geneva Congress. 
That Tartuffe-Tartarin, Colonel Roosevelt, has 
trailed the Stars and Stripes in the foulest mud 
of Imperialism. M. Briand has forbidden the 
Congress of 19 10 to meet in Paris, and, thereby, 
proclaimed the nothingness of France in inter- 
national politics. The Suez Canal affair has 
on the one hand, unified national feeling in 
Egypt, and, on the other, has provoked British 


Imperialists to a fresh campaign in favour of 
annexation. The problem has grown more 
acute, and at the same time more soluble. 
The Canal is the difficulty. Bvit if the Canal 
be definitely neutralised, on terms fair to Egypt 
and England alike, what pretext will then remain 
for the maintenance of the occupation ? 



T^HE autumn of M. Anatole France is 
-^ coloured by the one vanity of human 
existence against which his soul had not hitherto 
adventured : he has become popular. " My 
last years," Schopenhauer used to say, " bring 
me roses, but they are white roses." It may be 
that tliere is a like pallor in the coronals which 
have of late been showered so abundantly on 
the great French master of irony, tenderness, 
and despair. It may be that he experiences 
but a sombre consolation at seeing his radiant 
and incomparable prose rendered, with many 
refractions, into EngHsh. But at all events 
he has achieved notoriety. Certain of his 
phrases — poison in crystal cups or ambrosia 
of the gods in vinegar-vials ; who shall say ? — 
have been finally adopted into the gold currency 
of literature. The man himself is no longer 
a veiled prophet. The famous bust in which 
he looks out over an Hebraic nose between a 
stiff imperial and what seems to be a loose forage 

* L'lle des Pmgouins. Les Contes de Jacques 
Tournehioche. By Anatole France, 1908 

119 H 


cap, his passed through Europe, nt least in 
photogravure. The book-reader of Brixton has 
been impelled as urgently as the bookseller of 
his own Quai Malaquais to guess at the secret 
behind that ridged and ambiguous mask. The 
face, some of his interpreters have said, is that 
of a Benedictin narquois. Rather is it the face 
of a soldier ready to die for a flag in which he 
does not entirely believe, on condition, be it 
understood, that he shall not be asked to die 
in a tragic or, as one might say, in a muady 
fashion. He looks out at you like a veteran 
of the lost cause of intellect, to w^hose soul the 
trumpet of defeat strikes with as mournful and 
vehement a music as to that of Pascal himself, 
but who thinks that a wise man may be permitted 
to hearten himself up in evil days with an 
anecdote after the manner of his master Rabelais. 
M. France has achieved notoriety, but hardly 
happiness. If Ulle des Pi?igouins has been one 
of the best discussed volumes of late years, it is 
none the less a bulletin of fatigue, which notifies 
us of the burial of yet another illusion. The 
book, indeed, seems intended as the last chapter 
of a period. In it Anatole France, savant, 
stylist, and Olympian, pronounces with affection 
and contempt a funeral discourse over Anatole 
France, republican, Socialist, and Dreyfusard. 
The man of letters lays aside, with smiling 
sadness, the sword of a fighting publicist, and 
an interesting case of dual personality comes to 
an end. The Socialists are naturally in despair. 


At least one critic, belonging^^to that party, 
confesses that he has long entertained doubts 
not merely about the stability of M. France, 
but even about his sales, and thinks it probable 
that an edition of one of his books nowadays 
means only two hundred copies. But had not 
his greatest interpreter, George Brandes, foreseen 
the present reversion to type, as one may call 
it ? " It may be," wrote Brandes, after hearing 
the master speak at a Socialist meeting in the 
Paris Trocadero in 1904, " that as the popular 
orator — a career for which he was not intended 
by nature — he has proclaimed himself rather 
more strongly convinced than he is in his inmost 
soul." Had not Doctor Trublet in UHistoire 
Comique separated himself for ever from the 
" advanced " thinkers who believe that 
republicanism is the final truth of politics, and 
that by the apphcation of this truth the human 
race is infinitely perfectible ? "My business," 
says Trublet, " is to comfort men and console" 
them. How can one comfort or console anybody 
without lying ? " It was not that M. France 
refused to make sacrifices to the will to believe 
in pohtical Utopias. On the contrary, he went 
so far as to write an introduction to the collected 
speeches of M. Emile Combes, and even, it was 
said, to read the novels of M. Zola. Having 
thus acquired a firm faith in humanity, he was 
at pains to record it in the course of a speech 
on Renan. " Lentement, mais toujours, 
I'humanite ri^-alise les reves des .sages." That 


was in 1903. In 1908, having come to under- 
stand that the process of realisation is as slow 
as the movement of a glacier and as tortuous 
as the way of an eagle in the air, he returns to 
the orbit of his temperament. His futility 
on Blessed Jeanne d'Arc laid aside, he contributes 
an introduction to the memoirs of Mademoiselle 
Loie Fuller, a danger, and pubhshes Penguin 
Island and Les ConUs de Jacques Journebroche. 

Ulle des Pingouins is to all intents a comic 
history of France, The narrative is introduced 
by a characteristic preface, in which the author 
of so many brilliant reconstructions of the past 
denies, and not for the first time, the possibility 
of any history, serious or comic. He consults 
the masters of palaeography, but they indignantly 
decline to be called historians. Who has ever 
detected them in an attempt to distil the 
scantiest trickle of life or truth from a document ? 
That is an enterprise which may attract vain 
and imaginative persons, but for their part they 
work in the spirit of positive science. They 
confine themselves to verifiable facts — that is 
to say, to texts — and refuse to be tempted into 
the fantastic world of ideas. It is possible to be 
certain about the shape of words, but not about 
their significance. M. France passes on to 
the recognised historians, who are shocked to 
find that he proposes to write an original history. 
An original historian, they assure him, is the 
object of universal distrust and contempt. 
History may very well be the lie agreed upon j 


the great point is that it is agreed upon. Readers 
of history do not Hke to be surprised ; they look 
to find only the stupidities with which they are 
already familiar, and regard any novel suggestion 
as an affront to some cherished belief. The 
historian must therefore be on his guard against 
originahty. He must also be respectful towards 
established institutions, and, on these two 
conditions, success is within his grasp. Fortified 
by these counsels M. France proceeds, in much 
humility of spirit, to narrate the story of the 
island of Alca, from its beginnings in hagiography 
to its ending in dynamite. There is little need 
to set out here in any detail the substance of the 
book. The title is easily explained. The old 
saint Mael, a missionary of deep faith but 
defective eyesight, is transported to the Arctic 
regions in a miraculous stone trough. There, 
mistaking a colony of penguins for men and 
philosophers, he pronounces the formula of 
baptism over them, and creates a theological 
impasse which can only be relieved by the actvial 
transformation of the penguins into human 
shape. The island is then towed by Saint 
Mael to the coast of Brittany, and there under the 
name of Penguinia, or Alca, it enters the comity 
of civilisation. It evolves through the customary 
stages, inventing in turns clothes — a suggestion 
of the devil — individual property, a royal 
dynasty, a patron saint, and the taxation of the 
weak for the benefit of the strong. These 
matters afford obvious scope for the subtle and 


perverse spirit of M. France. The pages on the 
origin of property are not only powerful but 
even passionate : his heart is for the moment 
engaged in the writing. A chapter on the 
mediaeval art of Penguinia gives him an oppor- 
tunity to parody, with deHghtful maHce, the 
Enghsh theorists of the pre-RaphaeHte move- 
ment. But it must be confessed that the first 
half of the book languishes on the perilous 
edge of dulness. The serene improprieties with 
which M. France annotates his Lives of the 
Saints, mingling, as one might say, the odour 
of the smoke-room with the odour of sanctity, 
are very Latin, but not very amusing. M. 
France himself seems to perceive that his grasp 
on his material is weakening : he makes an 
abrupt plunge from the Renaissance into modern 
history, and his sprightliness is at once restored. 
The second part, comprising more than half 
the entire volume, is a continuation and con- 
clusion of the novels which have been published 
since 1897 under the general title of Histoire 
Contemporaine. The cometarv career of 
Boulanger and the Drevfus Affaire are recon- 
structed with incomparable verve. Every phrase 
tells, every figure moves in the glow of supreme 
comedy. The Visire Ministry, which was carried 
into office by the reaction in favour of Dreyfus, 
" declared itself prudently progressive. Paul 
Visire and his colleagues were eager for reforms, 
and it was only in order to avoid compromising 
the prospect of these reforms that they refrained 


from proposing them. For they were deep 
poHticians, and they knew that to propose a 
reform is to compromise it." From history 
we pass on to prophecy. The fate of the 
Clemenceau Ministry, plunged ultimately by 
rich Jews, reckless journalists, and the intrigues 
of one Madame Ceres into an irreparable war, 
is somewhat vaguely outlined ; and in a last 
chapter we are permitted to see M. France's 
vision of the future. It is not a very cheerful 
vision. The continued concentration of industry 
has evolved a society of but two classes, 
millionaires and employees. The millionaire 
type exhibits the physical characteristics of Mr. 
Rockefeller developed to the last limit of possi- 
bility. Drier of body, thinner of lip, and 
yellower of complexion than the old Spanish 
monks, they cultivate a mysticism and even an 
asceticism of opulence. Living in their offices 
on eggs and milk, they have no intercourse with 
the world save through the medium of an 
electric button : they steadily amass wealth of 
which they no longer see even the metallic 
symbols, and acquire infinite means for the 
satisfaction of desires which they no longer 
experience. The material constituents of this 
world of the future are monstrous and tentacular 
cities, temples of " slaughterous industry, 
infamous speculation, hideous luxury, and a 
colossal uniformity of ugliness." Such a society 
cannot be reformed ; it can only be destroyed. 
And under the shattering logic of dynamite, 


or rather of an explosive to which dynamite is 
as the crackle of a schoolboy's squib, the world 
of clerks and capitalists dissolves. An entire 
civilisation is effaced, and wild horses pasture 
on the site of the capital of Alca. Then the 
story of civilisation begins anew, the story 
without an end. The hunter comes, and after 
him, in a dreary cycle, the shepherd, the tiller 
of the soil, the weaver of wool, the worker in 
iron. The effaced civilisation is, with infinite 
labour, rebuilt. Once more we are in a world of 
millionaires and employees, of monstrous and 
tentacular cities. . . . The thing that has 
been is the thing that shall be, and the achieve- 
ment of the future will be as that of the past. 
The epitaph of generations unborn will be that 
which has been written upon the tombstones of 
generations forgotten. " They were born, they 
suffered, ",hey died." It is the Eternal Return 
of ancient philosophy, in a garment more sombre 
than any of which the ancients ever dreamed. 
It is less an Eternal Return, than an eternal and 
infinitely monotonous tautology. 

Such is the wisdom to which Anatole France 
has come, after wandering for ten years in the 
desert of politics. One recalls the circumstances 
under which he came to appear in the role of a 
publicist. The year 1897 witnessed his election 
to the Immortals ; it also witnessed the publica- 
tion of the first two volumes of his Histoire 
Contemforaine. Until that year he had not 
descended from his tower of ivory to discover 


the actual world. In his candidature for the 
Academy he was regarded as a Conservative, 
and was opposed to Ferdinand Fabre, a writer 
notorious for his hostility to the Church. There 
is no need to suggest a corrupt silence on his 
part, or a sinister coincidence ; but the truth 
is that once safely installed in the chair vacated 
by M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, he began to exhibit 
an active interest in politics. He put his head 
out of the window, discovered the Dreyfus 
Affaire, and took his stand with the Socialists. 
He revised his judgments, even in matters of 
literature. Zola, whose " disgusting celebrity " 
he had declined to envy, and of whom he had 
written that no man had " so exerted himself 
to abase humanity, and to deny everything that 
is good and right," became for him not only a 
valiant citizen, bvit even a great novelist, " whose 
harping has raised up a spacious city of the ideal." 
In the interval M. France has had a wider 
experience of politics ; he has rubbed intimate 
shoulders with the prophets of progress, and has 
watched the flux of events and the transforma- 
tions of men. It would be unjust to say that 
Penguin Island is a recantation of his democratic 
and socialistic utterances. He is still the son of 
the Revolution, and there is a tremor of sincere 
passion in his voice as he tells us of the grimed 
and hungry workers who swarm out in times 
of Royalist aggression to defend the Republic — 
the Republic which nevertheless is to them a 
symbol of hope merely and not of fulfilment. 


He proclaims not the bankruptcy of Socialism, 
but rather the emptiness of politics as such. 
It is impossible not to identify France with his 
own Bidault-Coquille, the student of asteroids. 
Bidault-Coquille had come down from the 
old fire-escape, from which he was accustomed 
to observe the heavens, in order to fight 
for the eternal principles of justice which 
he took to be involved in the Affaire Pyrot 
or Dreyfus. He found himself in alliance 
with hysterical adventuresses, ambitious generals, 
vain journalists, and the St. Pauls of Socialism, 
eager for Utopia, but also eager for portfolios. 
Justice is triumphant, but the triumph is clouded 
with meanness, and he returns to his asteroids, 
disillusioned, and disillusioned most of all with 
regard to his own motives. " Go back to your 
fire-escape and your stars," he says to himself, 
" but go back in humility of spirit. You 
thought to yourself, ' I will step down into the 
streets and show mvself a noble and valiant 
citizen. Then I shall be able to repose calmly 
in the esteem of my contemporaries and the 
approval of history.' But you have not even 
suffered for conscience sake ; for with the 
decay of belief and character your countrymen 
have become incapable of that savagery which 
once lent a tragic greatness to the conflict of 
ideas. Now that you have buried your illusions ; 
now that you know how hard it is to redress 
injustice and how one must be ever beginning 
anew, you are going back to your asteroids. 


Go back then ! but go back in humility of 

The conclusion was inevitable, and rightly 
considered it casts no sort of discredit upon 
politics. It is no doubt useful that parliament- 
men should be credulous of their power to 
create by Statute a new heaven and a new earth. 
It is perhaps excusable that Socialism should 
believe in the infinite perfectibility of the 
human race. But it is necessary that the world 
of culture should retain its sense of limitation. 
Humanity must at all costs refuse to be satisfied 
with itself. If progress belongs at all to the 
sphere of real things and of good things, its 
future depends on those who rise up to question 
its reality. Faust cannot be redeemed except 
by the serviceable hostility of Mephistopheles. 
Anatole France is a scandal and a stumbling- 
block to many serious minds. Of the deep 
waters of religion he has never tasted ; he is 
a sense short, or, as the psychologists say, he 
has a blind spot on his soul. But that much 
said, is it not wise to remember that Ecclesiastes 
also is among the prophets ? Is not the whole 
Christian conception of life rooted in pessimism, 
as becomes a philosophy expressive of a world 
in which the ideal can never quite overcome 
the crumbling incoherence of matter ? May 
we not say of all good causes what Arnold said 
only of the proud and defeated Celts : " They 
went down to battle but they always fell ? " 
Behind politics there is economics ; behind 


economics there is philosophy ; and when it 
comes to a philosophy of values, optimism, with 
regard to our present plane of experience, can 
only be regarded as an attractive form of mental 

A comparison of Ulle des Pingouins with 
Gulliver^s Travels is obvious, although not 
perhaps very illuminating. M. France is suave 
where Swift is barbaric ; he is dainty where 
Swift is foul ; but it is none the less true that 
Swift's disbelief in humanity was childlike and 
elementary compared with that which hints 
itself through Penguin Island. Between the two 
there is the tropical forest of Romanticism with 
its splendid and noxious blooms ; there is the 
unplumbed, salt, estranging sea of all who have 
praised death rather than life, from Leopardi 
and Schopenhauer to D'Annunzio and Hardy. 
What then ? " The life of a people," writes one 
of the mythical sages quoted in this book, " is 
a succession of misfortunes, crimes, and 
stupidities. This is true of the Penguin nation 
as of all others. But with that reserve made, 
their history is admirable from beginning to 
end." There is a certain malice in the phrasing, 
but who that has lived and suffered would 
challenge its substance of truth ? Reason and 
justice constitute, no doubt, the elements of a 
pure science, but it is a science of very imperfect 
application to the concrete world. M. France 
has had the courage of his discouragement. 
He has but repeated in terms of politics what 


he had already said in terms of art and erudition, 
of passion and philosophy — namely, that the 
eye is not filled with seeing nor the ear with 
hearing. Even more than Bourget, and 
precisely because his touch is lighter than 
Bourget's, and because he imagines that his 
rapier is that of an enemy, he continues the 
tradition of that Latin and Catholic pessimism 
which is so indispensable a propsedeutic to any 
valorous religion. We have heard of a tyranny 
which was tempered by chansons. A pessimism, 
stabbed and gashed with the radiance of epigrams, 
as a thundercloud is stabbed by lightning, is a 
type of spiritual life far from contemptible. 
A reasonable sadness, chastened by the music of 
consummate prose, is an attitude and an achieve- 
ment that will help many men to bear with more 
resignation the burden of our century. If 
there be inexcusable flippancies, and there are 
many in Ulle des Pingouins, they belong, perhaps, 
for the most part to that temperamental heritage 
of Latinism which we barbarians have never 
been able to understand. For the rest, the 
book is merely an indication that the cobbler 
is about to return to his last. After ten years 
of politics Anatole France is fatigued, but by 
expressing he has banished his fatigue. Two 
lines of development seem now to be open 
to him, and, unhappily, one of them is that 
jacilis decensus which his master Renan chose 
in his old age. Les Contes de Jacques Tourne- 
hroche — a volume with curious red and gold 


and blue and gold illustrations by Leon 
Lebegue — seems to indicate a declension towards 
the lower level of his temperament. It is enough 
to say of this collection of stories that it is by 
turns graceful, mediocre, and abject, and that 
there is not a characteristic turn of phrase or a 
memorable idea in it from beginning to end. 
The other mood in which M. France may elect 
to cast the books that he has yet to write — he 
is sixty-five — is that which gave us the tender- 
ness of Le Livre de Mon Ami, and the spacious 
sadness of the best pages of Le Jardin d'Eficure. 
M. France will not spend his last years, as 
Taine did, " reading Marcus Aureiius as a sort 
of hturgical exercise." Epicure of emotions 
that he is, and that was Brunetiere's judgment 
against him, he will act on taste and not on any 
principle. That he will choose his own road 
is certain ; let us hope that this man, whose 
every page if not a European event (and what 
page now is ?) is at least a shining masterpiece 
of style, will choose the high road. 



Stuttgart, SepUmher^ 1907- 
T MERELY strayed into Stuttgart. The 
-*• high peaks of the Dolomites, and the 
higher prices of Salzburg — Salt City, without 
the Lake — have faded into history. The Munich 
Alp-tourists, who had lain back, limply 
mountainous, in the corners, showing in the 
flame of their faces and their peeling skins 
the brand of glacier-sunshine, have " steiged " 
heavily out of their native city, where pictures 
and potations will soon undo the severities of 
the holiday season. You have passed Augsburg, 
where somebody confessed his insuperable 
objections to Confession. You have drunk a 
crowded and unseemly beer at Ulm. And you 
are in Stuttgart. . . . 

The Congress is going on in the Liederhalle, 
a combined restaurant and concert-hall. As 
one sits here in the garden, under an absolute 
stillness of chestnuts and acacias, it is hard to 
imagine so much of life as there is in the un- 
distinguished building. Two or three delegates 
walk up and down, smoking and meditating. A 
135 I 


door-keeper leans on the bar counter, under 
red-and-black and red-and-yellow streamers, 
and drinks cool, dark beer. A far-from-tidy 
Fraulein crunches her leisurely way across the 
gravel to take your order. Another has fallen 
asleep, her head leaned back against a beech 
trunk. In the lines of her face there comes out, 
as often in sleep, a certain forlornness, a sense 
of defeated dreams. It is a commentary. There 
are brown and twisted leaves on the gravel ; 
and on state-creeds and state-crafts, too, there 
comes the inevitable autumn. 

But in which of all the Utopias, smouldering 
in certain fierce eyes that met yours to-day in 
Stuttgart, will there be no stain of the burden 
and sorrow of women ? If one never got tired, 
one would always be with the revolutionaries, 
the re-makers, with Fourier, and Kropotkin. But 
the soul's energy is straitly limited ; and with 
weariness there comes the need for compromise, 
for " machines," for repetition, for routine. 
Fatigue is the beginning of political wisdom. 

Those who read the papers know fairly well 
the resolutions, or, rather, theses, to which the 
Congress said "Aye." To an actual spectator 
the dominant note was that of realism. Here 
and there the vague music of a passionate revolt 
and an impossible redemption broke out, as when 
Rosa Luxemburg, clutching her plaid shawl, 
called up the bloody ghosts of Russian comrades 
in judgment on the weak " good-sense " of the 
Congress. But most of the speakers submitted 


to the strict discipline of fact. Kautsky opposed 
the demand for the legal establishment of a 
minimum wage. A powerful argument was led 
to show that if you establish a minimum wage 
it tends to operate as a maximum. " Yes ! " 
said Ellenbogen, of Austria. " Theoretically 
your position is a strong one. Ten years ago 
I should have voted for it. But since then we 
have made the experiment in practice. A 
minimum wage of four francs a day has been 
established in Zurich, and it has not operated as a 

The Swiss delegates accepted the statement 
of fact, and at once the Congress swung over 
to the side of Ellenbogen. " Practical ! " cried 
Vaillant. " You are practical enough. Our 
programme was once a gospel of enthusiasm. 
Now it is a party machine, a war-chest, a game 
of tactics." 

In effect this was the dominant tone. The 
only vote that rang in discord with it was that 
in favour of the resolution condemning the whole 
work of colonisation as intrinsically and 
irredeemably bad. This decision was a genuine 
surprise. Bebel, VoUmar, Bernstein, the English 
and Americans, all declared against it, but it 
was, nevertheless, carried. An analysis of the 
majority drew attention to another characteristic 
of the Congress — the dominance of the national 
idea. Bebel and Bernstein were sufficiently clear 
on this point. The constitution of the Congress 
was based on a recognition of it. In the old 


International which was created by Marx, and 
afterwards, with the teeth of Bakunin, ate Marx 
up, you had thorough, abstract internationahsm. 
The workers were affihated directly with the 
central committee. But with the Congress of 
1907 they were affiliated only through the 
medium of their national organisations. 

This raises another question. What w'ill be 
the binding-power and practical value of the 
Stuttgart resolutions ? Are not those who claim 
that a complete synthesis of nationalism and 
internationalism has been effected a little 
premature ? Colonisation and colonies stank 
in the nostrils of the Stuttgart Congress. But 
will Mr. Ramsay Macdonald in the House of 
Commons and Herr Bebel in the Reichstag act 
upon that decision ? 

As a spectacle, a masque of personalities, the 
Congress lives in one's memory. It may be a 
superficial point of view, but it was irresistible. 
The marvellous interpreters ! Whenever anyone 
speaks they must speak, and they have spoken 
for five days without growing hoarse. 

Of course, there were complaints. Vaillant 
complained ; Vandervelde ascribed the feud 
between the Labour Party and the S. D. F. to 
the difficulty of rendering " Klassenkampf " in 
English. Quelch was verbally mistranslated, 
before being geographically translated. And 
there was the Indian Princess. 

Hyndman has a long beard, which is a con- 
siderable dramatic asset. One still sees him 


shaking his hands and shouting at Singer, who — 
large, broad, and with a sHght air of the police 
official — swings the Presidential bell back and 
forth, to the horror and final collapse of all 
ears. And Herve, standing on the table so that 
all the world might see him, voting for the 
majority's anti-militarist resolution " with both 
hands." It must not be thought that the 
proceedings were in the least tumultuous. 
They were vehement, but then there is always the 
House of Commons. By the way, everybody 
smoked at will in the hall, and one saw many 
delegates drinking beer at their tables. 

Is there a definite. Socialist way of dressing ? 
The red tie has long since gone over to 
museums and to popular novels. The fluid felt 
hat is not at all universal. Does anything 
remain ? Well, there is Herve, in a curious 
tunic buttoned tight up to the throat, and 
trousers which bag in an unprecedented way as 
he hurries along, gesticulating with his knees. 
But there is no exclusive. Socialist dress. 

" Do you think," I asked a newspaper man 
in the Hotel Royal — the English delegates were 
having a concert there, and you heard the 
chorus rolled heavily out through their door — 

Let cowards flinch, and traitors fear, 
We'll keep the Red Flag flying here — 

" do you think that the Congress has been of 
much use ? " "It will do more to guarantee 


the peace of the world," he said, " than twenty- 
Hague Conferences. If everybody could afford 
to travel, there would be no wars. People 
would discover their neighbours to be so remark- 
ably human. Besides, I am grateful to Stuttgart 
for not taking it out of us. At the Hague I paid 
j/^22 a month for two rooms in a private house. 
The Brazilian delegation left their hotel because 
they were charged ^34 a day for four rooms. 
Peace hath its voracities no less redoubtable 
than war." 

I cannot better his words. Stuttgart did not 
raise its prices. And when you had swept away 
preconceptions and prejudices, you found Inter- 
national Socialism unexpectedly human — human, 
above all, in its fundamental mistake. 





TT is the French that have come closest to the 
^ secret of Ireland. De Beaumont, that great 
pupil of De Tocqueville, in 1839, Cardinal 
Perraud in 1869, painted our national life with 
the authoritative brush of masters. In addition 
to these we have had an unbroken line of studies, 
sketches, and monographs in which Daryl, 
Bechaux, Le Roz, Fournier, Schindler, Potez, 
Filon, Flach, De Lavergne, and a cloud of other 
witnesses have said their word. Edouard Rod 
shaped the personal tragedy of Parnell into a 
novel ; and in one of his most recent stories 
Paul Bourget has shuddered at the dresses of 
fashionable Dublin, and yielded with lyrical 
abandon to the drowsy and purple magic of the 
Western lotus-land. M. Paul-Dubois finds one- 
half of the explanation of this old alliance in 
history, and the other in likeness of blood and 

* This study appears as the Introduction to the 
English version of L IrJande Con/evtporaine, bv M. Paul- 
Dubois, published under the title of Contemporary 
/rf/a«rf (Maunsel & Co., Dublin. New Edition. 3s. 6d. 



temperament. In exchange for the swords of the 
Wild Geese, France sent us back priests, or at 
least the learning that turned Irish bovs into 
priests. She sent too, in later and not less 
disastrous years, Hoche and Humbert ; and both 
nations have good memories, and until a very 
little while ago they shared a common hatred. 
The Irish mind is, moreover, like the French, 
" lucid, vigorous and positive," though less 
methodical, since it never had the happiness to 
undergo the Latin discipline. France and 
Ireland have been made to understand each 

M. Paul-Dubois, then, has the advantage of 
temperamental sympathy, wise forerunners, 
and a long tradition. He had, further, the 
advantage of language, for it is perhaps only in 
French that Sociology can become scientific 
without ceasing to be human. His personal 
equipment is of the first order. Son of the late 
President of the Academie des Beaux-Arts, 
son-in-law of the great Taine, and himself one 
of the chief officials of the Cour des Comptes, 
he is a member of the group which Brunetiere's 
erudite enthusiasm gathered round the Revue des 
Deux Monies. Was it not Taine who originated 
the phrase " well-documented," and made it 
the touchstone of all books deahng with social or 
historical science ? At all events it is in that 
spirit of thoroughness that M. Paul-Dubois has 
wished to write. The extent of his reading may 
be gathered from the references in his foot- 


notes. He paid more than one visit to Ireland, 
and had he but met some member of the Irish 
party — of which he writes with a harshness that 
is constantly in contradiction with itself — he 
might fairly claim to have met everybody. The 
Irish reader of his book may not be in entire 
agreement with his conclusions. To someone 
armed with special knowledge on this subject, 
his exposition may seem inadequate; to someone 
moved by special passion on that subject, his 
criticism may even prove an irritant ; but, when 
all is said, his five hundred crowded pages 
represent the attempt of a mind, at once 
scientific and imaginative, to see Ireland steadily, 
and to see it whole. If it is comforting to be 
understood, it is also of some profit to be mis- 
understood in a friendly way. M. Paul-Dubois 
confesses on our behalf no sins that someone or 
other has not already shouted from the house- 
tops. Whatever he may have to say of the 
internal Hfe of Ireland, his verdict on the inter- 
national issue is given clearly and definitely for 
Ireland and against England. His voice is 
raised for the Gaelic League, and against linguistic 
Imperialism ; for the ploughed field, and against 
the grazing ranch ; for Home Rule, and against 
the Act of Union. One may wish to enter a 
caveat against this or that contention, but the 
book is founded not on prejudice, or unreasoned 
feeling, or raw idealism, but on a broad 
colligation of facts ; and, with all reserves made, 
I believe that it will in due time take rank with 


the great studies of modern communities like 
Bodley's "France" and Miinsterberg's "The 

WTiat, then, is the Irish Question as seen hy this 
sociologist, so inspired and so equipped ? It is 
" an extreme case of social pathology," an 
instance of the phenomenon called arrested 
development. It is to history that one naturally 
turns for proof and illustration of this thesis ; 
and if, as a great Shakespearean critic has said, 
tragedy is simply waste, the history of Ireland 
as it passes before us in M. Paul-Dubois' Intro- 
duction, marshalled in sombre and picturesque 
lines, is essential tragedy indeed. It matters 
nothing whether we approach it in the spirit of 
those who desire revenge or of those who desire 
reconstruction : the impression is the same. A 
civilisation shaken by Norse invasion before it 
had quite ripened ; swept by Anglo-Norman 
invasion before it had quite recovered ; a people 
plunged in an unimaginable chaos of races, 
rehgions, ideas, appetites, and provincialisms ; 
brayed in the mortar without emerging as a 
consoHdated whole ; tenacious of the national 
idea, but unable to bring it to triumph ; riven 
and pillaged by invasion without being con- 
quered — how could such a people find leisure to 
grow up, or such a civilisation realise its full 
potentialities of development and discipline ? 
There are writers who would have us burn our 
Irish Histories. But the historical method 
imposes itself, not out of political passion, but 


by a mere scientific necessity, upon all students 
of contemporary social, or, indeed, spiritual 
problems. What is no doubt important is that 
the past should be studied by the social reformer 
not for its own sake but for the sake of the present, 
and from the point of view of the present. It 
is by this purpose that M. Paul-Dubois has been 
guided in his masterly Historical Introduction ; 
and I do not know of any summary of the same 
length which traces the forces of current Irish 
life so clearly to their origins, and sets the fabric 
of fact, by which we are to-day confronted, in 
such true and vivid perspective. But over and 
beyond that, his Introduction possesses the 
interest of literature. The period since the 
Union has never been outHned with more 
telling or more human touches. O'Connell, 
the inventor of that " constitutional agitation " 
which is now the prime weapon of all democracies, 
passes away leaving " a great memory but not a 
great party." Young Ireland affords us the 
supreme instance of the antithetical tempera- 
ments ever to be found in Nationalist politics : 
Davis, the reformer, inspired by love of Ireland, 
and Mitchel, the revolutionist, inspired by 
hatred of England. And so through Famine 
and Fenian ism we come down to the brilliant 
feebleness of Butt and the icy passion of Parnell, 
who " had more followers than friends," and to 
the struggle of the Gaelic Renaissance for 
" psychological Home Rule." 

For this is, in last analysis, what M. Paul-Dubois 


takes to be the deep malady of Ireland : She has 
not gained the whole world, but she has come 
perilously near losing her own soul. A certain 
laxity of will, a certain mystical scepticism in 
face of the material world, an eloquence which, 
in depicting Utopias, exhausts the energy that 
might better be spent in creating them, a 
continual tendency to fall back on the alibi of 
the inner life, make Ireland the Hamlet, or still 
more, the Rudin of the nations. Is this to say 
that she is unfit for modern, economic civiHsa- 
tion ? By no means, M. Paul-Dubois, having 
sounded every weakness and surveyed every 
difhculty, ends with the belief that the forces of 
re-growth will prevail over the process of decay ; 
and that although Ireland's last cards are now 
on the table, she is capable, if she plays them 
well, not only of preserving an ancient people 
but of creating a new civihsation. 

What is the path to this achievement ? First 
of all, under the present regime, England is the 
enemy. If Ireland is to realise herself, she 
must become mistress of her own hearth, her 
own purse, and her own cupboard. She does 
assuredly stand in urgent need of peace from 
politics, and so far her Unionist critics are right. 
There is indubitably a deep sense in which a 
nation's life begins where her politics end. 
People speak as if the outcrj^ against ParHamen- 
tarianism were a novel and a unique thing. 
But, fifty years ago, Marx taught all realists to 
crack the shells of political formulas and parties 


and judge them by the moral and economic 
kernel within. To-day you can pick up any- 
where in Paris or Brussels half-a-dozen 
pamphlets called " The Crisis of Parliamen- 
tarianism," " The Absurdity of Parliamen- 
tarianism," or " The End of Parliamentarianism." 
But that peace from the purely political struggle, 
which is so indispensable if Ireland is to develop 
character and create material wealth, can come 
to her only as a result of political autonomy. 
Until autonomy is won — carrying with it a 
re-adjustment of taxation — " on the cause must 
go." And the politicians who keep it going, 
whatever their special party or tactics, are 
playing the part of economic realists quite as 
effectively as any worker on the land or at the 

M. Paul-Dubois naturally devotes many 
chapters to the Land Question. He rightly 
treats it as a complexus of three questions — the 
tenure, the distribution, and the use of the land. 
The first two are being solved, in a fashion, at the 
cost of Irish taxes, and by the pledging of Irish 
rates, by the Estates Commissioners and the Con- 
gested Districts Board. Landlordism is dying, 
and dying meanly, " its last thought being of a 
bargain to be made." The edifice of Feudalism is 
being dismantled at a cost that raises a very real 
menace of national bankruptcy, but at all events 
the grim walls are coming down. But while the 
liberation of the Irish countryside from landlord- 
ism was necessary, it is not sufficient. The farmer 


must learn to use his land productively ; and so 
there must be a great development of agricultural 
education, leading up to a general system of 
" mixed farming." The Department of Agricul- 
ture must therefore be a prime concern of a 
self-governing Ireland. He must learn to 
combine ; and in this respect, at least as regards 
the small holders. Co-operation possesses the secret 
of the future. He must come free of the egoism 
and pessimism which have remained in his blood 
since the Great Famine ; and nothing can expel 
these except the singing and dancing GaeHc 
League. But, even with all this accomplished, 
he will stiU be a snake-strangled Laocoon until 
he has in some wise reformed and mastered his 
Railways and Banks, 

When we turn to the industrial condition of 
the country we find, since the Union, a steady 
degeneration of economic tissue. Population 
doubles between 1800 and 1 841, but manufacture 
decays. The cotton workers of Belfast fall in 
number within that period from 27,000 to 
12,000; and the factory hands of Dublin from 
4,938 to 682. The consumption of luxuries, an 
excellent test of wealth, shows an immediate 
decline, tobacco falling in thirty years by 37 
per cent, and wine by 47 per cent. Loss of 
trade follows loss of the flag. London, having 
become the political centre of gravity of Ireland, 
tends also to become her financial and commercial 
centre of gravity. There is a diminution of the 
productive, and a great increase of the parasitic 


classes. The home market slips away from the 
home manufacturer ; a sort of mania of exchange 
takes possession of the country ; and she imports 
much that she might produce at home, and ex- 
ports much that she might consume at home, 
paying ruinous tribute on both processes to the 
Shylocks of transit. It is a situation too sadly 
familiar to us all. M. Paul-Dubois' remedy, too, 
is familiar ; it is the programme of the men of 
1779 ^^'^ o^ ^^^ Industrial Pioneers of to-day. 
Use at home as many as you need of the things 
that are made at home, and make at home as many 
as possible of the things that are used at home. 
He neither anticipates nor desires any notable 
development of industry on the great scale, but 
looks for the prosperity of Ireland to progressive 
agriculture, and the smaller rural industries that 
come naturally to cluster around it. 

Such is, in bare outline, the diagnosis of 
Ireland made by this detached and sympathetic 
student. He touches upon many other subjects, 
upon that of Clericalism and Anti-Clericalism, 
with particular delicacy and insight. One may 
regret that, with his French experience, he does 
not discuss such problems as that now rising very 
definitely on the poUtical horizon : Does 
Ireland stand to gain or to lose by Protection ? 
One may find a fault of Une or of colour here and 
there, or chance on an irritating phrase. But on 
the whole and as a whole this is the best book 
that has been written in recent years on the 
problems of Ireland. The meaner journalism 



may seek in it for nothing better than party- 
capital. But the worker in any Irish movement, 
who possesses the supreme wisdom of humiUty, 
and who had rather be bettered than flattered, 
will be glad to have seen himself in M. Paul- 
Dubois' mirror. His last message is one of hope. 
He may, as his Conclusion shows, have under- 
rated the resolution of Ireland to secure integral 
Home Rule — a National Government being a 
delicate and intricate machine which cannot be 
set working in halves. He may, by times, have 
seemed to forget that there are many kinds of 
Conciliation, that, for instance, an infallible 
method of con ciUa ting a tiger is to aUow oneself 
to be devoured. But, as between us and our 
rulers, he gives his verdict, on the evidence, for 
Ireland and against England. And he fore- 
shadows a possible unification of all progressive 
parties on the Irish side, a tacit Concordat under 
which, on the sole condition that the national 
idea be not submerged or the national flag 
lowered in surrender, all progressive parties 
would come to regard themselves as but different 
regiments of the same Army of Advance. May 
that hope come true ! 



VX7"HY should all the bad verse be on the side 
* of the Act of Union ? That question 
forced itself on us all with fresh insistence this 
Summer when Mr. William Watson published, 
in Our leading Unionist daily, an Ode entitled 
Ireland Once More, in which he seemed to 
recant his old advocacy of the cause of freedom. 
The following reply appeared in the Evening 
telegraph under the title of Too Much Watson, 
on the day following Mr. Watson's poem. 
It is now submitted as an answer to the question 
with which this note begins. One should, 
perhaps, add by way of introduction that Mr. 
Watson counselled us, in the best tone of retro- 
spective sympathy, to forget the past, burn our 
national title-deeds, and throw our destiny 
in the hotchpot of Empire. Mr. Watson, 
in old days, was a specialist in the damnation of 
Abdul the Damned. His Ode will be found in 
the Irish Times of July 15, 19 10. 

Will Watson, of the still unanchored art ; 
What random gust, what overwhelming sea 
Has riven you apart 

From us, and from the flagship of the free ? 


You whose rich phrase, and vibrant, wont to be 
Trumpet and drum of onset and attack ; 
Who, when of Abdul's ways you stooped to 

sing, _ 
Would give us just the dire, full-throated 

thing ; 
Now, when that much-damned man has got 

the sack. 
You change your tune, and make to pipe us 

From honour, and the task of Liberty ! 
Why argue, though ? The plain position is 
Your are mistaken in your premises. 
You blind your sight uith hot, emotional 

Your way of thought is greatly too morose 
And moist and lachrymose. 
For us, a muddled State's last realists. 
We Irish, to be brief. 
Are nowise grievers for the sake of grief. 
I pray you, dry those sympathetic tears, 
They rust the will ; and, Will, your nation's 

Is no dead shame, meet to be covered in. 
But a live fact that sears. 
Cancel the past ? Soothly when it befalls 
That ye amend the present, and are just. 
- Go knock your head on Dublin Castle walls : 
Are they irrelevant, historic dust. 
Or a hard present-tense ? 
Searchtthrough the large print of the Statute 



For your much-valued Lords' benevolence, 

And, swept in vision westward, snatch a look 

At that dim land, where hunger claims to be 

The honoured guest in every family ; 

And the slain sun writes, in a scribble of shame, 

The word of utter Hell, Clanricarde's name. 

Go South and North ; 

Weep if you will along the dismal quays, 

Watching the unreturning ships go forth 

To fling our seed of strength and hope and 

In far, untributary ways. 
And then the soul is something — at least in 

Ours, poet, is to be a thing of straw, 
A stained numb thing, that sits without the 

Of yours, great master of the universe ? 
Most nobly planned ! But, Watson, there's 

a text — 
Done in stout English in King James's reign — 
Which says that souls are not to be annexed, 
Not for the whole world's gain. 
Cancel the past ! Why, yes ! We, too, have 

Of conflict crowned and drowned in olives of 

peace ; 
But when Cuchullin and Ferdiadh fought 
There lacked no pride of warrior courtesies 
And so must this fight end. 
Bond, from the toil of hate we may not cease : 
Free, we are free to be your friend. 


And when you make your banquet, and we 

Soldier with equal soldier must we sit, 
Closing a battle, not forgetting it. 
With not a name to hide. 
This mate and mother of valiant " rebels " 

Must come with all her history on her head. 
We keep the past for pride : 
No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb : 
No rawest squad of all Death's volunteers. 
No rudest man who died 
To tear your flag down in the bitter years, 
But shall have praise, and three times thrice 

When at that table men shall drink \^ith men. 



T^HE smell of the sea, so raw and stringent 
in a landsman's nostrils, brings thoughts 
with it and a strange spume of memories. To 
me it brings a perception of what people mean 
when they toss in the air that dusty adjective, 
" cynical." A cynic is a man who, finding 
himself, for all striving, incurably sad from the lips 
in, sets himself to be incorrigibly gay from the 
lips out. It is a triumph of will over tempera- 
ment, a way of courage, and, by times, even a 
way of nobleness. 

So it appears to me at least with the wash of the 
river about the bratthng boat. But why should 
cables and gangways, cranes and the throb of 
steam, waved white handkerchiefs and all that 
apparatus of adieu, set anyone framing definitions 
of " cynicism " ? It is because a dead French- 
man, who had not wit enough even to keep 
himself from being forgotten, a cynic as they 
say, one Brizeux, murmurs to himself in one of 
his comedies as I murmur to myself every time I 
leave Ireland : " Do not cry out against la 
fatrie. Your native land after all will give you 
the two most exquisite pleasures of your life, that 


of leaving her and that of coming back." He left 
many other sharp sentences along his way, but 
I only remember that of Cecile after she had 
transferred her affections. " And to think that 
six months ago I loved Alphonse ! Mon Dieu ! 
How he has changed ! " 

There are no taxis in my native city of Dublin. 
But the depressed jarvey who drove me to the 
North Wall knows that they are coming. He 
starts already in his dreams at the hoot of their 
horns. You cannot stand against science, he 
says : look at Corbett, and Tommy Burns, and 
Johnson. A man can't get bread at it nowadays, 
although, of course, " when a body meets a 
free-spoken, free-handed gentleman like yourself, 
sir ; none o' these mane divils that'd be re- 
sthrictin' you to your legal fare, mind you. . . ." 
The electric trams were bad enough, but this 
other would be the end. The Merrion Square 
doctors were good friends of the poor man, would 
think nothing of taking your car for two or three 
hours and leaving a sovereign in your palm, but 
first one got a motor and now they all have 
motors. What is one to say ? 

A member of Parliament ought to be a 
minister of consolation, at all events in matters 
of livelihood. All that occurs to me to tell my 
driver is that he is an element in an interesting 
transition in the organisation of transport. The 
domestication of horses created him and his 
tribe, the domestication of petrol is in course 
of blotting them out. Mr. Galsworthy will write 


a play on the subject and make us quiver un- 
helpfully ; and there is always the workhouse 
coffin to look to, and an absolutely gratuitous 
burial. Meantime, he had better be rehearsing 
his adieus. But it seems hardly worth while 
dropping that oil into his wounds. There will, 
one fears, be more hunger than dignity in his 
leave-taking. Semi-starvation, mitigated by a 
gay heart and an incessant tongue, will take him, 
and not gently, by the hand, and show him the 
Way Out. And by way of monument he shall 
have, perhaps, the one-ten millionth part of a 
paragraph in some economic history that will be 
written by some sociologist of Teutonic ex- 

An old woman, once questioned by a journalist, 
declared that the only bothersome thing about 
walking was that the miles began at the wrong 
end. Kant, who could talk to Time and Space 
like an equal, is dead, and so nobody will ever 
know what the old lady meant. I record the 
observation here merely because it sounds so 
horribly intelligent. 

But there is a constant heart-break in travel 
which comes from this that every departure is a 
sort of geographical suicide. To live anywhere 
even for an hour or a day is to become inwoven 
into a manifold tissue, material and spiritual. 
You cannot pluck yourself suddenly out without 
carrying a fringe of destruction, and it is your 
own personality that dies in every snapped fibre. 
Philosophers have thought of the soul as a 


spiritus — a rapid gust of breath blown along the 
worlds and quickly dissipated. In truth our 
conscious life is like a white drift of fog that leaves 
a vestige of itself clinging to every object that 
it passes. It is a sustained good-bye. I cannot 
reach any thought except by leaving another. 
Even so common and kindly an experience as 
dinner is not exempt from this spiritual succes- 
sion duty : your coffee is bitter with the unspoken 
adieus of the soup, and the fish, and the fowl, and 
the roast over whose graves you have marched 
to fulfilment. Life is a cheap table d'hote in a 
rather dirty restaurant, with Time changing the 
phtes before you have had enough of anything. 

We were bewildered at school to be told that 
w^alking was a perpetual falling. But life is, in 
a far more significant way, a perpetual dying. 
Death is not an eccentricity, but a settled habit 
of the universe. The drums of to-day call to us, 
as they call to young Fortinbras in the fifth act of 
Haffilet, over corpses piled up in such abundance 
as to be almost ridiculous. We praise the pioneer, 
but let us not praise him on wrong grounds. 
His strength lies not in his leaning out to new 
things — that may be mere curiosity — but in his 
power to abandon old things. All his courage is 
a courage of adieus. 

The romance of travel appealed to many in 
old days, and now, after menace of extinction, 
it has been conclusively restored by the Tariff 
Reform deputations. Others were light enough 
to think that no one can travel without striking 


one day upon the path of wisdom. But this 
cannot altogether be granted. We Leinstermen 
used to hit off the idealism of distance in a 
proverb : " All the cows in Connaught have 
long horns." Clarence Mangan was of the same 
mind : 

Moor, Eg-yptian, Persian, Turk, and Roman 
Tread one common downhill path of doom : 

Everywhere the v.'ord is man and woman, 
Everywhere the old sad sins find room. 

But Brizeux cuts deeper when he shows that 
the true value of going away is that it enables one 
to come back. I once knew a man who was com- 
missioned by a railway company to write a 
booklet on the attractions of certain towns, 
among others, Xyz. He produced this page : 
" Attractions of Xyz. Print here in large type 
all the trains by which it is possible to leave 
Xyz." He was a native of it, and in such a light 
must one's native place sometimes appear. You 
burn to break the monotone with a great shout, 
to shake its trivial dust off your feet, to strain 
to yours the throbbing bosom of life, to mix 
brooks and stars and art and love and youth into 
one crashing orchestra of experience. And then, 
when yovi have taken this wide way, you find 
yourself burning to come back to that native place 
of yours where, as you now remember, the water 
was more cordial than wine, and the women 
sweeter than angels. 

There is only one journey, as it seems to me. 


in this inweaving of parables and facts, in vvliich 
we attain our ideal of going away and going 
home at the same time. Death, normally 
encountered, has all the attractions of suicide 
without any of its horrors. The old woman when 
she comes to that road will find the miles begin- 
ning at the right end. We shall all bid our 
first real adieu to those brother-gaolers of ours, 
Time and Space ; and though the handkerchiefs 
flutter, no lack of courage will have power to 
cheat or defeat us. " However amusing the 
comedy may have been," wrote Pascal, " there 
is always blood in the fifth act. They scatter 
a little dust on your face ; and then all is over 
for ever." Blood there may be, but blood does 
not necessarily mean tragedy. The wisdom of 
humility bids us pray that in that fifth act we 
may have good lines and a timely exit ; but, fine 
or feeble, there is comfort in breaking the parting 
word into its two significant halves, a Dieu. 
Since life has been a constant slipping from one 
good-bye into another, why should we fear that 
sole good-bye which promises to cancel all its fore- 
runners ? 



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