Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Freeland by Theodor Hertzka

Part 7 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the fact upon which it is based. It may be that in Freeland conjugal
fidelity is without exception the rule, and that unfaithfulness is regarded
as a kind of mental aberration; but if it is so, then the men and women of
Freeland are themselves exceptions, and to deduce a formal law of nature
from their behaviour seems to me to be premature. Because in this
country--it matters not from what causes--sexual morality has become
exceptionally high, because to your delicate ethical sense polygamy and
polyandry in any form are repugnant, it does not follow that the
inconstancy which has marked men and women in all stages of civilisation is
to be at once regarded as "contrary to human nature." It were well, madam,
if you were right, for that would mean that the last source of vice and
crime was stopped; but, alas! the experience of all ages shows that
unfaithfulness and love root themselves by turns deeply in human nature. I
can understand that you, as a woman, should be influenced more by moral
than by sober scientific views; but I am afraid that results which are
based less upon nature than upon--certainly very admirable--moral
experiments, will prove to be not too permanent.'

A delicate flush passed over the face of my mother as she heard this. I
noticed that she did not feel quite comfortable in having to reply to this
in the presence of men; but as my father was not to be convinced in any
other way, she answered, at first with hesitancy, but she was afterwards
carried away by her interest in the subject. She said:

'I am a woman of Freeland, and my sentiments are those of Freeland. I would
not ascribe to nature what is merely the outcome of my own moral views.
When I said that man is a monogamous being, and that polygamy and polyandry
were repugnant to the conditions of his existence, were contrary to his
real nature, I referred--far from speaking from an ethical
standpoint--simply to the animal nature of man. We belong, to speak
plainly, to a species of animals which nature intends to be monogamous and
monandrous. A species, whose progeny takes nearly twenty years to arrive at
maturity, cannot thrive without the united care of father and mother. It is
the long-continued helplessness of our children that makes the permanent
union of a single pair natural to man. The moral sentiments--which,
certainly, in a healthy condition of human society also gravitate in the
same direction--are nothing more than the outcome of these natural
conditions of existence. If a man reached maturity in a single year our
moral sentiments would permit, would perhaps imperatively demand, a change
of partner after every child; for, without exception, we hold that alone to
be beautiful and good which is requisite to the thriving of the species.
Now the _genus homo_ categorically demands, in order that it may thrive,
that father and mother should foster the young for twenty years; in the
meantime fresh offspring arrive; the natural command to rear children--you
see I make use of the crassest expressions of natural history--therefore
keeps the male and the female together until there ceases to be any reason
for a separation. It would be simply contrary to nature if the natural
sentiments and instincts of man were _not_ in harmony with this command of
nature. Conjugal attachment and fidelity _must_ be and are natural
instincts of man; all phenomena that appear to indicate the opposite are
simply consequences of transitory excrescences of civilisation. It was
social inequality which gave rise to sexual vices as to all the other
vices. The same relation of mastership which gives the employer control
over the labour of other men also gives him power over other women than his
wife; and the same servitude which deprived the slave of his right to the
produce of his own labour robs the woman of her right to herself. Love
becomes an article of merchandise, _sold_ in order to appease hunger and to
cover nakedness, _bought_ in order to gratify inconstant desires. You think
I hold that to be unnatural because it is immoral? On the contrary, I hold
it to be immoral because it is contrary to nature. That, your highness, is
what I would impress upon you. A better acquaintance with this land of
freedom will show you that fidelity and honour between husband and wife are
here no rare exceptions, but the universal rule; but you must know at once
that we do not therefore exercise any superhuman virtue, but simply act in
conformity with the real nature of man.'

I could plainly see, by the warm admiration expressed in the way in which
he gallantly lifted Mrs. Ney's hand to his lips, that my father was already
convinced; but, in order to mask his retreat, he threw out the question
whether there were not, in this country, any other disturber of conjugal

'You mean harshness, love of domination, wrangling? Even these cannot occur
in a really free society based upon perfect equality of rights. It is the
lack of freedom and of legal equality which elsewhere sows discord between
the sexes and makes them like enemies by nature. The enslaved woman, robbed
of her share of the goods of the earth, is impelled, by inexorable
necessity, to trade upon the sexual desires and the weaknesses of man; she
finds herself in a constant state of war with him, for she has no
alternative but to suffer wrong or to do wrong. What the other sex has
wrongly obtained from her sex the individual woman must win back for
herself from the individual man by stratagem and cunning, and the
individual man is forced into a continuous attitude of defence by this
injustice of his sex, and by the consequently necessary attempts at
re-vindication by the woman. In this respect, also, Schopenhauer is not
altogether wrong: there is no other sympathy between man and woman than
that of the epidermis; but he forgets here also to add that this is not the
natural relation of the sexes, but one resulting from the unnatural
subjection of the woman--that not man and woman as such, but slave and
master, are reciprocally opposed as strangers and foes. Remove the
injustice which this disturbance of a relation so consonant with nature has
called forth, and it will at once be seen that the sympathy between husband
and wife is the strongest, the most varied, and the most comprehensive of
all. The woman possesses those very excellences of heart and intellect
which most charm the man, and the excellences of the man are just those
which the woman most highly prizes. Nature, which has physically adapted
the sexes to each other, has also psychically formed them as complementary
halves. Nature, to accomplish whose purposes it is necessary that man and
wife should remain faithful for life, could not have acted so
inconsistently as to endow them with psychical attributes which would
prevent or render difficult such lifelong fidelity. The instinct that
preserves the race and is the occasion of so much passionate physical
enjoyment, this instinct must also inspire the sexes with the strongest
conceivable mutual sympathy with each other's mental and ethical character.
In Freeland every disturbing discord is removed from the natural relation
between the sexes; what wonder that that relation shows itself in its
perfect harmony and beauty! Every Freeland man is an enthusiastic
worshipper of the women; every Freeland woman is a not less enthusiastic
worshipper of the men. In the eyes of our men there is nothing purer,
better, more worthy of reverence than the woman; and in the eyes of us, the
women of Freeland, there is nothing greater, nobler, more magnanimous than
the man. A man who ill-uses or depreciates his wife, who does not make it
his pride to screen her from every evil, would be excluded from the society
of all other men; and a wife who attempted to rule over her husband, who
did not make it her highest aim to beautify his life, would be avoided by
all other women.'

My father made no further objection. He was content that I should take my
Bertha according to Freeland customs and without any formal ceremony. Only
_one_ condition he insisted upon: there should be a fortnight's interval
between betrothal and wedding. I consented reluctantly to this delay; had I
followed my own desires, we should have flown off together to the Victoria
Nyanza that same day, and my betrothed also--for prudery is unknown
here--did not hide the fact that she shared in my impatience. But during
the last few hours my father had made such superhuman concessions that we
owed him this--truly no small--sacrifice. On the 3rd of September,
therefore, Bertha will become my wife; but from to-day you must look upon
me as a citizen of Freeland.

* * * * *

Ungama: Aug. 24.

''Twixt cup and lip...'

When I finished my letter four days ago, and kept it back a little while in
order to put in an enclosure from Bertha, who declared herself under an
obligation to send to my friend a few words of apology for having stolen
me, I had not the slightest presentiment that momentous events would come
between me and the fulfilment of my ardent desires. The war in which we are
engaged produces remarkably little excitement in my new fatherland; and if
I were not in Ungama, I should not suspect that we were at war with an
enemy who has repeatedly given serious trouble to several of the strongest
military States of Europe. But I have not been a Freelander long enough not
to be keenly sensible of the bitter disgrace and the heavy loss which my
native land has lately suffered; and on all grounds--in my character of
Freelander and also of quondam Italian--I held it to be my duty to take
part personally in the war. Until this war is ended, there can of course be
no thought of a wedding. In the meantime, the chance of war has brought me
away from Eden Vale to the coast of the Indian Ocean. But I will tell my
story in order.

Know then, first of all, that--for this is no longer a diplomatic
secret--the efforts of my father and of his English and French colleagues
to get permission for 300,000 or 350,000 Anglo-Franco-Italian troops to
pass through Freeland, utterly failed. The Eden Vale government said that
Freeland was at peace with Abyssinia, and had no right to mix itself up
with the quarrels of the Western Powers. But the aspect of affairs would be
entirely changed if those Powers resolved to adopt the Freeland
constitution in their African territories; in which case those territories
would be regarded as a part of the Freeland district, and as such would
naturally be protected by Freeland. But then the military convention asked
for would be superfluous, for Freeland would treat every attack upon its
allies as a _casus belli_, and would with its own forces compel Abyssinia
to keep the peace. The negotiations lasted for weeks without any result.
Evidently the cabinets of London, Paris, and Rome did not attach any
importance to the promise made by Freeland, though the ambassadors, and
particularly my father, honestly did what they could to give the Western
cabinets confidence in the military strength of Freeland. The Powers were
not indisposed to recognise the Freeland law in their colonies on the Red
and Indian Seas as a condition of alliance; but persisted, nevertheless, in
asking for a military convention, to which Freeland would not consent. So
the matter stood until a few days ago.

On the morning after my betrothal, as we were sitting at breakfast, a
despatch in cypher came to my father from Ungama, the large port belonging
to Freeland on the Indian Ocean. My father, when he had deciphered the
despatch, sprang up pale and excited, and asked Mr. Ney forthwith to summon
a session of the executive of the Freeland central government, as he had a
communication of urgent importance to make. Remarking the sympathetic alarm
of our friends, my father said, 'The matter cannot remain a secret--you
shall learn the bad news from my lips. The despatch is from Commodore
Cialdini, captain of one of our ironclads stationed at Massowah. It runs:
"Ungama: Aug. 21, 8 A.M. Have just reached here with ironclad 'Erebus' and
two despatch-boats--one ours and one French--escaped from Massowah much
damaged. The night before last, John of Abyssinia, contrary to existing
treaty of peace, treacherously fell upon Massowah and took it with scarcely
a blow struck. Our vessels lying in harbour, as well as the English and
French, seventeen in number, were also surprised and taken, none escaping
except ourselves and the two despatch-boats. The smaller coast fortresses
which we passed are also all in the hands of the Abyssinians. As we are cut
off from Aden by a number of the enemy's steamships that are following us,
and the 'Erebus' is not in a condition to fight, we have run into Ungama
for refuge and to repair our damage. If the Abyssinians find us here, I
shall blow up our ships."'

This was bad tidings, not only for the allies, but also for Freeland, for
it meant war with Abyssinia, which the Freelanders had hoped to avoid.
Though it had been resolved from the first to secure for the European
Powers, as presumptive allies, peace with Abyssinia, yet, in reliance upon
the great respect which Freeland enjoyed among the neighbouring peoples,
the Freelanders had indulged in the hope of so imposing upon the defiant
semi-barbarians by a determined attitude as to keep them quiet without a
resort to arms. The treacherous attack, at the very time when the
plenipotentiaries of the attacked Powers were in Eden Vale, destroyed this

In the National Palace we found the Freeland ministers already assembled,
and we were soon followed by the English and French plenipotentiaries. By
his agitated demeanour, the French ambassador showed that he had already
heard the unhappy tidings. It was some hours later when the English
ambassador received direct tidings that their ironclad corvette 'Nelson'
had reached Ungama half-wrecked, having had a desperate encounter on her
way with two of the vessels that had fallen into the hands of the
Abyssinians, and one of which she bored and sank. In the meantime, more
accurate and detailed accounts had reached the Freeland Foreign Office from
different places on the coast, revealing the full extent of the misfortune.
The Abyssinian attack had been made with vastly superior forces, assisted
by treachery, and had been completely successful. As the treaty of peace
with Abyssinia had several weeks to run, the garrisons of the--for the most
part unhealthy--places on the coast were neither very strong nor very
vigilant. The Abyssinians had simultaneously--at about two o'clock in the
morning--attacked and taken Massowah, Arkiko, and Obok, the chief
fortresses of the Italians, the English, and the French, as well as all the
eight coast forts belonging to the same Powers. The garrisons, surprised
asleep, were in part cut down, in part taken prisoners, and the vessels
lying in the harbours were--with the exception of those already
mentioned--captured at the same time. That as early as the next morning the
Abyssinians were able to put to sea in some of these captured vessels is to
be explained by the Negus's zealous enlistment of sailors already
mentioned, which also proves that the attack had been long premeditated and
was carefully planned. The treachery was so excellently well managed, that
it was only a few minutes after the vessels were taken that the four which
had escaped had to encounter a most destructive attack from the guns of the
other ships. The vessels that fell into the hands of the Abyssinians in the
three ports were: seven English, five French, and four Italian ironclads,
including several of the first class; and eleven English, eight French, and
four Italian gunboats and despatch-boats. About 24,000 men were either
killed or taken prisoners in the fortresses and vessels.

The plenipotentiaries of the three Powers had, upon receipt of this Job's
tidings, telegraphed to their governments for instructions. They told the
Freeland executive that in all probability the conclusion of the military
convention would now be most strongly insisted upon. Now that the
fortresses had fallen, it would be absolutely impossible to collect upon
the inhospitable shores of the Red Sea an army sufficiently large to meet
the Negus. In fact, this was almost categorically the collective demand of
the three Powers which reached Eden Vale the same day. As categorical,
however, was the rejection of the proposal, accompanied by the declaration
that the Eden Vale government intended to carry on alone the war with
Abyssinia which now seemed inevitable. Moreover, the allies were told that
their armies could not be brought to the seat of war soon enough. Even if
the Suez Canal had been practicable for the transport of troops, their
proposed 350,000 could not be brought together under two months at the
least; and it was certain that, long ere that, the Negus John would have
attempted to get possession of all the strategical positions of Freeland.
And again, wherever the ships which the Abyssinians had taken could be
utilised to block the Suez Canal, the allied forces, if they were called
out, would at any rate arrive too late to prevent it. The overland route
through Egypt could be so easily blocked by the Abyssinians that to select
it as the base of operations would be simply absurd. The only route that
remained was that round the Cape of Good Hope; and how long it would take
to transport 350,000 auxiliary troops that way to Freeland, the cabinets of
Paris, Rome, and London could calculate for themselves. But the Powers need
feel no uneasiness; they should receive satisfaction sooner and more
completely than they seemed to expect it. Before the English, French, and
Italians could have got ready so great an expedition, we should have
reckoned with the Negus. In the meantime, the allies might get their new
garrisons ready to sail for the coast towns of the Red and Indian Seas;
they could despatch them by the usual route through the Suez Canal, for
before their transport-ships reached the canal--which could not be until
the end of the next month--Freeland would either have recaptured or
destroyed the stolen fleet of Abyssinia.

The last statement in particular was received by the allied Powers and
their ambassadors with intense astonishment; and I must confess that I
could not myself see how we, without a single ship of war, were to
annihilate a fleet of sixteen first-class and twenty-three small vessels of
war. It was not without some amount of bitter sarcasm that the ambassadors
replied that, instead of making such grandiose proposals, it would be more
practical to take measures that the wretchedly battered vessels now lying
in the harbour at Ungama might be repaired and sent to sea again as quickly
at possible. Even the possibility of saving them from the immensely
superior force of the enemy rested upon the very uncertain hope that the
foe would not at once look for them in the utterly defenceless port of

'For the moment'--thus did one of the executive console the distressed
diplomats--' that is, for the next few hours, you are certainly right. If
before dark this evening a superior Abyssinian force appears before Ungama
and begins at once by attacking your ships, those ships are in all human
probability lost. But that holds good only for to-day. If the Abyssinian
fleet shows itself, we have prepared for it a reception which will
certainly not entice it to come again.'

'What have you done?' asked the ambassadors in astonishment. 'What can you
do to protect the wretched remnant of our proud allied fleet?' While he
said this, the eyes of the men whose patriotism had been so deeply wounded
were anxiously fixed upon the members of the executive, and, in spite of my
naturalisation in Freeland, I participated only too strongly in their
feelings. You will understand that we were not concerned merely for the
preservation of the few vessels; but to have at last found a point of
resistance to the daring barbarians, to know that our men were relieved
from the necessity of renewing their shameful flight--this it was which had
a sweet sound of promise in the ear. The executive hastened to give us a
full explanation.

As I have already told you, the Education Department of the Freeland
government possesses a large number of cannon of different calibre in all
parts of the country for the exercise of the young men. The largest of
these can pierce the strongest of the armour-plates now in use like a piece
of card. As soon as the first news of the attack had been received,
eighty-four of these giant guns had been put in motion towards Ungama from
the adjoining districts. As all these monsters run upon rails that are in
connection with the network of Freeland railways, they were all on their
way towards the coast before noon, accompanied by the young men who were
familiar with the handling of them; and they would reach their destination
in the course of the evening or during the night. As in Ungama, for
purposes of ordinary harbour-service, several lines of rails ran along the
coast in connection with the network of railways, the guns as they arrived
could at once be placed in their several positions, which had been in the
meantime--in course of the same day--provided with provisional earthworks.
Later on, these earthworks were to receive armour-coating; but at present,
as the central executive calculated, eighty-four guns of the largest size,
manned by the most experienced gunners, would suffice even without any
special protection to keep any armour-clads manned by wandering adventurers
at a respectful distance.

I could not endure to stay longer in Eden Vale. After bidding my father a
hasty farewell, and taking a somewhat less hurried farewell of Bertha, I
started for Ungama. Two days later it was seen that the precautions which
had been taken were neither superfluous nor insufficient. On the 23rd of
August five Abyssinian ironclads and four gunboats appeared off Ungama;
and, as the harbour was thought to be quite defenceless, they attempted
forthwith to steam in for the purpose of destroying the disabled vessels of
the allies which lay there. A shot from the largest of our armour-crushers,
at a distance of a little over six miles, carried away one of the funnels
of the nearest ironclad frigates. This made them more cautious; but they
held on their way. Now our young gunners allowed the once-warned foe to
steam in to within four miles and a-half of the shore, without giving a
sign of their presence; then they opened fire simultaneously with
thirty-seven cannons. This, however, did not last long. The first volley
sank a gunboat, and damaged the whole fleet so much that the enemy was
thrown into visible disorder. Some of the vessels appeared to be about to
return our fire, while others seemed disposed to turn about and steam away.
Two minutes later our second volley swept over the waves; it could be
plainly seen that this time not one of the thirty-seven shots had missed
its mark. All the enemy's ships showed severe damage, and the whole fleet
had lost all desire to continue the unequal conflict. They reversed their
engines and steamed off into the open sea with all possible speed. A third
and a fourth salvo were sent after them, and a second gunboat and the
largest of the ironclad frigates sank. Three other volleys did still
further damage to the fleeing enemy, but failed to sink any more of the
ships; but we learnt from the Italian despatch-boat, which followed the
Abyssinian ships at a distance, that an hour after the battle a third
gunboat sank, and that one of the ironclad frigates had to be taken in tow
in order to get her out of the reach of our strand batteries. These
batteries had lost only two men.

With the account of this Freeland deed of arms--in which I was simply an
astonished spectator--I close this letter. When, where, and whether I shall
write you another is known only to the God of war.


Massowah; Sept. 25, ----

If I recollect rightly, it is just a month and a day since I sent you my
last letter. During this brief time I have gone through experiences which
must have afforded you in old Europe many a surprise, and which--if I am
not mistaken in the views of my new countrymen--will, in their immediate
consequences, be of decisive importance to the whole of the habitable
globe. It is the freedom of the world, I believe, that has been won on the
battle-fields of the Red Sea and the Galla country; a victory has been
gained, not merely over the unhappy John of Abyssinia, but also over many
another tyranny which has held nations in bondage in your so-called
civilised world. But why should I spend time in surmises about questions
which the immediate future must bring to a decision? My present letter
shall serve the purpose of assuring you of my safety and health, as well as
of describing the Freeland-Abyssinian campaign, in which I took part from
the beginning to the end.

On the 25th of August, two days after the outbreak of the war, the Eden
Vale central executive received the Negus's ultimatum, in which he declared
that he bore no ill-will against Freeland, but he had taken up arms only in
order to protect himself and Freeland against a European invasion, which,
as he had learnt, would be forced upon Freeland. As we had not shown
courage enough to keep the foe away from our frontiers, the duty of
self-preservation compelled him to demand from us the surrender of several
important strategical points. If we acceded to this request, he would
otherwise respect our liberties and rights, and would even overlook the
damage done to his vessels at Ungama. But, if we refused, he would make a
hostile invasion into our territory; and as, by the overthrow of the coast
fortresses, he had guarded against our receiving any speedy assistance from
Europe, the result could not be doubtful. He was already in motion with an
army of occupation numbering 300,000 men, and expected within a week to
have crossed our northern frontier. It was for us to decide whether we
would receive him as a friend or as a foe. The answer to the Negus ran
thus: He was mistaken in his supposition that Freeland thought of receiving
foreign troops. Freeland was as little disposed to admit into its territory
either English, French, or Italian, as to admit him for military purposes.
We could, nevertheless, live at peace with him only on condition that he
determined to maintain peace with the above-mentioned European Powers, and
to make full compensation for the injury he had done to them. We did not
wish to conceal from him that Freeland intended to enter into a friendly
alliance with these European States, and would then hold itself bound to
regard the enemies of its friends as its own enemies. He was warned against
mistaking the conspicuously pacific character of Freeland for cowardice or
weakness. A week would be given him to relinquish his threatening attitude
and to furnish guarantees of peace and compensation. If within a week
overtures of peace were not made, Freeland would attack him wherever he was

Of course, no one doubted the issue of this interchange of messages; and
the preparations for the war were carried on with all speed.

Scarcely had the telegraph and the journals carried the first news of the
Abyssinian attack through Freeland, before announcements and questions
reached the central executive from all quarters, proving that the
population of the whole country not merely had come to the conclusion that
a war was imminent, but that, without any instruction from above, there had
set themselves automatically in motion all those factors of resistance
which could have been supplied by a military organisation perpetually on a
war-footing. Freeland mobilised itself; and the event proved that this
self-determined activity of millions of intelligent minds accustomed to act
in common afforded very much better results than would have been obtained
under an official system of mobilisation, however wisely planned and
prepared for. From all the corps of thousands of the whole country there
came in the course of the first few days inquiries whether the central
executive thought the co-operation of the inquirers desirable. The corps of
thousands of the first class, belonging to the twelve northern and
north-eastern districts, comprising the Baringo country and Lykipia,
announced at once that on the next day they should be fully assembled--with
the exception of any who might be travelling--since they assumed that the
prosecution of the war with Abyssinia would be specially their business. It
was the general opinion in Freeland that from 40,000 to 50,000 men would be
sufficient to defeat the Abyssinians; and as the northern districts
possessed eighty-five of the corps of thousands that had gained laurels in
the district exercises, no one doubted that the work of the war would fall
upon these alone. Many a young man in the other parts of the country felt
in his breast the stirrings of a noble ambition; but there was nowhere
manifested a desire to withdraw more labour from the country than was
necessary, or to interfere with the rational plan of mobilisation by
pushing corps into the foreground from a distance. While the other corps
thus voluntarily held back, those of the northern districts threw
themselves, as a matter of course, into the campaign. But those thousands
which during recent years had been victors at the great Aberdare games
expressed the wish--so many of them as did not belong to the mobilised
districts--to participate in the mobilisation; and all who had been victors
in the individual contests at the last year's district and national games
begged, as a favour, to be incorporated among the mobilised thousands. Both
requests were granted; and the additional material thus supplied amounted
to four corps of thousands and 960 individuals. Altogether about 90,000 men
prepared themselves--about twice as many as the general opinion held to be
requisite. But the men themselves, of their own initiative, decided, on the
next day, that merely the unmarried men of the last four years, between the
ages of twenty-two and twenty-six, should take the field. The force was
thereby reduced to 48,000, including 9,500 cavalry and 180 guns, to which
last were afterwards added eighty pieces from the Upper Naivasha district.

Each thousand had its own officers. Some of them were married, but it was
resolved that, notwithstanding this, they should be retained. The election
of superior officers took place on the 23rd of August, after the four extra
corps had arrived at the place in North Lykipia appointed for this purpose.
The chief command was not given to one of the officers present, but to a
young engineer named Arago, living at Ripon as head of the Victoria Nyanza
Building Association. Arago of course accepted the position, but asked to
have one of the head officials of the traffic department of the central
executive as head of the general staff. Hastening from Ungama direct to
North Lykipia, I applied to that official with the request that he would
place me on the general staff--a request to which, as I was able to prove
my possession of the requisite knowledge, and in consideration of my recent
renunciation of my Italian birthright, he was doubly willing to accede.
David arrived at the same time as myself, bringing me the tenderest
greetings and the cordial consent of my bride to the step I was taking,
declaring at the same time that he should not jog from my side while the
campaign lasted.

All the thousands were abundantly furnished with weapons and ammunition;
and there was no lack of well-trained saddle-horses.

The commissariat was entrusted to the Food-providing Associations of Eden
Vale and Dana City. The technical service--pioneering,
bridge-construction, field-telegraphy, &c.--was undertaken by two
associations from Central and Eastern Baringo; and the transport service
was taken in hand by the department of the central executive in charge of
such matters. Within the Freeland frontiers, the perfection of the network
of communication made the transport and maintenance of so small an army a
matter of no difficulty whatever. But as the Freelanders did not intend to
wait for the Abyssinians, but meant to carry the war into the Galla country
and to Habesh, 5,000 elephants, 8,000 camels, 20,000 horses, and 15,000
buffalo oxen were taken with the army as beasts of burden. Tents,
field-kitchens, conserves, &c., had to be got ready; in short, provision
had to be made that the army should want nothing even in the most
inhospitable regions outside of Freeland.

All these preparations were completed by the 29th of August. Two days
previously Arago had sent 4,000 horsemen with twenty-eight guns over the
Konso pass into the neighbouring Wakwafi country, with instructions to
spread themselves out in the form of a fan, to discover the whereabouts of
the Abyssinians, whose approach we expected in that quarter. To be prepared
for all contingencies, he sent smaller expeditionary corps of 1,200 and 900
men, with eight and four guns respectively, to watch the Endika and Silali
mountain-ranges, which lay to the north-east and the north-west of his line
of operations. Further, at the Konso pass he left a reserve of 6,000 men
and twenty guns; and on the 30th of August he crossed the Galla frontier
with 36,000 men and 200 guns. In order to make long marches and yet to
spare the men, each man's kit was reduced as much as possible. It
consisted, besides the weapons--repeating-rifle, repeating-pistol, and
short sword, to be used also as bayonet--of eighty cartridges, a
field-flask, and a small knapsack capable of holding only _one_ meal. All
the other luggage was carried by led horses, which followed close behind
the marching columns, and of which there were twenty-five to every hundred
men. This very mobile train, accessible to the men at all times, carried
waterproof tents, complete suits and shoes for change of clothing,
mackintoshes, conserves and drink for several days, and a reserve of 200
cartridges per man. In this way our young men were furnished with every
necessary without being themselves overburdened, and they were consequently
able to do twenty-five miles a day without injury.

The central executive had sent with the army a fully authorised
commissioner, whose duty it was to carry out any wish of the leaders of the
army, so far as the doing so was the business of the executive; to conduct
negotiations for peace should the Negus be disposed to come to terms; and,
finally, to provide for the security and comfort of the foreign military
plenipotentiaries and newspaper correspondents who should join the
campaign. Some of the latter accompanied us on horseback, while others were
accommodated upon elephants; most of them followed the headquarters, and
were thus kept _au courant_ of all that took place.

On the third day's march--the 2nd of September--our mounted advance-guard
announced that they had come upon the enemy. As Arago, before he engaged in
a decisive battle, wished to test practically whether he and we were not
making a fatal mistake in imagining ourselves superior to the enemy, he
gave the vanguard orders to make a forced reconnaisance--that is, having
done what he could to induce the foe to make a full disclosure of his
strength, to withdraw as soon as he was sure of the course the enemy was

At dawn on the 3rd of September we came into collision (I was one of the
advanced body at my own request) with the Abyssinian vanguard at Ardeb in
the valley of the Jubba. The enemy, not much more in number than ourselves,
was completely routed at the first onset, all their guns--thirty-six
pieces--taken, as well as 1,800 prisoners, whilst we lost only five men.
The whole affair lasted scarcely forty minutes. While our lines were
forming, the Abyssinian artillery opened upon us a perfectly ineffectual
fire at three miles and three-quarters. Our artillery kept silent until the
enemy was within a mile and a-half, when a few volleys from us silenced the
latter, dismounted two of their guns, and compelled the rest to withdraw.
Our artillery next directed its attention to the madly charging cavalry of
the enemy, which it scattered by a few well-aimed shells, so that our
squadron had nothing left to do but to follow the disordered fugitives and
to ride down the enemy's infantry, thrown into hopeless confusion by their
own fleeing cavalry. The affair closed with the pursuit of the
panic-stricken foe and the bringing in of the prisoners. The enemy's loss
in killed and wounded, though much greater than ours, was comparatively

Thus ended the prologue of the sanguinary drama. Our horse had scarcely got
together again, and the prisoners, with the captured guns, sent to the
headquarters, when dense and still denser masses of the enemy showed
themselves in the distance. This was the whole of the Abyssinian left wing,
numbering 65,000, with 120 guns. Twenty of our guns were stationed on a
small height that commanded the marching route of the enemy, and opened
fire about seven in the morning. The masses of the enemy's infantry were at
once seen to turn aside, while ninety of the Abyssinian guns were placed
opposite our artillery. The battle of cannons which now began lasted an
hour without doing much harm to our artillery, for at so great a
distance--three miles--the aim of the Abyssinian gunners was very bad,
whilst our shells silenced by degrees thirty-four of the enemy's pieces.
Twice the Abyssinians attempted to get nearer to our position, but were on
both occasions driven back in a few minutes, so deadly was our fire at a
shorter distance. As this did not answer, the enemy tried to storm our
position. His masses of infantry and cavalry had deployed along the whole
of our thin front, and shortly after eight o'clock the whole of the vastly
superior force was in movement against us.

What next took place I should not have thought possible, notwithstanding
what I had seen of the skill in the manipulation of their weapons possessed
by the Freeland youth. Even the easily gained victory over the enemy's
vanguard had not raised my expectations high enough. I confess that I
regarded it as unjustifiable indiscretion, and as a proof of his total
misunderstanding of the task which had been committed to him by the
commander-in-chief, that Colonel Ruppert, the leader of our little band,
should accept battle, and that not in the form of a covered retreat, but as
a regular engagement which, if lost, must inevitably issue in the
annihilation of his 4,000 men. For he had deployed his cavalry--who had all
dismounted, and fired with their splendid carbines--in a thin line of over
three miles, extending a little beyond the lines of the enemy, and with
very weak reserves behind him. Thus he awaited the Abyssinians, as if they
had been advancing as _tirailleurs_ and not in compact columns. And I knew
these storming columns well; at Ardeb and before Obok they had overthrown
equal numbers of England's Indian veterans, France's Breton grenadiers, and
Italy's _bersaglieri_; their weapons were equal to those of Freeland, their
military discipline I was obliged to consider as superior to that of my
present companions in arms. How could our thin line withstand the onset of
fifteen times as many veteran warriors? I was firmly convinced that in
another quarter of an hour they must be broken in pieces like a cord
stretched in front of a locomotive; and then any child might see that after
a few minutes' carnage all would be over. In spirit I took leave of distant
loved ones--of my father--and I remembered you too, Louis, in that hour
which I thought I had good reason to consider my last.

And, what was most astonishing to me, the Freelanders themselves all seemed
to share my feelings. There was in their demeanour none of that wild lust
for battle which one would have expected to see in those who--quite
unnecessarily--engaged in the proportion of one against fifteen. A
profound, sad earnestness, nay, repugnance and horror, could be read in the
generally so clear and bright eyes of these Freeland youths and men. It was
as if they, like myself, were all looking in the face of death. The
officers also, even the colonel in command, evidently participated in these
gloomy forebodings: then why, in heaven's name, did they offer battle? If
they anticipated overthrow, why did they not withdraw in time? But what
injustice had I done to these men! how completely had I mistaken the cause
and the object of their anxiety! Incredible as it may sound, my comrades in
arms were anxious not for their own safety, but on account of their
enemies; they shuddered at the thought of the slaughter that awaited not
themselves, but their foes. The idea that they, free men, could be
vanquished by wretched slaves was as remote from their minds as the idea
that the hare can be dangerous to him is from the mind of the sportsman.
But they saw themselves compelled to shoot down in cold blood thousands of
unfortunate fellow-creatures; and this excited in them, who held man to be
the most sacred and the highest of all things, an unspeakable repugnance.
Had this been told me _before_ the battle, I should not have understood it,
and should have held it to be braggadocio; now, after what I have
shudderingly passed through, I find it intelligible. For I must confess
that a column advancing against the Freeland lines, and torn to pieces by
their fire, is a sight which freezes the blood of even men accustomed to
murder _en masse_, as I am. I have several times seen the destroying angel
of the battlefield at work, and could therefore consider myself steeled
against its horrors: but here....

I will not describe my fooling, but what occurred. When the Abyssinians
were a little less than a mile from us, Ruppert's adjutants galloped along
our front for the last time and bade our men to fire: 'But not a shot after
they begin to waver!' Then among us there was a stillness as of death,
whilst from the other side the noise of the drums and the wild music grew
louder and louder, interrupted from time to time by the piercing war-cries
of the Abyssinians. When the enemy was within half a mile our men
discharged a single volley: the front line of the enemy collapsed as if
smitten by a blast of pestilence; their ranks wavered and had to be formed
anew. No second shot was as yet fired by the Freelanders; but when the
Abyssinians again pressed forward with wild cries, and now at a more rapid
pace, there thundered a second volley; and as the death-seeking brown
warriors this time stormed forward over their shattered front rank, a third
volley met them. This was enough for the enemy for the present; they turned
in wild confusion, and did not stop in their flight until they thought
themselves out of our range. Our fire had ceased as soon as the enemy
turned, and it was high time it did. Not that our position would have been
at all endangered by a further advance of the enemy: the Abyssinians had
advanced little more than a hundred yards, and were still, therefore,
between six and seven hundred, yards away, and it was most improbable that
one of them could have reached our front. But it was this very distance,
and the consequent absence of the special excitement of close combat, that
made the horror of the slaughter too great for human nerves to have borne
it much longer. Within a few minutes nearly a thousand Abyssinians had been
killed or wounded; and many of the Freeland officers afterwards declared to
me that they were seized with faintness at the sight of the breaking ranks
and of the foes in the agonies of death. I can perfectly understand this,
for even I felt ill.

The Freeland medical men and ambulance corps were already at work carrying
the wounded foes from the field, when the Abyssinian artillery recommenced
the battle, and their infantry at the same time opened a tremendous fire.
But as the infantry now kept themselves prudently at the respectable
distance of a mile and a quarter, their fire was at first quite harmless
and therefore was not answered by our men. But when a ball or two had
strayed into our ranks, Colonel Ruppert gave orders that every tenth man
should step far enough out of the ranks to be visible to the enemy and
discharge a volley. This hint was understood; the enemy's infantry-fire
ceased at once, as the Abyssinians learnt from the effects of this small
volley that the Freeland riflemen could make themselves so unpleasant, even
at such a great distance, that it would not be advisable to provoke them to
answer an ineffective fire. The stubborn fellows, who evidently could not
bear the thought of being driven from the field by such a handful of men,
formed themselves afresh into storming columns, this time with a narrower
front and greater depth. But these columns met with no better fate than
their predecessors, the only difference being that they had to meet a more
rapid fire. After a few minutes they were compelled to retire with a loss
of eight hundred men, and could not be made to move forward again. In order
to get possession of the Abyssinian wounded, who were much better cared for
under Freeland treatment than under that of their own people, Ruppert sent
out an advance-party before whom the enemy hastily retreated, so that we
remained masters of the field. Our losses amounted to eight dead and
forty-seven wounded; the Abyssinians had 360 killed, 1,480 wounded, and
left thirty-nine guns behind. Our first care was to place the
wounded--friend and foe alike--in the ambulance-waggons, of which there was
a large number, all furnished with every possible convenience, and to send
them towards Freeland. Then the captured guns and other weapons were hidden
and the dead buried.

Just as the last duty was performed, and we had begun our retreat to
headquarters, strong columns of Abyssinians appeared in the west, whilst at
the same time the left wing of the enemy, which had retreated towards the
north, again came into sight. Ruppert did not, however, allow himself to be
diverted from his purpose. Masses of the enemy's cavalry made a vigorous
attempt to follow us, but were quickly repulsed by our artillery, and we
accomplished our retreat to headquarters without further molestation.

We now knew from experience that the assumed superiority of Freeland troops
over opponents of any kind was a fact. The Abyssinians had fought as
bravely against us as they had formerly fought against European troops.
Their equipment, discipline, and training, upon which despotism had brought
all its resources to bear for many years, left, according to European
ideas, nothing to be desired; and these dark-skinned soldiers had
repeatedly shown themselves to be a match for equal numbers of European
troops. But we had repulsed a number fifteen times as many as ourselves,
without allowing the issue to be for a moment uncertain. That the fight
lasted as long as it did, and did not much sooner end in the complete
overthrow of the Abyssinians, was due to the fact that the leader of the
advance-guard adhered to his orders, to compel the enemy to disclose his
whole force. Had our commander at once thrown himself with full force upon
the enemy, given him no time to deploy his troops, and energetically made
use of his advantage, the 65,000 men of the enemy's left wing would have
been scattered long before the centre could have come into action. Not that
Colonel Ruppert was wrong in waiting and confining himself rather to
defensive action. Even he had to learn, by the issue of the conflict, that
the presumed superiority of the Freelanders was an absolute fact; and the
more doubtful the ultimate victory of our cause appeared, the more
decisively was it the duty of a conscientious leader to avoid spilling the
blood of our Freeland youth merely to perform a deed of ostentatious
heroism. He, like the rest of us, naturally concluded that this first
lesson would abundantly suffice to show the Negus the folly of continuing
the struggle.

We had not, however, taken into account the obtuseness of a barbaric
despot. When the commissioner of the executive, who accompanied the
expedition, sent next day a flag of truce into the Abyssinian headquarters,
announcing to John that Freeland was still prepared to treat with him for
the restoration of the captured fortresses and ships, and for the
arrangement of peace guarantees, the Negus received the ambassadors
haughtily, and asked them if they were come offering terms of submission.
Because our advanced guard had retired, he treated the affair of the day
before as an Abyssinian victory. He said the officers of the five repulsed
brigades were cowards; we should see how _he_ himself would fight. In
short, the blinded man would not hear of yielding. He evidently hoped for a
complete change of fortune from a not badly planned strategic flunking
manoeuvre which he had been meanwhile carrying out, and which had only one
defect--it did not sufficiently take into account the character of his
opponents. In short, more fighting had to be done.

On the 5th of September the two armies stood face to face. The Negus, with
265,000 men and 680 guns, had entrenched himself in a very favourable
position, and seemed indisposed to take the offensive. Our commander also
felt little inclined to storm the enemy's camp, a course which would have
involved an unnecessary sacrifice. To lie here, on the Jubba river, in an
inhospitable district in which his army must soon run short of provisions,
could not possibly be the intention of the enemy. He merely wished to keep
us here a little while until he could by stratagem outflank us. Arago,
having guarded against that, determined to wait; but in the meantime, in
order to tire the enemy of waiting, he caused our cavalry to intercept the
enemy's provisioning line. Our men lacked for nothing: the commissariat was
managed admirably. Among the Abyssinians, on the contrary, Duke Humphrey
was the host. Nevertheless the enemy kept quiet for three days in his
evidently untenable position, and the field-telegraph first informed us of
the motive of his doing so.

The Negus had sent out 45,000 men, who, making a wide circuit eastwards
beyond our outposts, were to cross the Endika range of hills, and to effect
an entrance into Freeland behind us, and in that way compel us to retreat.
Even if his plot had succeeded it would have helped him but little, for the
men left behind in the northern districts of Freeland would have very
quickly overcome these 45,000 men. But a few days of Abyssinian activity
might have been inconvenient for the prosperous fields and cities of North
Baringo and Lykipia; and it was therefore well that the passes of the
Endika range were guarded by 1,200 Freeland soldiers and eight guns. The
Abyssinians came upon these on the 7th of September, and through the whole
day vainly attempted to force a passage. Next morning they found themselves
shut in on their rear by our reserves, who had been left at the Konso pass,
and who had hastened to the scene of action by forced marches. After a
brief and desperate resistance the Abyssinians were compelled to lay down
their arms.

This news reached us about, noon on the 8th of September. This Job's
message must have reached the Negus about the same time, for towards two
o'clock we saw the enemy leaving the camp and preparing to give battle.
Arago rightly judged that, in order to avoid useless bloodshed, the
Abyssinians must this time be prevented from storming our lines in masses,
and must be completely routed as quickly as possible and deprived of any
power of offering further resistance. He therefore sent our artillery to
the front, repelled an attack from the enemy's centre by a couple of sharp
volleys from our mounted rifles, and at the same time moved 14,000 men on
the left flank of the enemy. Thence he opened fire about half-past three,
and, simultaneously making a vigorous attack on the front, he so completely
broke up the Abyssinian order of battle that the columns which a little
while before had been so well ordered were in a very short time crushed
into a chaotic mass, which our lines of rifles swept before them as the
beaters drive the game before the sportsmen. After the panic had once
seized the enemy there was but little firing. It was fortunate that the
Negus had posted on his left wing the troops that had learnt our mode of
fighting at Ardeb. These poor fellows remembered, after they had received a
murderous volley from our column advancing on their flank, that the
Freelanders stop firing as soon as the enemy gives way. Hence they could
not be made to stand again; and the cry of terror, 'Don't shoot, or you are
dead men!' with which they threw themselves upon their own centre--which in
the meantime had been attacked--was not calculated to stimulate the latter
to resistance. By five o'clock all was over; the centre and the left wing
of the Abyssinians were fleeing in wild confusion, the right wing, 54,000
men strong, was thrown, with the loss of all the artillery, into the
entrenchment they had just left, and there laid down their weapons as soon
as our guns began to play against the improvised earthworks. The other
prisoners taken on the field and during the pursuit, which lasted until
nightfall, amounted to 72,000; so that including the 41,000 unwounded men
who had fallen into our hands in the Endika passes, we now had 167,000
prisoners. The second battle cost the enemy 760 killed and 2,870 wounded;
our own losses in this last encounter were 22 killed and 105 wounded.

Assuming that the Negus succeeded in collecting the scattered remnants of
his army, he would still have nearly 130,000 men at his disposal, and it
was possible that he might still persist in the campaign. To prevent this,
the pursuit was carried on with all possible energy. All the cavalry and a
part of the artillery kept at the heels of the enemy; the rest of the army,
after the wounded and prisoners were provided for and the dead were buried,
followed rapidly the next morning. The retreating Abyssinians made no
further serious resistance, but allowed themselves to be easily taken
prisoners. In this way, during a five days' chase through the Galla
country, 65,000 more men fell into our hands. John had lost nearly all his
artillery in the engagement on the Jubba; during the pursuit he lost
twenty-six more guns, and then had only seventeen left. With these, and
about 60,000 utterly demoralised and for the most part disarmed men, the
Negus succeeded on the 13th of September in reaching the southern frontier
of his country, which he had recently left with such high hopes. Among the
hill-districts of Shoa he attempted to stop our pursuit. In spite of the
formidable natural advantages afforded him by his strong position, it would
not have been difficult to drive him out by a vigorous attack in the front.
But here again Arago shrank from causing unnecessary bloodshed, aid by
means of a skilful flank manoeuvre he induced the Negus, on the next day,
voluntarily to leave his position. Thence the pursuit continued without
intermission through the provinces of Shoa, Anchara, and Tigre, to the
coast. If the Negus had hoped to attract fresh troops on the way, or to
inflame the national fanaticism of his subjects against us, he was
disappointed. The utterly demoralised panic-stricken fragments of his army
which he carried with him were a _Mene, Tekel_, which caused his own people
to vanish wherever he came as if the ground had swallowed them up, to
reappear after he had gone and to receive us (his pursuers) with
palm-branches and barley, the Abyssinian emblems of peace. This led the
hunted man, when he had reached the frontier of Tigre, to leave the rest of
his army to their fate, and to throw himself, with a small guard of
horsemen, into his newly acquired coast possessions. Arrived there, with
masterly rapidity he concentrated all his available troops in the coast
fortresses, which he hoped, with the help of the fleet, to be able to
defend long enough to give time for a possible diversion in his favour
among the hill-tribes at our rear. This was the state of things when, on
the 18th of September, our advance-guard appeared before the walls of
Massowah. The Negus did not then know how short a time his fancied security
would last.

The fleet which the Negus had taken from the European Powers at this time
still contained thirteen men-of-war and nineteen gunboats and
despatch-boats; at the attack on Ungama, three ironclad frigates and four
smaller vessels had been either totally lost or so seriously damaged that
the Abyssinians, who had no means of repairing them, could make no further
use of them. A few days after the first unsuccessful attempt the
Abyssinians reappeared in greater force before Ungama, whose well-known
extensive wharves now for the first time seemed attractive to them; but at
the first greeting from our giant guns they wisely vanished, and did not
allow themselves to be sighted again.

On the other hand, they now watched all the more carefully the two
entrances into the Red Sea--from Bab-el-Mandeb in the south, and from Suez
in the north. They did not immediately expect any stronger naval power to
come from the Indian Ocean, as, besides the two ironclads and the two
despatch-boats which lay damaged at Ungama, there were no English, French,
or Italian warships of importance for thousands of miles in those seas; and
it would take months to get together a new fleet and send it round by the
Cape of Good Hope. Moreover, the Abyssinian agents in Europe reported that
the allies were preparing an expedition for the canal route, and not for
the Cape route. The fact that the French were collecting materials at
Toulon was not decisive evidence, as that Mediterranean port was as
convenient for the one route as for the other. That the Italians
concentrated their ships at Venice instead of at Genoa, which would be much
more convenient for an Atlantic expedition, spoke somewhat more plainly;
but that the English had chosen Malta as their rendezvous made the
destination of the fleet clear to everybody. But the Abyssinians could not
understand how the allies expected to pass the Suez Canal, which the
Abyssinian guns were able so completely to command that any vessel entering
the canal could be sunk ten times before it could fire a broadside.
Besides, the Abyssinians cruising at the mouth of the canal had made it
impassable by a sunken vessel laden with stones. To remove this obstacle
under the fire of 184 heavy guns--the number possessed by the Abyssinian
fleet--was an undertaking at which John grimly smiled when he thought of
it. And as he now needed his ironclads as least as much at Massowah as at
Suez and Bab-el-Mandeb, he had the larger part of them brought to him in
order to keep the Freeland besieging army in check, while merely four
ironclad frigates, two gunboats, and one despatch-boat remained at Suez,
and one ironclad frigate, three gunboats, and two despatch-boats at

The ships ordered to Massowah reached that port on the 18th and 19th of
September; but our newly constructed Freeland fleet had already started
from Ungama on the 16th.

Immediately after receiving news of the capture of the coast fortresses and
the ships of the allies, the central executive had determined upon the
construction of this fleet, and the work was not delayed an hour. There was
no time to construct an armoured fleet; but they did not think they needed
one. What the executive decided upon was the construction of fast wooden
vessels with guns of such a range that their shots would destroy the
ironclads without allowing the shots of the latter to reach our vessels.
The government relied not merely upon the greater speed of the vessels and
the longer range of the guns, but chiefly upon the superiority of our
gunners. It was calculated that if our vessels could come within a certain
distance of the enemy, our guns would destroy the strongest ship of the
enemy before our vessels could be hit. The Freeland shipbuilding and other
industries were fully capable, if the work were undertaken with adequate
energy and under skilful organisation, of constructing and equipping a
sufficient number of wooden vessels of from 2,000 to 3,500 tons in the
course of a few weeks. As early as the 23rd of August the keels of
thirty-six such vessels were laid at Ungama; there was sufficient timber in
stock, and the machine-works of Ungama also had in stock enough
ship-engines of between 2,000 and 3,000 horse-power to furnish the new
vessels, the larger of which were to be supplied with four such engines.
The best and largest guns were collected from all the Freeland
exercise-grounds; twenty-four new ones, which threw all former ones into
the shade, were made in the steel-works at Dana City. The work was carried
out with such energy that within twenty-two days the final touch had been
given to the last of the thirty-six floating batteries. These constructions
were not perfect in elegance; but in mechanical completeness they were
faultless. They were flat-decked, so as to present as little surface as
possible to the enemy's balls, and were divided into water-tight
compartments to prevent their being sunk by shells striking them under the
water-line. Each vessel had at least two engines working in complete
independence of each other, so that it could not easily be deprived of its
power of locomotion. Only the powder-magazines were armour-plated, but the
plates used were of the strongest kind. The guns, which moved freely on the
deck, weighed from 100 to 250 tons, and were distributed, to some vessels
one, to others two, and to others three; altogether thirty-six vessels
possessed seventy-eight guns. The maximum speed ranged for the different
vessels from twenty-three to twenty-seven knots per hour.

As we had promised the Western Powers that we would open the Suez Canal to
the European transport-ships, we had to proceed at once to carry this task
into execution. On the evening of the 19th of September our vessels sighted
the Abyssinian squadron cruising in the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. These,
mistaking us for passenger-steamers, at once gave chase, and were not a
little astonished to find that the harmless looking crafts did not alter
their course. It was not until the enemy had got within a little more than
nine miles and had had a taste of a few of our heaviest shot, that they
recognised their error and beat a hasty retreat. The greater part of our
fleet kept on its way into the Red Sea; only six of our largest and fastest
vessels pursued the fleeing Abyssinians, sunk two of their ships by a
well-directed fire, which, on account of the distance, the enemy could not
effectively return, and drove the others ashore. Our sloops picked as many
of the men as they could reach out of the water, and the vessels then
proceeded on their way to Suez. The affair with the Bab-el-Mandeb squadron
lasted only about two hours and a-half.

The greater part of our fleet steamed unperceived past Massowah in the
night of the 19th-20th; the other six were, however, in the early dawn,
seen and pursued by a hostile cruiser. As it was not our intention to make
a halt at Massowah or prematurely to warn the Abyssinian ships lying there
by giving a lesson to a cruiser as we passed, our vessels did not answer
the enemy's shots--though several of the latter struck us--but endeavoured
to get out of reach as quickly as possible. They succeeded in doing this
without suffering any serious damage. As we learnt afterwards, our vessels
were mistaken at Massowah also for mail-ships which were heedlessly running
into the hands of the cruisers guarding the canal. All that the Negus did
was to set his vessels industriously cruising off Massowah for several
nights in order to prevent the six supposed mail-steamers from escaping if
they should turn back from Suez.

On the afternoon of the 22nd our fleet appeared off Suez, attacked the
enemy's ships forthwith, and, after a short engagement, sank three of them.
The others, including three ironclad frigates, ran ashore, and the crews
were taken by the Egyptian troops. Our admiral provisionally handed over to
the Egyptians the Abyssinian sailors and marines who had been rescued from
drowning, and told off three of our vessels to assist the Egyptian and
English canal officials in raising the sunken stone-ship. These officials
told us that the allied fleet had reached Damietta the day before. If the
last obstacle to the navigation of the canal could be removed so soon, the
first ships of the allies could enter the Red Sea on the 24th, and the
expedition might be expected at Massowah by the end of the month. In order
to open Massowah by that time, our fleet at once returned southwards, and
on the 24th of September appeared off the Negus's last place of refuge.

The Freeland array had, in the meantime, remained inactive outside of
Massowah, knowing that the co-operation of our vessels would enable us to
take the place without difficulty. When those vessels appeared in the
offing, several small Abyssinian war-ships steered towards them. A few
shots from ours put the enemy's vessels to flight, and the Negus at last
understood the situation. However, he still hoped to demolish our wooden
ships, until the terrible execution effected by the first charges from our
enormous guns taught him and his admirals better. Continually withdrawing
out of range of the heavy ironclads as they steamed towards our vessels,
the destructive long-ranged guns of the latter poured forth their shot and
sank two of the frigates, before even _one_ of the enemy's balls had struck
a Freeland vessel. The enemy then turned and fled, but our vessels, keeping
at the same advantageous distance, pressed hard after them, and, before the
hostile fleet had reached the harbour, sank a third ironclad. Even in the
harbour the enemy found as little security as in the open sea; the dreadful
armour-crushing guns sent in shot after shot; a fourth ship sank, and then
a fifth. At the same time our gigantic guns battered at the harbour
bastions with tremendous effect, and we expected every moment to see the
white flag as a token of surrender. Instead of that, the Negus, finding
that he could not hold the fortress, and expecting no mercy from us,
suddenly made a desperate sortie, in the hope of fighting his way through
our lines to the hills. He succeeded in passing only our first line of
outposts; before he had reached the first Freeland line several volleys had
brought his party to a standstill and had given him his death. The
Abyssinians threw their arms away, and the war was ended.

To-morrow David and I return in the fastest of the Freeland vessels to
Ungama, where Bertha awaits us. The fortnight my father bargained for has
passed more than twice--I shall meet, not my betrothed, but my wife, on the
Freeland seashore.

* * * * *

Here end the Freeland letters of our new countryman, Carlo Falieri, to his
friend the architect Luigi Cavalotti. The two friends have exchanged
residences; Cavalotti has migrated to Freeland, Falieri on the contrary,
after spending a few delightful weeks on a paradisiacal island on Lake
Victoria Nyanza, has been withdrawn from us for a time. He obeyed a call
from his native land to assist in the carrying out of those reforms which
had to be undertaken there, as elsewhere throughout the world, in
consequence of the events described in his letters, and of other events
which followed those. His wife accompanies him on his mission, in the
furtherance of which our central government has placed the resources of
Freeland at his disposal. But this carries us into the subject of the
following book.



The moral effect of our Abyssinian campaign was immense among all the
civilised and half-civilised peoples who heard of it. We ourselves had
expected the most salutary results from it, as we foresaw that the
brilliant proof of our power which we had given to the world would make our
adversaries more cautious and induce them to be more compliant to our just
wishes. But the effect far exceeded our most sanguine expectations. The
former opponents of economic justice were not merely silenced, but actually
converted--a fact which seemed to astonish us Freelanders ourselves rather
than our friends abroad. We could not clearly understand why people, who
for decades had regarded our efforts as foolish or objectionable, should,
simply because our young men had shown themselves to be excellent soldiers,
suddenly conclude that it would be possible and beneficial to enable every
worker to retain the full produce of his industry. The connection between
the latter and the execution done by our rifles and cannons was not clear
to us who lived under the dominion of reason and justice; but outside of
Freeland, wherever physical force was still the ultimate ground of right,
everybody--even those who in principle endorsed our ideas--held it to be a
matter of course that the crushing blows under whose tremendous force the
Negus of Abyssinia fell, were an unanswerable _argumentum ad hominem_ for
the superiority of our institutions as a whole. In particular, the sudden
victorious appearance of our fleet operated abroad as a decisive proof that
economic justice is no mere dream-Utopia, but a very real actuality; in
short, our military successes proved to be the triumph of our social
institutions. A strong feverish excitement took possession of all minds;
and men everywhere now wished practically to adopt what until then had been
seriously regarded by a comparatively small number as an ideal to be
attained in the future, by many had been treated with disfavour, and by
most had been altogether ignored.

And it was seen--which certainly did _not_ surprise us--that the impatience
and the revolutionary fever were the intenser the less the subjects of them
had previously studied our principles. The most advanced liberal-minded
nations, whose foremost statesmen had already been in sympathy with us, and
had made well-meant, but disconnected, attempts to lead their
working-classes into industrial freedom, applied themselves with
comparative deliberateness to the task of effecting the great economic and
social revolution with as little disturbance of the existing interests as
possible. England, France, and Italy, which before the outbreak of the
Abyssinian war were already prepared to introduce our institutions into
their East African possessions, now resolved to co-operate with us in the
conversion of their existing institutions into others analogous to ours--a
course which they could take without involving themselves in any very
revolutionary steps. Several other European Powers, as well as the whole of
America and Australia, immediately followed their example. This gave rise
to some stormy outbursts of popular feeling in the States in question; but
beyond the breaking of a few windows no harm was done. There were more
serious disturbances in the 'conservative' States of Europe and in some
parts of Asia; there occurred violent uprisings and serious attacks upon
unpopular ministers, who in vain asserted that they no longer had any
objection to make to economic equity. Here and there the struggle led to
bloodshed and confiscations. The working-classes mistrusted the wealthy
classes, but were themselves not agreed upon the course that should be
taken; and the parties assumed a more and more threatening attitude towards
each other. But the condition of affairs was worst where the governments
had formerly acted in avowed opposition to the people, the wealthy had
oppressed the masses, and the latter had been designedly kept in ignorance
and poverty. In such countries there was no intelligent popular class
possessing influence enough to control the outbursts of furious and
unreasoning hatred; cruelty and horrors of all kinds were perpetrated, the
former oppressors slaughtered wholesale, and there would have been no means
of staying the senseless and aimless bloodshed if, fortunately for these
countries, our influence and authority had not ultimately quieted the
raging masses and turned the agitation into proper channels. After one of
the parties, which in those countries were fruitlessly tearing each other
to pieces, had conceived the idea of calling in our intervention, the
example was generally followed. Wherever anarchy prevailed in the east of
Europe, in Asia, in several African States, requests were sent that we
would furnish commissioners, to whom should be granted unlimited authority.
We naturally complied most gladly with these requests; and the Freeland
commissioners were everywhere the objects of that implicit confidence which
was necessary for the restoration of quiet.

In the meantime those States also which were more advanced in opinion had
asked for confidential agents from Freeland to assist, both with counsel
and material aid, the governments in prosecuting the intended reforms. We
say advisedly with counsel and _material aid_ for the people of Freeland,
as soon as it was known that assistance had been asked for, granted to
their delegates, whether acting as consultative members of a foreign
government or as commissioners furnished with unlimited power, disposal
over the material resources of Freeland for the benefit of the countries
that had sent for them; the sums advanced being treated not as gifts, but
as loans. The central government of Eden Vale formally reserved the right
to give the final decision in the case of each loan; but as it was an
understood principle that necessary help was to be afforded, and as only
those who were on the spot could know what help was necessary, a
discretionary right of disposal of the available capital really lay in the
hands of the commissioners and confidential agents.

That we were able, in the course of a few months, to meet a demand from
abroad for nearly two milliard pounds sterling is explained by the fact
that our Freeland Insurance Department had at its disposal in an available
form about one-fifth of its reserve of more than ten milliards sterling.
The other four-fifths were invested--that is, it was lent to associations
and to the commonwealth for various purposes; the one-fifth had been
retained in the coffers of the bank as disposable stock for emergencies,
and now could be used to meet the sudden demand for capital. This reserve,
of course, was not kept in the form of gold or silver: had it been, it
would not have been available when an accidental demand arose. It is not
gold or silver, but quite other things that are required in a time of need:
the precious metals can serve merely as suitable means of procuring the
things that are really required. In order that such things may be acquired
they must exist somewhere in a sufficient quantity, and that they exist in
sufficient quantity to meet a sudden and exceptionally large demand cannot
be taken for granted. He who suddenly wants goods worth milliards of pounds
will not be able to buy them anywhere, because they are nowhere stored up
to that amount; if he would be protected from the danger of not being able
to get such a demand met, he must lay up, not the money for purchase, but
the goods themselves which he expects to need. Take, for example, the case
of the Russians who had burnt and destroyed the granaries of their
landowners, the warehouses of their merchants, the machines in their
factories: what good would have done them had the milliards of roubles
which they needed to make good--and to add to--what had been destroyed been
sent to them in the form of money for them to spend? There were no surplus
supplies which they could have bought: had they taken our money into the
markets the only effect would have been to raise all prices, and to have
made all the neighbouring nations share their distress. And in the same way
all the other nations, which we wished to assist in their endeavour to rise
as quickly as possible out of their misery into a state of wealth similar
to our own, needed not increased currency but increased food, raw material,
and implements. And our reserve was laid up in the form of such things.
About half of it always consisted of grain, the other half of various kinds
of raw material, particularly materials for weaving, and metals. When our
commissioner in Russia asked at different times for sums amounting
altogether to 285,000,000, he did not receive from us a farthing in money,
but 3,040 cargoes of wheat, wool, iron, copper, timber, &c.: the result was
that the wasted country did not suffer at all from want, but a few months
later--certainly less in consequence of the loans themselves than of the
fact that the loans were employed in the Freeland spirit--it enjoyed a
prosperity which a short time before no one would have dreamt to be
possible. In the same way we made our resources useful to other nations,
and we resolved that should our existing means not suffice to meet the
demands, we would make up what was still needed from the produce of the
coming year.

We by no means intended to continue this _rle_ of economic and social
providence to our brother peoples longer than was absolutely necessary. We
did not shrink from either the burden or the responsibility; but we
considered that in all respects it would be for the best if the process of
social reconstruction, in which all mankind was now engaged, were to be
carried out with the united powers of all, according to a well-considered
common plan. We therefore determined at once to invite all the nations of
the earth to a conference at Eden Vale, in which it might be decided what
ought next to be done. It was not our intention that this congress should
pass binding resolutions: it should remain, we thought, free to every
nation to draw what conclusions it pleased from the discussions at the
congress; but it seemed to us that in any case it would be of advantage to
know what the majority thought of the movement now going on.

This suggestion met with no serious objection anywhere. Among the less
advanced nations of Asia there was a strong feeling that, instead of
spending the time in useless talk, it would be better simply to put into
execution whatever we Freelanders advised. The constituent assemblies of
several--and those not the least--nations said that they on their part
would abide by what we said, whatever the congress might decide upon. But
it was necessary only to point out that we could not advise them until we
had heard them, and that a congress seemed to be the best means of making
their wants known, to induce them to send delegates. We could not prevent
many of the delegates from receiving instruction to vote with us
Freelanders in all divisions whatever--an instruction which proved to be
quite unnecessary, as the congress did not divide at all, except upon
questions of form, upon other questions confining itself to discussion and
leaving everyone to draw his own conclusions from the debates.

On the other hand, in the most advanced countries a small minority had
organised an opposition, not, it is true, against the general principles of
economic justice, but against many of the details involved in carrying out
that principle. This opposition had nowhere been able to elect a delegate
who should bear its mandate to the World's Congress; but it everywhere
found strong advocates among the Freeland confidential agents and
commissioners, who, while perfectly in harmony with the public opinion of
Freeland, endeavoured, as far as possible, to secure a representation of
every considerable party tendency, in order that those who clung to the
obsolete old economic order should have no right to complain that they
could not make themselves heard. Sixty-eight nations were invited to take
part in the congress; it was left to the nations themselves to decide how
many delegates they should send, provided they did not send more than ten
each. The sixty-eight countries elected 425 delegates, thus making with the
twelve heads of departments of the Freeland government a total number of
437 members of the congress.

On the 3rd of March, in the twenty-sixth year after the founding of
Freeland, the congress met in the large hall of the Eden Vale National
Palace. On the right sat those who questioned the possibility of carrying
out the proposed reform universally, in the centre the adherents of
Freeland, on the left the Radicals to whom the most violent measures seemed
best. The presidency was given to the head of the Freeland government,
which position had been uninterruptedly occupied by Dr. Strahl since the
founding of the commonwealth.

We give the following _rsum_ of the six days' discussion from the
official minutes:


The PRESIDENT, in the name of the Freeland people, welcomed the delegates
of the nations who had responded to the Freeland invitation.

CHARLES MONTAIGNE (_Centre_), in the name of his colleagues, thanked the
Freeland people for the magnanimous and extraordinary assistance which they
had afforded to the other nations of the earth in their struggles after
economic freedom. Not content with showing to the rest of the world the way
to economic freedom and justice, Freeland had also made enormous material
sacrifices. For his part, he did not know which was the more astonishing,
the inexhaustibleness of the resources which Freeland had at its disposal
or the disinterested magnanimity exhibited in the employment of those

JAMES CLARK (_Freeland_): In the interest of sober truth, as well as with a
view of furthering as much as possible the great work we all have at heart,
I must explain that though the Freeland people are always happy to make
disinterested sacrifices for the good of their brother peoples, and that in
all they do in this way their object is rather to develop and to promote
the best interests of mankind than to obtain any advantage for themselves,
yet, as a matter of fact, the milliards lent to foreign countries cost
Freeland no material sacrifice, but bring it considerable material profit.
[Sensation.] Under the _rgime_ of economic justice and freedom the
solidarity of all economic interests is so universal and without exception,
that in Freeland business becomes as profitable as it is possible to
conceive of its being while you, with our assistance, are growing rich most
rapidly. This would be true if we gave you the milliards instead of lending
them. You look at each other and at me with an inquiring astonishment? You
hold it to be impossible to become rich by lending gratuitously or by
absolutely giving away a part of one's property? Yet nothing is simpler.
The subject is a very important one, and will come up for discussion again
in the course of our sittings; at present I will only briefly point out
that we have been prevented by the misery of the rest of the world from
making the right use of the advantages of international division of labour.
We have been obliged to manufacture for ourselves goods which we might have
obtained better from you; and we have therefore had to produce a smaller
quantity of those things which we could have produced most profitably. It
is plain that we should be far richer if we could give our attention
chiefly to the production of grain for ourselves and for you, and derive
from you the supplies we need to meet our demand for manufactured articles.
For here the soil yields for an equal amount of labour and capital ten
times as much as among you, while few manufactures here yield a larger
return for labour and capital than they do abroad. But, on account of the
system of exploitation which has prevailed and is not yet got rid of among
you--the cheap wages consequent upon which have cramped your use of
labour-saving machinery--we have been, and still are, compelled to meet
most of our demand for manufactured articles by our own production, since
you are scarcely able to produce for yourselves, to say nothing of
producing for us, a great number of goods which in the nature of things you
ought to be able to produce most profitably both for yourselves and for us,
and in exchange for which you would receive our foodstuffs and raw
material. We calculate that the removal of this hindrance to the complete
international division of labour must increase the productiveness of our
labour so much that the resulting gain would be cheaply bought by a
permanent sacrifice of many milliards. You need not wonder, then, at
finding us always so eager in encouraging you to make the freest and
fullest claims upon our resources. You will never dip so deeply into our
pockets that we--in our own interest as well as in yours--will not wish to
see you dip still deeper. Every farthing spent in hastening the development
of your wealth is made good to us ten and twentyfold.

FRANCIS FAR (_Right_): If it is so much to the interest of Freeland to
enrich us that Freeland is profited even by making us a gift of its
capital, why has it not given us its capital sooner? Who would have
hindered it from handing its milliards over to us? Why did it delay so
long, and why does it now make its assistance conditional on our accepting
its economic institutions?

JAMES CLARK: Because so long as you remained in servitude every farthing
given to you for such a purpose would have been simply thrown away.
Formerly we could do nothing more than support the victims of your social
system and mitigate the misery and wretchedness you inflicted upon
yourselves. As a matter of fact, there have long been large sums of
Freeland capital--bearing interest, it is true--invested in Europe and
America. What has been the result? This money has contributed to increase
the amount of surplus capital among you: it could not increase the quantity
of capital actually employed in production among you, for nothing could
have done that but an increased consumption by the people outside of
Freeland--and this was not compatible with what were then your economic
principles. Therefore we have been able to help you only since you
yourselves have held out the hand: our capital will benefit you only
because you have at length decided to enjoy the fruits of it yourselves.
[General assent.]

The PRESIDENT: In order to preserve a certain amount of order in our
discussions, I propose that we at once agree upon a list of the questions
to be considered. It may not always be possible to adhere strictly to the
order in the list; but it is advisable that each speaker should endeavour
as much as possible to confine himself to the subject under discussion. In
order to expedite matters, the Freeland government has prepared a kind of
agenda, which you can accept, or amend, or reject. The matters for
discussion mentioned in this agenda, I may remark, were not introduced on
our initiative, but were mentioned by the leaders of the different parties
abroad as needing more detailed explanation: we, on our part, contented
ourselves with arranging these questions. We propose, therefore, that the
following be the order in which the subjects be discussed:

1. How can the fact be explained that never in the course of history,
before the founding of Freeland, has there been a successful attempt to
establish a commonwealth upon the principles of economic justice and

2. Is not the success of the Freeland institutions to be attributed merely
to the accidental, and therefore probably transient, co-operation of
specially favourable circumstances; or do those institutions rest upon
conditions universally present and inherent in human nature?

3. Are not want and misery necessary conditions of existence; and would not
over-population inevitably ensue were misery for a time to disappear from
the earth?

4. Is it possible to introduce the institutions of economic justice
everywhere without prejudice to inherited rights and vested interests; and,
if possible, what are the best means of doing this?

5. Are economic justice and freedom the ultimate outcome of human
evolution; and what will probably be the condition of mankind under such a

Has anyone a remark to make upon our proposal? No one has. Therefore I
place point 1 upon the order of the day, and call upon delegate Erasmus
Kraft to speak.

ERASMUS KRAFT (_Right_): Wherever thinking men dwell upon this earth, we
are preparing to exchange the state of servitude and misery in which from
time immemorial our race has been sunk, for a happier order of things. The
brilliant example which we have before our eyes here in Freeland seems to
be a pledge that our attempt will--nay, must--succeed. But the more evident
this certainty becomes, the more urgent, the more imperative, becomes the
question why that which is now to be accomplished has not long since been
done, why the genius of humanity slept so long before it roused itself to
the task of completing this richly beneficent work. And the simpler--the
more completely in harmony with human nature and with the most primitive
requirements of sound reason--appears to be the complex of those
institutions upon which the work of emancipation depends, so much the more
enigmatical is it that earlier centuries and millenniums, when there was no
lack of enlightened and noble minds, never seriously attempted to
accomplish such a work. We see that it suffices to guarantee to everyone
the full enjoyment of what he produces, in order to supply everyone with
more than enough; and yet through untold millenniums men have patiently
endured boundless misery with all its consequences of sorrow and crime as
if they were inevitable conditions of existence. Why was this? Are we
shrewder, wiser, juster than all our ancestors; or, in spite of all the
apparently infallible evidence in favour of the success of our work, are we
not perhaps under a delusion? It is true that the greatest and most
important part of the history of mankind is veiled in the obscurity of
primitive antiquity; yet history is so old that it is scarcely to be
assumed that the endeavour after the material well-being of all--an
endeavour prompted by the most ardent desires of every creature--should now
make its appearance for the first time. It must be that such an endeavour
has been put forth, not _once_ merely but repeatedly, even though no
tradition has given us any trustworthy account of it. But where are its
results? Or did its results once exist though we know nothing of them? Is
the story of the Golden Age something more than a pious fable; and are we
upon the point of conjuring up another Golden Age? And then arises the
query, how long will this Golden Age last; will it not again be followed by
an age of bronze and an age of iron, perhaps in a more wretched, more
humble form than that exhibited by the age from which we are preparing to
part? Is that fatalistic resignation, with which the ages known to us
endured misery and servitude, a human instinct evolved during an earlier
and bitter experience--an instinct which teaches mankind to endure
patiently the inevitable rather than strive after a brief epoch of
happiness and progress at the risk of a deeper fall? In obedience to the
hint from the chair, I will at present refrain from inquiring what might be
the cause of such a relapse into redoubled misery, as this will be the
theme of the third point in the list of subjects for discussion; but I
think that before we proceed to an exposition of all the conceivable
consequences of the success of our endeavours it would be advisable first
to find out _whether_ those endeavours will really and in their full extent
succeed; and in order to find this out, it will again be advisable to ask
why such endeavours have never succeeded before--nay, perhaps, why they
have never before been made.

CHRISTIAN CASTOR (_Centre_): The previous speaker is in error when he
asserts that history tells us of no serious attempt to realise the
principle of economic justice. One of the grandest attempts of this kind is
Christianity. Everyone who knows the Gospels must know that Christ and His
apostles condemned the exploitation of man by man. The words of Scripture,
'Woe to him who waxes fat upon the sweat of his brother,' contain _in nuce_
the whole codex of Freeland law and all that we are now striving to
realise. That the official Christianity afterwards allowed its work of
emancipation to drop is true; but individual Fathers of the Church have
again and again, in reliance upon the sacred text, endeavoured to realise
the original purposes of Christ. And that during the Middle Ages, as well
as in modern times, vigorous attempts to realise the Christian ideal--that
is, the ideal of Christ, not that of the Church--have never been wanting is
also well known. This is what I wished to point out. The elucidation of the
question why all these attempts were wrecked I leave to other and better
furnished minds.

VLADIMIR OSSIP (_Left_): Far be it from me to hold the noble Founder of
Christianity responsible for what was afterwards made out of His teaching;
but our friend from the United States goes, in my opinion, too far when he
represents Christ and His successors as _our_ predecessors. We proclaim
prosperity and freedom--Christ preached self-denial and humility; we desire
the wealth, He the poverty, of all; we busy ourselves with the things of
this world--He had the next world before His eyes; we are--to speak
briefly--revolutionaries, though pacific ones--He is the founder of a
religion. Let us leave religion alone; I do not think it will be of any use
for us to call in question the _meum_ and _tuum_ as to Christianity.

LIONEL ACOSTA (_Centre_): I differ entirely in this case from the previous
speaker, and agree with our colleague from North America. The teaching of
Christ, though not explicit as to means and ends, is the purest and noblest
proclamation of social freedom that has yet been heard, and it is this
proclamation of social emancipation, and not any religious novelty, that
forms the substance of the 'Good News.' It was a master-stroke of the
policy of enslavement to represent Christ as a founder of a religion
instead of a social reformer: the latter doctrine had quickly won the
hearts of the oppressed masses because it promised them release from their
sufferings, but the former doctrine was used to lull to sleep their
awakening energy.

Christ did not concern Himself with religion--not a line in the Gospels
shows the slightest trace of His having interfered with one of the ancient
religious precepts of His country. The most orthodox Jew can unhesitatingly
place the Gospels in the hands of his children, certain that they will find
nothing therein to wound their religious sentiment. [A Voice: Then why was
Christ crucified?] I am asked why Christ was crucified if He had done
nothing contrary to the Mosaic law. Do men commit murder from religious
motives _merely_? Christ was hurried to death because He was a _social_,
not because He was a religious, innovator; and it was not the pious but the
powerful among the Jews who demanded His death. Scarcely a word is needed
to set this matter right in the minds of all those who study without
prejudice the momentous events of that saddest, but at the same time most
glorious, of the days of Israel, upon which the noblest of her sons
voluntarily sought and found a martyr's death. In the first place, it is a
well-attested historical fact that in Judaea at that time death for
religious heresy was as little known as in Europe during the last century.
In the second place, the mode of execution--the cross, which was quite
foreign to the Jews--shows that Christ was executed according to Roman, not
Jewish, law. But the Romans, the most tolerant in religious matters of all
peoples, would never have put a man to death for religious innovation; they
would not have allowed the execution to take place, much less have
themselves pronounced sentence and carried out that sentence in their own
method. The cross was among them the punishment for _riotous slaves_ or
their _instigators_. I do not say this for the purpose of shifting the
responsibility for Christ's death from Judaea--it is the sad privilege of
that people to have been the executioner of its noblest sons; and as only
the Athenians killed Socrates, so none but the Jews killed Christ; the
Romans were only the instruments of Jewish hatred--the hatred, that is, of
those wealthy men among the Jews of the time who denounced the 'perverter
of the people' to the Governor because they trembled for their possessions.
Indeed, it is quite credible that the Governor did not show himself willing
to accede to the wishes of the eager denouncers, for he, the Roman, who had
grown up in unshaken faith in the firmly established rights of property,
did not understand the significance and bearing of the social teaching of
Christ. The Gospels leave us little room to doubt--and it would be
difficult to understand how it could be otherwise--that he held Christ to
be a harmless enthusiast, who might have been let off with a little
scourging. Generations had to pass away before the _Roman_ world could
learn what the teaching of Christ really was; and then it fell upon His
followers with a fury without a parallel--crucified them, threw them to the
beasts; in short, did everything that Rome was accustomed to do to the foes
of its system of law and property, but never to the followers of foreign
religions. It was different with the _Jewish_ aristocracy: these at once
understood the meaning and the bearing of the Christian propaganda, for
they had long since learnt the germ of these social demands in the
Pentateuch and in the teaching of the earlier prophets. The year of Jubilee
which required a fresh division of the land after every forty-nine years,
the regulation that all slaves should be emancipated in the seventh
year--what were these but the precursors of the universal equality demanded
by Christ? Whether all these ideas, which are to be found in the Sacred
Scriptures of ancient Judaea, were ever realised in practice is more than
doubtful. But they were currently known to every Jew; and when Christ
attempted to give them a practical form--when, in vigorous and rousing
addresses, He denounced woe to the rich man who fattened upon his brother's
sweat--then the powerful in Jerusalem at once recognised that their
interests were threatened by a danger which was not clearly seen by
non-Jewish property-owners until much later. There is not the slightest
doubt that they made no secret of the true grounds of their anxiety to the
Roman Governor, for Christ was executed, not as a sectary, but as an
inciter to revolt.

But, of course, it could not be told to the people that the death of Christ
was demanded because He wished to put into practice the principle of
equality laid down in the sacred books and so often insisted on by the
prophets. The people had to be satisfied with the fable of the religious
heresy of the Nazarene, which fable, however--except in the case of the
unjudging crowd that collected together at the crucifixion--for a long time
found no credence. Everywhere in Israel did the first Christian communities
pass for good Jews; they were called _Judaei_ by all the Roman authors by
whom they were mentioned. What they really were, in what respects alone
they differed from the other communities of Jews, is sufficiently revealed
in the Acts of the Apostles, notwithstanding the very natural caution of
the writer, and the subsequent equally intelligible corruptions of the
text. They were Socialists, to some extent Communists; absolute economic
equality, community of goods, was practised among them. Later, when the
Christian Church sacrificed its social principle to peace with the State,
and transformed itself from a cruelly persecuted martyr to equality into an
instrument of authority and--perhaps because of this apostasy--of a doubly
zealous persecuting authority, then first did she put forth as her own
teaching the malicious calumny of her former maligners, and took upon
herself the _rle_ of a new religion; and since then she has, in fact, been
the propounder of a new religion. And that she has succeeded, for more than
1,500 years, in connecting her new _rle_ with the name of Christ, is
mainly the fault of the Jews, who, through the sanguinary persecutions
which have been carried on against them in the name of the meek Sufferer of
Golgotha, have allowed themselves to be betrayed into a blind and foolish
hatred towards this their greatest and noblest son.

But it remains none the less true that Christ suffered death for the idea
of social justice and for this alone--nay, that before His time this idea
was not unknown to Judaism. And it is equally true that notwithstanding all
subsequent obscuration and corruption of this world-redeeming idea, the
propaganda of economic emancipation has never since been completely
suppressed. It was in vain that the Church forbad the laity to read those
books which were alleged to contain no teaching but that of the Church:
again and again did the European peoples, languishing in the deepest
degradation, derive from those forbidden Scriptures courage and inspiration
to attempt their emancipation.

DARJA-SING (_Centre_): I should like to add to what I have just heard that
another people, six centuries before Christ, also conceived the ideas of
freedom and justice--I mean the Indian people. The essence of Buddhism is
the doctrine of the equality of all men and of the sinfulness of oppression
and exploitation. Nay, I venture to assert that the already mentioned ideas
of social freedom to be found in the Pentateuch, and held by the prophets,
and consequently those also held by Christ, are to be referred back to
Indian suggestion. At first sight this appears to be an anachronism, for
Buddha lived six centuries before Christ, while the Jewish legends carry
back the composition of the Pentateuch to the fourteenth century before
Christ. But recent investigations have almost certainly established that
these alleged books of Moses were composed in the sixth century B.C. at the
earliest--at any rate, after the return of the Israelites from the
so-called Babylonish captivity. Now, just at the time when the _lite_ of
the then existing Jews were carried to Babylon, Buddha sent his apostles
through the whole of Asia; and it may safely be assumed that those who
'wept by the waters of Babylon' were specially susceptible to the teaching
of such apostles.

When, therefore, certain eminent German thinkers assert that Christianity
is a drop of foreign blood in the Arian peoples, they are certainly correct
in so far as Christianity actually came to them as Semitism, as having
sprung from Judaism; nevertheless the Arian world can lay claim to the
fundamental conception of Christianity as its own, since it is most highly
probable that the Semitic peoples received the first germ of it from the
Arians. I say this not for the purpose of depreciating the service
performed by the great Semitic martyr to freedom. I cannot, alas! deny that
we Arians were not able to accomplish anything of our own strength with the
divine idea that sprang from our bosom. While it is probable that the
horrors of the Indian system of caste, that most shameful blossom that ever
sprang from the blood-and-tear-bedewed soil of bondage, made India the
scene of the first intellectual reaction against this scourge of mankind,
it is certain, on the other hand, that that very system of caste so
severely strained the energy of our Indian people as to make it impossible
for them to give practical effect to the reaction. Buddhism was
extinguished in India, and outside of India it was soon entirely robbed of
its social characteristic. Those transcendental speculations to which even
in the West it was _attempted_ to limit Christianity have in Eastern Asia
been in reality the only effects of Buddhism. Indeed, the idea of freedom
took different forms in the minds of the founders--taking one form in the
Indian Avatar which, notwithstanding all his sublimity, bore the mark of
his nationality; and taking another form in the Messiah of Judah who saw
the light of the world in the midst of a people fired with a never-subdued
yearning for freedom. Buddha could conceive of freedom only in the form of
that hopeless self-renunciation which was falsely introduced into the
Christian idea of freedom by those who did not wish to have their own
enjoyments interfered with by the claims of others.

In fact, I am convinced that even our more vigorous kinsmen who had
migrated to the West could not have given practical effect to the
conception of freedom and equality if we--the Indian world--had transmitted
to them that conception just as we had conceived it. For even those who
migrated westward carried in their blood to Europe, and retained for a
thousand years, the sentiment of caste. The idea that all men are equal,
really equal here upon earth, would have remained as much beyond the grasp
of the German noble and the German serf as it has remained beyond the grasp
of the Indian Pariah or Sudra and the Brahman or Kshatriya. This conception
had first to be condensed and permanently fixed by the genius of the
strongly democratic little Semitic race on the banks of the Jordan, and
then to be subjected to a severe--and, for a time, adverse--analytical
criticism by the independent and logical spirit of research of Rome and
Greece, before it could be transplanted and bear fruit in purely Arian
races. It is very evident that the converted German kings adopted
Christianity because they held it to be a convenient instrument of power.
It was for the time being immaterial to them what the new doctrine had to
say to the serfs; for the serf who looked up to the 'offspring of the
gods,' his master, with awful reverence, seemed to be for ever harmless,
and the only persons against whom it was necessary for the masters to arm
were their fellow lords, the great and the noble, who differed from the
kings in nothing but in the amount of their power. The right to rule came,
according to the Arian view, from God: very well, but the right of the
least of the nobles sprang, like that of the king, from the gods. Now, the
kings found in Christ the _one_ supreme Lord who had conferred power upon
them, and upon them alone. They alone now possessed a divine source of
authority; and therefore history shows us everywhere that it was the kings
who introduced Christianity against the--often determined--opposition of
the great, and never that the great were converted without, or against the
will of, the kings. The masses of the people, the serfs, where were these
ever asked? They have to do and believe what their masters think well; and
without exception they do it, making no resistance whatever--allowing
themselves to be driven to baptism in flocks like sheep, and believing, as
they are commanded to do, that all power comes from _one_ God, who bestows
it upon _one_ lord. For the Arian serf is a mere chattel without a will,
and will not think for himself until he is educated to do so. This work of
education has been a long time in progress; but, as the previous speaker
rightly said, the idea of freedom has never slept.

ERICH HOLM (_Right_): I do not think that any valid objection can be made
to the statement that the general idea of economic justice is thousands of
years old and has never been completely lost sight of. But it is a question
whether this general idea of equality of rights and of freedom has much in
common with that which _we_ are now about to put into practice, or whether
in many respects it does not differ from that ancient idea. And, further,
it is a question whether that idea, which we have heard is already
twenty-five centuries old, has ever been or can be realised.

With reference to the first question, I must admit that Christ, in contrast
to Buddha, entertained not a transcendental and metaphysical, but a very
material and literal idea of equality. It is true that He pronounced the
poor in spirit blessed; but the rich, who according to Him would find it
harder to get into heaven than it is for a rope of camel's hair to go
through a needle's eye, were not the rich in spirit, but the rich in
earthly riches. It is also true that he said, 'My kingdom is not of this
world' and 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's'; yet everyone
who reads these passages in connection with their context must see that He
is simply waiving all interference whatever with political affairs--that in
wishing to gain the victory for social justice he is influenced not by
political, but by transcendental aims for the sake of eternal blessedness.
Whether Rome or Israel rules is immaterial to Him, if only justice be
exercised; yet only pious narrow-mindedness can deny that He wished to see
justice exercised here below, and not merely in the next world. But is that
which Christ understands by justice really identical with what we mean by
it? It is true that the 'Love thy neighbour as thyself,' which He preached
in common with other Jewish teachers, would be a senseless phrase if it did
not imply economic equality of rights. The man who exploits man loves man
as he does his domestic animal, but not as himself: to require true
'Christian neighbourly love' in an exploiting society would be simply
absurd, and what would come of it we have in times past sufficiently
experienced. Indeed, the apostle removes all doubt from this point, for he
expressly condemns the getting rich upon another's sweat.

So far, then, we are completely at one with Christ. But He just as
emphatically condemns wealth and praises poverty, whilst we would make
wealth the common possession of all, and therefore would place all our
fellow-men in a condition in which--to speak with Christ--it would be
harder to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a rope to go through a
needle's eye. Here is a contradiction which it seems to me can scarcely be
reconciled. We hold misery, Christ held wealth, to be the source of vice,
of sin: our equality is that of wealth, His that of poverty. This is my
first point.

In the second place, Christ did _not_ succeed, modest as His aims were. Is
not, then, an appeal to this noblest of all minds calculated to discourage
rather than to encourage us in the pursuit of our aims?

EMILIO LERMA (_Freeland_): The previous speaker has brought the poverty
which Christ praised and required into a false relation with
the--alleged--miscarriage of His work of emancipation. Christ's work
miscarried not in spite of, but _because_ of, the fact that He attempted to
base equality upon poverty. The equality of poverty cannot be established,
for it would be synonymous with the stagnation of civilisation. However, it
is not only possible, but necessary, to bring about the equality of wealth,
as soon as the necessary conditions exist, because this is synonymous with
the progress of civilisation. You will say that certainly this is so
according to our view; but according to the view of Christ wealth is an
evil. Very true. But when we examine the matter without prejudice, it is
impossible not to see _that Christ rejected wealth only because it had its
source in exploitation_. There is nothing in the life of Christ to suggest
that He was such a gloomy ascetic as He must have been if He had held
wealth, as such, to be sinful: numberless passages in the Gospels afford
unequivocal evidence of the contrary. Christ's daily needs were very
simple, but He was always ready to enjoy whatever His adherents offered
him, and never saw any harm in getting as much pleasure from living as was
consistent with justice. This view of His was not affected even by the
hatred with which the rich of Jerusalem persecuted Him, and the
often-quoted condemnation of the rich has in it something contrary to the
spirit of the Gospels, if we tear it away from its connection with the
words, 'Woe unto him who waxeth fat upon the sweat of his brother.' In
condemning wealth, Christ condemned merely its source; the kingdom of
heaven was closed to wealth because, and only because, wealth could not be
acquired except by exploiting the sweat of men. There can be no doubt that
Christ, like ourselves, would have become reconciled to wealth if then, as
in our days, wealth were possible without exploitation--nay, really
possible only without it. We shall have further occasion to discuss why
this was impossible in Christ's day and for many centuries afterwards; at
present it is enough to know that it _was_ impossible, that the only choice
lay between poverty and wealth with exploitation.

Christ rendered the immortal service of having recognised this alternative
more clearly than anyone before Him, and of having attacked exploitation
with soul-stirring fervour. It was inevitable that He should be crucified
for what He did, for in the antagonism between justice and the claims of
civilisation the first always succumbs. It was inevitable that He should
die, because He unrolled the banner of true human love, freedom, and
equality--in short, of all the noblest sentiments of the human
heart--nearly two thousand years too soon; too soon, that is, for Him, not
for us: for dull-witted humanity needed those two thousand years in order
fully to understand what its martyr meant. For humanity Christ died not a
day too soon. There is, then, no contradiction between the Christian ideas
and what we are striving for; the difference between the two lies simply
herein: that the first announcement of the idea of equality was made in an
age when the material conditions necessary for the practical realisation of
this divine idea did not yet exist, whilst our endeavours signify the
'Incarnation of the Word,' the fruit of the seed then cast into the mind of
mankind. It cannot, therefore, be said that the Christian work of
emancipation has really 'miscarried': there merely lie two thousand years
between the beginning and the completion of the work undertaken by Christ.

On account of the lateness of the hour the President here closed the
sitting, the debate standing adjourned until the next day.



(_Adjourned Discussion upon the first point on the Agenda_)

LEOPOLD STOCKAU (_Centre_) re-opened the debate: I think that the
preliminary question, whether our present endeavours after economic justice
really are without any historical precedent, was exhaustively discussed
yesterday and was answered in the negative. At least, I am authorised by
yesterday's speakers of the opposite party to declare that they are fully
convinced that the teaching of Christ differs in no essential point from
that which is practically carried out in Freeland, and which we wish to
make the common property of the whole world. We now come to the main
subject of the first question for discussion--namely, to the inquiry why
the former attempts to base human industry upon justice and freedom have
been unsuccessful.

The answer to this question has already been suggested by the last speaker
of yesterday. Former attempts miscarried because they aimed at establishing
the equality of poverty: ours will succeed because it implies the equality
of wealth. The equality of poverty would have produced stagnation in
civilisation. Art and science, the two vehicles of progress, assume
abundance and leisure; they cannot exist, much less can they develop, if
there are no persons who possess more than is sufficient to satisfy their
merely animal wants. In former epochs of human culture it was impossible to
create abundance and leisure for all--it was impossible because the means
of production would not suffice to create abundance for all even if all
without exception laboured with all their physical power; and therefore
much less would they have sufficed if the workers had indulged in the
leisure which is as necessary to the development of the higher intellectual
powers as abundance is to the maturing of the higher intellectual needs.
And since it was not possible to guarantee to all the means of living a
life worthy of human beings, it remained a sad, but not less inexorable,
necessity of civilisation that the majority of men should be stinted even
in the little that fell to their share, and that the booty snatched from
the masses should be used to endow a minority who might thus attain to
abundance and leisure. Servitude was a necessity of civilisation, because
that alone made possible the development of the tastes and capacities of
civilisation in at least a few individuals, while without it barbarism
would have been the lot of all.

It is, moreover, a mistake to suppose that servitude is as old as the human
race: it is only as old as civilisation. There was a time when servitude
was unknown, when there were neither masters nor servants, and no one could
exploit the labour of his fellow-men; that was not the Golden, but the
Barbaric, Age of our race. While man had not yet learnt the art of
_producing_ what he needed, but was obliged to be satisfied with gathering
or capturing the voluntary gifts of nature, and every competitor was
therefore regarded as an enemy who strove to get the same goods which each
individual looked upon as his own special prey, so long did the struggle
for existence among men necessarily issue in reciprocal destruction instead
of subjection and exploitation. It did not then profit the stronger or the
more cunning to force the weaker into his service--the competitor had to be
killed; and as the struggle was accompanied by hatred and superstition, it
soon began to be the practice to eat the slain. A war of extermination
waged by all against all, followed generally by cannibalism, was therefore
the primitive condition of our race.

This first social order yielded, not to moral or philosophical
considerations, but to a change in the character of labour. The man who
first thought of sowing corn and reaping it was the deliverer of mankind
from the lowest, most sanguinary stage of barbarism, for he was the first
producer--he first practised the art not only of collecting, but of
producing, food. When this art so improved as to make it possible to
withdraw from the worker a part of his produce without positively exposing
him to starvation, it was gradually found to be more profitable to use the
vanquished as beasts of labour than as beasts for slaughter. Since slavery
thus for the first time made it possible for at least a favoured few to
enjoy abundance and leisure, it became the first promoter of higher
civilisation. But civilisation is power, and so it came about that slavery
or servitude in one form or another spread over the world.

But it by no means follows that the domination of servitude must, or even
can, be perpetual. Just as cannibalism--which was the result of that
minimum productiveness of human labour by means of which the severest toil
sufficed to satisfy only the lowest animal needs of life--had to succumb to
servitude as soon as the increasing productiveness of labour made any
degree of abundance possible, so servitude--which is nothing else but the
social result of that medium measure of productiveness by which labour is
able to furnish abundance and leisure to a few but not to all--_must_ also
succumb to another, a higher social order, as soon as this medium measure
of productiveness is surpassed, for from that moment servitude has ceased
to be a necessity of civilisation, and has become a hindrance to its

And for generations this has actually been the case. Since man has
succeeded in making the forces of nature serviceable in production--since
he has acquired the power of substituting the unlimited elemental forces
for his own muscular force--there has been nothing to prevent his creating
abundance and leisure for all; nothing except that obsolete social
institution, servitude, which withholds from the masses the enjoyment of
abundance and leisure. We not merely can, but we shall be compelled to make
social justice an actual fact, because the new form of labour demands this
as imperatively as the old forms of labour demanded servitude. Servitude,
once the vehicle of progress, has become a hindrance to civilisation, for
it prevents the full use of the means of civilisation at our disposal. As
it reduces to a minimum the things consumed by most of our brethren, and
therefore does not call into play more than a very small part of our
present means of production, it compels us to restrict our productive
labour within limits far less than those to which we should attain if an
effective demand existed for what would then be the inevitable abundance of
all kinds of wealth.

I sum up thus: Economic equality of rights could not be realised in earlier
epochs of civilisation, because human labour was not then sufficiently
productive to supply wealth to all, and equality therefore meant poverty
for all, which would have been synonymous with barbarism. Economic equality
of rights not only can but _must_ now become a fact, because--thanks to the
power which has been acquired of using the forces of nature--abundance and
leisure have become possible for all; but the full utilisation of the now
acquired means of civilisation is dependent on the condition that everyone
enjoys the product of his own industry.

SATZA-MUNI (_Right_): I think it has been incontrovertibly shown that
economic equality of rights was formerly impossible, and that it _can_ now
be realised; but why it _must_ now be realised does not seem to me to have
been yet placed beyond a doubt. So long as the productiveness of labour was
small, the exploitation of man by man was a necessity of civilisation--that
is plain; this is no longer the case, since the increased productiveness of
labour is now capable of creating wealth enough for all--this is also as
clear as day. But this only proves that economic justice has become
possible, and there is a great difference between the possible and the
necessary existence of a state of things. It has been said--and the
experience of the exploiting world seems to justify the assertion--that
full use cannot be made of the control which science and invention have
given to men over the natural forces, while only a small part of the fruits
of the thus increased effectiveness of labour is consumed; and if this can
be irrefutably shown to be inherent in the nature of the thing, there
remains not the least doubt that servitude in any form has become a
hindrance to civilisation. For an institution that prevents us from making
use of the means of civilisation which we possess is in and of itself a
hindrance to civilisation; and since it restrains us from developing wealth
to the fullest extent possible, and wealth and civilisation are power, so
there can consequently be no doubt as to why and in what manner such an
institution must in the course of economic evolution become obsolete. The
advanced and the strong everywhere and necessarily imposes its laws and
institutions upon the unprogressive and the weak; economic justice would
therefore--though with bloodless means--as certainly and as universally
supplant servitude as formerly servitude--when it was the institution which
conferred a higher degree of civilisation and power--supplanted
cannibalism. I have already admitted that the modern exploiting society is
in reality unable to produce that wealth which would correspond to the now
existing capacity of production: hence it follows as a matter of fact that
the exploiting society is very much less advanced than one based upon the
principle of economic justice, and it also quite as incontrovertibly
follows that the former cannot successfully compete with the latter.

But before we have a right to jump to the conclusion that the principles of
economic justice must necessarily be everywhere victorious, it must be
shown that it is the essential nature of the exploiting system, and not
certain transitory accidents connected with it, which makes it incapable of
calling forth all the capacity of highly productive labour. Why is the
existing exploiting society not able to call forth all this capacity?
Because the masses are prevented from increasing their consumption in a
degree corresponding to the increased power of production--because what is
produced belongs not to the workers but to a few employers. Right. But, it
would be answered, these few would make use of the produce themselves. To
this the rejoinder is that that is impossible, because the few owners of
the produce of labour can use--that is, actually consume--only the smallest
portion of such an enormous amount of produce; the surplus, therefore, must
be converted into productive capital, the employment of which, however, is
dependent upon the consumption of those things that are produced by it.
Very true. No factories can be built if no one wants the things that would
be manufactured in them. But have the masters really only this _one_ way of
disposing of the surplus--can they really make no other use of it? In the
modern world they do as a matter of fact make no other use of it. As a
rule, their desire is to increase or improve the agencies engaged in
labour--that is, to capitalise their profits--without inquiring whether
such an increase or improvement is needed; and since no such increase is
needed, so over-production--that is, the non-disposal of the produce--is
the necessary consequence. But because this is the fact at present, _must_
it necessarily be so? What if the employers of labour were to perceive the
true relation of things, and to find a way of creating an equilibrium by
proportionally reducing their capitalisation and increasing their
consumption? If that were to happen, then, it must be admitted, all
products would be disposed of, however much the productiveness of labour
might increase. The consumption by the masses would be stationary as
before; but luxury would absorb all the surplus with exception of such
reserves as were required to supply the means of production, which means
would themselves be extraordinarily increased on account of the enormously
increased demand caused by luxury.

And who will undertake to say that such a turn of affairs is altogether
impossible? The luxury of the few, it is said, cannot possibly absorb the
immense surplus of modern productiveness. But why not? Because a rich man
has only one stomach and one body; and, moreover, everyone cannot possibly
have a taste for luxury. Granted; luxury, in its modern forms, cannot
possibly consume more than a certain portion of the surplus produce of
modern labour. But are we shut up to these modern kinds of luxury? What if
the wealthy once more have recourse to a mode of spending repeatedly
indulged in by antiquity in order to dispose of the accumulating proceeds
of slave-labour? In ancient Egypt a single king kept 200,000 men busy for
thirty years building his sepulchre, the great pyramid of Ghizeh. This same
Pharaoh probably built also splendid palaces and temples with a no less
profligate expenditure of human labour, and amassed treasures in which
infinite labour was crystallised. Contemporaneously with him, there were
other Egyptian magnates, priests, and warriors in no small number, who
sought and found in similar ways employment for the labour of their slaves.
If the luxury of the living did not consume enough, then costly spices,
drink-offerings and burnt-offerings were lavished upon the dead, and thus
the difficulty of disposing of the accumulated produce of labour was still
further lightened. And this succeeded admirably. The Egyptian slave
received a few onions and a handful of parched corn for food, a loin-cloth
for clothing; and yet, notwithstanding a comparatively highly developed
productiveness of the labour of countless slaves exploited by a few
masters, there was no over-production. In ancient India the men in power
excavated whole ranges of hills into temples, covered with the most
exquisite sculptures, in which an infinite amount of labour was consumed;
in ancient Rome the lords of the world ate nightingales' tongues, or
instituted senseless spectacles, in order to find employment for the
superfluous labour of countless slaves who, despite the considerable
productiveness of labour, were kept in a condition of the deepest misery.
And it answered. Why should not such a course answer in modern times?
Because, thanks to the control we have acquired over nature, the
productiveness of labour has become infinitely greater. Labour may have
become infinitely more productive; indeed, I think it probable that it is
no longer possible for the maddest prodigality of the few wealthy to give
_full_ employment to the whole of the labour-energy at present existing
without admitting the masses to share in the consumption; but it would be
possible for the wealthy to consume a very large portion of the possible
produce. Then why does the modern exploiting society build no pyramids, no
rock palaces; why do the lords of labour institute no costly cultus of the
dead; why do they not eat nightingales' tongues, and keep the exploited
populace busy with circus spectacles and mock sea-fights? They could
indulge in these and countless other things, if they only discovered that
the surplus must be consumed and not capitalised. But as long as they
continue to multiply the instruments of labour, and only the instruments of
labour, so long are they simply increasing over-production, and can become
richer only in proportion as the consumption accidentally increases. As
soon, however, as they adopt the above-mentioned expedient, the connection
between their wealth and the lot of the masses is broken. Why does not this

I hope it is not necessary for me expressly to assert that I am far from
wishing for such a turn in affairs; rather, I should look upon it as the
greatest misfortune that could befall mankind, for it would mean that,
despite the enormously increased productiveness of labour, exploitation was
not necessarily a hindrance to civilisation, and consequently would not
necessarily be superseded by economic justice. But Confucius says rightly,
that what is to be deplored is not always to be regarded as impossible or
even as only improbable.

JOHN BELL (_Centre_): The last speaker, who in other respects shows himself
to be a profound thinker, overlooks the fact that the completest
utilisation of the existing means of civilisation and the corresponding
evolution of wealth are not the only determining criteria in the struggle
for existence among nations. The strength of a nation that employs its
wealth in fostering the higher development of the millions of its subjects,
will ultimately become very different from that of a nation which consumes
an equal amount of wealth merely in increasing the enjoyment, nay, the
senseless luxury, of the ruling classes.

ARISTID-KOLOTRONI (_Centre_): The last speaker is correct in what he says,
although it may be objected that the wealthy are not necessarily obliged to
consume their wealth in senseless luxury: they might just as well gratify
their pride by boundless benevolence, accompanied by enormous expenditure
in all imaginable kinds of scientific, artistic and other institutions of
national utility. But I think we are getting away from the main point,
which is: is such a turn of affairs possible? The fact that it has not
occurred, despite all the evils of over-production, that on the contrary a
continually growing desire to capitalise all surplus profits dominates the
modern world, should save us from a fear of such a contingency.

Book of the day: