AND HIS WORK
Vice-Provost of Eton College
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. SAN DIEGO
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THE MAN AND HIS WORK
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
ETON LETTERS (19I5-I918)
THE STORY OF CATAIXUS
VERSE ANCIENT AND MODERN
THE MAN AND HIS WORK
VICE-PROVOST OF ETON COLLEGE
SOMETIME FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
36 ESm STREET
First Published in 1922
M. E. C.
AND HIS SISTER
Look first upon this picture from Deuteronomy
xxviii, 67 : "In the morning thou shalt say, Would
God it were even ! and at even thou shalt say,
Would God it were morning ! " and then upon this,
which I owe to Arthur Benson, from " The Pilgrim's
Progress " : " The Pilgrim they laid in a large upper
chamber whose window opened towards the sun-
rising ; the name of the chamber was Peace, where
he slept till break of day, and then he awoke and
sang." You may make either picture true for
yourself ; it is for you to choose.
I wish to thank the editor of "The Times " for his
kindness in allowing me to use some part of a
former appreciation of M. Cou6, which he published
for me on March 27 th and 31st.
Cher Mr. Macnaghten,
Je serai tres heureux que vous ecriviez le petit
livre dont vous m'avez parle" et j'ajoute que je
vous en suis reconnaissant.
Londres, le 3 Avril, 1922
" That is that which I seek for, even to be rid of this
heavy burden, but to get it off myself I cannot, nor is there
any man in our country that can take it off my shoulders ;
therefore am I going this way as I told you that I may be
rid of my burden." — " The Pilgrim's Progress."
WHY I WENT TO NANCY
IT is always difficult to know how best to
begin. No sooner had I written these words
than I realized that I could hardly have made a
more disastrous start ; to talk of difficulty (ask
M. Coue) is to court failure, but my blunder is so
instructive an example of what we should avoid
that I will let it stand. Clearly the easiest way to
begin and the best will be to state as briefly as I
can the succession of events that led me to Nancy,
before I give some account of my experiences there,
and then pass to M. Cou6's latest visit to England.
A long series of accidents brought me to Nancy.
I first heard of auto-suggestion in July, 1921,
when somebody casually suggested to me that I
should try M. Coup's method for the cure of
insomnia. His name was at the time unfamiliar
to me ; and I rejected the suggestion, without a
moment's thought. Early in December a friend
x EMILE COUE
spoke to me of M. Coue and began to explain his
method. He had only got as far as the famous
formula, Tons les jours a tous points de vue je
vais de mieux en mieux, when I interrupted with
the rather obvious superficial criticism that I did
not see how the repetition of a false statement,
made twenty times, would help me, and dismissed
the subject. Soon after this I went abroad, in
search of sleep, in spite of Horace's warning that
" when o'er the world we range, 'tis but our
climate not our mind we change," which kept
ringing in my ears. In fact I was continually
making such harmful suggestions to myself, which
were almost invariably confirmed by the event,
for at that time I hc.d no idea that to have such
thoughts was simply to forge new chains which
would make it more and more impossible to escape
from the prison-house. In Italy I met a com-
passionate lady, to whom I confided my troubles,
not knowing that to talk of them was almost
inevitably to aggravate them. She lent me
Baudoin's book, which I found difficult and not
particularly helpful. To take only one instance,
it irritated me to find that the law of reversed
action was frequently alluded to, but never
adequately explained. Consequently, though I
managed to finish the book, it taught me little
(all my fault, I confess) and gave me little
encouragement. Then by a mere chance I was
introduced to another lady, who, I was told, had
been at Nancy and was eager to repay her debt
to M. Coue by helping others to share the benefit
which she had received from him. I soon proved
this to be entirely true. Every day, of her great
kindness, she devoted at least an hour to my
instruction, and though she found me a most
intractable patient she did at least succeed in
inspiring me with the desire of seeking M. Coue
himself. Indeed I actually looked out trains
and should have made the not inconsiderable
ddtour which a visit to Nancy involved had it
not been for an accident which made a direct
journey to England imperative. After my return
I slept no better, and at last I yielded to the
kindness of friends who made it easy for me to go
to Nancy, and I went. Starting at n a.m. and
travelling straight through from London, I reached
Nancy at 6.40 a.m. next morning : it would have
been possible but undesirable to arrive at 4 a.m.
(The return journey may be made in a day, because
the trains fit better ; it is possible to leave Nancy
at 9 a.m. and to reach Victoria at 10.40 p.m. the
same day.) On arriving at the hotel I was in-
formed that M. Coue had returned the day before,
and that he was to lecture at 9 a.m. in a distant
quarter of the town.
" That which we have seen and heard."
THERE was just time for bath and breakfast ;
we were too excited to feel tired, and we
were among the first to reach the little cottage con-
sisting of one room on the ground floor and one
upper room where M. Coue usually sees his patients,
or (shall we not say ?) his friends. The meetings
are held in the upper room, which is quite small :
if used as a dining-room, a table to hold six would
be as much as there is room for. As a matter of
fact quite twenty-four people are accommodated
somehow, either on chairs and camp-stools or on
the floor. In addition to the room itself there
is a half passage half ante-room, which holds
perhaps eight, and this also is usually full. Ven-
tilation is a difficulty ; a door must be open so
that those in the ante-room may not be excluded ;
consequently, to avoid a draught, which people
2 EMILE COUE i
generally but unwisely imagine to be dangerous,
the window is relentlessly shut. M. Coue himself
is, of course, thanks to self-mastery, almost
indifferent to any atmosphere, stifling or other-
wise. I suppose he says to himself, " I shan't
mind this, I shan't mind this at all, indeed I shall
rather like it," and his mind so readily falls in
with the suggestion that he would emerge from the
Black Hole of Calcutta itself quite unharmed.
The rest of us try to follow in his steps, and some
of us are actually surprised at our success in not
minding very much the airlessness, and worse
than airlessness, of the room ; we have said to
ourselves, " This is doing me good," or, if we shrink
from such an overstatement of the case, at any
rate, " This is doing me no harm " ; if we boggle
even at that, at least we can say of the discom-
fort, " It is passing," and before we have gabbled
this many times it actually passes. "It is
passing," as M. Coue reminds us, must be gabbled
because it is essential that we should not allow the
ambushed opposite thought, " It is not passing,"
to intrude itself and do the devil's work. By the
by, M. Coue's native French is obviously in this
instance preferable to English, for ga passe can
be gabbled far more effectively than "It is
And now perhaps the best way will be to give
a few details of the different conferences which I
attended. A more strangely assorted company
it would be hard to find. We seemed at first
sight to be separated almost all of us by an im-
measurable gulf from one another, yet it soon
became obvious that every one wished well to his
neighbour ; we all of us seemed to be inspired
by one spirit and that spirit was M. Coue's. I
remember hearing an English officer in France
say once, it was in January, 1919, " Every one
helps every one else out here ; one would never
think of doing it in England." Well, it was just
so in Nancy early in 1922 : every one in M. Coue's
presence took a genuine kindly interest in every
one else. I was amazed by the goodness which
I saw everywhere. It is comparatively easy to
mourn with those who mourn ; the difficulty is,
especially if you are feeling no better yourself, to
rejoice with those who are rejoicing in the gradual
return of health ; but in that room every one else
managed it, and this all-embracing sympathy
and universal goodwill were, I believe, no un-
important factors in the improvement which took
place day by day in almost every one. Doubtless
in many cases what our friends chiefly need for
the restoration of health and spirits is a little
kindness ; a sympathetic word is generally worth
far more than any tonic. But as a rule when we
4 EMILE COUE
fall ill and still have to go on with our work, we
become depressed and depressing ; inevitably
we are shunned ; for undeniably we are very
poor company, and we are fortunate indeed if
we possess any friends whom nothing will alienate,
however sorely they are tried.
In describing my own experiences at Nancy,
let me say at once that I witnessed no miraculous
cures, but although this disappointed me at the
time I now regard it as a positive advantage,
because it would be so easy to be biassed and misled
by a single exceptional case and consequently to
miss, or at least to misinterpret, the whole meaning
of M. Coue's work. Beyond doubt there have
been not a few instantaneous cures which might
be, and probably were, regarded as miracles by
the majority of those present at the time, but
M. Coue would never be one of this majority ;
he is never tired of affirming that he works no
miracles, all he claims is that he is able in most
cases to help us to cure ourselves. " I cannot
help you," he would say, " if you have broken an
arm or a leg ; in that case you will go, if you are
sensible, to a surgeon ; but I may be able to help
you to recover the use of a limb or an eye which
from the mere fact of long disuse has ceased to
act as a limb or an eye in being." It is true that
at times he has seemed to achieve much more
than this. A helpless cripple carried into the
room has left M. Coue's presence on his own feet,
cured and triumphant ; but the explanation is
simple ; the cripple had long ceased to believe
in the possibility of walking and therefore the
disbelief had translated itself into a real inability.
The moment that he believed M. Coue, who had
told him that he had the power of walking, that
moment he was able to walk. As he first walked,
shouting, " Je marche, je marche," and presently
ran round the room, doubtless he seemed to
himself a living and walking proof that miracles
do happen ; but to M. Coue he presented only
one more example of the truth that, what you
think, in the sphere of possibilities of course, tends
irresistibly to become true for you. At the
first conference we were about a dozen English
of the upper and upper-middle class and about
the same number of French, of whom the majority
were poor. As M. Coue goes his round and
questions each of those present, one by one, there
is plenty of evidence of human suffering in the
long but unmonotonous tale of various ills from
which the many patients are suffering. Yet
almost invariably the pervading tone is one of
hopefulness. The sceptic of yesterday is a little
less sceptical to-day, in another's eyes despair
is changing to a gleam of hope, my nearest neigh-
6 EMILE COUE
bour slept better last night than on any night
during the last ten years ; the woman next to
him says, " I feel a little better, but ." Here
M. Coue cuts her short, for " buts " spoil it all.
Almost every one was better, and there were no
miraculous cures. Some improvement, however,
took place before our eyes : one old man, who at
first could not raise his arm, ended, thanks to
much encouragement, by raining blows on M.
Coue's shoulder, though not, I must admit, as
vigorously as M. Coue himself would have desired.
Another man, with rheumatism in both knees,
after a little rubbing by M. Coue and many
repetitions of the ga passe formula, found himself
able to walk with comparative ease. Any such
visible improvement was infectious and we all
took courage. When M. Coue has made his
round and has said some words to each of us, he
tells us to close our eyes, and recites his gospel
of health ; we are just to listen without effort ;
a wise passiveness is best ; indeed, we may sleep
if we will, for our subconscious mind never sleeps
and never forgets, and so his words sink in. We
are to be very careful to eat slowly and turn our
food into a kind of paste before we swallow it ;
thus certainly, but only thus, will constipation
cease to be. We shall sleep soundly ; our dreams,
if we dream, will be pleasant ; troubles and worries
will melt away and we shall awake and sing ;
there will be no more fears, no more thoughts of
unkindness ; shyness and self -consciousness will
vanish. And how are we to win this great reward ?
Very easily it seems ; without effort. As soon
as we nestle on the pillow we are to close our eyes
and recite without stress, but just audibly, the
well-known formula some twenty times : " Every
day in every respect I grow better and better ; "
or, if we think that those things are better said
in French, " Tous les jours, a tous points de vue,
je vais de mieux en mieux." It seems childish,
does it not ? It is really childlike, and that is a
very different thing. And if we wish we can add
the childlike words, " par la grace de Dieu," or
" Thank God," and so turn it into a prayer. Does
this sound to you more like the Pharisee's prayer
than the Publican's ? To me it rather recalls
the Samaritan who of the ten healed of leprosy
alone returned to give thanks to God. When-
ever in the course of his little sermon M. Coue*
mentions a disability or sickness, from which
any one person in particular among his audience
is suffering, he approaches that person and touches
the part affected. One hardly realizes it as strange
that he should remember as he does the ailments
of some thirty persons, many of whom he is
seeing for the first time. Only very rarely he
8 EMILE COUE
makes a slip, as when, for instance, he touched a
, friend of mine on the thumb that was not gouty,
and said that very probably it would soon be
like the other. Thank goodness ! he is too
intensely human never to make a mistake, and he
will, I know, forgive me for hoping that in this
particular forecast he was mistaken. He is
himself as quick as lightning to take advantage
of any mistakes that his patients make in de-
scribing their own condition, and his quiet humour
is a constant source of delight. Nor are there
wanting humorous episodes. For instance, hardly
had M. Coue finished speaking of the certain
cure of constipation when the sufferer he had
been addressing hurried from the room, announc-
ing, with mingled surprise and triumph, that the
event was going to justify the prediction. These
things are said more easily, without offence, in
French ; there was only a little ripple of sym-
pathetic laughter while M. Coue smiled at the
startlingly sudden fulfilment of his promise.
Yet always M. Coue is careful to assure his audience
" I cure no one " ; all that he offers is his help
in teaching others to cure themselves. On Friday
there were two lectures in the afternoon, the
first by M. Coue himself and the second by his
friend and follower M. Rene" de Brabois. Let me
quote a single sentence which specially appealed
to me from the second lecture. Our friend (we
feel from the first moment that he also is our
friend) is speaking of sleeplessness. How is sleep
to be recaptured ? This is his answer : "Si vous
faites un mouvement pour l'attraper, il vous
echappera comme un oiseau," i.e., " Make ever so
slight a movement to capture sleep and it will
escape from you like a bird." It is fatal to call
in your will, to make an effort, to determine to go
to sleep. If you say " I will go to sleep," imagina-
tion will answer, " No, you won't " ; and by a
law which knows no varying the will yields to the
imagination. You must say, " I am going to
sleep," or better say it in French, " Je vais dormir,"
repeat it very quickly making the sound of a hum-
ming bee (comme une abeille qui bourdonne) over
and over again, but above all make no effort to
The next day the conference was at M. Coue's
own house, which is not more than a hundred yards
from the two-roomed cottage where we met the
day before. There are sixteen of us in the study,
but the door is left open and there are seven in
the passage outside. First of all, as his custom is,
he makes the round of the company, saying a few
words to each. There is a girl present who stam-
mers ; he tells us how, in his own experience, on
seven occasions the patient has been cured of
10 EMILE COUE
stammering on the spot, though " this," he is
careful to add, " is comparatively rare." Then
he goes on, " Just the mere sight of me ! that
sufficed to frighten away the stammer." M. Coue
does not try to be funny, but he is funny. Every-
thing of course sounds wittier in French, but there
is real humour iu such a question as : " Eh ! bien,
qu'est-ce qu'elle dit votre jambe aujourd'hui? "
" What does your leg say to-day ? " To return to
the patient; she says " I cannot help stammering; "
he says, think " I don't stammer any longer "
and you will cease to stammer. Just for one
moment I thought that " I came, I saw, I con-
quered " was to be realized, but it was not to be ;
there was an audible improvement, but the girl
was not cured on the spot. There was also present
another girl who, for twenty years, had been blind
in one eye. The blindness was the result of a
blow when she was only three years old ; for a
time the eye was really blind ; when it recovered,
its little mistress had learnt to do without it and
therefore never thought of using it, though it was
ready to be used. After twenty years, some six
weeks before our visit to Nancy, she had come to
M. Coue and had been taught to see. The eye
which, through no fault of its own, had been idle
for twenty years has not yet quite caught up its
more active mate, but it was not far behind
and has possibly made up the lost ground by
One other circumstance which may seem
trivial enough to others, particularly interested
me at this conference. All the time that M. Coue
was talking a lady translated for the benefit of
her neighbour who was ignorant of French.
Under ordinary circumstances this would have
been wildly irritating, but nobody seemed to mind
in the least. Was it because M. Coue" had inspired
us all with the idea that we are meant to help one
another whether at Nancy or elsewhere ?
Certainly he tries to infect the despondent with
the hopefulness of their neighbours, and not less
certainly he contrives to inspire, at least to some
extent, the feeling " each for all " among his
audience. My own violent prejudices were begin-
ning to disappear. I remember being intensely
provoked when I read that at the end of M. Coue's
little address the patient " opens his eyes and in-
variably smiles, with a look of satisfaction and
comfort on his face," and I vowed that at any rate
there should be one exception to this rule. But
the most foolish vows are sometimes broken, and
very certainly I broke mine. I think, too, that
if I had been told that M. Coue would smoke
little cigarettes while he was talking I should
have been prepared quite unreasonably (I hate
12 EMILE COUE
smoking) to take offence ; in fact, he did smoke a
good deal and it made no earthly difference.
Someone remarked to me, " M. Coue likes us a
good deal, considering that we are foreigners, but
those whorp he really loves are the poor." I do
not think that he distinguishes between poor and
rich in that way. Both will find him equally their
friend. Socrates, I suppose, preferred the rich ;
the poor had the greater need of Christ, and for
that reason, perhaps, may have had His preference.
But then there was the rich young man whom
He loved. Certainly M. Coue is no respecter of
persons. Young and old, rich and poor are
equally welcome. Sometimes rather battered
specimens of elderly humanity present themselves,
but M. Coue seemed hardly less hopeful of age
than of youth, and no one was sent empty away.
It is never too late to hope for amelioration even
if complete cure is impossible. Old age is not a
fatal disability : M. Coue makes no secret of his
own sixty-five years, but hopes to work harder in
the next ten years than even he has ever worked
before. It is difficult for those who marvel at his
untiring cheerfulness and wit, his boundless sym-
pathy, and the triumphant repartees which sweep
away the querulous objections of some who seem
almost unwilling to be cured ; it is difficult even
for those who have often lectured and preached
themselves to realize how much it costs to give so
lavishly to others. And M. Coue is daily spending
himself on each of his audience, asking as his one
and only reward that in their own cure they should
give him such assistance as they can.
Very rarely is he disappointed of this most
reasonable expectation. There was, however, one
young woman who appeared to me intentionally
unintelligent. After a while M. Coue reached, I
think, the same conclusion and simply left her
alone. One man was almost defiantly incredulous,
but this man had fought well in the war and
naturally that fact would cover a multitude of
sins. In any case M. Coue seemed determined to
help him in spite of himself, but whether he was
successful or not I do not know.
NANCY OR LONDON ?
" But above all the warm and joyful thoughts which
they had about their own dwelling there with such
company." — " The Pilgrim's Progress."
I HAVE tried to give the impression which I
myself received from the conferences in 186
rue Ste- Jeanne d'Arc, and the little cottage in
the lane which is just behind it. Naturally I
shall be asked " Is it necessary to go to Nancy if
M. Coue can be seen in London ? " I answer " It
all depends." You may be curable almost at sight
or your sickness may be of long standing, deeply
ingrained. I am sixty years old and Nancy was
a necessity for me : even so it was touch and go.
I had wonderful luck in the company of a sister
and the presence of a friend, but I came away
sleeping no better, perhaps actually worse than
before : yet I did not come away without the
sure and certain hope of recovery. But you will
say, " M. Coue is the only one who really matters
and he must always be the same." I do not agree ;
surroundings help, and friends help, and M. Coue
NANCY OR LONDON? 15
is a power everywhere, but at Nancy most of all ;
inspiring as he is in 20 Grosvenor Gardens, he is
far more inspiring in his study at 186 rue Ste-
Jeanne d'Arc, and most inspiring of all in the little
cottage some 50 yards away across the lane at
the back of his own house. Is it not natural that
this should be so ? Consider. To go to Nancy
at all involves some effort and some expense.
Your object in going is to win a new peace or a
new something ; your doctor has very likely
suggested that you require a change ; vaguely
you dream that you are going to have the glorious
chance of a fresh start, and with everything new
around you there is a greater probability that
your dream will come true. Nancy itself is a
charming town : very likely your hotel will be
in the Place Stanislas, and in spite of some rather
fidgety ornamentation the whole effect of the
Square is charming. A good tram will take you
in less than an hour to the junction of the Marthe
and the Moselle ; all these things help. Certainly,
as I left the Place Stanislas and took my way
past the market-place to the rue Ste- Jeanne d'Arc,
distant about two kilometres, I felt a thrill which
I can never imagine myself feeling if I had taken
the train from Windsor to Paddington and the
bus to 20 Grosvenor Gardens. Inevitably, too,
M. Coue himself must feel more at home to talk
16 EMILE COUfi
French uninterruptedly than to check the flow
of his thoughts and words every other minute
while the last half-dozen sentences are being
translated into English. Nor is the audience quite
as helpful in England as in France. At Nancy
there are very poor peasants sitting next to great
English ladies, and they all talk together as
naturally and simply as if they were old friends :
possibly it is a proof of vulgarity in me that this
strikes me as unusual ; it ought of course to be
the ordinary thing, but is it our English way ?
There, too, we have, if not all things, at least one
friend in common, who binds us each to each.
This might equally be possible in London ; but
we do not think it possible, and therefore for us
it is not true ; and with the old associations all
around us those of us who have learnt to acquiesce
in captivity and almost to hug our chains inevitably
find it very difficult to leave the prison-house, even
though the door be no longer barred.
M. COU£ AT ETON
(Reproduced from the "E.C.C." by kind permission of the Editors)
MCOUfi reached England on Saturday,
• March 25, and gave his first lecture, at
Eton, on the following day. The School Library
was full, perhaps overfull, and yet hardly more
than half the boys who applied for places could
be admitted, in spite of the announcement that
the lecture was to be in French and was to last
nearly three times as long as Sunday Private.
Some may have doubted whether even M. Coue
would be able to hold his audience for so long;
but any such doubts were quickly dispelled. A
few simple and charming experiments based on
the fact that it is impossible to think two things
at once proved to us that after clasping your
hands you cannot separate them, however much
you wish to do so, while thinking all the time
" I cannot do it " : you can do just what you
think you can do. It follows that if you think
you cannot speak without stammering you will
continue to stammer, and if you expect not to
sleep your expectation will be fulfilled. Virgil
meant much the same thing when he said of his
18 EMILE COUE
rowers, who were rapidly gaining on their rivals,
" they can because they think they can." How
obvious it sounds, and how thrillingly interesting
it was, as M. Coue drove his points home, proving
that not the will but the imagination is the supreme
force : always, however, the first step lies with
the will, which before it abdicates must set the
imagination working in the right direction.
Probably some doubted, and possibly some
mocked : certainly, as the ninety minutes all too
quickly went by, the audience became more and
more inspired by the lecturer, while beauty born
of murmuring sound ca-passed into our faces !
Pardon, mesdames, messieurs. Puns are a simple
outrage, but seriously why is it that French
esprit is so much more charming than English
wit ? For a single proof contrast the dull offen-
siveness of to take French leave with the light
gaiety of s'esquiver a Vanglaise. To return to the
lecture. There were no sensational cures : why
should there be ? Occasionally they just happen ;
but they are really a hindrance to an intelligent
appreciation of M. Coue's teaching. Self-mastery
based on recognition of the power of the imagina-
tion is the thing that matters. Quite unsensa-
tional is the truth which M. Coue" brought home
to most of us, and it is tins : there is no need of
miracle, but much need of the simple common
M. COUE AT ETON 19
sense which is so sadly uncommon. If we eat
slowly, if we never worry, if we look on the bright
side of things, if our thoughts are sane and whole-
some, if we use the childlike formula which he
suggests, then indeed we shall be happy children,
and every day in every respect we shall be growing
better and better. We are just to go on from
strength to strength, always rejoicing and never
worrying about the morrow — perhaps we have
read^all this before in another book, but is it any
the*worse for that ? Rather we may be thankful
that M. Coue working on his own lines has reached
very similar conclusions. There is no doubt that
he has reached them independently. But, say
some, " Life is meant to be difficult and M. Coue
tries to make it easy. One ought to feel tired,
and M. Coue says himself that he is never tired."
Ought we to feel tired ? Are you sure of that ?
Anyhow, what M. Coue says of himself is quite
true. And why ? Because M. Coue makes a
point of going to sleep just when he is on the
edge of being tired. " I wish / could," you say ;
" / often have to go on working long after I am
tired out; and, anyhow, what about the labours
of Hercules ? wasn't he tired ? " Listen. Last
Sunday M. Coue reached Eton at 12. He lectured
from 12.15 to 1.40. He then gave advice to a
few who stayed behind to consult him for ten
20 EMILE COUE
minutes. Lunch in Hall from 2 to 2.30. No, till
2.40, for (N.B.) M. Coue reduces his food to a
pulp before swallowing it. From 2.45 — 3.30 he
walks to visit a father who wishes to consult him
about his little son. Then 3.30 — 4.15 follows a
conference, an address to some twenty people,
most of whom are sufferers and wish for help.
Then from 4.15 to 4.55 in another room M. Coue
talks to and interests and delights some twenty
people, mostly boys ; 5 — 5.55 chapel. From 6
to 6.25 he is busy helping two boys who come to
consult him, and sends them away full of hopeful-
ness and happiness. From 6.30 to 7.5 he visits
an Eton house, and talks to half a dozen boys.
Remember, he is explaining a new and unfamiliar
subject, and that requires concentration, does it
not ? Dinner from 7.15 to 7.45, and at 8 M. Coue
is on his way back to London because a sufferer
there has been promised his help, and he never
fails anyone. His host, who is very tired, though
he has only been looking on and listening with
delight, asks him, " But are you not tired ? "
" Comment, fatigue ? " answers M. Coue ; " je
ne suis jamais fatigue." And the amazing thing is
that this startling paradox is the simple truth. The
explanation is this. You can always think you are
not tired, and, if you have complete self-mastery,
always it becomes true for you. Always within the
M. COIIE AT ETON 21
limits of what is humanly possible Men entendu.
There may come a call, when on the edge of being
tired you have just gone to sleep, and, if it come,
you are bound to obey though you pass the boun-
dary of very nearly being tired. Naturally there
must be some limit to endurance, and you will
always avoid over-stepping it if you possibly can :
always, unless duty calls you : then you will obey.
No one can afford to laugh at a system which
teaches such lessons and produces such results.
One word more. Now, as in the days of Thucy-
dides, things quickly win their way to the fabulous.
Two instances will suffice. A master here is re-
ported in the papers as cured : what he actually said
was that he had ceased to feel pain at the moment.
Again, on Tuesday evening the papers reported the
startling cure of a paralysed man : what he himself
said was that he had on previous occasions been able,
now and then, to do quite as much as he had just
done in M. Coue's presence. " What truth was ever
told the second day ? " Even in the second minute
the truth is often perverted beyond recognition.
But after all we have not yet thanked M. Coue\
We do thank him very gratefully, but the grati-
tude which he will value most will be not the
homage of ourjips, but the daily growth in faith,
hope, and that all-embracing charity of which he
is himself the most illustrious example.
M. COU£ IN LONDON
" Among new men, strange faces, other minds."
IT was inevitable that I should wish to hear
M. Cou^ in London, although, or, rather,
perhaps, because I had so lately returned from
Nancy. Would the conferences in Grosvenor
Gardens produce anything like the same effect
as those in the rue Ste- Jeanne d'Arc ? That was
what I wanted to discover. We left Eton early
and walked across the park from Paddington
(which is always a delightful thing to do), for we
were determined to give London every possible
chance. We arrived half an hour before the time
fixed for the second conference, but people were
already gathering and it was quite interesting to
stand and watch. At 11.30 the first conference
was over and there was considerable excitement
as the inner room emptied ; it was noised abroad
that a paralysed man had walked. The next
day we read in the papers that " The story of a
paralysed man who had recovered power over
M. COUE IN LONDON 28
his limbs was quoted excitedly in many parts of
Wigmore Hall." Actually the patient said, not
in the presence of M. Coue, but afterwards in the
ante-room, " Sometimes I can do things and some-
times I can't. M. Cou^ did not help me to do
more than I have sometimes done myself before."
M. Cou6 of course did not hear this said, he had
seen only the great advance which his patient
had made in his presence. Consequently, there
was a slight misunderstanding, no misinterpreta-
tion. For M. Cou£ always faces the facts and is
much more likely to depreciate than to exaggerate
his own success. Before long all the ticket-holders
had passed into the inner room and the second
conference had begun. There were about thirty
of us (I did not actually count) in a room which
was slightly larger and very much loftier than
the little parlour at Nancy ; something too of
the same spirit, due to M. Coue's influence,
prevailed ; people spoke freely of their troubles
and were genuinely anxious to help one another ;
in particular one lady who asked to be enabled
to conquer her fits of crossness won the sympathy
of us all. But something, inevitably I think, was
lacking. It costs much more (not only in money)
to go to Nancy, and the reward is greater in
proportion to the greater cost. If you have been
obeying wrong auto-suggestions for nearly sixty
24 EMILE COUE
years and bad habits have become ingrained, you
had better go to Nancy should it be possible.
That will give you all the chances, and probably
you will need them all. A young man or a young
woman may very likely get the help they need
from M. Coue\ in a few minutes, anywhere. One
such, an old Etonian, writes to me after a single
short talk with M. Coue, " I cannot tell you how
much better I feel and how much more cheerful.
I slept so well last night that I was half an hour
late for breakfast this morning : I hope soon to
be able to return to work. No words can ade-
quately express my gratitude."
I wished to attend one public meeting at
Wigmore Hall, and the kindness of Miss Richardson
enabled me to do so. I received her telegram just
as I was sitting down to lunch ; by missing it and
running for a fly I reached Slough with two minutes
to spare and Wigmore Hall just five minutes
before the lecture began. It was in English and,
though M. Coue" speaks English far more distinctly
than I speak French, he was not audible to one-
third of those present, and their disappointment,
though silent, could, in some mysterious way, be
felt. Quite apart from this, French well spoken
is a very lovable thing : inevitably there is a
comparative absence of attractiveness in laboured
English, for which even the lecturer's smile and
M. COUE IN LONDON 25
unfailing charm could not wholly atone. All
M. Coue's experiments were brilliantly successful,
yet the lecture itself just missed being a triumphant
success and a few among the audience left before
the close. But after the lecture it was most
moving to see many men and women crowding
to the stage in the hope of winning one personal
word from M. Coue\ My thoughts went back to
the day when the sick were brought into the streets
" that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might
overshadow some of them." M. Cou6, though
shortly due at St. Dunstan's, did all that was
possible to satisfy them. One nobly importunate
nurse, regardless of herself and anxious only to
win some medicinal word for the patient under her
charge, had her reward, I am thankful to say, in
seeing him cheered in soul and comforted. But
at last the door had to be shut, and gradually the
few who still lingered outside turned and went.
Then we too left the hall and crossed the road to
call on Mr. Ernest Debenham, who gave us tea
and took us in his motor to St. Dunstan's ; and
on the way there I had a very pleasant surprise,
for suddenly M. Coue said to me, " I feel as if I
had known you for forty years." And I, for my
part, could have answered truly, that I felt as if
my own life had begun anew just seven weeks ago
at 9 a.m., when I saw M. Coue for the first time
26 EMILE COUE
in the little upper room at Nancy. I hope and
pray that to such a feeling $a passe does not apply.
The room at St. Dunstan's held probably not half
as many people as Wigmore Hall ; it was a simpler
place with noble and tender associations, and here
for the first time I recovered the old feeling of
" each for all " which I used to have at Nancy.
I had to leave just before the end, but as I ran
through the sleet to catch a taxi I felt that this
last glimpse of M. Coue's work had been almost
the best of all. It is no wonder that I had this
feeling as I came from such a gathering. It was
" asking both his eyes of him," said Cromwell of
some impossible demand, and these men had made
that very sacrifice.
THE SUB-CONSCIOUS SELF
A. " The outcropping of the Unconscious." — Baudoin.
B. " And none but he who watches them from birth,
The Genius, guardian of each child of earth,
Born when we're born, and dying when we die.
Now storm, now sunshine, knows the reason why."
C. " The Little Minister." — J. M. Barrie.
SOME of my readers will think and say
that my first quotation is nonsense. I
know that is not the fact, but I entirely agree with
them in thinking that such jargon is a hindrance
rather than a help to ordinary men and women.
The second quotation is the standard passage
(i.e., our main source of information) on that
elusive and mysterious person whom the Romans
called the Genius. What exactly do we learn
from this passage about this Genius ? First, he
is always with us from birth and dies with us ;
secondly, he rules our life ; thirdly, he is so im-
portant as to be called (in the original) the God of
human nature ; fourthly, he dies when we die ;
fifthly, he is liable to change his expression ;
28 EMILE COUE
lastly, sometimes he looks bright (literally white)
and sometimes black. If all this is true, our Genius
must surely be a very remarkable person and we
ought to know something about him. What fun
it would be if the Genius, of whom Horace was
writing some years before Christ was born,
should prove to be an alias of the very modern
sub-conscious self. Let us look a little closer.
What is it that we know about this sub-conscious
self ? Who is he, and what is his work ? I am
far from being an authority on the subject, but
this is how it was explained to me, and it is at least
a simple and intelligible explanation. Clearly we
do not consciously direct the various processes on
which our life depends : we do not look after our
digestion or our breathing. If we take thought
for either of these we shall make a sad mess of it,
but, if we do not take thought for these things,
who does ? Very certainly someone is busy
looking after them, and on the whole he does his
work well, especially when we are young. If he
does his work badly we suffer at once because
then everything inside us begins to go wrong ;
hence come gout, constipation, insomnia, in short
the whole miserable crowd of sicknesses. The
obvious way is to consult the doctor, and it is often
a very good way. Never forget that if you have
broken anything it is the only way. The only
THE SUB-CONSCIOUS SELF 29
way ; but you can help or hinder to any extent
by looking on the bright or the dark side of things.
Is it not delightfully simple ? But some people
dislike simple remedies as unworthy of their
dignity and prefer a doctor's bill. Naaman, for
instance, you will remember, was indignant at
the thought of bathing in Jordan, not because it
is a muddy, rocky torrent (that would have been
reasonable enough), but because to bathe in Jordan
after all the trouble he had taken seemed to him so
ludicrous an anti-climax. Always then remember
that there are some ills which you can cure for
yourself without expense far better than anyone
else can cure them for you at vast expense ; and
never forget that even with the best London
doctor at your bedside there is still a great deal
that you can do to help yourself and him. Con-
stipation, gout, insomnia you can cure without
any help at all, if only in the first place you will be
sensible and law-abiding (Nature's Laws are not to
be broken with impunity), and if in the second
place you can manage your unconscious self and
enable him to do his work. (If this sounds rather
like Alice in Wonderland, it is none the worse for
that.) Now, luckily, this unconscious self is most
anxious to please you ; he is also very impression-
able, and at every moment is influenced by you,
so that if you say or even think, " I am ill," un-
30 EMILE COUE
fortunately for you, he always believes you, and
then things all go wrong, just as, when you said
or rather thought, " I am quite well," everything,
thanks to him, went on quite well inside you.
Never say then or think that everything is all
wrong or that you are hopelessly tired, or anything
dismal of any kind ; if you do, your little servant,
the sub-conscious, will overhear you and take your
word for it, and hurry round to tell the nerves
and veins, discouraged and discouraging, and
then everything will go wrong indeed, and the
worst of it will be that you will have thoroughly
deserved your fate. Of course it is not really fate
at all, but just your own fault, your own most
grievous fault ; and you are in fact the most
miserable sinner, only you must never say or think
so, for if you do you will discourage him all the
more. And I say this not unmindful of our
Church's Litany. We shall almost have won the
battle as soon as we have realized that " the
fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in our-
selves," therefore think of Barrie and the stars.
Sursum corda et caudas, i.e. "up with your hearts
and your tails," but it sounds much funnier
in Latin. The joke is not mine, worse luck ; it
belongs to a great historian who lives at Oxford.
But I give it to you, and I must add just this,
I cannot bring myself to talk of the outcropping of
THE SUB-CONSCIOUS SELF 31
the sub-conscious (or unconscious) self ; I do so
love the little words. So let us borrow three little
golden words which Barrie will never miss from
his inexhaustible treasury and for the future talk,
not of the sub-conscious self, but of " The Little
Minister." You won't mind, dear Barrie, will
ON SOME STUMBLING BLOCKS
" Every morning before rising and every evening as
soon as you are in bed, you must shut your eyes, so as
to concentrate your attention, and repeat twenty times
consecutively, moving your lips (that is indispensable)
and counting mechanically on a string with twenty knots
in it, the following phrase, " Every day in every respect I
am getting better and better.' "
UNDOUBTEDLY these words have proved
a stumbling-block to many ; we seem to
have passed from the world of common sense into
the fairyland of charms and incantations. But
is it really so ? Consider. I am going to be
supremely bold and to speak for M. Coue\ I
have never asked him about this, so I alone am
responsible for the explanation ; but I have no
doubt whatever that he would smile approval.
I say then that it is not indispensable to repeat
twenty times " Every day in every respect I am
getting better and better," much less to move
your lips or shut your eyes, if, without any of
these external aids, you can put yourself into the
right condition of mind just before you go to sleep.
What is indispensable is that just before you fall
ON SOME STUMBLING BLOCKS 83
asleep your thoughts should be full of health and
happiness, because in that case your unconscious
self will continue to have such thoughts all the
night long, and then at morning you will " awake
and sing." And on waking it is indispensable
that your first thoughts should be of health and
happiness, because a good start is all important
for a good day. If then you can achieve these
results just by thinking, without the help of
formulae and moving lips and closed eyes, if in
fact you are a very superior person, M. Coue* will
not grudge you your superiority. But the rest of
us will find M. Coup's is the easiest and safest way,
especially as absence of effort is indispensable.
We shall therefore, as good children, continue
saying " Every day in every respect I am getting
better and better," though we shall not fail to
realize as sane men and women that it is the
condition of mind and not the repetition of
formulae which is responsible for the daily im-
ON SOME PASSAGES IN ENGLISH
Can we derive any illustration of M. Coup's
views from modern English poetry ? Already in
his delightful way " Mr. Punch " has pointed out
84 EMILE COUES
that we may find it necessary to rewrite many
passages, and it is surely worth our while to con-
sider the question seriously, because it will help
us to discover whether we really understand
M. Coup's view. First, then, let us take "The
Grammarian's Funeral." It cannot, I think, be
denied that the paradoxical truth of Browning's
"This high man aiming at a million
Misses a unit,"
will, in M. Coup's view, cease to be true at all
unless we are careful to make the necessary
qualifications. It remains indeed true that we
shall hardly fail to jump a foot or two, if we wish
to do so, and it remains even more certainly true
that we shall never jump to the rainbow's edge,
however much we may desire it. But on the other
hand should we aim at jumping twenty feet we
shall have a better chance of achieving this than we
shall have of jumping ten or five feet, or even a
single foot, if we are absolutely convinced that we
are incapable of such a modest achievement.
For, if we really believe that we are unable to jump
even the millionth part of an inch, our belief will
translate itself into reality, and we shall remain
rooted to the spot, unable to jump at all. So let
us be the high man (if we believe Browning to be
right in his preference for the high man) and aim
ON SOME STUMBLING BLOCKS 85
at a million ; for after all (if we take M. Coup's
word), provided the thing lies within the limits of
what is humanly possible, we shall not miss it.
Next let us take for our consideration Henley's
glorious poem, " Invictus." You will remember
that it begins —
" Out of the night that covers me.
Black as the pit . . ."
(Here let me say that I have no fear of your making
the blunder which was once actually made by a
boy in my division, who thought that " black as
the pit " referred not to " the night," but to
" me," and that the writer was a negro.) A little
later came the fine words,
" Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed."
That is the spirit of the whole poem — it is a
defiance of Fortune, a challenge flung in the teeth
of Fate. And it ends with the words,
" I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul,"
which none of us can read without a thrill. Butwhat
will be M. Coup's verdict on this poem ? Clearly
he will say of the last two lines that they are an
epitome of his own teaching ; but on the other
hand it is not less clear that he will question the
necessity for the " bloody head," and affirm
86 EMILE COUE
that the blackest night will, if we think that it
will, break out into stars.
Let me give you one more example taken from
the best-known poem of the best-known living
poet, Mr. -Rudyard Kipling. I have always
loved and admired " If ". I have kept it
framed in my room ; but I have always regarded
it as an impossibly high ideal, a mere counsel of
perfection. And suddenly, only the other day,
I realized that I had seen and spoken to and
known the man whom Mr. Kipling foresaw. M.
Coue\ under just such circumstances as the poet
describes, has kept his head; he has trusted
himself when others laughed at him; he has
waited for recognition till he was over sixty ; he
hasn't lied ; he hasn't hated ; he hasn't looked
too good or talked too wise. I heard him say of
himself, '* I am not a very clever fellow," at St.
Dunstan's, only a few days ago. He has talked
with crowds in Wigmore Hall and elsewhere.
Virtue has gone out of him, but he hasn't lost it
(though that is not quite what the poet meant) ;
he has dined at the houses of two ambassadors
on two successive days, which is nearer than most
of us ever get to walking with kings ; very cer-
tainly he has not lost the common touch. (This
last sentence sounds vulgar, and I will to erase
it, but I think it apposite, and therefore keep it,
ON SOME STUMBLING BLOCKS 37
if only as one more proof that Imagination always
triumphs over Will.)
He still fills " the unforgiving minute with
sixty seconds' worth of distance run," and is
never out of breath ; assuredly " the earth and
everything that's in it " belongs to the man who
looks upon the whole world as his parish — and
who else is this, in our days, but M. Coue ? It
all agrees exactly, except just these four lines
which I have omitted and left to the end on
" If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them ' Hold on I ' "
You will realize at once, if you have understood
this little book, why this could never be said of
or by M. Coue. It is magnificent, certainly, to
say it, but it is not the best or the surest way of
winning the battle of life. Rather, if to the very
end you can keep your heart and sinew, and the
Will to think that there is Everything in you still,
you will achieve at less cost greater results, and
you will not be less heroic if (should there never
come to you an imperative call to die for others)
you live on, very happily, for others as well as for
yourself, and, when the time comes at long last for
dying, die in that happiness.
M. COU£ IN HIS RELATION TO
" He that is not against us is for us." — St. Luke be. 30
SOME people regard M. Coue as the founder
of a new religion. It is a mistake. M. Cou6
is the apostle of common sense ; he is not intro-
ducing a new religion or any substitute for religion ;
he would say to us, " Be Protestants or Catholics,
be Bhuddists or Mohammedans, be what you will :
it does not concern me whether you are zealots
or Freethinkers : I only desire that all of you, from
every point of view, Catholic, Nonconformist, or Ag-
nostic, may grow daily better and better." In spite
of this no one can know much of M. Coue" with-
out being conscious of some very obvious affinities
between him and the Founder of Christianity.
Both have a message for the sick ; both labour
for others, asking for no reward except the pleasure
that comes from doing kindnesses ; both give a
new meaning and a new life to old phrases ; both
go wherever they are invited, making no distinc-
tions ; both enjoy the simple good things of life ;
IN HIS RELATION TO CHRISTIANITY 39
both have a message ; both believe that message
to be the truth ; both are full of humour, full of
compassion ; and both arouse intense enthusiasm.
Finally, Christ attributed comparatively slight
importance to miracles, and M. Coue" says expressly
" there is no miracle at all." It is true that when
a paralytic is cured on the spot, when he rushes
to the window of the little upper room in Nancy,
when he shouts to the people who are gathering
for the next conference in the courtyard below,
" Je marche, je marche," our thoughts go back
nearly two thousand years to the beautiful gate
of the Temple where a certain man, lame from his
mother's womb, at Peter's word, leaping up,
" stood and walked and entered with them into
the Temple, walking and leaping and praising
God." But the resemblance between the New
Testament miracles and the work of M. Cou6 is
superficial, the distinction fundamental. I do not
know, though I think I know, what M. Coue" would
say about the passage I have just quoted : of
the paralytic cured at Nancy every one knows
that he has said it was no miracle ; indeed for
M. Cou£, as for Matthew Arnold, miracles do not
exist. The cures which are so astonishing as to
seem miraculous are everyday occurrences. The
miracles of Christ as reported in the Gospels,
whether we accept or reject them, stand on an
40 EMILE COUE
entirely different footing, and cannot be explained
away in the sense in which this particular miracle
of Acts iii might be explained away, and in
which M. Coue is himself the first to explain away
his own miracles. If we accept as truth the
evidence of the Gospels, so much the better for
us ; if we cannot accept it as truth, we can at
worst illustrate by the growth of misrepresentation
in those days the exaggerations or distortions
which are now daily giving us fables in place of
facts, in spite of M. Coue's own devotion to the
truth. This process of distortion is not of to-day
or yesterday. Look for a moment at the chapter
in the Acts which precedes the miracle which we
have been discussing. You will find a flagrant
instance of distortion there : read Chapter II,
verses 1-13, as they are always read in church,
without a word of comment, as a record of histori-
cal fact; what nonsense it is ! The gift of tongues
apparently conferred on the Apostles, the power
of speaking in some dozen languages of which
they were hitherto completely ignorant. This is
indeed a miracle for miracle's sake, a thing to make
men and women gape with admiration. And all
for nothing. The Apostles, of course, needed
only one language, for the knowledge of Greek
would take them everywhere ; the other eleven
languages they might forget at their leisure and
IN HIS RELATION TO CHRISTIANITY 41
be none the worse, if only they kept their Greek.
Besides, St. Paul who knew the facts tells us all
about the gift of tongues, which, by the by, he
rather depreciates. No wonder, since to speak with
tongues was to use a cento of shreds and patches
of speech with so little distinction in the sounds
that the performance, as St. Paul tells the Corin-
thians, was likely to strike the ordinary man as
destitute of decency and order. " Will they not
say that you are mad ? " Of course they will ;
in fact they did, mad or mad-drunk, or " These
are not drunken," St. Peter remonstrates, " as
you suppose." The explanation given in Acts
is ludicrous. Bracket, or, better, erase five and
a half verses from " because that every man
heard them speak in his own language " in the
middle of verse 6 down to the end of verse u,
and then you have a perfectly reasonable story
which agrees with St. Paul's account and we are
quit of a wild and wanton miracle. Yet these
same five and a half verses are actually read in
every church as gospel (or rather epistle) truth
without any apology (defence is out of the question),
without even a word of explanation, although
every thinking man and woman in the congre-
gation must know the interpolation to be non-
sense, for of course the offending verses must have
been interpolated. If St. Luke wrote them, when
42 EMILE COUE
he might for asking have had the true account from
St. Paul, he was a careless third-rate author,
whereas in fact he belongs to the little company of
great historians. Further, if this is not an inter-
polation, it follows that the early chapters of Acts,
before the author became an eye-witness, are not
merely comparatively, but almost absolutely,
valueless as evidence. Incidentally what are
we to say of the annual infliction of this absurdity
on yearly dwindling congregations ? Surely it
is the assumption that the church-going public
will stand anything, which explains, in part, why
it is that year by year the congregations dwindle.
But will my readers stand this long digression ?
Perhaps they may, if it helps them to see how
easily the truth about M. Coue" may be distorted.
When once they have realized this they will not
lightly be misled into believing that miracles
have not had their day ; rather they will sift
every story and, if themselves present, they will
wisely discount the almost inevitable enthusiasm
which leads the sufferer, who is being temporarily
relieved, to think, and perhaps to say, that he has
been miraculously cured.
Have we any right to ask what view M. Coue
himself takes of the miracles of Christ ? We
may, I think, without offence conjecture that
he would say, " I am so busy with the work which
IN HIS RELATION TO CHRISTIANITY 48
I believe I was sent into the world to do that I
really have no time to study the evidence for and
against Christ's miracles." (This, by the by, would
be not unlike the answer which Socrates made,
when Phaedrus asked him, " Do you believe
these tales ? " "I might give," he answered,
" a rationalizing explanation, but such an ex
planation would require much labour and much
ingenuity, and I have really no time for such
enquiries.") And some future day some dis-
ciple of M. Coue, less wise, less busy, and rasher
far, may rush in and answer that the miracles of
Christ are no miracles : they can all be explained
away quite naturally. Blind men were cured, just
as a girl blind of one eye was cured at Nancy ;
lame men walked, just as the paralysed man at
Nancy walked ; the miracles of feeding can be
explained quite as easily in a slightly different
way. Christ said to the multitude, " Imagine
you are not hungry, imagine you have just had
supper." They used their imagination at his
word and felt that he had fed them. And so on.
The raising of Lazarus is to be explained as Renan
explained it. And so on. And what shall we
answer ? " Best be still," as Mr. Arnold counsels ;
or, if our silence is liable to be misinterpreted, may
we not answer this ? The miracles have little
importance ; Christ Himself set small store upon
44 EMILE COUE
them in comparison with His words. The things
that matter are the Sermon on the Mount, the
parable of the Prodigal Son, the story of the
woman taken in adultery. The man born blind,
though his eyes were opened by a miracle, did
not believe in the Son of God till Jesus talked
with him. Then he said, " Lord, I believe." And
he worshipped Him." If you ask me whether
I believe in Christ's miracles, I might answer that
I do not know. I prefer to say that "nothing
is impossible with God," and to add that " I will
take Christ's word, if I can be certain that it is
Christ's word, for anything."
ON " EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING "
" Here had been, mark, the general in chief,
Thro' a whole campaign of the world's life and death,
Doing the King's work all the dim day long."
How it strikes a contemporary. — Browning.
THERE can be no doubt as to what is meant
by the words " for nothing." M. Coue"
spends himself freely on others, and asks nothing
in return. But what is meant by " everything " ?
Once again, and for the last time, everything means
all that is humanly possible. But many things
which seemed yesterday impossible are known to
be possible to-day, and there may be even wider
possibilities to-morrow. So we are gratified in
hoping for almost anything in the way of cure.
Nothing is too good to be true, but miracles do
not happen. It would, as far as we know, be a
miracle, if new teeth were to grow, in middle age,
to replace the old. It would not be a miracle
if your hair were to grow thicker instead of
thinner, thanks to auto-suggestion. Certainly
it is much more likely to happen, if you believe it
will happen, than if you use the latest hair-restorer.
46 EMILE COUE
All diseases which are due to the imagination,
such as neurasthenia, are curable. Paralysis
of one limb is also curable, i.e. when the sufferer
thinks he has no power to use his limbs, and only
for that reaCson cannot use them. Constipation is
easily cured, and so in most cases is sleeplessness ;
gout, arthritis, and neuritis can be cured if they
have not become inveterate. But, above all,
such crushing disabilities as stammering, shyness,
and self-consciousness vanish in a moment as
soon as the principle of auto-suggestion is once
realized. Many boys and girls, and many men
and women, have suffered agony outside the
drawing-room door ; at last in sudden desperation
they have turned the handle, to burst in looking
and feeling awkward and unhappy. Alas ! it
is all too likely that the same sad scene will be
again enacted in their dreams. And the pity of
it is that all this suffering is so easily avoidable.
Just say to yourself, " I shan't be shy ; why
should I be shy ? Of course I shan't be shy ;
I shall like talking and making myself useful."
Then indeed you will not fail to like it, and very
certainly you will be liked. For it is in mortals
to command success, and (best of all) to help,
as M. Coue" day by day is helping, others also to
MOST people come to realize sooner or later
that the only reward worth winning is the
love of others, and lament that they have made the
discovery too late. Perhaps only women have
ever realized that to be loved is comparatively
unimportant and that to love others is the only
perfect happiness. Only women ? There is at
least one exception to every rule, and M. Coue
seems to have divined from the first that loving
is its own reward. Rich and poor, bad and good,
to him they are all men and women, and if they
need his help he gives it to them, without dis-
tinction, in his all-embracing charity. This is
the true source of his infectious happiness.
Consequently riches are to him simply negligible
as a factor in well-being ; and doubtless " it is more
blessed to give than to receive " has never seemed
to him a startling paradox. Praise is to most of
us the best of tonics. I will not say that praise
leaves him cold, because he is never cold, but I
will say that even the world-wide tribute of
48 EMILE COUE
praise, which he has lately won, has been utterly
powerless to affect his inalienable simplicity.
Doubtless some of this praise has been injudicious ;
probably I am an illustration of this myself.
M. Coue has reason to ask to be delivered from the
exaggerations and misinterpretations of some of
his friends. And, just as Wilkes was never a
Wilkite, so it is equally true that M. Coue
is not a Coueite. Possibly all that M. Coue
has taught us may have been taught (though
I do not myself believe it) by others before,
certainly " They can because they think they
can " is as old as Virgil. But, though the
truth may have hovered on the minds and lips
of men before, it is M. Coue" who has first revealed
it simply and convincingly ; and it is a revelation
which has helped many and will help many more
to an almost unbelievable degree. Some people
resent the abdication of the will. " Oh, well for
him whose will is strong " sounds so manly and
magnificent. But as, a matter of fact the will
does not abdicate until the imagination has in
obedience to the will been started in the right
direction. If the imagination can do the rest,
what sense is there in the will interfering any more ?
Point the rifle and pull the trigger of course,
but surely it will be unwise to try and guide the
bullet with your hand ! And even if things are
M. COUE 49
made easy for us, why complain ? There will
always be difficulties enough. We need not
rewrite the old Greek proverb, " The lovely things
are difficult," even if the rough places become
a little smoother for Love and Life to climb ;
rather as we win higher heights with lighter
hearts we shall feel that we owe to M. Coue the
wider view, and, if we fail to reach the summit,
it will be Mount Everest and no meaner height
which we shall have failed to climb.
Wishing may be idle, but at worst it does no
harm, so let me end with a wish, or rather, since
wishing costs nothing, with two wishes : I wish,
then, that if M. Coue comes back to England in
the autumn it may be my good fortune to go with
him to Westminster Abbey and to show him the
words on John Wesley's memorial tablet, " I look
upon the whole world as my parish." And now
comes the real wish. It is that M. Coue* may think,
as he reads the words, which have been with good
reason applied to himself, only of John Wesley :
that will be the crowning proof of unselfconscious-
ness ; and I have good hope that my wish may
be realized, for of M. Coue nothing is too unself-
conscious to be true. And, incidentally, I hope
that after that we may lunch together at the
Deanery with my old Eton fag master and his
wife. And my second wish is that on another
50 EMILE COUE
day we may go to London's great Cathedral with
another old Etonian Dean for our guide and
friend, who will point to the words, " Si monu-
mentum quaeris circumspice " ("If you ask for
his memorial look around you") as we stand
together under the noble dome which bears witness
to the justice of that epitaph. Noble indeed
is the memorial that Wren has left behind him,
but there is another kind of memorial nobler still,
a memorial wrought not in stone or brass but in
the hearts of living men and women ; and such
is the monument which M. Coue is daily build-
ing for himself. And now, since all good things
are three, as I learnt long ago from a beloved
German lady, and since love and not hatred is
the final goal, let me end with three words taken
from the book which I believe M. Coue read for
the first time a year ago, but which all his life
long he has been illustrating, just these three
words : " The Beloved Physician." Certainly
there is one and doubtless there are many who,
whenever they hear these words read, will think
You and I have both set out on the same
Pilgrim's Progress. I myself have always been
Mr. Dispondency ; I wonder if you have ever
been Mr. Timorous or Miss Much-afraid ! If
you have, do listen with me to Mr. Great-Heart
and Valiant-for-Truth talking together; it is
lovely to hear them, because it is not only talk ;
they are really just like that in themselves.
Great-Heart : " And did none of these things discourage
you ? "
Valiant-for-Truth : " No, they seemed but as so many
nothings to me."
Great-Heart : " How came that about ? "
Valiant-for-Truth : " Why, I still believed what Mr.
Tell-True had said, and that carried me beyond all."
— " The Pilgrim's Progress," Part II.
You can find almost everything in " The
Pilgrim's Progress," as the writer of that wise
and brave book, " Ordeal by Battle," taught
us seven years ago. And now I must tell you
a secret. Mr. Tell-True's name to-day is M.
52 EMILE COUE
Emile Coue. What ? You had guessed that
before I told you ? At any rate you had not
guessed what I am going to tell you now, and
mind you engrave it on your hearts. Mr. Great-
Heart was. once called Mr. Timorous and Miss
Much-afraid is now not unworthy of the man she
is to marry, who is Mr. Valiant-for-Truth.
I have only had seven weeks in which to find
a new name for Mr. Dispondency ; I hope I have
found one, but I cannot yet be sure. Very cer-
tainly I can say it is my prayer that " my Dis-
ponds and slavish Fears be by no man ever re-
ceived," from this day for ever. And so good-bye.
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